Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tomatoes and Tough Love

We're finally seeing the fruits of our labor!  Literally!

Our first Genovese tomato: P5290056

The fist tomato on the in-garden Super Sweet 100 plant: P5290058

The first four tomatoes on the potted Super Sweet 100 plant:P5290066

In the meantime, we've been plucking the occasional red tomatoes from the hanging Red Robin plants:   P5290070

And the much younger Red Robin plant is starting to flower: P5290067

I'm amazed at the luck we've been having with the Red Robins and will probably grow them every single year.

Meanwhile, one of the Alexandria strawberry plants has created a flower!  It's too early to let a brand new everbearing variety set fruit, though.  I pinched the flower off in the spirit of tough love.  I was tempted to leave it, but we'll have more strawberries next summer as a result: P5290053P5290048

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Storms and Children

Well, it would seem that the storm did some harvesting for me last night.  I can't say I'm surprised.  I was up with the storm, watching anxiously as even my sheltered potted plants danced the wind.

Only the lettuces suffered, really, so we'll be having salad tonight.  Everything else fared amazingly well.

Our nephews visited for dinner and board games yesterday, so they got to see actual plants in our garden and were pretty impressed by how big everything was.  We took a bowl out with us and let them pick sugar snap peas to snack on and a couple green onions to take home to their grandmother, but they forgot them on the table... and apparently didn't care when they realized it.  Too bad, really.  So we ate their sugar snap peas.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

15 Minutes of Fame

Warhol was right, we all get our fifteen minutes of fame.

And now, here's mine!  I'm mentioned, quoted, and pictured in an urban gardening article in the latest Oklahoma Gazette!


Hmmm, I need to get a copy ASAP so I can see the cover better, because I think that may even be my Red Robin tomato plant pictured on the front!  (Update on that, no, I don't think it's my Red Robin.)  They're free all over the OKC metro, so pick one up and check it out!  If you're not local, you can still see the article on their site.

So what if they got my last name a little wrong in the print version? My garden and I are still famous!  Woohoo!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Peas & a Shameless Plug

The sugar snap peas are already getting big enough to pick! We had a few with dinner tonight.


They don't really get quite as big as the sugar snap peas from the store, but oh, are they wonderful right out of the garden!

I've gotten a bit more into crafting again, so I've started an etsy store to see if I can get any of it to sell. Since much of it will be nature themed jewelry and maybe (eventually!) some gardening accessories, I thought it would be appropriate to mention here. So if you'd like to take a look, you can see the bare beginnings of my etsy shop here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Days to Harvest"

You know how the backs of seed packets often list "days to harvest?" Yeah, take those with a grain of salt. What I suspect they really mean is, "Days to harvest in precisely what we consider average conditions, even if there's no possible way you can reproduce our 'average' where you live."

I usually mark the projected "harvest day" on my calendar for non-fruiting items (carrots, lettuce, etc.) so I can check on them, but they're never accurate. Much of my lettuce could be harvested well before their date (but I let them keep growing!) and my carrots are nowhere big enough to harvest even though yesterday was the projected date. A million things effect the real harvest date. Weather, nitrogen levels, amount of sun, etc.

And for the record, many of the seed companies state that the days to harvest on the packets usually mean the number of days from the day you actually put the seeds or transplants out it in the garden. (See, isn't that silly? Of course a transplant will be ready to harvest sooner than a seed started on the exact same day!) This was one point of confusion for me when I started trying to read seed packets.

So, don't fret when a harvest date comes around and your carrots are still pencil thin (like mine!). Just use the "days to harvest" as a general indicator as to how fast-growing a particular variety is, or when it's almost time to start poking around the soil to see how big your root vegetables are.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Peas & Progress

Just as I whined about having nothing but radishes out of our garden so far, some sugar snap peas grew while I had my back turned!!!


Of course, I shouldn't have been whining anyway.  I think we'll be harvesting a head of romaine every night this week.  These Little Gems are the perfect size to make salad for two.


I went ahead and pulled all of the ugly greens from the mesclun mix that have been eaten up by bugs and did some reseeding with Black Seeded Simpson (since the first batch is growing so quickly) and the one variety (a lettuce) in the mesclun mix that seems to be both fast growing and not quite as tasty to insects.

I need to take photos of them, or wrangle Chad into taking good photos of them, but all of the tomato plants are doing fabulously:

The old Red Robins in the hanging planters have tons of green tomatoes. Really. Chad counted like 25 on one of them!  I gave two younger plants to a friend who recently moved to a new house and hasn't been able to garden yet and I have two young ones that I hope to bring inside and keep going for winter tomatoes.

The potted Supersweet 100 is getting huge and super healthy looking!  I really need to post a photo of him...  The one in the garden looks pretty good, as well.

