Rock Dust Minerals


Can you imagine a world where you only ate apples?  What's for breakfast?  Apples.  What's for lunch?  Apples.  What's for dinner?  Apples.  And snacks?  You guessed it, apples.  Sounds awful doesn't it?  Many people don't understand that the same concept applies to plants in your garden.  Plants need a variety of vitamins and minerals in order to grow and produce fruit.

Basic plant fertilizers can be purchased at almost any home or garden store or nursery, but the problem with fertilizers is that they really only contain three minerals plants need to survive: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous.  Fertilizers are the "apples" of the plant food pyramid.  What about all of the other "foods" a plant needs?  Most of them will initially exist in the soil, but once the plants have consumed them, they will need more.  So if not for fertilizer, where do these micronutrients come from?  No, not your Flintstones vitamins, they come from rock dust minerals!

What Will Rock Dust Do For My Garden?

Using rock dust minerals in your garden is a process known as "Full Spectrum Mineralization" or simply "remineralization."  When used in your garden, rock dust will:
  • Provide slow release of trace minerals
  • Increase microorganism growth
  • Build more soil
  • Increase nutrition in plants and crops
  • Cut the need for chemical fertilizers
  • Increase water retention in the soil
  • Increase pest resistance
  • Increase crop yield
  • Better tasting crop
  • There are also reports of increased winter hardiness

I've Never Heard of Rock Dust, Is It New?

While the use of rock dust in agriculture has been going on naturally since the beginning of time, it hasn't been used in modern agriculture for very long.  Even though it has "been around" for 30+ years, not many people are talking about it because not many people know about it!

I first heard about this stuff from my good friend and garden guru, John over at Growing Your Greens.  Check out his videos about Rock Dust Minerals for more information. 

Where Can I Get Some? 

Rock dust minerals are surprisingly extremely difficult to find.  If only large garden chains knew how much money they could make on this product, their shelves would always be stocked!  Until then, here are my suggestions on where to get it.

You could try going to a local gravel yard or rock nursery (where they sell rocks for landscaping) and ask for "gravel dust" or "rock dust" (or ask for the closest things they have to those products).  You might get it for free, or relatively inexpensive.

If you can't find any in your area, you can always order online.  While the following places sell the product for a relatively inexpensive price, they make up for it in shipping!  Please note however, that it is worth the money!
  • Agrowinn Fertilizers:  This is an online store where you can purchase rock dust minerals, however it can get expensive.  I purchased a 50 lb bag for $46.00, and spent $20.00 in shipping costs.
  • Azomite:  Has locations all over the United States.  If they don't have a store in your area, they are willing to ship their product to you.
Journal Ideas!  
  • Did you decide use rock dust minerals in your garden?
  • Why or why not?
  • Where did you purchase your rock dust?
  • What brand did you purchase?
  • How much did you buy?
  • How much did you use on your garden?
  • Are you planting some plants without the use of rock dust minerals for comparison purposes?
  • Take pictures!

Garden Update: A Lovely Surprise!


After being out of town for the weekend, I was really anxious to get back and check on my garden.  Did my brother remember to water my seedlings?  Did anything succumb to the heat?  Did anything change?  Once I got home, I decided to wait until sundown to go take a look at things - 114° is not my ideal "play in the dirt" temperature.  I grabbed a blank growth chart, a measuring tape and my camera.  While digging through the leaves of each plant to measure their heights, I noticed something on one of my green bean plants...

A green bean pod!!!

It was huge!  I couldn't believe that this little plant (only about 4" tall) had a green bean pod just as big dangling from one of its limbs!  I wasn't sure if I should leave it or harvest it.  After taking pictures, BF convinced me to pluck it, after all "the point of planting a vegetable garden is to be able to eat the vegetables."  So I pulled it off the plant.  My family was really excited; between the radishes and now the solitary green bean, I really was beginning to look like a real gardener!  I decided to share my spoils and cut the bean in to four pieces.  It was delicious!  It was crisp, and full of flavor.  I bet I couldn't buy that kind of freshness anywhere, no matter how "organic" or "fresh" the store claims to be.

