Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Late Summer Update.

I've been picking tomatoes at a pace faster than I can consume them. Oh the joys of Heirloom cherry tomato plants. I will definitely be planting more next year. The fruit is as sweet as candy.

The powdery mildew really did a number on my zucchini and cucumber plants. I picked what I think will be my last two zucchinis this past weekend.

I have late blooming eggplants; however, there is a destructive critter in my garden - an unidentified eggplant targeting slug-bug critter. My first eggplant was severely wounded by these little guys and so are the leaves to the plants. I haven't a clue what to do.

Here's the culprit hard at work.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST...I've got a new crop just starting to fruit: Acorn Squash. I've got a little learning to do in order to know when these guys are completely ready to be picked, but it does feel good to have a new little thing to look forward to.




Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Egg + Pepper = Growth

I was looking for ways to spur a little growth out of my pepper plants since they are one of my only crops left now that my squash plants have taken a turn for the worse.

An internet search yielded this suggestion:
Crush up eggshells (I actually put them into my coffee grinder)
Mix the shells with water and let them sit for 24 hours.
Pour the mix at the base of the plants.

Maybe it is coincidence, maybe it is not - but my pepper plants are definitely in production mode.
Try it if you are looking for a way to get a higher yield off your plants. Let me know if you see the same success.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I learned from my sunflowers.

Instead of duplicating content...I'm going to send you over to my other blog Firing up the Canon for the lesson I learned from my sunflowers!

Enjoy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Clean up. Clean up. Everybody everwhere.

This has been clean up week in my garden. If you've been reading for a while you already know that I've been battling the powdery mildew on my zucchini and cucumber for weeks now.

So after hacking a majority of leaves off of the zucchini plants I was able to get a good look at their root systems. I wasn't surprised to find whole lot of root rot snarling at me from the soil. I pulled up three of the zucchini plants in the garden and decided that their time had passed. I had to admit defeat.

My cucumbers haven't produced anything edible at all; however, they did manage to rope themselves around every last plant in my garden. I decided to admit defeat there as well and give them the old heave ho. So now I'm down to one zucchini plant in the garden and two thriving on the side of the house. Fine by me. I was a bit overzealous with my intended zucchini crop at the beginning. I overcrowded my plants and have learned my lesson.

I've been pondering my late summer / early fall planting. I know I want to plant garlic, but I'm not sure what else.

I'm also watching my eggplant plants hoping that although they haven't given me fruit yet, they might. They are all flowering, but that's about it. Any suggestions?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sunflowers

When planting my garden I decided that in addition to vegetables I wanted to add a little height and color. I purchased a packet of mixed variety sunflowers and sprouted them with everything else. They are now wildly beautiful - the photos speak for themselves.





Monday, August 2, 2010

What's GROWING on right now.

Not too much has changed in the past couple weeks as far as the garden is concerned. I've reduced the amount of powdery mildew on the plants by cutting leaves and by doing a milk spraying. It's still there, but I'm producing zucchini so I'm not worrying too much.

My cucumber vines are plentiful and flowering, but not producing any veggies. I'm perplexed. It was suggested that I try a fertilizer high in phosphorus - the middle number displayed on fertilizer. I'm going to have to try it. I have a feeling that my acorn squash is going to be a slow producer as well. I haven't seen anything on the vine.

My beans are producing modestly, but enough for me to pluck em off a couple times a week for a small serving - which is good enough for me.

Most of my tomatoes are still green, but I do have one or two cherry tomato plants that are beginning the process of turning red. I'm excited to share them once they have fully ripened.

I haven't picked lettuce or kale for a while - I might try doing another harvest and refrigerating it for a couple days to see if it cuts any of the bitterness.

My peppers are growing slow and steady. Again, not a huge crop, but good enough for me.

I'm looking forward to figuring out what my fall crop can be and starting some seeds:)

What's growing in your gardens?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fungi is no Fun at All.

So - thank you to everyone who suggested spraying milk on the leaves of my plants months ago. Had I taken prompt action I might not be here right now telling you that my plants are covered in powdery mildew and I'm having to hack off leaf after leaf after leaf.

My two early and huge crops - zucchini and cucumber - aren't looking as green as they should. In fact they aren't even looking green at all. They are all splotchy, powdery and white.

