Monday, May 28, 2012

Harvest Monday and Catching UP

So I was gone this weekend, in the upper peninsula of Michigan to be a bridesmaid for one of my oldest friends. It was a fabulous trip, but I'm glad to be back to my veggies (is that bad?). I watered them well before I left, and was thinking there would be some rain....but no. When we got back I was out there watering for dear life at 10 at night. Of course when I went out a second time (B was taking a shower before) I realized it had FINALLY started raining.

Everything seemed ok, other than the red potatoes. they were falling over yellowed, drying, dead almost. A complete 180 from the fullness that they had when I left. I wonder though, if this is because they're ready to be harvested? The foliage perked up a little bit after much water. But still not as full.

Anyway, I'm going to participate in harvest Monday for the first time, hosted by Daphne's Dandelions.

I finished cutting all the side shoots from the broccoli and pulled those out, harvested most of the peas (there are still more that aren't quite done, but it's almost time to pull it out) and snap peas and pulled up one of the carrots to see how far along they were- when I tried carrots last year for the first time I didn't do very well. This year was much better. I'll probably pull the rest up in a week or so.

Shelled peas. Probably enough for one meal
I'm amazed at the amount of growth there was while I was gone this weekend. I discovered a couple of baby tomatoes earlier this week, but now the amount has doubled: Amish Paste, Big Mama Hybrid and Health Kick all have 4-5 fruits; the Husky Cherry Hybrid has a couple and Chocolate Cherry has one fruit.
Chocolate Cherry
I worry about this guy- I got it from Home Depot, and it seemed like it wasn't growing at all- just looking a little bushier. I fertilized everything just before I left, and it looks like there's been a little growth, but only sideways. So, I'm not sure.
Husky Cherry
Amish Paste
I didn't take pictures of the other tomatoes. I mean, if you've see one you've seen them all.

The Gypsy pepper plant that I got from Home Depot is showing it's first baby pepper. And like the Chocolate Cherry, I'm worried about the other one that I got from Burpee. It's a California Sweet Hybrid, but it's not growing very much either. It's flowered (as you can see below) but I worry that it's not going to do very well. 

The only thing that I can think is that the problem stems from being planted next to all the tomatoes. When I planted him I only had 3 tomatoes in the same bed and I was going to buy two more to put in. Then C gave me 3 of her volunteer tomatoes. I reasoned that the pepper would grow mostly along with the toms and they'd stay around the same size- even though I know peppers take longer. So. I'm not sure what to do.

The melons (Honey Bun Hybrid) are trucking along. I've got three growing in a half barrel planter, and I think I might plant three more where the peas are now. 

The carrots are starting to poke out. According to my notes I planted them March 17th, and the packaging says they take about 70 days, so they're pretty close to being done. The first picture is the one I pulled out to check. In the second picture you can see they're poking out too, but they're still a little green. And apparently you can leave them in the ground after they're mature. Not sure what to plant here when they're done. It's the end of the bed so maybe some squash or zucchini?
Speaking of, here are some updated pictures. The top is zucchini, the bottom is summer squash. I'd originally put three seeds in each planter, only to have one zuke and two squash seeds eaten by birds. I only replaced the squash, so that's why two of them are much smaller. I want to try and trellis them this year.

Summer Squash

The lemon cucumbers are filling out, and in place of the broccoli I planted two more rows of wax beans, bush beans and 2 regular cucumber seeds. 

 The pole beans are...pole-ing. I don't know if you can tell but one of the tendrils extends almost a foot beyond the top of my trellis. And I think they're about to flower. Same with the wax beans, they're going to flower in the next couple of days.

The bush beans have flowered, but only a few. Can't wait! C is already harvesting hers, and she's given me a big plastic bag full of them. 

I realize this looks like a creek or something, but it's really the bed that the garlic is in. I watered the hell out of it today to make sure it was watered deep. The garlic is still nice and green- no signs of yellowing/dying/ready to harvest yet. 

