So I planted a "Black Magic" eggplant that I bought as a seedling from my local garden center. I've never grow eggplant before, neither as an adult or as a child, so I thought it would be an interesting experiment, seeing as how I adore eggplant parmigiana. I learned a few things this year in doing so (eggplants are like peppers, wait to plant them until it's warmer - I planted mine too early and it did almost nothing for an entire month before finally taking off and growing). However, I now have a dilemma trying to figure out when to pick them. Since I don't have a seed packet, I don't know how big they'll get. I tried Googling it, but mostly just get a list of cultivars and general eggplant knowledge. One helpful thing was that a ripe eggplant should have some "give" when pressed but no indentation should remain. However, something else I found from a seed website says harvest when the size of your fist, which seems like a darn small eggplant. So I think we're going to harvest one on Friday morning before we leave town and see how it goes. As far as growing eggplant, once I figure out when to pick them, it's been great. I think I'll get at least 8 off this one plant, and it's been very easy to grow - no disease or pest problems.
So here is a photo of the rain barrels I created. I found the barrels on craigslist for $10 a barrel (you may also be able to find them free/cheap from a local car wash, bottlers or food processor). With 2 small kids, I went with the slightly more expensive but less work tracking them down route. Other items I used to create the barrels: a drill, a hole saw, a jigsaw, two boiler drain spigots, teflon tape, caulk/silicone sealer, fiberglass window screening, 2 rubber bands, and 2 disposable 1# flower pots, and 2 inch PVC pipes and couplers for the overflow and for joining two barrels. There are a plethora of instructions on creating rain barrels online, I took a combo approach. Several sets of instructions call for a small "hose diameter" overflow, however this is NOT a large enough overflow opening during a heavy rain. The 2" PVC seems to work well so far. Also, I chose to adjoin the two barrels at the bottom vs. the top so that I only had to install a spigot on one barrel and they drain simultaneously. Plus, there is a little more pressure that way.
Okay, so I've created a gardening blog, primarily to help me in becoming a better gardener, and I thought between this and a paper notebook I might actually be able to keep track of the things I've done, things I plan to do, etc with the garden. Currently, the garden is a 12'x6' raised bed in the northwest corner of our backyard. However, I have commandeered several other spots, one of which is about a 3'x5' flowerbed between our patio and house, which I created initially last year by removing the annoying 'landscape gravel' that was in the spot and digging in a bunch of peat moss and "topsoil" from the construction site behind us. This year, I expanded it's width by about half to create the current space. I also have 2 tomato plants in relatively small (for a tomato) pots on the patio, which I am terrible at remembering to water every day, and a few green bean plants tucked into my front flower bed.
We have 1 3" diameter (approx) compost bin/pile on the south side of our house, and I want to build 2 more and move them to them to the space between our fence and the property line (about 5 feet by 60 feet), however that necessitates putting in a gate in the back of the fence, which previous owners who built the fence never did. Go figure. We also have 3 rain barrels, each holding approx 45 gallons, which I built myself (with minimal help from my father) about 2 weeks ago. They are working great. The cost was $30 for the barrels, plus about another $30 in parts for the barrels, downspout connects, a hole saw, etc. I'd like to build 2-3 more.