Powdery mildew is an airborne fungus that doesn't require constant dampness to form. In fact the heat helps it to spread. Once it is on the plant it spreads fast.

Research online gives me the following causes:
1. Overcrowding - Guilty as charged.
2. Watering from overhead - Guilty again.
3. Hot sun - I can't take the blame on this one, but it's there.
4. Humidity - Check.
6. Letting it go too long once I noticed it - Double check.

Solutions
1. Cut off severely affected leaves.
2. Spray weekly with a 50/50 milk and water solution.
3. Treat early instead of waiting like I did.

Word is that I can still eat the veggies - if the plants still continue to produce. I can't help but wonder if this isn't partially the cause of the shrivel sticks I've been occasionally picking.

If anyone has any additional advice for me - please send it my way. I'd hate to lose all these plants.

I really kind of love them :)


Monday, July 26, 2010

Life In Transition.

A small lilac bush sits at back right corner of my lot.

Some time last year the tree stopped blooming and the life inside of it faded.

Early this April, however, I came into the backyard to find the bush bursting with life. Vibrant orange and pale yellow flowers trailed over the branches. Though it had stopped thriving as what it once was - the bush lent its strength and structure to an incoming vine - the beautiful blossoms and sweet, sweet fragrance of the honey suckle.

A month or so passed and as the honey suckle faded back to a subtle green, a morning glory vine eased its way in and began the process of showing its life over the branches. Mornings burst over the bush in a blueish lavender. All uninterrupted by, but supported by the life below.

I've been observing this transition of life for months. So many lives blossoming then receding over the same set of branches. The ease of exchange. The way it can almost happen before your eyes without you even noticing. The way nature comes in to fill the space to keep life beautiful.

Isn't this what living is all about? Allowing yourself to change over time, to embrace new life, the people that come and go, the situations that present themselves. Moving always - forward.

We all have this wonderful opportunity to open our arms wide during periods transition. To surrender ourselves to the changing the life around us. To make room for new love and situations.

When we don't fight hard against nature we can live fully in our skin.

I'm thankful for the bush that surrendered itself to open my eyes to this. It helps me to realize that there has been value in every stage of my life. Each has enabled me to learn and display critical parts of myself, to give and receive the exact love I needed at that time.

Also featured on Firing Up The Canon.


Friday, July 23, 2010

One more time and I'm gonna wash your mouth out with...

Lettuce :(

My green leafy lettuce is now leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. A total disappointment as it is one of my most beautiful crops and I have plenty of it right now.

The cause - HEAT.

Online sources suggest putting it in the fridge for a couple days before eating it to cut the bitter bite.

I'll try it. I'm not willing to give up yet.

On a positive note - I just ate my first little orange pepper and have quite a few more in progress on the plant. I'm creating zucchini at a rate I can't even keep up with. I've been harvesting a bean or two here and there. Once my tomatoes start to ripen I'm going to have a case of acid reflux even Pepcid can't tame - lots on the vine.

Next week I'm going to take a shot at fried green tomatoes and take care to taste my early crop.

It's all about looking and learning for me. And it's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blossom End Rot

It was just as I suspected.

My little shrivel stick zucchini's are likely a product over overwatering. The pruned fingers of the veggie world. Visually predictable.

I semi-suspected we were giving the plants too much fluid - watering daily. Especially the plants that I did on the side of the house - they just simply do not get enough hours of sunlight to justify a daily watering. Truth be told, the main garden probably doesn't need it either.

I'm going to cut back on the water supply this week and see what happens. It's not quite as hot as last week so this is probably a good time to try it out.

Hopefully this is a journey back to plumpness.

Wish there was a Lubriderm for shrivelly squashes. That'd be an easy fix.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shrivel Sticks.


So...some of my zucchini are shriveling on the vine while they are very small. Most of the ones that are looking funny start to do so at the 2 inch stage of growth, but now I have a slightly larger one that has gone prune finger on me? Any ideas?

Does this replicate the human condition of too much time spent in water? Should I water less? Or is it something else?




Sunday, July 18, 2010

Zucchini Bake

We finally cooked one of the two big zucchinis from the garden. The other was gifted and awesomely prepared by Veronica last Wedneday night.

For mine, here's what I did.

I selected a rotisserie chicken and shredded the breast meat. Then I purchased some pesto made at the mustard seed market, a bag of sun dried tomatoes, portabella mushrooms, garlic, and feta cheese. Everything was mixed together and left to mingle in the fridge for about 2 hours.

