Posts

Showing posts with the label vegetable garden

Rainbow Blend Carrot Seeds Planted in Greenstalk - June 2024

Image
Yesterday, I posted a photo of our first broccoli crown that has emerged and talked about our vertical vegetable garden container called a Greenstalk.  I put six Lieutenant Broccoli plants in one of the deeper rows in the middle of the tower.  In this earlier post , I covered a few of the other things in the vertical garden including herbs and a bell pepper plant.  In a few of the rows/levels, I also planted some Zinnia seeds as cut flowers, but that left one deep row (third from the bottom) empty.   Because it is one of the deeper Greenstalk levels, I thought we'd try something new (to us) in container gardening:  carrots.  In our previous, raised-bed garden in Elmhurst, we grew plenty of carrots from seeds.  My problem was NEVER getting the seeds to germinate, my problem was always in thin-ing them out enough to grow good-sized carrots.  Here's a post about the time I used carrot tape (went very well) and here's a series of posts from 2012 that shows the Touchon carrot

First Lieutenant Broccoli Crown Appears - June 2024

Image
Our kids eat broccoli all the time.  I'm a baby carrot eater.  Somehow, they've become a raw broccoli crown eater.  That's why we're trying to grow our own in the Greenstalk this year.  Last week, I posted an overview of what is in the Greenstalk tower - including six Lieutenant broccoli plants in one of the middle rows of the unit.   This variety is supposed to be suited for warm weather, so we're hoping that they will perform over the Summer.  And, early signs are positive - with an early crown emerging on one of the plants.  See below for a look at one of the broccoli crowns: In our previous garden, I grew some broccoli, so I *somewhat* know how to recognize when a broccoli crown is ready to harvest.  I also know that if it starts to flower and go yellow, it needs to be cut off immediately.   It seems like it might also be time to feed the tower with a food-grade fertilizer like Miracle-Gro.  

Vegetable Plantings for 2024 - Container and Tower - June 2024

Image
When I think back on my gardening journey, I really started as a vegetable gardener.  Tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, herbs and more.  When we moved, I really leaned AWAY from vegetables and into perennials and foliage.  Why?  Shade vs. Sun.  Our old garden had ALL Sun.  Our new one has almost ALL Shade.   But, I began to solve that by building a patio vegetable garden set-up over the years.  First, with a raised planter box.  Then last year, with a Greenstalk tower. #19 on my 2024 to-do list is to 'do more with vegetables' .   How am I going about doing that?  By planting a couple of bush tomatoes and some other things. First the tomatoes.  I've mostly settled on ONLY planting bush tomato plants.   This year, I bought one at the Morton Sale - Tiny Tim Cherry.  I also picked up two others at the big box store: Little Napoli - which is a roma in bush form (kinda neat) and Little Bing - also a cherry.  Below is a look at the three in the raised box: I normally grow basil an

First Strawberry Harvest - June 2023

Image
If you buy strawberry plants once, you'll have strawberries for years, they say.  We started with container-grown bareroot strawberry plants in 2018 .  And, guess what?  They ESCAPED.  Now, we have Strawberry groundcover in one of our beds.   Back in 2019 - I called them 'volunteer' strawberries and thought it was cute.  But, they they spread.  And spread.  I ripped some out.  They came back.  I ripped out more.  They came back . But, we haven't eaten any of the strawberries in the years since they grew in 2019.  2020, 2021, 2022 were all strawberry-free years.  Why?  Well...we did *grow* strawberries.  But, they were gobbled up by the critters.  This year, however is different. In addition to leaving the strawberry groundcover in place, I also dug out eight plants and put them in our vertical Greenstalk tower.  After a period of transplant shock, they stabilized and began to throw off strawberries. Between the two spots, I started to see some 'red' peeking thro

Living With The Land - At Home - Hydroponic Exploration - February 2023

Image
It is well established (in our house) that the best (or at least...my favorite) attraction in the entire Vacation Kingdom is in Epcot called Living with the Land .  What's that?   You haven't been on it? Well...let me tell you about it.  Or...actually...let ChatGPT tell you about it.  I asked her this: Can you describe the attraction at Disney's Epcot center that is called Living with the Land? Why would someone call it their favorite ride at disney? Here's what she said: Living with the Land is a slow-moving boat ride attraction located in the Land Pavilion at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The ride takes guests on a journey through various indoor and outdoor agricultural environments, showcasing different methods of sustainable farming and food production. During the ride, guests can observe a variety of farming techniques, including hydroponics, aquaculture, and integrated pest management. There are also several dioramas that show different ecos

