I've been looking at photos from the past few weeks, especially since I found some recently on my Facebook page from last year at almost exactly this time, and well....I really have to pat my husband and I on the back.
This is what really made the impact.
The left side was from last year.  No compost, no raised beds, No compost tea, no extra soil. Nothing.
This year we've added raised beds, extra soil, extra compost, compost tea, vermicompost and bonemeal along with loads and loads of backbreaking work.
So I guess I cannot attribute all of our success to the compost tea.  However, the tomato plants in our planters are doing awesome!
We have diligently been following a schedule of compost tea one week, miracle grow fertilizer the next.
The end result?
Can you believe this!?  What amazing growth!

Next is our tomato and eggplant/pepper beds.  Again just really awesome growth here.  We've been out here almost nightly now so it's easy to miss how the plants are growing so well, but when we see the pictures, see the documented growth, well it's just amazing.  Last year we had horrible progress.  We did get tomatoes, a few bell peppers, and a LOT of cucumbers but that was it.
All the hard work is starting to pay off and we haven't started harvesting from the veggies yet!  It makes me think that by the time August rolls around I will become EXTREMELY ANNOYED at the sight of a tomato, bell pepper, eggplant or tomatillo.
Or for that matter a winter squash.   That leads me onto another, rather humorous story.
We started Marina di Chioggia seeds really early.  I think we actually started them in mid February.  By the time we moved the seedlings out they weren't doing that bad.  Reasonably well I'd say.
Well, after we moved them outside they really didn't look happy.  In fact, we thought they were going to die, so we threw extra seeds outside in the same area just in case they didn't survive.
This is what we found recently.
The larger two in the middle were the ones we planted originally.  The seedlings.
 However, surprise. The seedling survived and on top of that we now have one extra near one seedling.
Another one next to another seedling came up, and then one extra Marina di Chioggia that isn't even in this picture came up as well.  Five!  Five Marina di Chioggias!  What in the world are we going to do with five, frickin Marina di Chioggia plants!!!!!  To coin a phrase from a friend of mine "OMG!" These plants get really big and we only have the somewhat medium sized area for them.  I'm almost thinking I should construct a tower of sorts however the fruit of the Marina di Chioggia tends to be a bit heavy so it cannot support its own weight like that.  I have no clue what we're going to do here, other than kill whichever one seems to be the weakest.

Still, hubby and I both hate to kill a plant.  We prefer to give it away rather than kill it.
By the way this is what the fruit of a Marina di Chioggia looks like.
I read this past winter from both books and other gardeners out there who have grown this winter squash that it is an absolutely delicious squash to grow.  Great for making gnocchi or raviolis or even better, just roasted whole.

Next comes our Blue Hubbard.  If you remember right, I was moved by that horrible impulse to purchase a plant simply because I wanted this poor, homeless plant to have a home filled with warmth, love, and food.  Well, it's taken advantage of that I'd say!
It now is starting to crawl, rather rapidly I'd say, up our little fence for it, all the while crowding out the Burgundy Okra and anything else it comes across.  Little did I know it would grow THIS big.
Still, I'm proud of it like a Mom is proud of her child.  It's thriving, strong, and obviously happy.
Just a FYI on squash by the way.  Squash produce 2 sorts of flowers.  One is the male set, one is the female.  The female flowers are obviously the ones that bear the fruit or vegetable.  I have some pictures here to help tell the difference.  Now the  nice thing about any of the squash family of plants is that you get to get TWO harvests if you're lucky.  One is the actual fruit and the other is the squash blossoms.  If you missed the blog I had about this yummy treat you can find it here.  Just remember first and foremost, do NOT harvest the females. After all, this is what is going to produce your much loved fruit/veggie!  Next, leave some males flowers behind.  Remember SEX ED 101?  A female needs a male to become pregnant?  Well same rule applies in nature.  A Female flower can't produce without a male.
This is a female flower.  See the bulb underneath the flower?  It's a circular, almost ball like growth under the flower.  Amazingly enough we have about FOUR of these on our plant!  I self fertilized the first one today.  I think it may be too early but I figured it was worth the shot.  We have plenty of wonderful food(compost tea, vermicompost tea, miracle grow) for this wonderful plant so I'd like to see what happens if we continually feed this plant like this?  Will it produce massive fruitings?  

These are male flowers.  It is completely normal for any type of squash to produce these for a while at first.  Think of this period as a maturation of your squash plant.  This can last anywhere between a week to three weeks for ANY type of squash.
When you start seeing female flowers you know that either
A) your plant is now mature enough to produce offspring(aka fruit)
B) your plant is receiving enough nutrients to push it into producing faster.  Not always good, hence why I was telling my husband that our little baby is too young to be producing so many female flowers.  Must be, yet again, the compost tea.
Now, that all being said, I have a feeling I'll be grabbing a few of these males later on tomorrow and frying them up with a bit of cheese, breading and oil for a super special treat!

So, onto the next bit. Catching up on the front yard.  Today we learned the front yard is horrible sandy and dry.  We deeply watered first thing this morning and by mid afternoon it was dry as a bone.
 Obviously we need to work on this.  In the meanwhile we purchased some extra soil to amend the soil near our door as well as a flat of Impatiens.  Okay.  I got IMPATIENT.  I planted impatien seeds about two weeks ago and they never came up.  Or maybe they did but they never got to a hight I could see them at.  Who knows.  All I do know was I never saw them.
We selected a flat that had mostly pink, some white and even some bright orangey red flowers.
Now if you've never grown impatiens you'll be surprised to find out they seed themselves quite efficiently.
Just like a squash producing a female flower, impatiens produce when conditions have become optimal for production of offspring (fruit, vegetable, new plants, etc).  Neat thing with impatiens though is they produce like crazy and second they really have no care WHO they are reproducing with!
This provides flowers later that are weird, crazy mixtures of colors.  Imagine fuschia pink with white, or red with vibrant orange.  Or vibrant orange with pink.  Really odd yet gorgeous colors.  Sometimes it almost reminds me of a Van Gogh painting!
So this is now how our front bed looks.  We still have Blacktail Watermelon planted here, and we also planted the very last of our Twice as nice melon in here as well.  
I really hope those darn melons come up!

Last but not least is the status of our cabbage.  Obviously last year I NEVER noticed the sun, or lack thereof in our front yard.  I guess my attention was directed elsewhere, (like my backyard!) so come to find out this year that we get almost NO light in our front yard!  The dang Oak trees blot it all out!  If I could I'd chop those horrible things down however we live in military housing so we're limited on what we can do.
Still though, the cabbages and peas are doing ok.  Acceptable is a good word to describe them
I'd like to see at LEAST one harvest of cabbage from these. It would be nice at least.  Oh well, lesson learned.  Front yard gets VERY low lighting. 

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