Category: Let’s Grow Some Stuff

May Gardening Post 2

Let’s talk about collard greens.

Growing up I didn’t like them. I didn’t like any vegetables. When I got in my 30’s I tried them again and fell in love. I remember when I was little I would just eat the ham or bacon out of the greens. Now I actually enjoy them. That was what encouraged me to make them a staple in my garden.

This year I planted the following varieties: Champion, Miss Annie Pearl, Vates, Georgia Southern, Flash, and Top Bunch. All were very good options and taste great. Top Bunch, Flash, and Champion are my favorites.

Because I’m silly and wanted to show scale. All my leaves were this large.

All the varieties resembles these except Georgia Southern. Their leaves have curled edges and what you are most likely to find in your grocery store.

So how did I grow them? You thought potatoes were easy.

I started from seed. I got my seeds from a variety of seed catalogs, but you can get Georgia Southern at any local store that sells seeds.

I started indoors and after I got two sets of leaves I took them outside to garden them off.

I replanted from a six cell tray to a small pot and kept them inside of my plastic totes.

After they were hardened off I had to make tough decisions. I told myself I would only keep two of each variety this year so the other four had to go. They either went to the neighbors or compost.

I repotted them in a five gallon bucket or pot with 1/3 soil, 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite. I then added a scoop of worm castings and a scoop of slow release fertilizer. Dug a hole and planted. Watered in the plant.

Collard greens do not like a lot of sun. If you can get them in partial sun or even shade they will thrive. We received so much rain in May I didn’t need to do much.

I transplanted them on 4/14 and could have probably picked them last week 5/20 but I wasn’t ready to eat them. That extra 10 days made them huge.

I harvested 75 leaves from all the various varieties. I gave half to my father in law.

FYI- collards are cut and come again. Cut the outer leaves and leave the center. This will give you two harvest.

If you didn’t plant collards I would wait until the fall, unless you have a nice shaded area. I find once the temperature remains in the 80’s my greens begin to look sad.

Next week look for my favorite collard green recipe. If you have one please share and I will post that.

And if you haven’t started, there is still time. Let’s Grow Some Stuff

Pots and Buckets

May Gardening Part 1

Outside of some very strong winds damaging a few plants I have been killing it on the gardening front.

I was a little scared about getting things in pots early because of Ohio’s notorious late frost, but I have to say I’m very pleased thus far.

Earlier this week I harvested some spring onions and spinach. My father in law cooked it same day and loved it. I was beaming because if you all remember last year I failed at spinach.

My secret this year was to plant the seeds early. I planted them in early March. I watched the snow fall on the plants and stared at the sad dirt pile for weeks. I thought there was no way this was going to grow. I was wrong.

I have been able to harvest six large gallon zip lock bags full of spinach. Last year I didn’t get not one leaf. I’m hoping this will be one of my best seasons yet.

Stay tuned for more updates

Planted thus far- cabbage, collards, spinach, peas, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and potatoes.

Sorry no pictures of the spinach. I forgot to take pictures before I cut it.

Tiara Cabbage
Red Kalibas. Not container friendly I’ve learned

April Gardening Part 2

The Importance of Storage

Months ago I looked through all the seed catalogs to find out what I wanted to grow for 2022. The hardest part of that task was making sure I didn’t buy seeds I already owned. Between the catalogs, the stores, and my trip to M.I.Gardener I wanted to make sure I had a variety of each veggie.

I also wanted to make sure I actually recorded which varieties I liked this year. Last year I grew everything and just threw stuff together. I picked all the collard greens and cooked them together. I also picked all the cabbage and cooked it together. That really didn’t allow me to see what I liked, what grew well, or what I wanted to grow again. This year I needed a plan.

The first thing I needed to do was upgrade my seed storage box.

This year I opted for a two sided box. The compartments can be adjusted to hold various amounts of seeds. Before you ask, of course I got this off Amazon. You will also notice the seeds are in little jewelry bags and labeled with a sharpie. I put the name of the veggie along with the year I purchased the seeds. If I don’t grow all of a seed pack within two years I share the seeds with friends. Sharing is caring :).

Now back to the box. The best feature of this box so far has been the handle and how rugged it is. I’ve already dropped it twice and thrown it in my garden bag and the seeds have stayed put. There are two heavy duty latched on both sides along with a sturdy plastic frame. This box was meant to hold screws and nails so the plastic is thick. I noticed when looking at boxes made for beads they didn’t look as rugged.

