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Gardening 101…my first Fall Garden

DSC02409.001

Hey y’all! I’m back  😉  I’ve missed y’all!  I’m so thankful that you have taken the time to stop by! I gotta warn ya, this is a very long-winded post, you may even call it a short story. I just have so much information to share with you about our garden!

Here’s a quick little run down on what has gone on since my last post. My oldest grandson just turned 6, I helped my Daughter and Junior get moved, we celebrated Gary’s 50th birthday with both of our closest families, we’ve been doing a little FunkyJunkin collecting and decorating and I got to go to Antiques week in RoundTop and visited the Junk Gypsy’s new shop!

Woohoo! All pretty cool! Life is good, God is Great!

Now back to the garden, this is where I have been hanging out lately. Every morning I go on a worm and egg hunt and hand-pick those little suckers and squish them with my fingers. Eeew! I know it sounds mean and gross but it is the best way to get rid of these guys, they are eating my veggies so I just have to take control. Since I consider these plants as my babies it’s really no different from killing lice on your childs head.They are very tiny so it’s not as gross as it sounds really, about the size of a single piece of rice or smaller. I don’t give them a chance to get big, the largest one I’ve seen so far was only 1/2″. These guys like to hide on the underside leaf of the plant, so I have to check each one, daily.They are called cabbage worms and I cannot even get a good picture of them for you, so here’s a google image search if you are interested.

 Are you planting a Fall Garden? If you are an experienced gardener, I hope you will share your tips with me, if you are a newbie then let’s learn together. There are several reasons why we should all take on this hobby, great exercise, lower grocery bills, the education, the experience, for me?.. it’s the ability to walk out my front door and stroll through a lush bountiful garden filled with my favorite fruits and vegetables and gather the day’s meal. Ha!  I can dream? Can’t I? Yes, this is what I dream to have someday!

 I’ve been having so much fun, learning about cabbage worms, thrips, leafminers, pill bugs, cut worms, leaf spot, leaf scorch, diatomaceous earth, BT( Bacillus thuringensis), blood meal, cottonseed meal, companion planting, row covers etc.etc. There is so much to learn and try, hopefully I will become a very knowledgable gardener in my old age with a very large green thumb to boot!

I feel so blessed to be able to finally get my hands dirty, to finally begin gardening here, on our property, I’m finding that it is a time-consuming hobby and a lot of work!

Once upon a time about 10 years ago, we did try our hand at gardening and it started out great but ended not so great! Oh yeah, we picked a sunny location, we bought an expensive tiller, we tilled and amended the soil with compost and we planted some seeds and seedlings,watered and watched it grow, :)…then watched it die. :(…  The bugs and the weeds took over and the Hot Texas heat burned it up. Sure, I tried sevin dust and I pulled a few of the weeds and I tried to water everyday. We did manage to retrieve a few tomatoes (we fought the worms and birds for) and we got some okra, squash, a few cucumbers and peppers but not really enough to make a meal out of. You see, we had this to deal with…

Demolition on back of the house via glassslipperrestorations.com

 (this was our bedroom after demolition)

oh and this…

demolition of the bathroom via glassslipperrestorations.com

(this was our bathroom after demolition)

Oh and These…sweet guys (could never forget them)

Jestin and Whiskey

and of course our full-time jobs with a three-hour round trip commute …

So you see, we really had no business starting a garden at this time. What were we thinking?

 Currently we are not working full-time jobs and we sadly sold our horses. Though our home is quite comfortable for us we still have a long “to do” list. We decided to go ahead and tackle the garden project and will still work on our “to do” list as we go, after all, we ain’t getting any younger and having our fresh veggies will be well worth the time and effort!

So far I have planted  Strawberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Swiss chard, Garlic, Asparagus, Spinach and Lettuce.

I would like to plant some Onions, Carrots, Potatoes and Peas as well.

This first garden is truly experimental for me, as I will try what I like and see how it works out. Whatever doesn’t do well this fall, I may not try next fall and whatever does do well, I will grow again next fall. It’s all trial and error! Oh my gosh, this garden has already been testing me that’s for sure! The first week I planted during the last week of September, it was a little too hot yet for some of the plants (high’s still in the low 90’s). In the mornings they looked great but after 1:00 pm they would wilt and droop, they were melting! Mainly the cole crops were suffering (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower). My thought was I needed to shade the plants somehow in the afternoons. The first thing I could think of was to use the old window screens we had stored, but they really were too big and awkward, though they did work temporarily on one of the larger beds.

