Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Garden update

sweet potato hill
We worked hard in the garden over Memorial Day weekend. Chuck got the sweet potatoes planted- 25 Beauregard plants, which we think are the ones we liked best from last year, and 25 Vardaman plants. I think next year I may order my slips from Sand Hill Preservation just to get a little choice and variety.

The herb garden is filling out- 5 of a new kind of rosemary called Barbecue are in a pot. Supposedly these yield longer, straight and sturdy stems good for skewering meat to barbecue. In the ground are a cilantro plant, already been harvesting some of it's leaves since it bolts so quickly, a yarrow, a dill, green Greek Basil, purple basil, the bronze fennel, 3 chive plants, and a perennial spinach substitute called Good King Henry. I have read about it for years, but had never seen one- when I ran into them at the Amish greenhouse, I bought it just to see. Around the edges of the bed, in the holes of the cinderblocks I put in an oregano, a Doones Thyme and Wedgewood thyme plant. Still to be placed is a Gota Kola plant- my directions say to plant it in the shade of a grape arbor, but I am not too sure about how that will work. I may put it between the bird bath and the sage plant. In another pot are 3 pineapple sages, and a Gerbera Daisy. Can you see the 2 thistle plants growing in the cinder blocks? I keep trying to remove them, but I never have my gardening gloves when I am out there. Actually, I keep hoping Chuck will take them out for me!
Apparently Boodles has enrolled herself in a gardener apprentice program- she has been digging holes all over the yard.
This afternoon I will be making rhubarb jam and steaming spinach to freeze. We like to add spinach to stirfries and to pizza, and I try to keep a good supply of local on hand. My spinach patch is about to bolt, so I plant to pull most of it today, and plant amaranth where the spinach was. Another spinach crop will go in the ground in the fall.

Tomorrow we are attending a Rain Barrel Workshop put on by the nearby Penn State Extension Center. For $25 we get a rain barrel and instructions on how to best use them. I'm very excited by that- we have one rain barrel, and I would like to have one for each downspout.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's up in the garden?

Spinach and spring onions
It has been a spotty sort of spring for posting- but my temp job is over now, and I have pictures, taken this morning (5/21.) Most are posted here in Snapfish, since I know there are a few of you out there who have dial-up and may not want to see all the pictures. You know I am all about personal choice!

What's doing well: The spinach, green onions and garlic are looking great. We have been eating spinach salads for a few days. I have not yet pulled any onions, and of course we won't know about the garlic until mid summer, but I am hopeful. Carrots are doing well, too, it seems, although there aren't many. Some seeds washed off, and I suspect a bunny enjoyed some carrot greens. But those that are left are looking good.

I bought a dozen red cabbage transplants, and they look great; surprisingly the bunnies have either not found them or disdain them, don't know which.
garlic and red cabbage

The potatoes are doing very well, but they always do. Here they are in the cinder block potato bin where Boodles disturbed the baby bunnies a few weeks ago.

What's not doing so well:
Everything I started in the house. Tomatoes- 4 varieties; eggplant, 2 varieties; peppers, 4 varieties; squash, 1 variety. It's not that they are doing poorly, exactly, more like they are in suspended animation. They started off well under the lights, but then just stopped advancing. They have been outside for about a week, and with the exception of the squash, haven't done much out there, either. We have had a cool and rainy spring, so perhaps they are just waiting for the sun. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
tomatoes, started indoors in January
For some reason, the pak choi and the tatsoi have bolted already- again a surprise because it has been such a cool summer. Neither formed a head. I've been pulling them and eating the leaves in salads and as greens, but I am disappointed.

The squash got in a hurry and put on blossoms in the house- I picked them off. Then the leaves and stems turned yellow and I thought the plants were dying. They still may die, but they have put on some new green leaves, so I am not discounting them yet.
Red Kuri squash- started indoors in February

We are experimenting with straw bale gardening this year. You can read more about it here or google it, but basically it is making raised beds out of straw bales. I put squash, eggplant and peppers in, in an attempt to foil the squash bugs and flea beetles. If it is successful, we may do more next year- I really hate the crawling around part of gardening. Later today I will fertilize the straw bales with a dilute fish emulsion. I hope it doesn't draw cats...

Perhaps next year I'll try the asian greens in a bale instead of in the ground.

What's not in the ground yet:
Sweet potatoes and beans. They will go in this weekend, perhaps- it has been very chilly up until this week. Black Tuscan Kale, spinach and lettuce will go in August for fall harvest.
Remember to visit Snapfish to see the flowers and herbs. To see the problem with Poppies, go here

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Red in tooth and claw

I'd like to think that I understand the circle of life, and the basic facts surrounding prey and predator. But understanding or no, I really hated it when our dog Boodles found the nest of baby bunnies in the potato patch this past week.

Here's a picture with Chuck's finger in it for scale. Most of the bunnies were not hurt. We hope we haven't disturbed the nest so that the mother won't return. I wonder how I will feel about that decision when the bunnies attack the greens...