Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Peas!

And I've already eaten the one on the bottom. All of a sudden the vines are loaded with blossoms and peas. We've had rain at some point almost every day this week,so the broccoli is coming to fruit, the blueberries are just barely starting to turn, and the comfrey is spreading.

The first cherry tomatoes are out, and a couple larger tomatoes but I'm not impressed with them,but hopefully those plants will give better fruit in the long run.

Very very first morning glory (my favorite flower). I've pulled up a lot this year so they don't overtake the garden, but there's plenty left over.

The straw bales are growing their own mushroom crops - at least six or seven varieties.

This one looks to have been nibbled, hope the bunny had a nice trip.

These look like they came out of some Gothic tattoo catalog.

And these look for all the world like little buttons.

The family yuccas are in high bloom right now - all the ancestors are tied up in these.

And in the fountain, the water iris has perfect blossoms.

The hard part is done - now all I have to do is tie plants up, put out netting and CD's on the berries to keep the birds away, fertilize in mid-summer, and wait for that first exquisite fresh tomato.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

After the Rain

Everything pops!

The Genovese Basil added 3" and lots of bushy leaves.

The comfrey I transplanted has taken hold, and (with any luck) started to spread. These two plants are actually blooming.

The spearmint has grown at least 12" and should be blooming in the next couple weeks, drawing hundreds of bees (they love its nectar), and guaranteeing my other plants will be pollinated.

Sugar snap peas are over a foot tall now, meaning I need to add the string trellis.

There are one or two blossoms, and there should be a lot more this next week. Peas come in around June 1-15th, so we are very close.

Cauliflower added 3" easy and the little seedlings are 4" high now.

Look on the left about mid-point down - the first tiny green tomato is there. Fresh tomatoes are within our grasp!

This is my first year growing butternut squash, so no idea how much this baby will grow. I'm thinking it's probably like a zucchini or gourd plant, so I gave it plenty of room.

Meanwhile in the greenhouse, a couple of the cauliflower plants have crossed with the neighboring broccoli, meaning I now have caulibroc, which I love - it has a nutty taste, and goes great in salads.

Caulibroc is like tiny heads of cauliflower with the size and taste of young broccoli, but white. It will never form a proper head, and will be ready for cutting tomorrow or Friday.

This is a lesson in gourd growing. They hate transplanting. The two at the bottom in the pot came up in the middle of the blueberries, and had to be moved. The healthy one at the top came up exactly where it sits. Hated to move the other ones but they would have killed the blueberries, and nothing comes between me and my blueberry crop.

First broccoli is out.

And I add this only because someone else may have this problem. This is Virginia Creeper. We have it everywhere. I pull it up constantly so it doesn't overtake my garden beds.

I probably should use gloves, because.....

Turns out I'm allergic to it. It's not the same as poison ivy which has an oil in it that binds to your skin (that's the reason it takes so long to get rid of it). Instead it has oxalate crystals. Those are nasty little diamond shaped crystals that literally cut into your skin. Only 5% of the population is allergic to those crystals.

Lucky me - I'm one of them. It'll go away in a week or so. And I have got to remember to put gloves on the next time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Snarky comments

Were made by an old friend this week when I sent him some photos of last years garden (and me in it) (you know who you are), more or less implying my garden looked pretty sad (or possibly that I looked sad, which I can totally see). Today's pics are just to emphasize that those pics were of LAST YEARS GARDEN - when I was still trying to plant peppers in the middle of the wiregrass patch. This years garden is all about the straw bales and black plastic (to kill said wiregrass invasion), and it's growing just fine, thank you very much.

The photo above is just one of 19 blueberry bushes that are loaded with fruit that should mature in about 3-4 weeks.

The peas are over a foot high and have reached the first rung of their trellis. Hopefully the heat won't kill them before they blossom. The heat has come on very early this year (it was 85 today).

Baby horseradish is coming up everywhere, I planted an entire bed of comfrey today, transplanted three 12" broccoli plants, thinned basil seedlings, did the mowing (including the trim work and the weed whacking), weeded the extra raised bed, unloaded two trailer loads of mulch, and then we got to work.

