Can I Grow That Here?

grow1The first lesson from the garden was to ask yourself, “What do I desire to grow?” Now, you need to honestly ask yourself, “Can I grow that here?” I mean truthfully, I would love to grow everything I eat. However, I know that is not possible and I don’t want to waste my time and energy in the garden. I want to be successful and my harvest abundant. The success of my garden depends upon me choosing the right plants for my planting zone. Therefore, I need to know what planting zone I live in. The US Department of Agriculture produces a map for gardeners that divides North America into 11 planting zones. Each zone is 10°F warmer (or colder) in an average winter than the adjacent zone. After a little research, I have learned that I live in zone 8B. Now, I look back at my list. I have two options. I can cross off anything that does not grow in this zone, or I can move to another zone. I don’t want to move, so I select plants that thrive in my zone. This decision has increased my chances for success.Read More »

What Do I Want to Grow?

Growing a garden begins long before you plant the first seed. It begins with a desire. I WANT to grow something. I may spend hours looking through seed catalogs and websites. I am drawn to the colorful glossy pictures, and make long lists of what I desire to grow. But, before I place my order, I need to ask myself a few questions. The answers to these questions will determine if I place an order for new seeds, use the seeds left over from last year, or give up before I begin? Most importantly, it will determine what and how much I will reap in the end.Read More »

Our Little Life Lessons Learned in the Garden

Over the last 34 years of my married life, I have planted a garden many times. My focus has always been on reaping the blessings that it would produce. It wasn’t until my children were grown and I spent more time in the garden that I began to understand that there are many life lessons to learn in the garden. Lessons that could have helped me in all aspects of my life. Whether you are young and single, married with small children, raising teenagers, empty-nesters, widowed, etc., follow me each week as I take you into my garden and share the little life lessons that I am learning.


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What’s in the Garden? Zucchini and Crookneck Squash

The zucchini plants have grown a lot in the past month.  Big yellow flowers began appearing and the honey bees have been busy spreading the pollen from flower to flower.  I have enjoyed my morning strolls in the garden watching the tiny zucchini grow larger each day.  This week I began harvesting zucchini and crookneck squash from my garden.  Oh, the joys of springtime in the garden!Read More »

What’s in the Garden? Tomato Plants are Growing!

Spring is here.  It’s my favorite season.  Today, I thought I would take you into the garden with me to check on my tomato plants.  Plants that I started from seeds in January (What’s in the Greenhouse-Seedlings post).  In February, after the seedlings grew a set or two of true leaves, I transplanted them into small foam cups (What’s in the Greenhouse You win some You lose some). Only four weeks ago in my post (What’s in the Garden Tomato Plants), I shared how I planted 32 tomato plants (8 varieties of tomatoes – 4 plants of each variety) into two raised garden beds that measure 4 feet wide by 16 feet long.   Most of these tomato plants were still quite small.  In four short weeks, they have grown amazingly.

It is time to support each plant.  My original plan was to tie the plants in one bed to a hog panel and allow all branches and suckers to grow.  In the other bed, I planned on attaching them to strings and breaking off most of the suckers. After my husband set up the hog panel in the first bed, I decided to put hog panels in the middle of both beds.  In the first bed we placed the panel 18 inches above the ground so that we would end up with about six and a half feet of height to support the tomato  plants.  In the second bed we already had a frame that allows us to put shade cloth over the bed.  Because of the height of this frame, we placed the hog panel only twelve inches above the bed.

Tomato Plants Growing 2

Next, it was time to start  training them to grow toward the hog panel.  In the first bed I attached one end of a piece of  bailing twine to a long spike  and the other end to the hog panel.  I pushed the spike into the ground.  Lastly, I used plastic tomato trellis clips to attach each plant to the twine.

Tomato Plants Growing 1

In the second bed, I already had twine attached to the frame and spike in the ground, so all I had to do was attach the plants to the twine.

