Thursday, July 22, 2010


Work in progress, still. The plants from the more closed-up wall-water are in the foreground.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Well, it could have been worse

We came home earlier than planned by about half a day, which may have saved us. Nonetheless, the dinner menu will be featuring zucchini tonight.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It figures

The zucchini knows.  That's all I can guess.  We're going out of town for the weekend, so it has to start fruiting in a large and sinister way.  I picked everything that was in the edible-size range (see picture below).  But I know when I get back on Sunday afternoon, the baseball bats will be waiting.

Got a small handful of haricot-vert sized beans from the purple bush beans.  That's my goal with them this year - pick very small beans for freezing and eat them on formal occasions.  Even if legumes are a bit dicey from the antinutrient standpoint (lectins and things), if the seeds are small, I'm hoping (no documentation to back it up) that they'll be less anti.  Regardless, we have a LOT of frozen beans from last year and the year before - all edible thanks to vacuum technology - so I need this year's lot to be different, or growing them at all is pointless.

Something is devouring the brussels sprout leaves.  They're starting to look like eyelet fabric.  I don't know what it is - couldn't see any obvious culprits - and I don't want to use insecticides on food, so they may end up feeding someone other than my family.

The late-planted tomatoes are producing more fruit.  They seem somehow grateful to be in a permanent home.  Wish I'd grabbed more of them; homemade tomato sauce is good stuff, and I have open space this year.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shouldn't we be eating some of this by now?

We seem to be in sort of a food hiatus as far as my plants are concerned.  I've got a couple more strawberries before the wildlife did (shocking, really!), the raspberry canes are settling in nicely (and spreading) and producing an occasional berry - I've yet to get any of those before the animal kingdom.  Asparagus seems happy and the stalks keep getting thicker; I should probably start adding dirt back to the not-really-a-trench situation in which they're growing.  We have had 4 cucumbers and there is a visible eggplant fruit, and the zucchini keeps producing small fruits that aren't turning into giants overnight - they haven't reached pickable size yet, strange as that seems.  Everything else is sort of a work-in-progress; things look promising, but we aren't able to eat just yet.

We're setting up for an interesting battle next year in one of the asparagus squares.  The raspberries are starting to send up shoots there - which was okay until a couple of days ago, as that was the square where I had one asparagus shoot that got about 1" tall, then dried up and died.  For weeks, nothing.  Now that the raspberries want to move in, two reasonably thick shoots suddenly appear.  I'll let them work it out; that's how it works in nature, right?  And if my perennial box becomes an unregulated wilderness of mixed berries and asparagus, no rhyme or reason to it, I can live with that as long as harvesting doesn't become a jungle adventure or require elbow-length leather gauntlets.  But I have to say, I never read anything about asparagus being quite this weird.  They should put a warning on the package: "Unpredictable behavior - don't give up too soon!"  Maybe that's why they make you wait a couple of years before expecting to eat anything.

Once we pulled the shell peas out, I got some mature-er vegetable seedlings from the local garden center (free, too, if you can believe it; they were doomed to be thrown out two days after we got them!) - mostly tomatoes, with romas and one yellow tomato; and an ancho pepper plant for my daughter who wants it for salsa-making.  They're all lined up between the pea vine support wires - probably not the perfect tomato cage substitute, but I'm hopeful that it'll work.  They also have red mulch to encourage them.  I'm seeing new tomato flowers, so there's hope.

For reasons that they understand and are not telling me, the canteloupes are actually climbing the cages I put them in this year.  I think that's a good sign; they're vigorous, at least.  And some of the wilting flowers are at the end of marble-sized spheres; we could get melons from them.

The original tomatoes are now nearly taller than I am - that is, three of the original four are.  The fourth, poor thing, the one that was stifled under the wall-o-water, is still only about three inches tall.  The barrel that originally had the more closed-up wall-o-water is home to taller plants with a lot more fruit; I sure hope I remember that next spring!

And we have grapes - reachable grapes growing down from the top of the trellis for the first time.  I think we'll have the advantage over the squirrels this year, even on the white Himrod grapes which they have consistently demolished.  I see jelly in my future, conveniently ignoring the fact that I have two gallon-sized ziploc bags of grape juice in my freezer from previous harvests - and a bunch of unopened jars of jelly.  Maybe I should try winemaking this year.

