Sunday, October 14, 2012

First Snow Pea!

I did it! I successfully planted a fall planting of snow peas in time for them to actually produce peas! I am at a bit of an advantage due to my summer garden withdrawal I was dealing with, but I did it nevertheless. Usually, by the time I'm ready to start thinking about planting again, it's about a month late.

I'm pretty sure this is what it's going to be like to have kids. Always sharing your treasures. Heidi ran into the screen door, wanting to join me on my pea harvest. I'm not sure if she could smell them, or what. She LOVES peas. I split this one with her.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cotton Aphids and Ladybugs

Cotton Aphids have made their way to my balcony garden. We moved a watermelon plant with us (which also brought some squash bugs) but later got a huge infestation of cotton aphids. I decided at that point, to get go ahead and get rid of the plant. I planted two zucchini plants afterwards in nearby planters, and the cotton aphids have found a new home. 

I was spraying the plants with a dish soap mixture, when I discovered a ladybug taking residence.

Even better than the single lady bug helping me out, she laid several different patches of eggs. 

I'm now getting to watch the life cycle of these ladybugs. I have quick spraying the zucchini plants, knowing that ladybugs can eat up to 50 aphids a day. I'm looking forward to getting to watch this process even more than I'm looking forward to the one, maybe two zucchini I'll get from these plants before frost.

Ladybug larvae:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Balcony Garden and the Move

Our move to D.C. started back in June, where I ventured alone to start my new job. I got an amazing job as a mother/baby nurse, but they wanted a June start date. We had not anticipated moving until August, and our house needed to be dealt with before we both were able to move. 

I spent the first six weeks of my time here in Woodbridge, VA with my husband's cousin and her roommate, who graciously offered me a bedroom and allowed Heidi to join me. I got to try about five ripened cherry tomatoes before our move, and had to leave the rest of my fully planted summer garden. 

July marked our 5th wedding anniversary, and my husband surprised me with a grocery bag full of tomatoes. He brought anything that looked like is was about to ripen. I was able to share some delicious tomatoes with my new housemates, and couldn't have gotten a more appreciated gift.

I brought along a sucker from one of my last Cherokee Purple seeds from Jeff at Our Engineered Garden. It went through a lot (including over 100 degree heat by being left in a car in PA during my move here). My husband also later brought our watermelon plants in a container, and my dwarf tophat blueberry plant. 

Planting my balcony garden was a pretty high priority with the move, and I had it seeded within the first week of our moving into our apartment in Alexandria. 

Here are some recent pictures of the garden:

So far, I've got my Cherokee Purple tomato plant, Zucchini, cilantro, radishes, green onions, garlic chives, blueberry plant, snow peas, spinach, and several types of lettuce.

Peas, lettuce, and spinach

I recently removed the watermelon plants from this bucket, and replanted with lettuce and spinach seedling which are making their appearance.

First pea blossom! (Strange to see a CAR in the background below the plants)

Romaine lettuce

Red Sails lettuce seedling growing on the left from Daphne at Daphne's Dandelions, radish seedlings on the right

The radishes (and hidden spinach and lettuce) in white planter near the railing had originally been in the other over-the-rail hanger, but with watering, it was bending the wires which had me too nervous to put it back. So until Spring, when Dollar Tree carries the other planters again, that side is going to be an empty eyesore. 

This is the first (and only) Cherokee Purple tomato to pollinate on my plant. I didn't think it'd happen after all that it has been through, but I'm excited to see it even though it probably won't have time to ripen before frost.

And here is the second salad we're going to enjoy from the balcony garden!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harvest from the Balcony

This is the first salad harvested from my Alexandria, VA (D.C.-ish) balcony garden. I've got full containers I'll upload pictures of when I get a chance. The hubby has not been great with sharing the camera lately, as he uses it a lot at school. I think I'm finally to a settled enough point where blogging about my balcony garden is a bit more feasible.

I've got lots growing (relatively) and have had the opportunity to identify another type of aphid, and ladybug eggs in the process. Pictures to come.  All this on a 9th story apartment balcony. I miss my yard and my house, but we're making this work!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

D.C. it is

The verdict is in. Washington, D.C. will be the location of choice for art school. I just took a nursing job this week in the area, and will start in three. We've been preparing the house for selling it, and there has been little to any extra time to blog.  I've had loads of lettuce harvest, loads of peas, but am completely mourning the fact that I will be losing the massive tomato harvest (probably won't get to taste a single one!) that is growing out there right now. Also mourning that fact that unless we have a patio/balcony in an apartment I will have NOTHING but my Aerogarden... and a container garden at best... ugh.  Just wanted to put an update out there.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Anyone else bite entirely too "forcefully" when taking a bite of the first strawberries of the year? That's when you realize they are 100 times better than store bought HARD strawberries.

