Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Comback Kids!

The tomato babies have made a comeback!!  All of them!!  I can't believe it.  I thought they were goners for sure.

Plus, they have a new friend.  The Beefsteaks and the Romas have been joined by the Cherry.  My neighbor came by and gave me a tomato plant.  I don't know if he felt sorry for me after what happened with the tomato babies or if he just had an extra plant.  Whatever the motivation, I am very thankful.   


Curb Stopping the New Dumpster Diving

Once a month, our city collects large items that people have placed at the curbs outside their homes for disposal.   Often people throw away things that they just don't want anymore, but that are still in good condition. The other day, I ran across these two pots.  Now I just have to decide what to plant in them.  One man's trash is another woman's treasure.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Lowdown on Love's Acre June 2013

I have decided to do a monthly garden status report, a sort of state of affairs.  I am hereby christening it "The Lowdown on Love's Acre".  Without further ado (because it certainly doesn't deserve anymore), here is the lowdown for June 2013.

The Little Lady Raised Bed is growing great guns.  I don't think that I have ever had plants last this long or grow this big.  They are all still mystery plants (except the carrots), but they are so beautiful.  Plus, one day something will start to form that will give me a better idea of what they are.

The Bean Teepee has sprouted.  Well most of it has sprouted.  There is still one pot that I am waiting on.  If it doesn't sprout, the bean teepee will become a teepee with a view. 

Bean Pot #1

Bean Pot #2

Bean Pot #3

Unfortunately the Herbs aren't fairing as well.  I have now renamed them the Lilliputian Herbs.  I'm not really sure what I did wrong.  Perhaps, they are lonely and need herb friends (meaning that I put them in pots that were too big.)  It could be that they are getting too much water or sun.  Maybe they are not getting enough fertilizer (because I haven't given them any.)  I certainly don't have the gardening skills to know.  I will be experimenting with them in July.  I had visions of growing beautifully large herb plants and drying the surplus to use during the winter.  Isn't it funny how the idea of a thing often falls short of the thing itself. 

Lilliputian Cilantro

Lilliputian Basil

Lilliputian Oregano

The JalapeƱo Peppers seem to be doing great.  I had originally planned to transplant them to the big boy garden too, but after the tomato massacre I am seriously considering just letting them stay where they are.

The Berry Bushes are hanging in there (with the exception of the raspberry bush which was a goner right from the start.)  I even have some blackberries growing.  I would really like to get some more berry trees planted.  I will have to check into that for next month. 

The Strawberries are a complete and utter fail.  They were just an experiment to see if I could get them to grow from old rotten berries (probably not my best idea.)  Plus, I didn't know if the berries were genetically modified or not (which I definitely do not want in my garden.)  So, maybe it is for the best.  I don't really feel that bad.  I will just have to go to the local farmer's market to get my strawberries this year and plan ahead better for next year.  They are on their way to the compost pile. 

Well, that is that state of things on Love's Acre.  I am looking forward to July's happenings.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Ever since I spent a year in Aix-en-Provence, France, I have loved the smell of lavender.  Plus, it's pretty.  So, I have decided to try my hand at lavender.  I couldn't find any lavender plants, but I did find some seeds.  I read that when lavender is started from seed, it does better when it is sowed inside and then transferred as small plants into the ground.  (I am so having tomato plant flashbacks right now.) 

First, I gathered my supplies:

Lavender Seeds

Old Egg Carton

Then I filled the egg carton with potting soil.

I poured out some seeds to plant.  Lavender seeds are so little.

Next, I planted the seeds in the soil.  (They are the little brown things in the center that look like all the other little brown things in the picture.  I am really going to have to work on photography skills.)

Finally, I added a little water.  Now they are all ready for the wonderful Tennessee sun. 

They can take from 4 to 6 weeks to germinate so I will really be using my lifeskill of patience on this one.

The Great Tomato Massacre!

My tomato plants have been doing so well.  They are about to outgrow their first home. So, I decided it was time to let them graduate from their preschool pot to the big boy garden.

I would have preferred to build another little lady garden bed, but I am still working with limited resources.  So, I worked with what I had - the ground.  First, I dug some holes. 

Then, I put some potting soil into the holes hoping that it will give the tomato babies a more gentle start.
Finally, I put the tomato babies in the ground and backfilled with potting soil.  They were not at all happy.  Before I could even get them all in the ground they had started to wilt, each and every one of them. 
Massacred baby #1.
Massacred baby #2.
Massacred baby #3.
Massacred baby #4.
I killed them!!  I am so sad that I don't know what to do.  I am secretly hoping that this is some kind of temper tantrum and that the tomato babies will rebound in the next 24 to 48 hours.  Think good thoughts for the tomato babies.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bean Teepee!

One of the perks of beginning a new life is that you get to do what you want.  More and more, I am motivated by my own likes and desires.  I have always wanted to build a bean teepee so that is what I did today. 

I started with some inexpensive bamboo stakes that I got from the local home store.  I really wanted some longer ones, but 6 ft. stakes were the longest ones that the store had available.

