Garden Time

You might remember me saying that we had some weird weather in April.  It was cold and rainy.  We made it into May with lots of rain and some decent temperatures.

I didn’t worry too much even though I always plant on Mother’s Day weekend and that date passed.  This last week the weather turned around and I hurried to the garden center and bought my plants.  I told you about getting my flowers planted in THIS POST.

Well, Karl tilled my garden one evening so I went out and planted all of the seedlings and starts.  I planted all the way until dark…well actually past dark.  I turned on the outside patio light as the last bit of light faded and planted the two cherry tomato plants that I keep outside my back door.

The next night even though I was pooped, I went out and planted all of the seeds.  Nothing has popped up yet.  That’s okay.  At least I know they are in the ground.

Every year I try to plant something new or different.  This year I planted…Okra.  I have never tried growing it before.  I love eating it in soups but I’ve just had it from the can except for a few times I picked it up at the Farmer’s Market.  I didn’t do broccoli or cauliflower this year.  Broccoli, I think, is easy to grow but it always ends up flowering on me and I can’t use it.  I typically go to the garden for something else…then notice the broccoli better get used so I make plans to use it the next day and then it’s flowered.  Being I didn’t plant it, I had room to try okra.  I am hoping that is a little more forgiving.  If you have okra growing suggestions or uses please pass them on.

I planted yellow summer squash AND zucchini.  In the past, I only planted Zucchini.  I’m changing it up this year.  Not a lot…just a little.

I don’t have my climbing pole beans planted yet.  Carver calls them his beans and asked me to wait so he could plant them.  For the past two summers, Carver has planted them on the trellises Kramer made for me.  We make note of the beans growing and observe them measuring Carver to the beans to see which is taller.

Carver needs to help me pound the trellises in and then plant.

It will all look so much better once the seeds start sprouting.

I plant the very front of the garden with zinnias.  I love zinnias.  This year I planted some Gladiola bulbs too.  For those of you who aren’t familiar they are flowers that look like the picture below.  I got a pink/purple variety pack.
I have the thought that I’d like some cut flowers in the house more often this year.  We’ll see if I actually cut them.  Every time I think to cut some I just can’t bring myself to do it.

So now let the growing begin.

I planted some Vinca at the edge.

My landscape perrenials are really starting to perk up. Looks like I’ll have some blooming peonies before long.

I’m excited about my planters this year.  I love the colors and the variegated leaves on my petunias.  We’ll see if they get full and pretty.

I’m going everything pink this year.  Last year I had some red mixed with the pink and didn’t love it.

I still have lots of outdoor work to do.  I need to spruce up the bark chips and put down some Preen to help keep the weeds down.  If you haven’t used it, Preen is a great product.  I sprinkle it down on my old bark chips before I put new chips down.  It prevents weeds from growing from seed.  I also put it down between my tomato plants.  You can find it HERE.  It’s important not to put it in the area of your garden where you planted seeds or it will prevent them from germinating.  You can put it down after they have sprouted but not before.

Speaking of tomatoes, I get this question every year, what is around your tomato plants?  The answer is old field tile.  In the olden days, they were used by farmers to help drain the excess water from the crops.  They used a plastic pipes nowadays.  My parents always put the tile around their tomato plants.  It acts as a shelter from the wind and acts a bit like a greenhouse.  I also like them because when I water the garden, the water stays closer to the plant and doesn’t flow away from it.

So, that was the garden tour for now.  I hope to do another once I have done a good cleaning of the landscaped areas.

I’m feeling so much better now that I have that much done.

23 thoughts on “Garden Time”

  1. Hi Jo
    I’ve just got some okra too, I haven’t had it before either, I didn’t plant them ,they were given to me. My son-in-law says they are quite versatile, they have a very neutral taste, a bit on the sweet side. You can use them in soups, casseroles, but they can also be put into fruit pies to bulk out the fruit a bit. They are super easy to grow, so I am sure you will have no trouble with them, apparently they grow anywhere.
    Good luck, your garden looks lovely

  2. When we lived in MI, Memorial Day weekend was always the plant weekend. We’re from TX, and since Memorial Day seemed so late, we always planted nursery starts. Now we’ve moved back to TX, and are already up to our eyes in summer squash and zucchini. Tomatoes started turning this week! Okra loves the hot hot sun, a little water stress, and grows like gang busters. I give away literally bushels of it towards the end of summer! I love your green bean lattices! Showed my husband so we can try that next year!!

  3. I love okra. In West Texas we had very much okra. My mom would make pickled okra, stewed okra and for a special time fried okra. We did not have our own garden but would go to local farms to harvest all we wanted of anything. Even at a young age I knew to always have good gloves when working around the okra. Prickly and painful!

  4. My mom who was from Alabama used to successfully plant okra in our garden near Cedar Rapids. I don’t remember how early she planted it, but you want to make sure to cut it before it gets too big and “woody.” We only ate it fried, like our Southern folk. Yummy!!! Here’s some advice from Seed Savers in Decorah:
    Hope you have a great growing season, Jo!!

