Monday Garden Stuff!

Well…I haven’t done a gardening post in two years…and that would probably explain the status of my garden.  #sigh

I had something else planned for today’s post, but then I found myself looking on Pinterest for gardening tips and thought no, no, no, no, no…ask your friends online and they will help you out even more than Pinterest. #truth  So, I changed today’s post into me asking gardening questions :).  Hope that’s okay with you girls!

Problem #1


Where did my strawberries go?

We were growing strawberries like crazy and then all of a sudden, nothing.  Is it the weather?  We really haven’t had a very warm summer here in North Texas (knock on wood), but maybe that’s it???  My strawberry plants were plentiful and now…notta.

Problem #2


What should I be feeding my vegetable garden?

I’m sure I’m feeding them all wrong…and I’m sure you know what I should be putting in there.  Help!  Something I can buy?  Something homemade?  Any ideas would be appreciated!

Problem #3


My Zucchini went CRAZY!

(And yes, this is a pic of my basil, not my zucchini…but it’s going crazy too!)

My zucchini took over everything!  I love growing zucchini, but this year, it dominated my garden, smothered everything around it and only produced one zucchini.  What happened?  Andrew finally dug it up because it was killing everything in its path…and yet, not even producing anything.

Problem #4


Why are my veggies so small?

Some of my other veggies (bell pepper and jalapeno to name a few) are just growing sooooooooooooooo slow.  My tomatoes are out of control and we can’t eat those fast enough…but this year, my bell pepper and jalapeno plants are producing so.darn.slowly and they’re not even that large when they’re ready to be picked.   Any thoughts on why that is?

Last year, I had an armadillo problem in my garden and this year, I would say that I just have a lackluster problem.  Everything is just kind of eh.  Thoughts?  Again, I don’t think it’s the weather because we typically have much warmer and dryer weather than we’ve had so far this year.  Help.

That’s all for my Monday.

I need gardening help.

And PS: Don’t forget about this…

Workin' It Wednesdays

…on Wednesday.

This month’s topic: A weekend in our lives.  Lots of pics and what we do over the weekends during summer.


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  • Casey July 10, 2017 at 4:47 am

    Hi Shay, this is off topic but are you still an early riser? I know you use to say you got up at 4:30am is this still the time you wake? Thanks

    • Mix and Match Mama July 10, 2017 at 4:55 am

      Ha! Yes! My alarm went off at 4:15 this morning :).

      • Caitlin July 10, 2017 at 8:13 am

        I’ve always wondering about your sleep schedule. How many hours of sleep do you usually get? I try to go to sleep early and wake up early but sometimes I’m with friends or family late in the evening and it messes up my sleep schedule. How do you make that work with kids?

      • Caitlin July 10, 2017 at 8:16 am

        I’ve always wondered about your sleep schedule. How many hours of sleep do you usually get? I try to go to sleep early and wake up early but sometimes I’m with friends or family late in the evening and it messes up my sleep schedule. How do you make that work with kids?

        • Mix and Match Mama July 10, 2017 at 12:08 pm

          I typically go to bed between 10 and 10:30 and almost always wake up around 4:15.

      • Kylee Edwards July 10, 2017 at 9:03 am

        What time do you go to bed? (I don’t garden so I’ve got nothing there 😂). I started working for VIPKID which means I teach English to little kids in China online! I LOVE IT SO SO MUCH! (It makes me want to go to China to see them!) anywho, I now wake up at 4:15 which has been a huge adjustment! I use to wake up at 8:30 when my kiddos woke me up! How do you do it?!?

        • Christine July 10, 2017 at 2:37 pm

          A friend of a friend just told me about VIPKID and suggested I might like it doing it (I’m a teacher)… just wondering how long did the process take to get started?

        • Lauren July 11, 2017 at 6:16 am

          Hi Kylee,
          I’m a teacher who is staying home with her baby this year and has been looking for an online position. Do you mind if I pick your brain about VIPKID? I have a lot of questions!! Could you email me?

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog July 10, 2017 at 4:47 am

    I wish I had a garden, but my apartment doesn’t even offer a balcony, much less a garden! I hope you get yours fixed asap!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Bernadine July 10, 2017 at 4:49 am

    Hi Shay! I noticed someone commented the other day that your blog is turning 10 this year. Congratulations!! Would love to read a post about where/how it all started and perhaps a countdown to your 10 most popular posts? Have a great week!

  • Alexis deZayas July 10, 2017 at 4:59 am

    Can’t wait to come back and read these comments! I’ve been wanting to start a garden. Good luck with yours!!

  • Rebecca July 10, 2017 at 5:04 am

    I’m a veggie gardener (is that a real term??) outside of Houston, so I can relate to your issues! Here are my thoughts:
    1. Strawberries–no clue, sorry!
    2. Zucchini-I don’t plant those anymore unless I have tons of space because like you said, the leaves get huge and prevent other things from growing. Also, you need 2 or more planted to cross pollinate and get a really good surplus of zucchini. (Note: one year I planted zucchini and yellow squash too close together and had green shaped squash that tasted awful!)
    3. My peppers (Serrano, jalapeño, cayenne) really take off once the Texas heat turns up (92-93 degrees+). Same goes for my basil. Also, snip off those flowers on the tops of your basil so they’ll keep producing and keep a stronger flavor and not turn bitter.
    4. I use Miracle Grow on my garden (the blue powder stuff you pour into a dispenser that attaches to your garden hose). My tomatoes are nearly done due to the heat and the fact I planted them in March, but the Miracle Grow might help give them a boost. Also, the brand/variety of tomato can affect the size of fruit it’s putting off. Make sure you note what you bought this year so you can make changes for next year.
    5. Have you considered doing a fall garden? I generally plant mine Labor Day weekend and have a lot of success with this Texas weather. Good luck!

