My Garden

You guys, I am starting a Garden Tour series! I’m super pumped about this because I really geek out over seeing how our garden changes over time.

When we first bought our house, there were a few crepe myrtle trees in the back corner of our backyard and that was it. Since then we have added six raised beds and four additional growing sections to the backyard. On our patio, we have two raised beds along with numerous pots. The front yard now has two raised beds with raspberry and blackberry bushes and five blueberry bushes. And you better believe we aren’t stopping anytime soon!

We garden in an urban setting in North Texas, zone 8a. These videos will show you how the garden evolves throughout the seasons in hopes that you will be inspired to start a garden or grow something new!

September 2016

I specifically recorded this video the day we started to prep for our fall garden because I knew how much the garden was about to change, and I wanted to capture it in its summer state. As you’ll see in the video, it was more of a jungle this time of year than a garden. Everything was vining out and competing for space, taking as much of it as it could.

Overall, summer has been really good to us this year. We had more peppers, sweet and spicy, than ever before and so many pumpkins from our compost pile that we made pies, soups, sautes and muffins and still had pumpkins to give away.

My biggest takeaways are that cowpeas are not only nitrogen fixers but also delicious and super prolific, and that I absolutely must stay on top of cucurbits before the bugs get out of hand. We had WAY too many squash bugs this season. I felt like I was at war, but I do think we won the battle! And next year, we’ll be ready for you.

October 2016

This video was recorded on October, 31st. The garden changed quite a bit since the first few days of September you saw in the video above. You will notice a mix of summer and fall crops. We’ve had an especially hot fall this year which has allowed the summer crops to go later than normal and delayed the fall crops a bit.

I planted a few tomatillos and peppers, a tomato plant and winter squash late in the summer, so I am thankful for the warmth. It hasn’t stopped me from checking the weather often though to see if 50’s are in the forecast for our fall greens.

My biggest takeaway so far this fall has been the tulle you see in the video draped over the Brassicas (kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens) and some Swiss chard. I first heard about this trick at the Mother Earth News Fair this past spring as a way to prevent pests from eating the leaves and cabbage moths from laying their eggs on the greens. As you see in the video, it is working beautifully so far. I’m really thrilled with it. Hopefully, you will see a green garden thriving come the end of November.

November 2016

This video was recorded on November 30th. We had our first freeze on either the 19th or 20th, I can’t remember which. Luckily, we harvested all of the green tomatoes (over 35 + flowers), tomatillos and peppers beforehand. I made green tomato and apple chutney for the first time and we found out that green cayenne peppers are just as spicy, if not more, as the fully ripe red cayenne peppers. All the tomatillos have been washed and are in the freezer waiting to be made into salsa verde for a Christmas dinner my husband and I host each year with both sides of our family.

It has been a pretty unusual fall, but I have been pleased with it. I was THRILLED we got as many tomatillos as we did and a few peppers considering how late I planted them. I knew it was a race against time and I’m glad we won! Our fall greens, despite the higher than average temperatures, have been the healthiest yet with large greens that just continue producing. I love how so many fall crops are cut-and-come again! I am growing mustard greens for the first time, and I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I am enjoying them. They are great cooked and even better raw as a tender salad green!

My biggest takeaway for November is the same as October, I just can’t get over how successful it was to use tulle as protection from the cabbage moths. I’m honestly not sure that we would have any greens to eat right now if it weren’t for using that as row cover. I think I feel this way every season, but that’s okay because for now – fall is my favorite and I can’t get enough of these beautiful greens!

December 2016

This video was recorded on December 28th. During December we have had temperatures in the high 70’s and in the teens. We had three consecutive nights of freezing temperatures and a day with temperatures that never got above freezing.  This was a bit abrupt for our garden because, just like us, the plants were not used to these low’s before they occurred. Our frost cloth keeps our plants about 3° warmer than the outside temperature which is usually all we need. I covered the beds with the cloth and placed a plastic tarp on top of the cloth of the bed with the most food.

In the end, the arugula, Swiss card, cabbage and cauliflower did not survive the frost. There was some damage to both the covered and uncovered oregano plants. The mustard greens froze but seem to have bounced back. There is frost damage on the leaves of the Brussel sprouts and broccoli, but they seem to be okay now. Some varieties of lettuce didn’t survive while others did. Our lavender, garlic, cilantro, spinach, carrots, kale, collard greens, rosemary, sage and bok choy survived just fine with no coverage. Additionally, we are growing salad burnet, stevia, fennel, thyme, lemon balm, stinging nettle, peppermint and spearmint not shown in the video. Several of the last plants mentioned are growing in pots on our patio, and I moved many of them into the garage before the freezing temperatures hit. In the front yard we have five blueberry bushes, one raspberry and one blackberry bush and strawberry plants, also not shown in the video. All were mulched heavily at the beginning of fall to prepare for winter.

My biggest takeaways for December are the notes above about which plants survived the frost and which did not. No matter what you read or who you speak to, your microclimate can react differently and have different results. I am thrilled that we are still eating fresh, crisp, delicious greens out of our yard after the temperatures dropped to the teens, and I’m glad to have the data to help prepare for future winters.

March 2017

This video was recorded on March 30, 2017, one week after our average last freeze. Spring arrived in full force this week with both a hailstorm and a thunderstorm with heavy winds. Luckily, there wasn’t much damage other than a few cilantro plants falling over and a few kale and lettuce leaves getting knocked off plants.

This month, we prepped all the beds for spring by adding a mixture of compost and aged manure. In the fall, all beds were mulched heavily with straw. I removed most of the straw before adding the compost and aged manure, and I will be adding the straw to our new compost bin system. My amazing husband built me a three bin cedar compost system, and I stapled in the chicken wire to keep the compost in and critters out.

My biggest takeaway for spring is to double check my plants carefully before covering them with tulle. I started some kale seeds inside and while they were hardening off outside, cabbage moths laid some eggs on their leaves. I didn’t realize it until they hatched and ate all the leaves off our kale plants – whoops! It was a good learning experience because I just didn’t expect my new seedlings to have pests after such a short time outside, but that’s spring for ya!