Red Robin Cherry Tomatoes - July 2022

Image
Yesterday, I posted some photos of our (very productive) bell pepper plant:  a King Arthur Sweet Bell Pepper variety .   I mentioned that we grew a tomato vine last year and it spilled over/out of our patio raised bed.   This year, at the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale, my Mom showed me a new (to me) idea:  a miniature tomato plant.   This is the Red Robin Cherry Tomato .  And, in the photo below, you can see how has thrown off a ton of small, cherry tomatoes: Here, below, is the tag from the plant: Park Seeds has a nice listing for it here .  This is a bush tomato.  There's no vine.  It grew a small bush and is fruiting all over the place.  It seems that this one is a quick-grower and will put all the tomatoes up at once.   Ever want a true 'container tomato'?  This Red Robin has worked really well for us.  Just like the King Arthur Sweet Bell Pepper , this feels like a re-buy next year.  

King Arthur Bell Peppers - July 2022

Image
Nat and I often reminisce about what we 'used to have' when it comes to vegetable gardening.  Back in Elmhurst, we had good-sized, enclosed raised bed vegetable garden.  When we moved, we inherited a yard that has A LOT of shade and despite trying both in-ground and a (small) raised bed garden, we've had limited success with vegetables.  I posted much the same story here back in 2018 when I lamented that we grew just ONE tomato .    But, things changed a little last year when we moved our raised bed from out in the garden to our patio - where we DO, indeed, get overhead full sun during the middle of the day.  That meant that last year (2021), we grew tomatoes ( an indeterminate variety ) that produced small fruits that we ate most of the Summer.  It was a little bit of an out-of-control vine and it spilled out of our bed and down into the lawn.   This year, we decided to grow a few things.  I'll post about the tomatoes on another day.  Today, I'm talking about bell

2018 Potato Harvest - Container Growing

Image
Back in June of this year, I planted two different fingerling varieties of potatoes in containers and placed those out back in an area of full sun.  They bloomed with flowers later in the Summer and most recently I noticed that all of the growth had died back.  That meant it was time to harvest.  I pulled the five big containers all the way to the back of our yard (where we keep most of our garden waste) and with the help of the Bird we sifted through the dirt and came away with a bagful of spuds in varying shapes and sizes.  I've harvested potatoes over the years and posted the pics on the blog.  Here's a 'partial' harvest from 2016 of fingerling potatoes .  And here's a huge harvest of potatoes back in 2013 .  We brought this year's haul inside the house, put them in a paper bag and didn't bother cleaning them.  Everything we read on the Web says to not wash the potatoes until right before we're set to use them, so they're a little dirty,

Our One And Only Tomato - Mortgage Lifter 2018

Image
What has happened to my green thumb?  I mean, c'mon!  We used to have a huge, lush vegetable garden that threw off more produce than we could consume.  Here's a few exhibits:  2012 version . More 2012 .    Potatoes in 2013 .  Rapunzel Tomatoes in 2015 .  And even carrots . The past few years?  We've had no garden.  None.  Zero.point.zero. We've tried container gardening.  It isn't working out, folks.  This year, I planted just one tomato plant:  a Mortgage Lifter .  And see that small tomato on the top of this post?  That's it.  One measly Mortgage Lifter ripened on the vine this year.  Nat is fed up with my lack of production, too!  She recently mentioned that she, too, is pining for the *literal* salad days of yore when we had home-grown produce.  I posted a photo of an raised-bed enclosure that is my inspiration for a Spring project .  There's a lot to do - including the patio expansion, pizza oven construction, landscape plan fulfillment.