    • Casey July 10, 2017 at 9:00 am

      What do you plant for your Fall garden?

  • Amy July 10, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Those flowers blooming on top of your basil need to be pinched off in order for your plant to keep going. If you leave the flower heads on the basil your plant will go to seed and eventually die off. The earlier the blooms are pinched off the better. I usually do a bloom check each morning and pluck those little suckers off.

    • Devon July 10, 2017 at 7:08 pm

      Agreed Amy!

  • Erika Slaughter July 10, 2017 at 5:19 am

    Im absolutely no help at all with these problems. If you get it figured out and need some help eating the veggies, I’m all over that kind of problem. 😉

  • Beth July 10, 2017 at 5:33 am

    Hi Shay! Strawberries are actually very temperamental to grow. You need just enough heat and rain. I’m guessing one of the two zapped your strawberries. For feeding your veggies I like to use Miracle Gro. I also think a bigger area might help your plants. Give them more space to create bigger roots that won’t interfere with other plants. Hope you have a better second half in your garden!

  • Elspeth Mizner July 10, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Really lookin forward to what others are saying. I have always wanted to start a garden but never knew where to start! Thanks for the advice ladies! Happy Monday Shay!

  • Dawn Williamson July 10, 2017 at 5:39 am

    We were very lucky and met a man at the nusrsery who knew everything about soil. He suggested we buy two different kinds of soil and mix them together. One contained bat poop! 😛 The other was an organic compost. Each year he suggested adding new types of soil and mixing them in. It’s worked so far! Lots of flourishing vegetables!! Good luck!

    • Kate Treadway July 10, 2017 at 6:32 am

      I do this too every year and it means I don’t really need to feed my plants. I use a seafood compost and an organic potting soil at a 50/50 ratio and it gives the plants all they need for the season.

  • Jade July 10, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Hi Shay!
    I’m no gardening expert but overall I think your garden is lacking nutrients. You can go down to your local gardening store and buy some “food” for your garden, your soil needs nutrients to grow.
    Whenever I have planted any type of squash plant, they pretty much get their whole entire area because they take up a lot of room.
    The issue with the leaf-holes, I believe that is caused by aphids. They are these tiny little bugs that eat at the leaves. You can also go down to your local garden supply store and buy a soap-solution spray to spray on the leaves.
    Also the best time to water your garden is early-early in the morning or late in the evening.

    I hope this helped!

  • Katie Williams July 10, 2017 at 5:57 am

    I have no gardening tips to offer, in fact my colleagues joke that my office is where plants go to die. But, I would love some new recipes for fresh vegetables, especially zucchini. My husband loves it. Can you share some?

    • Beth July 10, 2017 at 6:07 am

      Have you ever tried making zucchini noodles? They are amazing with red sauce or garlic.

  • Samantha Neuberger July 10, 2017 at 6:01 am

    We had trouble with our yellow squash growing big and not flowering, found out we had too much nitrogen in our soil (because of what we were adding). Quit feeding the nitrogen and we are now getting blooms. Nitrogen is good early to get the plants to grow. Other than that I know nothing 😉

  • Bethany July 10, 2017 at 6:02 am

    My husband is thinking a watering plus heat combo for the small vegetables. Is it too hot and are you watering during the heat? It can burn them. Our zucchini is going crazy as well! We are also getting soooo many cucumbers this year!

  • Erin July 10, 2017 at 6:07 am

    I’m sure they aren’t a cute problem to have, but being from NJ, I am quite fascinated at the armadillo problem. I’ve never seen one in person and had no idea they were so plentiful in TX!

    • Mix and Match Mama July 10, 2017 at 6:11 am

      Ha! Yeah, they’re a pain. I haven’t seen any this year, but last year, I caught them in our yard/on our driveway several times.

    • Jaclyn Rose July 10, 2017 at 7:03 am

      In Arkansas they are EVERYWHERE! I couldn’t begin to count the number that I’ve accidentally hit at night in the road. Ick!

      I’m not a gardening expert, but I would definitely suggest jumping on a Fall Garden! Our climit (Mid-Western Arkansas) bodes well for one and I imagine with North Texas heat it would be so successful! Cabbage and potatoes, okra, squash and cucumbers… so yummy!

  • Ashleigh July 10, 2017 at 6:18 am

    If it makes you feel any better, the running joke in our family is that the only thing that my mom can keep alive at our house is kids. No plant of any sort lasts longer than a week!

  • Courtney July 10, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Hi Shay!
    We just planted/built a raised garden bed – check out my post about it here if you’d like:

    We have a relative who is a master gardener and so he came over and helped us get everything we needed. I’d say the most important thing is the four ‘ingredients’ (dirt, compost, garden soil, shells) we got to plant every in.

    Good luck! I can’t wait to read all the other tips!

    • Erin July 10, 2017 at 9:37 am

      Courtney–so glad you posted this! I’m thinking a raised bed might be just what I need to get started. Shay–great post, thank you!

      • Courtney July 10, 2017 at 8:01 pm

        Hi Erin! You’re welcome – I hope it works our for you! 🙂

  • Kelly July 10, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Hi Shay! I’m certainly to gardener. In fact my sweet 70 year old father comes over and secretly takes care of the garden when I’m not around! Haha. BUT, I do know basil! A few years ago mine looked like yours and that’s when the bees went crazy. Once it flowers and gets those long tall stems, pick off the flowers anc trim stems. I had so many bees no one could go near it and everything therefore else went unattended and died off. Good luck!!

