Weekly Gardening Notes: July 22, 2017

July 16, 2017

Next year we need to get ALL plants and seeds from Watervelete.

We will try planting onions in the fall so that they come up in the spring. Stagger picking.

Check when to plant onion seeds.

Plant carrots earlier in May so they can be double or triple planted. Start carrots indoors? Grow baby carrots instead?

Burpee “mesclun salad mix” still tastes good in 80 degree July. Must be harvested at least a few times a week or it gets leggy. Plant Six squares for daily salads?

Plant spinach and lettuce earlier in spring, maybe before last frost. Start indoors?

Peas freeze but cannot be microwaved.

Potatoes overcrowd everything in their bed. Potato bucket is not working out. Give the bucket one more season? Give them their own mini bed behind the garage or in the flower bed by the door.

Bush beans are a pain to pick. We need more green beans. Plant pole beans?Plant them in a taller container.



The grape tomatoes are starting to turn. There are many beefsteak tomatoes getting ready to ripen. I see a lot of salsa in our future. Maybe caprese salad.

Peas are slow but steady.

Not as many bush beans have grown as hoped. The seeds are old so that is understandable. The potatoes overcrowded them too.  

We must be extremely thorough when picking the potatoes this fall. We need to have a place to replant some by then.

Need to plant broccoli earlier in may.

Lettuce flavor is great. I need to find out if the “pepperiness” in the lettuces is caused by environmental factors or just the varieties we planted.



As far as I can find the pepperiness is due to the seed mix that we used. The lettuces are still growing well, even in 86 degree weather. They are extremely hardy and don’t taste bitter yet. I doubt we’ll harvest enough this year to exceed the value of the seeds compared to store bought romain but the flavorfulness of the lettuces make them a great value. We need to plant them earlier to get a better yield. We need to plant more than two squares worth.

Pea pod season has started.

I need to water more often. The carrots and potatoes are droopy.

Sunday will be carrot bucket harvesting season. We’ve decided that we will replant for the fall.

First grape tomatoes are almost ripe. Need to brainstorm dishes to make with beefsteaks. Sliced tomatoes as a side dish. Spaghetti sauce? Sandwiches. Tomato green bean salad.

Haven’t used any of the parsley. Made hummus but forgot  to add it. Next year plant cilantro instead.

Broccoli greens come with the broccoli florets when harvesting. We like broccoli greens. Mom hates them. Must remember this when planning and making meals.

Next year will try the “one box = one person” configuration. Will create a proto plan.



Harvesting carrots tomorrow.

Watered yesterday, rained last night. I need to check weather before watering. Need to water more regularly in general.

Trying out freezing peas in large lidded container instead of freezer bag. Container is filling up quickly.

Harvested some parsley. Will be using today to make more hummus.

Zucchini is growing like wild fire. Yesterday the fruit was way too small. Today it’s over ripe. Must pick when tiny.

Spotted a baby eggplant. Will watch.

Halfway to recouping this year’s investment of $33. Broccoli and Pea pods are the most prolific so far. We should surpass the cost before fall.

5 Tips for Pea Pod Picking

We’ve collected a smidgen under a half pound of pea pods over the last couple of weeks but yesterday we had our first major crop.


0720171257b (1)Bag of a smidgen under a half pound of peas and 5.5 inch (16.5cm) cucumber for scale.

This might not seem like much but below is this morning’s harvest. Scale for scale.


Pea season is officially under way. Luckily they freeze ok so we won’t be eating pea pods everyday.

Last year I didn’t pick the snap peas until they were big and plump. I had this “bigger is better” mentality. It’s an easy trap to fall in.

This year, through early trial and error, I’ve learned 5 tips for pea pod picking.

Pick by feel. – Under ripened pods feel concave and ribby. Pods that are ready to harvest feel slender yet not overly concave nor overly bumpy.

