2013 Harvest Recap

Way back in Spring, even before the garden was planted, I knew that on one autumn day it would all come to an end. Well, as it turns out, today is that day. Harvesting the last bit of arugula and broccoli rabe foliage was quite a bittersweet moment. Sure, it's sad to see the garden succumb to the oncoming Colorado winter, but overall it was a great growing season! So great was the season, that I'd like to dedicate this post as a photo recap of all the produce to have come out of this tiny patio garden in the Mile High City!

Garden Update #18

As we near November, there's not a whole lot left to be seen in the garden!

Garden Update #17

Now that we're roughly half way through October, the garden is starting to dwindle down to its bare minimum. There's carrots, broccoli rabe, scallions and some perennials left, but that's about all. In this update, I'll show the current state of the garden as well as catch up on the rest of the harvests from the season!

Garden Update #15

Harvest time for the summer crops is now underway! Having watched the garden grow all this summer, it's a bittersweet feeling to see all the fruits of my labor. Exciting in the fact that there's so much to be picked from the garden, but also sad because it'll all be over soon with the onset of autumn. Putting the imminent cooler weather aside for now, here's the 15th update for the Patio of Pots garden!

Garden Update #14

The garden has been continually growing, but the updates have seemingly stopped flowing! For this, I must apologize. I suppose it's been quite a hectic summer! Anyways, I'd like to catch you all up to date on how the garden has been doing. Without further ado, here's the Patio of Pots Update #14:

Garden Update #13

We're a little over a week into July now, and the garden is bursting at the seams! Glancing back at update #12, it's amazing to see how much everything has grown. With so much to see, you won't want to miss out on this garden update!

Insects of the Garden

A little over a couple of weeks ago, I posted some photos of an unknown bug that was spotted in the garden. Since that time, I was able to identify this crawling creature as a Katydid, or bush cricket in common terms. Having sparked my interest, I was curious to see how many insects I could photograph in one sitting. Here's the results:

Garden Update #12

It's amazing how fast time slips by! Realizing that I haven't posted anything for two weeks now, I figured it was time to catch you up. There's been quite a few changes to the garden, so be sure to have a look!

An Unknown Bug

I really didn't plan on publishing three entries today, but the garden had a visitor that was just too cool not to share! I was able to get a great photo shoot with this little guy, but I have no clue as to what it is. If you're familiar with these insects, please tune me in!

Garden Update #11

In the time since the last garden update, there's been a few changes to the landscape! I've harvested all the radishes, the peas have started growing pods, and the pepper crop has been planted. It's getting pretty exciting and quite green around the patio! Have a look:

How to Make Bone Meal Fertilizer

Give your container garden a nutrient boost with leftovers from your kitchen! It's not turning vegetable scraps into compost, it's about turning bones into blooms. Everyday, valuable pork, chicken, beef, and fish bones are thrown into garbage bins bound for the local landfill. What a waste! As it turns out, bones are a great fertilizer for not only vegetables, but also lawns and flower gardens. Meat eaters, don't throw out another bone! Instead, put it to good use by learning how to make bone meal fertilizer.

Organic Flea Beetle Control

Of all the garden pests to be had, the Flea Beetle ranks as one of my favorites. Yes, I used the words favorite and pests in the same sentence! I say this only because the flea beetle turns out to be one of the less destructive and easier to manage garden pests. Well, at least for the container gardener it is. These very small beetles often have a stunning metallic color and are characterized by enlarged hind legs that give them the ability to quickly spring great distances when disturbed. In small numbers, these beetles are actually quite fun to watch jump away when you rustle the foliage of infested plants, but in large numbers, flea beetles can become quite the bane for any gardener. In this guide, learn which edible crops are at risk, identification, and how to implement your own organic flea beetle controls.

Garden Update #10

Last week, I was almost completely sure that there were no more planters to be added to the mix, but as a gardener, plant collecting never ceases! Well, that is until you find yourself completely out of usable space. Though I'd always be down to have a few more plants to grow, the limited space of our four by eight foot patio just won't permit anymore. So, without further ado, here's a photographic look at the finalized Patio of Pots Container Garden:

