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May. 12th, 2011



Tomato time!

The long-awaited day has finally arrived: tomato day!!!

Everything previously mentioned seems to be growing well, with no dramatic developments. (I think the poppies are finally coming up, though since I don't know what young poppies look like, I'm not 100% sure.) Today was a day of a little weeding and a lot of planting.

On the right side, beside the future bush beans, I planted little mounds of lemon cucumbers (which look amazing, so I'm really hoping they turn out!). It's on the ground that got thoroughly trampled by construction workers last year, though, so I accept that they may have trouble getting roots going. :-/ I also planted our only pepper of this year -- a Cajun Belle, which is supposed to make spicy-sweet mini-bell peppers -- and a new set of shallots, since many of the old ones were in the area that got trampled.

On the left side went the tomatoes! Starting from the right-hand side, beside the garden gate, I planted large well-formed plants of Cherokee Purple, Sun Gold (to which I am TOTALLY ADDICTED), Viva Italia (a sauce Roma tomato), and Brandy Boy (a hybrid of Brandywine). For the side fence, I bought and planted a six-pack of Early Girls, primarily for cooking/canning.

The last couple of years have made me a believer in getting large well-established plants from the local nursery; they just produce so much more fruit, so much sooner. So I went ahead and paid the premium for larger plants for all but the six-pack; Early Girls mature quickly and bear late into the fall, so I figure they have time to produce.

Yet to be planted: parsnips, pumpkins, basil plants. And finally: the first radishes are growing big enough to eat! I should start taking pictures soon.

May. 1st, 2011



Warm weather for good (I hope!)

It's the First of May (NSFW link!), and the weather is perfect for it. It's finally warm enough to start planting the warm-weather crops, though I haven't actually bought the tomato plants yet. Did a fair amount of gardening this weekend, though.

The seeds already planted are growing well. All the peas from the first round are climbing upward cheerfully, and the second round is just peeking their heads above the earth. The chervil plants are finally revealing themselves (they'd sprouted a bit ago, but looked indistinguishable from sprouting weeds) en masse, and the nasturtiums and radishes are, unsurprisingly, growing vigorously. As far as I can tell, the poppy seeds haven't come up yet, but I was warned that they take a while to germinate.

(Side note: if you want to grow a garden but are terrified that you'll kill anything, go with nasturtiums and radishes. They grow fast, look nice, taste good, and WILL NOT DIE.)

Most of this weekend's work was cleaning and trimming. I significantly trimmed back the two hedges in the front yard, so that the miniature rose bushes (which are growing happily, to my continued surprise!) can have more light. We'd never actually cleaned up all the crap from fall (leaves, weeds, dead plants, and detritus blown into the garden), and I filled up an entire lawn waste bag with it all. With the walking paths clear, G. suggested that we mulch them with the beautiful evergreen branches that I'd trimmed, which was a great idea; they look beautiful now, and hopefully will continue to do so!

Finally, I did a bit more planting. A square beside the chervil got a generous crop of cilantro, delineated by more radishes, and I planted both kinds of beans -- scarlet runner beans along the rightmost fence, which will hopefully look lovely as well as tasting good, and Gold Rush yellow bush beans in the right center, next to the poppies. At some point in the next couple of weeks I should plant cucumbers, parsnips, and blue pumpkins, but I'm not feeling too rushed. Mostly I want to get tomatoes in the ground, because I really miss the luscious sweetness of a fresh real tomato!

Apr. 10th, 2011



Spring's slow saunter

After that last day of gardening, it's been a few weeks of icky, wet, cold, blustery spring weather, including an actual snowstorm on March 31 & April 1. (Happy April Fool's!) Finally, in the last couple of days, we're starting to see real spring. There's still a decent chance that we'll get another hard frost, so I'm holding off on the warm-weather plantings and letting things rest.

Today was a quick day: planted a second set of both peas, interspersed with the first set, so we'll have a series of harvests; cleared some more areas; planted nasturtium seeds; planted garlic chives, which will hopefully grow into a perennial, next to the other perennial herbs. The radishes are poking their little leaves above ground now, which is helpful since they're my bed markers, and some of the snap peas are just barely emerging from the earth. (The English peas seem slightly behind them -- germinated, but not yet popping above ground.)

I wanted to plant beets today, but couldn't find the seed packet. Boo. :-/ Hopefully it won't be too late when I do find it.

Oh, and excellent news. We've had mixed luck with root veggies -- turnips and beets have been bitter, and carrots have been ant-ridden -- but the parsnips were large and super-sweet. Yay!

Mar. 18th, 2011



Gardening, year three, update one: springtime!