The zucchini was then sliced down the middle and scooped completely clean until each side was a hollow boat. The insides were added to the previously combined deliciousness.

The zucchini boats were stuffed, Parmesan cheese was generously sprinkled over the tops and the boats were baked in the oven.

The end result - Taste-tastic.

The photo isn't the best because I was too lazy to pull out the Canon, but it does give you the picture.



Bon Apetit.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spinachery! Take Two

All of the spinach that I planted early in the summer has now been pulled up and composted. It shot to seed quickly in the heat - although i did managed to harvest three times before having to pull it up. I consider that a decent start.

I've now planted a new road of seedlings and will wait "patiently" while they take their turn coming through the soil. I think the plan is going to be to start a new batch of seeds every three weeks so I keep a good rotating crop of veggie friendly iron in the dirt. Makes morning eggs all the more exciting.

I've also harvest, shared and munched on all of the green onions that I started earlier in the season. So, of course, I planted some more of those as well. I have to be honest. I much less patient waiting for their arrival. I just love them.

So, here's to three weeks from now! Until then I'll be enjoying my early bean and zucchini crops.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Nothing "ini" about em.

As promised - here are a couple pictures of my first Zucchini harvest. We were on vacation for a week and when we returned home we found two extremely large treats in the dirt. We actually scavenged for these guys at 1 a.m. It was the first thing i did after pulling in the driveway.

With their size, it was recommended that I scoop out the seeds area, stuff them and bake them - so this Sunday that is what I'm going to try:)







Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Camouflage

So, it's different than I though it would be. Harvesting. Plants are wise and protective - camouflaging the fruits of their labor carefully. I swear I look around my garden at least twice a day and it's entirely possible that even when carefully looking I could miss a vegetable that is right in front of my eyes.

This morning I went back out just to see what changed from last night through this morning after a night of rain - and things really do change just that fast. But instead, what I found were about a dozen beans ready pick. Beans that I didn't even know had begun to sprout. I wasn't looking close enough - even though it seems like looking is a majority of what I do.

I washed them and put them in the salad I picked for lunch.

It's so rewarding and exciting to see the work we put in paying off. I'm in love with my food.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lettuce Be Happy :)

Picked a bunch of lettuce for dinner today and wanted to share some photos of me in my happy place :) Everything is huge. Tomorrow I'll show you the zucchini we pulled out after a week of being gone. They are amazing.

Happy Gardening!


Friday, July 2, 2010

A Sneak Peek - July 2, 2010 - Early Morning

Onions From Seedling

Cucumber Flower

Pepper Growth

Beans Climbing up the pole.

Zucchini Flower

Lettuce Growing Wildly

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cleveland Urban Garden

Huge urban garden installation taking place in Cleveland's Ohio City area. Pretty neat. I love to see under-utilized land being given over to growing food to sustain people in our area. This is great.

I was pleased to read in the article that, "One survey already ranks Cleveland the #2 local food big city in the country. Portland is #1."

One more on a long list of reasons we aren't so bad:)

Read more here!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Early Harvest

Haven't been able to harvest too much from my earthly carnival as of yet, but the lettuce and spinach have had their initial picking. We took advantage of the little harvest and made a Cajun salmon Caesar salad. The rest of the spinach has been used to fancy up my scrambled eggs. I love green food. I love it even more when I use my hands and heart to help it grow!

My green onions are almost at the picking stage. I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am at the notion of pulling them up. (I have tried three times now only to be reminded that things take time!) A green onion a day keeps, well, most everyone away - but who cares. They taste so good and really spice up the salads.

I'm going to plant another round of spinach this week since my current plants are flowering and I really want to continue picking it all summer/fall long.

Life is good.


Brocc O'flower

My broccoli plants had small, plum-sized, heads starting on them and then they immediately shot to seed. So, now I have a lovely yellow bouquet of broccoli flowers starting in the garden, but nothing I can steam up for a side dish.

Any suggestions on why this might have happened or how I can start over with the same plant would be greatly appreciated!

UPDATE:
So here's what I've learned! Broccoli is a cold weather crop and the heat is what is forcing premature blossoming of the plants. I'm going to let these ones stay in the garden as decoration, but I'm going to try another set that gets planted in late august. I'll see if I have better luck then.

