I know, I’m long overdue on an update of the gardening initiative. In a nutshell, I have lots of seedlings ready for planting, 2 plots in Naperville that were under water until last week and I’m already tired of driving 30 miles each way, no plots yet in Forest Park cuz we’re still fund raising, and the sunny spot in my own back yard is getting smaller as the trees are filling in. Ugh!

For more details, I have below, photos of seedlings, the remodeling effort in our back yard and the tomato Earth Buckets I planted today. Oh, and that damned Tree of Hell that broke our awning over the back doorway and continues to threaten our very existence.

Note: Never buy a house with a tree erroneously named Tree of Heaven, it is actually the Tree of Hell and is highly invasive/impossible to kill even if you just cut it down. AND, it’s brittle, many large branches will rain down upon you yearly costing large sums of money to remove. Also don’t buy a house with a tree growing through the deck, no matter how charming.

Damage done to awning by huge branch from Tree of Hell

Damage done to awning by huge branch from Tree of Hell, seen laughing with glee in upper right hand corner.

Seedlings started in March and then again in April

I started a bevy of seeds in late March and many never sprouted. So I planted again every week until I got enough sprouts of each plant I wanted to grow. So now I have 42 tomato plants of varying ages and a gazillion other little things. Items that resisted all attempts to sprout include kohlrabi, oregano, and a few stubborn zucchini.

Tomatoes desperately seeking a home.

Tomatoes desperately seeking a home.

Squash about to give up on finding a home.

Squash about to give up on finding a home.

Young kabocha and acorn squash growing fast.

Young kabocha and acorn squash growing fast.

BTW, I’m insanely pleased with the kabocha squash seeds I ordered from Kitazawa Seed Co., a Japanese-owned company. Every single seed sprouted! Which is more than I can say for the zucchini seeds I got through a different source. I’m thrilled that I’m going to actually have 10 kabocha squash plants! Lots for storage next fall. I’m told they are sweeter than butternut and work really well in vegan pecan pies as a thickener. I can’t wait to try them.

I also ordered a bunch of different radishes from Kitazawa. They all have different plant dates up to early Fall so I’ll be direct seeding them when the time is right for each.

Baby lettuce greens grown under flourescent lights in our office.

Baby lettuce greens grown under fluorescent lights in our office.

And just in case the rabbits figure out a way to get all my lettuce in the yard and garden plots, I can always grow greens under lights in the basement or at the office. I can’t believe how easy this is. This is a tray of mixed baby greens planted in one of those shallow seedling trays filled with a 50/50 coir/soil mix.

Tomatoes In 5-Gallon Earth Boxes

For those who don’t know, you can nest 5-gallon buckets, drill holes in the inside bucket, insert a wicking chamber (plastic cup or yogurt container), a PVC pipe for adding water to the reservoir in the bottom, and voila, instant self-watering garden system that can be used on any surface. In my case below, I’ve placed them under the kitchen window on the corner/side of the house with the only sun. The ground here is completely compacted and riddled with weed trees that won’t die so I just set the buckets on them. The far right bucket will need some leveling in order to function correctly. To learn more about this technique, go here.

4 Earth Buckets with 1 tomato plant each.

4 Earth Buckets with 1 tomato plant each. Only 38 more tomato plants to go.

Interior of bucket before filling with dirt and plant.

Interior of bucket before filling with NON-soil potting mix, organic fertilizer, lime and tomato plant.

Close up of finished bucket. Actually 2 nested buckets, the interior one with drainage holes and a yogur container wick, the exterior bucket has two over flow holes (one is circled in red in this photo).

Close up of finished bucket. Actually 2 nested buckets, the interior one with drainage holes and a yogurt container wick, the exterior bucket has two over flow holes (one is circled in red in this photo).

Most websites say to use garbage bags for the ‘lids’ but that wouldn’t deter the squirrels in our yard so I just used the lids that came with the buckets. Hopefully, the squirrels won’t bother with the 3-inch diameter holes for the plants.

The master plan.

Phase 1 is the portion nearest the deck. Phase 2 is the fenced in area opposite with it’s own little gate to keep out the giant rabbits that live in the back yard. I can deter the squirrels from digging in pots by filling them all the way with dirt, covering that with chicken wire and seeding through the wire. But I can’t keep the squirrels out of the fenced in area. So I’m going with what I think will work first. The pots should be tall enough to be out of reach of the rabbits. Especially if I leave pointy chicken wire ends protruding to poke them in the eye. Yeah, I mean it.

The master plan changes every day but this is what it looked like tonight.

The master plan changes every day but this is what it looked like tonight.

Frankenfoto of the back deck, the Tree of Hell, DH's framework for the new privacy wall that's replacing the crappy plastic lattice, and the area where my garden will go, pending continued sun.

Frankenfoto of the back deck, the Tree of Hell, DH's framework for the new privacy wall that's replacing the crappy plastic lattice, and the area where my garden will go, pending continued sun. The red rectangle outlines the current area where I get about 7 hours of sun but the trees are filling in so we'll see how that goes.

DH's framing handiwork for the privacy wall. Pretty soon, no one can spy on us.

DH's framing handiwork for the privacy wall. Pretty soon, no one can spy on us.

The privacy wall with extend around the corner of the deck slightly, providing a private morning coffee.

The privacy wall with extend around the corner of the deck slightly, providing a private morning coffee.

DH is on an LED bender. He's replaced our deck like with a multi-colored LED gadget.

DH is on an LED bender. He's replaced our deck light with a multi-colored LED gadget.

Well, that just about wraps up this edition of Overly Ambitious Suburban Gardening In A Questionable Amount Of Sun.

Oh wait, one more gem just for you folks:

The Rubbermaid Wheelbarrow Incident

Take this as a warning, never, ever, stand in front of an empty Rubbermaid wheelbarrow and proceed to heave a heavy bag of soil into the wheelbarrow, from the front. The Rubbermaid wheelbarrow is designed to flip rear over front to bonk you in the head and cause great pain and embarrassment. Yes, I did this. I just pray no one was watching.