My mom and Grif didn't get a bite, but I promised them the first of whatever I harvested next.  Griffin then started asking about the carrots, "that one plant is about 20" tall, do you think it's ready?"  Only one way to find out...  My heart broke a little.  The carrots took to sprout and begin to grow, and now I was actually going to pull my tallest one.  but, I did, and whatdaya know?  There were three baby orange surprises!  We washed them off, and again shared them.  Holy cow, they were so tasty!

I am so excited that I am learning (yes still learning) this skill, and that after a few months of constant attention, I am seeing my work start to pay off.  I am also learning that I can wait longer for crops to mature, and that I need to be constantly planting root/tuber crops.  Now that I've pulled a carrot, it would be nice to have another seedling to put in its place.  I think I need to invest in some indoor growing equipment, so that I can germinate and sprout year round.

In other news...

I have about seven bell pepper plants still in peat pots.  Yesterday, they looked about ready to get into the ground.  Since I only had five squares available, I transplanted the biggest five into my bed, and gave BF the other two to plant on his balcony garden.  I also transplanted three more lettuce plants to an empty square.  The rest are still too small, but I'm hoping that with the shade of the green bean plants, they will make it through the summer without going to bolt

Bell Pepper seedlings ready to be transplanted

A look at their new home

I added about 1 tsp of rock dust minerals to each hole

Next I added about 1/4 tsp of mycorrhizae to each hole

The finished product of a transplant!

Speaking of bolting...  I lost my spinach this weekend.  All of it.  Including the seedlings still in the peat cups.  I'm a little sad, but I know that spinach is a cold weather crop, and I didn't really expect it to make it through the summer.  So, I pulled up all 10 spinach plants and threw them into the compost bin.

See how the once large-fluffy-normal spinach leaves (now yellow) have been replaced by smaller-thinner-pointy leaves?  Also notice the hard stalks growing up the center of each plant?  Sad.

Fails 2: Successes 3



Have you heard of mycorrhizae (mi-coh-ri-zee)?  My brother and I first learned about this amazing stuff in Biology 186 a few years ago.  As soon as I mentioned that I wanted to plant a garden, he began calling nurseries and scouring the Internet to find some.

Mycorrhizae is what gardener's like to call "a grower's best friend."  Naturally occurring in nature, it one of Mother Natures magic tools that enable plants in the rainforest are able to grow so big, so lush, and so dense without any fertilizer or pesticides.  In fact, mycorrhizae has become essential to the survival of some plant species that have problems developing their root systems. 

So What Is Mycorrhizae?

Mycorrhizae is a fungus.  Yup, eww. I hate the thought of fungi and to this day can't eat mushrooms because it makes me think of warts and athlete's foot.  I know, it's weird... Moving on...

Mycorrhizae gets its name from the Greek root words "mycos" meaning fungus, and "rhiza" which means "root."  This wonder microbe is literally just that, a plant root fungus!  Unlike Fusariam Wilt, Southern Blight, and Powdery Mildew (common vegetable fungi that are detrimental to the plant), mycorrhizae is involved in what as known as a symbiotic relationship with the plant.  In biology, there are three common types of symbiotic relationships, mycorrhizae forms a mutually symbiotic relationship between the fungus and the plant's roots.  What this means is that relationship is advantageous to both parties. 

How does it work?

In a Mycorrhizal relationship, the fungi colonize the plants' roots increasing their surface area by up to 1,000 times!  Several miles of fungal mycelium and hyphae (fungal filaments and "fingers") can be present in less than a thimbleful of soil.  Because of this increased surface area, mycorrhizae assist their host plants by increasing the plants' ability to capture water and essential nutrients from the soil, and transfer them into the plant's roots.  Mycorrhizal fungi enhance nutrient uptake not only by increasing the surface absorbing area of roots, they also release powerful chemicals into the soil that dissolve hard-to-capture nutrients, such as phosphorous, iron and other complex soil nutrients.  The fungi also provide protection against pathogens and nematodes. 

Plant root systems with and without mutually symbiotic mycorrhizae.