 And finally, it's not a veggie obviously, but gardening is about life, sustainability, etc, right? B and I discovered a few weeks ago that a Carolina Wren has made a nest in one of the cabinets in our garage. I have to hand it to her- it's pretty smart. Talk about a safe place. Today we realized that the babies had hatched; you could hear them making noise while mama was keeping them warm. We snapped a few pictures, and they would all sit up with their mouths open when we whistled. Originally we thought there were only 4 eggs, but when we were looking today, there are actually 5.
Babies! <3

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Warm Season Babies

The lemon cuke and zukes have started to sprout- two lemons, one zuke, but I wonder if the summer squash seeds were eaten.  I can't remember which ones were eaten out of. And I keep finding the tops of my strawberries in the container where the squash is..... and bits of half chewed fruit. This doesn't make me happy. 

Lemon Cucumber

Sweet Zuke Hybrid Zucchini

You can see the green tops and a bit of left over strawberry there on the left. 

But, the flowers on my potatoes are quite lovely, so I can't be too grumpy. Now I need to do something about keeping the squirrels (who I assume are eating my strawberries) from eating my strawberries. 

The broccoli is almost done- I've been taking the handfuls of side shoots that I cut for lunch- which means I'll plant some squash/zukes/cukes there. They actually look like they're physically shrinking in size, but I wonder if part of that is wilting from the heat. It's been pretty steady in the mid to upper 70s (or more. But at least mid 70's) most of the week. On the other hand, we've gotten several storms at night so I don't worry about having to water, and the beans/toms/peppers love it. 

And speaking of peppers, I noticed today that they have flower buds forming. And I think I might need to switch places for some of my veggies. The one pepper that is surrounded by the toms (It's at the edge of the bed.) doesn't seem to be growing very well, and I think it's because of lack of sun. When I put it in, I really did think about how the sun moves and how the toms would grow, I just expected the pepper to grow almost on par with the toms. He might be happier in his own planter, and I can put one of C's toms in his place. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pictures. And Maybe A Thousand Words

I feel like it's been a busy week, but I haven't really done much. Well, maybe I have. So a quick and dirty update on everything via pictures:

All the main broccoli heads have been harvested- the only one that I measured (pictured above obviously) got to 9". I think most of the other ones got that big as well, but I didn't measure them. I cut two more a couple days after this one because I gambled against it flowering and lost. The first three were steamed and eaten.

The next day I went ahead and cut the last 5, blanched them and froze them. Total, it filled one gallon ziplock bag. Not too bad for my first time actually getting some broccoli to grow. Now to see about a second fall planting.

I discovered that my burpee tomatoes had flower buds last Saturday, followed closely by the Chocolate Cherry. 

The toms from B's mom just started forming buds today, and only the biggest one of that. 

The husky cherry is getting bigger, but I haven't seen any flowers yet. (These pictures are maybe 3 days old)

The trellis/support thing I put in for the pole beans are way too small- maybe 3 ft tall. But I love them. They have stars. I love stars. Starrrrrrrssssssssss. (Sorry) I plan to put in some taller supports for them later.

Oh wax beans. You stress me out. I think maybe wax beans are just more sensitive to weather for germination than the bush/pole beans. They've been up for a while. After I'd gotten some sprouts from the bush/pole beans, I went back and reseeded in the skips. The second planting has been up for a while, despite the damage from cutworms. At least I'm pretty sure that's what it is. After I got the 6 wax bean sprouts I did the same thing, and they're just now pushing through. All in all I've counted 33 new sprouts. 
Well, I hope B likes wax beans. 
I got a pressure canner for Christmas. Bring on the 2012 apocalypse.   

The snow and snap peas are getting bigger, but I'm not holding out much hope for a harvest. I think I planted them way too late, probably a good 6 weeks after the other ones. I need a whole bed just for them and the garden peas. Maybe this fall. I did snip a couple of peas off the plant in the half barrel planter, but we'll be lucky to get one meal worth out of it. Oh well. 

I love the way carrots look in a garden. I think it might be because all you see is the greenery, but you know something else is going on- they're hidden and you just have to see what they look like when they're done. 

You can't really tell but there are some more sprouts that have popped up from a second (and again much later than should've been) planting. Hopefully these get longer than the 1"- 1.5" ones I got last year. 