  • Mama V @ Snowflakes & Coffeecakes July 10, 2017 at 6:23 am

    I don’t live in Texas, but just a couple of thoughts:
    1. Good garden soil is a MUST – organic compost, and Miracle Grow gardening dirt (it has little capsules that help retain moisture in your garden dirt during hot days.)
    2. Miracle Grow added when you water your garden (it attaches right to your hose) – easy peasey!
    3. More space between your plants.
    4. Frequent weeding and dead-heading.
    5. Plant anything with big vines in its own space – things like zucchini, cukes, summer squash and pumpkins will take over your garden if you give them a start! (We actually had decorative gourds that grew up the side of our garage and up a large pine tree about 30 feet – we had gourds hanging from our huge pine tree like Christmas decorations last year – it was hysterical!
    6. Water early in the morning or late at night.
    7. Let your kids plant their own mini-gardens – it will get them involved with weeding & watering and is a fun family project!
    Photo from my garden last year – it was on steroids!

    Love your blog!
    Mama V

  • Lizzie @ This Happy Life July 10, 2017 at 6:26 am

    I’m having some of the same problems so I’m excited to look through the comments!

  • Carly July 10, 2017 at 6:28 am

    so interesting that my garden in Maryland and my moms in New Jersey are having the exact. Same. Problem. Looking forward to reading everyone’s tips

  • Kate Treadway July 10, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Hey Shay a few thoughts;

    on your strawberries, it could be a pest problem. If you had a ton and they are gone now it’s likely a bunny. If you harvested a bunch and they haven’t repopulated it can either be 1. you’re missing pollinators and you need to bring some bees to your garden by attracting them with flowers they like, or 2. You happened to o get a variety that yields a single crop in June rather than an ever bearing kind.

    Your basil really needs to be pruned. You’ve let it go to flower and you want to trim those off asap. You can look up on Pinterest or YouTube to see where you should cut, it’s hard to describe but easy to see.

    I’m having a similar issue with my jalapenos and peppers, basically they’re taking forever because the weather just hasn’t been great for them to flourish. That said, the size issue could be over crowding. Are they very close together? It also looks like you have a pest issue eating your pepper leaves. And overall they look droopy like they need a bit more water or at least mulch to help them retain their water.

    If you’re looking for more crop, there’s a mix of Epsom salt, water and baking soda which will boost the magnesium levels in your plants and help them produce more. 1 gallon of water, 1 tbsp Epsom, 1 tbsp baking soda. You can use it every 4 weeks.

  • Karen July 10, 2017 at 6:30 am

    I second the comment about the soil. It’s so important! “Farmacology” is a great book to read. Add some organic compost and organic soil to what you have and hopefully the second half of your summer is way better than the first half.

  • Janette @ The 2 Seasons July 10, 2017 at 6:49 am

    Although I only have an herb garden, I know the answer to your strawberry question. They only produce once a season. Hope this helps. Love your blog!

  • Jessica July 10, 2017 at 6:54 am

    I’m in the Boston area and the same is happening with my garden. I know it sounds strange but I’ve been told to use Epsom Salt and it’s worked for me in the past. The bag usually tells how much and how often. Good luck!

  • Sheaffer Sims July 10, 2017 at 6:56 am

    I wish I had a clue. I do know that fresh tomatoes sliced thick with a little bit of salt and pepper are one of my favorite things to eat. #keepthatinmindplease

  • Melinda Donley July 10, 2017 at 7:05 am

    I’ve been gardening for years in southern Kansas and here are my thoughts…
    1. Strawberries only produce once or twice a season depending on your variety. June bearing ones produce a big crop all at once (usually in may up here) and ever bearing will produce twice (a big crop in the spring and a small crop in the fall). So your strawberries are possibly done until next year 🙂
    2. Peppers require lots of water and magnesium for large fruit. Spray them with Epsom salts every 10 days. I always add Epsom salt in my planting hole when I plant them.
    3. Sounds like the zucchini had too much nitrogen and a pollination problem.

    Gardening is an experiment every year! Keep notes and have fun! Also I wrote a big post on my gardening techniques a couple months ago if you’re interested 🙂

  • Erin July 10, 2017 at 7:15 am

    I have a question about reading! 🙈 I LOVE your book review posts. Do you read actual print books or on a tablet?

  • Narci Dreffs July 10, 2017 at 7:22 am

    These ladies are all so helpful!! Sounds like you have some great tips!

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt July 10, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I am not a garden expert but I do know that it’s important to have your soil tested to see what nutrients you have or are lacking. Then you can know exactly what you should be feeding your garden for it to prosper, and you’ll know if your soil is either acidic or basic. My husband had our soil tested while we were building our home in order to see what type of plants to plant, but I know the same applies for gardens. Hope that helps!

  • Sonia Limon July 10, 2017 at 7:28 am

    My sister swears by adding the egg shells from breakfast to her soil (almost daily), just crushes them up with the left over membrane that’s in the inside and her plants flourish! Its great protein and plaint food! And I agree with someone above who said your plants need room to grow….if they are too close together you will have small roots and small results.

  • Renee H July 10, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Strawberries do not produce all summer. The strawberry season is basically over, as it doesn’t last very long. We live in McKinney as well, as mine are not really producing any longer. We didn’t get much this year, as it was our first year, the first year they don’t produce as much either. We picked strawberries this year from a farm not too far, Good Earth Organic strawberry farm in Celeste. You can call him as ask for advice as well, and lots of strawberries. It didn’t look like you had a ton of tomatoes/ In the fall my dad said to plant Australian peas, you do not eat them, they just provide lots of nitrogen for the soil. Let them grow all winter, and then cut them off in the spring and what is left till them into the soil for next year. I am doing to do this for next year. He did it and his plants are numerous this year. Also, I think that we have had a lot of rain this summer. The espom salt works really well for the bell peppers. Hope some of this helps.

  • Beth Miller July 10, 2017 at 7:34 am

    You must start with a good soil! We have raised beds and use an organic soil/compost mix we get from a local nursery so there are no harmful chemicals. Stay away from MiracleGrow if you don’t want chemicals in your veggies. If you get a good soil, you won’t need to feed. Strawberries stop growing once the temps creep up. Too much water is also a problem. We try to let rain water our veggies and only water them if it’s been 3-4 days since rain. Hope you get some good suggestions!

