Gail of Green Living


What’s New in My Organic Garden?
Blueberries in December!

Blueberries in December!

What’s new in my garden?  Blueberry blooms and blueberries; that’s what!  Never mind it is December, but we have had few cool days in Houston, and I guess these bushes are really happy.  If we have a threat of freeze, you know I will take care of them!

Ripe tomatoes in December!

Ripe tomatoes in December!

The Better Bush tomato vines never died in the summer.  With blooms all over them, I didn’t have the heart to get rid of them.  And now in December, we have a few really nice tomatoes to enjoy!

Kale

Siberian Kale

This is a very tender-leafed variety and it is quite delicious steamed or stir-fried in olive oil with a little garlic.

Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens

I only planted three small plants, which grow quickly, so I can pick enough each week to enjoy.

Buttercrunch Lettuce and Black-seeded Simpson lettuce

Buttercrunch Lettuce and Black-seeded Simpson Lettuce

I have never grown lettuce before, and it is so easy, I am kicking myself for not doing it earlier!  The seeds sprout in just a few days, and the leaves are very tender and tasty.  The plants do not like our warm days; I have to cool them with water when the temperature rises in the 80’s.  But for a winter vegetable, it is a winner!

Spent Grain

Spent Grain

My son and his friend brew craft beer, and he offered a bucket of “spent grain” for my compost pile.  It’s supposed to be an excellent addition to the mix.  It is the leftover malt and adjuncts after the mash has extracted most of the sugars, proteins, and nutrients from the barley.  It certainly qualifies as a new addition to my winter garden!

 

 

 

 

 

 



Composting With More Experience

In July of 2009, I posted about compost, what it is and what you can do with it.  Now, I have more experience!  These are my current observations:

Pumpkin stem from 2011

Wine cork from 2009

Pumpkin stems and wine corks are not very good candidates for your compost pile.  From your kitchen, have a good mix of “kitchen greens” and “kitchen browns“.  It will be a natural process once you get started.

This is a typical kitchen waste container for the counter top.  I keep mine next to the sink, because that’s where I retrieve most of the kitchen waste from the disposal side.  The bags I use to line it are bio-bags, that are the same compost-able material as the yard waste bags required in the City of Houston.  They break down so quickly; you’d better empty the container every 2-3 days, or the bag will begin to break down from the liquids generated!  In the last couple of days, I have put in banana peels, coffee grounds with filter, paper napkins, dryer lint, apple core, ends of green beans, cucumber peel, acorn squash shell, and orange peel.  That’ all that I can remember anyway.

First, I used a child’s rake to stir the pot to aerate it.  Then I dropped the bag into the compostmachine“.

I covered it lightly, but completely, with fresh leaves and pine needles (brown yard waste).  I added pellets of compost booster to the mix and lightly watered the top, because it was very dry.  The lid is on and now the busy bugs can do their work.

Kitchen greens are vegetable and fruit scraps, rice and pasta, egg shells, coffee grounds and tea bags.  Kitchen browns are coffee filters, stale bread, paper napkins and towels, dryer lint and hair.  Pretty soon you won’t even have to think about it and you will have a good mix all the time

Yard greens are any fresh trimmings, flowers, etc. and yard browns are dried leaves, pine needles, small twigs and dried grass and weeds (no seeds!).

I started my compost machine on October 14.  How long do you think it will be before I realize good compost from the bottom?



Compost: A new way

My new Earth Machine Compost Bin

Thanks to my good friend, Jill, I have a new compost bin.  In the past 40 years, I have probably composted for 20 of them.  I have always just made a compost pile behind the garage.  But the City of Houston in its efforts to create a more green environment for our city, has been selling composting bins and rain-collection barrels for half the normal price, once a year.  Jill has several of each type and is expanding her efforts.  I’ll have to take a field trip to Jill’s garden and report back.

But meanwhile, I put my beast together easily.  The material is hard plastic and seems quite durable.  It appears to be the same material used for our recycling bins, which are made from recycled products.  There are long plastic screws that hold the frame in the ground.

