Friday, April 30, 2010

Salad Season Has Begun!

Yesterday I harvested the first of the lettuce thinnings for a dinnertime salad. Two White Icicle radishes and a Cherry Belle also joined the mix. Everything was delicious, of course. Alas, I did not have my camera at home to document it.

Thinning the lettuce is such a win win situation: we get to enjoy many tender green salads and the remaining lettuce gets more sun and soil and grows even bigger. Bigger lettuce then means bigger salads for us.

Plot News:
I can now confirm that the cucumber, squash, and four varieties of tomato seeds are sprouting. I know the cucumber will have no trouble catching up once the weather is a little more sunny. I think the squash should do well also. I planted three of the tomato seed types because I've had such lousy luck with growing things indoors and figured I'd try a new approach this time. Knowing I'd be getting tomato seedlings regardless of what happened, I just threw the seeds in the soil instead of going through the minor agony of starting them indoors. The fourth variety of tomato has sprouted from the droppings of the rather unsuccessful cherry variety I planted last year. Although I never had the chance to harvest more than a handful of the little orange tomatoes, there were always plenty all over the ground that I just missed. We'll see what happens.

The spinach is sloooowly getting larger. The bush beans may surpass them and could even cover them. Timing and space allocation is something I am still mastering!

The carrots are all short and frondy. I wish I planted more! After the huge rainstorms last month and the seeds getting washed everywhere, it doesn't look like I'll have as big a crop as last year. The beet area is a different story. I may have gone overboard but I'm really looking forward to stealing their leaves from time to time for some braised greens. Last year we accidentally pulled most of all the leaves off the beets thinking they were chard and the beets seemed totally unfazed. They are a hardy bunch.

The peas are also slooooowly getting bigger. It may be somewhat of a struggle to keep them from using the baby tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash as a trellis. I'm adding lots of other stick options whenever I can get to the garden.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rain, Sun, and Rogue Peaches

We are moving into mid and late spring flowers now in the garden. These white things are going crazy. The iris have been giving me steady arrangements for a few weeks now. The peony blossoms are growing and promising a spectacular display.

This is what the plot looked like at the end of last week. I might stop by again tonight on my way home from work to see if anything's changed. We've had days of steady rain and cool weather and I think we could use some warm sunny weather now to get stuff going. Last night was in the low 40's and tonight will be just as chilly before we get up to 80 on Saturday. Maybe everything is just a little confused.
Last week I did verify that the radish seeds I planted were a mix of White Icicle and Cherry Belle. I'm hoping for more Cherry Belle than Icicle and tried to thin out the latter to make room for the sprouts that seemed slightly pink. Last year the Icicles seemed less flavorful and slightly woody in texture.

I found quite a few peach trees sprouting throughout the common areas last week and transplanted one in the pot beside my plot. Maybe one will find a future home at the Bay? We used to have a peach tree by the driveway when I was a kid.

What should I do with that last cabbage?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Enjoying Springlike Weather in the Garden

Now that the weather is being more spring-like, the garden is thriving. Lettuce is in the lower left, first round peas are under the left side of the trellis, followed by later peas on the right, radish are behind the remaining cabbage, and bush beans have sprouted in the right center. Some of the carrots are beginning to frond out, the beets are about 2" tall, and the spinach leaves are about the size of a quarter. Marigolds are popping up everywhere so I've been experimenting with transplanting them in other locales. I have a secret fantasy of planting them in green spaces all over my neighborhood a la Guerrilla Gardening. Later in the summer when they're all thriving and I'm walking around I can point them out proudly and say, "I planted those!" I may even do that with the sunflowers too since they are all over the place including in the pathway next to my plot.

The lettuce is looking really crispy and delicious. I'll wait until it's a bit larger to thin it out so the thinnings can be part of a little homegrown salad. You can see a marigold in the lower left. I scooped this one out and gave him a new home in one of my stoopside pots. A later planting of lettuce is in the upper right. I didn't plant too much this year and I'm wondering if I'll have enough. Usually it bolts before I eat it all so we'll see if this is the right amount.

In the very upper right corner of the plot the snapdragon seeds are sprouting. A few weeks ago I noticed that the old snapdragon stem was showing signs of life but it has since died off. I'm excited to see the new little sprouts. I bought a multicolor mix so it'll be a pretty display.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Garden Trips

I've always dreamed of taking a vacation to the Far East to visit a tea garden and to sample tea from the source. As many of you know, I'm somewhat of a tea snob. I like to inspect the leaves before I buy them. I'm precise about steeping times. I would feel uncomfortable purchasing tea bags. I like good quality tea and often have friends and family around the country purchase tea for me from trusted sources. It would be lovely to get one step closer to the process and visit an actual tea plantation.

