My Garden: A tragic update

Well, it’s been around 3 months since I did an official garden update. What happened during those, supposedly the most productive months? Nothing. Nothing at all. Which is why I didn’t update: there was nothing to say.

The tomato plants got huge, around 7 feet tall/long, but never produced anything. NOT ANYTHING AT ALL.
Crazy unproductive overgrowth

Finally, the vines started dying out and I got sick of looking at the brown leaves and cut them all down.

There was one bright spot, one hope in my heart that I would have a single product for all my labor. Behold, one bell pepper as it began to grow:

First and only real harvest from 2012!

It ripened and started turning red…

The pepper turns red

Close up of the pepper turning redder

(Sorry for the blurriness, my iPhone didn’t know how to focus on the pepper instead of the leaves and no, I still don’t know how to use our DSLR.)

In this picture, you can even see it almost at it’s full-red glory:

You can see the pepper here, still alive

(That’s also a good shot of after I cut down most of the tomato plants. I left one, thinking it had a bud. I was wrong, it didn’t. I cut it down this week.)

What became of the Red Bell Pepper 2012? See, that’s the thing. I couldn’t tell when I should pick it. Was it going to get bigger? I didn’t want to pick it if it was going to get bigger. I left it on a long time, while we were in California. When we got back, it had a horrible black spot. This is what had happened:

The pepper didn't make it :'-(

As you can see, it apparently rotted on the vine. The only thing I successfully grew, and it was inedible, it died before it had a chance to live. It’s a metaphor for life. Or something.

I also had one other thing die on the vine: a squash. Here it is before it died – it had grown on the outside of our chicken barrier, it’s vines pushing through to make it possible. It was planning to grow into adulthood.

The squash that didn't make it

But, no. The vine itself actually shriveled and died from inside the garden, leaving the poor undeveloped squash with no nourishment outside the barrier. Weird. Also probably a metaphor for life.

As you can see, I have a truly terrible black thumb. I thought I could overcome this tendency with information from the internets, but that was a mistake.

Having lost all faith in, I have no idea where to turn now if I want to try to kill other varieties of plants over the fall months. What other things can I plant in the ground and then watch falter and die? Should I just plant dollar bills because that is a more direct way to accomplish what is truly happening here?

However, my unreasonable hope springs eternal. My bell pepper plants are still alive & kicking, although I have no idea why since I have mentally given up on them. Some of them have buds. Will they ever grow into actual peppers? Will they all suffer the terrible fate of Red Bell Pepper 2012? I will let you know. I’m sure it’s a metaphor for life.

My garden: more things dying and some things getting huge

I promised a garden update on Saturday, but I lied. I should stop promising to update on Saturdays, that is insanity.

Well, the kale is dead. It looked good for about a week but then just gave up, plant by plant.

The tomatoes and bell pepper plants are HUGE but producing nothing. Wha? Is that supposed to happen?

Tomatoes around June 8ish

Bell pepper plants - are these buds?

In case you cannot tell, these tomatoes come up to my nose when I’m standing next to them.

The mint and chocolate mint, and parsley and basil are GOING CRAZY. I don’t even know what to do with them, they are so huge. Anybody need some mint??


The fennel…what the heck is fennel for, anyway?

There is a beet plant that is pretty darn huge-looking but I am not sure how big it actually is underneath the leaves so I am afraid to harvest it. How do I know when to harvest it?


Here is the one tiny strawberry that grew from my strawberry plants.


This post has far more questions than answers.

7 Quick Takes Friday #41

— 1 —

I have tried like heck to ignore the whole TIME magazine cover story issue, but the dang thing keeps coming up. I still refused to get involved in it, but I do want to point you to this awesome interview with the Attachment Parenting (AP) moms from the TIME story on KellyMom. In this post, they go really in-depth about how they feel about the whole thing and the reality of AP for them and their families.

— 2 —

In case you are wondering, no, my husband and I do not necessarily identify ourselves with AP and all it entails. We do agree with the spirit of the Eight Principles, but not always the exact tenets. That’s why I like to identify us as “natural parenting”. Just like the FDA has no regulation on the term “natural” when it comes to food, there isn’t any specific outline for “natural parenting”. To us, it means that we are making decisions about parenting in the way that comes most naturally to us and how it works with the God-given nature of our children’s personalities. The approach is based on respect for our children, truth and love based on God’s love for us, and what is realistic in our current life stage and physical environment. Also, if I have said it once, I have said it 100 times: every child is different. Including my two children.

— 3—

Now that we’re talking about kids, how is potty training going? Pretty well! So far, he has about 1 accident per day, but that is usually because I didn’t take him to the potty frequently enough or because he was scared of the potty that was available. He has an aversion to any potty except his green Ikea potty here at home. But! He was able to go to the potty at school this week (his last week of Mother’s Day Out!), and didn’t have a single accident while he was there! Yay!

— 4 —

I shared this yesterday on Twitter, but I highly recommend that everyone see this excellent video about antibiotics in meat production and why it should be avoided.