Absolutely delicious, delicate, and sweet. These were numbers 3, 4, and 5 of strawberries this year. (First two yesterday... APRIL 30)

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Eleanor finally laid her eggs! Four days after the first testing site, she laid her eggs in almost the exact same spot as the first testing site. I was beginning to get worried about her. The weather changed this week, and one of the nights got into the upper 40s, and she didn't move from the spot she was digging for a whole day. Yesterday, it warmed up considerably, and she was roaming about most of the day. She started digging again around 4 or 5 pm, and I went to check on her every couple of hours, but it was all in a huge rain storm! We had larger than golf ball sized hail, and some in our area had baseball or larger sized hail.

This is where she decided to finally nest. The little indentation to the right is where I uncovered the first egg. I'm glad that I went out multiple times, because she changed her digging location around 8 or 9 pm. You can see the one she started on the left. The actual nest was covered up and even when I first saw it, so I could reasonably assume there were actually eggs there. The site to the left was abandoned as is.

Here's the first egg!

Seeing more white showing through as I dig through with a spoon. 

I started marking the eggs with a marker to make sure I keep them right side up. I was surprised after I uncovered six, and started moving them, to find two more.

Eleanor is an octomom!

Time to keep them humid, but not to much. Last year, Nadine's eggs split, and I think they were too wet.

This is the earliest we've ever had eggs by nearly three weeks, but we had such a goofy March. I can't imagine how Eleanor fit all eight eggs inside of her and still managed such a voracious appetite. Eleanor laid two clutches of eggs last year, first 5 eggs, and then another clutch of 4 eggs. She's never laid this many at a time. 

I've got garden updates too, but not that much time. I'll share those pictures later!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


She's digging! Go Eleanor! There will at least be some eggs in our near future.  If not tonight, soon. She normally digs a few tests sites beforehand. Hers have never been fertile to our knowledge, and I'm REALLY hoping the compost isn't hot where she's digging, as that MAY be an issue with them in the past (overheating will spoil the eggs, even a few hours) This is nearly 3 weeks earlier than last year, or the year before that. I am thinking the warm March sped everything up. I'm hoping this means early babies, because we may be moving come late July/August, and I would be pretty devastated to miss the hatching!

EDIT- As of 8:00 pm, Eleanor has now abandoned the digging, that she worked for several hours on. Just a test site, but it looks like we'll be watching her the next week!

In gardening news, tomatoes were planted yesterday. Pictures to come, dinner is still in progress. The night time temp last night was 48, but I bit the bullet, and stuck them in the ground, as the rest of the week looks to be in the mid to upper 70s, lows in the 50s. I think my plants will be happier with the space and the occasional lowish temp than they were about the lack of root space and ability to fertilize.

Lastly, if you ever decide to go into cardiac arrest, I am now capable in an "advanced" way to take care of you. I got my advanced cardiac life support class finished up and tested out.  Feels good to add another thing to the resume!

Friday, April 20, 2012

100th post and a Garden Update

It is officially my 100th post! I absolutely intended to get to this post before the start of 2012. Quite a bit late on that one... A lot of people do exciting giveaways and things like that when they hit these milestones. If I had something worth giving away, I would.  If I think of something, maybe I'll do one on a random day.

It was getting dark out when I ran outside to snag these photos. Sorry for the low quality.

Here are my scallions, red onions in the back right, Burgundy bush beans, radishes and lettuce that have come up. I planted a few more rows to the left of this area yesterday with cilantro, more lettuce, more radishes, and more beans, to try to stagger some of the harvest.

Tomatoes and peppers, yearning to be in the ground with more space.  After this weekend, they'll be planted. Tomorrow night's low is in the 40s, but I should be safe after that, and the plants are ready to be in the ground. I've got some blossoms on some of the tomatoes starting to form, and that's never happened before I put them in the ground before. I've been pinching off the ones I see.

My dwarf tophat blueberry bush getting acclimated to it's first of what will probably be several pots.

The lettuce and spinach growing down the center of the garden. I seeded several more feet of this yesterday as well. I love blending the red and green lettuces.  The red lettuce really doesn't get touched the way that the spinach does right next to it. 

