Monday, May 28, 2012

Lettuce go to the garden!! Get it? Get it? (I can't be stopped!!!)

 Alright, all puns aside this weekend was a very productive one at the garden! Or, as I call it, "the back 30 (ft)".

Firstly, and most importantly, we met our newest garden neighbours.  Why is this important? Because they are clearing out the overrun, skunk denned plot beside us.  Finally now we have cultivated plots on both sides, which means the war on the grass is being won by the good guys (that's us).

Digging up grass sucks, and you come back the next week to find more.  I think grass grows UNDER grass.  Anyway, the downside of our new neighbors arrival is that they took out the HUGE mass of raspberry bushes, so no sweet summer raspberries for us this year :(

Anyway, the potatoes came out of nowhere in a week, and they are all in.  Some are bigger than others but all of them look healthy.  As well the cucumbers are really starting to fan out, I think by next week they  might start climbing the trellis.  I had a moment of panic because I suddenly thought that perhaps the garden center mislabeled zucchini as cucumbers, but we're pretty sure they are cucumbers. They look a lot different than our neighbors for some reason.  I know there are many varieties but god help me if I just planted 3 additional zucchini plants by accident.

The tomatoes are looking awesome, and getting much more attention than we gave them last year.  They are being super weeded, we've got carrots coming in between the rows.  Every visit we make sure to inspect the plants, remove the lower branches that will only server to block light from the plant, and remove the suckers.  The Early Girl has flowers on it, true to her name, I suppose we shouldn't be too far off of having tomatoes.  Maybe in a month or less?

We also replaced all the corn that didn't come up with some garden center corn.  Now we have three full looking rows.  We also planted bean seeds in and around the corn, can you believe we went to 5 garden centers and could not find any beans? Crazy!

Our first garden harvest! Salad bowl lettuce and arugula. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So Close to Noms.

Garden 104, May Long Weekend 2012
As you can see from this picture, things are looking pret-ty good this week at good ol' plot 104.

The weather was great, and we spent a bunch of hours on Sunday just performing some routine maintenance tasks like weeding (oh god, the weeds), tripping over string, trying to figure out the best method to water when our only choice is to water during the heat of the afternoon.

I am working on a method that involves a hose and a sock (I've seen my neighbors do it) but haven't quite got the hang of it because our beds are slopey and uneven.  I've got to put in a little time trying to level them out somehow, in order to get this new watering system to work.

We built this and nobody got hurt.
But what is that structure in the lower right hand corner you ask?  Well, let me tell
you, that is our brand new cucumber trellis!  I dreamed up this design after scrolling through many google images.  It's clever, yes? Anytime I build something that doesn't immediately collapse is a success in my opinion.  We have another roll of chicken wire that we will probably get around to putting on the back, but as you can see by the itty bitty cucumber plants, there is plenty of time for that. Last year was a bit of a cucumber explosion and then disaster of blight and sudden death.  This year hopefully the plants will climb their little hearts out and produce many cucumbers that we can actually find, rather than discovering them weeks later at an enormous size.

So that took up a large chunk of the afternoon, but I think it looks pretty good.  We are planning to sneak some dill in under there so we have plenty for pickles.

And what is this over here?  It's CORN! Yay! Ok, shouldn't get too excited, since everybody tells me how hard corn is to grow.  It seems that either they don't pollinate properly, or the racoons get them, or you don't have enough space.  My garden neighbors grew beautiful looking corn last year and I was so jealous I had to try it.  They came up out of the ground, so that's a good start.  We have 3 rows, I think ideally there should have been 4. By next weekend, whatever corn hasn't sprouted we are either going to replace with pre-sprouted corn, or some pole beans.  Pole beans are going in there anyway, which according to my book "Carrots Love Tomatoes", should keep the racoons out (beans and squash).  We'll see I guess.

Also doing well is the Bok Choi we planted back in early April, it finally sprouted and we've just thinned it out. 

Potatoes have almost all pushed themselves through the earth, which is also very exciting.  We've got three varieties, about 24 plants in total.  I'm told each plant should produce approximately 1lb of potatoes.  One thing I am most looking forward to, is being able to make a potato salad 100% from the garden (mayo excluded, of course)

Peas have finally sent out their little arms and are starting to latch onto the cages.

