Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chunkin' Pumpkin

I thought this bumpy pumpkin might be tasty, especially after I hacked it open and saw that thick flesh. It smelled great, too, but after baking it, I found it flavorless. Of course, sitting on my front stoop for weeks probably did it no favors.
In my attempt to identify it, the closest I could find was the "victor/ red warty thing," but this could be a hybrid. It now resides in the compost pile, where the squirrels aren't even going for it. I'll stick to Hubbard, Kuri squash (my new fave) butternut, and "verified" eating varieties--like the candy roasters I grew--from now on.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

winter garden

After a pleasantly warm early winter, we finally had cold enough temps that it was time to get out the hard freeze protection. My original three beds have plastic greenhouses (, and I'm trying row cover for the rest--testing out just how cold hardy collards and a few other things are. The row cover is tied on in such a way that I can slide it up and down.
One day, I hope to build some super-sturdy wood and plexiglass cold frames so I can avoid unzipping and unwrapping in the morning (and vice versa in the evening). Inside, I have collards, lettuce, arugula, mâché, spinach, radishes, turnips, parsley, cilantro, leeks, scallions, beans, and other perennial herbs. In the coming weeks, I'll show you how they are faring, and how much I am harvesting.

Grass was not working anymore, so I am seeking suggestions for path mulch--this straw won't be the permanent choice. Bark from the county is probably the most economical.

Time to drain the rain barrel too. Winter gardening is not so fun, but I sure do like having fresh greens.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Root of the Matter

Fall gardening continues to confound me. In addition to having less time for the garden (no hours of post-work sunlight), there is travel, weird weather, and the general fact that I have never got the seed sowing timing right for fall. Nonetheless, I've got a good crop of greens growing, but this post is about roots.
For some reason, I planted a ton of radishes, some of which are now spongy/woody, and not nearly enough of these gorgeous pink turnips. The beets were either devoured or did not germinate.
I like radishes, but I'll never eat all these in time. Pickles to the rescue!


I hope your fall garden is doing well! 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Looking a Little Wilty

Last night was the coldest night we've had so far, but all of these wilty greens will bounce back on this sunny day. I'll have to break out the row cover and plastic greenhouse soon.
Thoughts to consider: What happens when radishes get too big?

The lettuce and these arugula seedlings (I think) took the frost like a champ.
 Spinach and larger arugula also doing fine, other than squirrel disruption:

 The collard seedlings seem to thrive on the cold:
 The fava beans don't look so hot:
The radishes were not well planned. These will be fine, but I imagine many of them are getting too large and need to be pickled or eaten in quantity.
I planted tat soi here, but I am wondering if the package was mislabeled. I don't recall tat soi having wavy leaves?
I can't believe winter has barely begun.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Here's the freak winter storm in progress, luckily we did not get much--the garden was not at all ready. All of the tiny winter greens did fine though--and this pineapple sage bounced back the next day.

 The Dahlias were already drooping.Next year, they will need better staking. Check out the gorgeous color of the blueberry leaves!

 The tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and okra were finally cut down the next day.
This service berry tree is called "autumn brilliance" for a reason.
 I'll soon find out if this warty pumpkin is edible.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hanging on to Summer

It's becoming futile to leave these plants standing.
Okra, it's time to go, even though I am sad I did not freeze any, nor make pickles. And you are so impressive at your 8 feet.
Tomatoes, you were killer this year. I will always grow heirlooms because I love their unusual forms and great flavor, but this fourth of July hybrid was uber reliable, as were the favorita and sun gold cherry tomatoes..

Eggplant, we'll keep trying, but I am proud you grew so well from seed under lights way back when.

 Squash, your reputation as a basket filler cofounds me.
I have more hot peppers than I will ever be able to use (know me? you'll be getting a can soon). I wish I had such success with your tamer cousins.

These are the summer holdouts, and their days are numbered, along with some truly sad looking basil.
While it is sad, I like the change, and the way the beds slowly go to rest and disorder becomes order.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oops I did it again

I have a knack for mixing up greens seedlings. In my haste to use some seeds I had saved in spring, I created a new round of "mystery Brassica."
I had spinach, broccoli, and arugula seed heads. None of these look like spinach seedlings. So, either I will have the arugula patch of my dreams, or I will have a lot of overwintering broccoli.
These mystery seeds are growing among my lettuce transplants:

And in this bed I planted tat soi, which I hope these babies are:

The white powder is diatomaceous earth, as port of operation Destroy All Slugs. I also lined my raised beds with copper tape to keep the slugs out. I've been lazy with the beer traps, but I think I have removed enough to minimize the damage.