Actually, by this time I just watched the husband and my dad load these logs. They hauled off two trailer loads, which meant the trailer tires (of course) were low and had to have air added.

Then they got the idea to check the spare tire, which also turned out to be flat. That led to a discussion of whether or not it was sealing properly. After getting the whole tire situation straightened out, the logs were hauled off to dad's farm, where I have no idea what they are doing with them.

But they have 52 acres so there's probably room for them somewhere.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mushrooms...and Not the Good Kind

Our Virginia weather has not been conducive to being out in the yard gardening. First we had cool super windy days (the kind that dried out the straw bales) and then nights with a possibility of frost. Now it's cool, cloudy and rainy. Which is great since it saves on the watering, but not so great for potting and setting out plants.

What is wonderful is watching some of the wintered-over plants green up. The top photo is the Provence Lavender. I wasn't sure it would come back this year since it had spent its third winter in the greenhouse, and all good things have to come to an end. But it has exploded with new growth and decided to take on another year.

Last weekend I potted up the patio tomatoes with a few basil plants - they've added almost 2" to their height already.

And the straw bales are growing mushrooms. Several different varieties, none of them edible or useful for any other activity. I'm no mushroom expert, but these were the most ethereal of the bunch.

The cauliflowers started from seed are adding an inch a day or so.

And the transplanted cauliflower is almost a foot tall, while the plants left in the greenhouse have 2" cauliflower heads.

Those 2" heads mean it's time to tie up the leaves around the heads. If you do this, just use regular jute twine. Tying the leaves around the baby heads protects them from insects, who will eat the whole head if you don't stop them, but apparently aren't smart enough to crawl in between the leaves. Just trust me, it works.

The differences in these plants tells me it's better to grow cauliflower in the greenhouse and have them produce earlier. But I'm hoping when the plants in the greenhouse are done, the transplants outside will come into season, and when they are done, the seed stock will be sporting heads. That's the plan anyway.

I have a whole bed of comfrey to plant -it's my new second-favorite herb (my first is any kind of basil- see below). I use comfrey to make salve, fertilizer water for the other plants, and as a mulch for my onions. Remember, once you plant this, it's hard to get rid of. I'm okay with that, since the more I have the happier I am.

The oregano in the greenhouse needs to be transplanted and if I don't get it done soon, I'll have to leave it where it is. I want beds of basil, marjoram, oregano and sage this year so I can make my own Italian seasoning. This may be one of those products that's just easier to buy, but I wanted to try and make my own. If nothing else, the yard will smell wonderful.

Baby basil, ready for transplanting. Is there any such thing as too much basil?

Boxwood basil, Lemon basil, Greek Columnar Basil, Purple Basil, Sweet basil, Genovese basil,Thai basil, Magical Basil (ha), Spicy Globe basil, Cinnamon basil, Purple Ruffled basil, Fino Verde basil, Licorice basil, Nufar basil, Mammoth basil, Osmin Purple basil, Red Rubin basil, Cuban basil, Dark Opal basil, Lime basil, Holy basil, Greek Bush basil, Dwarf basil, African Blue basil, Thai Lemon basil.....

Thank god it's one of the plants I'm not allergic to.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Off On Off On Off On Off On

This is our back door.

(Yes I know we need to power wash the siding. Move past that.)

More importantly, notice the small wood sign. One side says "on" and it can be flipped over to the other side which says ........yes....... "Off".

This is one of my most important pieces of gardening equipment. The water faucet used to water my gardens is waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy out in the middle of the backyard. I have an amazing ability to forget to turn it off, or leave it running intentionally, meaning to leave the drip hose on for a half hour, but then forgetting all about it, remembering it three or four hours later.

No more.

This little wooden sign hangs outside the back door - it's impossible to go in or out, or leave in a vehicle without being reminded that either I *am* watering or I *need* to water something.

Well, it's not impossible.

So there's another one inside the back door.

Between the two signs there will be no more incidents of $50 and $60 water bills.

Cause I really had to grow a lot of lettuce to compensate for that little mistake.