Tag Archives: Hey Let’s Grow

Gardening Update for August

Disclaimer: I’m participating in Hey, Let’s Grow!, a home gardening program sponsored by Monsanto, which provided me with a seed starter kit, Seminis Home Garden seeds, and a gift card for additional gardening supplies. All opinions, along with gardening skills or lack thereof, are my own.

Hey, you guys, I planted my garden this year only using SEEDS, and my garden is beautiful! I’m so excited about this because I’ve never grown a garden from seeds before. I just came in from picking tomatoes, cucumbers, and custard beans, and I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fresh produce from my own garden!

Sun Sugar Tomatoes

My photos don’t do my garden justice; the picture above looks like it has a 1970’s glow, doesn’t it? I think it was really sunny when I took it. Sun Sugar tomatoes are like cherry tomatoes, small, orange, and sweet! My two plants have been producing tomatoes like crazy, and they are still producing lots of flowers and green tomatoes. They are great in salads, of course. I also cut them in half and tossed them in a chicken stir fry I made today, waiting until the last minute so they would be just warm but not cook down at all. They added a great flavor!

Custard Beans

One custard bean plant produces enough beans for a dinner side dish for my family of four. I cooked them just like green beans, and the kids ate them up! (I did add some butter, so that may have helped, too.) I have three bean plants, and I actually planted them at different times, which turned out to be unintentionally smart! The first bean plant is finished already, and I just picked at least 20 beans off of my second bean plant. I have a third plant that is slowly maturing because it was in the shade, but I transplanted it in more out in the open so hopefully I will get a third bean harvest this summer.

Custard bean plants, and my cucumber trellis

This spring, we had spinach and lettuce growing in one of our raised beds. After they were done, I planted cucumber seeds. I wanted a trellis for my cucumbers, so Ed raided the garage and found a couple of wooden supports that were in our snow blower box. I lashed them together on one end, placed the open ends in the garden and voila! A cucumber trellis! Ed said I’m lucky he never throws anything away. 😉

Jumbo Cucumbers

We are going to have oodles of cucumbers! I already ate three, gave two away, and have two more sitting on my counter. Fortunately, I love them. I tried this sour cream cucumber salad this weekend, and it was delicious.

Sour Cream Cucumbers and Onions

I’ve had such great success with my garden this year that I’m already thinking about what I should plant next year. I’m thinking zucchini–what else should I try? How has your garden grown this year?

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How to Make a Bee House

Disclaimer: I’m participating in Hey, Let’s Grow!, a home gardening program sponsored by Monsanto. As part of this program, I was sent a free bee house kit. All opinions are my own.

I can tell you exactly how many times I have been stung by bees, as I’m sure you can if you’ve ever been stung. Bee stings hurt!

Usually when we think of bees, we think of the very social honeybees. They live in hives and will aggressively defend their hives. These bees, however, are not native to the United States. Settlers brought them over from Europe to help pollinate their crops, and they are indeed extremely useful to our agriculture even today.

Our native bees are mostly solitary bees and are much less aggressive. (Unless you actually step on one in the grass, and then the bee will sting! I’m speaking from experience.) I have watched bees buzzing around my garden many times and have never been stung. My mom used to tell me to leave the bees alone and they will leave you alone. She loved working in her flower garden and saw many bees buzzing around as well.

Bee in my pollinator garden

Bees and other pollinators are very important for our gardens and our natural world. It is very easy to make a bee house to encourage native bees to live by your garden! We made our house by using a bee house kit, but it is very easy to make one using supplies you may already have.

To make the house waterproof, we used a half-gallon milk carton. We cut off the top of our milk carton. We then made little tubes for our individual bees to lay eggs and care for their larvae.

My daughters and our neighbor work on making tubes from construction paper. We also used pre-made tubes.

The bright colors from the construction paper and the outside of the milk carton will hopefully attract bees, just as flowers attract bees with their bright colors. To make your own tubes, cut an 8″ x 11″ piece of construction paper in half. Roll it around a pencil, and tape securely, removing the pencil. Place your tubes into the milk carton. Make sure you have enough tubes for them to stay securely in the milk carton.

