Welcome to Green Gal's blog, where you'll find stories, recipes, gardening updates, and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems. This blog is written by a young woman entrepreneur who is also a beginning farmer-gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Rain! and our first harvest

It rained today at my house, which means my plants are happy as can be and the world smells amazing outside. Sadly, I didn't see or feel any rain today since I was indoors at work, but the signs and smells and evidence of rain was everywhere on my bike ride home and in the garden out back. Rain drops on leaves, damp soil, and the smell of wet earth and asphalt. Finally, fall seems to be here! (Knock on wood!)
Sunflower and my mystery bulb, which I'm straining to remember if I maybe did plant... I planted a bulb in the plastic container in front of it after finding bulbs at the bottom of a dead flowering plant I received as a gift (it was alive when I received it as a gift!). I must have planted the second bulb in this spot. I feel silly for forgetting!
 The mystery bulb has emerged!
 Rain-soaked garden!
 Look at those little rain drops! (Click the image for a larger view.)
Today is also special because we harvested our first veggies from the garden this evening to make homemade pizza. Today's harvest from the garden included two bell peppers, a jalapeno pepper, and some fresh basil. We also harvested some green onion from the jars propagating on the kitchen window sill. The rest of our pizza ingredients include store-bought Trader Joe's garlic herb pizza dough, pasta sauce, bacon, and garlic. We also added some mushrooms from the farmers market. Green Guy added cheese to his side, as well.
Garden or kitchen window sill ingredients
All of the pizza ingredients, except for the bacon and cheese. We also didn't end up needing to use that store-bought orange pepper on the bottom right. I thought our small bell peppers wouldn't be enough, but they were just the right amount! The olive oil was used for greasing the pizza pan.
The bell peppers all chopped up. The greenish one was delicious, and the red one was okay. I'm definitely going to harvest the other bell peppers before they turn too red.
This pizza was amazing, and it felt so good knowing I had grown many of the ingredients. Thanks to Green Guy for helping out in the garden every so often and for helping me cook the bacon, spread out the pizza dough, and eat this delicious creation.

Thanks for reading!
Green Gal

Sunday, September 27, 2015

New additions to the garden

Yesterday, I picked up the white watering can on the right from the garden center, and then last night, my Aunt Diane surprised me with the one on the left! Thank you! They have different spouts, so one is for getting close to roots and the other is for watering larger patches. I went from having zero watering cans to two!
Since I didn't grow my own pumpkins this year, I bought some small ones and put them around the garden, front porch, and inside the house as festive decorations for fall and harvest time.
These new flowers were on sale at the nearby garden center for only 50 cents each! I couldn't resist.

Thanks for watching with me as my garden grows!
Green Gal

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Getting rid of ants in the worm bin, attempt 1

I mentioned yesterday on the blog that there has been an infestation of ants in my worm bin this week. They started showing up after I put squash in the bin for the worms two evenings ago. The morning that I put the squash in, I had discovered many of the worms were escaping. Thinking they were lacking food, I fed them more. In retrospect, I realize that part of the issue may have been that the bin was too acidic, with so much food in there. (More on this below.)

Here are some worms enjoying the fig that I gave them Thursday morning after frantically searching for food they could eat during the day since most of our food scraps were frozen.

I did a quick Google search on Thursday evening and read that making the bin more moist might stop the ants, so I watered it with a sprinkle of water, added some avocado skins after dinner, and went to bed.

Yesterday morning, there were more ants. Like, a lot of ants, all swarming on the food that is supposed to be for my worms. I wasn't quite sure what to do, so I let it go for the morning and went on with my day.

Yesterday evening, I decided to take action. I investigated the bin that is underneath where my worms live, a space that's supposed to collect excess water. I found myself staring at a worm graveyard that stunk pretty bad and was also swarming with ants that were crawling up through one of the legs of the bin. After taking a moment of silence for the worms--and for my wallet, which had contributed $60 for those 2000 worms that now mostly lay dead in my bin--I got to work, scooping the dead worms out with a paper towel and putting them back into the worm bin. I read somewhere that the worms just eat their dead buddies in the worm ecosystem, so we'll see if that's really true. Yes, I contributed to cannibalism yesterday evening, but it seemed better than tossing the dead worms in the trash.

