Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Flower Time! and Pinching Basil

Things are starting to flower in my garden-- the alyssum has expanded to fill all available space, thwarting my hopes for zinnias to come up between the clumps.  On the right, the dark foliage is my lone dahlia that survived the ravages of the snails this spring.

In the neighboring planter, the feathery foliage of the cosmos can be seen, with a few catch-up planting zinnias peeking out between the cosmos.  That bare patch on the top right needs another catch-up attempt at zinnias.

The Japanese long eggplant has started making flowers, and I'm really excited to see them!  It's the largest of the four eggplants that I planted around the same time.

The Sungold cherry tomato is also flowering prolifically, and I look forward to sprays of delicious orange cherry tomato!  The other tomatoes are also flowering but not so spectacularly as the Sungold.

The lemon basil is also flowering, which we don't want, because then it will get all woody and make seeds instead of more yummy basil for cooking with.   All of the tops were turning to flowering stems like the one on the left, and I pinched them off.  Pinching off makes the plant get bushy by encouraging side stem growth.  Pinch or snip right between the next set of leaves, as you can see in the picture on the right.  I had to pinch off the Genovese basil and the lettuce-leaf basil as well.

Our first strawberries are starting to ripen!  They're small but we hope they'll be extra sweet and delicious.

Last but not least, the rhubarb-- it's really taking off!  From a fist-sized lump a few weeks ago, it's gone to a huge leafy plant.  New leaves are coming up from the center as well-- I might dare to pick a single stalk if this keeps up.   No heavy harvesting until the 2nd year though.   I will probably transplant into a half wine barrel this winter, to give it room for next spring.  A friend suggested I save the first handful of strawberries and cut a single small stalk of rhubarb to make a teeny tiny strawberry rhubarb tart.  I just might!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Garden Update: April 17

"Look, look, garden growing!  ME SO HAPPY!!!"  Ahem.  Now that I have that out of my system, we can have a nice calm mature chat about the garden.  Oh, who am I kidding.  I feel like a little kid growing my first bean plant-- stuff is coming up, the transplants are taking root, and the garden is really coming together.

The short bed is now fully planted out with the five peppers and four eggplants, as well as beneficial marigolds (repel flea beetles).  If you look closely you'll see a six-pack of sunflowers in the back, from the Master Gardeners' Spring Garden Market where I volunteered yesterday at the Info Center. I planted a pair of them in the back of the pepper bed this morning after this picture was taken.  That bed can be seen from the street when both of our cars are out of the driveway, so I want it to look nice.

In the corner bed, the peas are somewhat diffidently bonding with the trellis.  I regularly go out and twine the lagging peas into the trellis and gradually they are taking hold.  The big squash is from the Spring Garden Market, an Emerald Strain Buttercup that I got to replace the Sweet Dumpling squash seed that never came up (it was several years old).  The tiny one behind the blue sign is my Sunshine kabocha that I grew from seed.

The herb bed is now fully populated, and is doing well.  From the top left, Biergarten sage, golden sage, curly parsley, English thyme.  Bottom row from left, sweet marjoram, tarragon, savory, spicy oregano, dill.

The medium bed is mostly tomatoes and basil, with some small stuff planted in between.  On the right side, the Gold of Bacau pole beans are looking good behind the Sungold cherry tomato.  Lettuce leaf basil is growing well in front, with a Hawaiian Pineapple tomato in back.  Between them, too small to see in the picture, a red and green scallion combo has been coming up.  The bare spot next to the beans was seeded a few days ago with Gladiator parsnips.

On the left side of the medium bed we have our Black Krim tomato in front, Genovese basil next to it, lemon basil and fennel behind, and then an Early Girl tomato.  I found out this weekend that I will need to give up my beloved Early Girls in the future-- EG is owned by Monsanto, and I boycott anything from that company whenever I can.  The blank space in the back was seeded with carrots about 3 weeks ago, and they often take 4 - 5 weeks to come up, so I'm still hopeful.  If I haven't seen any carrots by mid-May, I will try again.  For this seeding I put the seeds on the surface as suggested by the package.  If I seed again, I will try surface seeding but then sifting about an eighth inch of soil over them.  And maybe floating row cover to keep them moist.  But I have been watering every few days.  Ah well.  We'll just have to see.

The long bed has beans and tiny stuff growing, that is mostly too small to see.  The rightmost side has golden wax beans at the top and some Roma beans at the bottom, and my Kamo Kamo squash in the middle.  My six packs of cilantro and dill were finally big enough to transplant today, so they are now along the leftmost board.  Teensy weensy Forellenschluss lettuces are coming up in the damp foreground.

The middle section of the long bed has my Beit Alpha cukes at the top, and also the other sunflowers from the six pack, planted after this pic was taken.  The Georgia Candy Roaster squash is still just a pair of cotyledon leaves in the middle.  In the front, next to the Roma beans, tiny green dots are Japanese "ping pong ball" type sweet turnips.  I seeded golden turnips next to them that are not up yet, and Catalina baby spinach ditto up near the cukes.

On the far left of the long bed, we've got a couple of big transplants-- a Romanesco zucchini in the middle and Persian cukes up in the top corner.  Turns out my Persian cukes finally came up, but I don't need them now and will give them to a friend at work next week.  The zucchini was an impulse buy from Summer Winds, but now I'm glad that I bought it-- my Ramipicante seeds were older and didn't come up.   

What's all the little green stuff?  Glad you asked!  All along the front of the bed, it's beets.  Chiogga beets on the left, and golden beets on the right.  My golden beet seed was from 2010, and only about 20% of it came up.  I just reseeded yesterday with new 2016 seed, and filled in 3 or 4 places where the Chioggas didn't germinate.  I also filled in 4 spots each on the golden wax and Roma beans with fresh seed.   The little square of green things on the middle left is Green Fortune baby bok choi.  I seeded a new square to the right of it.   Too small to see but coming up well along the top left board are Renee's seeds "European Summer Lettuce Bouquet" with a mix of green, red, and speckled lettuce.  We'll see what comes up, there was no guide to telling the seeds apart.  I bought that blend specifically for the Batavian Nevada in the mix-- I've had great luck letting that go to seed and saving the seed, and getting volunteer lettuce in the fall and spring.   Finally, in the middle along the top are the Bright Lights and Peppermint chard seedlings that I've transplanted.  They're too small to tell which are which.

 Naturally I can't do all this gardening without help-- here is half of the helper team, Jasper, lounging under the birdbath.  So far they haven't helped themselves to anything in the garden beds, but they are getting bolder.  I only let them out into the backyard with supervision!

 How is your garden growing so far?  Drop me a note and share!