In return the  mycorrhizal fungi feed on the carbohydrates (sugars), amino acids and other waste elements excreted by the plant roots.  It’s a symbiotic system that ensures vigorous plant growth.  And get this: the mycorrhizae-plant relationship is the rule in nature rather than the exception.  95% of all known plant species—trees, vegetables, grass, ornamentals—have at least one kind of mycorrhizal fungi colonizing its roots!

{Image Source} This picture shows the microscopic detail of the fungal hyphae (thin white strings) as they attach to a plants roots (in yellow)

Why Should I Use Mycorrhizae?
In case you haven't been paying attention, here are some more reasons why using mycorrhizae in your garden is completely beneficial:
  • 100% Natural and organic treatment (Mycorrhizae is a living organism)
  • Tried and tested by nature over more than 400 million years
  • One treatment lasts the duration of a plants' lifetime (when transplanting in final position)
  • Easy and safe to apply
  • Increased drought resistance and immunity to heat stress
  • Decreased requirement for chemical Fertilizers and pesticides
  • Faster growth due to increased uptake of soil nutrients
  • Increased resistance to root diseases
  • Helps limit weed invasion (through improved soil structure)
  • Increased root area, flowering & fruiting
  • Increased survival rates of transplants and seedlings
  • Can be applied to mature plants and trees
  • Mycorrhizal roots take hold faster in newly planted plants
Mycorrhizae v. Fertilizer

While fertilizers can be extremely beneficial in replacing nutrients to the soil, many fertilizers encourage top growth (flowering and fruiting) at the expense of root development.  Because of the unbalanced root-to-shoot ratio, many plants are vulnerable to stressful environments.  Mycorrhizae not only stimulates root growth and increases root surface area, but because the plant has a better developed root system, it is able to flower and fruit faster and larger than plants given traditional fertilizer. 

Mycorrhizae also improves soil structure and prevents root disease, while fertilizer cannot; and over fertilizing will kill the plant. 

Application of Mycorrhizae
Micorrhizal innoculants come in powder form and are quick and easy to apply.  The only precursor to getting it right is to make sure the mycorrhizae comes in contact with the plants' roots.  To inoculate the soil, simply sprinkle the instructed amount into the hole where the transplant will be placed.

Journal Ideas!

Writing in your garden journal is so important to future success and failures of your crops. 
  • Did you decide use mycorrhizae in your garden?
  • Why or why not?
  • Where did you purchase your mycorrhizae?
  • What brand did you purchase?
  • How much did you use per plant?
  • Are you planting some plants without the use of mycorrhizae for comparison purposes?
  • Take before and after pictures

30 Minutes Every Day


Since I started my little garden, I have spent between 15-30 minutes with it almost every day!  It seriously is like a child that never grows up... or a puppy.  It needs attention and care or else it will die.  Some people might ask what it is I'm doing out there for that long everyday.  They also might wonder what they should be doing in their gardens everyday, or how much time they should be spending with their baby.

When I first started my seeds, I watered them twice a day.  They were in little cups and the drainage was crazy amazing, but coupled with our warm temperatures, the soil would completely dry up in about 10 hours.  So, every morning before work I would deeply water them for about 5 minutes.  And as soon as I got home from work, I would water them again.  I did this until just 2 weeks ago.  I noticed that a few of my plants were starting to look really bad, and realized it is because they were getting over watered: twice a day, plus our sprinkler system that runs three-times every other day, was too much.  So I stopped watering.