  • Tiffany July 10, 2017 at 7:36 am

    There a variius types of strawberry plants out there. Some yeild fruit in a cluster in early summer, and then stop, while others produce a smaller crop, but do it all summer long. It sounds like maybe you have the first variety. As for your zuccs, and even your tomato plants, if you pinch off some of the runners early, your plant will remain more manageable, and can also focus its “energy” on producing fewer, but nicer produce, rather than (too) many smaller fruits or veggies. Hope this helps!

  • Dawn July 10, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I don’t have much advice, but here in Chicago, my veggies are growing so crazy slow also! I usually have ton stuff of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers by now. We’ve only gotten two banana peppers, green tomatoes, and very tiny cucumbers just starting to grow.
    My only advice about the zucchini is maybe try a vertical garden? My husband made one this year for us bc we always have a problem with our squash and cucumbers taking over. You can look up vertical gardens on Pinterest and there are tons of ideas.

  • Amy S July 10, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Last year for some reason we didn’t have enough bees pollinating our zucchini, so we actually would go out and pollinate them ourselves. Lol! It worked!

  • Dawn July 10, 2017 at 7:43 am

    I should also add that we use a mix of mushroom compost, and planting soil in our garden. My plants are HUGE, but just very slow to produce veggies

  • Elizabeth Stephens July 10, 2017 at 7:44 am

    My in-laws grow strawberries and I think they just have a season. We get nice strawberries for May and early June and then they are done. They come back the next year though. Although I think every three years, they dig them up and plant again.

  • Angela Ellingson July 10, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Kuddos to you for even attempting a garden! #goals We live in an apartment now so I keep saying we’ll do one when we get a house. Can’t wait!

  • June Pope July 10, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Shay, I’m from NC and here the strawberries only bloom and produce berries once a year. Usually in May. This could be because they don’t like the heat but I think they are just seasonal. Someone correct me if I’m wrong!

  • Brooke July 10, 2017 at 7:52 am

    Did you have any strawberries growing? Birds are very sneaky and will snatch each and every one, so if you see berries growing make sure to keep the birds away. One thing I do for my tomatoes is to “prune” them. Basically any vine that does not have fruit on them at the base of the plant I will snip off. So my plants will be bare other than all the tomatoes growing at the bottom. Just thin them out. All those nutrients will go to growing tomatoes instead of big leafy plants. Fertilize and cut everything back.

  • Laura @ Laura Likes Design July 10, 2017 at 7:53 am

    I’m just starting to get into “gardening” aka planting a few things in pots on my windowsill. I’m hoping to have a little garden once we move to our new house, though! Loved reading these tips and tricks to store away for next summer!

  • Beth July 10, 2017 at 8:02 am

    I suggest getting a soil sample before ad ending your soil. Your local County Extension Office can help you with this as well as answer your questions. They will know about problems in your area.

  • Megan July 10, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Strawbwerries are usually just an early summer plant.. they will produce fruit then and then not during the hot summer months. I use Miracle Gro on my garden.
    Good luck!

  • Tracie July 10, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Dallas has two great resources – Neil Sperry (lives in McKinney!) and The Dirt Doctor, Howard Garret. Buy Garret Juice at a local nursery for a natural, organic plant food.

  • Angela July 10, 2017 at 8:15 am

    I”m no super-gardener either but live in Texas outside of Houston and was told I needed to “cross-pollinate” my zucchini for them, by taking a q- tip and touching the middle of all of the flowers (acting like you’re the bee) every few days- ours did well when we did that, but as for strawberries- we’ve never had luck 🙁 I’ve heard they’re VERY hard to grow! Good Luck!

  • Andrea July 10, 2017 at 8:16 am

    There is some mixture i saw on pinterest with epson salt you spray on plant to help them thrive. Try testing your soil thou. May need to add something to it depending on acidity, etc. Some years ours is the same too depending on weather. We have had lots of rain but limited sun.

  • Danielle Rigg July 10, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Hi…so I have been gardening since I was little. However being on then East coast, I may not be able to answer all your questions. This year, my husband built me a raised garden bed. Our garden has already been so much better then previous years. We went 100% organic. We filled with organic garden soil and also mixed with garden manure (cow poop). We bought it in a bag, its mixed in with some soil but is very low order. I SWEAR this is a trick. If you use it in the garden the plants really blossom. We also use organic vegetable, fruit feed by Nature’s Care. The soil is by them too.
    As for zucchini, you need lots of room. Part of my garden looks empty, so that they can branch out. I always make sure they are away from my tomatoes and peppers.
    For strawberries, I have found these tips helped me.
    Good Luck! Let me know if you have any other questions, would love to help. Love talking garden talk. Lol

  • Brenda July 10, 2017 at 8:22 am

    We talked to our garden shop about planting strawberries this year & they told us they carried one variety that only produced in June & another kind that had produced several small batches throughout the summer.

  • Melissa July 10, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Hey! I think the problem with your zucchini is that you’re lacking pollinators. Bees aren’t doing very well right now–maybe you’ve seen something about it on the news? Anyway, zucchini and squash need to be cross pollinated to produce “fruit”. You can plant flowers that will attract bees, and a more immediate solution would be to take a little paintbrush and brush a little of each flower’s powder onto all the other flowers. This is manual pollination, and could be fun for your kids! You also might need to get more nutrient-rich soil.

    I hope that helps!

  • Sandy July 10, 2017 at 8:28 am

    I didn’t try this year/ I try squash and zucchini and keep failing. I do know they need bees to actually produce a crop. I read a lot one summer and tried to pollinate them myself. I suggest when they start growing pull a couple out to allow more room. As for peppers, I think they do better when it is hot. I had them all the way into November last year.