Raised Bed Garden Enclosure - Backyard Project Inspiration

Image
Raised Bed enclosure via Wayfair It has been a couple of years since we had a garden .  Sure, we've tried to grow tomatoes and basil in containers (with mixed results), but ever since we moved out of our house in Elmhurst, we have been garden-free.  Nat has mentioned that she misses it.  She misses the veggies.  But also how our kids were involved and helped both plant and harvest.  Not to mention the understand you get about health and nature and the environment when you grow your own food. Why do I bring this up?  Because a week or so ago, Nat texted me the photo that you see above of this raised ben enclosure that she came across.  This one is being sold from Wayfair , but there are a few different varieties of these things sold from various places online.  They start at about $1K and go up to $3K.  Which...if you ask me is nuts. If you've been following along on the blog here, you may remember that I've been dreaming about a raised bed project for more than

Potato Blossoms - Blooming July 2018

Image
Back in June of this year, I posted about the two fingerling varieties of potatoes that I planted in containers .  I've kept them in one of the most full-sun spots in our backyard, right outside of our kitchen windows.  And they shot up.  I 'hill'd them up' as best as I could, but pretty soon, I ran out of container height.  (Lesson learned...plant them in super tall containers and plant them low, so they can get 'hill'd up' quite a bit. This week, I saw these flower blooms emerging and thought that they're quite striking.  In fact, that's the exact phrase I used in my Instagram post from earlier this week.  Striking. (on yeah... that's my gardening-focused Insta handle.   That, much like this blog, is intended as a diary of sorts.) Potato blossoms. We're growing fingerlings in containers this season. The blooms are quite striking. A post shared by Hornbeam Hill (@hornbeamhill) on Jul 2, 2018 at 7:16am PDT I posted

Two Fingerling Potato Varieties Planted - 2018

Image
This year, I planted two different varieties of fingerling potatoes in containers - the Magic Molly I (above) and Pinto Gold I (below).  These are very similar to the two that I planted back in 2016 .  Last year, with the move and all, I didn't plant any spuds.  I chose to put these into a series of containers because we don't have a garden set up yet.    I took the seed potatoes, cut them up into segments with at least one eye each, then after waiting for the cuts to heal/dry, I planted them in some larger containers that our shrubs/trees had come in.  Fast forward to today and look at the growth coming out of the top of the soil.  I planted these low and kept the soil level down because I wanted to 'hill up' new soil on top of this growth .  These are the purple Magic Molly's based on their purplish foliage.  On top of this new growth, I added a few inches of top soil.  Then, when they grow more, I'll add a little more until I reach the top of th

Mortgage Lifter Tomato - Planted in Container - 2018

Image
I've been thinking about the placement and location of our vegetable garden, but as is often the case, life got in the way of actually building something.  So, I'm back to using my old stand-alone tomato cage containers again this year.  They're self-watering from Gardener's Supply Company and I've had decent luck with them since we moved out of our first house in Elmhurst.  The first tomato that I've added is this Mortgage Lifter Heirloom variety.  I've posted about this same variety back in 2015 that I bought from Angelo Caputo's , but I didn't ever follow-up with posts showing the fruit. 

Revisiting The New, Ideal Raised Bed Design

Image
Back last summer, I posted this photo of a set of raised beds that I thought were particularly well designed .  Since then, I've been thinking about what it would take to pull them off and I recently came across this image - which based on the watermark is from the Family Handyman , but I found on some weird, scraped site.  I went and found the original article - which you can read here .  There's a self-watering component at play here that utilizes a perforated drain pipe and a pond liner that I'm not sure is something that I want to get into/deal with.  But, rest of the design seems to indicate the direction that the construction can take.  There are a few changes that I'm going to make - starting with using 2x4's for the 'legs' as well as the cross members.  Right now, I'm thinking that notching the legs to accept the cross member is the right approach.  I also want to make these much taller than they're showing, but with a similar 'fal

Spare Cedar Stock For Raised Beds

Image
I have had this load of cedar boards and planks of various lengths and widths in my garage for almost two months just waiting for either me hauling them to the curb (my inclination) or for inspiration to strike for a new project.   They're leftovers from our fence installation and include some 2x4's a few 4x4's and some fence pickets/planks.   With all the thinking going into our #newoldbackyard this fall (see this post about pizza oven planning , this post for 'entrance' planning , and this post about the planning for a water feature for some of the latest on #newoldbackyard landscape design), I've been out there looking at how the sun interacts with the yard to see if I could find the best spot for a permanent vegetable garden and maybe even a greenhouse/conservatory/solarium.  In addition to the pure location planning, we've been thinking of putting in a full irrigation system, so knowing where and what the garden looks like/lays out like is import