The last thing you want to do while planting is fiddle around with seed packs. This method allows me to keep the actual packages in the house (I have a binder) and only take the seeds outside.

This year I plan to label the seeds I love along with seeds I don’t want to grow again. Why I didn’t do that last year I have no idea.

The theme for this growing season is organization and maintenance. Hopefully I can help at least one person to GROW SOME STUFF!

Hope you’re as excited as I am.

April Gardening Part 1

This weather sucks in Ohio. There is no other way to put it. We started one week at 70 degrees and by the end of the week it was snowing.

I told you all a few weeks ago to put seeds in the ground and I know you are now sitting here thinking “I’m glad I didn’t listen to that crazy lady”.

Well you should have listened lol. While the temperature is dipping the garden is starting to come alive.

The peas and spinach have sprouted through no help from me. I dropped the seeds in, watered, then walked away. I haven’t watered them since which is why the soil looks dry in the pictures. Mother Nature on the other hand had dumped rain and snow since these pictures were taken yet these veggies continue to grow.

Tip- throw some seeds in the soil and see what happens. If it doesn’t grow, plant them again. Don’t stress. Let’s just Grow Some Stuff.

The peas have sprouted
As well as the spinach
I also have some Early Jersey cabbage started.

Bonus – Mint Growing Guide

“It is the destiny of mint to be crushed” – Waverly Root

When I started my garden I had no intention on growing herbs. I had nothing against them I was just so new to gardening I didn’t want to chance messing it up. My father in law changed all that.

My father in law told me that he liked having a cup of mint tea everyday. He said he was not having it as often because mint was expensive. He then asked me if I could grow it?

“Of course” was my answer. You will soon learn this is how I started growing almost everything. It makes my father in law happy thus making me happy. Unicorn Crossing is referred to by my father in law as “our garden”. That always makes me smile. Moving on…

So in my normal fashion I set out to learn how to grow mint and this is what I learned.

1. Buy a mint plant. Mint can be grown from seed but why bother. A plant cost about $3 and it will last years. Not only do you get instant mint but it spreads like crazy so you will always have fresh mint.

2. Try new flavors. I didn’t realize how many different types of mint there were and they all taste great. In my garden I grow spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, mojito mint, and pineapple mint.

2. Put mint in a container. As I stated mint grows like crazy and takes over everything. If you put this in your garden you will grow nothing but mint. I’m sure that is not your goal. Simply fill your container halfway with soil, drop your plant in, and cover with soil. I would select at least a one gallon pot or larger. It depends on how much mint you would like.

3. Prune mint often. Cut longer shoots leaving about two inches from the stem. Don’t worry, it will grow back with a vengeance.

4. At the end of the season cut your mint plant back to one inch. Cover the plant with mulch or soil. The plant will survive the winter. I put all my plants in my garage over the winter.

5. Do not fertilize or even care for mint. This is one of those plants that actually like being neglected. Just makes sure it gets water if it’s looking a little sad. If it dries out don’t worry. Add water and it will bounce back.

Note – you can do this with the following herbs: rosemary, thyme, sage, chives, oregano, parsley, basil, lavender, coriander, lemon balm, tarragon, catnip, dill, fennel, sorrel, chervil, bay, German chamomile, winter savory, and meadowsweet.

So put all these herbs in pots. Store them in your garage and they will provide you with herbs year after year with one sowing.

Before pruning m. I just let it over winter.
After I cut back on the madness. Look at that growth. FYI- next year I will have to either go up a pot size or split up the plant. Notice all the stems. I probably should do it this year but I’m being lazy.

March Gardening Part 4

Let’s grow some stuff early.

Today I’m going to tell you about a few seeds you can get in the ground early. Yes I know you are going to have another frost. Yes I know that it may very well snow again in your area. Yes I know you have no intentions on watering seedlings in 32 degree weather, but guess what? You won’t have to do any of that. With these plants you can drop your seeds and keep it moving.

1. Spinach

2. Peas

3. Onions

4. Beets

5. Carrots

6. Parsnips

7. Turnips

8. Lettuce/Kale

9. Cabbage

10. Potatoes. Of course I was going to mention potatoes.

So why can you plant these seeds early? All these plants love cold weather. For your cabbage and lettuce they actually taste better if they get hit with a bit of frost. These are your hardy plants.