 I searched around our sheds and found some left over garden fencing which I had used to keep the chickens out of the rose bed. I decided to make some covers for the plants that could easily be removed, so we just rolled out enough fencing to fit over the beds and cut each one to size, there was just enough to cover the cabbage, cauliflower and the brussels sprouts, then used some old shower curtain liners and sheets from my painting supplies and we had instant shade, the next day I went to Home Depot and found some shade material which I then brought home and replaced the shower curtains with. I also picked up another roll of the fencing to make covers for the rest of the beds.

row covers

Next came the bugs, bugs and more bugs, yes, it has been challenging but I am up for the challenge, they won’t get the best of me!

The thrips took over my swiss chard , by the time I figured out what they were, it was too late, most I pulled up and trashed, a few have survived but are not looking so good, we’ll see. In the meantime I bought a few more seedlings and planted them in another bed. Gary loves Swiss Chard so I’m not giving up just yet.

Are you still with me?

Swiss Chard-two weeks via glassslipperrestorations.com

“Bright Lights” Swiss Chard, first attempt, before the invasion.

swiss chard after thrips, grasshoppers, and worms via glassslipperrestorations.com

Swiss Chard after the Thrips, Grasshoppers, Cut worms and Cabbage Worm invasion!!!

The thrips are even smaller than the cabbage worms ( 1/16th” ) and they are fast-moving! UGH! Can’t catch them!  They hide down in the crown of the plant and go down into the soil to pupate which means the soil is contaminated and I’m not sure what to do about that. Please send some ideas if you have them!

Also, my first batch of spinach seeds never germinated, so I found these cool seedlings named “Monster” Spinach, this variety is from France and should do well here. They like to be planted around Halloween and get really big, so the name fits them well. I have planted them with the new chard. Keeping my fingers crossed they all make it.

Spinach new-1 week

The photo on the left was taken just after planting, the photo on the right was taken 1 week later and I can already see a difference in size! But of course the bugs have already been caught snacking on them as well, a few worms and grasshoppers. They are under a very watchful eye. I may just keep them undercover all season. In case you didn’t notice, we gotta pick up another load of mulch which means another nice drive and great lunch at the Clear Springs Restaurant is in our near future! YAY!

Speaking of meals, this is “Little Gem” Lettuce and my first meal from the garden!

little gem lettuce crop 2013

This lettuce is from the Romaine family and is ready to harvest at 4″-6″ in height, hence the name, the whole head is just enough for a small salad or sandwich.

I choose this variety for it’s easy to grow, but after tasting, it seems a little bitter for me and I think I will give “Iceberg” a try, even though  “Iceberg”  has no nutritional value and is more difficult to grow, ya just can’t beat it for its texture, love the crunch!

Stay with me…

This is our Strawberry Patch!

Seascape Strawberries 2013

These Strawberries are the “Seascape” variety, on the left is after 2 weeks of planting, on the right is after 6 weeks, they don’t look much different, only a little thicker. I haven’t had much problems with bugs on them, just a little leaf spot, leaf scorch and leaf blight, all are fungal, caused from overcrowding and the evening dew. I simply pick the damaged leaves and throw them away and only water the soil in the early morning, giving the plants time to dry during the day. I read that for the first year to pick the  flowers and runners to let the crowns strengthen and root system develop. So there will be no fruit the first year, that’s ok, just gotta be patient…I will be using row covers to protect them from the frost throughout the winter, or I may just spray them down with water before the freezing temperatures to let the ice protect them. What have you done to protect from frost, and leaf diseases? Please share your thoughts at the bottom of this post. If they make it, we will be enjoying some sweet, juicy strawberries next fall.

… on to the Cole Crops

Broccoli-2-6 weeks

This is the Broccoli, on the left is after 2 weeks of planting and on the right after 6 weeks, seems to be doing well. I read that the Marigolds would help deter the pest, although I still find worms and grasshoppers snacking on them. Along with hand picking I’ve sprayed with BT as a back up to get the ones I miss. BT is an organic spray, not sure if it actually works since I still find those suckers, and with the spray the bugs have to ingest it by eating my plants??? Eating the plants is what I’m trying to prevent!!?? As for the Marigolds they do add some color to the garden, which I love!

brussels sprouts two-six

Same goes for the Brussels Sprouts, I’m finding the “Cabbage” worms love the Brussels Sprouts more than the Cabbage?!! Ha! Ha!

