Growing Up in the Garden

I grew up in the garden – literally!  When I was young, I had a section of the garden that was mine at my grandma’s house.  I mostly made mud pies, but also pretended to hoe and “plant” whatever I found.  When I got older, I joined 4-H and had my first garden of my very own, a small flower bed around our flag pole.  I continued to take gardening projects, including house plants, various flower garden projects, and even a tree/landscaping project.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I first planted vegetables.  I started with peas and potatoes, and have added a few more plants each year, experimenting with new and different things each year.

My main garden, located behind my rabbit/cavy shed, is currently overgrown with spearmint.  For this year, my goal is to grow some veggies in another bed, while battling the spearmint.

I started some cabbage and parsley seeds in coconut coir pellets.
I made a little notebook to keep track of what I plant where, and also planted some kale.
Two little cabbage sprouts.
I organized my seeds

Gardening Boxes

My dad brought out some old boards from the deck they had on their house and set them up as gardening boxes for me.

Now I just need to fill them, I’m going to use the lasagna gardening method, which alternates layers of green and brown materials on top of newspaper.

 My first layer of newspaper went down, covered by a layer of the stuff out of my cavy cages – broken down wood pellets, poop/pee, and discarded hay.

I’m going to continue this until I have a layer over the whole box, then go back and add some chopped leaves and other green material, followed by a layer of more manure.

County Fair

Each year, I look forward to the start of fall, which is signaled by the county fair.  I love our fair, it is a favorite time of the year – better than Christmas!  I love to enter things in the fair and this year, I was excited to enter some things from my new house – things that were all mine.

I have entered the flower show in the past, but most of the entries have been flowers grown by my mom and myself.  This year, I only had a few flowers, but they were flowers that belonged to me alone.  I entered a hosta bloom in the Any Other Cut Flower category.  I didn’t get a placement, but the judge told me afterward that I had done a nice job picking the flower, but it just wasn’t as eye-catching as some of the larger entries.

I also entered the Sedum category, where I also didn’t get an award, but I once again was able to talk to the judges after the show and find out what it was they were looking for and I hope to do better next year!

My very first eggplant was ripe just in time for the fair, so I entered it in the Any Other Color Eggplant category.  There were quite a few eggplants and the judge of the Farm Products division said that there were a lot of very nice eggplants with a lot of hard competition – so I was shocked when I saw I won 3rd place!

I also entered one of my yellow squash in the Crookneck Squash class, where I was very please to find I also had won 3rd place!

In the second flower show, I entered a floral arrangement.  Because I didn’t have many flowers around my house to work with, and I couldn’t afford to buy any, I only entered one class, Bright Foliage, which was a class for horizontal designs with no flowers.  I used the hosta leaves from my yard as the main focal point and the leaves from the arborvitae as the filler.  I was very surprised, but pleased when I found I won first place!

I also entered my African Violet that I got from my grandmother.  It is large and healthy looking but uncentered.  I had hoped to repot it before the fair, but ran out of time.  It got second, because it was off-center and because it was not blooming (there were only two entered).

And finally, I entered my huge scented geranium (middle row, far right) in the geranium class, only to discover that it should have been in the herb class instead.  The judges liked it and thought it looked healthy, but couldn’t place it since it was in the wrong class.

Powdery Mildew on the Squash

Yesterday, I noticed that my squash had some white, powdery looking spots on it’s leaves.

The plant itself looked okay other than the spots.

I noticed the other day that while some of the fruit were okay, a couple of the fruits just coming on appeared to have started to rot where the flower typically falls off.

 So, obviously, I had to do something, the first thing I did was find out what I had.  My twitter friends told me I likely had Powdery Mildew.  The first thing I did was to cut off the healthy fruit.  Though I would normally leave it to grow a bit more, I preferred to cut it off than to leave it and have it rot.

The next thing I did was to cut off all of the dead leaves, the dead flowers, rotted fruit/flowers, dying stems, and the leaves that were very badly covered in mildew.  I used sharp pruners and put the damaged leaves on my scrap pile.

Now, I had several options.  There were lots of different suggestions to try to prevent powdery mildew (not a lot of treatment options, mostly preventatives).  The one I decided to try was a combination of baking soda, water, and a touch of dish soap.  
I took a quart sized spray bottle I got from the dollar store and added a drop of liquid dish detergent (the off brand of Dawn, the blue kind is what I used, then added 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda.  I mixed this well, then squirted on all sides of the leaves, including the stems.  I more or less drenched the entire plant to the point of run-off.
I did this in the evening, after the sun had gone down, to be sure that the sun didn’t scorch the plant with the soap.  By mid-morning the next day, the leaves that did have small powdery mildew spots on them were gone, but a small yellow spot was left.  The whole plant looked happier.

I have hopes that some of the remaining blooms will be able to make it to harvest still, currently, they have teeny-tiny squash coming on – with no mildew!