Let me point out that planting seeds when it’s cold does not mean they will sprout when it’s cold. Your seeds still need some heat to germinate so those cold days are not doing much. What this does is let you free up some time to do other things.

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you about why this plant grows and why that plant grows. NO! You have Google for that. I plant early because I’m lazy. When the weather hits the 50’s and I’m dying to get in the garden this is the stuff I plant. While others are still flipping soil I’m waiting for stuff to sprout. For me it’s about the head start. I don’t know about you but I do not enjoy planting carrots. Those tiny seeds drive me crazy. With this early method I drop some in the soil and walk away. I have no issue with carrots in March when I have all the time in the world.

Last, I garden using a survival of the fittest method. If stuff makes it through the frost and sprouts, my theory is it’s a survivor. Unicorn Crossing is off to a great start with these little hero’s. So far I have planted peas, spinach, carrots, onions, collards, cabbage, and of course potatoes :).

So when that temp gets above 50 again and you are feeling antsy plant some stuff. We are not going to stress about what’s going to sprout, we are going to be amazed when anything sprouts.

March Gardening Part 3 – Container Gardening Under $100

I realize today as I was going through my notes that the first year I decided to garden I spent over $500. I then spent over $500 the second year and would have spent more if I had not start writing down what I’d spent.

This can be a bit much.

This got me to thinking about people who are just starting out. How can you garden for under $100 without doing any of those tricks that you see on YouTube. I have no intention of seed starting in yogurt cups or egg cartons. I also have no intention on taking old items and turning those into planters. Don’t get me wrong, you can do all those things and save money. I’m just going to be honest and tell you I’m not doing any of that.

So how can people like me start a garden on a budget. Basically people who want function mixed with a little bit of fashion. Here is my must do list to get started. By the way I will be rounding up since I don’t know the tax in your area.

  1. Containers – I recommend 5 gallon buckets. I have seen the price increase but I’m going to tell you the best value for me was Walmart. Not only did they have a lot of buckets but they had a variety of colors. In my garden I have Black, White, Green, and Blue. Cost for one bucket is $3. I would recommend at least 5 buckets to get started so your total investment cost is $15. (You can also buy planters. Make sure they are at least five gallon planters). Some stores may have some on clearance as they make room for this years styles.
  2. Soil – You need a good quality potting mix. You might get a cheap bucket, but do not get cheap soil. I recommend Miracle Grow Potting Mix. This cost around $15 a bag. You will need three bags for a cost of $45. These three bags will not fill all your buckets, but will fill the tops of your buckets where most of the roots will be. You can fill the bottom half of your bucket with the bag your soil came in, leaves, dirt from your yard, branches, or a smaller pot. You might ask why I told you to get five gallon buckets if they are so hard to fill. I actually use them to store my soil from year to year. These buckets become very versatile and dirt ain’t cheap.
  3. Watering Can – You can get a good watering can for $5. If you find one cheaper use the extra money to buy more seeds. This is not a necessity but after you have lugged water back and forth you will thank me. If you have a water hose that you would rather use take that $5 and buy a water wand attachment for your hose. You need water to sprinkling on your plants, not blast them.
  4. Seeds – You should now have $30 left to buy seeds. Seeds vary in price but you dont need to break the bank. You can get seed packs at the dollar store, home improvement stores, or even Walmart and Target. The price of seeds depends on what you want to plant. On average seeds are running $3 a pack this year. Realize you can plant multiple plants in a one bucket. Lettuce can be planted with onions. A tomato plant can be planted with basil. Research companion planting.
  5. Journal – Take $1 and go to the dollar stores and buy a journal or notebook. You need to keep notes. Believe me this will help you next year. If you are tech savvy put it on your phone, but I like paper so I write everything down.

The total is around $96. This is 100% all you need to grow stuff. You don’t need to start out with amendments or fertilizers. There is no need to break the bank if you just want to dabble in gardening to see if this is something you will enjoy. I’m sure you can do this cheaper but I believe these are the basics.

I also suggest a lot of books in my blogs. You don’t need these. Google is free. The internet is packed with information but I will tell you for me it got overwhelming. After you decide what you are going to plant go from there and everything else is easy.

I will make this last point. You are going to hear “plant what you like to eat”. I don’t even like many vegetables but I love gardening. Don’t plant what you like to eat. Plant something that someone will eat. I garden for therapy not to eat stuff. If you are laughing because my garden is large, realize I need a lot of therapy.

