Grow, Garden, Grow!

hardening plants

It has been 2 1/2 weeks since our first garden plants went into their new home in our garden, and sadly, many of them have perished since these photos were taken.  The seedlings my boys and I lovingly planted and watered and hardened off went into the ground the second week of May.

The next three days it rained, the wind blew, hail fell, and the plants, unprotected by various garden coverings with which it would have been wise to cover them, croaked.

Apparently my tough love approach to gardening wherein the hardiest plants should have weathered the elements and lived on stronger to produce lots of wonderful vegetables and fruit for my family… is just not a wise approach.

On days 4 through 11 I watched the weather-beaten plants for signs of life as it continued to rain with very little sun, hitting the 40’s at night.

On day 12 I bought new plants from the local farmers market, abandoning my “introduce a few new varieties at a time and see how they do” approach, and coming home with tomatillo, red and yellow bell peppers, an indeterminate tomato hybrid, a roma tomato, zucchini seeds, and cilantro seeds.

So far, these plants, well irrigated and planted further along in the season, are doing fine.  As we roll into Memorial Day weekend, I have moved on to plant bed perennials elsewhere in our yard, and am (mostly) confident that something we have planted will grow and thrive.  I take a few lessons learned already into next growing season:

  1. Don’t start seedlings again without letting them grow thicker and hardier first, which means either building a greenhouse or rigging some sort of UV lighting stuff in the basement, plus bigger pots, and who knows what else.  I may not start seeds again soon.
  2. Wait until maybe Memorial Day to plant anything out there.
  3. Follow local tomato planting guidelines, including walls-0′-water and planting horizontally so only leaves are exposed.

Here are some photos, some of commemorative nature..

First, our strawberry plants, which my youngest has claimed as his own, and which are already producing fruit, having weathered the elements with style, and which we are pleased to learn will come back next season.


Cilantro, looking rather peaked.  New seeds were sown right next to these now dead plants.  They are supposed to be hardy early season growers here.  Not these ones, though.


This is a raspberry bush from a national hardware store.  Having seen what is at the farmers’ market labeled raspberries, I’m sorry we even planted these sticks, and am watching them without much hope for success.  I saved my receipt.

raspberry bush

The northwest corner of the garden, filled with jalapenos and zucchini, right before watering them in.  Too bad none of them made it.

nw corner

Poor little guys, and they looked so healthy, too.


These are purchased tomato plants, and some of them are mysteriously bearing yellow leaves now, which google says means lack of nitrogen or not enough sun or water.   We’ve had very little sun, lots of rain, and they went into compost-rich soil.  Watching and waiting on that one.  Not sure, but they are hanging in there and I see little tomatoes on one..


Poor little gone jalapeno.


..and roma tomato.  Were I to do it again, this would have gone in horizontally without so much stem exposed to whip around in the wind.  They still got quite a bit of the crazy wind despite the completely walled garden.


Through the garden gate, with irrigation system and graduated fenceline.  Left side is windward.

garden gate

Be sure to check out the Homeschool Village Garden Challenge linkup for lots of gardening progress with curriculum to match.

And please, by all means, if you know what is causing my tomato plants to turn yellow- leave a comment and let me know!

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  1. Susan May 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Esther, I sympathize with your distress with the seedlings. There is a very cute book out that we read to our first grade workshop through the city, called Ten Seeds. One survives out of ten! We went through the same flood water off the roofline, hail and wind storms which sent your uncle and me running to cover the trays of seeds and sprouts. One whole tray of 50 or so planted seeds was tossed completely over. Having a green house or that low, cold storage-type of clear box would be very helpful to both of us. I think that would help you endure the cold nights and wind issue and would be simple to build.

    Did you get your soil sample tested through the A&M soil testing center? I believe in lots of organic material either through compost or humus. Looks like a nice drip irrigation system that graces your fenced-in garden.

    Some people don’t believe in mulch for a vegetable garden but here in the Texas heat, it is necessary. Water is the main issue of the future since our civilization has not been frugal with the expensive, tap water being used for outdoor irrigation. Good ole rainwater seems to be so much better for the plants and animals.

    A tip which the nurseries won’t tell you is that they use fertilizer every time they water. No wonder they have such great plants!! What a culture shock the plants go through when you take them home and stick them in the ground, watering with tap water only once a week or so and not fertilizer. Put a timer on your drip irrigation and water in the early morning regularly. Less worries. Fertilize often and dig in lots of compost into your garden. Spend a large portion of time developing a really fertile soil.

    This is like golf or tennis, you always need improvements. Let the kids make some marker with their names on it to label their choice plants as theirs. I am woodburning names on scrapes of the bamboo flooring to attach to the tomato and vegetable cages for each grandchild. I want them to be able to go out and eat some cherry tomatoes from their plants–a snack!

    • esther May 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

      Great tips! I didn’t get the soil tested, but I will check into that. And little guy will be all over labeling the strawberry plants as his! Mulch is on the list. I was thinking of letting the multitude of weeds get a bit bigger and then using Preen before mulch?

      Today we had a bit of Texas-like humidity, so it feels a bit more like what I’m used to. Even had some mosquitoes to go with it!

  2. Zonnah May 31, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    My peppers did not make it and had to go out and buy some. I have come to terms with the fact that it does not make me a failure. Your garden is going to be great!

    • esther June 1, 2011 at 6:39 am #

      Good point! I had go go out and buy a bunch so far and more on the way!

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