New Potatoes

June 23, 2013

We have two varieties of potatoes planted here and there around the garden.  I had some growing in a container on the patio.  The foliage had wilted and with the hot weather coming we decided to harvest them.

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Red potatoes grown in a patio container.

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I decided to cook some “kitchen sink” vegetable soup, so I would have less cooking to do during the week.  Besides store and farmer’s market food items, from the garden I added potatoes, green beans, peas, parsley, and basil.

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I never seem to have that much success with peas, since it gets hot and dry here, but I picked 8-10 pea pods today.  Usually I just grow the snow peas and eat the whole pod, but I tried “green arrow” peas this year.

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The green bush beans are starting to produce now, but the pole bean runners are climbing the poles and usually produce a large quantity of beans for me.

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The leaf lettuce has been good this year.  I planted it here and there around the yard along with romaine lettuce and have been eating it almost every day. I just pick the outer leaves and it keeps coming.

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The first cucumber blossom.

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Ant swarm.  These ants were heading down the sidewalk and ended up in a bottleneck here.  I don’t mind insects when they are outside.  There are more mosquitoes now that summer is heating up though, so I have to remember the bug spray when I go out to harvest or weed.

Winter preparations:  I went online to the Territorial Seed Company and picked out some seeds to buy for my winter garden this week.  I am looking at two varieties of kale, tatsoi, turnips, and carrots as something I will buy from them.  I hope lettuce will work in the low hoop, too.

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This week I have been busy planting seed for beans, cucumbers and zucchini.  I also bought small vegetable plants at the nursery and got them in the ground.  I bought eggplant, mustard greens, brussel sprouts,  kale, yellow crookneck squash, basil, thyme, and maybe something else.  I like to try a lot of different things and see what grows well.  While I worked I was enjoying the blossoming trees.

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American Plum Tree Blossoms.  There were just a few blossoms on the trees, but they have beautiful intricate detail.

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Amelanchier Laevis – Allegheny Serviceberry Blossoms.  This serviceberry has been in the yard for four years and is a native shrub I bought at Possibility Place.  The small berries in June are very tasty if I get them before the birds.

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Pollinator on Serviceberry blossoms.  With bees having such a hard time due to pesticides and mono-cultures without flowers, such as lawns or a corn field, it is important for them to have flowers all season, from early spring to late fall for them to gather nectar from.

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My lawn has a lot of violets, which I do not mind at all, and I am sure they keep some pollinators happy.

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I have put daffodils in almost every blog post this spring.  Different colors just keep opening up!  A bee would be attracted to check out the trumpet of this coral colored flower.

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In order to fit in all the vegetables I want this year I have been planting them in between flowers and in every spot I can find.  I bought four eggplants this year.  This one is a Japanese variety called “Ichiban.”  It’s a very tasty variety and will hopefully withstand the advance of the daylilies  that will surround it.

Green smoothies:  Buying organic greens can get expensive.  Now we are starting to have more greens to put in from the garden.  We have kale, from last year’s stalks, although they are trying to flower now.  We are starting to eat romaine and we threw in some dandelion greens today, which are certainly easy to come by!  Of course when you mix in blueberries, bananas, dates, and cocoa powder, any greens taste pretty good.

Fabulous Compost

October 21, 2012

I learned that we are supposed to strive to have 5% of our soil be compost.  In order to do that we can spread about a half-inch of compost over 10 inches deep of soil and that comes pretty close.  My compost has been ready to spread for a while, but I was finally motivated to do it now before starting to make new compost with all the fall leaves.  I needed Dan’s help, too!

First Dan removed the recently collected mulched leaves and organic material from the pile and put it on the sidewalk.  Then he dug out about a foot of rich dark compost and spread it around the garden, after we had cleared it of most of this year’s vegetable plants.  Then we sowed winter rye into the soil to see if we could get a cover crop to germinate this late in the season.  This is the first time I am trying a cover crop.

We wanted to expand our vegetable garden a few feet, so I put down wet newspapers and then we spread mulched leaves over the top to make lasagna mulch.  We took the hose and sprayed water on the leaves and on the winter rye seeds.  I also planted some lettuce and spinach seeds a while ago, but only a few of those have sprouted.

The grasshopper was still alive and watching the action from the kale.  We still have a lot of kale in the garden.  We have an artichoke plant that is still alive along with the rhubarb, herbs, onions and shallots.

pink chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemum ‘fantasy’ is the last mum to bloom in my garden.  The wood is weak and last week I saw branches had broken off the plant, so I brought them inside and they opened up in the warmth.  These mums are starting to bloom outside, too.

