Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

Weekly Garden Update: March 6th

March 6, 2011

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Sensitive Plant”

Daffodils in the Rain

A Lettuce Harvest!

This week we thinned the overwintered lettuces that have begun growing again.  We got a nice harvest of various baby lettuces, mizuna, and mache.  It was only a few months ago that we were so glad to see the last of the Fall lettuce used up but now we’re ready for salads again!  I suppose that’s one of the benefits of eating seasonally – once you get tired of something, the season is over and you move on to something different.

Lettuces

The tomato and pepper seeds we started last weekend have slowly begun to sprout under the grow lights and the celery and cabbage seedlings continue to do well.

The kale, mustard, lettuce, radishes, and spinach we direct sowed three weeks ago finally began to sprout this past week.  We were starting to get concerned but it may have just been that the wildly fluctuating temperatures of early spring weren’t conducive to seed sprouting.

Taters, precious.

Yesterday, we direct seeded more kale, carrots, callaloo, and mustard.  We also did some general garden cleanup and removed the season extension covers and supports from most of the beds that had them.  Earlier in the week we purchased our seed potatoes (Red Pontiacs and Kennebecs) from the local garden center and set them in the sunroom to begin chitting.  We are planning to plant them out in the garden on the 20th (the first day of Spring!)

We also have Cilantro, Oregano, and Lettuces that have survived the winter in the porch rail boxes.

Lettuces

Cilantro

It’s good to have the garden waking up from the winter season!

I went Quail hunting this week with my father, and brought home plenty for the freezer.  Next week’s menu will include Quail Stew, a recipe I was told by a delightful lady at the Quail farm.  Expect the recipe to be posted here subsequently, hopefully with lots of nice pictures.  It is a variation on the old coastal Oyster Stew recipe I learned as a young man.

Weekly Garden Update 2/13/2011

February 13, 2011

Today was the type of pre-Spring day that beckons you to the outdoors and tempts you to start planting.  We tried to hold out on much planting, knowing that weather is unpredictable but the favorable 10-day weather forecast on weather.com caused us to give in.

 

Mustard Box

We uncovered all of the covered boxes so they could bask in the sunshine today and gave everything a good, long drink.  We cleared out the mustard plants that obviously weren’t going to make it.  Three of the Southern Giant Curled Mustard had put out new growth with the better weather we’ve had lately so they received a reprieve from being ripped out.  In the box, we planted Chinese Mustard Greens from http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/, two types of kale from http://cordarogarden.blogspot.com/, and more Southern Giant Curled Mustard.

 

 

Spinach Box

Three spinach plants survived the over-wintering so we planted a few more Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach to hopefully have a few more plants.  We also planted French Heirloom Breakfast radishes from http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/ in this box.

 

 

Carrot Box

One of our boxes had become overrun with a creeping weed so we pulled out the weeds, trying not to damage the carrots that had been overrun.  Since relatively few carrots were able to out-compete the weed, we planted Shin Kuroda Carrot seeds from http://sweetpeahill.blogspot.com/ here and some butter crunch lettuce seeds.

 

 

Mache Box

 

 

Lettuce Box

Our over-wintered leaf lettuces and mache are doing pretty well.  We cleared away the leaves from around the plants to help everything breathe a bit more.  Hopefully the leaves weren’t an integral part of the lettuce’s survival!

 

 

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Broccoli

Cauliflower

More Cauliflower

Various over-wintered brassica seem to have made it.  We’ll see if they actually produce anything.  Of these plants, the broccoli seem the least likely to produce something, but time will tell.  Over-wintered brassicas include brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and one cabbage that survived the voles.  We also started more cabbages indoors this week.

 

The over-wintered kales are doing well enough that we could have harvested some this week, but we put together the week’s menu on Friday (for Saturday shopping) and didn’t realize they were chuggin’ away under the row cover as well as they are.  We know we have harvestable carrots as well, but they’re not part of this week’s menu either.  We’ve been eating a lot of our canned foods from last year’s harvests (tomato sauce, green beans, haricots vert), another butternut squash this week, and the frozen pesto has made an appearance in several lunches lately.