  • marianne July 10, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Strawberries have a very short season. May and part of June then they are done.

  • Robyn Beasley July 10, 2017 at 8:42 am

    I don’t garden, but my MIL does. She swears by good old fashioned horse manure ( which we have plenty of)… my husband spread in in our front yard after we had a few trees removed, and low and behold, we had grass there’re the next year. Good Luck with your garden!

  • Jennifer Terrell July 10, 2017 at 9:01 am

    For your basil (only if you want it to grow more), cut the flower parts off on top. Pioneer Woman taught me that and it works like a charm. Plus it makes it look better.

  • Meg July 10, 2017 at 9:05 am

    Check out Pinterest for how to prune basil. Letting it go to flower can make it taste bitter and will eventually kill it. It’s hard to describe where to cut it when you prune but there are lots of pictures on Pinterest!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick July 10, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I’m no help at all. I have a very black thumb. I can’t even manage to keep the flowers next to our front door alive for more than a month. But I bet it’s bunnies eating your strawberries! And just FYI, I recently started eating tomatoes after hating them for my entire life and now I can’t get enough. Just sayin’. 😉

    That Inspired Chick

  • Clare Coleman July 10, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I was a horticulture minor at A&M and live in McKinney now 🙂

    Strawberries: how are your pots irrigated? Did you put rocks at the bottom or just dirt? With alllllll the rain we’ve gotten in McKinney lately it could be that there’s too much moisture in the soil and can’t escape causing the roots poor nutrients.

    Also this season was very different from normal seasons so if you notice that your veggies are growing differently from years past that’s most likely why!

  • Sarah Bran July 10, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I’m a very novice gardener – but I’ll share my tips. I’m in a suburb of Houston, so our climates are not that different!
    1 – Don’t let the basil flower! Keep the tops trimmed and the flavor will be much richer – otherwise I’ve heard it turns bitter.
    2 – I lay an organic compost once per year on my garden – and that seems to work well!
    3 – Amazon sells a product called ‘fish emulsion’ – It’s a (very smelly) feed/fertilizer for all types of plants. I dilute this with water and lay it all over my yard/garden/plants and it works wonders!

    • Diana July 10, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      I second fish fertilizer. Recommended to me by my 83 year old Grandpa!

  • Emily July 10, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Hi, Shay!

    My guess to your small, underproducing plants is that they need thinned out. Just pull out the weakest plants. Each plant should have a good 6-10″ all the way around it. Then, you know your plants have enough nutrients from the soil. If you want to add nutrients (which looks like a good idea), I use this: I live in the north, so I don’t think it’s your cooler Texas temps- it’s still hotter there than here! 🙂 Good luck!

  • Malani Vega July 10, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Hey Shay!! I’m in NO way a gardener, bitIm dealing with the same issue’s with strawberries! I’m 4 hours outside the Dallas area, in Mena Ar and I believe it’s due to the weather this year. Also you need to snip off the flower bids on top of your basil. I have friends who garden and they always have such a huge success with Fa gardens not sure of you have tried that. Good luck!! Xo

  • Stacy July 10, 2017 at 9:49 am

    I am having similar problems with our garden this year, and a friend who is a much more experienced gardener told me that I should get my soil tested. Apparently you can order a test in the mail and send it in, and they will analyze it and tell you exactly how to properly feed your soil.

  • Jocelyn Monge July 10, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Hi Shay! I manage a garden center in Northern Wisconsin so this post is right in my wheelhouse!!

    Don’t use Miracle Grow fertilizer….try Osmocote! Its a natural, non-toxic fertlizer that is great for the edibles! Anything that has the numbers 12-12-12 or 14-14-14 would be perfect!

    As for the strawberries, the heat will help but so will some of the Osmocote! Its the best thing you can do for your vegetable/herb/fruit gardens!!

    Prune your basil a bit, it will help it stay in control!

    Hope this helps!!


  • Erin July 10, 2017 at 10:26 am

    I have done a garden the last two years, but didn’t this year due to having a baby and we are building a house, so I knew I wouldn’t have time to water. With that said, in my past gardens, I only fed my plants coffee grounds and egg shells. It was free, and we had plenty of those as my husband makes his own cold brew in the summer. I think you can get used coffee grounds at Starbucks too, I just never have.

  • Alyssa July 10, 2017 at 10:52 am

    I was just at Starbucks this past weekend and they had a basket out of baggies of free coffee grounds for your garden. There was a cute label on them and everything that explained how they deter pests and fertilize your veggies. I’m giving it a try! Plus, I thought it was awesome that Starbucks was reusing their grounds in a great way!

  • Francie July 10, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I’m actually in the same boat! I just starting growing a veggie garden and I’m as confused as ever.

  • Susan July 10, 2017 at 11:04 am

    I also live in the Dallas area and my strawberries are growing better than any other year we’ve grown them. I have only used Miracle Grow and a little Epsom salt this year. My tomatoes, on the other hand, quit producing a month ago. Maybe we need to garden together to get both? ha! I agree with the post above- pinch off the top of your basil to keep it growing longer. I’m sure you have a great nursery full of knowledgeable people near McKinney, but if not, call Herb at Covington’s in Rowlett. He is seriously a gardening genius. Good luck!

  • Bridgette July 10, 2017 at 11:08 am

    I compost our kitchen scraps year round in our vegetable garden. I compost all food scraps including egg shells, coffee grounds and tea bags. I do not compost any meat, though. I don’t do anything fancy, just bury the food in the beds and cover it with soil. The food breaks down and leaves nutrition in the soil, so I never have to amend it with any type of fertilizers. During the growing months, I take our leftover egg shells, rinse them and leave them on the counter to dry. I then crush them and sprinkle the egg shells around the roots of all my vegetables. This will not only help supply calcium, but helps to keep critters like slugs from crawling up the plants. It is my understanding that watering in the early morning is the best to allow the standing water that may accumulate on leaves to dry, which helps avoid moisture issues. Trellis all plants that are vines to allow for air flow and to decrease the odds of them taking over your garden.

