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!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Canine Peapod Addicts, and Other Updates

The peas are coming in. 

About every three days, I can go out and pick a basketful of nicely filled pods from the shell peas, and end up, after a nice relaxing session of shelling them, with about a half pound of peas to freeze.  We got more than one meal's worth this year already, which was my goal - and maybe my only goal, since shortly after planting them I convinced my family to start eating Paleo, which really is pretty anti-legume.  So the peas will be for special occasions - and worth every bite.  I don't care what Bird's-Eye does to them, they just can't produce frozen peas remotely as good as the ones I get out of the garden.

Anyway, I have a mild bone to pick with my daughter on the subject of peas.  She likes them too - but prefers snap peas that she can eat directly off the vine.  A few years back, that's nearly all I planted, and she ate her way through the harvest.  Which was fine - and the two squares of snap peas I planted this year are all for her. 

What I didn't realize at the time, though, was that she shared the peas with the dogs.  And that they are absolutely addicted to pea pods.  I know it now.  I sat down with my basket of peas to shell the other night and got started, only to find my lap - already full of containers for peas in various states - now had two canine heads resting on it.  Giving me puppy-eyes in the worst way.  And I could not make them go anywhere else until I was done and had dumped the empty pods in the compost bucket.  Oh, they had a few pods.  Not nearly as many as they thought they needed, but I couldn't not share.

I think the strawberry netting is working.  I'll know for sure tonight when I go out to see if the two nearly ripe berries I saw yesterday afternoon are still available.  But because I've netted the strawberries, something is eating the raspberries as they ripen (actually, they're either really good at timing things or don't care as much as I do about sweetness - they get them within hours after I think that they're "almost ripe").  Toads.  Well, not literally; it's probably squirrels or birds, or the flock of deer (I've refer to them as "Hell's Grannies") that have been spotted wandering the neighborhood this spring, casing the various garden plots.  In any event, the 3 raspberries produced to date have been reduced to some red debris clinging to the canes.

The butter lettuce has bolted, and the loose leaf lettuce is threatening.  We might get another day out of it at most.  But we do not despair, because the zucchini is flowering (madly, I might add - I don't think we have any vacations planned, but a few more weeks, and I might become afraid to sleep at night).  The cukes have taken off over the past few days, and even the canteloupe is showing some promise.

I can afford to ignore all of them for a few days more, fortunately.  Because I have more peas to shell (locked in a windowless room without the dogs, if need be).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Late June Update

I always blog up a storm in the spring, and then, once things get rolling, the writing tapers way off.  I'm going to try not to do that quite so much this year (granted, I'm already in the hole!).  Anyway, here's what's been going on in the garden since my last post.

Asparagus: I think it finally decided that the weather around here is acceptable.  After that long, unproductive period in the spring, it's growing - more in the way it was advertised, too.  I've been known to visit the asparagus on two successive days and on day two, to find new shoots that were not there before and are now 8-10" tall.  And they're oh-so-slowly getting thicker - up from the .7mm pencil lead thickness to the thickness of architectural drafting leads.  Not sure that makes them fit to eat yet - they wouldn't grill at all well - but it's an improvement.  I haven't fully filled in the dug-out areas yet - guess I'll do that before everything dies back in the fall.

Strawberries: Well, I'm pretty sure they were really tasty - but I never got one taste of the first crop, due to the shy woodlands creatures that were raiding the bed.  I have some netting down now, so I'm hopeful that we may get a few on the next go-round, but it could be next year before we have any feedback on these.  The few left-overs I planted in the windowbox are producing pretty tasty specimens, but they're another variety.  And they won't winter over - I know that.

Raspberries: There was a nearly-ripe berry on one of the canes last night.  I nearly picked it - and this afternoon, I will surely find out that I should have.

Blueberries: The bushes are looking good, but the flowers that showed up shortly after planting gave it up without producing anything.  Guess we're on hold until next year.  And that's fine - gives them a year to get well-established and all that.

Everything else is pretty routine.  The tomatoes appear to really adore their new supports - they're going to make sure to use the entire structure, at the rate things are going.  One of the tomato plants got smashed in infancy by the wall-o-water (oops), but appeared to be not quite dead yet when I took it off, so I buried most of it to let it root.  It's only about 2" high at the moment, but appears to be in recovery.  Eggplants overtopped the wall-o-waters quickly and I finally pulled them off last weekend.  Many flowers on them, so prospects look good.  At the same time, I pulled the wall-o-water off the 4 pepper plants brought back by my daughter from Phoenix.  They are probably happy to be out of confinement, since I had a hard time getting it properly balanced to start with, and the plants were smashed by a collapse at least twice.

The shell peas are producing - I picked enough for a meal last night (which I will freeze, I think), and figure that there are many more to follow.  The sugar snaps are a little behind them - which makes sense since I planted them later.  The lettuce is on the brink of bolting, so we are trying to eat our way through it.  I probably need to rethink how and how much we plant of it each year.  When the squares are empty, I think I'll do the "scatter the mesclun mix seed" thing again; that worked pretty well last year.  I might also plant that in two pots near the front door that are getting watered because I have drip lines in them (they are currently empty).  Hate to waste that water.

Brussels sprouts look healthy and happy, although given that they prefer a cold season, I'm not sure if they will end up doing much of anything.  But they were this year's annual experiment, and if we get anything from them, it's a bonus.

Cukes and Zucchini are getting ready to explode, I think.  I couldn't quite bring myself to thin out the zucchini when I planted it, and I will undoubtedly regret it bitterly.  The plant(s) are already shading over my canteloupe plants, which are not doing much of anything just yet.

Last, the onions and onion-like plants that were volunteers.  They look amazing - and the one that got attacked by pea-tendrils gave me an idea where the Art Nouveau folks got some of their ideas; it was quite beautiful.  I think some of them are garlic - the leaves are not tubular and the smell is a bit different (maybe shallots, also).

The stuff in the compost spinner is not yet compost, but it resembles it far more than the contents of the previous box, so I'm hopeful.  I even water it occasionally.

On the non-food front, we have been rather busy.  Some years ago, I put in a "butterfly" garden in one area of the back yard.  However, the plants overgrew their space, it got badly weed-infested (and with a flagstone path through it, pretty much stayed that way), and the butterflies didn't hang out back there - but the bees did.  Since my husband is allergic to bees, that was definitely not a good thing.  So this year, we pulled everything out and sodded it.  Looks good, the dogs love it, and should be much lower maintenance.  Although I won't be too surprised if we find rhubarb growing up in the middle of the lawn - that stuff is very vigorous. 

We also installed a spinning collapsible clothesline again.  I love sun-dried sheets more than almost anything, and our retractable single line finally bit the dust last fall.  I even (!) found a clothespin bag.  Stupid thing to get excited about, but it's what I like.  So there.