Tag Archives: garden

Spring Love

Fall has just about always been my favorite season. I love the changing leaves (even though that happens pretty late here in San Antonio), wearing cute layers, cozy evenings with hot chocolate, forcing Wrigley into his Christmas sweater. But over the last couple of years, Spring has really been giving Fall a run for its money as my favorite season. Warmer evenings, longer days, dinners outside, fresh flowers from our garden, pastel colored shorts, bluebonnets blooming along the side of the highway, Fiesta season, I just can’t get enough of it!

This Spring is extra special because it marks the first time since we graduated from Trinity that Chip is not studying for the CFA, so it’s been a lot of fun getting to share this season for the first time in four years. We’ve already planted some new vegetables and flowers in our garden and so far, they’re all growing pretty well. Chip’s dedicated himself to our grass and it’s slowly getting more and more green and plush, so Wrigley has loved getting some Vitamin D outside and games of frisbee. We recently got some patio furniture from Ikea and I’ve forced kindly asked Chip to eat outside with me as much as possible. It’s wonderful. Spring, please feel free to stick around as long as possible.

New roses

New roses

New blooms from the rose bush we planted last spring

New blooms from the rose bush we planted last spring

Glad our gerbera daisies survived the winter

Glad our gerbera daisies survived the winter

First signs of a baby squash

First signs of a baby squash

Tomatoes and basil - can you say pizza night?

Tomatoes and basil – can you say pizza night?

Flower side of the garden

Flower side of the garden

Still need to plant more vegetables and herbs

Still need to plant more vegetables and herbs

Need a low maintenance plant? Get geraniums.

Need a low maintenance plant? Get geraniums.

Little bit of greenery for our table

Little bit of greenery for our table

Wrigley loves Spring, too

Wrigley loves Spring, too

What a goof

What a goof

Enjoying the bluebonnets with the pup last week

Enjoying the bluebonnets with the pup last week

Hope you’re all getting wonderful weather, too. If you are, you better be taking advantage of it before summer kicks in and we all run back inside!

Hello, Spring

Hello, spring

Hello, spring

The weather may have changed more in the past three weeks than the wardrobe of an Oscar’s host, but spring is in full swing here in San Antonio. Two clear ways to tell despite the changes from cool afternoons to warm mornings to rainstorms: 1. The bluebonnets have been blooming along the side of the highway and 2.I’ve been sneezing everyday for the past month (thanks a lot, oak count).

Love those blue bonnets

Love those bluebonnets

Despite the sneezes that continue to interrupt my days, I love this time of year in Texas. This is some of the best weather to go for a walk with Wrigley, eat outside, try to get rid of my sock tan from our day at Enchanted Rock with the youth group, and do yard work. We’ve been trying to spend as much time outside as possible lately since we know that the 90 degree weather is inevitable and will be driving us back indoors (I don’t get along with humidity).

To get ready for spring, Chip spent some time working on the lawn. It had gotten a little dry and light in color during the winter, so he spent a few weekends fertilizing the front and backyard. Let me just say that I now want us to fertilize once a month (even though I know that’s completely not possible). It turned our lawn so¬†green and helped the grass really spread in the front yard. Chip also used some beneficial nematodes based on a recommendation from a church friend. I’m still not exactly sure what they are or what they do, but it really helped some of the brown patches we had in the back so those little nematodes are welcome whenever :) Great work, Chip!

Stalking Chip from the kitchen while he fertilized the yard. I was probably cooking or doing dishes like a good wife.

Stalking Chip from the kitchen while he fertilized the yard. I was probably cooking or doing dishes like a good wife.

Hooray for green grass! PS Wrigley is special

Hooray for green grass! PS Wrigley is special

We’ve also spent a couple of weekends working on the garden. We had done some initial work a while ago to clean out the dead plants and get some of the really rocky dirt out, but (according to Chip) we still had more work to do before planting new stuff. What was this work? Oh, just back-breaking shoveling. Alright, that’s an exaggeration, but it does not discredit how sore my back was the next two days. We shoveled out about a four-inch layer of dirt on the veggie side of the garden and then replaced it with some organic soil from Garden-Ville (I shopped for plants while Chip took care of loading up the dirt in his truck). With that, I was finally able to plant – new tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, basil, cilantro, mint, cantaloupe (which will need to be replaced since Chessie accidentally destroyed them), and strawberries. Not going to lie, I’m really excited about those strawberries! We also got some new flowers to plant, but overall the soil on that side of the garden was fairly decent so we left it as-is (and I really just didn’t want to use a shovel any longer).

At the start of the day

At the start of the day

Shoveling out some of the old dirt

Shoveling out some of the old dirt

Wrigley did a little digging to help

Wrigley did a little digging to help

Ready for new dirt

Ready for new dirt

Organic dirt: check!

Organic dirt: check!

New plants: check!

New plants: check!