They even have yellow buckets now.
Do Not Buy Cheap Soil
Basic watering can.

Let’s Grow Some Stuff

March Gardening Part 2 – Containers

If you recall I told everyone that I garden in containers. I told you in the last post why I love containers, but I feel like I also have to be honest. I have to tell you why you may not want to use containers. It’s up to you to make the best choice for your garden. So here are a few reasons you may not want to use containers.

1. Upfront cost- gardening can get pretty expensive and container gardening is no different. There are upfront cost such as the containers, container soil, and amendments. Gardening in containers takes a little bit more prep work than traditional gardening and honestly the cost turns some people away.

2. Choosing a container- when you container garden you have to make sure your pot can hold your full size plant. That cute one gallon pot is nice until you grow cabbage the size of your head.

3. More watering- you have to water containers more often depending on what you use. I like fabric pots and that great feature to air wick roots is the same feature that makes you need to water more often.

4. Pot Prep – you always have to make sure your pots have drainage holes. You also want to make sure the holes are large enough to create enough drainage. Water logged roots mean the death of your plant.

5. Containers are heavy – I know I told you that you can move containers, but sometimes their heavy. I use ten gallon grow bags for potatoes and once they’re set, they’re set. Those bags are heavy enough to throw my back out.

6. Too much water and too many amendments- just like I said you have to water and add amendments. You can also add too much. Without excess dirt to absorb your mistake you might slowly kill your plant. This is a very delicate mix.

7. No natural bugs – although I don’t like worms they are great for your garden. Their poop or “casting” are great natural nutrients. Guess what? Worms can’t climb in pots so you lose that.

8. Fear – people are scared to garden in containers. Gardening is hard enough and now we are adding all these rules. You would rather start simple with that plot of dirt in your yard.

Like I said container gardening or traditional gardening is up to you. Always do what works best. For me I’ve grown into this method and I really enjoy it. I do have challenges from time to time, but it’s just seeds and I can always grow more. Take time to explore. There is no wrong way to garden. You will be surprised at what you are able to grow.

Container Peas and Spinach. Next week I will tell you about seeds you can get in the ground or pot early. These are five gallon grow bags.

March Gardening Part 1

“Do some self care, garden” – My Therapist

As the sun begins to come out and the temperature hovers around fifty degrees I along with my neighbors got antsy. I rushed out to my garden to survey all the stuff I didn’t do last year and noticed all my neighbors out with their tools in hand.

Immediately we started talking about how excited we were for the new year. What went wrong last year, and what we all planned on growing. We were all buzzing with excitement. I felt like we were kids who were let out for recess.

We also talked about the new methods we planned to use this year to garden. My furthest neighbor uses traditional gardening. Meaning he took a plot of land, removed the grass and planted seeds. My next door neighbor did a mixture of traditional, raised beds, and container gardening last year. I was 100% containers last year. I also planned to be 100% containers this year.

The question I am constantly asked is why do container garden versus other methods? Below are my top ten reasons.

1. Little to no weeds – when you grow in containers you should use container mix. I use Mel’s Mix from the Square Foot Gardening Method. I highly encourage you to get this book. This mix creates the perfect growing medium and is virtually weed free.

2. Plants grow bigger than planned and you can move them – I am horrible at plant sizing. I see little seedlings and I plant away. Then my plants grow to full size and I have no space. With containers I can just rearrange the garden to create more growing room. This is usually when my front porch and back patio become full.

3. Easy on my back – I have horrible back issues so with pots I can pick them up and garden on a table or ledge. My garden actually has raised planks that are 2ft off the ground and the pots sit on the planks.

4. More control over soil and amendments – as a new gardener I was constantly trying new fertilizer methods. I don’t know about you but I’ve killed a few plants with too much fertilizer. In pots I only kill one plant instead of killing the entire garden.

5. Companion planting made easy – as you start growing more vegetables you will learn some plants should not be near each other. Example potatoes should not be planted near cucumbers. Because these are two things I love I always plant at least five varieties of each. When one ends up next to another I simply move the plant.

6. No slugs – slugs love gardens yet we don’t love slugs. They get into your veggies and feast away. There are many videos that tell you how to get rid of slugs. I prefer to not deal with them at all. To date I’ve never seen a slug crawl into my containers.