  • Ranisa Brletich July 10, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Have you done a soil test? It will tell you what you need? I remember hearing something about never planting tomatoes in the same place year after year? I could be wrong though. It sure would be fun to take a mini gardening class with your kiddos. The library or a nursery might offer one.

  • Liz July 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I always make sure I amend my soil with an organic fertilizer prior to planting. The one I use is called Dr. Earth, and it has probiotics in it so the good bacteria multiply. I would go to a local nursery ( not a lowe’s or Home Depot type) and ask what they recommend. I think Miracle grow gives great results, but it has chemicals if that is important to you for something you are going to eat. I wonder if you need new strawberry plants? Some varieties only produce once a season, and some will produce a couple of times a season. Best of luck!!

  • Emily July 10, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Strawberry season is pretty much over… Once strawberries bloom, they don’t produce anymore… If you want more strawberries, be cautious of the heat (they don’t like it too hot!) and replant 🙂

    As for your other veggies – it’s ALLLLLL about soil!! If you’re using the same soil as last year, chances are that’s your problem. Be weary of nitrogen-rich soils and fertilizers because too much nitrogen will make your plant grow like crazy, but not bloom (essentially if you think about it, your veggies are your plant’s version of it’s own personal circle of life — they reproduce (bloom) and they feel they’ve done their job, so they die (picking the veggies before they fully bloom is our version of ‘tricking’ them in to continuing the cycle — if you continue to ‘grow’ the plant, it’s getting TOO much of what it needs and will just grow instead of starting the process to “die”… if that makes sense lol) If you know any farmers around that would let you take some livestock ‘waste’ off their hands, that’s an excellent way to nourish the soil!

    As for your peppers, make sure you aren’t fertilizing them at.all. – they don’t like nitrogen. Bell peppers need even warmer weather than tomatoes to produce well, and even with the weather, bell peppers are more slow growing!

    Like everyone else said, be sure you’re plucking off the flowers on your basil or it’ll lose it’s taste!

  • Tina July 10, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I’m no help with the garden, but I’m so excited about the weekend post on Wednesday! I was just thinking yesterday how I wish you could do a day in the life post on a typical church going Sunday.☺️ For some reason, that seems to be the hardest day of the week to get children ready and on time! My house can be perfectly in order…until Sunday morning. It’s upside down by the time we leave.😆 I would LOVE to see how you manage your Sundays and prep for beginning your week.

  • Kristin July 10, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Shay! I love love love your blog and your sweet family! My dad is a master gardener and here are my 2cents:
    Strawberries: no idea
    Peppers are a little tricky, my dad says they take twice as much water as tomatoes so if they are on the same water cycle as your tomatoes you may need to send your littles out to do some extra watering.
    Basil: prune those flowers asap! While pruning you could save the leaves and do some yummy pesto recipes! (Have you read the forest feast by Erin Gleason? It’s amazing cookbook from her own farm to table, a must read!)
    Zucchini needs to be cross pollinated it was probably growing so big searching for a pollinator.
    Good luck! I’d love to see what you cook up from your garden!

    • Kristin July 10, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Oh, I forgot to mention that I like to use an organic fish or bat guano fertilizer ( lots of options on amazon) . It smells terrible but it is safe to be around kids and pets and safe to eat. Miracle Grow has a lot of chemicals that will be absorbed into your food. Something to think about.

  • Barbara Parnell July 10, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    From my own experience:
    1-strawberries,depending on the variety, may only give you one large crop a year. That is most likely what happened,though birds and critters may be enjoying the fruit, but most likely ,the plant is done for the year.
    2-pinch the flowery tops off of the basil to keep it growing.
    3- Peppers grow slowly,just the nature of the beast,especially bell peppers.
    4- I use Jobe’s organic fertilizer. You can also crush your eggshells and add them to your garden for extra calcium.
    5-Pollinators are very important,so planting flowers,or lavender that will attract bees,buuterflies,etc to your veggie patch is always a good idea.
    6-When watering,try to water at ground level as opposed to overhead.
    7- zucchini and squash need a lot of space,so if you don’t have the space,you are better off not planting htem.
    Don’t give up..keep at it. A little tender love and care goes a long way. Good luck!!

  • Melody July 10, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Shay! I’m no garden pro, but have been doing it every year since I was a little girl…As far as strawberries go- I’ve tried to grow them with no luck- but I had heard that because they are winter plants, they don’t do well during this time of year. Maybe that’s why they are slowing down for you lately?
    Zucchinis (and cucumbers always pose this problem for me as well. Because they grow out (instead of up) they can’t be close to other plants like tomatoes and things like that. I’ve had better luck putting my zucchini in a separate pot, and not planted alongside my other vegetables.

  • Angelique July 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    This post makes me (1) sad I didn’t plant a garden in our new-ish home this past spring and (2) inspired to plant a fall garden as a previous poster recommended to you above. I have zero gardening skills, though, so I’ll have to come back here then and refresh my memory with all these tips! Thanks for going off topic today!

  • Jamie July 10, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I only read the first half of the comments – but didn’t see anyone else mentioning the flowers! Your plants won’t necessarily put the growing energy into the right part of the plant, so you need to do it for them through pruning. Tomato plants will continue to flower throughout the summer, and lose a lot of their energy to flowering and growing tons of tiny tomatoes instead of fewer big fruits. oinvh off he excess buds. Same with other plants, pinch off the excess flowers on your squash, and you can even snip the leaves as long as you leave enough to get the right amount of sun. Depending on the plant, there’s a certain number of leaves per item you are growing. Lots of great comments about soil though- so depending on your location you need to be careful. Ask someone at your local greenhouse what your area specific needs are.

