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Sunday, April 18, 2010

A watched pot.....

Well everyone knows that a watched pot DOES indeed eventually boil, and so does a watched garden indeed grow. In fact of all the organic gardening how tos I've read, the one thing they can all agree on is that you should watch your crops closely. And now that all of my spring planting is done, so the watching begins, and not too soon.
In my most recent conundrum of trying to determine when to harvest my peas, turns out just a few days later they waved their proverbial white flag and I just knew.
Just as I knew on Friday as I sat and pondered the coming of my first tomatoes the signs of my first uninvited guests into my garden. Cutworms. I needn’t have waited though to see the stem whose leaves where completely missing, or other leaves that appeared to be disintegrating before my very eyes. I knew these little guys where coming. I had seen the moths scatter when I watered and knew it was only a matter of time. So, I went about methodically removing these little guys one by one and occasionally removing entire branches from my tomatoes and then as I realized they had also moved on to my potatoes and have now spent the better half of my three day weekend picking off and mushing these little buggers with a stick.
I have also spotted with my little eye the first signs of powdery mildew, so armed with my trusty pump sprayer I gave all of my plants a good foliar soaking of Actinovate, a “good” bacteria solution.

Other sightings and goings ons in my garden:

The peas are harvested and the pea fence is down and will soon be replaced by a row of eggplant.
Thanks to a little dry weather and the absence of any really serious pest or disease, I harvested my first zucchini ever and have another right behind along with about 6 or so squash. This harvest has not been without it’s mystery though. Everyone knows that you always get tons of male flowers before the fruited females show up. Nope not mine, almost all are females, luckily with at least one male a day or so behind that I’ve been able to strip open and use to hand pollinate.
The blackberries are blooming.
My first tomatoes will be the Green Sausage. Very prolific as I am discovering. There are at least 10 tiny little egg shaped fruit and more developing every day. Despite my hand pollinating efforts,sadly the first 3 flowers on my Brandywines have dried up and fallen off.
All of my corn is coming up nicely.
My cucumbers are blooming and appear that they may takeover very soon.
And, lastly on a non vegetable related note, the Iris’s that I planted by my gate 2 years ago have finally decided that they too will bring me a first and bloom.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Peas Please....

Today I began harvesting peas. A simple task it would seem, but I wasn't exactly sure when I was supposed to harvest them. I mean how do you really know when they are done? I have decided through my daily taste test that the best time is somewhere between too small but ultra sweet and really big but extra starchy. So I went about cutting off pods that seemed the appropriate shape and size to fit my taste theory and decided that about 25 pods would yield approximately a 1 cup serving - I used a very scientific eye to cup formula. I then grabbed my usual afternoon glass of wine, took a seat under my canopy of trees and began shelling. It only took a few moments, and sure enough I had shelled approximately a cup or so of peas. A rather enormous serving for one person as I soon found out. I took them inside and put them in the steamer - 6 minutes seemed like a reasonable amount of time - again another educated guess. I mean really, how often does one cook fresh peas? Turns out eight minutes would have made them a little more tender, but never the less promptly served them up with some grilled salmon and salad. Yummy and rewarding!

But as I ate my bounty, it really made me think a bit deeper about where food really comes from and why growing it myself has become more and more important to me. My peas were actually not the perfectly little round morsels I had predicted. Instead they were more of a tear drop shape, and though I was able to include my shelling time into my usual afternoon lounge in the backyard. Where were mass produced peas shelled. As I found out many are still shelled by underpaid migrant farm workers.
Next year... two fences of peas!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Finish Spring Planting.

Done. Check.
24 Tomato plants- striped german, yellow pear, golden nugget, green zebra, cherokee purple, black krim and mr. Stripey amongst others. You name it I have it. Red ones, yellow ones, green ones, purple ones and orange ones. Big ones, bite sized ones, pear shaped, lemon shaped and slicers.
14 squash - lemon squash, crookneck squash, patty pan squash and sunburst squash.
9 cucumbers - green slicers, green apple, and yellow lemon.
4 potato - all new red and just about to bloom!
7 peppers - yellow bell, multi colored sweet and tequila sunrise (the fruit are shaped like carrots).
2 tomatillos - already full of flowers
1 fence load of peas
1 eggplant - only because I couldn't wait for the eight ones under the lights that will go out in June.
5 strawberry plants - so far I have fed them all to the neighbor's kid.
22 basil plants - sweet basil, italian basil, thai basil, lime basil, purple ruffles basil, and 10 more under the lights. I mean lets face it, you can never have enough basil right?
6 sage - 3 traditional, 3 pineapple (1 old/1 new)
6 thyme - 2 old/3 new
oregano out the ying yang, all 3 large (what will soon be bushes) established plants.
2 mint - one spearmint, one pineapple ( mojito season is here!)
5 tarragon - my two established bushes are now joined by 3 new ones.
2 new blueberry bushes for a total of 5
1 pot of dwarf sunflowers
and the fig, pomegranate and blackberries are all growing back in nicely.

All of this from an urban garden. I've used pots, paint pails, champagne boxes, hanging baskets, raised beds, and the middle of my circular drive.

So time to sit back relax and watch it all grow. Yeah right! Now comes the weeding and the feeding, and the trellising. There will certainly be emergency tomato rescues and numerous pest issues to resolve. And let's not forget that in 3 months it's time to do it all over again for summer crops. In about a month it will be time to start okra, melons and corn for June planting.