Now, I just let the sprinklers do their thing, and it is really working out well.  This is the reason I haven't installed an irrigation system, with the sprinklers, I just don't need one.  Even without watering I am spending about 15-30 minutes tending my garden.  Below are some things I do, and things you can do to ensure your garden stays healthy and  works for you.
  • I check the soil moisture around every.single.plant with a moisture meter every two days
  • I add any compost from the kitchen compost bin to my big daddy-o compost bin every day
  • I mix and water my compost every 2-3 days
  • I inspect every.single.plant everyday.  I really get in and look, and move things around, Inspector Gadget style.  What do I look for?
    • I make sure the plant looks like it's growing.  If it isn't I need to figure out why
    • I check for holes in the leaves- if there are holes, bugs are eating my plants and I need to stop and prevent it from happening again
    • I check underneath the leaves to see if there any aphids or insect egg sacs that will eventually damage my plants
    • I check the condition and color of leaves, again to see if the plant is diseased or needs more nutrition
    • I talk to them and tell them I love them and tell them how big they're getting (so creepy, but that's what you do with babies & puppies... and plants)
    • I look for fruit or flowers
  • I take pictures of each plant and the whole garden bed about once a week
  • I log my plants measurements on a custom growth chart once a week
  • I ammend the soil as necessary about once every 2 weeks
  • I log important stuff in my garden journal (i.e. this blog)

Keeping a Garden Journal


Keeping a garden journal can add to your gardening success and enhance your enjoyment of your gardening activities. Depending on how much effort you want to spend on the journal, it can be a fancy scrapbook kind of garden journal, or a plain composition noteboko.  It can record as little as what you planted and when. At the other extreme, it can record every minute activity you perform in your garden, such as trimming, fertilizing, watering, and recording rainfall, temperature and hours of sunlight. It's up to you, how much information, or how little, you keep. It also depends on what you expect to do with the information later.
Journal Style
There are many different ways to keep a garden journal, and you should consider which one will likely meet your needs the best.  Below is an example of many ways people record the things growings on in their garden.
  • Shoebox: This broad category includes everything from kept in a shoebox, bag, storage box, or any other format where retrieval is on a 'dive-in' basis. This type of journal works best for people who want to save 'stuff', just in case, but have no idea what they'll do with it.
  • Garden Planner: This type of garden journal includes current gardening information and planning tools such as garden layouts, visual references such as pictures, and detailed information about bloom time, requirements, color, and design issues as well as gardening activities and observations.  I offer a Custom Garden Guide here my site!
  • Garden Organizer: The garden organizer journal is grouped by plant type or location, by color or season, or in another way that makes sense to you. Contents are organized in the chosen order, rather than recorded sequentially in date order.
  • Chronological Journal: The best example of this a personal diary. For each day that you choose to make an entry, you start a new line right after your last entry. You make entries daily, weekly, or as you get to them. Usually, pictures and additional information is not included.
  • Photo Album: For avid photographers or gardeners who want to look at their garden even in the winter, this form of garden journal lets you store garden pictures, plant details and activities. A popular use of this style of journal is to take digital photos of your plants through each stage of their growth, inserting new pages as required. This can provide you with a visual image of what your perennials look like when they emerge from the spring soil, vs. what weeds look like, so that you remove the weeds only.
  • Record Keeper: The record keeper format permits the most detail to be kept on each and every plant in your garden. It will likely include complete plant details, all activities, and permit as much detail as you want to enter. This style need not be in a binder, but could be index cards in a shoebox, in alphabetical order, for example. It could also utilize an address-card filing system.
Journal Types
Now that you know how you want to journal, it's time to choose a vessel in which to keep all of your information and research.  There are many different types of journals.  Some are fancy and expensive, some are homemade and simple, and others are online, like mine!
  • Diary Style Garden Journal: The diary style follows the format of a regular bound diary. The pages are usually un-formatted so that you can write as much, or as little as you wish for each day, or skip days without skipping pages. Your notes are written in chronological order. You can tape seed packets and pictures into this style journal and it will have a scrapbook feel (when it overfills it's time to get a new volume). This style is best if you want to simply record your activities and observations.
  • Formatted, Bound Style Garden Journal: This style garden journal may be formatted with a space allowed for each day, grouped by plant, with specific contents related to gardening, or in other ways. It is bound so that you cannot insert pages afterwards. Notes are in chronological order. Again, addition of enough seed packets and pictures will make the book very bulky.
  • Loose-leaf Style Garden Journal: This format of garden journal utilizes lined or unlined loose-leaf paper as its base. Its main advantage is that you can insert pages at a later time. Why would this matter? Well, if you want to keep all entries regarding a specific plant together, as some gardeners do, you will need to either insert pages as required, or leave a lot of room after the initial entry, which looks really silly until it fills up. This is also a nice cheap method to create a do-it-yourself garden journal. See our instructions for a sample homemade garden journal. You can also use your word-processing software to create and maintain your garden journal.
  • Online Style Garden Journal: There are numerous services for creating and maintaining a garden journal on the Internet. With these services, your journal is readily available online to you at any time, and many services are free. A selection of templates is usually provided by the service, for you to customize your entries to suit your taste and needs, and you can choose to share your journal with others, or keep it private. The advantages of this type of journal include your participation in an online community, and the ease of use, once you get used to them. The disadvantages include the need to be on the Internet to make your garden entries or refer to past entries. Most services do allow printing of your journal. I also want to mention that there are tons of phone apps which are catered to gardeners either for free, or for a small fee. Below I have listed two of my favorite garden journal websites, as well as the two apps I have on my phone..
  • Computer Program Garden Journal: This style of journal is useful for the gardener who wants to look at gardening activities in a variety of different ways. For example, to see all activities for a specific plant, or all activities of a specific nature (eg. fertilizing), as well as activities by date. Most computer garden journals also include a section for detailed plant records, as well. You will usually be able to print all plant records and journal entries in a variety of different sort orders, depending on how you will use your journal. You can also add entries out of date order. The Garden Management System gardening software ($30) includes a garden journal. With this program, you can view journal entries for with each plant, in date order, and in a variety of other sort orders. You can also print a page for each plant that includes plant characteristics and details, as well as all journal entries for that plant, as shown in the sample plant report. 
Now, Get Started
Now that you have your journal, and know the style you'd like to keep, it's time to get started.  If you're not purchasing my Custom Garden Guide, use my Planning menu to help you out. 
  • Your Garden Plan will help you draw out you plans.  Keep copies of your drawings in the front of your journal.
  • What to Grow will teach you about what plants will grow in your area, as well as what plants are easy to grow.  This will help you purchase your seeds/transplants.  Be sure to save you seed packets!
  • Your Garden Design will teach you all about companion planting, and where each crop should go in your garden.  It's important to log your garden design so you can reference it when sowing your seeds or transplanting.  It will also be helpful to reference next year for you crop rotation.

