The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Category: Eat Green Page 1 of 24

A New Foster Puppy and Fall Planting

“Love, soft as an easy chair
Love, fresh as the morning air
Time won’t change the meaning of one love
Ageless and ever evergreen”

Summer flew by and suddenly, we are in September. The leaves have not turned their colors yet, but the crisp morning air and clear night sky are signaling that my favorite season is coming.


The dogs are enjoying the cold air + warm sun combo too. They spent lots of time in the yard even in the evenings.


In these photos you can see Dazumble, our first foster puppy. But I am happy to announce that she has been adopted! Dazumble went to her forever family about 10 days ago, and we brought her sister, the Snorch home to foster on the same day.

In addition to the new foster puppy, we also brought home new evergreen trees! They were purchased during the 50% tree sale from Home Depot. We always wanted more evergreen trees for our property. This time, we were fortunate to grab three decent sized evergreens for just over $200!


The first one is this weeping Norway Spruce. Isn’t it cute? We planted it next to the ginkgo tree and expanded the flower bed around it.


With the weeping habit this Norway spruce will grow to 8-12 ft tall and wide. We planted it 6 feet away from the fence and the ginkgo tree, so it can grow to its mature size without trimming. I also planted some daylilies to fill in the empty space around it. These daylilies were given to me as a gift. I spent a couple weekends dividing the irises in the front yard and gave away most of the rhizomes through Nextdoor. The irise giveaway attracted many gardeners to our house. One lady, when picking up irises, brought me daylilies she divided from her yard. These daylilies should bloom golden red. I cannot wait to see them flower next summer!


Here is the ginkgo tree, which was a small twig three years ago. Now it is 6 feet tall with very nice lower branching. Its leaves should turn to bright yellow color in a months or so.


This is the first year I planted flowers in the vegetable garden. The marigold has been blooming all summer long.


Besides the weeping Norway spruce, we also got a pine and a Colorado spruce. This Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Limber pine is about 6 feet tall right now, and eventually become 20′ tall and 15′ wide. We planted it in the new patio garden, with plenty of room to spread.


Behind the new pine is this Malabar spinach planted on a trellis. It is an annual in my area and a great climber. I planted two seedlings at the base of this metal trellis. I love its shape and purple-red stems. A must-have in the garden just for its beauty!


Here are the volunteer sunflowers in the same patio garden bed. They came up where our winter bird feeder was, probably planted by the birds. We can see at least two different varieties blooming.


Here is the last new evergreen we bought – a Colorado spruce! The Colorado blue spruce, also called Colorado Spruce or blue spruce, needs no introduction. It is a Rocky mountain native and can get to 70′ tall when planted at the right spot. Fortunately, it only spread to up to 20′ wide, making it possible to bring it into our backyard.


We situated it near the garden shed, in front of the two Ash trees. It gets dappled shade in the morning and full sun from noon to sunset. We also positioned it 9 feet away from the side fence and the hazelnut tree, so it has plenty room to spread.


Not until we planted the Colorado spruce I realized how much we needed its blue color in our backyard. Most of the trees here, including the Ash tree, the crabapple tree, the fruit and nut trees all have green foliage. Adding the icy blue color here really draws your eyes to the far corner of the yard, which makes the yard feel bigger.


On the other side of the hazelnut is the wisteria planted this spring. It has put on some growth and started climbing the trellis. 🙂 The weeping cedar planted along the side fence is also doing well. I have not see much growth from it, but the needles are all green and the tree seems to be well hydrated.


While all three evergreens went to the backyard, I added some Fall perennials and decor to the front yard garden. I’ve shown you the new boxwood in front of the new front porch. They are putting on new sprouts since planted a few weeks ago and appear to be very happy.


On the other side of the front door, we planted three junipers in early Spring. They should eventually crawl onto the gravel and cover the area around the foundation, but it will take lots of years for them to get there. To fill the space between them. I added three dwarf Joe-pye weed called “Euphoria™ Ruby”. It will only get 2′ tall and wide, a perfect size for this area.


Most of the plants in the front yard bloom in spring, so I have been wanting to add some color to the front yard garden for late summer/fall. The Ruby Joe-pye weed will bloom purple pink from mid-summer to frost, exactly what we need.


I also want to add more Fall colors along the sidewalk. Here are six Fall blooming mums new to the front yard! These little plants will grow into 2′-3′ mounds of cute flowers which last the whole autumn. They might not be able to bloom this season, but they seems to be taken in very well and I am looking forward to their blooms next Fall.


Believe or not, some pumpkins in my vegetable garden have matured. I have never picked pumpkins this early, and they may not last as long as those in previous years. But I was happy to get the new front porch decorated early. I grabbed two flowering mums from the stores and added pumpkins from my own vines. I like how colorful and cheerful this small decoration looks.


As the summer is coming to an end, we will be harvesting, grilling, dining outside, and cozy up with Roxie, Charlie, and our new foster puppy. Are you fond of fall too?


The 2023 Veggie Garden


It is now the end of June and we are officially in summer. The spring rain has stopped, and the temperature quickly rose to the 80s.


