Farmer Donna

For years, Robert has asked me to have a vegetable garden. Every time he suggested it, I refused to even consider it. I was totally opposed to such an idea. Until this year.

Perhaps it has to do with life. I am living and it is fun to see other things live? Too philosophical? Well, I don’t know why I suddenly decided this year that it would be a great idea to grow some fruits and vegetables, but that’s what I decided.

Meyer Lemon Tree

First, I bought a lemon tree! Yep, a lemon tree. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade and all of that πŸ™‚  Seriously, I love lemons – lemon in water, lemon in shrimp scampi, lemon in cake!!! And, I was jealous when I would see friends with their homegrown lemons in years past, so I just had to buy myself a lemon tree.

This picture is from when I first got the tree when it was full of blooms instead of fruit … I’ll have to get another one day soon. At any rate, the tree is now just full of little fruit and it also has started flowering again. And, if you have never smelled lemon tree blossoms,  you are missing something really special. They smell heavenly. I am excited to see more blossoms! Who knew a tree would try to fruit more than once in a season?

Aren’t the little fruits just as cute as can be? As they get larger and larger, I wonder if the thin little branch will be able to support the weight? Lemons I buy at the store are pretty heavy! That branch is really thin!

The blooms are not only fragrant, they are gorgeous! I could look at these blooms forever. Butterflies like them, too. So far, I can think of lots of reasons why everyone should have a lemon tree (even if you don’t like them, putting them in your disposal will make your house smell good!) and none for why you shouldn’t. Possibly the fact that they are very cold sensitive and will have to be brought into the house in the winter is a negative. Not for me, but maybe for others…

Here in Dallas, we don’t usually get a lot of rain, but let me tell you, this year we have had rain after rain after rain! And some fairly violent weather nearby with hail and tornadoes. I like rain. I do not like hail or tornadoes. Tornadoes scare me and hail just makes me mad. Anyway, I loved the water dripping off of my little lemon here. Isn’t it fascinating that the lemon already has a rough texture like store-bought lemons do? Am I too easily entertained?

I took this picture just to show how the tree has fruit on it and new blooms too. I think that is so cool!

Well, from the lemon tree came the herb garden!

Herb Garden

I don’t really like to cook, but since I took a BIG pay cut when I quit working, I have been trying to do more of it. So, I got the brilliant idea that fresh herbs would be a wonderful idea. I went to a herb garden class at our local nursery where I bought this really neat three-level pot. I fell in love with it!

I bought quite a variety of herbs: parsley (did you know that parsley is really, really good for you?), oregano, chives (garlic and onion), chocolate mint, peppermint, lemon balm (supposed to keep mosquitoes away, but it is not working for me!), rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender and I can’t remember what else. I have the tags and I look at them on occasion to remind myself what herbs I have growing!! It is obvious from the ones I remember I have that I like Italian food! πŸ™‚

If one three-level pot is good, two will be better, right? That’s what I decided. It was buying the second pot that started me on fruit and vegetables. I decided that a tomato plant in the top pot was a great idea. And it was!

I chose a compact patio tomato to plant in the top pot of the planter. The fruit is supposed to be dwarf, between the size of a cherry tomato and a regular tomato. I think you can see that the plant is growing nicely. That is a 12 inch wooden stake next to it, trying to offer it a bit of support.

Here is what that little tomato plant has on it now:

It has had this fruit for a month or two. It isn’t ripening. I don’t know why. If anyone reads this and knows how long it takes for tomatoes to ripen on the vine, please let me know in the comments!!! I am the world’s least patient person so this “farming” is a real test for me!!! I go outside every single day and look at every plant, every single plant! And boy! Do I get excited when I find a surprise!

Fruits and Veggies

Well, it was so much fun to have one tomato plant, that I decided I needed more. I thought we would enjoy the dwarf tomatoes in salad, but I also wanted fruit that could be sliced for hamburgers and sandwiches.

And, yeah, I decided I would also like to have strawberries, even though I am not a big strawberry lover. Don’t ask me why I made some of the decisions I made. I can’t explain it to myself, much less to you!