Then I gathered some coffee filters and some rocks.
I chose the three largest terra cotta pots I still had.
Then, I lined the pots with the coffee filters and added the rocks.  The coffee filters keep the rocks from falling out of the bottom of the pots and the small layer of rocks at the bottom of the pots keeps the plants' roots from getting water logged - at least that's the theory. 
Then, it was time to pick a spot for the bean teepee.  I decided to use one of the places that I had cannibalized previously for topsoil.  The spot was already cleared so I didn't have to excavate a new spot or fill in the old one (two birds, one stone).  All I had to do was clean up the edges of the circle a little bit. 
I have heard that newspaper can be used to deter weed growth.  So I gathered some old newspapers.  As you can see, I am not a big sports fan.
They say that if newspaper ink is soy based it is safe to put around edible plants.  Well, this newspaper uses soy based ink.  The only problem is that the majority of the soy crops in the US are genetically modified.  I don't want genetically modified anything in my garden.  But once again, I was faced with making the best of the situation or not moving forward.  I decided to move forward and lined the floor of the teepee with newspapers.
I put in a wood, a.k.a. old sticks, edging and added some rocks that I had lying around for good measure.
Now it was time to erect the "poles" of the teepee.  I found some old twine and went about trying to figure out how to tie three stakes together so that they would stay in place - even in the wind.  I had no idea how to do that.  I have never been a boy scout or sailor so knot tying is not my forte.  I decided just to wing it and see what happens during the next storm.   I think it came out well!

Finally, I took the seeds that I had soaking overnight.  (It is said that soaking seeds overnight before planting them makes it easier for them to germinate.)  and planted them.  If all goes well, I will be harvesting cowpeas, a.k.a black-eyed peas, dark red kidney beans and Blue Lake bush beans in no time at all. 

Brewing the Tea - liquid fertilizer update

First, I gathered everything that I would need:
  • container-Did you know that Walmart sells their used icing buckets for a $1.00 (upcycling!)

  • small aquarium pump and tubing-Left over from boy's science experiment

  • dechlorinator-Ditto
  • water-It hasn't been cut off yet

  • compost a.k.a. kitchen scraps or things I feel guilty about for letting them go bad

  • molasses-New purchase, but will use for cookies at a later date (as long as I don't let it go bad)

  • strainer-Had and use often for cooking so hoping sterilize setting on dishwasher works well.

  • a stick for stirring-Left over from paint project
  • large spray bottle-New purchase

  • The article says, "You want to have a good ratio of carbon and nitrogen based compost."  I have absolutely no idea what that means.  In my house, if it goes bad in the fridge then it's compost.  However, since I have really been enjoying watching my little plants grow and I would rather not kill them, I decided to "google" it.  I found out from BigSteamyPile that there are basically three different types of compost: carbon-based (greens), nitrogen-based (browns) and the ever important do not compost items. (There is a great chart on the BigSteamyPile site if you would like an easy referral sheet.)  Well, it turns out that my compost is heavy on the carbon side.  I put all of my nitrogens in the compost pile outside a couple of days ago.  I do have some dryer lint so I am going to throw that into the mix and hope for the best. 

    This is what the finished product looks like.

    Now it "steeps" for a couple of more days and then it will be tea time.  I can't believe that this entire process began because my herbs are growing slowly.  I don't even know if this will help them.  Talk about a leap of faith.

    Friday, June 14, 2013

    Tea Time

    I have so many things that I would like to do today that I have no idea where to start.  When in doubt, I usually do one of two things.  I sit around paralyzed by indecision or I just pick an idea and go with it. I have decided to go with what is probably the healthier choice.  I am going to pick something and just go with it.  Part of starting my new life is trying to listen to my heart and develop new behavior patterns so that my soul is happy.  I call it the "Find Your Joy" plan.  (I know it sounds intense, but it's true.  Hang in there with me this post gets better. I promise.)

    So, today my soul wants to make tea, compost tea a.k.a. organic liquid fertilizer.  Since I am a garden neophyte, I am using the instructions from Rachel Klein that I found on a DIY site, the link is as follows  (I hope it works. This is the first time that I am adding a link to a post.  Let me know if it doesn't take you to the right place.)  I have all of the ingredients except for the molasses.  So, I am off to the store.  Update to follow.

    Monday, June 10, 2013


    Extraordinary really isn't the right word.  Probably the right word is ordinary.  I am sure that there are gardeners and farmers all over the world who find what is happening in my backyard very commonplace and unremarkable.  Nevertheless, I am thrilled to announce . . . wait for it . . . the seeds have sprouted!!  I guess what I find truly extraordinary is that the seeds have sprouted for me.  Look at the tomatoes!  (Yes, I know that I "hypocritically" planted them in a plastic tub and I have said that I hate plastic because I am concerned about toxins leaching into my plants/food.  However, the plastic tub is what I had and I have decided to just use what I have for the moment and work on eliminating all toxins as I go.  Otherwise, I would be waiting for perfection - which doesn't exist - and I would never get started.   Unfortunately, this is a common theme in my life, but that is an entirely different blog post.) 

    I have tomatoes!

    I have jalapeno peppers!

    I even have several things growing in the little lady garden bed. 

    Unfortunately, I didn't mark what I planted where and I have know idea which is what.  So, I have . . .

    Mystery Plant #1.

    Mystery Plant #2.

    Mystery Plant #3.

    I do know that I have carrots because this is the only thing that I planted in a row and these little sprouts (although they are barely visible) are definitely growing in a row. 

    What is that feeling that I am experiencing?  Could it be joy?  Yep, I feel joyful!