If you're not a gardening newbie and have an existing garden, it may seem overwhelming to begin keeping records, now. Where to start?!?  I don't expect you to back track three months or more of garden activity, but start recording now.  It will be well worth it in the end!  Here are some things you can start doing today. 
  • Take pictures of your plants. If you're short on time, use a digital camera.  You can take pictures willy-nilly, then upload them later.  Just be sure to use the date stamp function on your camera for accurate journaling later. 
  • Begin recording your activities, including creation of the journal.
  • As a general rule, it's a lot easier to get started and keep motivated as you begin your journal, if you split big tasks into a lot of manageable little tasks.
What to Record
  • Sowing dates
  • Transplanting dates
  • Source and cost for plants and seeds as well as date purchased
  • Weather particulars such as rainfall, high temperatures, and frost dates
  • Plant characteristics, date of germination, date they emerge in spring, appearance of blooms
  • Date of harvest (for vegetables) or cut flowers taken
  • Date and type of fertilizer or other chemicals applied, and to which plants
  • Observations
I hope you do take the time to create and keep a garden journal. 

What is Bolting?


Bolting is a term that refers to a plant that has "gone to flower."  Typically, the plant will grow an elongated stalk with flowers from within the main stem of the plant.  The condition most often occurs in plants that are grown for their leaves such as lettuce, spinach, cilantro and other leafy greens. 

A very basic over view of the plant life cycle looks something like this:

Seed → Seedling → Fruit→ Flower → (back to) Seed
Notice that once the plant gets to the flower stage, it doesn't go back to the fruit stage, it's life cycle starts all over. When a plant is in its fruiting stage, it produces fruit, or vegetables, and most of the parts of the plant are edible (the leaves often taste like the vegetable, like broccoli leaves!)  When plants begin to flower, or blot, the entire plant changes.  It will no longer produce fruit, the leaves change in appearance and in flavor, and the plant will produce flowers. 
Plants can also bolt prematurely. This is often due to temperatures that are too warm for the plant's liking. This process is common among annuals, and usually signals the coming end of the plant's life.

