Hello, ladies and gentlemen! I’m back after a bit of a hiatus. I’ve been preoccupied with some personal issues that have taken a toll on my physical and mental energy levels for a few weeks. I’ve been reading the comments I’ve received on some older posts, and I thank you for all of your input. Never fear, I’ve been more or less keeping up with the garden, I just haven’t had the desire to sit down and report on it. No reflection on you, of course….I’m sure all five of you are waiting with bated breath to find out how my peppers are. And the answer to that hot button question is, they’re doing beautifully!


I got them in the ground a couple days ago, after the 3 month long struggle to keep them alive in the P-E-A-T pots. Shhhh…..I refuse to say that four letter word again. Ones I transferred them to the large plastic cups that I had my tomatoes in they absolutely flourished. I hate to think how much bigger they’d be if I hadn’t lost so much time in the beginning.

I’ve finally started harvesting lettuce too. Yay!






I’m only grabbing enough for the two of us at a time, so my harvest weight isn’t too big, but it sure is nice to walk outside and grab a handful of greens, walk inside and serve them. I made a caesar salad for myself yesterday.


I’m not having such good luck with my brassicas. None of the cauliflower has started to form heads yet, and I’m assuming they won’t. I know they’re very finicky, and they need ideal conditions to grow, which we absolutely have not had this year. Massive temperature swings, tons of rain…..the leaves look beautiful, but you can’t eat the leaves! And I was so proud of myself for saving the one that flopped over on its side using a drinking straw around the stem. Watch out, MacGyver! I don’t have anything else to put in their place so I guess I’ll just leave them and see what happens. I also have small broccoli heads that are already starting to separate due to the hotter temperatures we’ve been having. And only one of the two varieties is forming heads at all. I guess I know which one to focus on next year. Packman all the way.



All of my tomato plants are either in the SWCs or have been given away to friends. I’m so pleased with the way they’re turning out. They were doing very well inside and didn’t seem to be screaming for more room, but once they went out they really started to take off.


I’ve even got a few babies on the Mortgage Lifter. I know I should probably take them off so the plant can gain some more height first but I just can’t!!!

In the bulb bed, the garlic just keeps growing and growing! The plants are so beautiful I think I’m going to stick some in other parts of the yard this fall.


And the onions from Dixondale Farms are still plugging along. I really need to get in there and do some weeding.


The cukes have sprouted! I hope they do well, I’m anxious to try to make pickles.


The squash seeds didn’t take very long at all to germinate. I had started some inside a couple weeks ahead of the direct sown seeds but the seeds quickly outgrew the starts. I don’t think I was too late in direct planting so I’m just going to stick with those. I had row covers over everything because I had read that it was a good approach to keeping the squash bugs away for as long as possible. I read to only remove the covers for a brief period while the flowers are in bloom to let the bees have a go at them, and then to cover them right back up. However, with the rain we’ve had I think the row covers might be doing more harm than good. Is this Powdery Mildew?



It doesn’t scrape off, and I don’t see the spots I had last year when it devastated my crop. But it does have that powdery look, although it seems to be starting on the veins. I’m really not sure.

I’ll have to come back for a second post later tonight to show off some flea market finds!

I hope everyone is well and enjoying a plentiful harvest. 🙂


I’m not going to use peat pots anymore. They dry out so quickly that I keep losing plants from lack of water, even though I check them every day and water accordingly. Within 24 hours my peat potted plants went from looking okay to looking dead. Most of them sprung back to life overnight but one pepper and one eggplant are beyond hope.


Everything I have grown in peat pots has had one problem or another. But everything that went into plastic containers is great. This makes an even stronger case for getting block makers next year. The tomatoes in the plastic cups are going like gangbusters!


Outside, the peas I planted last weekend have all sprouted and are looking pretty strong so far.

Kentucky Blue pole beans and Golden Rocky Wax beans

Kentucky Blue pole beans and Golden Rocky Wax beans

Provider bush bean

Provider bush bean

And some other updates…

Sugar Snap peas and Harmony spinach

Sugar Snap peas and Harmony spinach

Sweet Salad carrots

Sweet Salad carrots

Clear Dawn and Dakota Tears onions (the newly planted onions don't look too great but I think they need more time to establish themselves)

Clear Dawn and Dakota Tears onions (the newly planted onions don't look too great but I think they need more time to establish themselves)

Valmaine lettuce

Valmaine lettuce

Packman broccoli

Packman broccoli

Snow Crown cauliflower

Snow Crown cauliflower

Marvin checking out the camera

Marvin checking out the camera

Boy, are my peppers looking sickly or what? I’m baffled.




Luckily, they’re the only plants that seem to be struggling. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, but last night I raised the grow lights to at least 1″ above all of my tomatoes. This morning when I was leaving for work I walked past them and did a double-take. They were all touching the lights! And when I came home from work tonight, they were growing inside the lights! I think the warm (read: HOT) temperatures outside this weekend translated into not-as-cold temps in the basement where the plants are. It must have been enough to give them a little growth spurt. Amazing.




I’ve got some little zucchini and yellow squash plants growing inside now, and cukes have just broken the surface. Those will go out in a couple weeks.


