container tomato growing

Last summer's container garden

Last week I started my container vegetable garden— well, just the tomatoes. I am conducting an experiment: comparing the Tomato Program from Classic Gardens in Centerpoint, AL and Easy Container Combos: Vegetables & Flowers (Pamela Crawford’s Contianer Gardening) (will be planting a container today).

Well, one of my tomato plants has given up and I am to blame. I used a root stimulator (according to the instructions) and some of the formula got on the leaves of my plants. I used a watering can that had a shower head which dispersed the mixture over the pot. It was difficult to keep the water from getting on the leaves because of “the way one should plant the tomatoes” (that is a link to a “tomato growing tips” article I wrote) –deep, with just the top leaves above the dirt.

The next morning I noticed dark spots on the leaves. The only thing that could have caused this was the root stimulator. I immediately showered the plants with clean water from the tap–hoping that any stimulator on the leaves would be washed off. That appeared to work because no more spots or leaf damage appeared.

Well, one week later, my brandywine tomato is wilting big time. The other plant is still upright and showing signs of new growth.

Lesson learned: do not let the root stimulator mixture get on the leaves of your transplants.

I will replace the dying brandywine with “sweet 100”.  I have heard good things about this variety. Or maybe a “lemon boy” tomato. It is one of my favorites.

Stay tuned.

It has been so unbearably hot in Dixie the last two months. The bugs have been having a fiesta in my garden because the plants are so stressed.

As a result, I have not been caring for my growing garden. I have decided not to plant anything in the dirt until we get some rain and cooler weather. The violas are going to have to wait to find a home.

Until that wonderful season of autumn arrives, I am sending you a fun way to create a pop-up garden of your very own. If you know me, you might remember that I love pop-up books, so when I saw this project, I immediately loved it. Here is the link for an enchanting pop-up garden project for you and your flower starved family!

Pop-up Flower Garden

Found this fun project at

Time to plant lettuce!

September 3, 2010


Well, now that September has arrived, I am going to plant some lettuce. It is so very easy to grow here and I had lettuce almost all winter here in Dixie.

Here is some advice I read about planting seeds:
Seeds should always be planted at a depth of 2X the size of the seed. If your seed is very tiny, just sprinkle a little soft dirt on top, if your seeds are bigger, push them into the ground about twice as deep as they are tall. Some seeds such as lettuces will not require any covering at all, just sprinkle them on top of your prepared soil and lightly water them in.
The Tasteful Garden Growing Tips This company is located in Alabama, so I trust what they say about growing vegetables in the South.

Now I must go and dig in the dirt. You should do the same, but remember to wear a hat and sunblock.

If you need to plan a garden, let me recommend the following company:
Online Garden Planning Tool

They offer a 30 day free trial membership. Click on the link above. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Image above is from: GrowVeg Blog

NOW, go and dig in your dirt.

My First Mosaic Pot

August 9, 2010

mosaic pot

Mosaic Pot made at Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Alabama

This past weekend I attended “Playful Mosaics: Can you Pique Assiette?” at Aldridge Botanical Gardens in Hoover, Alabama. See what I made? FYI “pique assiette” is a style of mosaic that incorporates pieces of broken ceramics into the design. I used a broken saucer, glass globs, tiles and buttons on my pot.

The instructor was Melanie Colvin. She is a mosaic artist that loves to share her expertise with the budding craftsperson. She is the one who suggested that I use the “black sage” color grout on my mosaic. I love it.

The mosaic class cost me $40 (member price). All supplies were included. I think it was a bargain.

mosaic pot craft

Detail of my mosaic pot

Creative Commons License
Mickie’s Mosaic Pot by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

cloudy spot on tomatoes caused by stink bugs

Caused by stink bugs.

It has been unbearably hot here in the southland! It is only the first week of “summer” and the temps are in the 90’s. What does that mean? It is too hot for us Boomer-aged gardeners to keep an eye on the veggies growing, so the pests are having a ball! A garden party!

It is still too soon to know if I have a handle on the “yellowing leaves” thing, but who cares about that? I have a tomato that looks just like the ones in the picture above. (I found the picture on the Aggie Horticulture website). I also saw the BUG that causes that “cloudy spot”. It is a stink bug. There is one in the picture, too. Below is a bigger one that is more detailed.

Stink Bug

A stink bug can do more than stink up a garden!

I have done the research and most sites say to use an insecticidal soap. Well, mine ran out and I have not had good results with the home-made concoctions, so Home Depot will be seeing me tomorrow.

