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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring Garden: Final Exam

I know you must have been wondering what happened to my garden; it’s been doing pretty well, thank you!  I decided to give the Spring Garden a Final Exam, because the high temps these days are close to, if not at 90.  I’d say anything past 90 degrees constitutes summer weather and summer garden.

Green Bell Peppers

This bell pepper plant is really doing well.  You can see on the left, a red/green one, and tucked behind a leaf at about 3:00, is a nice-sized green one.  They have thin skins, few seeds, and I find them to be a great snack.  Because the leaves are not uniform in color, I’ll give this a B+.

Cucumbers: Straight 8

Cucumbers are producing well, and I have extras to give away all the time.  They grow so quickly, so you have to watch the vine daily to keep track.  The leaves toward the patio are yellow, and I’m sure that’s because of the heat it generates.  Another B+ here.

Blueberry Bushes

Blueberry bushes are doing great!  I planted them in “Blueberry Mix” potting soil, and I’ve only watered them, for fear of messing up the ph.  Last week at the Eastside Farmers’ Market, I asked a man selling gorgeous blueberries what I should do about fertilizing, because they are in containers.  He said to just treat them and feed them like azaleas.  So I need to pick up some azalea food.  The foliage is a gorgeous color and they are both growing well.  I’m giving them an A, but it’s not because of anything I did, except start them in the correct soil.

Organic Basil

The basil is beautiful with good color, large leaves.   The maintenance issue is pinching off the beginnings of flowers, because I don’t want them going to seed so quickly.  Anybody need basil for pesto?  A+

Sweet Millions

The squirrels are winning when it comes to tomatoes.  In the last two weeks, they have stripped almost all my green tomatoes off the bushes.  I have bought netting in hopes that at least it will slow them down.  The Sweet Million tomatoes are absolutely delicious, and the early ones were large, but now, they are more the size I’m used to having.  A+, despite the annoying squirrels!

Bush Tomatoes

All of the tomatoes here are Better Bush except the one in the left Dragon pot.  It is an Early Girl Bush.  The Early Girls were really producing, and then, the Better Bush started catching up.  The Better Bush have a better homegrown taste.  The smaller ones were planted about a month later than the large one.  Early Girl Bush, B+, Better Bush, A.

Onions

There are no more than half-dozen onions left after the pill bugs had their early spring feast, but these are looking really good.  I’m going to give them a B+, and it’s on quality and not quantity, for sure.

Purple Hull Peas and Yard Long Beans

The cucumber vine was working so well attached to the eave of the house, I decided to use another trellis, this one for Purple Hull Peas on the left and Yard Long Beans on the right.  These are both summer plants and I have a feeling that the beans will be more suited to the container than the peas.  I can’t remember how many plants it takes to generate a “mess” of peas, but I’m sure I will know soon!  These are both beautiful plants, planted in rose mix with expanded shale (See post from March 10), and I do need to water less. I’ll give these an A+, because they are such healthy plants at the moment.

Pumpkins

I wanted to plant pumpkins, just for fun, not expecting any great result.  I used a galvanized tub, mixed compost with rose mix, planted seeds from last year’s pumpkins, and they really came up and grew.  There is one tiny pumpkin, but I doubt it will mature, because the stem is not green anymore, so I think the nutrients are not getting to the pumpkin.  I elevated the tub, and put newspapers on the ground for the vines, because the ground in that spot is quite hard, full of weeds and tree roots (despite the tree, it gets lots of sun), and I didn’t want the vines to get mixed up with the weeds.  Newspaper makes a good mulch.  Because it does yearn for water at times, some of the leave have turned yellow.  I’m giving this plant a B.

I imagine that remaining garden posts will deal with summer heat and hopefully, not another drought like last year!  How is your garden growing?



The Dirty Dozen: Pesticides on the Menu

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen refers to fruits and vegetables we buy fresh at the supermarket, and how loaded they are with pesticides.

Here’s the list:

1.  Apples

2.  Celery

3.  Strawberries

4.  Peaches

5.  Spinach

6.  Nectarines, especially imported

7.  Imported grapes (Hold the wine!)

8.  Sweet bell peppers

9.  Potatoes

10.  Blueberries

11.  Lettuce

12.  Kale & Collards (Tie)

I have been doing all right except for peaches and potatoes.  I think last summer I was equating “local” with organic”, which is stupid of me, but I get so hungry for fresh peaches in the summer, I guess I wasn’t careful enough.  Potatoes???  I thought since they were below ground, they would not be so susceptible to pesticides, but if the farmer uses systemic pesticides, it makes sense that they are full of them.  I don’t recall seeing organic potatoes, but I’m going to look closely tonight when I do my weekend shopping.

Everyone, be aware and more careful when you feed your family and friends…and yourself!