Monday, June 30, 2014

Nature in the Garden

By: 6-year-old Tame Dame #3
I hate these dang grasshoppers but I got a good snapshot!

I hate grasshoppers, but I love strawberries, but the grasshoppers eat our strawberries and that's a BIG


But at least they won't eat our tomatoes!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How's it Growing? Our June Garden

Weed pulling party
Good news!  Our garden grows!  Here's our garden's June photo shoot.
Steve earned the title of "MVP" (Most Valuable Puller) for proudly pulling weeds alongside his Tame Dame Trio.

Wanna see what's growing?

Holy Germination!  Our squash hills are ready for thinning.
Pumpkin and Butternut Squash (and some sort of volunteer melon)
Only 2 zucchini seeds sprouted of the 12 I planted (the seeds were 5 years old).  Most of the cucumber seeds sprouted, though.
Zucchini and Cucumber.  We are going to try caging our cucumbers this year.
Our strawberry patch is green and starting to get crowded.  The grass that grows in this patch is really impossible to remove.
Strawberries and grass
We thinned several tomatillo plants.  We now have six tiny seedlings that will eventually be thinned down to two plants.  I also planted a bunch of radishes around the edges of this bed, to make use of that space until the tomatillos get big.  By that time, the radishes will all have come and gone.
Lots of carrots sprouted.  There was a section next to the carrots that I planted some spinach seeds, seeing as that section of soil was available, and I love spinach in my green smoothies.

Carrots established and Spinach coming soon
Tame Dame #2 wanted to grow parsnips.  We got only 3 sprouts from the 2 rows we planted a month ago.  I didn't realize parsnips were so persnickety!
Persnickety Parsnips
Our beet seeds were getting old, so we sewed heavily, but apparently not heavy enough.  Only a few germinated, so I just sewed several more seeds in this area, and we'll see what grows.
Our radishes and garlic are coming along.  We've actually been harvesting a few radishes per day for the past week, now.  Tame Dame #3 loves picking them, and Tame Dame #2 loves eating them!
Radishes and Garlic
We got the garlic and leeks as an Easter gift from Steve's mom.  They seem to be growing well.  Our onions are coming along, too.

Leeks and Onion
We are hoping for lots of Lincoln Sugar Snap Peas.  They are some of our favorite snacks.  These are a variety that don't need to be staked.
Surprisingly all my spinach plants resurrected from their transplant.  I thought they all had died.  We originally planted them where the squash now lives, but I realized we needed to transplant the seedlings somewhere where they would get more water from our drip lines.  We sewed these seeds heavily too because the seeds were old, but only 4 plants grew.  I'm just happy to see they've all come back to life again!
Chard seedlings (left), and 4 spinach plants
We're trying to grow peppers from seed.  Hopefully we get plenty of plants.  I think I counted 24  seedlings.  Now we'll see if they live good strong lives.

Jalapenos, Tri-color peppers, and Yolo Wonder are planted here.
The tomatoes and artichokes are growing slowly.  There are little yellow flowers on all our tomato plants, except one.  That poor plant died when a mean microburst snapped it in half.  R.I.P.

Pepper seedlings, Tomatoes (1 Baby Roma, 2 Roma, 2 Italian, and 1 Yellow Pear), Artichokes.
I'm not sure if we'll get snake and swan gourds.  I sewed 8 seeds, and only one seedling came up, and that seedling doesn't look strong.

Snake and Swan Gourds...maybe

Our red potatoes are just starting to break ground.  Hurray!
Red Potatoes
We also decided to add a little extension to 2 of our garden beds since we had a little extra sprinkler drip line and a leak that was watering nothing.  In the desert, water is costly and precious, so I thought we'd make something of this sad situation. We used several broken pavers as a border, then broke up the dirt, amended the soil, and planted some transplants.  I'm happy with the added space.  Plus, it's nice to put those poor pavers to work.  I have the phrase of frugality deeply rooted in my soul- "Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do Without!"
That's all for now folks!  Thanks for visiting!  Y'all come back now, ya' hear?

Oh!  But don't leave without telling me...
How's it growing with you?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bugs Abound

6-year-old Tame Dame #3 has found more bugs to share this week!  See if you can spot them in her photos!

Garden Tour- Grandpa Blad

Garden envy?  Guilty as charged. 
This past weekend, we sneaked a visit in to see my grandparents who live in a very small, rural town in the middle of Utah.  We were spoiled like crazy, and we very much enjoyed our time with them.  One of the highlights of our trip was going on Grandpa Blad's garden tour.  His garden is amazing!

From nests in trees...
And snap dragons literally growing from the rocks...

We were in garden heaven! 

In Utah, veggie gardens are generally just sprouting in early June, but not Grandpa's garden.  His garden is in full swing and he's been harvesting those cool weather crops for some time now- lettuces, spinach, asparagus, and the like.  Grandpa does the amazing and is a true gardener in every sense of the word.  Daily he cares for his plot, and it shows.