Good times!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sizing it up on 6-24

Tomato (my seedlings are actually reaching the first rung of the cages )

Zucchini (leaves the size of my hand)

Pepper (doubled in size from just last week)

Spinach (salad size now!)

What the fung?

One of my zucchini plants has some funny looking leaves.

I have no idea if this is fungus or some other plant disease. Moreover - I don't know if I am to just let it grow or if I need to move it.

Any ideas or suggestions?

Here's a picture of the affected leaves and then one of the unaffected.



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Things I'll do different next year.

I've entered the growth stage in my garden where vines are boasting with enormous growth. My cucumber and zucchini and impressive with leaves the size of my hand and orange flowers a-glow.

That being said I think I made a plotting error. I think that I should have placed my vine veggies around the perimeter of the garden and guided the vines up and the fence surrounding it.

To remedy the situation I may by some trellises to add to the center to support the plants.

I'm really going by trial and error here. I've read a couple of blogs that have mentioned using a trellis to make the most out of square foot garden space. Maybe it'll benefit me.

I'll keep you updated.

Happy gardening! I have had soil under my finger nails for over a month now!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good Reads

Every once in a while I find a blog that I love reading and actually get quite a bit of knowledge from.

Life on the Balcony
is just that.

It's a blog centered on container gardening, but I'm learning a bunch of things that I can apply to my own gardening space from it.

Today I learned what it actually means when a tag says Matures in ## days.

"This number indicates how many days after planting the fruit or vegetable outside it will take before you can harvest something," she writes.

Sounds simple, but it really is information that I don't have in my brain just yet and I'm very eager to educate myself.

Enjoy the blog!

Monday, June 21, 2010

1 part water. 2 parts pepperation

I just wanted to use a post to show you pictures of my baby peppers. I love seeing stuff starting to vegetate. Everything is looking so much bigger this week than it did last. It's reaching temperatures of 85 here. I'm trying to be religious about watering. I don't want to lose any of my little friends.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Broccoli Buddy!

My one Broccoli plant has a pretty little head beginning. How exciting. I better learn when things are ready for harvesting soon or I'll end up ruining all this progress I'm making with my little friends.

Advice is always welcomed!

Elliot's Plant - For Erin.

Our Dahlia is blooming.

She had one beautiful flower when we bought her. It died quickly, but new buds have been showing for a week.

We put her in the care of Elliot - our pet dragon.

She's doing great and the buds are finally beginning to open.



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The lettuce is bolting. The lettuce is bolting.

I transplanted a lettuce plug a few days ago into a "salad bowl" with other fine edibles like basil and parsley.

Yesterday when I came outside I noticed that my lettuce had sprouted some lovely yellow flowers at the top.

I had read enough about this flowering process to know that it is called "bolting" or "going to seed" and gives lettuce the dreaded bitters. I just wasn't sure why it was happening to my lovely little crop.

After a bit of research I got my answers.

Trauma.

I waited to long to transplant it. Then I over crowded it in the lettuce bowl.

It went to seed to try to preserve it's species.

Can I still eat the lettuce? "Yes." Can i eat the new little flowers? Research says, "yes." Will I enjoy the flavor? Probably not.

-------------------------------
Plants aren't that different from people, I suppose.
Overcrowd and deny them what they need and alacazam- they bolt.

Lesson learned. And the composter gets its daily dose of leafy greens.


Grow babies grow

Everything in my garden is growing awesomely. Here's the thing...I don't know when you pick things like the green onions. I already missed the opportunity on one kind of lettuce I think because it has lovely yellow flowers on it now. HELP! hahahaha.

Green Beans and a Marigold

Green Onions

Peppers, Zucchini, Cucumber, Red Onion

Lettuce

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tomato Plants

Wilting.

Whhhhat? Two or three of my tomato plants took a fast decline. Yesterday they were standing tall and strong. Today little wilted piles of, well, weedable material. I pulled them out, but I'm unsettled. I wonder what happened. The other four or five in the garden (some started from seed at home, some from store) are standing strong.

Any advice for the weary gardener?

I don't know what I did to let the little guys go. I don't want it to happen to any of my other plants. Good thing I have backups.

Mushroom Compost

Okay - I never realized how much debate there could be over different growing additives/composts/fertilizers.

Now every time I make a decision and spread something new into my soil I find myself second guessing the choice and semi-panicking.

