WOOHOO! I’ve got my first phase of the Greenhouse Garden Project done. Lots of cinder blocks, soil and sweat went into it. The last few days, I worked on Part III, IV, and V. My muscles are sore and aching. No pain, no gain!
In Part III, I placed the cinder blocks, filled the raised bed with soil, amended the soil with all kind of goodies, and planted the peppers and herbs. Now, the roots of the bell peppers, poblano and jalapeño can stretch out and grow more fruit. We have some peppers on the plants already. They are still small. But it’s great to see them growing so well. While I put the cinder blocks down, I did it on both sides of the greenhouse. That’s why it was so easy and fast to get the other parts done in a decent amount of time.
Part IV will be a blooming herb bed to invite pollinators. Yes, when it gets very warm I leave the windows open in Summer. Usually, I’m getting visitors like bees, butterflies, moths, spiders. and sometimes even a curious Northern Cardinal fledgling, which needs help to find its way back out to its parents. In Part V, I just filled up the walking area with mulch and put down some step stones for easy access to the vegetables and herbs. The mulch just needs to settle a little bit. It feels like walking on a sponge. 😀
Kevin got me some succulents as a present for our upcoming Anniversary. This was very sweet of him. I just need to find a perfect spot for them. They can handle temperatures from 45°-100°F. And they prefer a slightly shaded area. In Texas, it can get much cooler and much warmer. So, I have to remember to bring them inside on those hot Summer days.
Three days of warm weather was just too much for the broccoli. Today it was showing some signs, that it would bold soon. So I just cut the florets off, and used them for tonight’s supper. It was delicious. For the last couple of weeks, I pull some leaves from the lettuces, spinach, and herbs on a daily basis. And Sara sits in the garden and nibbles on some salad and watches the sunset, every night.
Last week, I’ve been sowing some cucumber seeds in a couple of raised beds. So far, I can see two small plants. Hopefully, the other seedlings will pop up, soon. It would be excellent, if we can add fresh tomatoes and cucumbers to our salads, in late Spring and early Summer.
Every day, I worked on the first bed a little bit in the evenings. Yesterday, I finally got it done. First I built the wall from cinder blocks, I had sitting in the garden. After the wall was in place, I filled the bed with compost, soil, and topped it off with some mulch. I dug big holes for the tomato plants. But before I planted them, I dropped more compost, corn meal, Epsom salt, expanded shale, and worm casting in the holes. Then I picked off the bottom three tomato branches and sat the tomatoes deep in the bed. That way, the plants can produce more roots, which can get more water and nutrition from the soil. Next to the tomatoes, I planted some marigolds to keep the Tomato Hornworm under control. Last year, I had one eating half of my tomato plant in one night. They are pretty looking caterpillars. But they are evil little boogers. The bottom cinder blocks, I filled in with old mulch. I wanted to save on the soil. Usually herbs don’t need deep soil to grow well. Now, we also have lavender, strawberries, orange mint, basil, lemon thyme, parsley, and dill. The parsley and the dill will be for swallowtail caterpillars in Summer. I’m glad, I’ve got this bed done before the rain storm came in.
Yesterday, I found a new Winter annual on our lawn, I’ve never noticed before. Next to the Persian Speedwell, we have some patches of Corn Speedwell growing in our backyard. After I did some research, I found out that Corn Speedwell is not only a cute little plant. It can be used as an herb for anti inflammatory, tonic, expectorant and diaphoretic treatment. In ointments it can be used to treat skin inflamations, wounds and eczema.
This Summer/Autumn season I didn’t do much in our home garden, due to health issues earlier in the year. Therefore, I don’t have very little for harvest. Our green onions and rainbow chard did well throughout the year. Other than that, we only have a few herbs left. It is still better, than nothing at all. I will take a break from gardening, until January; it will be time for seedlings to start for the Spring/Summer season. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy our fresh herbs until it gets too cold for them as well. 😉
This morning, I purchased some flowers, peppers and parsley from the nursery. Since I always run out of fresh parsley, I had to get another plant while I’m waiting for the seeds to grow. When I looked at the parsley plant, I’ve noticed I had a Black Swallowtail caterpillar munching on a leaf. I don’t mind taking the caterpillar home with me. Now, my parsley will go for the wildlife, again. This evening, I’ll look for a wasting basket to transfer the Black Swallowtail caterpillar over to my dill plant. I don’t want Mr. Cardinal knocking on the door for this particular kind of food. There are still plenty of other goodies for the Cardinal Family in my garden. I have to cover the plant up to protect the Black Swallowtail, until it turns into a chrysalis. Then I can bring it into my greenhouse to become a beautiful butterfly. Once it is ready for the outdoors, the girls and I will name it and release it into the wild.
Since my second bed was put together by the church gardeners, all I had to do is plant some tomatoes, peppers, basil, tomatillos, etc. But I also planted more flowers for our pollinators in the first bed. Last year, we had bees and beautiful butterflies visiting the garden. I would like to see, if a hummingbird is coming over for a visit as well. Pollinators are so important for a vegetable/fruit garden. Some plants get wind pollinated, others need a little help from our insect and bird friends. While most of the flowers still have to grow, before they will bloom; I captured photos of some flowers, which are in bloom right now. And of course, the vegetables are growing very well too.
Due to the rains in February and the warmer temperatures in March, our lawn looks like a meadow. We have henbit, chickweed, dandelion, blue field madder, baby blue eyes, wood sorrel/oxalis, and many other little blooms flourish in the yard. Of course there are blooms, what some gardeners consider as weeds. Because they are very invasive and hard to get rid off in a “perfect” yard/garden. What a lot of people don’t know is that some of these plants are edible. Here are some examples of the plants from our yard.
- Henbit can be eaten fresh or cooked, and be used in teas. It is very nutritious, high in iron, vitamins and fiber. Henbit can be added to salads, wraps, and soups. But it shouldn’t be consumed in high amounts, because it is a laxative.
- Common Chickweed leaves can be added to sandwiches and salads. They are also good for soups and stews.
- Wood Sorrel/Oxalis can be used to spice up salads. It should not be eaten in extensive amounts, since it can cause kidney stones in some people.
- Dandelion can be used in salads, tea, and as coffee. While it taste like coffee it doesn’t contain any caffeine.
It is getting warmer in Texas. In the beginning of the week it still felt like Winter. By the end it will feel like late Spring/early Summer. But I still have to keep a close eye to the temperatures, since we still get 30s and 40s (-1ºC to +9ºC) some nights. During the day it is wonderful to get everything ready for the Spring garden.
Today, I decided to plant my tomatoes a little bit deeper. Their roots are not as established, yet. I still could dig around the roots and drop them with some Epsom salt lower into the soil. The peppers will bloom soon. I found some good size buds on them. And the rest, which were planted earlier is doing very well in the raised beds. Our plants are growing. I finally planted the cauliflower and kohlrabi in one of the beds. Since I lost them to a freeze last December, I was very hesitant until now. When it gets too cool, I have to cover them. We easily could get another cold snap here in North Texas in mid-April. The magic temperature number is 55ºF (13ºC) for the tomatoes. When the ‘maters get covered, the cauliflowers, kohlrabi and peppers will get covered as well.