Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hot Hot Heat

Wow has it been hot this week!!

It has been in the 90's for the last several days, and we are finishing out the heat wave in the 100's! Yowza. The garden seems to be doing well, despite the hot temperatures. I hope the flowers on my tomato can hold out a few more days though. I noticed a few opened today, and I know they will fall off in temperatures over 90. I have been trying to keep up on watering, and in general the plants are so closely planted that I think they are shading eachother a little, which is actually good.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Fluffy" gardens

I always think that mid-summer gardens have a certain full "fluffiness" to them. Like all the plants are at their fullest healthiest point. Late June is before most flowers start to fade, before most plants start to collapse under their own sprawling size... Here are some shots of how the garden is coming along right now :)  It is filling in nicely. So far I've had enough minor damage from slugs and other bugs that I want to let things go a little further before I begin to thin it out. I had some little tomatoes that were really starting to take off, but when I went down today something had eaten one of them right at the base of the stem, and ruined the whole seedling. For reasons like that, I was to give the smaller plants more time to grow, so that they can survive a little bug damage, before I start to thin them. I have flowers growing along the front border (which have really taken off!) and everything else behind them is vegetables. I have tomatoes, peppers, basil, okra, egg plant, and ground cherries. We'll see which of that stuff is strong enough to actually bear fruit.

Really starting to fill in! Going to have to thin some of that out soon.

See how burned the grass is?? It's been very dry and hot here. Have been watering the garden every few days, and should probably do it a little more often to be honest.

I went out today and starting pushing that bush over the other side of the rail. It has been creeping in on my garden. Some of it was actually touching my tomatoes when I came out today, which is no good since that plant has grasping/twining tendrils that wrap tightly around everything they touch.

No rain for Chicago this year! Every thirsty bee in Chicago was up in my business while I was watering my garden today...

Monday, June 11, 2012

June... Actually The Most Wonderful Time of The Year!

Forget December, June has my heart <3

This week has been lovely :) The best that summer has to offer. I am so tempted to throw on a bikini and catch some rays out in the courtyard by my garden, but I think my neighbors find me eccentric enough as it is.

So along with June having wonderful weather, it's also the month where insects of all sorts tend to descend on my plants. On the back porch I've got some sort of green flying bugs in my Goldilocks and on my inpatients. I sprayed those with some insecticidal soap, and I hope that will solve my problem back there. Out front in my courtyard veggie garden, I've got slugs!! I didn't know what was chewing up my marigolds for the last few weeks, and then this week my okra seeds came up and 50% of them were chewed down to the stem in just one night. But this time there was tell-tale slime trails ALL over my garden. Up and down the brick, stringing from leaf to leaf, leaving nasty trails all over the soil as they traveled to and fro... Ick. They even chewed the leaves off some of my okra and didn't even eat them! They were just bitten off and laying next to the poor pitiful stem. So I went out today and devised a plan of attack.
1) Planted more okra. I put like 10 more seeds in, hope that a few will live to produce something.
2) Covered a few of my okra and one of my peppers with plastic bottle "shields" in hopes that the slugs won't be able to get in there are eat them.
3) Put in some "beer pits" into which I hope the slugs will fall and die
4) ordered some "Sluggo" because I will not be chasing these f***ers around all summer while they destroy my hard work!!

I am hoping my beer pits will get me by for the next few days until the Sluggo comes in. Here is how I made them:
1) cut a water bottle in half
2) bury it about 3/4ths of the way into the soil
3) pour some beer in there!

I'm not 100% sure this is going to work, since i've heard that some slugs just lean over the edge and drink up the beer, no problem. However, if my slugs are small they should fall in there and not be able to get back out. I heard that smooth sided cans were the best option, so I also buried a beer can in there. Hey, this is a class joint i'm running here! You can tell, because the beer is a Highlife ;)

Who knows, maybe the slugs will slice themselves open on the deadly edge of that beer can. Or my neighbors will just think i'm insane when they see this... But whatever, a gardener has to do what a gardener has to do.