I got out the hose, sprayed the bin down, and set it back in place. I also brought out some corn meal and poured a healthy amount near each leg of the bins, hoping that perhaps the ants would go to the cornmeal and not pay attention to the buffet of decomposing food above them in the bin.
Before closing up the worm bin, I also crushed up some egg shells and poured them throughout the bin. This is supposed to help with the acidity of the bin. I also added corn meal to the bin itself to provide what's left of the worms with a little boost of food that won't contribute to the acidity of the bin. There are definitely still worms in there, but they seem weak and there aren't many left. 

I crushed most of the eggs that were in my egg shell jar that I keep on the kitchen counter. They all went into the bin, along with a healthy scoop of corn meal. I tried to cover up the cornmeal and eggshells so they would be closer to the worms and the food.

This is a very busy weekend for me with very little time at home, but I am realizing that I need to check in on them daily to make sure they are doing okay. We have a ton of food scraps waiting in the fridge for them, so hopefully they will progress well and I can just pop some more squash rinds or pear cores into the bin today and tomorrow.

Taking care of worms is proving to take a little more work than I thought it would, but it's a learning experience and I feel like I already know so much more than I did when I started. I welcome any and all advice you may have about how to support the worms!

Thanks for reading!
Green Gal

P.S. Happy Birthday to my mom, the best mom in the whole world! I am glad that part of my busy weekend includes visiting you to celebrate, Mom. Also, Happy Birthday to my best friend from high school, Alexys! I hope you have a wonderful birthday and that I can see you soon!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday morning in the garden

Here's an end of the week update on most of the plants growing on my windowsill and in the garden. Happy Friday!
Tomato and cilantro seedlings.
Nasturtium seedling.
Tomato seedling.
The arugula were getting crowded, so I thinned them into separate containers.
The Silk brand soy yogurt is my favorite for mixing in granola and enjoying for breakfast at work. I've been saving all of the containers to use for growing seedlings, and they certainly came in handy this morning!
I did end up leaving three in the same container; we'll see how that goes. I ended up pulling one of the seedlings out entirely because it was the smallest. I actually ate it, and it was delicious! I can't wait for these to grow big enough for salads.
Nasturtiums on the windowsill are doing great!
Above: tomato plant and basil are doing really well. The close up of a seedling is a cilantro plant growing with the tomato and basil.
 Sunflowers are growing strong!
 Nasturtiums outside seem happy.
 Jalapeno pepper plant is growing heavy on its stem and leaning. Almost time to harvest!
 Sunflower under our bedroom window.
 Nasturtiums on the side yard are prolific!
Bell peppers are turning red! Time to harvest soon.
They're red and some are a bit sunburned, which is why I moved them to the side yard and out of the direct sunlight out back.
Of course I can't remember what this seedling is. It's in the same pot as the nasturtium. We'll find out soon enough!
The worm bin has been quite an experiment lately! First, the worms were dying off and leaving, so I added more food. Then the ants showed up! And the smells. So I'm trying to put less food until their population gets larger again, while also researching how to remove the ants. It sounds like creating a moat around the bottom of the bin might work since the ants can't cross the water. I'll simply set the legs of the bin in a shallow tray of water. Thoughts?
I added some avocado skins after our taco dinner last night because they seem to love the avocado skins. The little white stuff in the bottom of the bin there are sprouts from some kind of seed that I put in there. I think it might have been from a bell pepper stem? I realized there are little sprouts growing all over the place in there. I'll need to do more research on this, but I did read somewhere that people actually start their seeds out in worm bins sometimes and then transplant. Interesting!
Wormy worms eating a fig.
Worms noshing on some carrots and squash.
A mystery plant has sprouted near the sunflowers by the back porch. Any guesses what this could be? I don't think I planted anything there, so it must be something from a previous tenant or some kind of volunteer something. Can't wait to see what it becomes!

Thanks for reading! Green Guy and I are off to the farmers market since we both have today off. Tonight, we might harvest some bell pepper and jalapeno and make a super local meal. I'll be sure to take pictures if we do!

Green Gal

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