Waiting for Spring with excited anticipation!

Weekly Garden Update: 2/6/2011

February 6, 2011

Gardening season begins in earnest.  Our onions and other seeds which we discussed in the last update are germinating.

Seedlings

Onions

We were a bit slow in seeing that the broccoli and cauliflower was up and growing so they were in the dark a couple of days more then they should have been which has made them a bit leggy.  Hopefully that will be fixed as they’re now growing under lights.  We also germinated our snow peas and our sugar snap peas inside this year, and today we planted them all in two boxes.  We decided to do this because the soil temps (as they were last year) are too low to germinate them, but not too low to allow them to grow (we hope).

Pea Peas

In the pan

Today we seeded the celery.

Celery

I cooked venison steaks this past week, attached the recipe in a post just prior to this one.  Last night we had the smothered quail again, and it was great.  No I mean it was *GRREAT*.

The Kale seems to have survived the winter, as have bizarrely, the lettuces.  We have carrots still.  The Garlic is sprouting up through the mulch all over, and seem to be saying, “Ok, Winter did it’s thing, now let the Spring come in Early”.

February Garden

February Garden

Box for Peas

Carrots

Lettuces

Kale

Garlic!

Weekly Garden Update: June 5&6

June 6, 2010

Let the Sun Shine…

It is 87 degrees in the shade at 10:30 am.  Tomorrow is supposed to be hotter.  The Relative humidity is around 80%.  So yeah, it’s hot and muggy.  What did you expect in rural North Carolina?

This week we harvested dill, rosemary, and sage.  Herb harvests have settled in to become a weekly thing, and so I’m taking to flavoring what we eat accordingly.

Harvested Celery

We harvested some heads of celery, snowpeas, the rest of the broccoli.  We have finished harvesting all our mature lettuces.  We harvested cauliflower, and have still a head or two before we’re done with them for the spring.  We harvested the rest of the garlic scapes, and froze most of them.

Curing Garlic 1

Curing Garlic 2

Also, we did our Garlic Harvest, all hardnecks:

45 French Rose

28 Purple Glaze

22 Brown Tempest

13 Random Bulbs of the above 3 (last week)

03 Green Garlic (previous harvest, eaten)

111 Garlic Total.  This is very close to the number that we planted October 17th, and we’re counting garlic as a rousing success.  Surprising and happy-making because it was the first time either of us has fooled with garlic.  A local farmer is using a piece of lattice to hang and cure their garlic on, so we followed suit and hung some plastic netting on a cattle panel under our screened porch to cure them.  With any luck, this will give us enough garlic to eat for at least half a year, plus enough seed garlic to plant most of this fall’s crop, though we are planning on supplementing this with some softnecks from a local source that has been growing one particular variety as seed stock (and eating stock) for over 25 years.

Cauliflower

This weekend we are planting:  running conch field peas (cow peas), Henderson bush baby lima beans, old Dutch half-runner green beans (these bear profusely and accounted for a plurality of our green beans last year), Yukon gold potatoes.  These are going into the garlic boxes and broccoli and cauliflower boxes.  The potatoes are going into a radish and carrot box which has been resting for about a month.  We had to amend our planting plan because the snowpeas are still producing and we didn’t want to tear them up.

Bloody Butchers

We have tomatoes ripening on the vine, 3 of them are red already, all Bloody Butchers.  The san marzano tomatoes are growing nicely.  I predict tomato biscuits in my future.  There is nothing like biting into a hot fresh biscuit with a slice of a real tomato that has been salted and peppered with a dab of butter melting over it.  We get our butter from the dairy 4 miles down the road and I find that it compares favorably with most European butters that are available in the fancier grocery stores locally.

San Marzanos

Acorn squash and yellow squash are lurking behind golden blossoms.  Zucchini and butternuts are not far behind.

Acorns

Yellow Squash

The haricot vert are in full bloom.  Hopefully the green bean deluge will begin soon.

Haricot Vert in Bloom

Cucumbers and climbing squash are attempting to take over the world with their little pale green clutching tendrils.  I find myself talking to them as I would to a pet (or myself) as I alternatively scold and encourage them to grow properly up the cattle panels, and not through the border fencing or into the neighboring bush squash.

Cucumbers

We have actual peppers on the vines, in this case, cayennes.  Oh those practical, prolific, satisfying hot peppers that make you feel like you might know what you’re doing.  In my humble opinion these are easier to grow than radishes anytime, if someone is a beginning gardener.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne #2

We’ve killed 2 more voles in traps in the past 10 days.  Vole depredations are down again, perhaps our continued efforts are actually whittling them down.  The warfarin we get from Kaput is now being applied every 4 days rather than only when we get an outbreak.   I worry about our hawks that live near us, but just yesterday both of them were overflying the garden and the yard as usual.  The local squirrel population doesn’t seem to have been affected yet, and they are the only other critters that we regularly see in the garden.  Just this morning we watched from our windows as one in the potato box scaled a potato plant, and balancing delicately, swayed back and forth, then jumped out over the fencing.  He jumped twice and landed on a t-post on the celery box, perched there and chattered, then leapt down into this box as well.  We ran out onto the screen porch and hollered at him:  the celery box is littered with mouse traps and buried warfarin – he cleared out in a hurry at the unwanted introduction of the crazy humans.

Tomatoes 6

We’re not sure what to do with extra celery leaves.  Neither of us thinks they will freeze as well as the stalks, and we’re not sure that they can be dried and used effectively either, though we are likely to try.  We have more leaves than we can chop and eat this week, so please, if you have any suggestions, leave a comment.

In the Celery Forest

Welcome to the Jungle

Tomatoes 1

Soil worked Box ready for planting

Squash

Peppers

May 23 Garden Update

May 23, 2010

The Vole War continues, and we seem to be winning a few rounds.  We’ve found 3 dead voles in traps and 1 just lying on the ground.  We haven’t lost any celery plants in over a week, and most of the rest of the predation seems to have slowed down since Thursday.

Cucumbers

However before this we lost 6 of 8 eggplants, 5 pepper plants, and one of our potato boxes has had about 75% of its stalks wiped out.  I put down Warfarin again today in those three boxes, hoping that the cessation of activity since Thursday is a result of many dead little furry bodies somewhere.

Zucchini

We harvested the rest of our spring kale this week, along with more carrots and 4 separate harvests of snow peas.

Carrots & Snowpeas

The watermelon radishes were not making in accordance with her expectations (none to date) and she pulled them up as an example to any other non-performing plants.

Yellow squash

We planted a box of blue lake green beans where the kale was, along with replanting of eggplant and pepper seedlings we got from a local gardening center.  We’re seriously considering if we can reseed some potatoes.

Celery

The tomatoes are couldn’t be happier, and are flowering like crazy.

Tomatoes

Peppers

Winter Squash

More tomatoes

Haricot Verts

Even more Tomatoes

RAIN.

May 19, 2010

We have almost 4 inches of rain in the big gauge from the past 72 hours.  Over 3 inches of it on Monday, enough to put a gully through the mulch at one place, and another gully down the driveway.

After only having 0.75 inches in the previous 45 days, we certainly needed rain.  It came down in sheets, thick enough to obscure the green forest around us in a blur, drumming on the roof in that thick quiet hum, like standing in the middle of a power station, feeling the electricity thrum through you.

The garden loved it.

A couple of weeks ago, right after we put the peppers in, it got down to the upper 30s at night two nights in a row.  It seems to have halted the peppers’ growth a bit, hopefully they will pick up again now.

Snow Peas

We direct seeded Greek and Genovese basil this past week to augment the container plantings, as we harvested some lettuce plants (enough for 2 weeks of eating).  There is still at least a month’s worth of lettuce out there.  We harvested all the spinach we had left, as it was starting to bolt.

Lettuces

The haricot verts are growing well, as are the cucumbers.  We filled in a few gaps where some seeds didn’t germinate with new seed.

Lettuces

Spinach

This is our first really successful planting of snow peas.  We have tried them 3 times before, and were about to give up on them in this environment.  Lo and behold, they are growing up to 6 feet high, and we’ve now harvested 2 meals from them, with a lot more coming.  The blossoms are lovely on them.

Snow Peas

Taters

Some of the potatoes are blooming.  Apparently voles ate 8 of the stalks coming up, ruining at least 4 hills of our potatoes in the lowest box and 2 hills in another box.

Our onions are doing waaaay better than last year.  The sets are still much farther ahead than the seeded ones, but one of the varieties of the seeded ones are far ahead of the rest.  Hopefully they will make this year.  At this time last year we already knew the onion crop was a failure.

Carrots

Celery

Carrots are happy in several box locations.  The rabbit has not been caught again leaping over the 2 foot high fencing.

We started 9 each of the watermelon and charentais melons 3 weeks ago.  Only 4 charentais and 3 watermelons germinated.  We will direct seed once we put them out in place of where the sugar snap peas are now.

Tarragon

There is apparent deer nibbling on some of the potatoes in the box at the edge of the woods, but they must not have been a meal of preference because it has been relatively minor overall.

Two of the 8 eggplants have been lost to voles, as have a few more celeries and 2 ancho peppers.  I’m stunned that they’re attacking eggplants and peppers, and it brings out the Marvin the Martian in me (“I hope you realize that this means war”).

Traps have gotten 2 of the little you-know-whats so far.  We’ve disseminated mothballs in the mulch and down some of their holes and placed mouse traps out for them.  In addition, we gave up and bought some warfarin.  Warfarin has the least risk and rate of secondary poisoning (things that eat things killed by it).  I am limiting it down their holes in boxes with fences and covering netting.  We don’t want to be killing hawks, and I don’t want the dog, or even the rabbits and squirrels to get at it.  On the other hand, we really need to get the voles, or they are going to destroy the garden.  We’ve never cared if  voles or moles or anything dug in the yard, but the count is up to over 10 celery plants, 6-8 potatoes, peppers, eggplants, and sugar snap peas.  We don’t have the space, the inclination, or the resources to afford to house a vole colony, though we don’t like putting down even controlled bait stations.  When even the resident rabid animal welfarist says “kill them”, I know it is time.

Garlic is looking like it should.  We plan on grabbing a garlic every week and eating it, not only to enjoy the fresh green garlic, but to monitor the grow of the bulbs.   Summer and winter squash seedlings are spreading their big leaves, already you can see the variegations in the leaves from the house.  The tomatoes are growing like there is no tomorrow.

We have achieved broccoli!  We have 4 heads of broccoli making.  This is the first broccoli we’ve started ourselves and we’re very excited.  The cauliflower is looking indecisive.  The (mostly) early heat this year may inhibit this spring’s crop; several of the farmers I’ve talked to have indicated that all the field broccoli looks fairly stunted in this county.

Broccoli

We’re trying to figure out why stuff we’re growing in containers inside and on the porch don’t do as well as things we put in the boxes.  It’s the same dirt, and we try to treat them the same.  The only thing we can figure is that maybe the containers dry out faster than we think.  They all look a bit leggy compared to the same stuff in boxes.  I’m going to seed some more mycorrhizal fungi into them; maybe that will help.

This update is late because of the weekend goings on, see the previous post.

Weekly Garden Update 5/9

May 9, 2010

Attack of the Varmints:

One day this past week we saw:  rabbits, hummingbirds, deer, bluejays, a hawk, squirrels, and cardinals all in the space of about 15 minutes.  That was a lot of fun.

What is not so fun is the very large rabbit who has decided that he wants to be clever.  He has patiently nibbled his way through the plastic green fencing in at least 2 boxes so that he can just hop through into them.  After we thwarted this effort, we saw him this morning jump over the 2 foot fence into a box with carrots, not realizing that we had a thin black plastic chickenwire netting on the top.  It freaked him out a bit, but not enough, and by the time I got downstairs and out the door he was sitting happily amongst the carrot greens.  I yelled, “get outta here, you pernicious thieving little sneak!” and he ran away, but only to the edge of the yard, where he sat arrogantly.  When the dog ran outside, he went further, but I suspect we are going to have to take more severe action against him.  Maybe I can do a post on my braised rabbit dish.

The real problem however is the voles.  They have just ruined one 4’ section of beets, and are starting to steal our celery plants, like eating one every other day or so.  Now they are attacking our sugar snap pea roots as well.  We are trying some organic repellants that don’t seem to be working, and have placed some mouse traps out that they aren’t going for.  We knew that putting mulch around the boxes had the potential to be a two-edged sword, but the pros seemed to outweigh the cons.  Something has to be done, and advice is welcome.

The two most recommended things to do are things we probably can’t:  get rid of the mulch, and buy a cat.  Our dog doesn’t play nice with cats, alas.  There are a lot of products out there that claim to help take care of the problem, from high-pitched rodent sound repellers to in-ground traps to poisons, etc.  I hesitate to leap from one idea to another unless I know that someone else has actually had success.  We don’t really want to put down poison unless we can find one that doesn’t have significant risk of secondary poisonings for pets and hawks, and we have no idea if the sound things work or if they would drive the dog crazy as well as the voles.

Other things in the garden are going well, though we had the driest April on record (120 years of record).

In the orchard parts, we have blueberries on the bush and apples in the tree.

Apples

Blueberries

The potatoes are growing so tall I’m starting to worry about their ability to support themselves; two blew over in the wind the other day.

Potato Box

Potatoes 2

We planted our eggplants under a hoop cover.  I made the hoops out of pex piping, held them to the box by using nail-on pex clips, and secured the cover with the same clips.  We have 8 eggplants and 2 thai peppers under the cover.  Flea beetles are death on eggplants in this area, all but one of ours was eaten last year they were so bad.  So this year we’re growing them under cover, hoping the additional heat will also help their growth.  We’ll be doing more of these covers over time, particularly for wintering various species that need just a bit more warmth.

New Hoop Cover

End View

We planted charentais melons and moon & stars watermelons.  They have germinated and are growing nicely, almost ready to put out.

Happy pepper

Broccoli

Haricot Verts

Snow Pea Blossoms

A tomato

Box 'o Tomatoes

Celery

Even more potatoes

It’s May! It’s May!

May 1, 2010

Tra la! It’s May!

The lusty month of May!

Chives

That lovely month when ev’ryone goes

Blissfully astray.

(end singing now)

Lettuce in Harvest Basket

Och Aye, It’s May.  Today we shopped at Carrboro Farmer’s Market and the South Estes Farmer’s Market, buying beets and carrots and biodynamic strawberries that taste like Vanessa Redgrave’s voice sounds.

Radishes

This afternoon we spent in the Garden.  We harvested green garlic, which makes great garlic bread, and oodles of radishes and enough lettuces to satisfy the entire Efrafa warren.  We harvested young spinach, and the last of the wintered cauliflower.

Trellised Peppers

Then we transplanted peppers to a box, only 21 of the ones we have ready to go.  We harvested lettuces and thinned the rest out by transplanting them so they had more room.

Pepper Seedlings

We have Sugar Snap Peas!  Not many, but enough have come in for a dish.  And we have blueberries growing!

Blueberries

And lit-tle ty-ny apples.  We have half a dozen tomato plants blossoming, plus both our tomatillos.  The snow peas have lovely purple and pink blossoms.

Tomato Blossom

We transplanted winter squash that we set to germinate last week into a box, and the summer squash are starting to unfurl from beneath the top layer of dirt.  The haricot vert are germinating as well as the cucumbers.

Squash Seedlings

Below are photos of many of our herbs we have growing in railing boxes and by windows and in large containers outside scattered amongst the Garden.

We’ve been growing mung bean sprouts from beans purchased at our local Co-Op, and have gotten nicely efficient at having them on hand most of the time.  Mostly they go into the salads.

Sometimes I feel redundant; shooting what seems to me to be similar pictures over and over.  Then I remind myself that a year from now it will be nice to have a visual record of the weeks passing in the garden.

More cilantro

Basil

More tomatillo blossoms

Tomatillo blossom

Thyme

Tarragon

Sage

Rosemary

Parsley

Oregano

Tomato Blossom

Lemongrass

Dill

Cilantro

April Garden Update

April 27, 2010

Lettuce!

More Lettuce!

Spinach & Lettuce

We have harvestable baby spinach, along with the ubercrop of lettuce and radishes.  The potatoes have been mounded yet again, the boxes are all full (we started with a 4” deep soil base, and have been adding to them since).

Bed o' Taters

Celery

Our broccoli and cauliflower are doing much better than the ones we did last year.  The seed onions needed thinning, and the set onions are way ahead of them in size.  All the garlic now has 5-7 leaves, a few of the stalks are nearly 4’ high.

We planted 30 tomato plants this past weekend, including green zebra, bloody butcher, brandywine, beefsteak, early girl, better boy, and san marzanos.  We also planted 2 tomatillos, 1 box of haricot vert (2 rows each 12’), and 6 summer squash:  yellow and zucchini.  We planted 3 varieties of cucumbers.  Winter squash seeds were set to germinate inside, both acorn and butternut.

Peppers

Peas

The pepper seedlings are in their final stages of hardening off, and we hope to plant them either this coming weekend or the next at the latest.

In the flower parts of the lot, we have azaleas and irises in bloom now, the daffodils and the tulips have faded away for the spring.  We have dahlia, oriental lily, day lily, and calla lily bulbs that will be coming along.  The moonflower vine almost looks like it is biding its time, though its growth is thick near the ground.

Irises

Azaleas

The apple trees have what look to be tiny apple pods on them.  Given their young age, we are most pleased!  The figs and the blueberries are puttering right along, doing nicely.  My lime mint hasn’t come back up so far this year, not sure why.  If it doesn’t, I’ll try to plant it again in a different location.

We gave away celery and tomato seedlings that had prospered, but that we had no room for, we hope that they will do well in their new homes.

After we planted everything last weekend, we went back in and put up the trellising for the year.

Black Jack Fig

Boxes

Boxes View

New boxes

Po-tay-toes

Grow, my pretties, Grow!

April 17, 2010

We saw our first hummingbird of the year in the garden yesterday!  Last year we had one feeder up, and one hummingbird was a bit of a bully, trying to guard it as much as possible.  She received a Christmas present of another one this year.  We put up both earlier this week, and have been rewarded with their presence already.

Mounded potatoes

Mounded Potatoes

Celery Seedlings

We mounded the potatoes twice this week, that’s just how fast they are growing.  We transplanted 45 of our celery seedlings to the garden.  All the other seedlings we have needed to be repotted *again*, so we’ve been doing that.  We found a lot of seedling pots at the local recycling center, because we’d run out.

We’re busy researching how to cure garlic, including asking local farmers for tips.  And we’re researching how to keep our garlic the longest, because frankly it looks like our harvest is going to be more than we could eat in a year, which would be exciting.

Lettuces

Radish

Broccoli raab

We continue to harvest record quantities of lettuce with even more coming along, and also this week harvested radishes and broccoli raab, as well as some pea shoots.

Radishes

Radishes

In two weeks, we’ll be putting our tomato plants out, along with all our pepper plants.

Since we put out the castor oil granules, I haven’t seen any new vole digging in the boxes.  We’re crossing our fingers.  I gave some of my moonflower seeds to a couple we’re friends with, they had moved this winter and are restarting their farm all from scratch, and didn’t have a moonflower plant in the new location.

Cauliflower

Harvest

One of our cauliflowers is heading up!  Now it is a race for how big can it grow before we can’t stand it anymore and just take it to be eaten.  I’m favoring just simply steaming it, served with a bit of butter and some pepper.