Outside things are really hopping too. We had very warm temps this weekend, 85 on Saturday and 88 on Sunday. It really set things in motion for some of the slower plants. I hope everything will stay happy until it cools down again later this week. I know prolonged heat wouldn’t be good for the lettuce and spinach. But I think the sun has warmed up the soil temperature so that the plants could thrive.

Snap Peas

Snap Peas

Harmony spinach

Harmony spinach

Sugar Snax carrots

Sugar Snax carrots

Valmaine (I think) lettuce

Valmaine (I think) lettuce

Packman broccoli (the new growth looks really good)

Packman broccoli (the new growth looks really good)

Bed 1 (and Calvin)

Bed 1 (and Calvin)

Bed 2 (and Calvin)

Bed 2 (and Calvin)

I got my Dixondale Farms long storage onion sample pack on Friday. They estimate approximately 20 plants of each of three varieties. Listen to this…I got 60 Copra, 60 Red Zeppelin, and 40 Sterling plants! I split them up into three groups, gave a third to a coworker, mailed a third to my cousin, and still had enough to fill a 4X4 bed with 4 per square, plus two empty squares in another bed. And they cost $10.50 including shipping!


Well okay, before I start getting into the problems, let’s look at some things that are going well.

Let’s start outside, shall we?

It was a very foggy evening tonight…the yard looked so serene. Except for the PVC obstacle course!


On Saturday I planted more seeds: a second round of spinach (2 varieties), a second round of lettuce (4 varieties), a second round of carrots (first round sprouting now), and leeks (already sprouting). I planted the second round of broccoli and cauliflower plants as well.

The peas are starting to send out their tendrils! It won’t be long now before they’re climbing the trellis.


The spinach is progressing slowly, but I do see some growth from day to day.


The garlic is growing like gangbusters! I think there has been a burst of activity since I hit it with some seaweed fertilizer last week. The forsythia bloomed overnight as well.


Not everything looks so good though…..

… I the only person in the world whose lettuce isn’t showing any sign of growth after surfacing two weeks go? I mean, all four varieties…nothing!


And the cauliflower has some red leaves. After some reading I think this is a boron deficiency. Here is one of the affected Cassius plants:


This started happening inside to both cauliflower and broccoli. I doused the younger seedlings with seaweed fertilizer before it started affecting them and I think it might have done the trick. Here is a younger Snow Crown cauliflower:


Has this happened to anyone else? The plants are still strong. I hope the newer growth will look healthier and that this won’t affect the heads when/if they develop.

Let’s venture into the basement….



Here is one of 3 Orient Express eggplants that germinated:


The tomatoes are all looking really good, if a little short. I’m keeping the lights so close on them, I think they’re building up their stems and spreading out their leaves instead of growing leggy. I’m really pleased with the stockiness of the plants so far.





Now here’s the 64K question. What is happening with my pepper plants? They are strong and healthy, and yet they’re developing purple leaves!

Here’s an unaffected Marconi:


But then here’s a California:


And a Jimmy Nardello:


See the veiny purple sections on some of the leaves? They are much more purple than the pictures show…..Wordpress sure does desaturate the hell out of pictures. They look so nice before I upload them. Anyway, there are a few more affected plants as well. It doesn’t seem to be bothering the plants, I just can’t figure out what it is! I read one website that said not to put peppers on a heat mat, which they are, but another site said to keep them warm. One site said it could be a phosphorus deficiency and another site said it’s stress and it happens sometimes but it’s nothing to worry about. I’m sure if I dig around the internet long enough I’ll find someone who thinks aliens sneak in during the night and inject the leaves with a purple radioactive dye. Can anyone give me any insight? I don’t want to blindly fertilize without knowing for sure that they need it for fear that I’ll overfertilize them and stress them even more.

Ah well, as the garden turns….

My tomato plants are looking really strong since potting up. They aren’t leggy at all, which must be because I’m able to adjust the lights to be right on top of them without touching. My husband’s idea of having 3 lights parallel to each other, and hanging the lights from long chains has worked out very well. Moving them up one link at a time, each side independent of each other, has allowed me to adjust them to keep almost all of the plants within an inch or so, whether they are in short seedling trays, 4″ high peat pots, or 6″ cups. I’ve really noticed that the growth spreads out instead of up, making the stems thicker and more sturdy. Here is a Sun Gold, for example:


And here is a BHN-624 cherry (catchy name, huh?):


And here’s a super hairy Bloody Butcher (which sounds disgusting when I think about it!):


I have a weird occurrence on one of my Red Knight pepper plants. the cotyledon leaves are all rusty looking. I don’t really see it on the true leaves, so I’m not concerned yet.


This is my other Red Knight plant, which doesn’t show the same discoloration, although the cotyledon leaf ripped. I think it happened when it was trying to shed the seed case.


There isn’t much to report out in the beds since my last post, except that all the peas are now starting to grow leaves. I think now that they’re roots are established I should start to see some upward growth. I can’t wait! Here is the line of peas on the right and some spinach on the left of the squares.


Things are falling into place, I think!