I put pineapple sage in a planter this year.  The hummingbirds like these flowers, though they bloomed quite late, so I have not seen hummingbirds on them this year.

Asters with russian sage in the background.  The russian sage and the goldenrod are pretty tired colorwise, but they still have structure and height.

On my birthday I harvested these strawberries, tomato and beans.  I have had a few more strawberries since then.  I brought green tomatoes in a few weeks ago and I had given up on them ripening, but today I see that they are turning yellow.

Watering Week

May 19, 2012

Last weekend I planted a lot of small vegetables and seeds, so I have been watering every day this week to get the seeds to sprout.  Hopefully they will not need much water once they get established.  So far some cucumber and bean seeds have sprouted, but I am still waiting for the nasturtium seeds to sprout.  Today it was 90 degrees, but the weather may cool down some this week.

The irises opened about 10 days ago.  They are so showy to look at from the kitchen window!  I will need to divide them and move some of them or give them away….

I love it when the first foxgloves bloom.  The bees love it, too.  Maybe I can even attract a hummingbird.

In March I moved the big catmint out of this bed to a place where it would have more room to spread out without flopping on the lawn or shading the other plants.  That left a hole and I put a few small plants in, which will take a while to fill in.  I could always throw in a few annuals this year if needed.  Everything is growing well at this point!

A closer look at Blue Hill Salvia and a geranium.  The moonbeam coreoposis on the left looks like it is getting overpowered by the salvia.  The daisies, back right, will be coming soon.

Funky onion showing off!   You can see a few beans that have just sprouted on either side of it.  My neighbor told me he had some left over mulch from last year, and then he gave me five bags, which I put down this morning in the vegetable garden after getting the little weeds up. Behind the fence on the left is a cherry tomoto, cucumbers, kale and my mint patch.  Right behind the onion is a patch of potatoes.  I guess I left some potatoes in the ground last year without knowing it and got a new batch this year. Also on the right is some swiss chard that came back on its own after the winter.  The yellow yarrow is so pretty.  Pictures of that next time.

Looking back at the garden from the other side…  I put up my bean poles for the climbing beans.  They are starting to sprout, too.  On the left are beets, pak choi, more kale and fennel.  Not shown in these pictures is all the leaf lettuce!  I have so much I really have to be diligent to keep eating it every day to keep it coming.  Also, I am starting to eat the first strawberries.  YUM!

A close up of common sage flowers.  I managed to capture the bumble bee on the left.

Dan’s favorite thing in the garden is definitely our Chinquapin oak tree.  He says the branches have grown up and out about a foot this spring.  There is still not a lot of shade, but significantly more each year.

Still waiting for bluebirds this year!  I do have baby sparrows in one of our bird houses.

Thankful

November 6, 2011

I know it isn’t Thanksgiving Day yet, but I was thankful today as I cleaned out the vegetable garden.  I was thinking about the seeds falling on good soil and multiplying thirty, sixty, even one hundred times.  Certainly the zucchini and one tomato plant did that this year.  All that is left now is the kale, swiss chard, a few onions scattered around and the perennial herbs.  I have a huge flat parsley plant that is very green.  The soil is partially so good because of the leaves that we compost each year.  And now it is that time of year again.  Leaves are falling and I am working to get my compost cooking enough to decompose all the leaves we are gathering.

I have enjoyed watching the bushes change color.  The spice bush was very yellow, but hard to catch with my camera.  Here are a few more fall color shots.

I took this picture of the fothergilla bush a week ago.

The Regent’s Serviceberry west of the house.  It was planted just a little over a year ago and I am looking forward to watching it grow more each year.

Ajuga and maple leaf.

Gaillardia – Blanket Flower.  I have not done as much deadheading on these recently, but they still keep coming month after month.

Cooking today:  Sauteed green beans, kale and bacon.  I also broiled another batch of green peppers and some tomatoes.

Vegetable Garden in August

August 21, 2011

In this post I will just focus on the vegetable garden.  We mostly just grow as much as we can eat, but sometimes we have to eat a lot of something when it is growing quickly.  We have been eating tomatoes, beans, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, swiss chard, and now cantaloupe. When the zucchini get too big, because I don’t get out in the garden for a while, I just throw them in the compost pile.  Yesterday we made spaghetti to use up some of the cherry tomatoes.