7. Fix mistakes – my first year container gardening was a little rough. I wasn’t getting enough water to certain plants, I didn’t add the correct amendments, I also didn’t stake everything that I should have. Containers helped me fix this. I added water dished to containers and watered from the bottom up. If the amendments were off I could just remove the plant and remix the soil. If there was no trellis again I just moved the plant to a trellis.

8. Crop rotation – I don’t know about you but remembering what I planted where is a chore. Simply remembering what I planted is a chore. With containers I don’t have to remember anything. At the end of the season I dumped all the clean soil into buckets and use it the following year.

9. Contaminated soil – I had a friend who’s whole garden was killed due to bad soil she had purchased. She had a raised bed and a few containers and had to throw everything out. With containers, only the contaminated soil would have needed to be thrown out. Soil is way too expensive to waste.

10. Control issues – I have control issues and container gardening let’s me control everything. If the sun is beaming I can move my lettuce to the shade. If the tomatoes need to turn colors I make sure they get full sun. If the temperature gets too cold I can put the pots in the garage (I’ve done this).

This list consists of my top ten. There are many more advantages and some disadvantages as well. Research has helped me make fewer mistakes. Share some of your tips on container gardening.

And as always, Let’s Grow Some Stuff.

Raised Planks in Unicorn Crossing. I can garden without bending over. Back saver.
The planks full.

Gardening February Part Two

“An hour of planning can save hours of doing” – Unknown

If you are like me you are itching to get your hands in some dirt. Earlier this month all my seeds arrived and I decided it was time to sit down and create a plan of what I really wanted to grow this year.

After a small survey of all the seeds I realized I have 13 varieties of cucumbers and 26 varieties of tomatoes. Now if I planned to only grow cucumbers and tomatoes that would be fine, but I also have 20 other vegetables to get in this garden. In total I have over 120 varieties of vegetables.

Basically what I’m admitting is I can’t grow everything I want this year unless I plan on expanding my garden. Please note my husband will kill me if I make this thing any bigger.

If you are like me deciding what makes the cut is rough. I have my favorites from last year and all the new varieties I just purchased. What to do? What to do? Answer, make a plan.

The first thing I did was select two favorites from last year. I fell in love with the Tropical Sunset tomato from M.I.Gardener and the Amish Paste. You might be able to get these varieties from other places but these tomatoes grew so well I had to try it again. The Tropical Sunset is a cherry tomato that was so sweet I had a neighbor eating them right off the vines. The Amish Paste tomato made the perfect pasta sauce last year which meant it was definitely making the cut. So there, the two tomatoes from last year selected.

Deciding on the new varieties was harder because I had 10 new varieties. I’m deciding against all common sense to grow one of each variety. I know this is ambitious and I’m going to regret it later but I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t growing everything. So there you have it, 12 varieties of tomatoes will make the cut this year leaving 48 available spaces. I use a mix of container and square foot gardening which I will talk more about later but just know 48 squares is not as much space as you think.

With tomatoes taking over 12 spaces I’ve decided some other stuff has got to go. I’m scratching squash, turnips, and mustard greens this year along with a few other varieties of items. It’s crazy because as I get better at gardening I run out of space in the garden. Squash lovers don’t be mad at me. I need that space for all the potatoes I plan to grow. Y’all didn’t think I would do a gardening blog and not mention potatoes :). Of course I’m growing potatoes.

Ok moving right along…

So gardeners if you haven’t already done so sit down and create a plan. First decide what you want to grow and then decide how many of each variety you will grow. Look at all the seed selections and make sure you select what’s right for you and your zone. Trying to grow pineapples in Ohio is something that’s not going to work.

Realize that everything you plant will not grow and also don’t be shocked if it does. Have a backup plan to get rid of some plants if your green thumb turns out to be better than you thought. Also leave some space for surprises. Every year someone drops off a new variety of vegetable for me to try. I’m not even talking seeds I’m talking one foot tomato or pepper plants. My theory is they just couldn’t let the seedlings go and finally realized they did not have the space. I’ve been there. Anywho.

Yes it’s cold and yes you think I’m crazy but if you want to get a head start, start now. I already have all my collards started and once transplanted I’m moving on to cabbage. Can you feel my excitement!!

For those who wanted an update on the Aerogarden. This is three weeks worth of lettuce growth from seed. This is Deer Tongue and was great in my salad. Definitely worth the purchase price. #gardening365