The Genovese is the biggest tomato plant in the garden and it has flowers!!!  I am so excited!!!  I have to admit I was a little bit skeptical when it was recommended to me at the farmer's market as an earlier producing variety (I asked someone if they had a full-sized tomato that would tide me over until my brandywines produce!), but now it looks like they'll beat everything but the much older Red Robins.

The brandywines are all looking pretty good.  The one that had no set-backs is almost climbing up into his tomato cage and the one that broke twice is finally trying to catch up to his brother.

I'm fascinated by how totally different all of the tomato plant varieties look.  Brandywines have those wide, stately potato leaves.  The Red Robins are curly and kind of ugly... in an endearing sort of way.  The Supersweets are positively overwhelming with their complicated, veiny leaves.  And the Genovese has a refined, lacy appearance.

I swear, I am completely in love with tomato plants.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Daydreams of 2009

While waiting for my garden to start producing more than radishes to eat, I'm already daydreaming about what to plant next year. Especially since we plan to have one more 4x4 square foot garden. Exciting things on my very tentative list for 2009:

  1. Pink Brandywine tomatoes, from the seeds of this year's plants.
  2. Cherokee Purple tomatoes, because I've wanted to grow dark, mottled looking tomatoes for a long time.
  3. Azoychka tomatoes, both yellow (yay for interesting tomatoes!) and an early producer.
  4. The same Super Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, for which I am saving seeds from the original package. They're not heirloom, but it's hard to beat their early, high production.
  5. Oxheart carrots, if I run out of seeds for the Red Cored Chantenay I currently have, because I'm curious about these stocky looking roots.
  6. Purple Haze carrots, because how fun is a purple carrot?!
  7. Pineapple flavored Ground Cherries.
  8. Three varieties of lettuce including Little Gem Romaine (because we're having so much success with it so far!), Black Seeded Simpson (because it's doing well and I'm hoping the extra seeds we have will still be good next year), and some sort of "heading" lettuce that I've not picked out yet. I don't think I'll plant the meclun green mix again, even though I still have tons of seeds, because they are the one thing in the garden that keeps getting eaten by bugs.
  9. Both red and white onions of some sort, so I can make a beautiful onion braid to last us all winter!
  10. Pumpkins and zucchini, if we make it through the rest of this year without seeing another squash bug. *shiver*

Lots more, but that's what I've been daydreaming of. I'll probably also experiment with potatoes and some sort of beans, and I do plan to do garlic over the winter.

Gosh, I've probably already over-filled the two garden beds with my imagination!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mystery Solved & Photos

An update on yesterday's onion mystery: they are indeed scallions, not bulbing onions.  I'm slightly annoyed at the mislabeling, but I'm not too horribly let down since I enjoy green onions more than yellow.  I was just so looking forward to making our own onion braid....

So I think I'll cheer myself up with a few beautiful pictures Chad recently took.

    (A pink strawberry blossom.)

(Water drops on lettuce leaves.  Some of the earliest lettuce we planted are pretty much ready for harvest, now!)


(The sugar snap peas getting a good hold on the trellis.  These are also blooming!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Friendly Crawlies & Onion Mysteries

My my, it's been a little while since my last post!  I must watch that.

I made an exciting discovery in the garden a little while back.  I was completely horrified by these creepy crawlies that I'd never seen before:


I mean, really, how creepy looking is that thing???  I killed 3 or 4 before I thought, hmmmm, let's go google the description and find out what the heck these things are.  It took forever, but I finally found out that they're ladybug nymphs!  That's right, these ugly little suckers are baby ladybugs, which are excellent pest control for which many organic gardeners pay good money!  So I called a truce, and I have been quite happy to share my patch of earth with these ugly little beasties.  I've even seen a few full grown lady bugs around, so my garden is getting a little additional pest control until these babies turn into speckled aphid munching machines!

See?  Not all creepy crawlies are bad.

The onions, in the meantime, keep me guessing.  I've never grown onions before at all and I chose what I thought was supposed to be a globing onion (I got the set from the farmer's market and they're called "candy"), but they looked more like scallions when I purchased them and I'm not seeing globes when I push back the soil.  I don't know.  I do suspect the kids planted them too deep, so maybe the globes are way down there.  I think I'll just dig one up tomorrow and see if there's a globe at all.  I'll be a little let down if it turns out that they were merely mislabeled scallions, but I must admit that the tops do look particularly green and tasty!

Friday, May 2, 2008

First Strawberry


We sampled the first of our strawberries the other day, and it tasted like absolute perfection.

I am convinced that there are few culinary pleasures as amazing as a organically grown strawberry so freshly picked that it still tastes of sunshine.