I had to climb up on the railing of the staircase to snap this picture! You can clearly see the extent of how
packed our patio really is. 
Here's a shot from the door facing outwards!
Bull's Blood beets and Kaleidoscope Mix of carrots.
I absolutely love the foliage of the beets! With a touch of  carrot leaf in the photo, this
turned out to be one cool pic!
The radish planter is absolutely bursting with growth! This photo was taken
just before I harvested the first radish crop!
While not the greatest angle, here's a look at the Alaskan Early shelling peas. They've
grown quite a bit in the recent days, and I even think that there's a few flowers on the way!
The tomatoes have been caged and the total count stands at three. While I only planned on growing two tomatoes, I ended up taking on one more. There are two Zapotec Ribbed Heirloom Tomato plants and one San Marzano Roma. 
Who wants tomatoes without basil right? In this planter, there's four Sweet Basil plants and one Fern Leaf Dill.
Moving right along to the floral side of the garden, you can see  Purple ASTI© Daisies and Goodwin Creek Grey lavender. Both of these plants were purchased at a nursery and were locally grown in Arvada, CO. 
I didn't realize I captured a cat hair as well until I got to uploading!
One of the newest additions, Goodwin Creek Lavender.
In the bottom right corner, part of the bonsai-style olive tree can be seen. The Kangaroo
Paw is the main flower in this photo. 
Although the Kangaroo Paw is native to New Zealand, I'm sure that it will do great in the
arid climate of Colorado. This plant instantly became a favorite.
White ASTI© Daisies. 
In my older updates, I was getting pretty good with keeping track of the weather and current plantings, but with all the work that needed to be accomplished this month, I slipped up a little. Don't worry though, I'll catch you up!

Observed Weather - 

May 1 - 7
  • Average High - 57.1°F
  • Average Low - 30.4°F
May 8 - 15
  • Average High - 73.9°F
  • Average Low - 48.5°F
May 16 - 23
  • Average High - 72.3°F
  • Average Low - 47.1°F
May 24 - 27
  • Average High - 84.0°F
  • Average Low - 54.5°F
Current Planting - 
  • Vegetables: Bull's Blood Beets, Kaleidoscope Mix Carrots, French Breakfast Radishes, and five heads of an unknown variety of Garlic. 
  • Fruits - San Marzano Roma Tomatoes, Zapotec Ribbed Heirloom Beefsteak Tomatoes, Peter Peppers, Mexican Sour Gherkins, and strawberries. 
  • Herbs - Sweet Basil, Lemon Balm, Goodwin Creek Lavender, Fern Leaf Dill, and Common Sage. 
  • Flowers - White and Purple ASTI© Daisies, Kangaroo Paw, Snapdragons and a couple different miscellaneous annuals. 
  • Still to Come - Fatalii Chili Peppers, Purple Beauty Bell Peppers, O'Dham Indian Heirloom Chili Peppers, and Heirloom German Cabbage. (Once the radishes, beets and carrots finish, these will be rotated into the garden.)

Harvesting Radishes

As the month of May draws to a close, so does the window of spring weather ripe for growing radishes. Here in Denver, temperatures over the Memorial Day Weekend consistently soared well into the 80's. Sure, the tomatoes are absolutely loving the warm spike, but the radishes won't hold out much longer. Luckily, they won't have to! Having sprouted roughly twenty four days ago, it's time to begin harvesting radishes. That's right, it's radish harvest time!

Garden Update #9

 Well, it's finally here! That's right, the big debut for the Patio of Pots container garden! Over the last couple weeks I've been working quite hard on finishing planters, hardening off indoor grown plants, and finalizing the garden design. I've had to sacrifice the frequency of my blog entries, but I'd say the work was well worth it. I'll let you be the judge of that though!

Planter #1 - Beets & Carrots
  • The Bull's Blood beets and Kaleidoscope Mix of carrots are really starting to grow quickly now. With the beets taking roughly 50-60 days to grow, I'd say they're getting fairly close to harvesting. The carrots should be soon to follow as well. It's still very much up for grabs as to what will be planted next after they're harvested, but I'm leaning more and more towards my original plan of three heirloom cabbage heads!

Planter #2 - Alaska Early Peas & Mouse Melons
  • The peas have started to climb their trellis with vigor, but the overall up and down weather they've endured may have taken it's toll. Early in the season, the peas were subjected to temperatures as low as 19°F, and as of late, temperatures have soared into the mid 80's. Not exactly pea growing weather, but I'm still giving them a chance! 
  • Since I'm a bit unsure if I'll get a pea crop or not, I did end up thinning the middle row of pea plants in order to allow the Mouse Melons (Mexican Sour Gherkins) to gain a head start. There's three of these plants that will continue growing once the peas are gone. 
Planter #3 - French Breakfast Radishes
  • It's almost time for harvesting the radishes I've planted as well! The little radish seedlings began sprouting at the beginning of this month and are now very leafy! From inspecting the tops of the roots, I'd say they'll be ready for harvesting within a week or two. 

