Tag: outdoors (page 1 of 2)

Get Outside – Gardening with Kids

I saw an ad today that said we spend 95% of our time indoors; that we were facing an “indoor epidemic”. Now, I know a few people for whom this is not accurate at all, but sadly for the majority (and even more sadly, for me lately) is that it’s probably pretty close.

I used to spend the majority of my work time from April – September outside. That’s just what happens when you work in weed science. But over the years I’ve been finding myself at my computer more often than out in a field, and especially since having a baby and transitioning to working from home I spend all of my work time inside.

But it’s not just for work that I’ve found myself staying inside. I’ve been making all sorts of excuses for staying indoors – it’s hot and we don’t have a lot of shade anymore since they took down the tree and I don’t want Grace (or myself) to get sunburned, Grace is napping so I should stay inside, I just cleaned Grace up and don’t want her crawling through the grass and dirt again, etc. Notice a trend? I keep blaming it on my baby! This is the complete opposite of the mom I envisioned I’d be while pregnant.

I want my girl to love the outdoors, and I don’t want to be the one that’s getting in her way.

Which is one reason why I make it a point to involve her with my gardening. Sure, she likes to pour all the water out of the watering can all over herself. Sure, she likes to taste the dirt and get it all over her hair and face. And, sure, I might lose a few leaves from my strawberry or onions. But I *think* in the end that having a girl who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty and exploring the great outdoors will be worth any plant casualties or extra loads of laundry.

Do you have experience gardening with kids? What are your tips? Or what do you do to get outside?

Tomato, tomahto

It’s funny that when I think of summer garden bounty I always think of tomatoes first. It’s funny because here in Northern Utah they don’t really start coming on in force until the end of summer. And that is where we are at now; the very end of summer. Fall officially, or atsronomically, begins on Thursday (meteorologically speaking, it’s been feeling like fall for a week or so now).

But guess what? Tomatoes are still to be found aplenty; slowing down, perhaps, but still around. I can still enjoy a fresh tomato with practically every meal, and hopefully I still have time to bottle some for the upcoming winter months (babies tend to have their own plans, I’m discovering, which aren’t always conducive to preserving fruit).

Whether or not I get to the tomato-bottling project, I did want to record a few notes about the tomatoes I planted in my garden this year. This is probably more for my own benefit than for anyone else, but maybe it will help you in deciding what kind of tomatoes to plant next year in your garden.

This year I planted five different varieties. There were more options available, and I considered buying one of each, but in the end the research technician inside of me came out and said, “do you really want to try and compare that many? Limit the variables!” I listened to that voice, and came away from the greenhouse shop with two cherry tomato varieties and three types of slicing/canning tomatoes. What follows is my very non-scientific review. I promise I’m much more detailed in my other research endeavors.

Since the cherry tomatoes were the first to ripen, let’s talk about them first. I planted them in my bucket garden where I could easily keep track of them, and easily harvest and eat them. Here are my thoughts about the two varieties I planted this year:

  1. Supersweet 100 – the tag indicated they mature in 65 days; according to Instagram, I harvested the first ones around July 27, so without knowing the exact day of when the plant was started, I’d say that timeline is pretty accurate. These tomatoes were pretty uniform in size (maybe about a U.S. nickel-size diameter), and ripened up to a lovely red. Though the name says they will be “supersweet”, I found them to have a pleasant, though definitely prominent, acidic note. I wish I had some quantitative measurements on the  yield I’d probably plant these again, but if other options were available I wouldn’t have a problem trying something new.
    Cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, supersweet 100

    The Supersweet 100 tomatoes are what you typically think of in a cherry tomato: cherry red color, and cherry-sized.

     

  2. Sunsugar – these were said to mature in 75 days; again, according to Instagram, I harvested the first ones around August 2, so my guess is this timeline is also fairly accurate. These tomatoes had a wide range of sizes, from very small to largeish (about a U.S. quarter-size in diameter). I found these to be much sweeter than the “Supersweets”, and much to my pleasant surprise they were a bright orange when fully ripe. My first few were perhaps a little under-ripe, but I learned that they only got sweeter and more orange with time. I will definitely be planting this variety again.

    tomato, cherry tomato, sunsugar

    This bright orange color means they are ripe and ready to eat.

