Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sad Lettuce is Sad

WTF Lettuce? Just three days ago you were looking perky, happy and green.  Now you're all wilty!  It's not like it's been hot since last week, so that's not it.  What gives?  This gives me the sads.  I don't know why it's doing this, or what to do to fix it, so I just watered it and hoped for the best.

The zucchini however is not sad, in fact I think it's probably double the size of BOTH of the zucchini plants we had last year.  There are lots of flowers on it too.  I've already had zucchini twice this week and it's only Wednesday.

The Eggplants are finally doing something, and by something I mean getting taller, filling out and producing a bud.  I have literally no idea what to do with these.  I don't even think I like eggplant that much.  Eggplant parmigana?

We are but a short time away from a tomato explosion, however the three Roma's are not doing well at all.  I should have taken a picture, they are all wilty and sad just like the lettuce.  We put a bit of fertilizer down to see if that will perk them up, but if they don't shape up by the weekend they're going to have to ship out to make way for healthy plants.

Thanks to the learnings of the internet, the Frisee has now been tied up, hopefully in order to make the innards really white and less bitter than the outer bits.

Onions are starting to form bulbs.  I think maybe just a few more weeks and they'll be ready to come out.

The corn is massive...
And I think this is what's called a "tassle", take note Terry Dunfield.

I'm growing attached to this watermelon, because it's doing so well and I just know it's going to give me something delicious.  It's funny how plants do nothing for weeks and then you show up one day and suddenly...plants.

The brussel sprouts are doing well I think, I actually have no idea what they're supposed to be doing so I assume this is well.  Also, we're going to have chard and pak choi probably forever.  That's ok, both things are great additions to meals.

Carrots are coming in nice and thick now.  I've thinned them out a lot, so I'm hoping for long, slender, perfect carrots soon.

Who let this guy have the hose?

Oh hello little jalapeno!

And finally, this year I think we did peppers right.  We obsessively pruned them, picked off the buds and let them grow really tall and leafy before they started producing.  Now this plant actually has three little peppers growing on it. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

You say Potato, I say Po-tah-to...

I'm not much of a weekend sleeper-inner, I prefer to just get up whenever I happen to wake up, and on Saturday that happened to be about 7:30 because Rosie (cat) couldn't help herself from sticking her face in my face to remind me that it was well past food time.  I tried to go back to sleep but couldn't, and thankfully Ryan was equally awake, so we decided to just get up and go to the garden before it go too hot.  So what if it was like 8:30am on Saturday...

Anyway, things were looking pretty awesome.  I love going to the garden after it's been a few days, there's always something new to see.  

The potatoes are really full.  I notice that my across the way neighbor has flowers on his potatoes already so I'm expecting to see some any day.  I understand that the flowers come, and then the potatoes start to die at the top which typically signals harvest time.  My rough math estimates we're going to have of potatoes.That's many potatoes!  I'm not even quite sure that we can store that many.  Why is this highlighed? I don't know, I can't figure out how to make it stop.

Our next door garden neighbors who work for the City, were kind enough to take their trimmer to the front of our plot, which you can't see from the picture because I always stealthily avoided displaying the mess of waist high grass we have been two lazy to dig out.  That left the zucchini and the peas well exposed to the sunlight on all sides, and the zucchini has thanked us by essploding.  No zucc's yet, but there are flowers and we are probably a week away from zucchini everything.  Did I mention I'm glad we only planted one this year?

We harvested some peas for the first time.  They are doing so much better than last year, they are at least a foot or two taller than we ever got last year.  I'm not too sure what made the difference.  Last year we planted from seedling, this year seeds.  Last year was at the back of the lot, this year the front.  The little crappy pea that never grew is now growing thanks to the aforementioned trimming of the grass.

This week they are going in a beef, broccoli, pak choi and snap pea stir fry.

The leeks were looking pretty weak up until this weekend. That might have had something to do with the fact that I kept stepping on them by accident...not sure really. (ha) But anyway they have finally started to thicken up.  I just found a recipe for grilled leeks and romesco sauce, so I'm basically licking my lips every time I walk past this row and saying "soon....soon" in a creepy voice.