I seem to have a predictable trend: as the growing season goes on, I write fewer and fewer garden posts. Ah well. A new season is here!

It's the first really beautiful day of spring -- sunny, breezy, temperatures in the upper sixties -- so I took advantage to start gardening. First on the agenda was clearing off the pebbled bulb bed, which is always an exciting task; the more leaves and debris I cleared away, the more new leaves I could see poking out of the ground! I can't wait for the first daffodils.

Next, I moved to the right side of the garden, where our tomatoes were last year. I'd decided to rotate my crops, so this year it'll be legumes -- Sugar Snap peas, Alderman English peas, and Scarlet Runner beans. All tall enough to easily climb up the fence and beyond, unlike last year's dwarf varieties. In the shady space beside the climbing legumes, I'm planting curly chervil (which likes shade), Jarrahdale "pumpkins" (really a gorgeous gray-blue winter squash), and something-yet-to-be-determined. Today, I planted both peas and half the chervil.

The far bed on the right side is still occupied by alliums, though I may harvest and replace some of them; I'd love more shallots in particular. The middle bed has a nice big batch of breadseed poppies planted, with space for another couple of crops. Beets and/or parsnips, maybe?

The other side still has the perennial herbs (so far the thyme and savory are the only ones that actually survive the winters) and some root veggies in the ground from last year, which I need to harvest and cook with soon. I'm planning to put tomatoes around the edge, by the fence, with nasturtium beside them to ward off bugs (and be a tasty, pretty, low-maintenance treat). Finally, in the space where the root veggies are now, I'm planning to plant some Gold Rush yellow bush beans.

And, of course, I'm using radishes -- "Easter Egg Blend" this year -- to make borders between the plants.

How are your gardens coming? Any suggestions for our remaining couple of spaces?

Just for the record, on our not-growing-again list are: carrots (we have an ant/bug in the soil that loves to nest around them, and they're cheap anyway); turnips (too bitter in our soil); all leafy greens (too easy to go to seed, and not something we eat much of); broccoli (not worth it, given how much space it takes); cucumbers (too narrow of a window of warm weather to flourish); and rosemary (dies in the winter cold). Though I'm open to suggestions about overcoming those various problems!

Apr. 4th, 2010



Lots of work, lots of new growth!

Things are growing! The daffodils and narcissi are blooming, the radishes are growing quickly, and almost everything else we planted is coming up -- arugula and turnips are dotting the ground, pea shoots are poking out of the soil, and beets, carrots, and parsnips just appeared with their tiny seedlings. The miniature roses continue to flourish with leaves, and the alliums are definitively sending out lots of new growth, as is the oregano. (I'm still not sure whether the other perennial herbs survived.)

With the help of some friends, we've set up the wooden raised beds on both sides of the garden now; all that remains to be done is mulching the path on one side and adding one more wood siding (in the most inconvenient place). Now we can start planting on the south side of the garden, where the alliums already were -- more alliums (densely planted so we can harvest them quickly as new onions/shallots, not bulbs) and nasturtiums to start. All of the warm crops, like tomatoes and basil and cucumbers and peppers, will go on that side once danger of frost is over.

In the back yard, all three of the fruit bushes are doing well despite the rains, sending out lots of bushy green new leaves. We bought three more fruit trees today, since one of the backyard's main trees will be coming down soon (it was largely rotted, and a storm took down half the tree a few months ago), and the smallish plum tree is severely injured and may have to come down too (we're having an arborist in this week). We got a Celeste fig tree, which is supposed to be small (8'-10' when mature) and sweet. We're planting it on the side against the neighbors' garage, to give it some protection against the cold, and the garden center suggested that we mulch and wrap it against the winter. We also got two different European plum trees -- a dwarf Stanley Prune and a dwarf Bluebyrd -- that should have dense, sweet fruits with a late-season yield. They suggested we get two plums of the same family but different types, in order to increase fertility and yield. Hopefully dwarf trees will be good for producing fruit in a manageable size, while leaving the yard relatively well-lit. They're also supposed to start fruiting faster than larger trees. We shall see!

Edit: Forgot to mention -- we also planted a second row of peas an inch behind the first row, and the second half of the arugula bed.

Apr. 1st, 2010

Queen Esther


Quick update

The last few weeks have brought rain that's truly torrential for this part of the world (our basement has been flooded more often than not), but garden seems to be surviving. The radishes were the first to sprout, and today I thinned them out to a nice even spacing -- the sprouts were crisp and radishy and delicious! The arugula and turnips are also up in tiny sprouts, and the pea shoots are just barely piercing the surface of the ground. (No sign yet of the beets, carrots, and parsnips, but they're all slow germinators.) The three fruit brambles in the back yard seem to be doing well; the two raspberries in particular are bursting with lots of spring green leaves.