Planter #4 - Zapotec Ribbed Heirloom Tomatoes & Peter Peppers
  • This planter is the latest addition, and was planted with tomatoes and peppers that I've grown indoors since late March. The planter was constructed with old untreated fence posts and cost only five dollars to construct! Not bad at all considering that it's three feet long, seven inches wide, thirteen inches deep, and on wheels!
The Flower Corner - 
  • Personally, I never planned to grow as many flowers as we've collected, but whatever is good for the lady of the house, is good for us all! Ha. Actually, to be honest, I've grown quite fond of the contrast in colors and foliage! It's pretty cool. Here's a list of the plants growing: Lemon Balm, Snapdragons, Basil, Garlic, Dill, Kangaroo Paw, Olive Tree, Asti Daisies, Sage, and Strawberries. Oh, and the little wooden stand they're perched on was also constructed from salvaged fence posts!

So, there it is! The Patio of Pots Container Garden! I hope that you'll continue to check back in throughout the summer season to watch the garden grow. 

Transplanting Tomatoes Outside

Seeing that the average last frost date has come and gone, it's time to finally move the tomato plants from their indoor haven to the great outdoors! That's right, the tomato harvest is not far away now! Before we get too far ahead of ourselves though, let's talk about transplanting. The process is fairly straight forward and uncomplicated, but there are a couple crucial steps you'll want to follow through with in order to keep your plants thriving and fruitful. In this gardening guide, learn all about transplanting tomatoes outside and into your garden!
Hardening off two San Marzano Roma tomato plants. 

Hardening Off - 

If you've grown your tomato plants from seed indoors, the all-important process of hardening off must be completed. (Tomato plants purchased at outdoor nurseries have already gone through the hardening off process in one way or another.) One to two weeks before you plan to transplant, move the tomato plants outdoors for increased periods of time each day. Start with one hour the first day, and slowly increase the time period so that by the end of a week or two, the plants are staying outside the entire day. During this process, return the plants indoors during the evening. By completing this stage, the indoor grown tomato plants will have properly acclimated to life outdoors. This will make transplanting as stress-free as possible!

When to Transplant Tomato Seedlings - 
By the time your tomatoes are ready for transplanting outdoors, they'll hardly be seedlings any longer! With six to eight weeks of growth indoors, the tomato plants started from seed should have multiple sets of leaves and be quite tall. For transplanting, pick a date roughly two weeks after the average last frost in your area. In the weeks working up to the transplanting time, research extended forecasts in order to pick the best planting day. Personally, I prefer to transplant only when sunshine will be guaranteed for at least a few days afterward. I think it allows the tomatoes to ease into their spot a little better.
In the two photos above, you can see the Zapotec heirloom
tomatoes I'm planting. In the upper of the two, you can see
the plants before pruning, and in the lower, tomatoes that
are ready to be planted!

Transplanting - 
  1. Using the information above, complete the hardening off process and decide on a proper transplanting date.  
  2. Prepare your garden space by tilling deep (12 inches), or by filling and gently packing containers with soil.  
  3. Dig deep holes for the roots. Eight to twelve inches down should do the trick. Space tomato plants 18-24 inches from each other and in rows spaced 24-36 inches apart. 
  4. With sterilized shears, snip off the bottom two to three branches from the tomato plant. Cut as close to the plant stem as possible. 
  5. Now, remove the tomatoes from their seedling container and gently push the plant deep into the hole. The spots where you cut off the branches should now be under the soil line. This is good, as these will grow roots and provide extra stability for your tomato plants. 
  6. Back fill the holes with potting soil and water in well. 
  7. It's best to add tomato cages at this point to prevent damage to the roots from adding them later on. 
See, it's really not that hard! Transplanting tomatoes outside is easy business if you follow the correct steps. Thanks for tuning into this gardening guide on transplanting tomato plants outdoors and good luck with your crop! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have.

Garden Update #8

Almost half way through May, the planting date of summer crops is now very near. I've been plenty busy readying the tomatoes, peppers and some herbs for outdoor planting. With much more work to do and planters to build, I'm going to keep this entry short and sweet. I'll post an update very soon with the debut of the complete garden!

The carrots and beets are coming along!

Since thinning, the radishes have really taken off! They should be ready for harvesting in the next couple weeks.