Left side of the garden

Left side of the garden

Flowers on the right side of the garden

Flowers on the right side of the garden

Trying out some new plants this year

Trying out some new plants this year

So far, everything seems to be growing alright. We’re already seeing some little tomatoes and strawberries, so I’m trying really hard not to get overly excited and over-water everything like I typically do. I love my plants and tend to drown them. Oops.

Gerber daisies

Gerber daisies

Little strawberries

Little strawberries

I see some baby tomatoes

I see some baby tomatoes

My geraniums are doing so much better in this pot instead of the hanging baskets (good call, mom)

My geraniums are doing so much better in this pot instead of the hanging baskets (good call, mom)

We still have lots of work we want to do in the backyard, like take care of the patio floor, get a new table out there, finally do the garden path, get some cute outdoor lighting and plant along the back fence line of our yard. We’ll see how much we actually get done this spring ;)

Some much needed TLC for the garden

As many of you know, Chip and I planted our very first garden last spring. Much to our surprise, this garden started to flourish like crazy a few months after we got it started. It soon reached the point where our plants were getting so big that they were actually starting to kill each other as they all tried to get their necessary sunlight. We’re talking squash plants crowding their space and watermelon vines wrapping around nearby plants. Who would have thought gardening would be so intense?? Not me. Despite some of the chaos and learning curve that we experienced, we did get a lot from our garden. We had plenty of tomatoes and basil to go with our homemade pizzas and even had some squash and bell peppers grow.

Our garden in its heyday

Our garden in its heyday

At one point in the summer, while I was out in the garden diligently watering my plants when I realized that overnight, almost of the tomato leaves had disappeared. As I continued to stare at my tomato plants in complete confusion, I found the biggest, fattest caterpillar going to town on my plants. In the words of Stephanie Tanner from Full House, all I could think was “how rude!” This caterpillar was definitely not invited to hang out in our garden. Thankfully, Chip came to my rescue and quickly disposed of this pest. However, the damage was done; he had eaten the leaves off of the three large tomato plants and had made some significant impact on my cherry tomato plant, too. I was so personally insulted (a little dramatic, yes; I blame my Lopez genes for that) and am still surprised how one bug could take the wind out of my sails.

Also around this time, I stopped overwatering my plants. FYI, If I’m going to kill a plant, it’s usually from over-loving them in this way so be forewarned if you ever ask me to watch some plants for you while you’re out of town. I think this initial neglect came from the despair of the infamous caterpillar and his monster teeth damage, but I was so surprised (and slightly offended) that a lot of our plants were doing better without all my watering and attention. So I went from watering every day to really never watering at all and instead having our garden survive on our sprinklers going off once a week and any occasional rain. Yes, I realize I went from one extreme to the other. Since I was no longer spending time every day in the garden, I kept feeling so taken aback at the amount of growth and weeds whenever I went back there to get basil or check on some of the flowers. Then came fall and colder weather and I spent even less time outside. Then came a couple of freezes… as a first time gardener, I completely forgot about the need to cover plants during freezing weather. Oops. So we had a few losses from that this winter, which sadly included my faithful gerber daisies and our hearty (and slightly out of control) basil.

Chip had been trying to gently encourage me to not be intimidated by the work that needed to be done in the garden (thanks, Chip, for being patient with the however many hundred times I said “I promise I’ll work on the garden soon…”!). So while he was out this past Saturday morning getting some studying done, I finally got to work. Here’s how it looked like when I started Saturday morning:

Eek, what happened?

Eek, what happened?

Not pretty. It actually wasn’t as bad as I had expected, but I started Saturday morning expecting to pull just about everything out. Luckily, about half is actually staying. Our succulents did fine through the winter, although they need some cleaning up, as did our rosemary (so thankful for how neatly these continue to grow!), bell peppers, gardenias and lavender. The tomato plants never really grew their leaves back (but still managed to produce tomatoes… my photosynthesis knowledge isn’t good enough to figure this out), so those will be taken out and replaced this spring. The basil that had once gotten out of control died with the cold weather, as did the gerber daisies. There were also leaves everywhere from all the trees around the garden. I decided to work on the leaves first and started raking all of them over to one side to get them out of the way. With the leaves taken care of, I could then see where the different weeds were growing and work on pulling these out. Within an hour, I felt like I had made a lot of progress on getting the area cleaned up. I was also able to dig out the three different basil plants and clear space for some new ones. I stopped short of taking out our tomato plants; I saw a neat little spider web between them and didn’t feel like facing whatever spider had made its home there (i.e., I really don’t like bugs and had already run out of the garden several times at the sound of a bee).

I’m really encouraged that just a couple of hours dedicated to the garden made such a difference and that we seem to still have really good soil. We’ve started working on a game plan for how to keep our garden going and not feel overwhelmed by it this time around, so stay tuned for what will hopefully be a very fruitful spring/summer (pun intended!).