Tomato Plants 3

Once the plants are tall enough, I will begin attaching them to the hog panel.

The plants have grown a lot in the past month and upon closer inspection, I have found a few plants have begun flowering.   Oh, the joys of springtime in the garden!


What’s in the Garden? Tomato Plants

In January I planted my tomato seeds for my Spring/Summer garden. (What’s in the Greenhouse-Seedlings post).  In February, after the seedlings grew a set or two of true leaves, I transplanted them into small foam cups. (What’s I the greenhouse- you win some you lose some)  I have 179 tomato plants.  These young seedlings had lived a sheltered and pampered life in the greenhouse.  To make it in the “real world” of the garden, they needed a transition period in the garden.   Each day the plants were gradually exposed to the wind, sun, and rain.   Without this gradual exposure to the elements, you would find them limp and withered the next day. Plants can even get sun and windburned. This transition process is called hardening off.  It is best to begin this process one to two weeks before you plan on transplanting them into the garden.

The first day, I brought the plants outside in a sheltered spot and left them there for a few hours.  Then I returned them to the greenhouse.  Each day I gradually increased the time they spent outside by 1-2 hours before returning them to the greenhouse each night.  At the end of the week the plants were able to stay outside all day and night as long as the temperatures did not drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  They were ready for planting in the garden.


I am planting 8 different varieties.  I am keeping records of which plants have grown the biggest so far.  The Rutgers, Beefsteak, Bonnie’s Best and Brandywine are inches taller than the Moneymakers, Creole, Homestead, and Floradade.  I will continue keeping records. I want to know which ones produce first, have the largest yield, and best flavor.


Today, I planted 32 tomato plants (8 varieties of tomatoes-4 plants of each variety) into two raised garden beds that measure 4 feet wide by 16 feet long. I planted 2 plants of each variety in each bed.  In one bed I will be tying the plants to a hog panel and allowing all branches and suckers to grow.  In the other bed, I will be attaching them to strings and breaking off most of the suckers.  I will keep records to see which methods works best for me.

Once I decided where each plant was going to be planted, I dug a hole and placed a tablespoon of organic fertilizer and a tablespoon of Epsom salt into the hole.  I mixed it into the soil at the bottom of the hole.  Then I removed the plant from the cup and placed it into the hole.  It is a good idea to plant tomato plants deeper than they come in the pot, so they are able to develop roots all along their stems which makes a stronger plant.  I then filled in the hole with the soil that I had dug out of the hole.  Lastly, I watered the plants with rain water from my rain barrels.  This is my first year using these Aqua Cones.  I like knowing how much water I have given to each plant and the fact that the water is directed to the roots instead of the top layer of the garden.  Hopefully, with this method I will have less weeds also.  Once again, I will observe and keep records.

Now it’s time to share the other 147 plants with friends and neighbors.


What’s in the Greenhouse? You Win Some, You Lose Some



In my last post, Let’s Grow Basil,  I encouraged you to plant something and learn about gardening. I also wanted you to know that if your plant dies, you didn’t fail.  You just learned something that didn’t work.  As long as you don’t give up, you  will eventually succeed and this will build your confidence in gardening.

Today, I want to bring you back into the greenhouse.  In my post In the Greenhouse-Planting Seeds,  I chose to use 162 Cell Plug Trays for starting my seeds so that I could maximize the number of plants without taking up a lot of room in the greenhouse.  Then after the seedlings grew a set or two of true leaves, I will transplant them.  Let’s see how many seeds sprouted.Read More »

Let’s Grow: Basil!

Are you one of the many people who would love to grow a garden but haven’t started one yet. What’s stopping you?  There are usually some common reasons why.   It takes too much time…too difficult…cost too much money…don’t know where to begin…  No more excuses.   The best thing you can do is try.   Start with one plant.  You don’t even have to dig a garden.  You can begin your first plant in a planter or cup.  Let’s grow basil.  It is an herb that you can grow in a pot outside or inside on the window sill.

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