Recently, we've been working on non-food yard projects.  We have a patio going in in the front yard, requiring plants to move into a new bed (nothing like transplanting in the heat of July to give you a firm conviction that your thumb is brown - if ANYTHING survives that process, it will be a miracle!).  I cleaned out the roses, which were being overtaken by Canadian thistles and crabgrass, and gave them a top-dressing of mushroom compost.  We have pulled out a butterfly garden that was getting overgrown, and returned it to lawn.  It's been pretty busy, really.  And with all of the extra watering to get the sod going, the lawn looks as good this year as it ever has.  I think I will try to water the daylights out of my transplants, if I can find a way to get to them without relying on human memory (we're very fond of timers at my house).

Here's hoping that we start seeing some produce in volume (and variety!) soon!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Now what do I plant?

I think the shell peas are about done.  The snap peas are still going a bit, but the end is near there, too.  Score for this year?  5 meals' worth.  Which is absolutely fine.  And, since one of the meals has already been consumed, I can say with confidence that they are really good - so sweet that they could have been dessert.  There are a few small pods left on the vines, and I'll probably add them to the daughter's stash of peas to eat raw.  Pulling them out, once they're truly spent, is going to leave a big space - what on earth does one plant in July?

The lettuce bolted quite quickly in the end.  A couple of the plants - heads no more - were two feet high.  They are now composting, along with a bunch of tiny hostas that had seeded into the middle box.  Since I don't think anyone in my neighborhood even grows hostas, I'm still at a loss as to where they came from.  Gone now, though, and not particularly to be missed.

Something - I have my suspicions, ladies! - stomped on some of the onions overnight.  At least, I assume that's what happened; I can't really come up with any other explanation.  The stalks are bent/broken at sharp angles in one part of the bed.  The other ones are fine.  And someone tasted a peapod; one of the ones I picked had a bite out of it.  Now, maybe it's not Hell's Grannies, because the son of one of our neighbors used to use our garden as a shortcut quite regularly before the boxes went in.  I'm assuming he no longer uses it, but I know that boulders and tomato cages put in his path as midnight trip hazards did not dissuade him, so maybe he's having another go.  Probably not, though.  My money is on wildlife.

We have tomatoes!  The plants that were in the more-teepeed wall-o-water have started fruiting, and there are probably 10 or so tomatoes, all pale green, in sizes ranging from marble shooter to tennis ball.  The other wall-o-water - not so much yet.  Some flowers on the tall plant, and the tiny smashed plant is still tiny, so we would need a miracle for it to produce much of anything.  Anyway, lesson for next year confirmed.  Close up the tops on the wall-o-waters for bigger yield earlier.

The zucchini are acting a bit strange.  About 3 days ago, I noticed about 6 baby zucchini on the plant, and was hard pressed not to pick them just to keep the onslaught off for a couple more days.  But I didn't.  And last night, when I was poking around, I noticed that we - still! - have about 6 baby zucchini; nothing has grown.  Not that there's anything wrong with that...

The canteloupe look exceedingly happy right now.  I'm a little afraid to notice, because nothing ever seems to get them to produce actual food, but they do have a lot of compost this year, and that's in common with the last and only time I actually got edible melons off a canteloupe, so just maybe, we'll get something this year.

And the strawberries?  They are still trying valiantly to give me a taste.  A plant in the absolute middle of the netting has 2 berries that are starting to turn red.  At least, they were there last night.  Not holding my breath, I think. 

The asparagus continues to produce shoots, and each one is thicker than the last.  At the rate things are going, I think there may be hope for next spring.

All in all, things are going pretty well.  Now if I can just figure out what I could put in place of the peas, that we would eat or could freeze, that would still produce starting now.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Nature Red in Tooth and Claw"

Temporarily, at least.  You guessed it; the sweet wee bunnies or flitting songbirds or "Hell's Grannies" ate my two ripe strawberries out from under the netting. 

Fiends.  Why can't they develop a taste for zucchini?  Next year, the hardware-cloth fencing goes back up on that entire box.  That fruit is MINE, dammit!