Pick twice daily. – Pea pods, along with green beans, are the ninjas of the home gardening world. They are the ultimate masters of disguise. It’s important to give your eyes a rest after you’ve stop being able to spot them.

When you’re done, do it again. – Personally I like trying to find these little camo kings. Once I think I’ve found all that I can in a particular round of picking, I look one more time and usually find a few.

Pinch, don’t pull. – Pinch them off under their crowns using your thumbnail to cut the pod itself. Pulling them off at the stem can damage the plant or pull it off its trellis.

Better picked than perfect. Don’t get caught up trying to pick peas at the “perfect” time. If you’re unsure if a particular pod is ready, pick it. Or don’t. This isn’t brain surgery. Precision is neither necessary nor possible.

As always have fun, and remember, it’s not a matter of perfection it’s simply a matter of doing something today to get a little Closer To Green.

Gardening Tools: The Cell Phone

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Sporting 50 individual mini plots, of one square foot each, and five planters, each about a foot wide, this year’s vegetable garden actually be a couple feet smaller than last year’s. That said we’ve planted a greater variety of vegetables this year.

One of the many ways we’ve managed this is by reducing the number of both potato planters and potato mini plots. We plan on growing around the same amount potatoes though for two reasons: 1) we bought inferior quality potato seeds and 2) I didn’t tend them anywhere near as well as I should have.

Buying better potatoes was the easy part. The tough part is making sure to be on top of burying the new growth of the potatoes every day to maximize the fall harvest. (*Here’s a youtube video if you’re curious.)

Missing even one or two days can have a major impact on the yield for the fall. This is especially true in the spring and early summer.

What does this have to do with using a cell phone?

Well, if you’re like me you have all your appointments on your phone. Your doctor’s visit is on Tuesday at 11:00. Your english class is on Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:00. Bonus points if daily appointments, like work, have been listed.

My point is you know where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there. And just as importantly you know what you’re supposed to be doing when you get there.

It just takes a few seconds to enter into your phone 5 minutes a day for weeding, watering, and yes, potato burying.

That, a bucket of dirt with a water resistant hand trowel situated right next to my garden, sums up my potato burying strategy.

Do you have any tricks for using your phone as a gardening tool? Tweet them an tag me @ShiftsThinking. I’d love to reblog them for my followers.

Have fun, happy gardening, and remember:

Slow deliberate steps are the secret to creating a new habit.

Creating new habits are the secret to getting Closer to Green.



*This video was made by SFG, not me. They are not a sponsor but I do endorse them.

5 Reused Items: Office Organization

One way to get closer to green by reusing before recycling.

Here are 5 reused items to help organize your office or study space.

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The most common repurposed item is a coffee mug storing pens and pencils. Why be common? Try stepping out of the coffee rut by thinking about both form and function.

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Large shot glasses are a masculine or modern way to organize small items like paperclips, thumb drives or an old school rubber band ball. It’s also a great way to corral small crafting and DIY items like jump rings, beads or screws while working on a project.

On the other hand, teacups, and even small planters and vases, are a more delicate or old world take on the same tasks.

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Some of the best “secondhand” finds come from our own kitchens. This vintage looking jar held cheese spread one Thanksgiving around the turn of the millennium.

I’m not saying jars as interior design are right for every home. (Our home just happens to have a bit of a cottage vibe.) My point is “shop” your home first before buying stuff. It just doesn’t make sense to buy something you already own, works with your decor, and isn’t already in use.

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Sometimes a thrifted container has the look you want but has too big of a mouth or is just not organized enough for your taste. Cut out a piece of cardboard to use as a divider.

Think of the clear container above as one of those seethrough plastic animal models in your biology class.

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There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to find a charger for a dying device. And if you’re like me you’ve received a few dozen makeup bags over the years.  Problem solved. I like using a clear vinyl bag to organize my various charging cords.

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It’s a good idea to keep receipts handy just in case you need to return that pair of shoes that looked soooo much better under the influence of your shopping buzz.