When a plant begins to bolt, there is nothing you can do to stop it. Pinching off the flowers will not turn back time, or stop the process.  It's time to pull the crop, throw it in the compost pile, and sow again.  However it is possible to prevent crops from bolting simply by following instructions.  Be sure to read the labels on the seed packets, and stick to the plant's proper growing season as well as hardiness zone.  Leafy greens don't often require full sun, and do rather well in partial shade, so plant in a semi-shady place, or next to a taller crop that will block a good amount of sun.

Below is a video from my favorite garden-guru John Kohler over at Growing Your Greens with some great tips on how to prevent bolting, and what you can do with bolted crops instead of sending them to the compost heap.

Journal Ideas!

Having your crops bolt prematurely can be hard, especially on a first time gardener.  If you're experiencing this process, be sure to write about it in your garden journal!
  • Have you had any plants go to flower?
  • Is it the end of the growing season, or did they bolt prematurely?
  • Which crops bolted?
  • How do you feel?
  • What is the temperature like?
  • What season is it?
  • Is your crop a warm season or cool season crop?
  • Take Pictures!

Annuals, Perennials & Biennials


An Annual plant is plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season.  Many food plants are, or are grown as, annuals, including virtually all domesticated grains.  Annuals produce seeds to continue the species as a new generation while the growing season is suitable, and the seeds survive over the cold or dry period to begin growth when the conditions are again suitable.  One seed-to-seed life cycle for an annual can occur in as little as a month in some species, though most last several months. 

Summer annuals sprout, flower, produce seed, and die during the warmer months of the year.  The lawn weed crabgrass is an example of a summer annual. 

Winter annuals germinate in autumn or winter, live through the winter, then bloom in winter or spring.  The plants grow and bloom during the cool season when most other plants are dormant or other annuals are in seed form waiting for warmer weather to germinate. Winter annuals die after flowering and setting seed. The seeds germinate in the fall or winter when the soil temperature is cool.  Winter annuals typically grow low to the ground, where they are usually sheltered from the coldest nights by snow cover, and make use of warm periods in winter for growth when the snow melts.

Some common true annuals are:

 A Perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. When used by gardeners, perennial applies specifically to winter hardy herbaceous plants. Scientifically, woody plants like shrubs and trees are also perennial in their habit.
Perennials, especially small flowering plants, grow and bloom over the spring and summer and then die back every autumn and winter, then return in the spring from their root-stock rather than seeding themselves as an annual plant does. These are known as herbaceous perennials.
Perennial plants can be short-lived (only a few years) or they can be long-lived, as are some woody plants like trees which can live for over 4,000 years. Perennials typically grow structures that allow them to adapt to living from one year to the next through a form of vegetative reproduction rather than seeding. These structures include bulbs, tubers, woody crowns, rhizomes plus others. They might have specialized stems or crowns that allow them to survive periods of dormancy over cold or dry seasons during the year. Many perennials, in contrast, have specialized to survive under extreme environmental conditions: some have adapted to survive hot and dry conditions, or to survive under cold temperatures. Those plants tend to invest a lot of resource into their adaptations and often do not flower and set seed until after a few years of growth. Many perennials produce relatively large seeds, which can have an advantage, with larger seedlings produced after germination that can better compete with other plants or more quickly develop leaves.
Perennial Fruits:
Wineberry (Japanese)
Perennial Herbs:
Black Pepper
Lemon Balm
White Horehound
Perennial Vegetables:
Globe Artichoke
Ground Nut
Jerusalem Artichoke
Lamb's Quarter
Sea Kale
Sweet Potato


A biennial plant is a flowering plant that takes two years to complete its biological life cycle. In the first year the plant grows leaves, stems, and roots (vegetative structures), then it enters a period of dormancy over the colder months. Usually the stem remains very short and the leaves are low to the ground, forming a rosette.  During the next spring or summer, the stem of the biennial plant elongates greatly, or "bolts." The plant then flowers, producing fruits and seeds before it finally dies. There are far fewer biennials than either perennial plants or annual plants.

