Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Sarah: A Garden Update August 31, 2013

Folks, it is, in fact, possible to plant too many tomatoes.


I have an inordinate love of tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes straight off the vine.  I even love the like-nothing-else-in-this-world smell of tomato plants.  I’ve already begun thrusting a leafy tomato plant frond right under Little Bear’s nose and saying, “Smell that?  That’s the smell of summer!”  I figured we couldn’t go wrong planting a lot of little plants–after all, I was sure to accidentally kill at least one or two.


However, when you can see a ripe tomato somewhere in dense tomato thicket but it takes you ten minutes to find said tomatoes, you might have put too many plants in one small space.

our tomato thicket

our tomato thicket

The butternut and cucumber tendrils are so tightly intertwined I’d swear they’re coming out of the same plant.  The squash is wildly proliferating into the tomatoes, while the tomato plants sneak into the basil.  I guess our garden looks a bit like our life right now–all the different demands wildly overgrowing the borders we try to put in place, so lush with blessings we don’t have the time to appreciate and cultivate each one.


I’m just trying to take this last, hot burst of summer one day at a time and not let too many cucumbers rot on the vine!

the squash runneth over

the squash runneth over


Lauren: The Hard Truth about Composting May 20, 2013

Filed under: Gardens & Compost — lkcook20 @ 7:37 pm
Tags: , ,

I’m not going to lie; I recently took a free class on composting so I could get the $25 compost bin they offer only to people who enroll. But I learned some things as well–mostly that I am too lazy when it comes to my compost. It’s a good thing the class was free. I’d hate to pay money to find out that I need to get off my bottom and do some work. 

Here are my 3 Big Take-Away Tips:

1. Your compost should be moist. So if you own one of those black tumblers like this:

the aeration holes are more for air than rain so you will actually have to water the compost, probably once a week in spring and fall and twice a week in the summer. 

2. You have to turn your compost. Again, once a week in the spring/fall and twice a week in the summer is a good rule of thumb. A compost aerator

is a nifty tool that helps with turning. It works better than a pitch fork or a shovel. It might be worth the $25 investment. Because then maybe you will actually turn the compost. Possibly. 

3. The ratio of green/wet to brown/dry is important. (See Sarah’s previous post for an explanation of green and brown matter.) Most experts recommend a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of brown to green.

We were really good at putting our banana peels in the compost but not as good at adding leaves or newspaper. The instructor of the class explained that she keeps a bag of leaves next to her compost bin and every time she throws in some kitchen scraps, she adds three times that amount of leaves. This insures her ratio is always 3:1. I didn’t save enough leaves to do that, but I have been cutting up some newspaper and adding it.

Note: if adding newspaper, make sure it is printed with vegetable dye.

I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to listen to a nice woman in a bohemian dress tell me I’m essentially being too lazy if it helps me get more of that “black gold” faster!


Sarah: It’s Garden Time! April 24, 2013

Again, Colorado?

Again, Colorado?

My enthusiasm for dirt is brimming up again.  It happens every spring, but I’ve always made do with container gardens at our rental units.  This year is different, though.  This year, we own our own house, and I get a REAL garden, an honest-to-goodness, compost-filled, earthworm-lovin’ garden!


Or at least I will get a real garden as soon as Colorado decides it’s done with winter. We’ve had about 16 or 18 inches between the two storms this past week.


Seed Start Reuse: 1. Poke holes in the bottom of the egg carton for better drainage.
2. Fill with soil.
3. Plant seeds.
4. On nice days, set the tray outside to get sun.



It snowed for three days straight last week, and I almost climbed the walls after being cooped up for that long.  Our Little Bear, in fact, learned to climb the stairs (out of sheer boredom, I imagine).


I shouldn’t complain.  REAL gardeners, after all, rejoice at any winter moisture.  These snows are great for the two grape plants and one cherry tree we planted two weeks ago.  Also, some of you might remember the bad fires here last summer.  Any water now will help our drought and reduce fire risk.




So until the snow melts and our last average frost date comes (that’s May 15th, folks…don’t plant your delicate summer veggies before then), I will content myself with the small garden in the downstairs bedroom where our seed starts are drinking in all the humidity from the diaper laundry that’s hanging out to dry.


I’ve been cheering on the different plants as they come up.  The peas are early sprouters, apparently, real overachievers.  I can relate to that. I hope they don’t burn themselves out (I can relate to that, too).  The beets and corn have taken a bit longer, but they seem to be the competitive sort as they’re racing to catch up to the peas.  The tomato shoots are tiny and fragile, but they’re numerous, which is excellent, since it’s entirely possible I will inadvertently kill a few when transplanting.


I haven’t seen any sign of the bell peppers or acorn squash, but I’m hoping they are just late bloomers like me.

Also, an excellent reuse for clothespins!  Just label them with a sharpie.

Also, an excellent reuse for clothespins! Just label them with a Sharpie.

When the snow melts, I have big plans for killing my front lawn (see a future post) and working on a few raised beds for the back yard.  In the meantime, I’m hoping the earthworms are holed up cozily somewhere preparing for their big summer job in the garden!


%d bloggers like this: