Monday, June 01, 2009

Early Strawberries and General Progress

About the middle of last week, I picked and ate the first strawberry of the season from the plants in the window box.  They seem pretty happy there - fruiting like crazy (although with only 4 plants, I don't see getting enough at one time to make even a "shortcake for one").  The first strawberry was amazing - you get so used to eating the giant, sort of bland examples that show up at the grocery store that, at first, one fresh off the vine doesn't seem to taste quite right, it's so intense.  A few more, and I'll probably never go back.

On other fronts, the spinach has joined the bok choi in growing leggy and producing flowers, so I guess it's done for the summer.  We didn't get much before it bolted, and I'm not sure if I'll bother with spring spinach again.  I might try it in September and see if that works any better.  Neither it nor the bok choi makes sense to me - it's been kind of a cold spring so far, by comparison with last year.

The lettuce is still going strong, and 4 square feet seems to be just about the right amount.  We're staying on top of it, and eating what we pick, rather than wasting it.  As a result, I think we're eating more salads.

The peas are starting to flower; they've grown to within a foot or so of the top of the supports I'm using, and are very lush.  Barring anything weird, we should have enough to freeze and to support healthy snacks (4 square feet of sugar-snap peas - yum!).  And the potatoes in the top box are huge - well the tops are, anyway.  In the middle box, they're about half the size, even though I planted them all at the same time.  Go figure.

I'm not at all sure what to make of the Swiss Chard.  The seedlings sprouted maybe 3 weeks ago, but to look at them, you'd think it was yesterday.  They seem to be in a holding pattern, but I'm not sure what they're waiting for.  In the meantime, they're being outstripped by the carrots, the purple beans, cucumbers, canteloupe, zucchini (which I planted less than a week ago!) and the corn.  I'd put it down to location - they're in the same box with the potatoes that are behind - but so are the carrots and corn and cucumbers and beans and canteloupe.

Now that two of the boxes are in their second year, the soil is hosting some fauna - specifically, roly-poly bugs (I suppose they have a "real" name, but that's the only one I've ever known).  I understand that insects generally mean that the soil is healthy, which is a good thing, but they're eating leaves and in some cases, stems.  Cucumbers, canteloupe, and purple beans are the current victims, although they also seemed to enjoy the bok choi (at least someone got some benefit from it).  The level of damage is marginally acceptable so far, but I think I'll start picking them off and putting them in the driveway to work on weed control there.

On the tomato front, the red mulch seems to be doing well - the plants have all grown from 4" tall to over a foot, and seem to be doing quite well.  The one in the topsy-turvy container also seems undisturbed by having its roots in the air.  It's not as large as the others, but in its defense, it was planted about a month later while we waited for the last frost date to pass.