  • Kim July 10, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Our garden didn’t do well this year either. We live in Florida, and I think this year has just been too hot! BUT our eggplant has somehow survived! We put Seven Dust on our plants to keep the bugs away, and use the Miracle Grow garden fertilizer to feed it. When we start our garden every year we also get new compost and soil and mix it up and then our veggies are just HUGE!

  • Dana July 10, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I lived in north Dallas for years and my friend’s mom who was an avid gardener said about 10 years ago she started having problems (she lives in Richardson) At the time when we spoke about it, she suspected that the bees were being killed by the mosquito spraying. Do you notice bees around your plants? If nothing is getting pollinated you will not have a crop. Just a thought! The basil is beautiful!

  • Cheryl Freiburg July 10, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    For zucchini and melons, definitely pollinate yourselves instead of waiting for the bees to do. You can do from flowers from the same plant. When the female flowers open, take one of the male flowers (with the anthers in the middle) and rub that on all the female flowers as soon as they open and you’ll get some squash/melons! You can tell the female flowers b/c they have what looks like a baby fruit behind the flower. My husband (the gardener in the family) actually said to me one summer “I successfully impregnated some cantaloupes the other day.” {long pause as I stare at him like he’s crazy.} “I shook the male flowers over the female flowers and it took.” File that under things I never expected my husband to say! LOL!

  • Kara July 10, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Even though we’ve been “cooler” than normal for Texas, I think it’s too hot for the strawberries. Once it cools back off, say October, they might start producing again.

  • Tatiana Low July 10, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Shay! wondering if you guys feed your soil after every planting season and rotate crops to replenish the nutrients? It looks like maybe overall you just need to give these babies a little boost. I SWEAR by Alaskas Fish Emulsion 5-1-1. I have tried so many different types of feeding (store bought and homemade), and since most gardening is just trial an error, and since different plants can be moody and want different things, I could never quite guess the right combo. BUT after trying this fish emulsion, I will never use anything again! I use it on veggies, herbs, flowers- everything! Its a concentrate, so you mix with water to dilute, and can both water with it and spray on foliage. If diluted correctly, it will not burn your plants like alot of other commercial fertilizers do. Fish fertilizer contains a lower concentration of nutrients than traditionally processed fertilizers, which means the nutrients are released into the soil slowly and the effects last longer. It is great for taking out the guesswork and giving your garden an overall happy drink! It is also super inexpensive. I usually get mine over at Lowes or Walmart. They have it on Amazon too: PS, its a little smelly at first, so make sure the wind is blowing the right way when you apply- HA! I learned that the hard way 🙂 But the smell does dissipate after a couple of hours. Hope this helps you get a little more freshness out of your garden!

  • Katie Allred July 10, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Rotating crops is very important, did you move where you plant things? Different plants use different nutrients that’s why you need to rotate. Also we always add compost every year, just till it right in…

  • Linda Z July 10, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    A few years ago, I switched from vegetable gardening to planting a big cutting flower garden and couldn’t be happier. Fresh bouquets all summer long! I plant some windowsill herbs for seasoning and pick up fresh veggies at the farm.

    Lots of good advice offered by your readers.

    Good luck~

  • Rachel July 10, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    I’m sure you know of her but check out Lara Casey. She calls herself an unlikely gardener. She started knowing nothing and now she has one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen. I believe she has an ebook all about her gardening tips 🙂

  • Christina July 10, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    Ok our zucchini did this last year. It grew a bunch and looked great, but we never really got any fruit from it. We asked around and the problem was more than likely lack of bees. We started manually pollinating our zucchini plants each day, but then it got kinda weird. 🙂 lol. It was working for awhile, and fruit would grow but we’re just not as efficient as the bees I guess. Ha! This year, we’ve planted more flowers and I’ve seen more bees around, but our zucchini died b/c of pests that ate at all the leaves until they died. It is suppose to be one of the easiest veggies to grow, but we haven’t had much luck yet. My friend here grows zucchinis that are a couple feet long! I’ll try again next year. Good luck to ya!

  • Heather Bramlett July 10, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    So glad you posted this! My little garden started off doing really well and now nothing. However, we have had TONS of rain here in Georgia, so I’m not sure if that’s it. I do need to pick up some Miracle Grow. Can’t wait to read all the comments.

  • Ginger July 10, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    We are in Texarkana and have the same climate as you! Mix planter dirt and potting soil. Plant far enough apart. Don’t over water!!!! That’s what most people don’t realize is you Can actually over water your veggies. They will stay small and split and even rot!
    Plant marigolds around the inside of your garden (in the corners and a few between) it will keep the bugs out! You got this!!

  • Nadine July 10, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Hi Shay, You may want to check out a blog that I love by Lara Casey ( She creates these things called “Power Sheets”; however, she has become an “unlikely gardener” (in her words). She has a free Gardening 101 e-book. She is a very encouraging and inspiring Christian woman. She lives in North Carolina so maybe the gardening tips may need to be tweaked for Texas. (I don’t garden and any plant I buy dies quickly. 🙂 )

  • Amanda Yap-Choong July 10, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    I’m looking forward to this stage in life. I’m currently gardenless and staring at my African violet on my desk at work, which has NEVER flowered (and African Violet’s are supposed to be full proof ha!). You ladies are incredible! 🙂 xx

  • Beth July 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Your strawberries could be June bearing. Which means you will only get fruit in June. If you want berries all summer you need to get ever bearing plants.

  • Ruth July 10, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    I have no gardening tips, but where I live the joke is lock your car doors at church or someone might sneak you some zucchini. It really can take over everything.