And as if yellowing leaves and cloudy spot are not enough, I think the squirrels have found my maters. There have been tiny bites on the sweetest green tomatoes on one of my plants. I am trying undiluted vinegar sprayed on the plant. I read about this on Organic Pest Control on This site also suggested using crushed jalapeno peppers, but I do not have any. Will let you know what happens.

Now go dig in your dirt–if it is not too hot outside!

I know, you are thinking,” it is a yellow tomato plant.”  However, the leaves are not supposed to be yellow, too.

What to do? Go to my old standby! I am somewhat of a “tomato expert”, but I do not know everything–well, actually, I cannot remember everything I read. (“Why remember information when you can go find it?” I say!)

As coincidence, I had just read a wonderful article by Suzy_T, “10 Tomato Plant Problems”.

Can you guess, my problem was at the top of the list!

That night a friend called me and said, “The leaves on my tomato plant are curling up! What does that mean?” I sent her the link to that very article.

Suzy_T wrote a wonderful lens (article in Squidoo language) about the ten most common problems you might have with your tomato plants. I have experienced them all. But, like I said, too often I cannot remember what I did about them.

When I first started growing tomatoes, I had some years of successes (accidental, I am sure) and some really bad years when I only got one tomato off a plant that I spent $2.00 for! I had given up–almost!

In 2008, I grew some really nice plants and had such fun learning how to do it correctly.

The next year, my garden was really turning out the tomatoes–in containers and in the raised be my hubby built. I even wrote several “lenses” about my experiences. (Grow Great Tomatoes in Pots!; My Small Vegetable Garden; Tomato Planting and Growing Tips and my very first The Best Tomato and Cheese Sandwich.)

My yellowing leaves are probably a result of low nitrogen. Suzy recommended I add manure or compost. I do not have a compost pile, so I bought some Moo-neur.

I also boughtBonide 931 Garden Dust on the recommendation of the article by Suzy_T:

I found some at my local Home Depot, but it was not in the “spray dust” bottle.  I wish it had been.  Instead I mixed 1 Tablespoon of the dust in 1 quart of H20 and sprayed it on my plant. (I had to look up the formula on a website).
We shall see. I hope the combination of the manure and the spray will do the trick.

Yellow leaves on tomato plant

What to do?

We shall see what happens. I had such luck with the Lemon Boy last year, I would hate to loose it.

Now, go dig in some dirt!

Kid-friendly gardening!

June 21, 2010

“Trying to keep my kids under constant surveillance while working in the garden, that was frustrating. Then my oldest daughter wanted to help. And, I, being a good and caring mother, decided she would learn a lot from helping in the garden. Also, I, being an egotistic human, thought she might even follow in my footsteps and gain a passion for gardening. OK, I was right and wrong.”
From the article Gardening the Kid-Friendly Way

When I saw the title of the article “Gardening the Kid-Friendly Way”, I was interested. Then I read the above passage and I was definitely hooked. This author could offer me advice! Yes! In this article she presented her own experience, along with some helpful ways of showing the kid-gardener the joy of growing. It is a good read.

I have a 4 year old grandson who is in love with the “idea” of growing vegetables. His two and one half year old brother loves eating anything he picks off a bush or a vine. Blueberries, cherry tomatoes — green and red –, strawberries — they do not get a chance to turn red — , and beans go directly from the plant to his dirty hand to his mouth.

I bought them some seed tape for growing lettuce and a cherry tomato plant this spring. We planted it all. The lettuce did not grow; the tomato plant wilted. I discovered that if I was not there to take care of the plantings, they died or underperformed. Remember I said the 4 yr. old loved the “idea” of having a garden? Well, little ones are just not ready to understand that a garden cannot take care of itself. Since I do not live next door to them, it was left up to their mom (my daughter) to tend the patch of planted earth. Since she works part-time and has three youngsters to raise, her priority was not growing vegetables.

Lesson I learned: teach the kids about gardening by doing a good job of gardening YOURSELF! Show them what to do every year until they really want to garden. Do not expect them to really get it.

Another lesson learned: do plant what they are interested in. Coopy loves tomatoes, Bubbie loves beans. Babycakes (the older sister who is 6) loves picking lettuce and eating it in a “sallit”.

The joy in you see in their faces is so wonderful as they bite into the harvest. Treasure that.

A Footnote: My daughter of the three kids asked the Easter Bunny to bring some seeds for the kids to plant. Those seeds are doing nicely. They will continue to do well until vacation time comes. Ahh. The joy.

Next year I will probably just buy this game for my grand kids:Harvest Time.

gardening game for kids

Harvest Time Game

Now go and dig in the dirt for your own self-satisfaction!

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