Next on schedule: setting up the wood raised beds in the other half of the garden, so we can densely plant onion and shallot sets to use for greens. Also, planting the second round of arugula and peas, as soon as the ground's a bit less wet.

Mar. 16th, 2010



First batch of seeds

So, I was home sick today with something (bad cold? something worse?) that's been kicking my ass for most of a week now, but the weather was finally nice outside, and planting seeds doesn't require a voice, cognitive powers, or the ability to stand up. :-)

Since we've only put the wood sidings into half the garden, we planted all the early stuff on that side. All the legumes went around the edge, by the fence -- fava beans, Sugar Snap peas, Frosty peas, and Little Marvel peas (the latter two are both English peas -- last year, the snow peas were tasty but had an annoyingly narrow window for picking). On the U-shaped inside curve, we have successive patches of arugula, Hollow Crown parsnips, Purple Top White Globe turnips, Scarlet Nantes carrots, and a long stretch of mixed beets (Chioggia, golden, and early red). French Breakfast radishes are in rows as dividers between each section. I only planted half the arugula plot (the back half), so we can sow another crop in 2-4 weeks, and I may do a second row of the peas behind the first one.

Now we'll see how everything grows. The bulbs from last year are growing beautifully, for the most part, though no flowers yet.

Mar. 7th, 2010

content (picture by lunulet)


New year, new garden!

I had tons of stuff to do this weekend, but the weather was too gorgeous (clear! sunny! highs over 50!) not to go outdoors. FINALLY, spring is starting to arrive.

So here's the status of things:

Primarily, we set up the left side of the garden for planting. We cleared out dead leaves, annuals, and wind-blown trash, then took out the cheap partial plastic sidings and put in sturdy wood planks, which was a fair amount of work (digging trenches, sawing up Home Depot wood), but looks totally gorgeous and professional now, and it does a great job of keeping the fluffy raised beds from spilling out onto sidewalk or pathway. Plus, it's sturdy enough to kneel upon (or stretch a plank over for extra kneeling-room), which makes dealing with the far side of the bed much easier. Yay! The right side will follow soon -- hopefully next weekend.

As for plants, the little cluster of perennial herbs (rosemary, lemon thyme, oregano, curry) seems to have survived, although there isn't yet any definitive new growth yet. On the other hand, the bulbs we planted last year as partly-blossoming flowers are springing up from the ground, which is so very exciting. Not all of them have come back yet, but none are that big yet either, so I'm still hoping that most of them survived and will be nice and healthy.

On the right side, we have onion, shallots, and garlic in the ground from last year (with faded-but-still-green leaves on top). Installing the wood sidings around them will be tricky, but worth it.

Soon to be planted: peas, parsnips, ??? Stay tuned!

Oct. 2nd, 2009

Eat vegetables not people.


No, the garden has not burned down.

Although the length of time since the last update might lead one to think so. Oops.

So, here's the status of everything:

Harbs! We have rosemary, thyme, oregano, and curry bushes -- in theory all should survive the winter, but we'll see how we do. The basil is doing fine; it's not become the enormous bushes I hoped it would, but it's been more than enough for every time we want to use it in the kitchen. Overall, I think that the "plant basil plants wherever there's empty space, especially around tomatoes" strategy was a good thing.

Broccoli! After a summer spent growing and growing and putting out leaves without producing, the broccoli finally started to produce -- and grew even bigger than we expected. The heads haven't been huge or tight, though (though they taste fine), and next year, it's probably just not worth it. Too much time and space for a food that we don't eat all that much. (Incidentally, a week or so ago, I found that one of the broccoli heads was crawling with little gray bugs. I drenched the plant with Neem and sprayed the surrounding plants, and it seems okay since then.)

Cucumbers! These are a new addition, planted about a month ago (mid to late August) in the space where the peas and lettuce were, in clusters of a few seedlings each. They're growing fine, but we fear that we may not get any actual cucumbers before the cold really sets in. Ah well; it was a shot in the dark. Next year, we need to get them in promptly once the peas are down, if we do that again; this year was delayed by not having seeds and not finding them easily at this time of year.

Peppers! We've harvested a few red cherry peppers so far; they're tasty and crisp, if not very spicy. The bell peppers are growing happy and big, but haven't been turning red yet. A couple of weeks ago, we propped them up with bamboo stakes, which we should've done even earlier. The stakes are helping a lot at keeping them happy and supported with the fruit; they're not really big or vine-like enough to take advantage of the nearby fence. We also suspect that they'd be much bigger and healthier if they hadn't been overshadowed by the peas for the first month or two of life -- something to fix next year.