I think maybe they should change the name to “Brussels Sprouts” worms. Try,very quickly saying that three times, not so easy to do.He!He!

Cauliflower 2-6

” Snow Crown” Cauliflower, well, I almost did not plant these because we don’t normally eat them but I thought we probably should. I know that if I batter it and fry it or smother it in cheese my husband will eat it but I hope to find some healthier and delicious ways to prepare it. Either way, our neighbor Martin LOVEs the stuff so I will definitely share it with him!

cabbage 2-6 weeks

 the Cabbage, WOW, they are really getting big, I may have to transplant some to another box, if I can do this safely without disturbing the roots. They are not due to harvest until mid to late December.

Stay with me…

Now I think these may be my favorite challenge…Blueberries!

blueberries 1-3 weeks

I read they are easy to grow here but need a moist but well draining and acidic soil, so I planted them in large pots, using peat moss and fertilized with cottonseed meal. I also read they will produce more when planted with more than one variety. I had to order these, could not find in local nurseries. I got them from Burpee, they had a great Southern collection available, which I hope will be successful. They may not produce for a few years, but can live for several years to come, up to 30 years! It’s been about 4 weeks  since I planted them and so far, they are doing well!

Jewel blueberry 3 weeks

This variety is named “Jewel” and it can grow to be 8′ tall and 3′-4′ wide! She has already doubled in height!

Blue Sunshine blueberry 3 weeks

This variety is named “Blue Sunshine”, she should reach 4′ in height and width. the new growth is about 4″.

Misty Blueberry 3 weeks

This variety is named “Misty” and she should also reach 8′ in height and 3′-4′ in width, she is also quickly growing!

I think they are a beautiful addition and I hope to be fighting the birds for they’re delicious fruit someday.

As for the Garlic and the Asparagus, the garlic is just coming up and the Asparagus seeds were just planted and is not yet to be seen. Wish me luck on that!

This is a baby Rattlesnake, this makes four we’ve found on our property so far this year, this guy was coiled up directly behind my Blueberry planter! I had walked right passed him to water. Whew! I was wearing my rubber gardening boots, and he may have not considered me as a threat, as they have pretty flowers on them. He!he! We haven’t found the mother yet, but she’s got to be out there somewhere! Now along with the scorpions,mosquitoes,wasp, fire ants and spiders, oh and the coyotes, bobcats, wild hogs, opossums and raccoons… Thank god I’m a country girl, or I wouldn’t survive.

Your almost at the finish line!

Rattle Snake in the garden via glassslipperrestorations.com

 And this stuff, yuck! This is called Slime Mold, also known as “Dog Vomit Fungus”. This stuff keeps popping up all over the garden, in the mulch, apparently it is harmless and is natures way of decomposing organic matter in the mulch so I just ignore it and let it be as long as it is not in my walking path. After a few days it changes into a brown powder and if you walk or kick it , it sends a dust in the air that I do not want to breathe, so I take a shovel and just slightly dig underneath it and send it flying away from the garden while it is still in this yellow gooey form.

slime mold via glassslipperrestorations.com

So even though I am dealing with some pretty nasty critters and pest at least I am not fighting the weeds in the garden, the mulch idea has been a great time saver!

Can’t say so much for our yard, we have not won the battle with the stickers yet!!!!

While it’s been hectic around here, I feel so blessed! Be Thankful and Grateful for all he has given us!

…coming soon, Gary has set us up with a Rain Water catch system and we are going to build a Greenhouse! Can’t wait to share them with you!

If you missed my other gardening post, and you need some more reading, I promise they are not as long, please check them out, our potting table and tray, salvaged wood planter boxes, and how we make Hay!

Yes! you made it! Thanks again for following and your comments below!