 I should have maybe put this at the top of the post but WE HAVE BEETS! finally.  It's only the 4th sowing but finally there is evidence that beets are growing.  These are "Detroit Red's", no idea what they'll be like, don't care because I had all but given up on the idea of oven roasted garden beets.  So, yay!
 Our second sowing of radishes are coming through much thicker than last time.  I know I'm supposed to be learning things as I go, but sometimes it seems like plants just do what they damn well please.  Sometimes they grow awesome, sometimes they don't I guess.
 One of our many varieties of lettuce, the Endive Frissee is realllly happy this week.  It's bitter as all hell right now, but they are starting to develop those pretty blonde inner leaves that taste delicious with a bacon vinaigrette and poached egg.  I didn't expect this to really grow for some reason, it seemed too "fancy" for us, but it's doing really well.  Not sure how much longer for these.
 The Early Girl tomato, true to her name is growing like a monster.  So is the cherry tomato.  Both look kind of enormous, and are just about ready to start developing fruit.  Tomato season is just around the corner.  We canned enough tomatoes last year to last us almost the whole winter, but this year, now that we're more proficient with the canning, I can expect quite a bit more.  Having some vine ripened summer tomatoes in sauces during the dull, grey wintertime was a nice treat.

The Roma's seem to be slower than the other varieties...I think this is what happened last year but can't quite recall.  Hopefully they are just a bit slower than the rest because they're the best for canning.
 Oh hai, watermelon.  If somebody steals you, I'm going to cry.
 The chard is really close to being ready to start harvesting.  I enjoyed last years perpetual chard-fest, we've got a few more growing too this year.  That stuff on the right is the Pak Choy which doesn't seem to want to go away, I think I may pull out a few of the plants because we have waayyyy too much.  That stuff on the left is brussel sprouts, which look to be enjoying themselves.
And lastly, the cucumber.  It looks like it's climbing but earlier in the week I had to string it up the trellis to try to encourage it to grow up instead of along the ground.  I thought it may do that naturally, I'm not sure if the incline is too steep or if it's just being stubborn.  I keep fussing it, curling the tendrils around the chicken wire to coax it upwards.  The string is doing a good job of holding it up there, but I'm hoping it will start to latch on it's own.  We've already spotted a few wee little cucumbers, so it won't be long until we have many.  Hopefully, anyway :)

All this produce coming in has made a significant dent in our grocery bills.  Between the meat we ordered from some Mount Forest farmers, our little herb garden at home, and our garden produce, our grocery shop this week was quick and painless and we're starting to plan our meals around what is available, which I can't lie, is pretty fun.

Soon we're going to have to start thinking about what we're going to grow after some of this stuff comes out because it won't be long until we have some empty patches.

So many pictures this week!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Knee High By July

Garden 104 - June 10, 2012
I aimed to sleep in on Sunday and spend a lazy day in the garden.  My version of sleeping in seems to be getting up at 8:15, realize I'm out of eggs, lament not owning a live chicken, make pancakes anyway.  By 10:00 I was texting some willing garden slaves because I was ready to go.  It rained all week last week, which meant fewer garden trips, but that also meant there was work to be done.

First stop was Plant World on Eglington to pick up some beets.  I've pretty much given up on the seeds, and was looking for some plants - which, of course they have none because it's mid-june. 

Can I just say that I find it very odd that garden centers in this region stock themselves to the fullest for the May long weekend and then don't stock anything else afterwards?  I get it, we have a short growing season, but you don't have to put everything in all at once! In fact, some things, like the brussel sprouts, are meant to be done in cooler weather.   

Anyway, so, Plant World had no beets, so we decided to change plans and plant more lettuce since it seems to be doing really well so far, and we're eating it up.  

The Salad Bowl lettuce is my new favourite because not only because it's tasty, but because it regenerates itself like a mofo.  I'm going to try not to touch it this week because we are having a BBQ on Sunday and I want to be able to make a giant salad for everybody.

We're also successfully regenerating my other favourite, Buttercrunch, but it seems to be a bit slower.  That's ok, it's worth it.  The leaves are super tender, but with that distinct crunch.  What can I say, I really really like salad!

Pak Choi, not Bok Choi

So, my neighbors are growing this really beautiful looking Bok Choi.  It's so cute, with little perfect heads protruding from the ground.  I have been wondering for a week now what is wrong with ours? Why does it look so unseemly?  Turns out, it's not Bok Choi, but Pak Choi..which is a relative of Bok Choi.  

And here I was thinking I screwed it up!  Turns out I just can't read.  Win?

With that new information, we cut it back, because I had to pay my garden slaves with something. I actually am looking forward to eating this, I took a sample bite and it tasted kind of like turnip.  I think we're just going to sautee it and see what happens.  Speaking of sautee, the scapes from last week's garlic surprise were awesome!

