Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Want Organic? Grow it Yourself!

A friend of mine forwarded the news link
to me regarding how Whole Foods has been selling food from China as "organic". Even without watching the video I am quite certain that there is no way to tell if food imported from China is organic or not. Remember the baby food? How about the dog food? I for one do not want to eat anything that is imported from China.

I now have further proof that the only way to be CERTAIN that what you eat is organic, is to grow it yourself!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Giant Sunflowers and keeping mice out of my garden

I'm sorry I haven't written sooner, but I've been very busy at work. But that hasn't kept me out of my garden. Here's what's happened so far this summer:

My sunflowers are now 12-14 feet tall. I've never seen such large sunflowers. I actually harvested some seeds and ate them. Have you ever harvested sunflower seeds?
It's actually kind of gross. First of all, if you are organic, as I am, there are these teeny red mite like bugs that live in the head of the sunflower. I took a high powered sprayer and blasted the head to get rid of the bugs. Then I let it dry in the sun for a day. When it was dry and bug free, I removed the seeds. Once they were removed I put them on a pan and let them further dry in the sun. My husband said that all the work I put in wasn't worth it. But where else can you get organic sunflower seeds?

Now for the rest of the garden. Mice kept eating my melon plants (and my pepper plant) down to nothing overnight. Afraid that I wouldn't get ANY harvest from my hard work, I did two things: First I put an electronic mouse trap in the garden, and I've been collecting little dead bodies every week. And second, my husband made me four little "cages" to put around my plants. These worked great until I went on vacation and the zapper trap broke, and a mouse dug underneath the cage and ate an entire plant! Those darn mice!

Anyway, one of the cassabananas is doing well (I have three) and I'm hoping that I'll get flowers and fruit sometime this summer. I know, it's late so I might not get any. I did get some ground cherry flowers and I'm hoping that I'll be able to harvest some in a few weeks. I've never tasted them before.

Anyway that's the update. Sorry it's short, but I have to get back to work!

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Seeds from Brian

I received an unexpected packet of seeds in the mail today. It was so cool!
Here's what Brian sent me:

Japanese Eggplant (I need these because I'm having the worst time getting my eggplants to live past the teeny seedling stage).
Colorado Columbine--these are very pretty.
Petunias- I wonder what color they are?
Italian Basil-I will definitely use these!

Getting these seeds in the mail definitely made my day. THANKS BRIAN!

And, Joelle & Clayton, your seeds are going in the mail tomorrow morning!

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Garden Update--Cassabanana

As of my last post one of my Cassabananas died. It was so sad, but I still have two left. The two seem strong so I'm hoping to plant both of them in my garden this year.

I'm giving the African Horned Melon to the little boy next door, once it has at least a few true leaves. Right now it just has the seed leaves and one true leaf is poking out.

I took the house down when we had two hot days in a row. Then immediately it got cold. Well, cold for here, because it's in the 60s. I know that some other parts of the country (like where my mother lives) its still snowing.

The sunflowers are about 3 feet high. The peas I planted to grow on them have all been eaten by something except for one. Such is what happens when you try to grow organic!

I planted the ground cherry that I received and I have five of the tiniest seedlings growing in my bedroom seedling nursery. I hope that I get one to make it. I'm not sure if it's an Aunt Molly variety because it was a trade. I hope so because I've read that these are the tastiest.

The tomatoes and peppers are both going strong. They aren't big enough to plant outside yet, but I'll keep you posted. I'll post some photos soon.

Oh, and I also planted a dragon tongue bean which has sprouted. It's kind of scarey looking as a sprout. I can't wait to see what it is going to look like as a plant!

The hyacinth bean I planted (3 of them) seem to be rotting instead of growing, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Oh, and I transplanted several plants out of the garden into red cups. I think that one is a cucumber, which is good because none of my cucumbers are growing that I planted this year. And then there are two mystery plants. I hope that they are eggplant, but no way to tell. I'll post photos later.

Or at least I hope I can post photos....

Happy Gardening!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mail Call!

I'm so excited! This morning the hardy kiwis that I ordered from arived. The package was VERY securely packages as to not damage the plants. I am very impressed with them.

I received a female Anna hardy kiwi, a female Ken's Red hardy kiwi, and a male hardy kiwi. Kiwis need a male and a female plant in order to produce fruit. Now I'll be removing some of our other flower vines to make room for the kiwis. I'm trying to get as much food landscaping as possible in my tiny urban garden...