Sharing with these great friends; From My Front Porch to Yours, A Delightsome Life, Bella Vista Farm, My Repurposed Life, Fresh Eggs Daily, MinettesMaze, Frugality Gal, Pieced Pastimes, DIY by Design, Common Ground, Green Willow Pond, Knick of Time Interiors, The Backyard Farming Connection, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia,

Savvy Southern Style, French Country Cottage, Redoux Interiors

Pieced Pastimes

  • Debra @ Frugal Little Bungalow November 13, 2013, 4:26 pm

    We just had our first snow so it was fun to read about someone starting a garden. Did you take a breath through all of that? Ha ha just kidding. Well as to breath I GASPED at the rattlesnake, sheesh….now that is scary!
    Good luck with your wonderful garden and efforts and hopefully getting rid of the snakes! :)

    • Cindy November 13, 2013, 4:54 pm

      Haha! Thanks Debra, my last post was Oct.10th, so I had alot to say, good thing it was in my head and went on paper!..or should I say on keyboard. Thanks for visiting and hope you will visit again soon, so glad you read the whole thing!

  • Kathy November 20, 2013, 1:37 pm

    Your garden looks lovely! So very glad we haven’t seen snakes this year – I think it is because we’re not near water and we have 3 hungry cats! I have had that nasty slime though! Great post! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,
    Kathy

  • Shelly minettesmaze.blogspot.com/ November 25, 2013, 8:59 pm

    Garden…. awww it’ll be months before we can ever think about one. We got our first snow last week. But it is November, it’s time. LOL Love the organization you have going on! And yeah I’m not a girly girl, but that rattlesnake….I would have peed my pants! Thanks for sharing this on DIY Sunday Showcase!! Hope to see ya next week!!

  • Lauren November 26, 2013, 7:50 am

    Kuddos to you girl. You show much determination and increased garden knowledge. Obviously you do much research and it’s reward will be Food!

    Surprisingly, my “Weed Field” is providing my salad right now. Of course you have to get over the Weed thing. However, a chickweed, dandelion, mallow, wild lettuce salad that came up all by itself in its own time is AWESOME! It grows wonderfully in the winter.

    I look forward to hearing your garden results.

    Also, for a long time I was missing your blogs as you changed your website and didn’t see the link on the top. I know now.

    • Cindy November 30, 2013, 7:37 pm

      Hey lady, so glad to hear from you, thanks for stopping by :) I admire your “weed salad”, with no babying what so ever! That is AWESOME, glad you enjoy! BTW Have you looked up the definition for weed? It is anything that you do not want growing in your garden. For me, when I say weed, I mean grass. It is so nice to be grass free in my garden! I havn’t done any research on your weeds, maybe I should, I’m sure I must have them growing somewhere here. 😉 Come by for a visit any time, would love to share my veggies and my weeds with you! Also, glad you found my link!
      Shalom!

  • Karen January 27, 2014, 1:45 pm

    Hi Cindy! What a gorgeous garden! Love your raised plant beds and wire coverings. How’d the harvest go? Do you do a second cold weather crop in early spring?

    I’m just a bit in awe of you, you Texas country girl, for living amongst the rattle snakes, scorpions, fire ants and other critters…. like bugs on your plants! Spoken like a city girl, huh? I do hope to grow more than tomatoes some day and would love to have a raised bed garden that looks as pretty as yours. You’re an inspiration.

    PS… my husband is a native Texan so your lone star skull has a certain familiarity to it 😉

    • Cindy January 27, 2014, 2:53 pm

      Hey Lady! Thanks for visiting my garden! Harvesting has been pretty good. Lot’s of Spinach, Swiss Chard and Broccoli! I will post an update soon. I hope to plant more as soon as possible. We need lot’s of rain! So far our winter has been colder than usual with very little rain. Hope your renovations are going well. thanks again :)

  • Carole West January 28, 2014, 9:24 pm

    Awesome fall garden – looks like you have many amazing things going on at your place. Saw you on the backyard farming hop. Glad I found your blog. :) -Carole

    • Cindy January 28, 2014, 9:31 pm

      Thanks Carole, So glad you found me too! Thanks for visiting and your sweetness. :)

  • Gretchen February 3, 2014, 8:24 pm

    Your garden looks lovely!! It’s so nice to see all the photos of green growing things!!

    • Cindy February 3, 2014, 10:21 pm

      Yes Gretchen, I got the fever too! Ready to plant soon! Thanks for visiting!