Getting it started…

I put some unfinished compost in the bin to get it going.  Recently, a yard man put way too many grass clippings on the top of my compost pile, and it hasn’t been happy ever since.  Too much added at one time is not good.  The only grass I ever add is from sweeping the driveway or street gutters, so it’s not very much.  I use a mulching mower and never have to fertilize the yard…ever!

I am one of over 2 million users of the Earth Machine Composting Bin.  One family can divert over 500 pounds of kitchen scraps and yard waste a year.  The winners are the land fill and my garden!

This week I will share some new composting hints to inspire you to do this simple routine in your home.



Ready for Fall Garden!

I’m very sure I am ready for Fall!  We had a “teaser” cool front a couple of weeks ago, and another is promised next week.  But the heat returned and cut my enthusiasm for gardening quite a bit. While it was cool, I did spend some time trimming dead limbs off my tomato plants and I think they will be good until we have a freeze.

Free tomato plant

This is my tomato plant I found in my Amaryllis a couple of months ago.  It is producing grape tomatoes now.  Since I never grew this variety before, I will have to assume the seeds came from my compost.

Free 2 Tomato Plant

This is the free plant that appeared in my Cilantro.  I think it’s another cherry tomato variety.  For those who have followed my blog for a while, I promised I would raise no tomatoes this fall.  But I have trouble with that when the plants are just there anyway!  And I have some of the bush varieties that started putting out new growth and blooms!

Bush tomato plant

There is a chance we could have a bumper crop of those nice bush tomatoes this fall!

I’ll update herbs next time.  I even have some to share.   Find out which ones are doing well in my garden in the next post!



I’m Ready to Know the Answer
September 13, 2012, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Gardening, Green Living | Tags: , ,

Red and Green Bell Peppers

Someone let me know why this happens: one pepper is green, the other red, and they are from the same stem! I used to think maybe it’s because winter peppers are on the bush so long and they turn red after a while. Now, these are summer peppers. Don’t say it’s the soil, because they are on the same stem, same soil, same organic fertilizers…are they fraternal twins? I have a couple of daughters like that!



More Odd Couples in the Garden

In early July, I posted about Odd Couples in the Garden, and I continue to find them in this hot, dry spell we are having in Houston.  Since my gardening is confined to containers, I must water every day during this time.

I have the prettiest basil in the pots with my Amaryllis bulbs!  The original basil plant is just on the other side of this pot, and it looks really terrible at this point, but it certainly sent out lots of seeds in neighboring pots to take over!

Bush Tomato

This bush tomato still hasn’t been transplanted into another pot.  I did transplant the other, and it is doing great, and like I suspected, it is a grape/cherry tomato and already has tomatoes on it.  First cloudy day, I promise to transplant it!

Cilantro and Company

This is the pot where I plant Cilantro in the Fall and early Spring.  A seed fell in the pot and the poor plant is struggling through the heat.  On the right, we have a sturdy Bluebonnet starting.  The bluebonnets were next to this pot in the Spring.  And on the left, we have another stray tomato.  I think I’m moving this family to the shade!

Have you adopted any stray plants and had success?



Odd Couples in the Garden
July 6, 2012, 8:45 am
Filed under: Gardening, Green Living | Tags: , , , ,

Tomato/Amaryllis

I think I have a couple of odd couples in my garden.  This tomato plant has sprouted and grown to a decent size without my even noticing it!  I think it must be a cherry tomato variety, but that’s just a guess.  I know the Amaryllis is a giant red bloom, and the flowers are stunning and dramatic every Spring!

Tomato/Amaryllis

Now, this tomato plant has a more stout stem and is more compact, so I’m guessing it is a Better Bush.  These amaryllis pots are less than two feet apart.  What do you suppose happened to create these odd couples in my garden?  My guess is that the squirrels and birds took their snack from my tomato plants, perched on the side of this pot to eat, and the seeds fell in the pot.

There is not much soil in these pots, because the bulbs don’t require it.  I will try to carefully transfer these plants to other pots, to give myself a headstart on my Fall Garden!

Do you ever have an Odd Couple in your garden?