Monday, May 31, 2010


We ate our first strawberries and they were delicious!
Excuse the photo, I gobbled them up too fast to get a photo of the ripe ones, so here's one of an unripened one.

We have six plants and what I've come to realize is that you need at least double that to get a normal amount of strawberries for two people. Yea yea, that might be obvious to everyone else, but nope, I just figured this out. If you only have six, you only eat about 4 strawberries at a time. And if you have more than one person in your family, you eat half or a third of that. I was very cautious this first year since I figured they would grow back bigger and badder each year. I didn't want to overcrowd the guys, but now I figure, "What the heck!" I think I'm going to plant some more. Hopefully they are still selling them.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I forgot to mention that this year I plotted everything out on

It's a cool planning program that allows you to arrange your fruits/vegetables within a personalized graph. It tells you how much space they need and color codes them so you know which plants to group together. Eye opening, I was all over the place the past two years. I think it will really help this year.

Did I mention they have a 30-day free trial? Kind of crazy since you only really need a month to plan everything out for the season.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

almost all in

Planted it all and we only have one empty space, so I had to go back and get a grape tomato plant. Put all the cages down around the tomatoes so hopefully they will be contained in some sort of fashion. The past two years, we've waited too long to put the cages in and it's been a disaster.

I have high hopes for this year. I think we've figured out the right amount of vegetable to put in and how to plant them. These things take time and a lot of trial & error.

Monday, May 17, 2010

2nd trip to Nursery

We made our second trip of the season to Verdino's to pick up the bulk of the crop. In our loot, we got Roma Tomatoes (x3), cherry peppers (x6), lavender, rosemary, oregano, peppermint and blueberries (x2). We also got seeds for green beans, basil and cilantro.

I am not a hot pepper fan, but my husband is so I got some. He also wants to figure out a hot pepper relish and possibly infuse some olive oil with it. It's a good idea, but did we need 6 of them? Absolutely not. However, they were sold in trays of 6 and we had the room so when I planted them, I just put them all in.

We are trying to experiment with some more herbs this year, so we planted the lavender and rosemary in the ground. I hope it grows back every year, but if not, it smells nice this year. That borders the garden and separates it from the patio brick. I put the peppermint in a pot since it's invasive and put the oregano in a pot because, well, just because.

We did starter green beans last year and really have seemed to had better luck with the seeds. They are cheaper, so why not? put a row in there.

I've never grown basil or cilantro from seed, but figured I'd give it a try this year. What's with cilantro though? I thought it was synonymous with chinese parsley, but chinese parsley looks well like parsley. I want the real deal for cilantro so thought the seeds might give me that. It's a longer wait but so much cheaper if you have the patience.

As I said before we love our blueberry bush in the front, so we got two more for the back. We'll be sure to overdose on blueberries. There are worse things in life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The garden center

Am I the only one who could spend my life savings in a garden center? Man, the place is mesmerizing. My 10 month old daughter loves it there too. She stares at all the flowers with her mouth agape, most likely mimicking her mother.

My favorite garden center in Queens is Verdino's on Rockaway Ave right across from the Aqueduct. Not only is the selection great, but the staff is absolutely amazing. They will tell you which plants to buy and which to put back for your gardening purposes.

We made our first trip on Monday, only to realize that it has been cold and they have lost a large portion of their supply and put the rest in their house to salvage. We walked away with only 6 strawberry plants. We got the everbearing variety so hopefully we will enjoy a few crops this season.

Per my husband's insistence for the past two years, we finally got two grape starter vines. They are immature, but have a couple years on them so hopefully it won't be too many years before they start producing. Have to get an arbor for them but no rush on that, maybe next year.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This year's prep

I mentioned the last two years, this is how we improved this year.

First, we flipped the soil a few times throughout the year. Then, at the start of the season, we ripped up several Hostas that bordered the garden. I have nothing against Hostas, they are pretty and absolutely impossible to kill. Impossible! For a green thumb like myself, they are perfect for adding some greenery. However, the last owner planted probably close to 100 along the perimeter of our 16x45 backyard. I could have kept half of them and still not seen the ground underneath. That was my plan. I was just going to "thin" them out. But when I started ripping them up, I couldn't be stopped. I wanted all of them gone. I still have only ripped up half the rows, but plan to rip up the rest in the next year and replace them with flowers and herbs.

Yes, can normally put an ad on craigslist or freecycle offering your Hostas as a "you dig them, you keep them" but in order to get to them, you have to come through our house and I was not keen on having strangers trudging through our house to take our plants. None of my friends and family wanted them, so I just tossed them. Those things are huge! What a pain, but even without anything planted, the backyard already looked a million times better.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Previous successes/failures

This is our third summer in our home and our third year of gardening.

Here's the history:

It was a blank canvas when we moved in, overrun with weeds, shrubs and a large rubber tire.

The first year we tried a little of everything; cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, peppers, chili peppers, squash. It was all fruitful...a little too fruitful actually. The squash overtook the small plot, so we ripped it up pretty quickly. We had trouble keeping up with everything. Overall, it was a success. The first year the soil had been used in a while and it was rich, moist and dense.

Last year, well, we had great intentions, but I was due to give birth in mid-July and was put on modified bed rest so could not really tend to the garden. I thought I could keep up with it during naps, but I barely wanted to move until the gardening season was over so the garden was a mess. It was also a strange summer. Very cold the first half (which I loved being pregnant) and then quickly very hot. Our cucumbers grew in odd mutant shapes, our tomatoes grew with holes in them and vines of everything took over the place. It was a wash. We vowed to come back the next summer bigger and better than ever.

Worth mentioning, that we did plant a blueberry bush last year in the front yard and it produced many wonderful berries.