While the lawn remains green, the growth has slowed down and we finally do not need to mow every week anymore. In contrast, the veggie garden started picking up the pace.


This is what the seedling looked like a months ago, when they are first planted:


And this is how the same bed looks like now! The tomato plants have tripled in their height and the cucumbers started climbing the trellis.


We added a four feet fence around the veggie garden to prevent Charlie from eating the fruits. Charlie came to us last summer and by fall, we discovered that he liked to eat pumpkins and melons. What a naughty boy!


We installed cattle panel fencing on three sides of the veggie garden using T posts and zip-ties. The cattle panel reaches all the way to the wooden privacy fence. To access the veggie garden, we created a small gate made from a piece of leftover cattle panel.


The gate is next to the ginkgo tree bed. Lots of dill pops up in this bed from reseeding themselves in the previous fall. So I just let them grow. As our soil continues to improve, it seems to be easier for plants to reseed. There are so many tomato and pumpkin seedlings coming up this spring that I did not even need to raise my own seedlings, if it is not for trying new varieties.


The first bed immediately next to the lawn grass was planted with tomatoes and cucumbers. A perennial chive border is kept at the edge of the bed as a boundary to stop the lawn grass from growing in. The cucumbers were planted at the base of the cattle panel, and 15 tomato plants are scattered in the rest of the bed. This bed receives most of the sunshine and gets overspray from the lawn sprinkles. Within a month, we already harvested the first cucumber, and the tomato plants are loaded with blossoms.



I also planted borage at the end of this bed. Borage flowers attract pollinators and beneficial insects. They also has a cucumber-like taste and can be used as garnish in salads.


Like in previous years, I planted butternut squashes and pumpkins at the end of all veggie beds, right against the pea gravel path. The roots of pumpkins only takes little space in the actual garden beds, but the vine and fruits can spill over onto the pea gravel path and create a pretty sea of green. it This strategy worked really well two season ago so I have been repeating it every.


This was how the pumpkin seedlings looked like a month ago when they were first planted. it is amazing how fast pumpkins grow in our soil.


The second veggie bed hosts perennial asparagus. In the middle of the bed, I inserted more tomatoes and okra plants.


Again, this was how they looked like a month ago! I cannot believe how tiny they were back then.


I planted 100+ garlic last fall which will be harvested in mid-July. To fully utilize the growing space, I interplanted peppers and eggplant seedlings among the garlic shoots. Peppers and eggplants are heat-loving annuals that grow very slowly in spring. By the time the summer heat kicks in and the plants start to grow, the garlic will be harvested, which allows more sunlight, nutrition, and air flow for the peppers and eggplants. This is the first season I am trying to interplant – hope it works!



The last two veggie beds are my all-time favorite, because of the bean tunnel spans across the center of these two beds. Slav made the bean tunnel a couple seasons ago with three cattle panels, and I have grown pole beans, ornamental squashes, and luffa on them. This year, I am growing pole beans up the bean tunnel again, plus small watermelons and Japanese Kabocha squashes.


The Japanese pumpkins grew so fast. I had to come out every other day to thread the leader around the trellis to make sure they are not taking over the tomato cages next to the tunnel.


Kabocha squashes are good climbers just like cucumbers. By the peak of summer, their big green leaves should cover the entire trellise, and create nice shade for the gardening beds below. I have seeded more lettuce and radishes under the bean tunnel. Hopefully we will be able to grow salad greens all summer long.



In the last bed, outside of the bean tunnel, there are 8 more tomatoes! These plants were risen from seeds I got from my sister and they are her favorite tomato varieties. I am looking forward to giving them a try and it will be fun to eat the same variety of tomato with her over video chat.


Look how small the tomato and pumpkin seedlings were when first planted a month ago. OMG


Due to the cold and wet spring, several fruit trees of ours did not bloom well. This honeycrisp apple tree is an exception. It looks like we will get a good harvest this fall.


I planted several wine cup flower as ground cover under the fruit trees. These plants are native to our area and tough as nails. They bloom all summer long and are so pretty to look at.


Fencing the veggie garden is not the only change we implanted this season. As a male dog, Charlie cannot help but peeing on plants with strong scent. So this spring, I made an effort to move all the herbs we actually cook with to the elevated planters.


I also added spinach into the elevated planters. This is the first year I grew spinach and we loved cold spinach salads.


The lettuce from my first winter sowing experiment did well too! Unfortunately I planted them into the landscape without thinking it through… Since they are at the ground level and not fenced in, I assume that they are “watered by Charlie” so they will not make to our table…


After transplanting the edible herbs out of the herb garden, I filled the bed with comfrey, is one of the best nitrogen fixers. It grows so fast, that I can cut the top one-third off every week, soak them in water for a few days, to make liquid fertilizer for the veggie seedlings. I think it helps!


We have been harvesting cucumbers, salad greens, radishes, and bok choy and the beans, tomatoes, and pumpkins are setting fruits. The first big harvest of the season will be garlic – we have close to 150 heads to gather in mid- to late-July and I cannot wait for it. We keep some for fresh eating, and make dried garlic powder and pickled garlic which last us all winter long. I will share with you how this year’s harvest goes. Stay tuned!

