At War with the Ants

Today was a garden day. When you live in an apartment complex, gardening past your porch takes some creativity. Luckily, I am a part of a local community garden that I helped build in the past, so I do get some in-ground gardening space and a compost bin.

Compost was a big part of my visit. My garden is pretty plant it and leave it, with a thick layer of mulch and a sprinkler system. I have a container I put my compost in with a carbon filter on the top to hold my scraps, and when it is full (or to be honest, moldy) I take it off to the bin.


This is my community garden. I am very fortunate to have multiple spigots, seeds, and community produce at my disposal. My plot is in the far back, conveniently close to the greenhouse.

Although growing up in Hawai’i had its advantages (like year round gardening), I do love being able to grow cool weather crops and being forced to let my soil rest once a year. But, there is one thing I do miss about Hawai’i, a lack of fire ants in my garden.

I have been having a big problem with ants in my bed. When I revitalized my plot a few months ago, I literally shoveled out a colony into the woods. Now, the problem is less severe, but I have to keep them from coming from other plots or the grass. In an organic garden far from your house, it can be especially hard to fight the ants.

Pouring boiling water is hard when you don’t have an outlet or stove near by. Pesticides won’t do either. For my solution, I turn to the laundry room. When ants get bad, I mix 1 part sugar, 1 part borax to spread around my garden.

 

Borax is a natural substance, but is toxic to ants when ingested. The sugar attracts the ants, and they come out to take the mix back to the colony. Here you can see right after sprinkling there are already some takers (not fire ants, but still ants hurting my plants).

 

 

 

 

Here is my plot with the border of the borax/sugar mix. After spreading a good perimeter of the mix (my ants are usually only an issue around the brick border of my plot, I was able to begin harvesting some garden treats.

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We are verging on full blown cucumber season here in North Carolina. The scattered plants among the plots are pumping out cukes. Although my plant only had one to offer me, the community plots helped give me a more hefty harvest.

 

 

From one…

to four!

 

 

 

After a quick look at the community fruit, I saw the figs were finally ready! I picked all the (mostly) ripe figs I could see to let ripen on the counter. (The truly ripe ones are always eaten by the birds.)

Not a bad day in the garden, fought with ants, got a good harvest, and got out before the North Carolina sun began to beat down its July heat. If the borax doesn’t do the trick, I’ll try some Diatomaceous Earth next. What have you done to combat ants in your garden?

And So It Begins

Here we are, my new blog.

It has been a while since I’ve ventured into the blogger-sphere. Years ago in my Hawaii hometown I kept a blog on my garden at called “My Kailua Garden” and another on recipes crafts at “Kreative in Kailua”, but college and health issues got in the way of those ventures.

That is not to say I have been sitting idle in the least, I have been arm deep in the dirt and homestead activities since, I just haven’t written it down. I’ll be combining my old content and finally getting to writing some new posts.


I missed blogging, so now, as I go to school in Durham, NC, I’m ready to help others with small spaces and busy schedules to get back to mother earth and start homesteading. Like the cucumbers above, I am excited to grow out this venture, and hope you are excited to journey with me.

For more on me, don’t forget to swing by the about me page.

Spring Cleaning

Hey all!
Last week I was finally able to go in an rejuvenate my suffering garden (and my school stressed self). You’ve gotta love SPRING BREAK 😀
After the hard rain we had been having+my slight procrastination of garden upkeep, I had a ton of greens to harvest, grass to pull, old plants to pull up (it always makes me sad to see them go, but excited to see what will go in their place), and seedlings to transplant. Phew! Still, I love it!

All the arugula (this is a full sized towel!)

 

This is after the arugula harvest.

I went out one day and just harvested arugula (from a one foot square) and was up to my ears in the green stuff (My mom is in love with it, no complaints from her side). I ended up with three Safeway bags of the stuff.
*Important tip: when harvesting, use the towel to also COVER or SHADE your greens. I went inside and a bunch of my harvest was wilting at the bottom. I had to race to get it in bags with a damp paper towel and into the fridge.
Cut leaves + sun = :/

All of this from one cutting!!! I was stunned.

