Potting up plants – what does that even mean?

Good Sunday morning!!! I’ve been busy already today potting up tomatoes and eggplant.

But what exactly does potting up mean?

When you start seeds in a smaller seed tray, the plants can only get so big and stay happy for a short time. Just as kids grow and need bigger shoes, plants grow and need a bigger space for their roots.

That’s why gardeners have so many plastic or biodegradable pots around. As the seedlings grow out of their first home, we “pot them up” to the next size.

For tomatoes, this also helps strengthen the stem. If you’ve ever noticed, there are what look like tiny hairs all over the tomato stem/stalk. When put in the dirt, those “hairs” create roots and help make the plant stronger. That’s why when you pot up or plant out tomatoes, you bury them deep, so those hairs help the plant grow strong.

There are some plants, like squash, however that you don’t want to start in a small seed cell. You want to keep the roots in tact until you plant them in the ground. Many people don’t pre-start squash plants because their roots are so finicky but I’m trying to out run the squash vine borer this year, so I started them early and am hoping for the best.

Some plants, you don’t want to start early in cells at all. Those include carrots and, for me, nasturtium. Both like to be direct sown and left alone to flourish.

Got any questions about starting seeds and potting them up? Drop me a note or comment below.


Bugs…ughhhh bad bugs

Gardening is not without bugs – of many kinds.

Leaf-footed bug
Leaf-footed bug

As I have written before, I do like most bugs. I love butterflies, bees, assassin bugs, spiders, dragonflies and other pollinators.

However, I hate bad bugs who eat my plants and ruin things.

This year has been really bad for some bugs. Thanks 2020…

Specifically, as I have said before, the squash vine borer was HORRIBLE. I lost all my squash, zucchini and pumpkins to them. I also really hate grubs. Grubs are kind of my fault because they thrive in soil that isn’t the healthiest. They eat the roots of plants and then the plants slowly die.

Eggplant killed by a bug…I think.

If you’ve watched my journey of moving four beds that were troublemakers from one side of the “farm” to the other, you’ll know just how many grubs I had. Yuck yuck.

Some other evil bugs are squash bugs, aphids, leaf-footed bugs, cabbage worms, caterpillars, stink bugs, tomato hornworms, cucumber beetles and pickle worms. Each one has been an issue this year in some way.

Today, I also found ants farming aphids. Yes, you read that right. Apparently the aphids secrete a sweet liquid (ew!) and the ants love it. So, they literally take care of the aphids as the aphids eat the plant. #nothankyou.

Pumpkin vines killed by squash vine borer.

For the ants, I put DE on the plants when I know the bees aren’t out. For the squash bugs, grubs, cabbage worms, caterpillars and stink bugs, I just try to be diligent in finding them and squishing them. For the vine borer, I tried everything. This coming year I have some new traps to try and will also try to plant earlier before their season.

What kind of bugs are you dealing with this year? And how are you fixing the problem? Let me know in the comments below.


So you had a good harvest…now what?

Gumbo with my okra, tomatoes and jalapenos.

Tomatoes, beans, peas, peppers, eggplant, okra, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, watermelon… if you have plants, and you try your best to take care of them, you’ll have a harvest.

So now what? What can you do with all those goodies?

Below are just some of the meals that we’ve (by we, I mean my husband) created this past spring and summer to enjoy the bounty from the garden. What are you cooking? Just leave a comment below or send me an email at pigdogfarms@gmail.com.

Tomatoes: salsa, gumbo, fresh pasta sauce, bruschetta,

Okra: gumbo, Chai Pani-style okra (sliced thin, cooked in a cast iron skillet and sprinkled with spices), fried okra

Jalapenos: add to nearly anything!

Corn: corn salad, add to pasta, stir fry or any salad

Eggplant: roasted eggplant and bean dip (my favorite), La Tienda-style fried eggplant with thyme and honey, Peter Chang-style dry-fried eggplant

Potatoes: Curate-style Spanish tortilla, potato salad, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes

Sweet potatoes: soup, chorizo and potato tacos, add to curry

Beans: sauteed with garlic and olive oil and topped with chopped almonds, stir fry (many kinds)

Peas: stir fry or in salads (or eaten raw off the vine, my favorite)

Cabbage: shredded on sandwiches, cabbage bake with sausage, Thai salad

Peppers: stuffed peppers, rajas for tacos, gumbo, sausage and peppers

Zucchini: fried zucchini, stir fry

Cucumbers: raw or make into pickles! (and then fry the pickles…yummy)

Watermelon: eaten fresh or…made into a margarita or daiquiri!