Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hurry Up Peas!

I visited the garden today after getting most of my housework out of the way. They were predicting temperatures in the 90's and I managed to be there at the apex of today's highs without my trusty water bottle. Sweating and slightly overwhelmed by the sun, I tended to the patch at my own peril.

Everything is enjoying our little heat wave. The Mortgage Lifter plant has its first flowers, the beet greens are now closer to braising greens than salad greens, and that lovely curly green leaf lettuce is living up to expectations by thriving in this heat. I corralled most of the sunflowers to the fig side of the trellis and tried to encourage the peas to climb that instead of everything else in the garden.

Besides muscling their way up my other plants, the peas are also really slow in producing this year. I don't know if it's the variety I chose, the unpredictable weather, or if I planted them too close to the beets and sunflowers. They aren't growing up as much as they are growing out and the space I had allocated for them is definitely vertical. Yes, there are flowers and pods. Yes, they are tasty. No, I probably won't have enough of a crop to have peas as a side dish for dinner this year. Alas, I will have to get my pea fix at one of the farmer's markets around here.

I promise to take some pictures of my apartment side pepper and herb pots soon. So far, cayenne is a very effective squirrel deterrent.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Big, Green, and Bushy


Pretty Yellow Things

Garden Jungle

Lettuce, Beans, Bolted Spinach
After a week away from the garden, I was pretty surprised at the transformation. The lettuce is gigantic and I did some major harvesting. Most of the spinach has bolted so that was pulled (and eaten). The beans are flowering. The peas, although short and preferring to spread laterally, are making plenty of flowers and pods. The beets are twice as big as they were this time last year and ditto for the carrots. Some of the radishes were large enough to eat. Two cucumber and three squash plants are beginning to look promising. The cherry tomato already has bundles of flowers and the other two are doing fine but requesting more sun and hot weather. The eggplant and hot peppers would like the same.

I missed the dramatic orange peony but the pink and white bushes were still looking lovely on Friday. There are quite a few things flowering right now and almost everything has doubled in size since last week including the little peaches on the tree. I tried to thin them out to the recommended 1 peach per 8 inches but I would need a big ladder to get any further with that project.
In regards to the squirrel problem outside my apartment, the cayenne seems to be working. I've even added a fourth pot with thyme, rosemary, and lavender.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Squirrel Control

I have some pots out by my stoop that are planted with marigolds and hot peppers. It's a nice sunny spot and as long as I'm diligent with the watering, things should be fine. However, the pots are under attack by some nosey squirrels that just can't seem to resist digging in the dirt. I've lost at least two marigolds and I'm worried a pepper plant could go next. This morning I sprinkled cayenne pepper on the exposed dirt to see if that will deter them. Anyone else tried this or another method of squirrel proofing? The plants are too large for screen at this point.

This afternoon should reveal whether or not my spicy methods are effective.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Last Week in Bloom

Garden Report: Stuff is blooming, growing, and happy. We got through our last cold spell and are looking forward to the days of late spring and early summer. Last week I took these photos at the garden and have yet to get back there since I've returned from my Telford trip. Before I left, the roses were peaking, lots of early perennials were adding flashes of color here and there, and the peonies were threatening to go at any moment. I'm sure I'll catch the tail end of their display this week when I go to get the salad greens.
Pretty in Pink (and later: Pretty in My Kitchen!)

Indigo and White

Peonies About To Burst and Those Skinny Pink Flowers That I Love

You can't really tell from the photo but this Peony was almost fluorescing! The bud was about the size of a lime and there were at least three more on the bush.

The bush beans are beginning to get bushy and in hindsight are probably going to crowd out my spinach. Lesson learned. Everything else is doing well. The peas are finally making flowers and one squash and a few cucumbers are making a go at it. I thinned the carrots and tried to encourage the already giant sunflowers to grow on the fig side of the trellis.

The lettuce was full and leafy and there were a few marigolds to replace it when it bolts. I also see a rogue tomato in the top of the photo. That will probably have to go.