I harvested some of my herbs too- and baked them in the oven so I could store them long term. I don't have enough herbs growing to make any sort of pesto. I know I could add them when I'm cooking, but I try to plan my meals, buy groceries and prep/freeze them once a month. The last time I didn't have enough to use. 

In the top picture is calypso cilantro and parsley. In this bottom one is lemon basil, thyme, oregano, Greek oregano and sage. The whole time I was cutting/drying/grinding them I had Simon and Garfunkel in my head.    Probably should invest in some rosemary, then. 

Last but not least are two views of 2/3rds of my garden. There are two other beds around the side growing garlic and some more snap peas. This is the main section. And actually since I took these picture I've added some more planters. I shouldn't have let B talk me out of buying wood for four beds. I planted seeds for the lemon cukes, zukes and squash on Saturday and then Sunday I sowed melon seeds. I think the cukes, zukes and squash I will try to trellis.

Lastly, I've been nibbling on some strawberries here and there, and discovered I'd had the foresight to put the plant marker in with one of the Burpee strawberries, so it's a Tristan F1. I like the Home Depot generic better, I think. And if I'm able to expand the strawberry bed next year, I'm going to plant June bearing.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Give Thanks There Was Sunshine, Give Thanks There Was Rain

Weird weather these past few days- the temps have been jumping between low 60s to mid 80s, sunny during the day, thunderstorms at night. I can't complain, since I haven't had to water and my veggies always seem to grow exponentially after big storms.
I think that I usually do pretty well with the less frequent but more deep watering in most of the beds/containers, but for some reason I feel like my two newest beds drain too quickly.

Also, excitingly, I've gotten my first harvest- one whole strawberry.

See that one on the right? Yup, ate 'em.
If you look closely in the bottom right you can see the first pea pod
But I've finally seen a pea pod (well, actually two!) and my biggest head of broccoli is 5" wide. I'm a gardening wizard.

Front: red potatoes
Back: russet potatoes
 Lastly, the wax beans have finally started pushing through. I was getting worried: they'd rotted in the ground, or I planted them too deeply, or (and what I really think the issue was) it wasn't warm enough for them to emerge yet. The other though was that I had violated a companion planting law by putting them in between the broccoli and carrots, but turns out those do relatively well together; carrots are especially good for beans. The reason that I was so concerned with it was thanks to last year. I'd tried to start them indoors as seedlings but NONE germinated. But, no matter now.
Broccoli side shoots, yay!
 The potato experiment continues, and now it's almost become an experiment on growing different kinds of potatoes. The one in the foreground that is lush and full are red potatoes. The one in the back are russet potatoes planted at the exact same time. I'm not sure what the problem is, honestly. I need to research this. Another interesting development with potato growing: last year I planted potatoes in the bed B's parents helped us put in. They didn't grow very well, but I think it was lack of sun. This past October I planted garlic and shallots there. Today, I discovered what I'm pretty sure are potato sprouts that have popped up among the garlic. I wonder if this means that I could actually overwinter potatoes here? Granted, the weather was so weird, but I didn't try to cover them with mulch. But maybe the alliums kept them warmish? Now I need to find out if they can stay there or if I should yank them out.

See the potato sprout? (disregard the weeds)

Also thought I'd show some updated pictures of the beds- from front to back are sugar snap peas, sugar pod snow peas, (Two rows each), Tendergreen bush beans (3 rows) Kentucky Wonder pole beans (2 rows) and then the toms and one lonely pepper plants. 

The tomatoes from C's compost pile have recovered from their transplant shock, and seem to be settling in nicely. I finally noticed some definite growth with the ones I got from Burpee. 

Mystery peas. I actually started writing this on the 2nd, but it was getting late, and I had to get in bed so I wasn't falling over dead at work today. As of today, the 3rd, I saw my first mystery pea pods and the biggest broccoli head grew almost another inch. Maybe at this point it's about an inch a day? So I should harvest it in about 3 days? As you can see, the broccoli is bigger (and I nibbled on one of the side shoots this afternoon. Yum. And there are two mystery peas that have started to grow. I'm hoping I can figure out what kind of the peas these are by comparing the leaves of the ones I planted a couple weeks ago in the bed