Tubes for individual bees
Bee house

We chose to left the outside of our house undecorated, since I didn’t have any contact paper to help with waterproofing the decorations. This was a good call; after an unusually dry June, the day after we hung up our bee house we had several thunderstorms and lots of rain! We hung our house in a lilac bush by my vegetable garden, and chose the branch carefully so that rain water would not be able to get into the bee tubes. I checked on our house after the rain and the tubes stayed dry! We haven’t had any bees move in yet, but I will keep checking!

For more information on how to make your own bee house, watch this video:

Build Your Own Bee House from Monsanto STEM Education Outreach on Vimeo.

Curious about one of my bee sting stories? Visit this blog post:

The Bumblebee Story

This document has some great information about our native bees!
https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5306468.pdf

Have fun making your own bee house!
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Gardening on Earth Day

Disclaimer: I’m participating in Hey, Let’s Grow!, a home gardening program sponsored by Monsanto, which provided me with a seed starter kit, Seminis Home Garden seeds, and a gift card for additional gardening supplies. All opinions, along with gardening skills or lack thereof, are my own.

Today, Earth Day, was the perfect day to get outside and work in my garden! A few weeks ago I was very eager to plant my seeds, and they grew quite well. So well, in fact, that they are ready to plant outside now even though we still have a chance of frost in our area. So the tomatoes  and peppers will have to stay inside for just a little longer, but I planted the frost-hardy spinach and lettuce today.

These little guys are growing and need to get outside!

I planted both seedlings and seeds in my raised garden bed. The seedlings were growing right by my patio door, which I have been opening every day to let the fresh air in. I hope that was enough to “harden” the plants and make them accustomed to the cool spring weather!

Green Beret spinach

I’m also risking the chance of frost and planted two bean plants and a cucumber plant. They are already flowering! Along with frost, I worry about the two little rabbits I’ve seen running around my yard, so Ed found some garden netting for me to use to protect my baby plants. If all grows well, we–not the rabbits–will be eating fresh lettuce and spinach pretty soon!

Can you see the netting by my cucumber plant?

I’m planning on planting my other plants outside by Mother’s Day. Read my first #HeyLetsGrow post here: Winter Outside, Spring Inside. Happy Earth Day!

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Winter Outside, Spring Inside

Disclaimer: I’m participating in Hey, Let’s Grow, a gardening program sponsored by Monsanto, which provided me with a seed starter kit, Seminis Home Garden seeds, and a gift card for additional gardening supplies. All opinions, along with gardening skills or lack thereof, are my own.

This winter, Chicagoans were surprised by spring-like weather in February, and by winter-like weather in March. We now have quite a few inches of snow on the ground! I mean, seriously, a month ago my kids were ripping off their coats and running to the park to meet their friends, and today they were wearing snow pants and making snow angels in the back yard.

Outside it looks like this
Inside it looks like this

Back when it was warm in February, I was so excited about spring that I wanted to get my garden started! At the beginning of March, I decided which Seminis seeds I was going to plant and used the garden starter kit sent to me by my friends at Monsanto. Even though we usually don’t plant outside until Mother’s Day or later in this area, it’s not too early to start seeds, like tomatoes and peppers, inside.

Well, maybe it’s too early for beans. I’ve already had to put my bean seedlings in bigger pots!

Custard beans

I had no idea what lettuce and spinach seeds and seedlings look like. How fun to be able to plant them and see them sprout! I bought a small grow light from my local garden center to give my seedlings more light to grow by. I hope these little plants flourish–my hope is to have some lettuce and spinach to eat later this spring.

Spinach seedlings on right.

My little pepper seeds haven’t started yet; I think I see one little sprout starting to pop up! I haven’t given up hope; pepper seeds like it warm and take a little longer to sprout, from what I’ve read online.

Do you garden? What would you like to grow? Follow along with my seedlings and me this spring to see what happens!

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