So, this (in above picture) happened a few days ago. My first thought was that maybe it was zucchini from the compost. Then my husband pointed out it was probably pumpkin, and I realized he was right.
We didn’t make jack-o-lanterns last year because of Covid. One of the two years before that we bought pumpkins, but never got around to actually carving them. The kids might have painted them, I don’t really remember. Either way, we set them next to the house in a small strip of rocks and dirt about a foot and a half wide that runs between the house and the sidewalk up to the front door. That area had at one time been covered with decorative rocks but over time they had thinned out and it was part rocks, part dirt.
Then we just left pumpkins sitting there. then they started decaying and we thought, “We should throw those out.” But didn’t do it right then. As you can imagine, it didn’t get better over time. A week later we were deliberately leaving it alone because it was a gooey mess no one wanted to touch, and over more time it was basically dirt and seeds. And it stayed that way. For years. Until I decided to use some of the ground to plant things in, cleaning up the rocks and putting down new potting soil. I didn’t bother to pick up all of the many many dozens of seeds because they had been sitting out in the sun and rain and dirt for years. Surely, if they were going to grow they would have already done so, yes? Apparently no.
A week or two after planting a little tomato seedling there, the above picture happened. Yesterday I dug the sprouts up and moved them into little pots. There were even more sprouts under the soil that had small yellow leaves and hadn’t made it to the surface (I’d added many inches of soil on top of them), so I repotted them too. I moved one a little further down past the tomato plant to an open area, and a couple over to the space where I had hoped to grow grapes. The dormant grape stick has been there over two months now with no sign of life so we are pretty well given up on it now. Any of the seedlings in the post that survives my transplanting process I will find good homes for.
In other gardening news, the sunflowers are growing amazingly well, and I can’t wait to see flowers:
So at least one of the mystery plants in my garden has declared itself in a way I understand. It have three cauliflower plants, which means, have no broccoli. Kinda bummed because i like broccoli better, but I’m also super excited to see this happening. I’ve looked up a bunch of explanations of how to know when to harvest, so I hope I’m ready to make the right call on that when the time comes.
I checked my garden journal, and I planted these seeds on October 29th, so that’s how long it took from seed to now (not quite harvest time, but soon).
More growth has also make me more confident that the mystery herb is in fact lemon balm. I need some more of my other tea herbs to get bigger so I can make myself a tea blend. That will be fun.
And while I was briefly afraid my blueberry plant was dying this past winter, I think it’s actually okay. Not much new leaf growth, (a very little, but not much) but it is making flowers like a powerhouse right now.
Humm. . . . blueberries could be part of my tea too. . . .
The number one lesson I have learned the past couple of months in my garden is to label my seed trays. I figured I was only planting a few different things, and I’d be able to tell what they were when they sprouted, so it was fine.
Narrator: It was not
I now have several nice little seedlings that I can’t identify. And I have bigger plants from earlier, like those pictured above, that I STILL can’t identify. I planted both broccoli and cauliflower. When I google what the plants should look like, they look pretty much the same. So I guess until these start to flower, I won’t know which I have. Maybe I have both? that would be cool, but I doubt it. The plants all look identical and I’d expect at least a little variation if they were different.
For a month or so I thought I had several mint plants coming along nicely from seed. Now that they’re a little bigger, I think I have no mint plants, and in fact I have several sage seedlings. They smell much more like sage than mint to me anyway. That’s great. I’ve never been able to keep my sage alive when I bought a plant from the home improvement store, so that’s why I thought these were mint. I read that mint is super easy to grow. Perhaps sage just likes it better outside than in my kitchen window? Either way, I now need to try again to get some mint started.
I did luck out that both my spinach and kale came up and they look nothing alike, so I know which is which. So maybe I can get away with no labels as long as it’s a plant I know I can identify and I have grown it before. Everything else – I must learn to label.
For Christmas, my daughter got me a set of herbal tea seeds, and – you guessed it – I planted a bunch without labeling them. Most are still super tiny and I’m (perhaps mistakenly) optimistic I will eventually be able to identify them when they get some more leaves in. However, the one below is nice and big now and I don’t know what it is. It doesn’t look like the photo on any of my seed packets. It is closest to the lemon balm, so I’m going with that for now, but the leaves look rounder on my plant than the seed pack picture. If anyone is good at identifying plants, I wouldn’t mind your guesses in the comment section.