My best buddy helping me rake the leaves

My best buddy helping me rake the leaves

Homemade Pesto

Overall, our garden has done… alright. Within the last few months, some of the plants have definitely done better than others! One that has been growing like crazy is our three basil plants. Yes, three. When we first planted our garden, we really had no idea how big each individual plant would get. Had we known more, we would have planted just one basil plant (and one rosemary, one squash, etc.). Anyway, with our basil plants growing pretty heartily, I started to look for homemade pesto recipes online. I figured this would be one of the best ways to use as much basil as possible at once. So after some searching, I found this recipe on Pinterest (I did substitute the walnuts with pine nuts).

Thriving pesto

Making pesto was much easier than I had anticipated, so I’m sure we’ll be having more of it! We used some of it tonight in our pasta and had some of our remaining garden tomatoes on our baked chicken (recipe from Healthy in a Hurry – a great cookbook!). Now I’m off to watching more of the women’s gymnastics Olympic team finals!

PS – If anyone in San Antonio wants a basil plant, we would happily part with one of ours. Really, bring a planting pot by and it’s yours!

Ta-da! Homemade pesto!

Garden tomatoes

Dinner!

Our first harvest

Our garden is officially producing a small harvest! This past week we enjoyed some fresh tomatoes as well as a large squash from our garden. We have more of these veggies coming and even found some little tiny cantaloupes yesterday. Pretty excited this has been going so well so far and we are excited to be eating more fresh veggies this summer :)

Our first tomato harvest

Fresh squash

Two little cantaloupes!

Hoping to have some homemade marinara sauce from all of these tomatoes

Reclaiming the garden

When Chip and I first planted our garden, we really didn’t expect it to be a complete success. This was our first time really planting anything substantial so we assumed some things just wouldn’t do well. As of yet, our garden has been much more a success than we had ever anticipated. We’re seeing tomatoes and squash already grow, seeing the beginning stages to bell peppers and have utilized our basil and cilantro for multiple dinners.

While we spend time in our garden everyday, the size of our plants really snuck up on us. It seemed like all of a sudden, the plants were taking over the garden with the main culprits being the squash, cantaloupe and watermelon. One of our squash plants has gotten huge and is producing lots of little baby vegetables. SA friends, I’m hoping all of this squash will grow well and that we will soon be giving produce away. The cantaloupe and watermelon vines have gotten much longer than the little Lowe’s plant tag said it would. Our front cantaloupe was expanding towards our flowers across the future pathway and our watermelon vines were starting to tangle up with our zucchini. We also noticed that our tomatoes were no longer growing straight and were starting to lean with the weight of the fruit. It was garden chaos! I was feeling overwhelmed at the plants’ growth and getting anxious over how sloppy the garden was looking. So after talking to some friends and doing a little bit of research, we set off to Lowe’s on Sunday to buy some support rods. The plan was to use these on the tomatoes to help straighten them out and then get some taller rods so the cantaloupe and watermelon vines could grow up instead of out (and then whenever we hopefully see some fruit start to grow, we can let those vines down so the fruit won’t weight down the rod).

It took a bit of work, but I think the garden looks cleaner (although it kind of looks like a jungle…) and this should also help each plant get more sun. The watermelon was definitely taking over its area and hogging all the sun, so I’m not sure how much zucchini we’ll actually get, but that’s alright. It’s all about learning this year, right? And we have definitely learned a lot… we’ve already decided that next year we will do more tomatoes, way less squash, only one cantaloupe and one watermelon and less basil and cilantro. We’re still hoping to get some mulch back here and work on our path at some point. Here are some pictures from our work this weekend!

Before. Check out the cantaloupe vines creeping across…

Tomato plant struggling to stand up

Stands from Lowe’s

Supporting the tomato plant

Helping get the tomato plants back up

Reclaiming the garden path from the cantaloupe

First signs of a bell pepper!

Our garden!

One month garden check

Chip and I planted a garden about a month ago on the side of our backyard. We had been really excited about this project but weren’t sure how successful we would be since neither of us had any garden experience. We were worried that not all of the plants would take root or that the San Antonio weather would slowly kill them off. Fortunately, this garden has completely surpassed our expectations! Everything has really grown and we’re already seeing the signs of some vegetables. We have lots of fun checking out the garden everyday and seeing if anything new has started to sprout (I might do this a little obsessively… haha). We still need to work on the path and lighting down the middle of the garden area, but that will hopefully get done in the next month or so. Here are some pictures of how our garden has come along in the past month!

Our garden one month ago

Our garden today!

Our front squash plant has grown particularly well. We have been so surprised at how it has completely taken over its space and is spilling into our future garden path area! One thing I enjoy about this plant is the shape of its leaves… totally reminds me of the tree stars Little Foot and his friends search for in The Land Before Time, a movie I watched who knows how many times growing up thanks to my brother… haha

Squash plant really growing

Little baby squash!

Can you spot the six tomatoes?

Close up on some of the tomatoes

I can’t forget about the flowers we planted in the garden, too! We planted these a few weeks ago and they are slowly starting to grow. One of my favorites are the pink gerber daisies. Found one of them starting to bloom today!

Gerber daisy