Oddly enough, the only thing that hasn't come up yet are beets.  We've sowed them twice now and nothing.  If there is nothing by next week I'm going to try one more time before I resort to plants.

Yes peas!
We figure by the end of this week we'll be harvesting the first of the salad bowl lettuce and the arugula, as well as green onions, as we have to start thinning them out.

Who's hungry!?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Obsessive Compulsive Gardening

OCD Garden
I'm not one of those people that does anything without a spreadsheet, and if I learned anything last year it's that organization is key.  Sure some people are content to just drop some things in the ground and see what happens, I'm not one of those people. I've got an online garden planner, a spreadsheet, a running shopping list - it's all linked to my phone so  wherever I am I can see when the eggplant should be maturing.  Important stuff!

Also given the variety we're doing this year, I made a point to make sure everything was labelled, so I'm finding now the garden is looking a bit like somebody with a mental disorder has taken over.  I'm ok with it though.  Secretly, I think the neighbours are jealous though.

It's been good because all this organization has meant that it's mid-may and not only has the first round of planting been pretty much completed, but everything is on schedule and we'll be able to maximize what we get out of this space all summer.

Speaking of eggplant and organization, the one time I went to the garden center and didn't refer to my copious notes meant that I bought eggplant too early.  We didn't have a space for it right away so we left it in the little plastic trays for a week.  This weekend it was looking a little worse for wear but we managed to make a space, so hopefully they bounce back.

Sad eggplant is sad.
Potatoes were planted during the week, there are three varieties and we've never done potatoes so I really have no idea how that's going to go.  Everybody around us did potatoes last year, so it can't be that hard.

So now pretty much everything for round 1 is in.  I'm expecting radishes in 15-20 days.  This week the project is to make a trellis for the cucumber.  I did some research and came up with a pretty simple design that we will be able to move around year to year.

We are expecting to see some carrots starting to sprout, maybe even corn by next weekend!

This week has been a tough week with my Grandfather in the hospital, so the few times I've been to the garden has really helped just sorta clear my mind and feel a bit better about things. There is something pretty therapeutic about taking off your shoes and walking around in the soil.  I really enjoyed visiting him yesterday and showing off my latest photos.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ok, so maybe it was too early

Ok, so maybe planting all our seeds the first weekend in April was a touch ambitious, I admit.  But we had nothing to lose, except..all our seeds.

But nevermind that, it's May now and it's "ok"to plant stuff.

April was colder than we expected, I guess we were lulled in by that warm spell in March.  Nothing really grew, but by this past weekend there were a few sprouts coming through so all is not totally lost.  The onions are doing pretty great, as is the garlic, but that was to be expected as those things seem to like the cold temperatures.  We're going to have onions so early this year, I'm excited.  I wonder if we can get a second crop?

Garlic AND a rainbow. Magic.
Things that have sprouted: radish, some of the lettuce, spinach (kinda).  We made a few alterations to the master plan, another row of radish where the lettuce didn't grow.  Reseeded the beets and spinach and peas.  I also bought a cultivator which is like god's gift to gardening.  I love it, and intend to marry it.

Onions and itty bitty lettuce.
We planted the corn in the back, I'm very excited at this experiment.  Everybody tells me it's really hard to grow, but my garden neighbour grew it successfully last year.  Oh, and speaking of garden neighbours, how about this juicy dirt! (get it? dirt?) It looks like somebody liked our last years garden design so much they decided to copy it a bit this year.  Jokes on them, it's a waste of space and we planned our garden copying THEIR design this year.  Ha!  

Last year we did everything in giant raised beds, which is nice in theory I guess, but overall it was a lot of work to pile up that dirt, and I felt like we didn't utilize the space as well as we could have.   This year we're going for neat and tidy rows at path level.  We already have maybe 3x as much potential as we did last year.  The paths are pretty narrow too, I'm curious to see what it will be like to navigate it while everything is in full bloom.  We're getting lots of compliments from passers by as to how awesome we are, how great the garden looks already, how pretty it is.  I think it looks a bit OCD but I'm ok with that. 

We also planted the bok choi, chard and collards, as well as the peppers and a few tomatoes and cucumbers. More to come as soon as they hit the garden center.  This week we intend to get the potatoes in the ground as we're a bit behind because SOMEBODY (me) forgot them at home.  We also have to build a trellis for the cucumbers, fun.

I am going to cut a bitch if somebody steals our peppers this year.