This weekend I saw a bag of Mushroom compost. It said it was good for the soil in vegetable gardens. I bought it. I spread it around my plants. And now I am sitting here questioning the choice.

I also started a second squash garden using 50% mushroom compost and 50% soil.

Any thoughts or ideas about the product?

Should I just leave my soil alone??

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Coal in the Compost

So...

I read that you can put the ashes from the grill in the composter.

I did it.

And now I'm second guessing myself.

I've received some negative feedback and some positive.

I think I'll refrain from putting any additional in, but do i give up on 6+ months of composted materials?

What to do...what to do.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hoard-iculture

I am here to report that we have a problem.

I'm hoarding plants.

It has become virtually impossible, after starting this gardening project, to stop. Every time we drive past a store that has plants we leave with a car full of them.

Then pots must be purchased to accommodate.

Then more soil.

It's a daily game of sun and water, dig and plant.

I've already started to plot out a second space for planting. It's as much fun as I've ever had as an adult. I'm in love.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

Onion Sets

Being that I'm completely new to the back yard gardening box I'm completely fascinated by certain foods and their planting rituals.

This week my eyes are SET on the onion.


After eating three green onions freshly picked and cleaned from a home garden last weekend my brain has been consumed.

When i started my seedlings I did plant onion seeds and I do have about 25 sprouts...but to take my onion adventure even further i decided to take a recommendation and buy onion sets.



Since I had never heard of an onion set I began a little research and have learned a lot in just two days.

You have three options for planting onions...
1. seeds
2. sets
3. transplants - I need to read more on this one. I think they are just sets that have matured and began to bulb.

I've got two of them in action - seeds and sets.

My seeds that were planted are about an inch and a half high. Some of them have been transplanted into my garden and I'm hoping they become full sized onions. About 20 or so are growing right now close together in a pot. I want them to be green onions. It's all an experiment for now.

For a more sure fire growing method I ran out and got the sets today. Sets are bulbs that haven't yet began to sprout green at the top.


They are super inexpensive too. 100 bulbs for just 1.99. I bought a bag of white and a bag of red so I can experiment with the flavors and plant more than my body an bare to eat (or simply more than the people around me can bare for me to eat).

I'm hoping to get them in some dirt tonight. @

More on the onion to come. Including some pictures. I've been bad about getting out there and photographing the progress we are making.

There is so much I want to document with photos and share.

The Mystery Pot


At the beginning of my seed adventure - back in April - I accidentally spilled all of my seed pods on the driveway causing me to have to start over.

I salvaged what I could...and part of that equated to me picking up a bunch of mystery dirt filled with mystery seed and putting it in a large communal pot.

I got some growth in that soil...but I wasn't sure what it was until last night. The growth was identified as tomato plants.

Boy are those little guys hardy.

Oddly, the ones in the pot grew about 3X as fast as my little ones in the peat - yes, a complete contradiction to what I had posted earlier.

I put the big guys in the garden near the little guys I had planted the other day - whoever takes off will be spaced out nurtured even more. We'll see how this works out. Right now I know I'm a little over crowded on tomatoes (and maybe slightly proud of it).

Anyone need a tomato plant?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Garden is IN!

My uncle picked up the wood and surprised me by building the garden box in my back yard. It is wonderful, beautiful and filled with love.

There are a few things I'd like to share with you about the process.

First...the box.
The corners are all bracketed and stable so there was no need to actually bury the wood in the soil. This means the garden is sitting up a little higher than it would have been, which is great for allowing the plants to grow deeper roots.



Second...the soil.
2 yards of soil was the perfect amount for the space. We took a lucky guess and it panned out perfectly. Spreading it out was a lot of work, but not nearly as tiring as pulling it off the back of the truck.



Third...the plants.


Serenity got to put the first plant in the garden. We chose a sunflower to decorate the back corner and it looks so cute. We placed them sporadically around the garden just to give it some color and height.

After that we went through and gave a nice little layout to the other plants - trying to follow the planting guidelines as close as possible.

And the good news is...it appears that all were strong enough to survive transplant. I can't wait to see them grow.


Up Next...
1. I'm still looking for another spot in the yard to put my acorn squash and start some pumpkin.

2. I'm buying seeds to add a couple more things here and there.

3. I'll hopefully post a picture of the entire garden on here tomorrow :)