Happy Spring and Seed Starting!

On the lunar calendar, April 20 marks the start of “谷雨”, which means “seeding in rain”. This is a period associated with significant more precipitation and considered the best time for sowing seeds.


So here it begins, my 2023 vegetable garden! I have sown several trays of seeds at the beginning of April already.


Above is the chicken scratch I created to record what seeds I have sown. I do not use plant tags most of them break down top quicky. With this sowing map, I only need to label the trays which is easier to keep track. Speaking of trays, I use these aluminium food trays used in catering events at my work. Usually after catering events, they are rinsed off and sent to recycle bin. So all I need to do is to bring some home. They are perfect for holding 28 of the 1-inch nursery pots and for me to bottom water the seedlings. After all the seedlings are planted, I can simply recycle them just like they would have been a couple months before.

Tray 2: Eggplants (Chinese strings, Ping Tung), China Jade cucumber, onions, and some tomato seeds I got from my sister.


Besides a few vegetable garden staples, I also sowed some flowers for the first time. I want to interplant my vegetable garden this year with ornamental flowers, so I can make more bouquet for the house. I figured that it should not be too hard to raise flowers from seeds just like vegetables. For my first try, there are calendale (pacific beauty mix), zinnia (polar bear), gaura (sparkle white), cosmos (peppermint), marigold (white swan), and borage. I sowed mostly white flowers – I think they will look really good with abundance of green leaves in a vegetable garden.

Tray 1: Flowers!


I raise most of my seedlings using old nursery pots. We purchased a few seedling kits when landscaping our front yard, the sunny herb garden, and most recently, the side yard. I saved the nursery pots from these plant kits, and have been using them for seed starting. For small seeds like tomatoes, I also use seedling pods. To pot them up, all I needed to do is to bury the seedling pods in potting soil without disturbing the root at all.

Tray 3: Cucumbers, ornamental gourds, and herbs.


The tray above contains cucumbers (Suyo long cucumber, Armenian pale green), Luffa, and birdhouse gourd. These plants have sensitive root system and I found the best way of avoiding transplanting shock is to sow their seeds in as big of nursery pots as possible. The small green container with seedling pods are planted with some herb seeds such as rosemary, basil, thyme, and stevia. I used regular potting soil for my seed starting, which contains fertilizer and can feed the seedlings until they are transplanted into the ground. Comparing to using seedling mix, planting seeds directly in the potting soil spared me from having to fertilize the seedlings at all.

Tray 4: Tomatoes and peppers.


The entire fourth tray are planted with tomatoes and peppers! I got different varieties of peppers, including some really hot ones. from Pepper Joe’s and the germination was good last year. I also sowed several heirloom tomatoes I have grown last year. We enjoyed cooking with different kind of tomatoes and the sauces made with different varieties taste very flavorful. We have been using the tomato sauces we cooked in homemade pizza, pasta, chilli, and tomato soup. Cannot wait to get more this year again!



The last a few things I sowed are beetroots, ginger, and bunny tail ornamental grasses. I have sown beetroots directly in the ground, which worked very well. But this year, I would like to get some early harvest hence sowing them early. These little beetroot seedlings did not disappoint – they all came up within the first week of sowing and their colors are so vibrant already.


I also directly planted ginger in the ground before, but did not get a good harvest. Our summer days are too short gingers. To get an early start this year, I planted organic ginger pieces in the soil in Mid march. I have not seen any sprout yet – not a good sign, but I am hopeful with the help of this video from a Youtube channel called “Soil and Margaritas“. Hopefully we can unlock the secret of growing ginger this year!


The 10-day update!

Shortly after sowing the seeds, we started to see some sprouts. Below are the pictures I took on 4/12, 10 days after I sowed the seeds::







Calendale, zinnia, and gaura.


We are still experiencing freezing nights and some cold days. A shelving unit in my home office is where all the seedlings are kept. My office is at the Northeast corner of the house and does not have sufficient lighting for seedlings to grow. But I have discovered a simple way of raising seedlings without the need of adding grow light – by simply putting the seedling trays outside during the day when the weather is warm enough. Although the seedlings are only outside for 9-10 hours, versus grow lights were usually kept on for 16 hours per day, but our intense Colorado sun keeps the seedlings happy and I have never experienced any problems with leggy seedings.


One additional advantage of raising the seedling under sunlight is that I do not need to harden them off before planting. The process of hardening off seedlings can be tedious and usually requires around-the-clock care during the first week. Accidentally leaving the seedlings in bad weather can destroy these tiny plants in just a couple hours. But the seedlings grow up with natural sunlight and breeze are already conditioned to the outdoor conditions and do not need any hardening off period.


I will be sowing more seeds mostly warm weather crops – pumpkins, cantaloupes, and  watermelons later this month. In a months we will be looking at a full rack of healthy seedlings for this season! I hope that you are having fun planning and planting your garden as well. Happy Spring!

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