He has canes, bushes, and vines that produce currents, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, and grapes (did I forget any?)...
Getting a close look at the raspberries.

 He's got close to 30 fruit and nut trees...

Pretty cherries!

There's the old freezer basking in the shade of the fruit trees.  The concrete guys that came last week moved the freezer there so that they could pour the new walkways, but when they were done, they never moved it back.

And a veggie patch that, well, simply put, "shows off."  Seriously.  Where we live, we just past the average last frost date like 2 weeks ago, so his patch really raises my eyebrows!  I know a patch like that takes a lot of hard work and plant-caring.

He has a nice set up for his tomatoes using black plastic which both warms the soil and keeps the weeds out, and tires that hold down the plastic when the wind kicks up.

And all his squash and melons are off to a good start, too.
I love his garden.  It's inspiring, really.

Oh!  I almost forgot his flourishing perennial herb patch.  Take a look for yourself.
Cool horseradish plants!

There was lots of mint and lemon balm.

 Every rose has it's thorns, and every great garden deals with pests and tragedy.  Grandpa showed us how the aphids are at work on his cherry tree.  He also had a few fruit trees lost limbs when they got hit hard this winter with a storm that dropped a good 15 inches of snow.  His almond tree died, one of his apple trees got crushed and split almost in half, and another tree strangely got it's branches all smashed out of the middle.
When aphids attack!

Looking at a maimed fruit tree
 That's the wonderful thing about gardens- there will always be something to take care of.  

Many thanks to Grandpa Blad for being our garden tour guide (and Grandma Blad for spoiling us with food, love, and laughs).  And many more thanks for sharing his garden with us (we got tender fresh lettuce and cilantro to bring home)!  What a garden!  And what a gardener!  We sure look forward to our next visit!

Sharing At: Green Thumb Thursday, Fishtail Cottage, Tuesday Garden Party, Wow Us Wednesdays

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lizards In Our Garden!

In the Wild West, we have lizards in our garden!  Is that a good thing?  You bet it is!  They eat those pesky squash beetles and other wicked pests. Now that it is hot outside, it's pretty easy to find a lizard or horny toad scampering through the hot desert dirt.  We welcome them to our garden beds and hope they'll stick around and feast abundantly on the obnoxious bugs that kill our plants. 

A couple weeks ago, my daughter and I went outside to begin readying a garden bed for planting. We hadn't even made it all the way to the garden before my daughter noticed a couple lizards doing push-ups near us, and just had to get a closer look!

She ran back into the house and got an extra pair of my garden gloves to wear and an old plastic container to put the lizard in.
With her lizard-catching gear ready, she began her lizard catching!  In the picture above, you can even see the lizard's small body shape next to the bag of mulch in the garden bed, (note to grandma: you may need to get your glasses on, because it is pretty small.)

These lizards may be small, but they are really fast, as she soon found out. So she hiked up her gown and went for it like a true Wild West Gardener!  

She chased that lizard from log to cinderblock!  

But after a few minutes of lizard-chasing in flip-flops and a long ball gown, she hollered out for reinforcements.  The back door to the house swung open, and who should appear to save the day?  Why it was her trusty sidekick, her sister!
She handed over the oversized garden gloves to her sister, 

and with teamwork...

and perseverance...

...the two of them were successful!

They got the close look they were going for, then released this little guy into the strawberry patch for an All-you-can-eat bug buffet. 

So, do YOU want to catch a lizard?  

I interviewed my two mini-professionals for their greatest tips and tricks...

10 Lizard Capturing Tips And Tricks

1. First off, determine if it is poisonous or not.  Just ask your mom.

2. Wear gloves so you don't get scratched up by it's claws.

3. Come up behind it so that doesn't see you but do not grab it by the tail.  If you pull it's tail, it will come off and you will lose your lizard. That tail will wiggle on the ground and freak you out.

4. Do not hold it to tightly or else it will not be able to breathe and it will die.

5. If you corner it in a crack where you can still reach it, you will be able to catch it easier. 

6. Make sure when you release it that you release it into a garden; it will eat the bugs that eat your garden.

7. It's better to catch one when the sun is rising, because they're cold blooded and they are slower when it's not hot. So when it's cold outside, make sure to get your gloves on and search! They will be out more than usual because it is cold outside. They will look for a rock to sun themselves on, so you can see them on rocks sometimes and catch them easier.

8. If you are scared of lizards, you can just take a good look at them and see if you can spot any cool colors on them.  You don't have to catch it.

9. If it bites you, I don't think that it will hurt, because you are wearing gloves. But I don't know, because I haven't had one bite me. 

10. You can put it in a container, just be sure that it has room to walk around and remember to feed it beetles or bugs and some water. Don't keep it too long. Release it right after you had it for about 10 minutes.