Spring Garden Update


I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to update you on my garden.

Hmm.. where should I start.

(For those of you that are not familiar with my garden, I use a square foot garden method, gardening from the desert heat of Las Vegas, Nevada.  I am a beginner gardener with now 1 year under my belt. thumb.  To catch up on my previous gardening post go HERE.)

Tomatoes, we got lots of tomatoes but not as many as I should have, considering I had 25 tomato plants.  I planted 2 types: Heatwave and Early girl.  I was really disappointed with the Heatwave plants. All of those plants were dwarf plants, they never took off and when it got above 100 degrees it really didn’t produce.  The Early Girl plants to my surprise took off but by the time they took off it was too warm and the crops didn’t produce what I expected.  I also had problems with bottom tomato rot.  UGH!! Just when I thought I was getting some really nice tomatoes, the next morning the bottom would be rotten.

I research a bit to find that it could be lack of calcium in my soil, or watering issues – too much or too little watering.  So when that started to happen I found that if I left the tomato on the vine, the whole tomato was ruined.  When I saw the rot started, I pulled the tomato off the vine and to my surprise it stopped it, I let them ripen and the rest of the tomato was still edible.

Cherry tomatoes did great, lots and lots of cherry tomatoes.  I had 3 plants and that was perfect.  2 of my plants are still producing.

Beets, they did wonderfully!  I planted them a little to close together and should have thinned them, but this was the first time planted them and really didn’t know what to expect.  After I picked them, I cut into them and couldn’t figure out why they were so hard.  Then a friend of mine told me that I needed to boil them first.  So I did and they were so yummy.  I had a huge container full of beets, to find that my daughter threw all of the in the trash.  It was an accident she thought it was old leftovers.)  You should have seen my face when I found out.. It was a color of a beet I was so mad!

Carrots, One side is dead, when I pulled them and they were all stringy.  The other side I had carrots on did OK, We pulled one the other day and it was like eating a baby carrot.  I’m leaving them in for a bit more time to see how they do.

Onions, never produced –

Turnips, got tons of leaves but my turnips never developed.

Radishes– This is like the easiest thing you can grow – except for me.. They died after the first few leaves produced.

Swiss Chard – So simple and still producing.

Zucchini and Squash – First phase was great, started getting vegetables then my plant died.

Bell Peppers – One side all of my plants are dead.  The other side the plant is growing, peppers are producing but have a bottom rot going on.  I haven’t gotten any Bell Pepper worth it from the plant.  I am waiting to see how they do in the fall.

Peppers – (Banana and Jalapeno) I have one plant of each that I got peppers off of, and others I have are growing but just not producing.  I am also waiting to see how this does in the fall.  (Serrano and Haberno) – Didn’t get any peppers off of these plants, they are starting to bloom and the plant is doing extremely well so hopefully I’ll get some soon.

Corn– I can’t tell you how excited we were when we saw ears of corn forming.  Everything seem to be doing great, then one afternoon I walked outside and the plants were dead.

Beans– Never made it.. got to first phase and then died.

Cantaloupe/Honeydew– Sprouted from seed but died.

Watermelon– Now that’s an interesting one.  Planted the seed in April.. nothing, nothing, nothing then Bam.. Watermelon vine sprouted up took over and in a blink of an eye we had 2 watermelons.  That was just about 3 weeks ago.

Artichoke plant – seems to be dormant right now, but I wasn’t excepting anything to really happen with this plant.  Now next season, I’ll be interested to see if it’s still alive.

Blueberry bush – died

As for bugs.. the only real bug problem we had were the caterpillars and horn worms.  BT worked great, I just didn’t use it consistently to prevent the problem all together.

Now  that you are done reading this and thinking you are probably thinking this girl is crazy.  You can’t garden in the desert that’s why you are having so many problems.

Let me reassure you that gardening is a learning experience.  You don’t become a good gardener overnight.  Great Soil takes time especially when I’m still trying to figure out what works and what plants will thrive together.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed my garden and watching it “fail” I’ve learned so much from all of my failures.  Prior to a year ago, I couldn’t get anything but weeds to grow.

I’m so excited to start getting my fall garden together. While I’m learning how to compost in the meantime, I’m going to add some Miracle Grow Compost to my soil, hoping that will give it some more nutrients.

Do you garden in the desert?  If so, how did your garden do this spring/summer?

Square Foot Garden – 2.5 months

I couldn’t resist, I’ve been trying to update you all every month on my garden, but within 2 weeks there was an amazing difference and I couldn’t wait another 2 weeks to show you.

If you haven’t read my previous post, Go HERE to do so, this way you can read up on how my Garden was lacking…

This was just 2 weeks ago. (Click on the pictures to enlarge the photos)

This is 2 weeks after…

I didn’t add any fertilizer to this side since it was doing well.  I have about 60 tomatoes growing.  I am afraid to add anything additional because I don’t want to burn it up.   Oh and take a look at the trellis we made.  We bought some scrap wood from Lowes which worked great. It’s not that pretty but it’s doing the job.  I’m tying them up as they grow and best of all I have the space behind it to reach in.

These are pictures of the sides that were not thriving 2 weeks ago.  I added some fertiziler and WOW!  I guess the additional fertilizer did it.  These sides just took off!!

Oh and this is a picture of the tomato plant I rooted.  Growing beautifully!

Can you see why I had to share… we sit at our table and can look right into the backyard and see the garden.  Everyday I see something amazing!!

Root your Tomatoes for Fall Garden

My boys have been playing ball in the back yard and demolished one of my tomato plants, since the plant was torn from the stem, I decided to try and root my plant.  I cut the bottom, soaked it in water, kept it on the window seal in my kitchen and just waited for it to root.  It’s rooted beautifully.  After I established a good root system, I added potting soil and kept in the house for a few more days then transplanted it into my garden.