I have been very busy outside over the last week, not just in the garden but around the yard. I took a vacation day today to give me a four day weekend and really focus on cleaning up and preparing for the garden to take off. OK, so maybe my busiest week can’t hold a candle to my friend EG’s slowest, but I feel pretty accomplished!

Let’s start with last weekend. I planted the first round of broccoli plants outside; two Packman and two Fiesta. Those yellow leaves are dying off, but the plants seem to be okay otherwise.


I’ve got two more younger plants of each under the lights for second planting next week, along with Snow Crown and Cassius cauliflower plants.

I’m happy to say that I see most of my seeds sprouting out there. I was concerned about the possibility of the squirrels having moved them around, but they seem to be coming up where I planted them for the most part. Here are some Harmony spinach seedlings:


I can also see seedlings emerging of Space spinach, and Valmaine, Little Caesar, Victoria, and Buttercrunch lettuce. I’m still waiting for American Flag leeks, Evergreen Scallions, and Sweet Salad and Sugar Snax carrots to emerge.

The Sugar Snap and Blizard Snow peas have set deep roots and are starting to break the surface. I expect they’ll really start taking off this week.


After getting all of these things in the ground we set our sights on setting up the PVC/string trellises for the peas and beans, and the metal trellises for the vining plants that will go in later. We also *borrowed* the idea to construct a PVC frame to hold bird netting and anything else we need to prop up over the plants. It looks like a boot camp training course out there now, but everything will eventually serve a purpose.


Now on to this weekend. I started some zucchini seeds, and I have to high tail it to the store to get some yellow squash seeds, since I seem to have missed them when I placed my seed orders. I’ve potted up some more tomatoes and peppers, and now the only seedlings left to pot up are some small Orient Express eggplants and a couple Black Cherry Tomatoes that I had to start over after poor germination. There is absolutely no more room under the lights right now, so I’ll have to wait until I get the second batch of broccoli and cauliflower out into the garden to make room for the others.
I hate having to throw away perfectly good plants but I had too many tomatoes that germinated, so I had to thin things out. They all looked healthy too. It’s a shame.

The crappy plastic two tier 4×8 bed that I bought last year has 40 garlic plants in traditional soil on one side which are doing extremely well. I hit them with some liquid seaweed fertilizer today.



Today, I cleared out the other side that I used last year for zucchini. I amended the soil with compost, and it is now waiting for the onslaught of onion plants I should be getting next week from Dixondale Farms.


It’s hard to do much during the week after work, so next weekend the plan is to do some more yard maintenance and fine tune the bird netting setup, as right now it’s pretty hard to get access to the plants. I think what we’ll do is attach the netting on the long sides to 8′ 1×2 boards so we can easily lift up an entire side all at once. I also plan on planting the second round of broccoli, all the cauliflower, more carrot and spinach seeds.

Spring is in swing!!!

I was pretty tired after work tonight and was going to wait until tomorrow to repot some plants. Nothing will wake you up more quickly than seeing that half your seedlings are wilted over and appear to be dying. The peppers were the worst. At first I thought maybe aphids had invaded. But when I investigated further I realized that even though they aren’t very big above ground, the roots had grown down to the bottom of the seed tray and weren’t getting the water they needed. The surface of the mix was damp but underneath was dry as a bone. Time for emergency surgery. I planted the peppers that weren’t too far gone into peat pots. Hopefully they’ll survive.




I decided to do the same for my tomatoes. They don’t all have their first true leaves yet, but I really don’t want to be caught short again like I was with the peppers. I left the really small seedlings in the tray, but anything that looked strong enough was transplanted into cups.


That’s Sun Gold on the left and Black Cherry on the right. I did at least two of the strongest of each variety. I’ve got the tiny backups in the seed tray just in case the transplanted seedlings run into trouble.

I’ve got another mystery to solve as well. A few of my broccoli plants have dying leaves. The plants themselves feel strong and hardy, but one or two leaves went soft and then turned yellow. I’m planning on getting these plants out to the beds on Sunday, and I’m not giving up on the sick ones yet. I’ll wait to see how they fare outside. I have younger plants planned for succession planting, so it won’t be horrible if I have a couple casualties.


See the yellow leaf in the back? I’ve encountered this with three plants, of two different varieties.

Here is the seed starting area, jam packed with plants.


On to the next potential problem I’m dealing with. We’ve had very heavy rains off and on over the last couple days, and none of the squirrel-tampered seeds have sprouted yet. So, either the squirrels ate them last weekend and they’re all gone, or they’re slow to germinate, or they’re rotted from the rain. Now, the peas that I planted are still there, and are germinating under the surface (I dug one up out of curiosity). So I think the lettuce planted at the same time should be doing something by now. The beds are draining very nicely and no water has been pooling. How long should I wait before I come to the conclusion that I need to replant the squares?

Even with these issues I’m encountering, I have to say that I find these learning experiences very rewarding. I did SO MUCH reading before I ever ordered a seed, trying to learn as much as I could about the process and the potential problems that might present themselves. But it wasn’t until I actually got my hands in the dirt that I saw first hand how different plants have different needs. There really isn’t any better way to learn than through trial and error.

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