I also covered some of my plants with bottles like so:

I am hoping that slugs are lazy, and won't bother climbing in there. If I'm wrong, they will probably climb in there and eat the entire plant because now they are stuck with it lol. We'll see what happens.

And of course, this is on the way:

This is supposed to be safe for pets, kids, and "organic" The product description says "Sluggo Snail & Slug Killer is Effective & Environmentally Friendly. SLUGGO is a unique blend of iron phosphate and bait additives. The bait not ingested will biodegrade and become a beneficial addition to your garden's soil" The reviewers seem to love it, so I'll give it a try.

My tomato and pepper seeds have seemed very stunted this year, so I'm not about to loose what I was able to get going to slugs.

My courtyard garden around 6/1/12

The humble Marigold. Simple, but beautiful.

In other news, my back porch garden is really coming along this year. I think I have started to find a direction for it that I really like. I decided to go with a little less variety this year, in favor of unity and cohesiveness. I brought back my spikey grasses, because they seem to do really well back there and I just love ornamental grass for some reason. There is something beachy about it I think. I also decided to plant perennials in pots along the ground so that I can have a "base" to work with and not have to start from scratch each year. Annuals are fun, and usually colorful, but it gets expensive and a little overwhelming to buy all new plants every year. I am trying to embrace my shade more and go for "lush" rather than colorful. That being said, I was still able to find some exotic begonias this year with great color.

Can you believe this is a begonia?

Why hang my boxes on the inside of my rail? Because i'm 3.5 stories up.
If one of these fell it could probably kill someone... eek. They each weigh ~40lbs.
New fronds on the fern start of golden, very pretty.
These are all perennials, and will grow back next year.
Not a bad place to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wild Weather

We have had quite the spread of temperatures this week! It doesn't feel as hot as it says though. We haven't put in the AC units because with the fan on it feels pretty nice in the apartment, so it can't actually be getting into the 90's I don't think. I put my seedlings out May 22nd and they seem to be doing okay. I am going to have to throw away all that seed I think though. It's several years old and is lacking "vigor". The seeds germinated well, but after that it has been slow going. They have been real yellow and slow growing, with a bout of edema on the tomatoes. I'm still waiting for them to take off and really start growing. Seems like last year they put out several pairs of leaves faster than they have this year. I am thinking about buying some back up tomatoes just in case these ones don't do anything, since last year I didn't get any tomatoes either and was so disappointed. Anyhow, I have work to do in both the courtyard garden and porch garden. I am trying to really embrace shade plants this year on the porch, and go more for lush than bright. Think hastas, ferns, grasses... etc. Will post pictures soon :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cleaning up the NYPG

Hello Hello,

What better way to kick off May than to clean out the garden beds? I have decided to dump the old dirt from my hanging planters and to fill them with a mix of fancy dirt and normal stuff. There seems to be some debating going on about whether or not this mix is worth buying. But how I see it, is that the hanging baskets I use are subjected to so much wind that they dry out in literally like 1 or 2 days. I can't keep up on the watering, and then they wilt. So if this stuff holds water (evidently too well) then I will mix it with some standard potting soil and hopefully that will give me the best of both worlds. Also, the soil in my planting boxes is like 3 years old and needs to be refreshed anyways.

In other news, it looks like this year we should be coming up to our frost free date on time this year, which is great. Not only that, but it seems like we'll hit the magic zone for transplanting from indoors to outdoors: 70/50 for the high/low. Tomatoes and peppers do not like to be out before the nights are consistently above 50 degrees.

However, it has been very cloudy which worries me. I don't want my plants to get leggy or have mold problems, but I have also heard that too much direct sunshine can shock the plants when they are young... so we'll see how it goes. I will be sure to update this blog so that I know for next year.