Biennials that are grown for edible leaves or roots are grown as annuals.  If a normally biennial plant is grown in extremely harsh conditions, it is likely to be treated as an annual because it will not survive the winter cold. Conversely, an annual grown under extremely favorable conditions may have highly successful seed propagation, giving it the appearance of being biennial or perennial. 

Some examples of biennial crops are:
Brussel Sprouts
Swiss Chard

Garden Update: What's Growing On


My little garden bed sure has a lot of green in it!  I took some pictures of it this afternoon, and just thought I would share the progress.  I'm really surprised by how well everything is doing considering the 105 temperatures we've been having!  Despite the heat, the raised bed is really great at holding water! 

Since I sowed my first set of seeds, I have watered twice a day.  Once I put the plants into the soil, I was still watering twice a day.  When the peas started to go sour, I noticed the Spinach as well as the Tomatoes didn't look too good.  The Spinach leaves were turning yellow and drying out, and the Tomato leaves were curling upwards and drying out.  Both were sure signs of over-watering.  So I completely stopped watering and have just let the sprinklers handle it.  I keep considering installing a drip irrigation system, but I'm not sure I'll actually need it.

The smaller containers in the bed are holding more seedlings.  There are remaining 5 bell pepper seedlings,  8 more spinach plants, 9 more lettuce plants and 16 more radish starts.

How's your garden doing?

First Fruits


All of my hard work has paid off!  Today I harvested my first crop!  Radishes are really easy to grow, and they grow really fast; like seed to eat in 60 days!  I could have plucked them all about a month ago, but I got busy, and sort of forgot...

They are crunchy and spicy and taste delicious!  I only harvested about 1/2 of the crop, because I don't think the others are ready to come out.  It's so rewarding to see "the fruits of my labor!"

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You Are Going to Fail


{Peas in May}

Starting a garden has been a learning experience to say the least.  I've never gardened before, and I am certainly no expert.  Before I planted my seeds, I spent quite a lot of time researching garden topics: gardening in the desert, how to make raised beds, irrigation systems, etc.  I even typed my notes as I went, and now have them printed out into a 100 page manual! 

 {My first pea seedling}

 I wanted a garden, so I decided to try it, knowing full well that it wouldn't be perfect, and that I would probably fail.  I was really surprised when my seeds started to sprout.  I was even more surprised when they actually grew!  When I built my garden bed, it turned out better than I imagined... Maybe I wouldn't fail... Maybe my garden would be perfect...


Nope, I was wrong.  When I planted my garden, I knew that some of my crop choices are "cool weather crops."  They will grow well in colder climates, and in the desert, they would be viable in winter, but they are not tolerant of our extreme heat.  I also knew that some of the crops I chose, would require a lot of attention, and skills that I didn't have.  I also knew that watering would be a challenge because some of the crops in my bed require lots of water, and others require only a little.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that my pea leaves were beginning to turn yellow and shrivel.  I researched possible causes.  One possibility was a fungus!  My heart broke.  If it were a fungus, it would have surely spread throughout the soil, and all of my crops would soon die as well.  I read another cause might be "root rot."  A condition caused when certain crops get too much water.  This happens to plants in containers with poor drainage.  Their roots decay because they are flooded and not able to get air.  Again I was crushed, but decided that I would try to fix the problem before it got worse...

I scoured my garage for plastic containers.  I covered the peas so that they wouldn't get any water, unless I manually watered them, but they would still be able to get sunlight.  This had to work.

It didn't, and yesterday, I decided enough was enough.  I knew from the beginning that peas are a cool weather crop, and can't grow in temperatures over 80°.  The past few days we've been in the 100°-105° range.  My poor peas didn't stand a chance.  Lesson learned, and I'll try again in September.


If you're trying gardening for the first time, don't let failure deter you.  Instead, try something new, and keep going!  I pulled out all of my pea plants, and threw them in the compost bin, and planted my watermelon plants in their spot.
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