Nasturtiums! Dear God, the nasturtiums. On the one hand, they're very pretty, and they need no care at all. On the other hand, they are TAKING OVER THE GARDEN. The greens and flowers are quite tasty but distinctively strong-flavored, and they can't be canned or preserved, so they're not getting eaten at nearly the rate that they're growing. On the other other hand, they are supposed to help repel bad bugs as well.

Marigolds! They're extremely pretty, they're flourishing, and like the nasturtiums, they need no care at all. (Also, I suspect that all those flowers mean that we'll have marigolds next year unless we actively fight it.) The biggest thing I might change is rearranging the garden so they're visible from the road, since they're so pretty.

Carrots! The carrots are shorter than I would have expected, despite deliberately buying a short variety; they can grow very very thick without gaining much length at all. Still, they're crisp and tasty and easy. The one pest issue is that several of them have granular mounds around the head; I assumed that these were ant mounds, but when I harvested them, there were lots of tiny gray grubs/bugs around the top of the carrot, in the crevices. The carrot itself was fine once properly cleaned, but it's still a bit odd/gross.

Beets! I have mixed feelings about the beets. They're easy, and they have a great sweet beet flavor, and the chioggia beets are utterly gorgeous -- the white/gold and red stripes are just lovely. On the other hand, most of the beets so far have had a fairly strong amount of bitterness as well, beyond the earthiness that's normal for beets. They're not inedible -- indeed, they're quite good -- but I'd like to try to figure out how to make them less bitter next year.

Incidentally, the beet/carrot patch is still full of plants at all stages of development. I'm not sure if it's a result of planting so densely or what, but we really didn't need to do multiple layers of seeding; the plants are basically staggering themselves in their development.

Onions and shallots! We thought that the alliums were a partial failure: none of them grew all that big. We realized, in retrospect, that harvesting green onion/shallot leaves was a way to guarantee that the bulbs would never get too big. Next year, we should have one densely planted patch that we plan to use as young spring onions, and another patch whose leaves we let grow, so we can get mature bulbs. Nonetheless, the onions and shallots that we left in the ground (hoping they might grow more) have surprised us in the last week or two by bursting out with a new set of leaves! We'll harvest them once these leaves get old, but I'm hoping to have decent-sized onions by winter.

Garlic! This year, as I've said, was a shot in the dark; once the garlic had lost its leaves for the summer, we harvested it, and we did indeed find several cute little miniature garlic heads underground. Not as big as a "real" head, but a nice return on the investment. I plan to plant garlic today for next year, so that it can mature over the winter this time.

Tomatoes! The queens of the garden. The "grape" and Early Girl plants have been incredibly prolific; we've been eating them, giving them away, and canning them in half a dozen different forms. They've both had a couple of problems lately, though; the grapes have been splitting (because of a stretch where they weren't watered enough a week or so ago, I suspect), and the Early Girls seem to have an infection of thrips/spotted wilt. The leaves of the latter are spotted with brown and yellow, and the tomatoes have a yellow/brown ring of skin discoloration around the stem end. Fortunately, the fruits still taste fine. The Old Germans have been a bit of a frustration -- the first two tomatoes to ripen, at long last, got stolen before we could eat them! Still, today I picked the next three ripe fruits; they took a while, but they're also enormous, and I can't wait to taste them.

As for the other tomatoes, the ones we grew from seed, they seem to be healthy and happy, but they're just much smaller than their kin. The Sungolds have produced some scrumptious fruit, but the rest are still young and green; they may not ripen before it frosts. Next year, we definitely need to buy some heirlooms as young plants, not try to do the seed thing at home.

And that's all!

Aug. 10th, 2009



Eponis told me I should post..

So here I am, posting. Although, I wasn't that much a part of the gardening this weekend.

La La La. Post. This is my post. Is it not nifty?

Hidey Ho!


We took down the last of the snap peas, most of what remained were not snap peas; some were viable (but discarded) seeds -- there were a bunch of hybrid/crossbreed peas and we don't want to propogate them next year. The remainder were between snap peas and pods of snap peas closer to a green pea stage.

She did a bunch of stuff in the garden, weeding and stuff. I hada yummy garden basil over pasta with "grape" tomatoes (grape shaped, but closer in size to golf balls than grapes). The nasturtiums have decided to unionize and ask for vacation time gone berserk. Peppers are budding and the onions are getting close to harvest - apparently, trimming greens has a larger detrimental effect on long term allium growth than we thought. Next year, separate patches for garlic and onion greens from bulbs.

We need to plant the cucumbers.

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