I knew this was possible, but wasn’t sure how the outcome would be until I tried it.  To my amazement the plant has taken off, it’s producing and best of all I didn’t have to purchase another tomato plant.

Did you know that you can do this with the suckers?  Gardening in the Desert gives us two growing seasons.  Instead of buying tomato plants for my fall garden, I’m going to save the suckers off my current plants and start rooting them.   I plan on planting my fall garden towards the end of August so I’m going to start rooting them within the next few weeks, so stay with me and watch the progress.

How is your summer garden doing?  I can’t believe the differences in mine and can’t wait to share with you Month 3 in a few weeks.

Square Foot Garden – 2nd Month

It’s been 2 months since I’ve planted my square foot garden and things we’ll at least one side are doing wonderfully!!

Here are pictures of my garden that is northeast of my backyard (click on any of the pictures to enlarge the photos):

   
  I have banana peppers growing:

Tomatoes growing:

 My Swiss Chard looks amazing:

Then you go over to the southeast side of my backyard and BLAH!! These plants look like they are in hibernation.  They are alive but haven’t really grown much.

 

I have no idea why either.  It’s the same dirt and compost I used on the other side.  I added some more fertilizer in hopes that this will help.  Then, a girlfriend of mine stopped over and made a comment on what she thought may be the case.  In the two areas that are thriving each of those boxes did have part of the compost from my garden last season.  Hmm.. could it be, that it just needs a little more?  In another week if I don’t see much growth I’m going to add some store bought compost and add it to the existing mixture to see if that will help.
One thing that is doing really well on the side that seems doomed this season is my artichoke plant. 

Oh I almost forgot to mention that I also had some issues with some pests, I used some BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) spray and sprayed all of the vegetables, I also added some crushed egg shells around the stems (supposedly after watering the plants any bugs that fall off that try crawling around the stems, the egg shells will kill them by slicing their bodies?) I had a bunch of egg shells from Easter so I figured why not.  So far so good, by doing these two things no pests! 

I hope this brings you a little bit of encouragement, if your garden isn’t doing too well.  Really, as you can see it’s not you.  Each side of my garden gets the same amount of sunlight and water.  So the comment about my soil not being rich enough makes sense.  Hopefully I can get these plants thriving before the summer hits.

How is your garden doing?  I’d love to see pics and share them with my readers!!

If you’re just now following my square foot gardening adventures, you can check out my previous postings by going HERE.

Square Foot Garden – 1 Month

Here’s a quick peek at my Square Foot Garden at 1 month.  To see how my Square Foot Garden started out go HERE.  Things have been doing really well, despite some of the crazy weather we had going on, but the plants are growing wonderfully.

The only real problems I’ve had with my garden are:  My kids.. They love to play ball in the backyard especially with the neighbor, that they’ve broken a few plants.  This was a good thing though because I found out that I could root my tomato plant.  The reason I’m so excited about this is because I plan to root my suckers for fall growth!  My kids also broke an Okra plant however that did not root.  
The other problem I have noticed with the warmer weather I am starting to get those pesky cabbage worms, hopefully I can tackle that before it gets out of hand.  I’ve added some crushed egg shells around the base of my plants to help deter those bugs.

My tomatoes are flowering which is very exciting.  I can’t wait to see how it’ll turn out.

Is anyone doing the Square Foot method?  Have you planted your garden yet? 

Square Foot Gardening in Las Vegas

I’m ahead of the game, I’m going full out too.  (Those darn tomatoes that I got in the fall, hooked me into gardening again).  The tomatoes were the only thing I had success with in the fall.  I had a few mishaps in fall, and an early frost.. but that’s not discouraging me.  My husband built me bunch of new planter boxes.  Overall I have 194 square feet to work with.  Now that’s A LOT of growing space!

I’m trying everything too!  The great thing about square foot gardening is that you can grow a lot of different vegetables in the same space.  So this year, I’m trying a little bit of everything.  I figure since I’m going all out, I might as well try and find out what I can and cannot grow during our high summer heats. 
Now.. don’t get me wrong, I’m not planting rows and rows of this stuff.  I’m just using a square foot or two to try different things.

My boxes were ready to go by March 12, 2011, I wanted some suggestions on what may work well together in the square foot sections so started researching several sites and articles and  I came across a few videos of people mentioning Mel Bartholomew, the square foot garden guy, who invented this method.  What?!  Someone invented this theory?  I had to research what he had to say.  Only to find out that one of my biggest mistakes may be my dirt.  It may not be good enough!  I’m using a compost mix that I got from our nursery and I added some fertilizer to the mix.  In this book it suggested that I used Mel’s Mix, a formula he’s been really successful with.  This mix requires no fertlizer and less water.  It’s 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 vermucuilte. 

We’ll I wasn’t about to start over.  So I am praying it works!   As for my planter boxes I did really well with that.  We made it 4 foot wide.. which is the suggested width, however we went longer in length which might be difficult to navigate around in the end.  Everything is definitely a learning experience and I’m excited for this challenge.

I got everything planted by 3/21.  I should be on track and have a good growing season, maybe 4 months before the summer kills it.  This year I also bought some heat tolerant vegetables, such as the heatwave tomato, because I’ve heard they seem to thrive more in the heat, so hopefully that will buy me some more time.  I’m also trying to figure out the sun pattern, how much sun my plants get and need and which plants will do well in certain areas of my yard.  Because of this, I haven’t put in a watering system yet, because I want to make sure the placement is just right before I invest more of my time and money.

To catch up on my previous gardening adventures go HERE

MomsLifeboat ~ Las Vegas, NV
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