  • Alexandra Yuen July 10, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    We plant a garden every year and I came across some of he same issues your having and this is what we did and it helped….
    Strawberries will not produce fruit all summer long! They will have fruit at the beginning of summer and that’s pretty much it.
    Zucchini gets out of control and needs a lot of room. What you can do, is cut off some of the really big leaves so all the energy goes into making the vegetable. We do his often when the leaves get out of control.
    Tomotoes like frequent watering in the evening or early morning. Direct sunlight is also a must.
    Certain plants may not produce big tomotoes.
    I always use the miracle grow fertilizers for my plants and flowers!

    Gardening is so much fun and rewarding!
    Good luck!!

  • Erin Port July 10, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    My question is how to keep my cilantro growing all summer long????? Once it flowers, it goes kaput. We had a cold snap and then CRAZY heat in the midwest with little rain. It’s been kind of hard on the plants and stunted their growth. We have tons of green tomatoes but NONE are turning. We are upping the water game to see if that helps! I also heard to take the V of every tomato plant and snap that stem off in the middle of the V to help promote fruit growth instead of plant growth! xoxo ERIN

  • Liz Hentges July 11, 2017 at 9:18 am

    What works for me in my garden is to get in the car, turn it on, and drive to the produce section of HEB. It thrives year round! It helps to have a cart and your wallet too! 🙂 Sorry, I have a black thumb and can’t be of any help here. I kill potted flowers on my patio. Sad but true.

    • Mix and Match Mama July 11, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      This made me LOL!

  • Chrsi8tine July 11, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Good Morning, A few things cold be the problem here. Not enough nutrients in the soil could be the problem, we use mushroom soil in our garden, straight mushroom soil, but you could mix it in with your soil. We never have to fertilize when we use mushroom soil. Could be the heat and dryness too. Im in PA and not familiar with TX weather conditions but my best bet would be to talk with people from your area to get a better idea how plants react to your weather conditions. Your local garden center may be helpful 🙂

    • Chrsi8tine July 11, 2017 at 10:33 am

      and yes, zucchinis are huge… you just need to account for that when planting them…

    • Dana July 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      I’ve had trouble finding mushroom soil since moving south 🙁 Former PA person here! Apparently it’s from former coal mines now used to grow mushrooms and is kind of regional!

  • Emily July 11, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    If it ends up being the weather, just send them all down here to Austin. I think its been sooo hot this summer!

  • Colleen July 11, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Okay, so I have lots of thoughts on this. I live in Fort Worth so I am dealing with all same weather issues as you are.

    1. Strawberries – they produce in April through beginning of June. Once the real heat hits, they stop producing. But don’t pull them up. Strawberries will normally produce a lot more their second year.

    2. Feeding the garden – Compost (which you can buy bagged). Ideally, you mix it with the dirt before you plant. On the other hand, after I have planted, I will dig a hole kind of in between the plants and add a scoop in there about every 6 weeks or so. You don’t want it right on the plant roots because compost can burn them. But compost before you plants go in will make a HUGE difference. The darker your soil the better. You can also kind of make your own compost with banana peels, eggshells, coffee grinds, peach pits, dried leaves, etc. Extras – for any flowering plants, I throw my coffee grounds in the soil every day, just right on top. Same thing with eggshells. As far as commercial plant food, I use Vegetable Miracle Grow about every 6 weeks from April – June and then again in September – October. I don’t do too much in July and August because it is just so hot here and I’m nervous that the feed will burn the plants.

    3. Zucchini – you may not have enough bees that are cross – pollinating. So anything you can do to add more flowering plants to the mix, the better. Or you can google how to DIY cross-pollinate.

    4. Depending on when you planted, the heat may be affecting the peppers. That said, don’t pull them up because you will mostly get a good harvest in the fall when the heat lets up. I get some of my best peppers that last week of October. Also, good compost will help with the size of the vegetables.

    Other thoughts…
    Looking at your basil plants, it is time to make pesto! If you cut the basil back so that you are leaving at least 5 leaves on the main stalk, then it will grow back and give you 2-3 more harvests before November. We make pesto all the time and then freeze it in meal sized portions. I use it on chicken, pasta, and even in soups all during the winter. It’s so yummy!

    With tomatoes, I also recommend that you pinch off any sucker growth. Suckers are the little stems/leaves that grow in the center of stems that make a V shape. If you google “tomato suckers” that will make more sense. Tomatoes are also water hogs. So you are getting a good crop because we have had such a wet summer so far.

    As for person that asked about cilantro… Cilantro is like dill and hates heat. So for those in Texas, we can only plant it in the spring and fall. But if you let the plant go to seed, don’t pull it up, and let it die off on its own, you will have little cilantro babies all over the place when the heat goes away. If you like that idea, then perfect! If you don’t, then let it flower and then collect the seeds off the plant and put them in an envelope to plant for next year.

    Sorry for such a long post. Hope it helps!

  • Emily K July 11, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Love all the comments and tips. Never knew about Epsom salt for peppers! As for strawberries, looks like you have some goid advice but my question would be is this the right season for them in Texas? I grew up in FL and strawberries there are harvested in February so just a thought.

  • Dana July 11, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Your soil likely needs amendments like calcified lime (cheap at Lowes) or egg shells. Strawberries are likely done producing this year and definitely snip your basil more often so it doesn’t flower (use it for hygge if you can’t cook with it all!).

  • Linda F July 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    I’m having problem #1 with my strawberry plants too. Following for comments. 🙁

  • Detroit Duchess July 24, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    These are great tips! I bought my husband a Meyer Lemon Tree for our fourth anniversary (the fruits and flowers theme) which was two years ago and it’s a wonder I’ve been able to keep it alive. It did grow one little lemon but something (I’m guessing a deer) ate it when I put it outside this year. I’ve been curious about repotting it and I probably need to get some Miracle Gro. It is growing new branches this year and seems fairly healthy. My husband started calling it our lemon twig…haha! I’m just happy I haven’t killed it yet. If I could get it to produce some lemons that would be a big accomplishment.