Knee high by June?
In other news, I had a nice long chat with my favourite farmer (Hi Uncle Dave!) on the weekend about corn.  Firstly, if this works, we're going to have a lot of corn.  I was thinking at first maybe 2 years per stalk but he says we can expect 4-5.  I also learned that farmer have a little rhyme "knee high by July" which basically means, as you can see from this picture of  my pasty leg, we are ahead of the game.  The beans are coming up nicely beside the stalks, even though it looks like something might be nibbling them.  We picked up a butternut squash to go in here as well.

I think the Aboriginals were on to something with this whole beans, corn, squash thing.  The corn grows, and gives the beans a stalk to climb, and the tangle of squash vines around the base is supposed to keep the racoons out because they don't like climbing through it.  Hopefully that works, as it seems most people's primary complaint about corn is that they can't keep the racoons out of it.

Peas Please!
 The peas are looking pretty good, not sure what we did last year that was different than this year - don't care. There are flowers on them this week, which means sugar snap and snow peas are just around the corner.  Maybe by next weekend?  I know last year the pods seemed to show up really fast.

Cauliflower has sprouted.  We threw them in the space where we were hoping to have some thai chillis but they never germinated.  That's ok, I like cauliflower and I feel like a real professional growing it for some reason.  I have no idea what this is going to be like to grow.  All I know is that we put seeds in, they have come up, and I need to thin them out.  Adventure!

Sad Eggplant is Sad.

We have eggplant, but no idea what it's doing.  We put it in the ground as plants, and they've grown a bit, but now they're just sorta hanging out not doing much.  I should probably look into that.

 And lastly, the oh so pretty cucumber has found the trellis and started to climb.  It's even got a few flowers on it.  I can't wait to see this whole trellis covered in cucumbers.  They are going to be so much easier to harvest this year I  think, because they are all going to be off the ground.  Hopefully we are going to get some excellent pickles.

Last year, we learned the hard way that you have to take them when they are tiny.  We left them too long and they got massive, but we still made some pretty good pickles.  I can't wait to improve our technique.

Will work 4 food.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Garden Therapy

Well, this week was a tough one.  My brother got married on Friday, and our Grandfather passed away on Sunday.  Thankfully the garden took care of itself mostly so I could take care of myself.

Grandfather really loved to hear about my garden, and I know he enjoyed the things I brought him last year.  I'm sad that he won't get any of my produce this year, but going to the garden Sunday afternoon for some quiet time gave me a chance to reflect on how insane the last month has been for all of us.  I know he would have liked me to do that.  Gardens are good therapists.

Anyway, as you can see from this picture, it looks reallllllly pretty.  This was after two almost straight days of rain.  The potatoes look so awesome, and the cucumber is days away from finding its way up the trellis.  I'm really excited about that trellis by the way, it hasn't fallen over yet.  

Major success! 

Corn and the beanstalk

Anyway, in another department of major successes, the beans we planted beside the corn have totally come up.  We got a little carried away and planted beans beside pretty much every cornstalk, and there are probably over 40 cornstalks, you like beans, let me know now because you may get some.  Also: be careful what you wish for.

Nice trellis!
As mentioned above, the cucumbers are totally digging their new trellis, well, they're cozying up next to it as if to say "hey baby, I am going to climb you and produce many cucumbers".

Oh, also in the department of awesome...upon inspecting the garlic, we noticed these little curly things that we immediately recognized as scapes.  They are very popular at farmers markets and only around certain times.  After consulting teh google, we snipped them off and intend to sautee them as that seems to be the best way to eat them.  They smelled deeeeeeelicious, like, really soft garlicy smell.  Looking forward to that.

The chard is finally starting to look like something, which is good because I was getting concerned that they wouldn't really do anything.  We had so much chard last year, we're going to have lots this year too.

Rainbow Chard
 And lastly, we got a good haul of green onions after thinning out the onion beds.  Last year I felt so guilty about pulling out perfectly good plants but I can see why it's necessary now and choose to look at it like a free harvest of something I would otherwise throw away.

I've already passed off the excess green onions to neighbours and friends and will try to use them in salads this week. Oh yeah, did I mention I have a week's worth of salad for 2 people that has a salad bowl  leaf, buttercrunch leaf and what's left of the arugula? Delicious!

On a sad note, the beets haven't come up, third sowing now that hasn't come up.  No idea why.  Very odd.  Not sure if I should just give up and buy plants or what.

Cauliflower is poking through, no pictures yet, still too tiny.  Carrots have been thinned a bit and are going, not quite as strongly as I had hoped though.

Looking forward to some more garden therapy this week, hopefully it doesn't rain too much so I have an excuse to go.