Perhaps I am very carefully tending a weed for all I know.
My cotton is starting to pop open and be ready for harvesting. I’m such a proud little container gardener! I was looking something up about cotton, and learned that these five-sectioned boils are less common than the four section ones. So I had to check my plant, I found one boil with four, but it looks like most of mine will be five. Maybe some varieties have five more often? I wonder if there is a reason. Something more to research I guess!
I spent a chunk of time picking the seeds out of this boil, and that was more work than I expected. I already have more seeds now from one boil than I bought to start with. I have a nice handful of fluffy cotton now as well. I want to try and spin it, but my understanding is it is harder to spin than wool due to it’s shorter fibers, and my wheel needs some love before it will be operational, so I ordered a spindle called a tahkli cotton spinning spindle to try out as well.
I’m nervous about messing up and ruining my pretty cotton, but I’ll need to get over that because the only way to learn is to try, and mistakes are likely. I can always grow more, and in fact, I have at least a dozen more boils out there on my cotton plant that haven’t opened yet. Still, if any experienced cotton spinners are out there, I’m open to advice!
I’m not sure how much you can really appreciate from the pictures, but since I mentioned how much work I’d done in my back garden area in my last post, I thought I’d try to share this. Looking through my camera roll for something else, I found that I had actually taken a picture early on in my cleaning up out back. This wasn’t the very worst of it, but almost. Mostly, I hope it shows how much those vines had taken over and were even smothering the big rose bushes to some degree.
Now it is a nice place to spend time, and I’m starting to get the occasional ripe tomato or bell pepper. I just moved some edamame and zucchini seedlings out there yesterday. Here’s hoping the continue to do well – edamame is another thing I’ve tried a few times to grow and failed, but these look great so far. Maybe I had my time of year wrong before.
I’ve really gotten into my garden this year. Maybe because I’m physically in better shape, maybe because we aren’t out running around as much so I can dedicate the time, or maybe I just missed it enough to at last put the work in. I’m not sure why this year is when I finally fought off the invasive vines that had literally taken over the entire space, and salvaged the plants that had been suffocated by them, and cleared out the broken junk and debris that had gathered out there. But I did, and it’s so nice.
Calling my outdoor space a yard is probably too generous. Patio might be a better word. There’s no grass. Just concrete and a retaining wall against the back fence with some huge rose buses that were there when we moved in. So all my additions are in pots. A lot of my bigger pots had disintegrated over the years and I finally threw their crumbling husks out this spring. My two remaining large post are holding a tomato plant and pumpkin. I also have two large Earth Box style boxes ( I think only one is an actual Earth box). I just moved my other tomato plants into one when the peas that had been there were done. The second has lettuce and what I’d hoped was cotton.
I planted several kinds of seeds in that box and had trouble getting anything to come up. So i just kept trying new things to the point where I’d kinda forgotten what all I’d put in there. The lettuce was obvious when it cam up, so I knew what it was, and it’s still growing great. Pumba, our guinea pig loves it. The other plant that came up was unfamiliar to me. I hoped it was the cotton, because I really wanted to grow that, but it had been over a month since I put those seeds in , so I wasn’t sure if it was maybe a weed, or just something else I didn’t remember planting.
Time has confirmed it is cotton. I love the blooms. They start off white and get deeper and deeper pink over a few days. You can see several stages of color in my picture above. I don’t know how long it takes for the fluffy cotton to come along, or how to tell when it’s ready, so I have some research to do, but it’s exciting to watch. (feel free to drop any cotton wisdom you have in the comments please!) Now I need to pull my spinning wheel out of the garage and get it fixed up and operational. Fun!
P.S. Those vines in the background of the picture are the ones that had taken over in the past several years. I am letting them keep that corner they started in and gave them a small lattice to climb. But I wonder if this is asking for trouble and if it would be better to tear them out all the way. They do make a pretty purple flower in the spring. I feel maybe I can keep them under control now that I’m paying attention out there. Thoughts?