Saturday, August 30, 2014

Garden Update 2.0

* I wrote this post back in early July and am now just realizing that it was never published. I'm publishing it now (even though it's outdated) because I have an updated garden post I want to share. But to see the "after" pictures, I think it's necessary to show the "before" ones too. Sorry for my tardiness, guys. 

Since it's been a very, very long time since I shared anything about our garden, I thought some pictures and updates were in order!

I have to start by mentioning that Lauren and I moved into her mom's house for several months, so I'm so happy and lucky that we planted our very first garden in containers. This allowed us to "easily" move our little plants from our apartment to Leti's house without any digging or real issues. Knowing that this move was highly likely, we also helped plant a garden in Leti's backyard back in April. We planted several varieties of cucumbers (including lemon cucumbers) and tomatoes, strawberries, crook-neck squash, zucchini, green bell pepper, jalapenos, serrano chili peppers, and more basil. The three of us also built the planter boxes all by ourselves! That was a project in and of itself!

So how have these gardens fared so far? Well, speaking as someone who dislikes cucumbers and pickles, I can say we planted way too many cucumber plants. We're drowning in them and we have to throw away many of them because Lauren and Leti can't eat that many that fast. Lauren's already whipped up several jars of pickles to help use up some cucumbers, but I don't think we'll ever catch up.

I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who eats the strawberries. They're either too small or not sweet enough for the others, so about once a week I'm able to eat a bowl full of homegrown strawberries that aren't so bad.

Unfortunately, being beginning gardeners we didn't put the tomato cages in soon enough. The tomato plants quickly took off and by the time we got to putting up the cages, it was way too late. Leti and Lauren somehow macgyvered a system to hold the plants in their upright positions using string. This worked for a few days, then the weight of the plants took over and now the tomato plants are at a 45 degree angle. Our first tomatoes were a let down; they were completed rotted on the bottoms. We quickly learned that when watering, you must water only the soil rather than the plant itself. After that we've had some success and managed to pick about a dozen good tomatoes: Early Girls and Romas.

When our garden was first starting to yield crops, we managed to grow several crook neck and zucchini squash like every other day. However, since the tomato plants have taken off, their tall height has blocked the squash from getting enough sun. So now we're lucky to get 3-4 squash per week. Lesson learned: plant your tomatoes in the very back so that they don't block the other plants from getting necessary sun.

The tomato plants have also hindered all of our bell peppers from growing. We've been able to pick a few jalapenos, but haven't used them yet. We finally have three very tiny bell peppers growing.

Both basil plants have been doing wonderfully. I love going to the backyard and picking basil as we need it for dinners. So far we've added basil to our pizzas, pasta, and made our own creation of ciabatta bread, garlic butter, tomatoes, and basil. Lauren also made several batches of vegan pesto which have been a huge hit!

As for our container garden, things haven't been doing as well. The zucchini, cucumber, and strawberry plants have all produced some fruit/veggies, but nothing compared to the larger planter garden. The plants in the container garden have started turning brown and droopy. I'm assuming it's because the containers weren't large enough.

On the other hand, the baby sweet tomatoes have done pretty well until recently. Every few days we were able to pick a dozen or so tomatoes from the plant. But lately, new tomato growth has slowly decreased. The plant still looks healthy, so I'm not sure why it's come to a standstill.

Despite not getting a ton of fruit and veggies from our container garden, I'm so glad we went through with it. I'm also happy to have had the opportunity of planting a garden in Leti's backyard that we're able to enjoy as well. I've never planted anything before so this whole experience is something completely new to me, and I'm still learning and figuring things out. The best feeling is being able to walk outside and pick fresh produce that you yourself grew; collecting our bounty as we like to call it!