— 5 —

We will be traveling with both the kids in the near future, in the car, for more than 4 hours. I think I have a good handle on what I can bring to keep Little Sir occupied, but I’m really struggling with what I can do for Little Lady. She is 15 months and puts EVERYTHING in her mouth. I can’t let her color or use markers. She is not so great at watching TV, plus she is still facing backwards in her car seat so she can’t see the iPad that Little Sir would be watching (dang you, stupid AAP guidelines, you have totally hosed us with Kid #2). Any ideas from readers who have done this recently?

— 6 —

I am way overdue for a garden update. But I am really tired right now and it is already getting really hot here in Dallas. Here is a hastily taken picture:


Not pictured: a new soaker hose I have bought because the one that came with the raised beds is terribly ineffective.

— 7 —

If you are wondering about the chickens, they are doing well. They produce better eggs when I give them green scraps. I spend a lot of time chasing them and cleaning their poop. Chicken poop is a huge pain in the butt. Think about that before you go getting backyard chickens!


Well that’s all for this week, be sure to visit Conversion Diary for links to more 7 Quick Takes Fridays.

7 Quick Takes Friday #40

— 1 —

We are on the verge of potty training with Little Sir. We are going to try to start this weekend, hopefully with help from Daddy. If you are a praying person, PRAY FOR US. And/or send wine. Thank you.

— 2 —

I am sure everyone and their mother, literally, has heard about the Time Magazine cover story. I don’t mind the breastfeeding mother on the cover, although does remind me of my breastfeeding failures. I am not super enthusiastic about how the story appears to promote the mommy wars. I didn’t read the story but some bloggers have said it doesn’t actually claim anyone is right or anyone is wrong. I will have to take their word for that.

Mostly, I realize that Time did this whole thing to create controversy and sell magazines. I kind of refuse to care about the whole thing just on the basis that I don’t want that tactic to work on me.

— 3—

Another news story that is getting far less play in the feminist arena than it should is the instance of big companies targeting “brogrammers”, or male-only programmers, in the industry. Being a lightweight programmer myself, and female, I am really annoyed to hear about how Klout ran recruiting campaigns with the slogan “Want to bro down and crush some code? Klout is hiring.” I am seriously offended by the insinuation that there are no viable female programmers. Why aren’t we more upset about this?! Because there aren’t that many female programmers. Kind of makes me wish I was still programming. It also reinforces my dislike of Klout and how much, er…clout they have in the blogging and social media world, of which I am forced to be a part.

— 4 —

You guys should all watch Sherlock on PBS. It’s totally awesome.

— 5 —

My friend Stephanie from Good Girl Gone Green has the most amazing raw lemon pie recipe, I made it this week. Apparently the secret to raw vegan stuff made with nuts instead of flour is to soak the nuts first. I had no idea!

— 6 —

I have pulled up the peas in my garden and planted kale. Which is also dying. I am the most awesome gardener. To be fair, they traveled all the way from East Texas in a bag and then sat in a bucket of water for 24 hours before they were planted. STILL.

— 7 —

It is currently raining here and our chickens got caught in the rain. Can chickens catch a cold? They were too dumb to go back into their coop. Poor chickens, brains the size of peas.


Well that’s all for this week, be sure to visit Conversion Diary for links to more 7 Quick Takes Fridays.

My Garden: RIP peas

I have been really bad about not doing garden updates! Some of the things are growing really well, it’s exciting! Other things have died. Some things have been eaten by something mysterious.

First, the sad news: the peas are dead. Definitely dead.


Something was eating their leaves, so we bought ladybugs. That seemed to stop whatever was eating them. Then the peas just dried the heck up and died. My mother told me that peas cannot grow in the heat in Texas, she has tried for years. What the heck, Why you lie to me?!!

This morning I pulled up the peas and my mom brought me some full-grown kale plants to plant later tonight. Here is a shot from today of the garden with the peas gone, but I have not planted the kale yet:

Garden, 5/7/12

You can click on the photo to see the notes in Flickr about what is what.
I am particularly excited about how well the tomatoes and bell peppers are doing! You can’t tell from the angle, but the tomatoes are getting really tall.

Tomatoes! 5/7/12

They have almost outgrown the wooden chopsticks I jammed into the ground and tied them to with twine to keep them upright. OH YES. Redneck tomato cages, those. I haven’t had a chance to go get real tomato cages yet.

I am also impressed at how well the basil and parsley are growing in the garden. I have tried growing herbs in pots before, and they always die. I think growing them in beds in the garden might actually be the solution because they can glean more water from the soil. Pots have such good drainage that I think they lose critical moisture.

I have a few sproutlings of bell peppers growing in yogurt containers that I’ll be transplanting into the garden soon as well:

New pepper plants, 5/7/12
This picture is also a good example of how poorly the basil and parsley do in containers.
They are the same plants I planted in the garden, but they are almost dead in the container, thriving in the garden.

My goal is to grow as many bell peppers as possible, because they are on the Dirty Dozen and therefore should only be bought organic. Those things are EXPENSIVE! But they freeze really well. So if I can grow a bunch in my garden and freeze them, it will save a lot of money.

That’s how it’s going so far…I don’t have a green thumb for sure, but at least some things are growing. I’ll have to take more pictures of the kale once I plant it, if I don’t kill it!