Posted in Container Gardening, Raising kids, Uncategorized

Taking gardening troubles into our own hands

We’re taking gardening to a new level this time around!

First of all, none of our plants have died since we planted them this summer. Second, we’ve pruned, remedied some overcrowding issues in our tomato pot, added crushed egg shells for extra nutrition, and added support sticks to help long stems. Third, we studied our plants by checking their leaves, researched online about how to make our plants thrive, and generally invested more time and interest in caring for our green friends.

And drum roll please…

We hand pollinated our pumpkin plant!! I didn’t even know this was possible. Our babysitter who has gardened extensively looked at our plants and told me our pumpkin plant only had males. She didn’t see any bulbs on the stems, which would be the female flower. Facts learned: first blooming flower is a male; a little bulb on a stem that will sprout a flower on top is a female; if no fruit has grown that means it hasn’t been pollinated by bees; and placing the plant in a shaded area could stymie bees (that mainly like sunny spots) from pollinating.

I found this amazing and helpful website that explained how to remedy the lack of fruit: Pumpkin Plant Not Producing: Why A Pumpkin Plant Flowers But No Fruit (https://www.gardeningknowhow.com)

Hand pollinate. Ellis rubbed her finger on the pollen of the male flower to get the pollen and rubbed it around the green emerging bulb on a stem (not sure if it was a bulb but it felt harder than a budding flower). As you can tell, we improvise a lot.

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Circled areas show where pollen was rubbed on green bulbs 

There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.

— Janet Kilburn Phillips

When Elliot learned the yellow stuff was pollen, he worried about his allergies flaring up again. Ellis came to the rescue and offered to do it instead.

Kids problem solving together with no tears = happy mommy.

Update:  No fruit has emerged so far. However, we feel very proud to have been proactive in doing something useful to help our plant grow fruits. Also, kids learned the important roles of bees in helping flowers to reproduce and continue the life cycle of nature. This is just a thought, but I think this hands-on lesson would be good for explaining to older kids in learning about the reproductive cycle.

Posted in Container Gardening

I’m better at container gardening this year

Two months in. Here’s the bright update on our container plants:

All are still alive and thriving. We remember to water regularly and to pinch off over-abundant leaves and yellow ones.

One thing I’m learning to do is overcome my discomfort at pruning. I feel that the plants should be untouched while they are growing, but I read that it’s best to prune shoot leaves, on the tomato plant, that grow on the main stem. If there are too many leaves, this could lead to a big heap of vines that will produce little fruit. Pruning leaves also applies to our tiny basil plant. In the past, my basil harvest turned into thick, woody stems after the flowers started to bloom. I thought it was a good sign if the flowers bloomed and patiently waited for the basil to grow. Nothing happened. I ended up tossing the plant. That was last time.

Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.

Rudyard Kipling

This year’s gardening is more hands-on and intentional. After a couple of failed planting endeavors, my kids and I are determined to keep them alive as long as we can. Another lofty goal is to get seeds from our current plants for next year. This may be too ambitious, but it’s looking hopeful.

Happy news: I used 5 basil leaves the other day for our pasta dinner and snipped some blooms to enjoy indoors.

Container blooms potted by Orchard Supply employee at store:

 

Tomato plant progress:

 

Pumpkin plant progress:

 

Posted in Container Gardening, Uncategorized

Another attempt at summer container- gardening for this Black Thumb Gardener

For us, summer requires some sort of gardening.

This will be our fourth annual attempt, and I dearly hope our plants will survive – maybe into early autumn. What I lack in skill is made up in perseverance and enthusiasm.

My kids and I started this project shopping for basic gardening supplies, planters, and vegetable seeds, as well as 2 kid-sized shovels that Ellis refused to part with at the store. When we started filling the planters with dirt, Elliot asked me about the instructions on the seed packets. I nonchalantly told him we’ll do it “mommy’s way.” He sighed loudly saying “NOT AGAIN! They’ll die.”

I admit my response did not model a good learner’s attitude, so we compromised: finish up potting as quickly as possible (I could feel my muscle aches kicking in) and we’ll research together on the computer and munch on afternoon treats.

I knew gardening was not a simple endeavor, but the amount of information and how to’s take it to a whole new level: gardening is science and art intertwined.

Through a field trip to a local nursery and online research, we made some interesting discoveries: nurseries sell live jarfuls of ladybugs and earthworms; we started pretty late in the season for planting seeds; planters need holes for draining and don’t leave plants to sit in full saucer of water; terra cotta planters are heavy and expensive; plastic planters are lighter and cheaper; morning glory seeds, if ingested in large amounts, have hallucinogenic effects; Orchard Supply Hardware will plant your flower for free if you buy a plant and planter at the store.

It’s been one week since we planted our seeds, and yesterday we were surprised to discover little sprouts peeking out of the dirt.

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Look closely and you’ll see tiny green sprouts. The plant was watered right after taking the picture.

We’ll see what happens to the rest of our planted seeds: green pepper, small pumpkin, and basil. To perk up our gardening moods, kids chose one kind of potted flower from OSH to water as their own.

If we are lucky enough to taste our homegrown vegetables this summer and/or save seeds for next time, we will celebrate our mini harvest (another excuse to eat cake). Even if we don’t, I’m happy we tried again.

In any case, my black thumb may become a thing of the past soon.