Robert is good about indulging my “needs,” so off we went to Lowe’s, where we purchased not one, but three new tomato plants and a lovely strawberry plant. (I previously planted strawberry roots … 30 of them. Not a single one ever made into a plant. Again, if anyone has hints on that, I would love to hear them. The roots were guaranteed to grow, but not one did! I obviously did something very, very wrong!)

I also bought a Patio Picker container. I put all four plants (3 tomatoes, one strawberry) in the same 24X20″ container. Yeah, I know, that was a mistake! Those tiny little tomato plants have EXPLODED in size!!!

Well, it probably comes as no surprise that one Patio Picker container and tomatoes would not enough. If we are going to be “farmers,” we need to grow some veggies. Right? Right!

Let’s see. What would be good this summer? Well, I don’t much like watermelon, but I have read it is really, REALLY good for you. Better have some watermelon. And some cantaloupe. Another fruit I don’t like, but everyone else I know does, especially my mom and Robert. Maybe I’ll learn to like it better. Or not.

I like okra and so does Robert. So, let’s get some okra. Zucchini and squash are awesome on the grill or in salads. Better have some of those. And cucumber. Yum! It is another vegetable that is just packed with goodness for you.

Sigh!!! I wish I had a bigger place for stuff because I wouldn’t mind trying some beans, too. But, for now we have all our space can handle. Except that I talked myself into a red bell pepper while I was buying the other plants.

Here are my two Patio Pickers side by side right after they were planted on April 28. As an aside, I am not using the pots the way you are instructed. You are supposed to cover the tops with plastic to keep the plants from being over-watered and to keep water from evaporating so quickly. That seemed like a hassle to me so I just put mulch on top. So far, even with the torrential rains we have had day after day after day, the plants are doing AWESOME.

The picture above show what a couple of weeks can mean!!! Wow! Even I forgot that it had only been a few weeks since I planted my Patio Pickers!!!  Look at the size of the tomato plants now!! One of them is coming out of its wire frame already and another will be in another few days. The third one, a more compact variety, surprised me yesterday. It already has some decent-sized fruit on it!!!

The tomatoes are not the only thing that is exploding in size!!! I was gone last weekend because I was attending the fabulous LUNGevity National HOPE Summit in Washington, DC. I was only gone from Friday afternoon until Sunday night, but I was astonished at how big my vegetables in the Patio Pickers had grown. After another week of growth, they’re even bigger now!

In the Patio Picker above are some yellow zucchini, cantaloupe (I think), red bell pepper, okra, and two plants that don’t have tags on them so I won’t know what they are until they produce!! It’s a mystery until then! Don’t you love it? (And yes! These plants are going to be WAY too crowded. But, I think it might be too late to repot them. Does anyone know?)

Well, until today, I didn’t think any of the vegetable plants were actually producing. But, I was wrong!

Do you see it? My teeny tiny yellow zucchini!!! There are actually three that I can see on the plant so far. They’re small, but they’re there!!! I was as excited as could be when I found them. I have taken pictures of them with my tablet and then again with my better camera! I will probably take pictures of them now every single day until I pick them. Anybody’s guess when that will be! I have no clue!

Some of the other plants in the Patio Picker look like they’ll be producing soon, too. Just for fun, here are a few more pictures I took of the plants in the Patio Picker (should I just call it a PP? … much easier … though some children might laugh if you were reading this out loud).

No clue what this is going to be, but I’m going to have something soon! Hopefully, I will be able to identify it fairly quickly once I can see a vegetable. Or maybe someone reading this knows?

I believe this is the cantaloupe. And, I’m not actually sure if a fruit will appear where I have pictured or not. Time will tell. I am expecting SOMETHING to appear pretty soon, somewhere on the plant!

My baby zucchini again. I can’t wait to watch it grow!

These are going to be red bell peppers. I am really anxious to see they grow too! Well, let’s just be honest! There isn’t a single vegetable or fruit here that I’m not anxious to see grow!

