Last Friday, I planted the peppers in the greenhouse raised bed. Their leaves look very healthy, and the pepper fruits are growing nicely in the soil. I hope, we are more successful this year. I wondered, where all our peppers went last Summer. In Winter, I found Mr. Ratatouille all snuggled up in a nice bed of mulch under a flower pot, protected from the cold weather. When he noticed, I found his secret spot, he ran out of the garden and under the deck. A few weeks later, we caught him with peanut butter and a sugar cookie in the life trap. Our garden must have been paradise for Ratatouille.
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.
In the beginning of the month, we experienced a few frosty nights in North Texas. I had to cover the salads and vegetables with a good layer of straw and put the branches of our Christmas tree on top of it. Now, the temperatures are in the high 60s/70s during the days, while we still experience low 40s to mid 50s at night. It’s the perfect weather for our cold season crop to grow, before it will get too warm. The Iceberg and Romaine lettuces have been grown quite a bit. The spinach is deep green. And the broccoli shows tiny heads. Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I can’t wait to dig into fresh salads in a couple to a few weeks. We pick some leaves, already. 😉
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.
While I worked in the garden, Chewbacca hung out with me in the backyard. First, he ate some grass blades. And then he looked at the birds. There were so many too watch in the trees, in the bushes and on the fence. Chewbacca prowled on a couple of birds. But they were much faster. Sometimes, the birds startled him when the whole flock flew off into another tree. In the meantime, I planted my onion slips, rhubarb and strawberries. When I was done, with my garden work, Chewbacca was ready to come into the house. It was enough adventure for him in one day.
Finally, I’ve got around to plant some broccoli, lettuce, and spinach in the raised bed. After I fertilized the bed really well, the plants went into the soil. Kevin can not wait to get fresh lettuce from our home garden, on the table in Spring. So, I always have to plant some lettuce. Katelynn and Sara love their broccoli. And I just enjoy some fresh spinach. Since Winter is not over quite yet, and we still can get nights below freezing point, I made sure, the small plants are covered with straw and Fraser Fir branches. My next project is to get the onion slips into the ground. It feels so good gardening, again.
The “Three P-Rule” or PPP does not only count for tomato plants in our garden. They go for all the plants. Some plants are hardier and can withstand freezing temperatures; a lot of plants can’t make it through a cold spell, unless they will be covered to stay warm. Earlier this week, we had 80°F (27°C). I decided to plant my dianthus, hyacinths, violas, and my pea plants in the raised beds. But I made sure, when I plant that early, I have a plan and be prepared to protect them. From previous Halloween decorations, we have straw bales in the greenhouse. And I kept our Fraser Fir after Christmas, because I knew it would come into use one way or another. Tonight, we suppose to get only 25°F (-4°C). This afternoon, I covered my plants with the straw to keep the plants cozy warm. And the Fraser twigs are for keeping the straw in place from this crazy wind. It’s not pretty. But if I was a critter or a bird, I would call it home for the night.
This afternoon, we’ve reached temperatures up to 80°F (27°C). It was perfect weather for doing some garden work, getting the raised beds cleaned up and planting my peas and early Spring flowers. While I pulled out weeds, I also found a carrot that over-wintered in one of the raised beds. I might add it to a stew, later this week. Three Mourning Doves set on the trellis I put up for the peas, in the garden. They inspected my work, fertilized it, and enjoyed the view of the garden from the trellis, before Luis, our dog, chased them away.