Mammoth broccoli plants for April.  I did some clean up of most of the maple seeds since the last picture that was taken. They are just about 1.5 to 2 ft tall now. They're about a month and a half ahead, if not more, of what they were last year. I'm certainly not complaining. I love broccoli, and I'll love getting to use that space for pole beans when they're through!

 The broccoli has begun to shade the red lettuces planted around it. It's hard to even see the plants from this picture, but they're there!

My zucchini and yellow squash are growing so slowly, I decided to put some new seed in these pots to see if they do better. The seeds that are growing (slowly) are from a old packets.  The squash did so well last year in these pots, so I want to give it a second try. The last pot in that row is my garlic chives with some cilantro growing around the edges.

The peas growing up the fence behind the pots are doing well. Neither these peas, nor the snow peas have any blossoms yet, but it shouldn't be long!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Harvesting in April

So far, I've had radishes and a two person meal sized salad's portion of lettuce harvested. I haven't gotten around to posting about the harvests on Mondays though, but here they are! The radishes are much bigger this year than they've been in the past, and far more mild. I've enjoyed just snacking on a bowl full!

I planted a lot of red lettuces this year, and I think so much that we may have a "red salad" night at some point. The spinach that's growing is getting chewed on, so there just isn't nearly as much green without it.  I am getting some spinach though, which is an improvement from past years.

Some of my first radishes... hubby had the camera at school, so this is from my phone.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Big Ol' Broccoli

Here is an updated look at the broccoli, it's amazing what different weather can do for a plant! (Probably doesn't hurt that we put our finished compost pile on this end of the garden to be able to spread it this Spring...)  We're getting lots of rain here, which can only mean more green! (Hopefully no damaged plants though!)

I just noticed last night that our broccoli "goes to sleep!" It was strange to see these plants that touch all be vertical out there last night!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Documentation Post.

 I took all these pictures several days ago (save a few at the end from today), and never got the chance to upload them. So here they finally are.  Completely random, but I know I'll want to look back next year, and see where the garden was this time of year, so this is more of a "documentation" post. It's incredible to me because I know how much growth I've seen even since these were taken!  We had had some "normal" temperatures this week, which shows me just how spoiled I've been. I've had to bring IN plants, something I haven't had to do for about a month!  Plants are back outside tonight though, with a low of 50, I think they're alright.

I had my first problem with rollie-pollies as we grew up calling them, pill bugs, sow bugs to others. I have never had a problem with them, but they absolutely destroyed my pepper plants! I may have about enough to not have to buy them from the store, but I may not even get off that lucky, and I planted over double of what I wanted to plant for myself!

This particular container I used to carry the plants did not have a full bottom to it, so one day I moved it when I saw several chewed up plants and they were swarming. Literally, swarming.  This container has stayed on the patio table after that incident, and they haven't seemed to sustain any additional damage, though I'm not sure many will recover. The other containers for my plants had a lip to them, and I think that's what kept them away from my others. 

New strawberry plants have taken. The old ones have fruit set already.

I looked through last year's blog, and my earliest FLOWER was April 11, this year they are already covered with growing berries!

Tomato and pepper seedlings, broccoli and peas

My broccoli is as big now as it was at the end of May last year (I got a pretty nasty freeze/snow just after planting last year)

Radishes and peas (the radishes have been incredibly mild flavored this year, and have really filled out nicely)

Alright, Granny-- you were right! Here's a carrot seedling!

Broccoli and lettuce -- I'll need to take an updated picture, broccoli plants are touching now, and we've had a full container worth of lettuce harvested since this photo. It made for two delicious salads, but I definitely forgot how long it takes to clean each individual leaf!

Tomato seedlings getting bigger! I've had some issues with what I think is nitrogen deficiency and have tried to keep them fed-- the new growth is really LIGHT green, almost yellow.

This picture shows how much my broccoli has grown since I planted it. This is an extra seedling that didn't get planted, and has pretty much stayed the same size as the plants were when I transplanted them. 

Zucchini seedling popping up in my buckets!

Radishes popping over the soil.

 One of my favorite things about early spring-- pea tendrils. I absolutely love how delicate they are, but are still intensely strong.

 Happy Birthday Heidi! She's 9 today!

Quick and easy way to gain the title "Messy Garden"-- Maple seeds  Sometimes it sounds like it's raining when the wind blows. They're almost finished falling, so it'll be time to clean them up soon!