  • Barbara February 4, 2014, 8:22 pm

    Hi, Cindy,

    I found your blog through Savvy Southern Style and the title “Gardening 101” caught my eye. I, too, have got the spring fever but here in Missouri we won’t be doing much in the garden for a while. I do have some seeds growing under lights and that will have to do for about another 6 weeks….guess that ol’ groundhog was right.

    Anyway, in case you’re unaware, I wanted to let you know about a great resource for gardening information and that is your state’s Master Gardener program. I am a new MG here in Missouri and our core purpose is to educate the public about gardening. Missouri has GREAT online resources for gardeners but other than pest control I’m not sure that our info would pertain to Texas. In Missouri every county has a MG program and you can bring your plant in for diagnosis or call their answer hotline for help. So I would suggest consulting your county’s MG program.

    Oh, and the first thing we were taught to advise anyone was the importance of getting a soil test. These tests can help you know what your soil is lacking and how to amend it so that it can be the healthiest it can be. The healthier the soil the more the plant can withstand disease and possibly pest problems. (In MO there is a minimal fee for the soil test but the consultation is free.)

    One last thing and I’ll finish this book (yikes I’m windy)…. In our county’s MG demonstration gardens we used “row covers” over the cabbages last year with great success. The row covers allow light and rain in yet are pretty successful in keeping nasty pests out. That in turn allowed us to keep our gardens as “organic” as possible.

    Anyway, much success with your garden.

    Missouri Barb

    • Cindy February 4, 2014, 9:37 pm

      Wow! Barbara, thanks so much for sharing this information! I will certainly check this out! I can use all the help I can get! Thanks for stopping by 😉

  • Linda February 4, 2014, 9:02 pm

    I love your multiple gardens. My gardening is limited to pots right now, and they do yield plenty of lettuce and herbs. When I plant in my raised garden, it is a continual experiment as all things do not do well in the same location. Gardening is a fun challenge and oh so rewarding when you get to eat what you grow. Have fun!

    • Cindy February 4, 2014, 9:42 pm

      Thanks Linda for sharing and visiting. I have read that I need to rotate my crops for next fall. Have been enjoying swiss chard, spinach and broccoli so far and it is rewarding! :)

  • Jane @ Cottage at the Crossroads February 5, 2014, 11:58 am

    Hi Cindy, I saw your link at SSS and came over to see your garden! We live in SC and have been gardening now for about 4 years and we have learned so much during that time. We lost a lot of our fall garden last year because we had an invasion of stink bugs! They chewed on the stems and destroyed the roots even! We’re getting ready to plant a few things in our early spring garden so I hope they don’t return! Good luck in your gardening adventures!

    • Cindy February 5, 2014, 12:14 pm

      Hi Jane, thanks for stopping by, sorry to here about the stink bugs…that Stinks 😉 pun intended. Do your research on those things and I hope they don’t return either. Good luck to you as well. :)

  • Feral Turtle April 6, 2014, 8:54 am

    I have to say your garden is awesome! Those darn pests hey! If we put our gardens together, your snakes and my voles, we just might get a crop….hehe.

    • Cindy April 6, 2014, 11:09 am

      Hehehe! We have cats and chickens, I found one of our cats playing/killing another baby rattler and afterwards he ate it! And the one in the photo my husband killed then fed it to the chickens. He thought they would be playing tug of war with it and to our surprise, one chicken grabbed it and swallowed it whole!!!Thanks for stopping by and leaving your sweet comment.

  • John April 6, 2014, 12:09 pm

    I haven’t read all of your blog, but I live in Maine and the best lettuce I have found is “red sail” and “green sail”. Both are very prolific and do pretty well in both warm and cold climates. Johnny’s Seeds is my source since they specialize in “short growing season” varieties. Good luck.

    • Cindy April 6, 2014, 12:38 pm

      Hi John, Thanks for visiting and the reply, we have been getting a lot of luck with Swiss Chard and use it as a spinach substitute. I have not seen or heard of the Red/Green Sail Lettuce, but I will definitely check it out! :) Thanks again, Cindy

  • Highly recommended Online site September 20, 2014, 3:13 pm

    Sweet blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.

    Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
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    • Cindy September 26, 2014, 8:42 am

      Hi, thanks for the visit and sweet comment. I am not sure how I got there but do try to immprove my SEO every chance I get. Be sure to use key words in your titles and tag your photos, linking them to your blog! 😉

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