After I got the UPS package I went to my office to pick up my mail. Here's what I got today:

Michelle sent me some Moonflower seeds and some sugar pie pumpkin seeds. And she sent me a very nice note to go along with it. Thanks Michele!

Risquin sent me some "Love in a Mist" and some Wisteria seeds. She also included a package from her sister which was blue bell squash. I am very excited about the blue bell squash. Apparently it had been sent to me twice before but I never received it. Thanks Risquin!

Dream Johnson sent me some squash, catanach caerulea, columbine, and Japanese eggplant. They were loose in two envelopes so I hope that I don't mix them up! I'm looking forward to growing the Japanese eggplant. Thanks Dream Johnson!

Misha sent me some short neck cushaw squash. I cannot wait to plant my fall garden. Thanks Misha!

I also received a SASE from Barbara with a request for some of my seeds. Barbara, I'm sending your seeds out today.

Well, that's the Mail Call for today. Thanks for following the TinyUrbanGarden. I hope you tell your friends about me.

Happy Gardening!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shoot! I think I killed one of the cassabananas!

I'm very blue.

This morning My cassabanana seedling was full of roots and so I didn't want it to stick in the felt so I moved it into a red cup, and added some peat moss all around the little jiffy pellet, and then gave it some water.

I looked at it about an hour ago and the poor little thing was wilted. Her two little seed leaves were looking down like it was crying.

I feel so sad. I moved her into the greenhouse, perhaps she needs more humidity. But the last time this happened the little cassabanana died.

So now it looks like I'm down to two of those plants.

Sniff Sniff. I think I'll have a glass of wine to drown my sorrows.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Seeds from Danny

I'm so excited!  I got some new seeds in the mail for my fall garden!
I'm participating in a couple of different seed swaps and Danny sent me the following seeds:

Hyacinth Beans:
Purple or Maroon Hibiscus:

Pan Patty Squash:

and White Scalloped Squash:

I'm not really sure what the difference is between Patty Pan or Scalloped Squash, so I guess I'll find out when I plant them in my garden!

I love getting seeds in the mail, and I can't wait to plant them.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cassabanana and African Horned Melon

We got home in one piece, despite the Southwest Airline plane turning into a convertible (no we were not on that plane).

All of the plants look good except the Pineapple, but I guess that is to be expected on a new planting.

One of the best surprises is that I have one seedling of cassabanana, and two are just poking out of the dirt, so I might wind up with THREE plants!  This is good because my first go around with the cassabanana didn't go so well as I only had one plant germinate from twelve seeds that I planted.  The good news is that I contacted and they sent me another packet.  So now out of the six seeds that I planted, it looks like three have germinated already.  I can't wait to see what the fruit tastes like!

On another note, my husband and I stopped off at the store on the way home from the airport and I saw an African Horned Melon there for four bucks.  I decided to buy it to see what it tasted like.  Well, it's pretty bland by itself, but if you add sugar, the flavor really pops out.  I say it tastes like a blend of cucumber and banana.  This fruit is not for folks who don't like seeds.  The fruit is full of them, so it might not be worth eating, but for those of you who are daring, it's worth a shot!

I'll be saving three or four packets of ten seeds each, so if you want to trade me for something really cool, post below and then we'll exchange information privately.

Oh, and the link I added (  is to give  you some information about the fruit.  He's showing them green, but mine were bright orange.

Happy Growing!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Patio Gardening: Alpine Strawberries Growing at Last!!

I found this blog of another "beginner" gardener like me! It's so exciting. She is growing strawberries in egg cartons. I've heard you could do this, but I've never actually seen it done. I think that when I get home from my trip I will have to start taking photos of my garden. I really liked the photos that she posted.

Patio Gardening: Alpine Strawberries Growing at Last!!:

I hope that my plants survived the San Diego heat wave in the greenhouse! So crossing my fingers that the housesitter opened both doors so that they didn't cook. :-)

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Slugs and pillbugs

They say that pill bugs (rolly pollys) will only eat dead material, but its a LIE!!!!!  These little critters are eating everything in sight.  My poor little eggplant seedling didn't have a chance.

Between the pill bugs and the slugs/snails, my poor little plants won't have a chance while I'm gone so I had to do something drastic!  Now you know that I'm trying to do this organically so I've been trying not to use anything... just crush the little buggers by hand when I find them, but I can't ask my house sitter to do THAT!