Vegetable garden from a distance.  The yellow fennel on the left is fun and blocks the huge tomato plant, which can look a little scraggly this time of year.  The pole beans on the fence behind the fennel are going wild and I just picked half a bucket of big beans.The blue/green kale right of the fennel has turned out to be a wonderful plant and great for cooking, too.

Here is a closer shot where you can see how much the zucchini take over…  there were a lot of zucchini blossoms today.   I love the combination of colors with the orange and pink zinnias and the blue morning glories as well as the lavender Agastache.

Red peppers for my daily salad.

Yellow bush beans.  These are generally more tender than the bigger pole beans.

We have eaten two cantaloupe, but we have 5 or 6 to go and they are ripening quickly so we are eaten them every day.

When cleaning up some old hosta flowers I came across only the second praying mantis I have seen in the garden.

I tried to move this guy over with a stick to get a better picture and she/he showed me a stinger.  Don’t they say the females eat the males after mating?  So I left “her” alone…

June Snapshot

June 26, 2011

We have had beautiful weather the past few days, in the mid-70s.  I enjoy taking time to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of every plant.

We don’t have much shade in our back yard, but along the north side of the house we have hostas and this “invincibelle” hydrangea.

I think of this as my fall garden, but the middle area blooms now in June.  As the summer progresses the left and right sides will bloom yellow and purple colors through the fall.  I like the red hot pokers in the back that are just getting started.

In the drought garden the pink butterfly weed is starting to open.

I had weeds and grass growing in this planter, so today I threw in some annuals and brought it up by the back door.  On the left are yellow moss rose and on the right are blue browallia.  They don’t look like much yet, but this is the first time I have grown them, so it is another experiment.  There was an orange butterfly on the yellow tickseed flowers today, but I could not get close enough to identify it.  Not a monarch, though.

The bean plants on the bean pole are still looking somewhat tidy.  No beans yet, but we should have some bush beans soon.

As the pink penstemon flowers on he left go to seed, the bright colored zinnias are getting taller and will soon be three or four feet high and full of flowers.  The butterflies and birds love them.  There are a few snap peas on the fence on the left and the zucchini on the right are starting to blossom.  A very special treat this week was that we pulled up our first new potatoes and ate them a few hours later!

I think the bluebird is incubating eggs and the robin seems to be feeding baby birds.

Summertime…

August 22, 2010

All the rain and hot weather means a lot of mosquitoes! At night we hear the noise of the cicadas.  One was making its noise in my drought garden while I watched.

The cicada crawled up the tallest Gaillardia.

Though we are coming to the end of summer our garden harvest has been so abundant this year.  These peppers are turning orange.  I have not tried them yet, but the green pepper I have been eating has been sweet.

In the foreground is English Thyme.  To the left of the swiss chard are bush beans.  We have had so many beans this year.  We froze four bags this morning.

Zucchini leaf with basil flowers.  While we were otherwise occupied this week several zucchini squash grew huge and we had to put the largest ones back in the compost pile.

A squirrel planted this oak tree, but we like the location and it has grown a foot this year.  If we have any trouble with our Chinquapin Oak we will have a backup!

Vegetable Garden

July 18, 2010

I have been too busy in the garden to blog…

Below you will see a picture of the “vegetable” portion of the garden.

There are always a lot of flowers in this garden, too.  The herbs are mostly perennials and they flower at different times, but I have a number to annuals, as well.  I definitely do not plant the vegetables in rows.  They get rotated around wherever there is an open spot and all the mix of smells and variety of plants keep the bugs confused, so no pesticides are needed.  The wasps and bees love the yellow fennel, which is flowering now.

I got a package with seeds of green, yellow, and purple bush beans and I love the variety.  We have pole beans, too, but they are harder to see, to they get pretty big before I find them!

I bought a little watermelon plant on a whim and it died right away.  Or so I thought!  After weeks of rain I saw that it was coming back.  I wonder if there will be time for the watermelons to form…

The cucumbers are coming quickly now!  Our neighbor gave us some, too.  We are eating half of them and put the other half in the compost pile to see if we can get the worms back in there again.

My husband weeded the garden this morning!  Thank you!!!  You can see the zucchini leaves in the foreground, as well as the basil on the right.  In the background are the cherry tomatoes that are ripening quickly.  We will have to make some spaghetti sauce with the tomatoes, parsley, oregano and thyme.

This is the first time I have grown swiss chard, which cooks up somewhat like spinach.  The stalks are either red, yellow or white.  It just keeps coming and coming….

I had to sneak in a butterfly picture on this butterfly weed.  Can you see the Monarch?