The tasty beet greens have been adding some extra crunch to our salad bowl. I'm glad I planted so many and I think their location in front of the trellis will be just perfect. They aren't easily accessible but it doesn't matter because they're not going anywhere until August.

We ate some very large salads last week to keep up with the lettuce supply. I expect to find big plants when I return to the garden tomorrow.

Friday, May 7, 2010

My Babies

Thanks to the cabbage for making the ultimate sacrifice to make way for my new babies: Mortgage Lifter, Box Car Willy, Brown Berry, Mystery Eggplant (forget what type it is), and Poblano Pepper. It's hard to tell from this little picture, but the carrots are nice and frondy in the bottom right, the lettuce is thriving on the far left, and the radishes are making do in the top right. Beets, beans, and spinach are mixed throughout. The eggplant is the big thing in the lower center with the largest leaves. Brown Berry is at the center of the trellis. Mortgage Lifter and Box Car Willie are in the upper right keeping the radishes shaded. The Poblano is in the center but so are some beans so it may be difficult to distinguish between the two at this point.

Here are my other babies, sleeping like babies. At least one of them was snoring right before I took the picture but I won't say who.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dreyer Farms = Heaven

We went to get my tomato seedlings last night! Dreyer Farms was even more exciting than I had imagined with many, many more varieties of heirloom tomatoes and vegetables to choose from than they led on to on their website. Tonight I'll be planting my healthy looking Mortgage Lifter and Box Car Willie plants. I also picked up a Brown Berry Cherry as recommended by Mr. Dreyer when I requested "an unusual cherry with high yields that I can trellis." It too is an heirloom variety and replaced my other choice (Mr. Stripey) when I found out it was not a cherry. For the center of the plot I chose a small white eggplant with purple stripes. I seem to have lost the tag for that one. There's a four pack mix of mild hot peppers including Jalapeno, Mexibell, Poblano, and Garden Salsa that will be planted in containers by our apartment. Finally I chose a trio of herbs for even more container planting: French Thyme, Arp Rosemary, and Hidcote Lavender.

They probably had 60 varieties of tomatoes, 20 eggplants, 20 peppers, 10 thymes, 10 oreganos, and just about enough of everything to make my head spin. We didn't even have time to look beyond the vegetables. Josh saw a sign pointing towards fruit trees and vining plants. It's a big place and they know what they're doing. The staff was friendly and helpful and passionate about plants. What fun!

Pictures tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Marigolds Than I Know What to Do With

You can't tell from the photo I took this morning, but my plot has about 25 baby marigolds in places that are not going to be good for marigolds. I need to make room for three tomato plants and hopefully a Thai eggplant plant. Where should I put all these little soon-to-be-flowers? I've already got a slew growing in the foreground in front of the plot. They could stand some thinning out, too. As you may recall from garden images in the past, this particular marigold variety approaches bush-sized proportions by August. I am happy to share the plot with two or three at the most so some are going to have to be relocated.

Everything else is doing well. I thinned out a bunch of pea "shoots" (more like plants) and plan on sauteing them in butter for dinner. We've been enjoying lots of lettuce. The radishes are getting too hot and just threatening to bolt. The spinach actually looks like baby spinach now but I'm holding out for bigger leaves. The beet tops are close to being edible. The last cabbage now looks like it might make a head! Wouldn't that be exciting.

I know I made a big deal about having to wait to buy my tomato seedlings until May and now it's May and I haven't gone yet. We had planned on going last night but Josh had to work late and the trip has been put off until tomorrow night. At this point, it looks like I'll be getting Mr. Stripey for my prolific cherry/small tomato fix, Box Car Willie for loads of classic red tomatoes, and either Mortgage Lifter or Pineapple. Mortgage Lifter is the pink variety I enjoyed growing last year. It has a classic tomato taste and produced a moderate yield. Pineapple is one of those deeply lobed heirlooms that's a mix of yellow and red. It all depends on what they have, how they look, and what information the staff can give me at Dreyer Farms.