Then I went in to tackle some of the neighboring square. It was (and still is) full to bursting with Burpee’s Chop Suey Mix (look behind the harvested arugula to see it before any harvest). I just think of them as the purpose salad/stir-fry square. I only had one Kale plant in the square foot, but the leaves I harvested were enough to make a full gallon freezer bag of spicy Mexican kale chips 🙂

On another venture to the garden I continued to harvest from my stir-fry square. Wheedling through to cut out my tender bok-choy and Chinese cabbage. I can’t wait to have it stir fried with plum sauce. (I think that will be on the menu as tonight’s vegetable. hmmm…..)

The next day I went into my stir fry square, scissors in hand, towel at the ready. I needed to harvest some of the dominant green from the square (I don’t remember what it’s called so don’t ask. If you know, please share 🙂
After a full session of harvesting, I only really shaved a bit off the top (Round 2 this weekend!) Look What I ended up with! I needed to harvest more, but couldn’t fathom that I would use it if any more than this. This pile on my counter was over half a foot high! (Still, the torn off leaves are great in salad, and with stems they shine in stir fry. Easy to eat)

After all of my greens harvesting, I decided to make salad mixes for some of my friends to get it off my hands. I went out and picked some beet and radish greens, divided my mountain of arugula, mystery green, and separated it all into 4 very full Safeway bags. Three of my neighbors found themselves with a wonderful salad base, and we got a huge bag as well. (Though with all that is still in the garden I probably could have given away all 4 and harvested another for our salad….) Ours of course had extra arugula for my mom.

Not only did I Harvest all of this wonder, my Pineapples are growing!!!!!! Look! I never knew that they make flowers on their eyes (the body spikes), so pretty!

I also pulled up my cucumbers after a successful season of pickling and salads. In my next post I’ll show you all the fun things I put in their place 😉

Thanks for reading!

My Harvest

Here was the bountiful harvest I came home to after a long three days being a PCCS at Girl Scout Camp and chasing around a hyper hoard of Brownies.
From clock-wise from top left I gathered:

Adult arugula leaves
Hericot Vert
Some Asian greens from a Burpee Chop-suey Mix
Baby arugula (my mom’s favorite)
A yellow zuchinni
4 pickling cucumbers

I am super excited to see my cucumbers growing (due to my unfortunate attempts before, they turned orange…..)
Better yet, this week’s new recipe will definitely be pickles. I will post my results on my other blog in the near future 🙂
As for the zucchini, I get to harvest some of his friends today, and I ate him for lunch cut with a portabella mushroom and some cherry tomatoes heated with some spices, a little non-stick spray, and salt on the stove-top. Mmmmmmm….


Until next time,
Keep up the gardening!

First Zucchini

Burpee Yellow Zucchini

Yay! The first of many. I cut it a little late, so it is a touch too big. Other than that its beautiful. I cut it off the plant this morning, and will slice/grate it into tonight’s salad. MMMMMM!

Soon there will be enough blossoms to harvest along with the squash! I am so excited to play around with them in the kitchen. If I do anything fun I’ll be sure to post it.

What’s Growing On?