While thinning, I found a pretty cool radish seedling. Though I'm sure it happens from time to time, this one particular seedling has three cotyledons instead of the normal two! Out of the 56 radishes growing, this was the only one to exhibit the trait. Pretty cool.

On the left is a normal radish seeding with two cotyledons (seed leaves). 
To the right is the one seedling exhibiting three cotyledons. 

Feeding Plants Molasses

Watering plants with molasses might sound a bit crazy, but don't be quick to blow off this useful gardening aid! As it turns out, a bit of molasses on a regular basis can actually work wonders for any garden. So, how is molasses good for plants? Well, I'm glad you asked! In this mini gardening guide, learn how your garden can benefit from feeding with molasses water.

Benefits of Molasses for Plants - 
This 16oz bottle of unsulphured molasses will last for
a couple months. Costing only seven dollars, it's a
  • Carbohydrates - Since molasses is the raw juice obtained from the sugar refining process, it's naturally loaded with carbohydrates (aka sugars). These carbohydrates are a great instant food source for beneficial soil microbes. With regular feedings of molasses, soils are able to support larger and more efficient populations of important, nutrient cycling, microbes. With more efficient microbes, there are more nutrients available for plant uptake. 
  • Trace Minerals - Besides sugars, unsulphured blackstrap molasses contains a great deal of trace minerals that are essential for plant growth. Natural sulphur, iron, potassium and calcium is supplied in small amounts to keep plants thriving. 
  • Chelating Agent - Some nutrients become "locked" in the soil as forms that plants aren't able to uptake. It doesn't mean that they can't be eventually consumed, it just means that something must come along and bind with it to create a form in which it's available for plant roots. The process of this binding is called chelation, and it just so happens to be that molasses a great chelating agent. When added to soils, molasses will naturally "unlock" some nutrients for additional plant uptake.
Unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses - 

Though there are a variety of grades of molasses, this raw and purest form is the favorite among gardeners! The reason is that this type has not been refined and contains the maximum nutritional value for garden plants and microbes. Of course, I will always recommend buying an organic molasses, but the choice is yours. You can find molasses with the syrup at your local supermarket. 

How to Water with Molasses - 

Molasses is super thick, and if you've ever tried, you'll find that it takes a bit of effort to get it to dissolve completely into room temperature water. Luckily, there's a way to bypass this extra work!
  1. In the microwave, bring one cup of water to a boil, then remove and let cool for a couple of minutes.
  2. To the cup of warm water, add one tablespoon of molasses for every gallon of water that you plan to feed with. Since the water is warm, the molasses should easily dissolve into a dark looking tea. 
  3. Fill your watering container with the desired amount of dechlorinated water and then add the cup of molasses solution. 
  4. Now, water your plants as normal. 
  5. Feed with molasses once a week for best results. 

Garden Update #7

Did the snow ever come? Why yes, it sure did! Shortly after I posted update #6 the clouds started rolling in and the temperature dropped steadily. So, I packed up the garden and once again, brought almost everything inside. What remained outside was covered well, as the evening of the 30th continuing all day the first of May, the Patio of Pots garden was hit with another six inches of snow. It's great for our state's snowpack, but not so great for garden pictures. Luckily, all you have to wait here in Colorado is a day or two before the weather has made a complete rebound. Here's some pictures from around the garden on this fine first weekend of May!

Observed Weather - (April 26-May 4)
  • Average High - 61.0°F
  • Average Low - 35.1°F

Pallet Planter #1 -  
The beets and carrots growing in planter #1 are doing well. Most of the seedlings have grown their first set of true leaves and are now onto their second. This being my first time growing the Bull's Blood variety of beets, I'm excited to see the foliage colors as they grow larger! 

Pallet Planter #2 - 
By the dozens, radish seedlings are sprouting in this planter! Thinning will be done sometime later this week. 

Pallet Planter #3 - 
Up until this last snow, the Alaskan Early shelling peas in this planter were making great headway. Though they were covered and protected from the snow, the freezing 19°F night of May 2nd slowed them down a bit. It'll be nice to see them bounce back with warmer weather ahead. 

Flower Planter #1 - 
Last update I showed a couple pictures of the first flower planter. Now, I'm not exactly big on flowers myself, but if there's a lady in the house, flowers are bound to be around. In this miniature container, we've planted a mix of snapdragons and a lemon balm plant shopped from a local nursery. It actually brings a nice bit of color, and still maintains edible functionality with the lemon balm.