As for the other tomatoes, I planted the following varieties: Early Girl, Better Boy, and Hamson (also known locally as DX-52). I don’t have a lot to say about these because my garden was so neglected this year due to my pregnant self’s lack of motivation to weed. I chose Early Girl so I could have some early slicing tomatoes, but I didn’t harvest my first one until well after my cherry tomatoes were ripe, and I’m pretty sure well after any of my grandpa’s were ripe. Better Boy is supposedly known for producing abundant fruit, but as of this writing, I have picked maybe two tomatoes from it. I planted the Hamsons so I could have some tomatoes to bottle, but again, I have harvested a paltry dozen; enough to eat, but not enough to bother with for canning. I knew it would grow well, since my grandpa swears by it, and this is the only kind he grows. It was bred by a USU Extension Professor to grow well in Utah conditions and be able to hold up well under the canning process. Unfortunately for me, it was not bred well to produce abundantly even while neglected. Here’s hoping I have more motivation and time next year.

 

Gladiolus – the August Flower of the Month

You know how there are birthstones? Gems for each month that are kind of like horoscopes or something in that they supposedly reflect the qualities or characteristics of the people born that month? Well, there are birth month flowers too, it turns out. Continue reading

Bucket Garden Update – August 2016

I thought I’d give you a bit of an update on my bucket garden and how it is doing this summer compared to this time last year.

Continue reading

Hardening Off Plants

A common complaint among novice gardeners is that they buy a beautiful looking tomato (or pepper or what-have-you) plant from the garden center, they bring it home to their own garden, and it seems to suffer. The plant, not necessarily the gardener. It gets brown leaves, maybe. Or doesn’t seem to grow. Or a myriad of other problems, and the gardener concludes they just don’t have a “green thumb”. Continue reading

May is for Gardening

It’s that time of year again…

Time to get that garden planted! We have had quite a bit of cool, rainy weather here in Northern Utah the past couple weeks, but it’s time to start planting. And if you were thinking it was too late, well I have good news: you’ve still got time!

I planted up some of my buckets a few weeks ago with lettuce, spinach for a salad garden; and since I have a goal to beautify my outdoor space a little more, I also planted up some buckets with gladiolus and zinnias. Everything is coming up and looking good so far, but I’ll keep you updated on how the flowers do as the season goes on. When it gets a bit warmer (i.e., the threat of frost is gone), I’ll plant some cherry tomatoes as well. In my kitchen, I started some basil and cilantro that I’ll move out to the patio when it gets warmer.

If you’re in a similar hardiness zone and climate as me, and if you were wanting to plant lettuce or spinach or peas you should get those in as soon as possible. They like the cooler weather. Broccoli, onions, carrots, and beans can also go in now. But, hold off on the cucumbers, the tomatoes, the squashes, and the corn until after the danger of frost has passed (a good rule of thumb is the middle of May if you have a way to protect them, otherwise wait till after Memorial Day).

For more info on when to plant, or how to start your own bucket garden, check out these posts:

When Can I Plant?

Hardiness Zones…Do They Matter

Bucket Gardening 101

Bucket Gardening “How-To” Video

Starting Seeds Indoors (and another method to starting seeds indoors)

 

Planting Bulbs

Remember how “fall is a second spring“? Well, it turns out that fall is a good time to start thinking about spring, too.

Continue reading

Why Leaves Change their Color

Things I love about fall:

  1. Apples
  2. Apple Cider
  3. Apple fritters

Oh, and the fall colors too.
Continue reading

Bucket Gardening Update – August 2015

Just a quick update on where my bucket garden is at:

  • I recently replanted the lettuce and spinach buckets (the three you can see in the center that have nothing green in them) for a late-summer or fall harvest.

August bucket garden

  • The peppers are growing, but I think they never fully recovered from the early July heat because they each have only one pepper each.

bucket grown peppers

  • The strawberries have been doing the best out of everything I planted this year. Though we’ve only had a handful of strawberries at a time, they have been producing consistently throughout the summer.

bucket grown strawberries

  • The cherry tomato has been doing well, though it was definitely slowed down. I’ve eaten two delicious tomatoes from it already, and you can see there are a few more coming on, but I have high hopes that the current flowers will convert into fruit too.

bucket grown tomatoes

 

How has your garden been this summer? Are you wading through your zucchini? Or, like me, are you just happy to have anything fresh, even if it is a measly yield?

Soil pH Basics

What is soil pH?

Basically, pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen atoms in a solution; in this case, the soil.  The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most basic, or alkaline; a pH of 7 is neutral.   Continue reading

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