The Planted Garden

Well, when I do something, I usually don’t do it in a small fashion. Whatever hobby I have, I do it with full engagement. That’s not a good thing most of the time. But, it is what it is.

So, I was thinking that I wanted to put some vegetables into the ground. But, our yard is really not set up for a garden. It is three levels. The first level, near the house, is small and very sloped. There is an old pond that has a leaking liner where I could probably toss some dirt … and probably will next year! But otherwise, there really aren’t many places for flowers or gardens, except in containers … and I have the fence lined with those!

The second level is the most plausible level to become home to a garden. We rarely go down there. The dogs run the fence line, barking at people who walk on the nature trail, and Cotton digs lots of landmines there. On rare occasions, I set up some jumps and practice a little agility. But, for the most part, it is underused, even unused. It is currently home to some grass and some weeds. No flowers, except the ones on the weeds. Digging out a garden plot on the second level was a little too industrious for me this year.

The third level of our yard is not fenced and is next to the nature trail. Unless I want to share my vegetables with everybody who walks by, I think the third level is out. Unless we put up some sort of fence with a locking gate… The second level still seems most plausible. Next year.

For this year, the only space I could think of was a weed-ridden little plot next to the swimming pool. It had a tree in it when we moved here, but Robert cut it down right away. Who plants a tree right next to a swimming pool? Hello? Roots under the pool? We didn’t know much about swimming pools when we moved here, but we knew you don’t want tree roots pushing against it or growing up under it.

The little plot has been home to weeds for the entire time we’ve lived here. You can’t see them because the land is two or three feet below where the pool deck is. In other words, in order to get to it, you have to climb down to get to it … and yeah, climb back up when you want to get out of there.

Well, it isn’t the most convenient spot on earth, to be sure, but it is a place where I can have my veggies. There is plenty of sun. Nothing should bother the plants (except maybe bugs).

I spent a couple of hard days digging out the weeds, adding soil conditioners, and sprinkling in fertilizer. I patted myself on the back more than once while I was out there sweating and hurting. I’m a Stage IV lung cancer survivor and I can dig this garden with the best of them! Yeah! And even though I am no spring chicken any more, I can also climb in and out of this space! I have to crawl and then stand up when I get out of it, but that’s beside the point entirely!

Below are pictures of the little garden right after I got it planted and mulched. I’m hoping the mulch will limit the amount of weeding I have to do. And, also, it should help keep the ground moist when it is no longer raining every single solitary day like it is now.

The pipes are either just hanging around down there or are taking the overflow from the pool out to the area between our houses. The pool is saltwater so I hope the water from it doesn’t end up in my garden plot. I don’t think any of the plants will be fans of saltwater. And, as an aside, neither is the metal fence.

When I planted the little garden space, I actually tried to give the vegetables a reasonable amount of space. I think I knew, even as I was planting them, that I was going to be crowding the ones in the Patio Pickers.

Because it is a pain to get up and down out of the space, the plants in the ground do not get nearly as much scrutiny or attention as the ones in the Patio Pickers. Today was the first day in awhile that I have been down in the garden to really take a look at them.

They are not growing as quickly as the ones in the Patio Pickers. But, they ARE growing. Some of the plants were really tiny when I planted them. Below are some pictures I took today:

Well, I guess I didn’t get a picture of the whole garden. I’ll have to go do that. Because it is fun to see how it grows! So far, there is no fruit or vegetables on any of the plants that are in the ground. The fact that the container plants are doing so much better is a great advertisement for Patio Pickers!!!! I should set it up an affiliate link so I can make a commission for bragging on them like I am!! πŸ™‚

I got industrious. I went outside with the tablet to try to get a picture of the garden. I can’t get it all in one photo, so I decided to take a video! So, you get pictures and commentary!

I am really having a lot of fun with this right now! I should have fruits and vegetables to share soon unless something awful happens and kills them all. Since I have no idea what I am doing, anything is possible, but I’m going to hope that all goes well with it and that my biggest problem is going to be getting rid of the produce!

Do any of you garden? Anyone have tips or favorite web sites for me?

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