Then earlier this week I learned that there's domestically produced tea in the US on a plantation that is open to the public. I read about it on the tea blog
The Tea Scoop. The big tea bag purveyor Bigelow actually grows a certain line of tea in Charleston, South Carolina. They carry it under their American Classics line and it's available in loose form on their website. I haven't purchased any yet and I'm certainly curious about the quality and the leaf varietal. Regardless, it's nice to know that we can get some tea that doesn't have to travel halfway around the globe to get here. I've always wanted to check out Charleston sometime too, so a visit to a tea garden doesn't seem so far fetched now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No More Cabbages

This photo was taken on Monday just minutes before a very knowledgeable fellow community gardener suggested I go ahead and pull the cabbages and eat them. They had begun bolting and I was going to loose the only tight little head that the large plant produced if I let them grow any longer. It's been a very warm spring and things are getting a little confused around here. The cabbage thinks it's summer already. So we ate it Monday night. I chopped it up and we had some slaw to go with the grilled cheese on fresh garlic and herb bread that I baked in the afternoon. A simple but tasty meal.

You can see that they lettuce in the lower left is growing. In the upper left are radish. Some of the larger green things around the plot are volunteer sunflowers from last year's flowers. I left the seeds on those through the fall figuring I was feeding the birds. Looks like they missed a few so I gifted some to the other gardener and transplanted some to the public areas.

I filled in some more radish and beets. I located the spinach (it looks like grass at first). The marigold seeds that I planted outside my plot in the front have sprouted. The carrots are identifiable. Lots of red sunflowers are sprouting. The peas are slowly doing their thing.

Happy Peas

Iris Aplenty

Cherry Tree Extravaganza

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Plot Thickens

I visited the garden last Friday and took some update photos as well as some Pretty Spring Flower photos. I didn't have my camera wire at home last week so they never made it up here. Yesterday I also spent some time at the garden snapping photos, planting more seeds, and even doing a little Spring Harvesting! First we have two Before and After photos with the pics I took last Friday and the ones I snapped yesterday.

You can see the cabbages are a little bigger and there are a few more green things showing up around the plot. At this point, I can locate peas, lettuce, beets, radishes, and carrots. I cannot tell which sprouts are the spinach. There are some other volunteer seeds poking up that may or may not be something from last year. A couple sprouts look like chard and there may even be a sugar baby watermelon but I won't hold my breath.

The peach tree in the garden is in full bloom now and the bee population is very busy with all the blossoms it has produced. We'll have to do some thinning if each of these turns into a little peach.

I'm hoping the peas survive this heat wave we're having (they're predicting 88 tomorrow). They haven't changed much over the past few days so I'm guessing they would prefer cooler weather. They have been joined by some squash seeds, cucumber seeds, and tomato seeds just in case.
My Big Plan included replacing the peas with some trellised vining vegetables. I'm hoping to get a cucumber plant out of the seeds I planted but if that doesn't happen I'll buy a seedling. The same goes for the tomato seeds. Last summer I saved seeds from some particularly tasty tomatoes and decided I'd give direct planting a try. The squash seeds were a mixture of acorn, crookneck, and summer. I would be very happy if one of the vines took off and made a couple of fruits.

The radish section of the plot must have turned into a lake last week during the storm. The seedlings are sprouting up in clumps rather than the tidy rows I had created for them. I filled in the gaps yesterday with additional seed.

A green leaf lettuce is sprouting. Again, the row was in disarray so I filled in areas with additional seed. I guess we're doing a little sussession planting.

The Gourmet Blend lettuce is sprouting. Three or four different leaf lettuces make up the mix. Somehow this row remained intact so between it and the next I put in additional carrots. The plan is to have the carrot tops shade the lettuce in early summer.

In other areas around the plot I put in mixed red sunflower seeds and more marigold seeds. I noticed the snapdragon plant from last year is springing to life and I added some new snapdragon seeds around it for company.

Around the garden everything is blooming. Big clumps of this white flowering stuff are everywhere!

I harvested the three chinese cabbages! I'm pretty sure the florets were a sign that it was bolting so I took action, cut it down, sauteed it with some garlic and ginger, and called it a success. It tasted good and now there's more room for other stuff like the bush beans I planted.