Sunday, June 15, 2008

Garden notes

More harvesting - strawberries and lettuce.

The pea vines are climbing and doing well (although they seem to want to climb the ground, instead of the lovely bamboo poles I've provided them - what's with that?).

I planted another row of spinach to replace the one that failed, and another row of lettuce (to supplement what we've got) today. I filled in the gaps where we've pulled radishes, and planted more of them, as well. And we put in some random flowers (cosmos, a wildflower mix, and sunflowers) at the ends of the veggie rows. A little beauty wouldn't hurt, if you ask me.

The strawberries off the vine are nothing short of divine. All I can say is, if you've only tasted grocery store strawberries, then you've never tasted strawberries. These are exquisite. They are sweet, juicy, and more flavorful than just about anything in the world. They're incredible! They are inspiring me to get raspberries planted next year - this year, we've done a lot, but I think we have room for perhaps three raspberry bushes against the house in a sunny spot in the side yard.

With the removal of the pampas grass, we have room for more strawberries, and I anticipate planting perhaps 15 more plants next year. Oh, YUM! We could not possibly have too many - our family likes them too much. As it is, we're fighting over whose turn it is to get one each time. :-)

Our blueberry plants are small, but they are surviving, and look like they'll each have a few berries. I watered them today; I suspect that they need more water (especially for this, their first year) than I'd been giving them. Now that summer is closer at hand I will water them deeply a couple of times per week and hope that does the trick.

One of our worm bins is going dormant, and so we'll soon have some lush compost to add to the yard from that bin. The other bin has flies and I'm not sure what's up with that, and I haven't disturbed it lately so I should go dig down and see if the worms are thriving or dying in it. I think it's too wet; it needs some shredded newspaper mixed in for bedding. Frankly, I can't get "regular" composting figured out, and I don't want to buy products to mix in, so it's just random stuff thrown in and it doesn't seem to turn into any kind of compost....I have to work on that.

The onions are looking strong, and so are the garlic sprouts. I think I'm supposed to harvest them in the fall, but I don't quite remember...

The tomatoes that I grew from seed (two plants) are looking fine and sturdy, but so small compared to the ones that I got from starts. At this rate, I don't know how they'll ever bear fruit by fall. The ones from starts, on the other hand, are looking fabulous, thick and green with yellow blossoms. It will be a while until we can enjoy their fruit, but I am hopeful on that front. Today I planted three small tomato (cherry) varieties, including a yellow pear, a Matt's something-or-the-other (an heirloom variety) and I think a small red cherry, I can't remember without looking at it. We should have tomatoes in every color, size, and shape, and I can't wait. Our ten plants ought to be enough that we don't have to fight over them each day, and we can have insalata caprese as often as we choose without rationing. I also dream of eating whole bowls full of mixed cherry tomatoes, as they taste like candy....YUM!

The herb garden out back is flourishing. I'll have to cut back the cilantro, as it's bolting (any advice on that, anyone?) and covered with flowers - I'm startled at how much it has grown. The sage looks lovely, the oregano is going nuts, and the curly parsley also looks fabulous. I don't see any signs of the parsley seeds I planted, but I'm trying to be patient on that. The rore semary has been there for years and is doing just fine. The chives were completely overgrown by the oregano, so I'd like to buy another plant and try again. There are also some flowers in the pots, and I think it all looks really cheerful and lovely out back right now.

I still haven't attacked the back raised bed, but it's taking care of itself. The peonies bloomed, the lady's slipper is in abundance, and the bleeding heart is strong, plentiful, and in variety (red, pink, white). The irises don't like their location and don't seem to bloom, but that's okay, because their strong leaves form a nice contrast to the other stuff in the bed. I keep thinking that I'm going to add potatoes there, but it might not happen. We will see!

I replanted some squash seeds today, because they got mulched over and didn't fare well. Some have leaves, others looked ill, so I'm supplementing. We will see what happens. One plant looks strong and is growing well, but since I have four varieties (two summer, two winter) plus sugar pumpkins, I'm hopeful for more.

The nasturciums are coming up nicely, and I hope for colorful blooms (I bought a variety of colors). The cosmos are also in full green though not in bloom, and I'm hoping for more color there, as well. Maybe by Melissa and Ross's shower there will be flowers amidst the vegetable beds - that would be lovely. We will see!

The basil still looks yellow; the beets are non-existant (except maybe one - will I honestly get ONE beet?!). The spinach needed more water than we were giving it, and many seeds didn't germinate, so we're watering more and seeing small results there. Hopefully the new set of seeds will do better.

The carrots are plodding along, by no means lush, but there are green tops, so I'm hopeful that under the soil good things are happening. I just added the third variety about a week ago, and there's no sign of anything there, but I wouldn't expect it yet.

We bought ladybugs for natural pest control as some of our roses looked a little sickly (especially my favorite red rose bush in the back - was it lack of water? aphids? why are the blooms curled up on the edges?). I've also been adding coffee grounds around the roses as I'm told they like had better be true, or I'm killing the roses!

I am VERY pleased to report that I have stayed committed to organic gardening, and nothing unnatural has entered our garden. The mulch is all from shredded trees from a neighbor; the compost is mostly from the wormbins but with some organic (purchased) compost added. (There is something strangely thrilling about knowing that old bread crusts, avocado peels, carrot tops, and the like have been converted into edible food by feeding our garden....) Pest control is ladybugs only - we haven't had much of a problem with pests so far, and the addition of ladybugs today might have been premature or unnecessary. We have soaker hoses for watering, and are hopeful that we can use less water because they are efficient. Weeding is done by hand, certainly no chemicals there, just a lot of dirt under my fingernails despite wearing gloves.

I am starting to feel like an actual gardener. Harvesting a big of this and that here and there is exciting to me, and feels like an actual accomplishment.

I have even started to dream of converting more of our yard into an even bigger veggie garden for next year.....we could do the other side of the walk, too. I don't need grass in the front yard, after all, as we never hang out in the front except on the porch.....

But right now, my hands are full, and what I have is enough....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

More tomatoes?! With 10 plants for a family of 3, I bet you'll be sharing lots of tomatoes.

No worries about your seed started plants. By August, the difference will be negligable.