My seedlings seem to be coming along okay so far. They aren't picture perfect, which is mildly distressing, but I'm trying to go easy on myself. My basil has some brown spots, which may have been caused by water getting on their leaves. I have been trying to be more careful and make sure the leaves aren't left wet for too long. My tomatoes were developing edema again, just like last year. This isn't all that surprising because its the same exact seeds and growing conditions. I have been really trying to restrain myself and not over water them to try to stop further damage, which, cross your fingers, seems to be working so far. For the last 12 days or so my seeds haven't seemed to really be growing much. Most of them popped out their first set of true leaves within about 7 days of sprouting, but since then they haven't been visibly changing much. I am pretty sure that they are going through a period of root growth and that once that is complete they will start to shoot up and grow more leaves. Once again, I will try to record what happens so that I know for next year.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


So this week the temperature has dropped to a more normal level, which is good in a way. I was starting to feel anxious that I was late starting my seeds, but I think they will be right on time. I'm going to do a "back up planting" this year just in case too. Last year my tomatoes flowered during a 90+ heat snap and ALL their flowers fell off and I ended up getting NO tomatoes at all. It was pretty disappointing. So this year I am starting a second batch of tomatoes about 2 weeks from now, so that if we have weird weather some should still survive. 

My Seeds!

Current Weather

In other news, I have been snapping pictures all over the neighborhood of beautiful spring scenes... Enjoy :)

 Check out this ferns! Don't they look weird when they first come up?

I loved this red flower by the white tree, with the little purple flowers all around...

 Don't know what sort of bush this is, but I thought it was really pretty.

These reminded me of Easter Eggs :)

There are a bunch of these blooming at my school. Aren't they nice? Wish I knew what they were!!

 So dreamy...

I love this yard, so quintessentially "Spring"

I always think the lime green new growth on bushes is interesting and beautiful. Bushes don't get many kudos for being "beautiful", but in spring they are if you look closely!

 Who doesn't love lilacs??

And of course, it just wouldn't be spring in Chicago if they didn't dye the river green on St. Patty's!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Summer Plans 2012

It is so warm and beautiful out that I am going to get my seeds started next week! Can't believe it, last year it was snowy and cold until early May. I probably could have started seeds 1-2 weeks ago honestly, but it just seemed too good to be true. I got my NYPG (No yard/Porch Garden) cleaned up yesterday, which was exciting. I noticed while I was out there that my clematis has buds all over it, and judging by where they are growing I am pretty sure that I pruned it wrong last year. The tag said that it should be pruned back to about 12" from the dirt in early spring, but that didn't seem to benefit the plant. It was small and only had like 3 flowers on it all summer. Part of that is probably because it's not getting enough sunlight, but the pruning didn't help I don't think. So anyhow, I am not going to prune it at all right now, and hopefully it will grow better. It will be an experiment if nothing else. But anyways, without further ado here are my goals for this summer
  1. Create seed bombs aka green grenades. I am going to ever-so-sneakily deposit these around my neighborhood and see if they grow. I am launching some along the rocky edge of the train track and in this one planter that was lonely and empty all summer last year.
  2. Start my seeds in 2 weeks when I get back from Austin.
  3. Get some patio furniture that matches... hopefully.
  4. Reassess how my window boxes are mounted to the rail. Maybe I will buy some rail rockits... I am hoping to make better use of my little space and somehow fit more plants in while making the boxes less obtrusive. This might include moving my boxes to the top of the rail somehow...
  5. Redesign the far corner of my NYPG with my beautiful blue planter that was previously going to be made into a fountain.
  6. Grow as many veggies as I can fit in my courtyard garden. I was thinking I would maybe line the edge in marigolds this year, or somehow sneak some flowers in there...
  7. Get my worm box back together... maybe. This is going to take more thought before I decide. I'm torn because I was the box, but don't have room for it in my kitchen, but last year they all died because it got too hot outside... ohhh the choices!
Here's too the warm weather & early spring!! Woo hoo!