Rounding out the winter greens are collards, which desperately need dividing:
More arugula (these were purchased plants):
must. have. arugula. pesto.

And more purchased starts, spinach (note squirrel holes):
I also seeded mache here.
I got a late start with all of these, but I expect them to endure the cold temps just fine, especially if I manage to bust out my season-extending plastic greenhouses and row cover.
The garden will be looking very flat soon, especially once the 8ft okra and tomato plants come down.

What happened to October?

The garden is actually doing pretty well, but you wouldn't know it from the blog. In addition to finding a roofer (ugh) and doing some canning (more on that later!), here's what I've been up to in the glorious mid-Atlantic fall.

Back to the garden soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rainy Day Respite

It's all gloom today, but I'm still sustained by the gorgeous weather of the weekend. Winter is not here yet, as these flowers attest!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Slugging It Out

...with slugs.
My beautiful rows of lettuce seedlings have been decimated. Well, not really--still plenty of lettuce going on. But my perfect rows--it was like ombre lettuce--have been marred! A cold and bad weather kept me from getting to the problem sooner, but now I am on slug patrol nightly, hand picking them and setting out beer baited trays, which really work! Thanks for leaving the PBR in the fridge, Gilly.

I have not had this problem before, and I have two theories:

1) My new raised bed is a couple of inches shorter, a more appealing climb for the slugs.
2) The straw mulch has created the perfect habitat for slug city.
Either way, ewwwwwwwww.

But I digress. All is not lost. If I can't get it under control with hand picking and baits, I will try diatomaceous earth. I will also be clearing out as much of the straw as I can and adding some copper tape around the bed. If garden supply companies would sell copper tape that is actually wide enough, this would be a better option, but the stuff is expensive.
Maybe the seedlings that were eaten will bounce back if the roots were established enough, but luckily I did not plant them all and have replacements waiting.

 The other slug food of choice in the garden is black eyed pea leaves, but those will be ripped up soon anyway. They are also the culprit behind my chewed up collard and pea seedlings. They have not bothered the radishes,  but they slither right through to the other seedlings in here.
 I have a new appreciation for large scale organic farmers every day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

99% complete native shade garden

The native shade garden is nearly complete, really! I finally moved the oak leaved hydrangea out of its too-sunny spot at the opposite end of the bed, and it worked out really well.

This required moving the red twigged dogwood, but that looks better now also. It is one of those shrubs that can take a lot of pruning, so it will look better than this one day. After seeing a photo of "autumn bride" Heuchera, I had to have it, and now it flanks the dogwood.

I knew I wanted one more Itea, because it is just stellar year round--see that red color? I planted it in front of a Clethra, which is full and fragrant in summer, but looks really sad in late winter.
We just need one more tree, and then I will just occasionally plug in a plant or two, as I watch how these plants grow and fill in. The tree will go about where this bird feeder pole is:

This has been a fun and rewarding exercise--with the added benefit of some nice screening and privacy.

Coming Attractions

I like having herbs sprinkled throughout the garden, but I also have a need to maximize my vegetable growing space, so these two new beds, both getting only part sun, will be the new home for all herbs that can take part sun--parsley, cilantro, mint, lemon balm, dill, thyme, and anything else that works, like lettuce and maybe green onions.
With plans to one day make that shed a habitable space, I can envision a patio with tables and chairs behind the herb beds, and french doors in the space between them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Long Overdue Project

I finally got rid of the monkey grass along the walkway (well, Mr. Do did, it was tough to dig up!). Liriope is fine in the right spot, but ours was so in need of dividing that there was little choice but to dig it up. Also, with no barrier, it was escaping into the grass (and vice versa)--not that our lawn is much to write home about. Neighbors gave it a good home, and I was able to plant something I like. Something that won't look so depressing and awful in late winter/early spring. I chose Sedum and thyme, two spreading ground covers. At the widest part of the bed I planted a mini pine and a Dianthus. As I was digging, a man on the sidewalk commented that it was "different" and something to the effect of "it is yours to plant as you like." I guess he didn't like it! I am sure it will look better when it fills in, and I will like it, so you know what he can do.