Admittedly this final look is a very specific esthetic, but bear with me for a minute. Yes this box says “Lashtastic” on the top, but it’s the blank purple on the side I want to draw your attention to.

Stored sideways like a book, this box can hold receipts, rebate forms, or other small important pieces of paper.

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With a bit creativity and a sense of your own style, try to find a new use for an old item in your home. If you do tweet me a pic. I’d love to share it with my followers!

5 Tips For Starting A New Garden

Every year we experiment with a couple of new plants in the garden. We’ve been steadily growing our vegetable gardening skill for a few years now.

This year we’re planning to plant 53 mini plots with 1-2 varieties each of 10 different vegetables. It’s easy to forget that we started with not much more than ta couple of scrawny tomato plants and one overly vigorous zucchini.

If you’re planning start a vegetable or herb garden for the first time this year here are a few tips to increase your chances of success.

1) Scale it back a bit. Pick just one or two vegetables or herbs to start. Get good tending and harvesting each type of plant you raise before expanding your repertoire.

2) Expand it a bit. Raise multiple plants of each type of vegetable or herb. I’m not talking an entire row, just enough for cross pollination and the occasional sacrifice to the black thumb gods.

3) Try starting with containers. Psychologically for some reason containers are less daunting. This is important for later in the summer when the “I’m starting a new project” buzz wears off.

4) Take your containers and place them by your back door. If you have a deck put them on the deck. If all you have are a few steps leading up to your home that’s even better. You want them to be in you site and on your mind as much as possible.

5) Make a daily appointment. Schedule a couple minutes every day, at the same time every day, for harvesting and weeding. Don’t get over zealous. Budget 5 to 20 seconds per plant. The idea is to build a new habit. It’s actually more important to show up regularly than get a ton done in on sitting.

Have fun and happy gardening. Remember slow deliberate steps are the best way to create a new habit. New habits are the secret to getting Closer To Green.

Lettuce From Seed: A Second Try

Last spring we had a little problem with the lettuce seeds that we planted in the garden. By “a little problem” I mean they didn’t grow at all.

It was our first time growing lettuce from seed so we’re not really sure whether it was bad seeds or hungry birds. All we know is the lettuce that we planted by seed completely failed to make an appearance of any kind.

This year we decided to stack the decks by starting them indoors. We’ve never started anything indoors before. We’re on the intermediate side beginner as far as kitchen gardening is concerned. I’m personally feeling kind of badass about taking this step toward being one of those hardcore gardeners that start everything from seed.

The lettuce has sprouted but we’re going to wait until they’ve grown a little bit more before thinning them. That way we can transplant a few of them to a second indoor pot and limit the amount of waste plants.

We may actually end up growing some completely indoors in hopes of extending the season a bit. During the summer we set the thermostat around 78 degrees (Fahrenheit). Lettuce is a cold weather plant so the indoor growing season will only be a little longer than it would be in our sun soaked garden.

It is worth noting that we got this year’s lettuce seeds at no financial cost as part of a Grow-A-Row program. If you haven’t herd of Grow-A-Row the concept is simple:

1) Grow a fruit and/or vegetable garden.

2) Harvest said fruits/vegetables.

3) Donate part your harvest to a local food bank or soup kitchen.

Are you growing a kitchen garden this year? Are you planting anything from seed? Lettuce know! (The pun was right there. I’m not proud.)

Getting Closer To Green

From houses smaller than a one car garage to expensive renovations retrofitting entire home plumbing and electrical systems to granola/hippie/trashy DIY projects sustainable living can sometimes feel, well, unsustainable.

Saving some green can feel the same way, with extreme couponing, disposable discount clothing, and the very same granola/hippie/trashy upcycling projects.

This blog isn’t about “extreme green” living. It’s about creating lasting habits that, step by step, get you closer to your financial and ecological goals.

Remember, it’s not a matter of perfection it’s simply a matter of doing something today to get a little Closer To Green.