  5. Okra is an African word meaning “lady fingers”. That is a clue to the size you need to cut them at. The smaller the better and more tender.

  6. Cheryl in St. Paul

    I’ve never seen variegated leaf petunias. They are spectacular! I don’t have my pole beans planted either. Today and tomorrow are rain filled, so Friday looks like THE day.

  7. I plant “Profusion Zinnia” in my landscape. They’re a dwarf variety so I suppose that’s why rabbits can reach the buds. It’s quite a war keeping rabbits away. I’ve covered the plants with a variety of barriers, like tunnels of chicken wire, wire baskets, fences made of wire shelving. It’s all unsightly. Last year I bought solar power motion alarms & they seem to help. This year I’ve laid garden netting over the young plants and so far – so good. When the plants get bigger they wont need the protection so I’ll remove it. It’s almost invisible now.

  8. You certainly have the beginning of a great garden. I don’t have a garden, but I remember my mother never wanted broccoli in hers. I usually have a tomato plant in a planter on my patio. It is always fun to watch the progress of your garden – you always such a good one! You must not be bothered with deer there in Iowa.

  9. Your garden is beautiful. I have a question: does the field tile stay around the the tomato plant all season? Or do you take it off at some point?

    1. Hi, do you know why the field tiles/ pots are around the tomato plants? How do they help? Is it to keep the plants off the ground and safer from pests? I grew tomatoes for the first time in my little garden here in England, they were reasonably successful and I’d like to try again this year.
      Thanks for any help offered
      Regards from cool, damp Shropshire,England

      1. Lynn, Jo mentions how the tiles act like a cloche: providing both a windbreak and a greenhouse effect. It seems she is using them with tomato cages as well to keep them well supported. I have personally used the espalier method with my tomato plants which I think works well. If it tends to be damp in your area, maybe that method would be helpful in keeping good airflow. Best of luck!

    2. I leave them on all season. I typically water right into the tile and the water stays close to the plant that way.

  10. Toni is right about okra. Don’t let it get too big or it will be hard. If you cannot easily slice it, it’s too big. We live in Arkansas and always have a good crop. We fry it, pickle it, and I slice it, put the slices on parchment paper on a baking sheet and freeze it. When it’s frozen, I bag it in 2 cup increments for the freezer to be used in gumbo. We also make okra and tomatoes during garden season. Okra is very hardy and needs summer heat. We know that if our okra plants look wilted, it is very hot or very dry! Good luck with yours!

  11. Margaret in North Texas

    Lovely baskets and garden–you will love bringing the gladiolas in to the house. I too love zinnias! Did you plant cabbage?
    I know you planted a bunch last year–did Kalissa help use the crop?

  12. Susan Eubanks

    Okra and stewed tomatoes! Sauté onion in some bacon grease. Add fresh chopped tomatoes and sliced okra. Simmer down till okra is soft. You may need to add a little water. Season with salt and pepper, or maybe some Tony’s creole seasoning. One of my summer favs!!

  13. Judith M Fairchild

    Okra should be picked when it’s the length of your hand or a little before it’s that long any longer and it is tough.

  14. Your garden and flowers are beautiful! I love to try different things too and this year it’s fava beans. I have some drainage tiles and a few tomatoes that still need to be planting, so will give it a try.

    There’s mixed opinions about using Preen around pets and although there is a natural version I shy away from using them in my beds (my best friend’s Chihuahua succumbed to Round-Up poisoning). I found the best weed prevention for me is getting out as many of the weeds as possible, laying down a layer of cardboard (tape and staples removed), wetting it down with warm water and then covering with a layer of mulch. Because I’m in a rural location my mulch is usually whatever I can source for free, whether it be shredded leaves or wood mulch. It’s quite a time investment at first and you do have to pull emerging weeds as soon as you notice them. I’m on year three of my raised beds and I managed to have ten beds weeded in 30 minutes a few weeks ago and those weeds didn’t even fill a seedling flat.

  15. I love hearing how your garden is growing and seeing the grandchildren helping you play in the dirt. I have 2 tomato plants in pots on our deck, we love fresh tomatoes. No more large gardens for us. My Zinnias are up out of the ground, and I hope they do well where I put them. My first time planting them in TN. They are one of my favorites for cut flowers.

  16. I fry sliced okra, zucchini, yellow squash and onion in bacon grease. That is our favorite way to eat it. My okra did not come up good this year, but we have been really dry here (Oskaloosa, IA). We did not get the rain most of Iowa got on Tuesday/Wednesday. We barely got .2″ but needed much more. My zucchini and summer squash did not come up, so replanted them on Monday of this week. I’m not sure we have enough moisture to get them out of the ground. I am not planting again.

  17. Linda G Jarnecke

    My husband also puts old drain tiles around his tomato plants. When I first married him, I thought he was nuts! You two are the only ones I’ve seen do this… but I’m a city girl. I did plant my own yellow cherry tomato plant in a wooden barrel off the sun porch. Love snacking on those!

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