 Recently I went to Koolau Farmers and bought some herbs as well as some mite spray.
Growing I have rosemerry, mint, and a potted lemon tree.
Also growing I have:
Cucumbers-
I am growing a pickling type and a burpless slicing type (Burpee). So far both have their attributes. The pickling is shooting off with blinding speed, but only one of the seeds I planted germinated (of 8). The slicing takes longer to sprout, but of the 8 seeds I planted, 3 plants popped up. No word on taste yet.
Arrugala-
still little sproutlings
Mixed greens-
also sproutlings
Beets-
Only 3 are groing right now as sproutlings because my cat decided to nap on top of them. (see other post on the cat)
Zuchinni Yellow (Burpee)-
taking off at breakneck speed. Already sporting beautiful blossoms (the males soon to be stuffed and baked mmmmm…)
Zuchini (Burpee)-
still growing to full size, haven’yt put out blossoms yet
Green Beans-
all still trying to reach the trellis. I hope they’ll take off soon, I guess patience is an important part of gardening
Carrots/radishes-
still sleeping in the dirt
Lima beans-
I cut the stalks off at the roots. Now I am just drying out the vine and attatched beans so I can bag it up, hit it with a tennis raquet, and collect the dried beans (I’ll be sure to post on theat event!)
My Eggplant Tree from Frankies Nursury (grafted jap. eggplant to a tree relative)-
Growing 2 eggplants right now 🙂

Kitty-Cat Troubles

My adorable cat Snowflake thinks she can help me in the garden. As wonderful as it is to find all of your beet seedlings uprooted, tilled, and refurbished as a napping spot, I decided Snowflake was not allowed in the garden. My solution (if it is really effective I will be sure to comment) is cheap and hopefully efficient. Also bamboo is a very sustainable material, and wont leach any weird chemicals into the soil. The answer: bamboo skewers. I put them up like a picket fence around my raised garden close together. My cat has been hopping up onto the edge of the garden to enter. My thought is that she wont want to jump through the barrier, and that it would be too high to be convenient for her to jump it. Instead she can sunbathe in the dirt behind the garden.

^ my “fence” and in the background, the culprit ^

Raised Gardens and all their glory!!!!

Happy New Year!
I have been putting off this post until I could show a garden with life about it’s soil. Me and my dad built this 4×6 garden with the help of Home Depot online.
After constructing the beast, setting it in place, and filling it with drainage rocks and soil, it was ready. I decided to go with square foot gardening. From all that I’ve read, it really is the most space efficient method (correct me if you think otherwise). To make things easier I went  out with some string and some nails, and set up an easy (removable) grid.

Visibly planted I have:
-Burpee yellow and green zucchini (front left)
-pickling and burp-less cucumbers (3 rows back)
-green beans (back row)
As invisible seeds I have:
-Danver half long carrots
-arugula
-chop-suey mix greens
-salad mix greens
-beets
In Sprouting green house:
-cherry tomatoes
-mystery heirloom tomatoes
-yellow bell peppers
-basil
-borage
-mystery eggplant
I am super stoked!!!! It is finally happening, I am gardening in my garden!

Every Plant’s Dream Snack

Last weekend on 4th of July, me and my family harvested worm castings from our worm bin (how patriotic, I know) After the fun but messy experience i have a hefty bucket of worm doo-doo  ready to dry a bit and be worked in as fertilizer. I have found that unmixed or quickly dried unstirred worm castings, end up as little rock like clumps that don’t seem to help at all. This time I’m taking it slow and keeping my bucket in the sun, stirring it everyday to keep the top from getting all hard, while the bottom is a puddle. Soon I’ll mix it into soil, but until then, it will sit in my backyard baking to every plants dream snack.

Peas and Carrots!

Its hard to say there are any vegetables I like better than sugar snap peas, and carrots (except maybe a cucumber, but that is for another post), and they have finally made their way into my currently potted garden. They are planted in the original global buckets design (see previous post) and are doing wonderfully so far. There are six beauteous little sugar snap pea plants surrounding and island of carrots. Yesterday I thinned the carrots to a 1 to 2 inch spacing and nearly wept when I had to be rid of the would-have-been orange jewels. Oh well, thinning is a part of gardening. The little peas are at the frustrating stage where I need to train them to the trellis, and the tall carrots don’t really help much. Its good to know in a few days that they will be climbing the trellis with no human help at all!
My brain can’t help but jump ahead to when I will be plucking plump little pods of the vine and plucking carrots from their bed. mmmmm… there is little better than oven roasted carrots, or eating snap peas cold from the fridge with hummus.