Adventures in Gardening: Spring 2012

It’s been a while since we talked about my various gardening adventures, so I thought I’d bring everyone up to speed.

We had a good amount of mini daffodils and hyacinths early this spring in our front yard.

We also did a little renovating in the front, and I built that little in-ground herb box and planted some perennial herbs (sage, rosemary, mint, oregano, and lemon thyme). The trick will be pruning them enough so that they stay in nice neat little rows!

I started composting two years ago, and this year was the first time that we really had some high quality compost to work with. I mixed most of it into my garden soil and left the rest to help speed up the new compost I’ll be making this year.

The strawberry patch is doing fine, the netting my Dad and I built last year has been keeping the critters out of the berries. This pic is from a couple months ago, I cover them with straw in the winter and this was right after taking that straw off.

Here’s a more recent picture of the strawberry plants.

I planted 18 potato plants (9 red potatoes, 9 russet), and they are growing like crazy. To the right of them (off-picture) I planted a few rows of lettuce, carrot, and parsnip seeds, but the squirrels kept disrupting my soil and only a few of them germinated and sprouted. I’ll probably plant a melon or something in that area soon.

Our plum tree in the back is sporting quite a few fruits, but the tree is slowly getting covered in aphids and ants, which happens every year. If I had done my homework I would have read that plum trees don’t do well in Maryland, and I would have planted a peach or apple tree instead. Oh well. Last year I tried all sorts of organic/homemade ways to keep the bugs off, and it worked a little, and then the birds ate all of the plums anyway!

Last year I planted four raspberry plants, and this year I have a whole bush of them. This is AFTER thinning some of the smaller plants out a couple months ago.

Lastly, we have a few more herbs in the backyard (another rosemary and oregano, plus basil and thai basil) as well as a small potted blueberry plant which looks to be bearing a good amount of berries this year.

27 thoughts on “Adventures in Gardening: Spring 2012

    1. Thanks! I just use organic potting soil and water. We just planted it last year and this is the first year with any fruit. I’ve heard that blueberry bushes will only produce at certain points in their lifetimes, I’m not sure exactly when that it though. We also planted an in-ground bush this year, so hopefully we’ll have plenty next year!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Our strawberries have more problems with bugs or worms I think.

    Find more space for raspberries – we started with one one gallon plant almost 10 years ago and have more than 20′ of them now!


  2. I’m working on my garden now. I’ve planted yukon gold and red potatoes, but I’m growing them in black garbage bags using the “Barrel” method. It promises 100s of potatoes from just a handful of starters. I have alot of Campari tomatoes and various red, yellow, and orange sweet bell peppers, all of which I got from using seeds from grocery store produce!!


    1. Wow, sounds great! I’ve always been interested in the barrel method, let me know how it turns out. We’ve done tomatoes every year for a while now, but during the hotter summer periods we usually aren’t able to water them enough and it becomes a big hassle. We’re going for a “hands off” garden this year! :)


  3. Yeah, your plants are going to spread like crazy! My herbs are taking over my front walkway, in huge bushes and they used to be nice little cute plants like yours. Your picture of strawberries is so great, I can almost taste the sweet difference that homegrown makes, rather than “store bought”! Mine are all small and green or still flowering. You are going to have a lot of potatoes to deal with soon! We didn’t plant any this year and there are still about 20 plants shooting up out of the ground, disrupting my green beans, flowers, and rhubarb. oh well! :)
    Thanks for sharing, I love seeing other people doing urban gardening.


  4. Those strawberries are so lovely! I can’t wait until I can get my hands on some local berries–I haven’t had any strawberries since last year. The ones they ship here just don’t compare.


  5. I love the strawberries, I just planted some three weeks ago, I hope they’ll come out as healthy as yours have. Great pics.


    1. Thanks Elaine! I actually planted them as seedlings in the fall of 2010, and through 2011 I pinched off the flowers so that the plant’s energy would focus on the leaves/roots instead of producing berries. This year is our first year where we’ve actually enjoyed the berries!


  6. Lovely strawberries and herbs. We are sitting out of the gardening this year. We have a 1 yr old, male, cockerspaniel (puppy) and he’s loving the digging and ripping up the grass. He’ll get better with age, I’m sure :-)


  7. Everything is looking great. I just planted seeds yesterday (couldn’t earlier for risk of frost). I’m considering planting different types of berries like raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, but usually they take a few years to grow. I’m encouraged by seeing the progress yours are making – thanks for sharing!


  8. Warm Hello from Nova Scotia. Couple tips: Birds do not eat plums- either not fully polinated (single plum tree-very suspect-no Japanese cultivars are self-pollinating, most European are), possibly Chipmunks and/or Racoons. Go for a day-neutral strawberry – bloom all season, huge fruit,(Albion or Seascape)-from Florida. Not picking, just have no one else to talk to about gardening.


    1. Frank, thanks for the comment! I agree, after talking it over with some locals it does seem that squirrels may be stealing my plums. I will look into day-neutral strawberries, thanks for the tip!

      Truth be told, most of my gardening lately has been potatoes – so easy, and much more conducive to my busy schedule :)


  9. I was reading about your aphid problem and here in Georgia some folks got the great idea to get ladybugs. However, they brought in a ladybug looking beetle from China that has invaded everywhere. They nest in the nooks and crannies of your home beginning in Fall when it cools and don’t leave until late Spring. So don’t buy in to the “ladybug” craze going around. Sorry to hear about your plum tree, figs are pretty nice to grow around that area.


    1. They are actually a strain of Ladybug. The problem however, is that once someone purchases ladybugs, and releases same, they are free to fly anywhere, and that’s exactly what they do.


  10. For Aphids
    Horticultural oils are among the safest and most effective ways of controlling a range of sap sucking and chewing pests in the garden. These days there are two options – traditional white oil, which is based on a vegetable oil, and modern horticultural oils, which are thinner and based on petroleum oil.

    The lighter coloured, modern oils spread faster than the old fashioned vegetable oil. This is important because it means that the modern, less viscous, oil doesn’t clog leaf pores when the temperature is over 30 degrees. So in hot weather the newer oil won’t damage your plants.

    The other difference is that the modern horticultural oils are based on petroleum and are expensive to buy. White oil is cheap and better still, you can make it yourself.

    White oil recipe:

    • Use two cups of vegetable oil (I’m an organic gardener, so I use sunflower oil because there’s no chance that it could be genetically modified) and half a cup of washing up liquid.

    • Put those into a jar. Put the lid on and give it a good shake and you’ve got concentrated white oil.

    • Label it and store this in a cool, dry place and it should last about three months. Remember to also label it with the dilution rate – two dessert spoons per litre of water.

    Gardeners have been using oils for about 200 years so it’s been thoroughly road tested. Use these oils on broad leaved trees and shrubs. Don’t use them on hairy or soft leaved plants like lettuce, because it will burn the leaves. The best spraying action is to cover both sides of the leaves and the bark and it’s best to spray in the cool of the morning.

    Horticultural oils will control aphids, scale, mealy bug and citrus leaf miner as well as caterpillars. It works by blocking their breathing pores and this suffocates the pest. There is no way that pests will ever become resistant to white oil – so it’s good forever.


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