Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How Did My Garden Grow?!

One of the most proud moments I had in 2015 was growing my garden!

If you want to look at the beginning stages go here.

I stopped updating on week 4!! Ack!

Well you guys here is what happened:

You can tell my cherry tomato went CRAZY! This was I believe early summer

This is getting more into August.


I planted:
-Yellow bell pepper (Bertha)
-Red bell pepper
-2 basil plants
- lavender
-Better Boy tomato
-Sweet 100 (cherry tomato)

-2 cucumbers
-2 strawberry (experiment)
-2 squash

-chocolate mint
-spicy global basil

Time of year Planted:  Spring Break (March 16th)

First to bloom/produce: cucumbers
-These did very well when I got them in!
These produced a lot! They were not pickling cucumbers(it did not say that on the tag). They could grow long and were still great. Plus there was no grassy taste, like the store-bought ones. These were done by the time it got hot here. I loved making refrigerator pickles from these! It is super simple and delicious! (recipe here)

-Basil also did very well. It needs to be trimmed and/or staked. Mine grew to about 2-3 feet tall. This is great to make pesto. Make sure you water the base of the plant, not the leaves. Once our summer warmed up, and I got a little lazy with watering. These suckers were toast. I didn't mind though since I was done with wanting to pick it.

-Tomatoes were good. I got like 1,000 cherry tomatoes,,,which we did not need/want. The plant needs to be cut back. I didn't know this! It grew out of the cage, all along the back of the bed. By the time I caught it, it was making baby tomatoes, so I felt bad cutting all those tomatoes-in-the-making off.
*I will not plant this again.

-Better Boy tomatoes are the "bigger" ones. I use quotations because they never got bigger than a tennis ball. It did not produce that many. When I used them for salsa, I needed to go buy more at the store to make sure I had enough.
*I will not plant these again.

-The peppers produced some in the summer. They started after the cucumbers were done. They need a LOT of water for the hot Texas days. Believe it or not, it seems like they have been making more in Sept-November. It has been pretty warm this past fall, so they liked the cooler warmer days. The bell peppers all start out as green, the length of time you leave them on the plant determines their color.

The "mammoth" jalapenos were not super huge. They were about 4-5 inches long. They were not very spicy, but still has a little kick. These were perfect to pickle! Basically all the jalapenos we got were pickled. I follow this recipe from Simply Scratch (here). I actually don't do a water bath. I just boil the mixture and the jar will seal itself with the hot liquid. I do not take risks with it though, I place all the jars I pickle in our garage fridge, just to make sure they keep. I also use apple cider vinegar instead of normal white. Either is fine, but I like the apple cider.

Squash plants were okay. I had trouble with darn pill bugs eating the squash while it was still making. I got smart and started propping the squashlings on a plastic plant container to keep them off the dirt while they grew. We got maybe a dozen squash from the two plants. Not a whole lot, but it was good.

-Strawberries. They made a bigger than a dime most of the time. This is the biggest one

 If you go out to the garden, they are still alive and growing. Just not making any fruit.

The lavender did okay. It flowered and grew, but never that big. The Memorial Day rain/flood drowned it though. It needs dry type soil (think Mediterranean).

Other Herbs:
-They did great! My chives grew faster than we used them. I dried some of the spices and refilled my spice jars with fresh stuff.

The chocolate mint, chives, and oregano are still going strong right now. Chocolate mint is actually creeping into the beds more and more. The spicy global basil died probably last month.

To be honest I stopped watering my garden when fall came. I figured I would let everything just grow out and then winterize it. However, my peppers, non-producing strawberries, and herbs have other plans! I'll let them go as long as they want.

For my garden this year I plan:

- Making a 3rd bed. One for mostly squash and zucchini.

- 2 or 3 jalapeno plants.
- 2 cucumber plants
- 2 bell pepper plants
- 2 or 3 big tomatoes
- Dill
-Poblano pepper?

I liked what I grew this past Spring. I think the plan is just to add to those. I want enough to make refrigerator pickles and salsa again.

I really gardening. It is so relaxing and rewarding for me. I am looking forward to growing more things this year!

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