Last night my husband had to make a run for Home Depot to get the watering system I told you about so I asked him to get me some "Sluggo Plus" which had good ratings by folks on the internet for killing BOTH snails AND pill bugs.  Well they only sell it online at Home Depot so he picked up some "Ortho Elementals Slug and Snail Killer".  It does say "For Organic Gardening" on the box so I'll pretend that it's organic.

I poured a bunch of it in the greenhouse (too much I found out after getting a magnifying glass to read the four point font).  Oh well, I'm not going to pick up those little granuals one by one to remove them! 

This morning I saw a dead slug in the inside of one of my red drinking cups (you know, where I planted my seedlings?) so it must be working.  We'll see if everything is alive when we get home on Tuesday...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I got a Greenhouse!

After my last travel experience, I am a little shy to travel again, and I have to go to Austin for my father in law's 90th birthday (how can I miss that?). I talked my husband into letting me get a little 5x5x6 greenhouse so that I could put all my plants in that, get water hooked up to them, and not have to worry about the house sitter neglecting the plants. So here's what I did:

  1. I had to uproot several of the sunflowers and peas, because the green house had to go where they were sitting. I was afraid that they would die, but so far they are doing ok.

  2. After I got the sunflowers situated, I started re-planting my jiffy pellets. I planted each seedling in a red plastic cup that you normally see used for parties. I left a few inches at the top so that the seedlings would have some room to grow without falling over.

  3. Then I dug holes in the ground under the soaker watering hoses and "planted" the cups. I did this a few days before I was to leave, so that I could monitor how my system would work.

  4. I realized that I wasn't going to have time to plant the landscaping plants I purchased (artichokes to replace some ugly shurbs in the front yard and blueberry bushes to replace some geraniums that weren't flowering) so I had to buy a shelf to put them on so I could put them inside the greenhouse--don't want them to die either!

  5. Then my husband had to rig up a watering system for the additional plants.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this is all going to work!

My Trip to Indianapolis

I went to Indianapolis to do some volunteer work and before I left I planted the sunflowers outside (sunflowers do not like to be transplanted apparently so I planted them as soon as the little roots were sticking out of the jiffy pellet). I also planted the peas next to them. My idea is that the peas will climb on the sunflowers. I got this idea last year when I was pulling the ONE sunflower that made it past the slugs up out of my raised vegetable bed. It was a bear to pull up and I thought, "why am I using stakes when I could use one of these plants?" I'm thinking that corn might work too. Anyway, I had been keeping plastic milk jug tops over the plants just to keep the bugs off of them until they got big enough to live on their own. It's also been unseasonally cold here in San Diego, so I wanted to keep them warm at night. I showed my husband how to water the indoor "nursery" and how to take the milk cartons off (and on) the plants without breaking them, and went on my trip. When I came home, I was so proud of my husband because all of the sunflowers had made it! The indoor nursury, however, didn't have as much luck. All of the tomatoes, cucumbers, and pak choy had died, presumably from lack of water. The nursery felt was damp, but not damp enough to support the plants. So I had to start over.

My Tiny Urban Garden

My mother was a gardener. When I was a child I always wondered why she did it... our family had corn growing in the front yard before it was "cool", and I was always embarrased about it. Because we always turn into our mothers when we get older, at age 44, I started a garden last year, by planting plants that I had bought at some local hardware stores. I had so much fun that I decided in 2011 I would plant from seeds. I went online to see what I should plant. I found a site called and bought some seeds. Here's what I bought (everything is heirloom non-GMO):
  • Sun flowers- Mammoth Grey Striped (for my peas to grow on... they are so much prettier than the metal stakes!)
  • Wando garden peas
  • Spinache-Bloomsdale Long Standing
  • Peppers-Emerald Giant (when I bought them online I thought they were red)
  • Artichokes- Purple of Romanga
  • Eggplant-Ma Zu Purple Chinese 
  • Asparagus- Mary Washington
  • Spinache- Bloomsdale Long Standing
  • Pack Choy-Oriental Greens EXTRA Dwarf
  • Tomato-Cherokee Purple 
  • Cassabanana--This is a tropical fruit that can also be used like a zucchini before it is ripe. I have never tasted it.
I received the package in the mail, and planted everything in my little jiffy pot "greenhouse" on 2/21/2011. I'm looking forward to letting you know what happens this year.