Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Take That, Rabbit

I thought birds or insects were taking out my okra seedlings, until I saw the furry little culprit scurry out of the garden yesterday. I interrupted it mid-meal, so sadly the chopped off leaves were left to waste. I have no rabbit fences, because I have rarely found them very destructive (and the taller cedar planks of most of my raised beds discourage them, but this was a shorter bed). Thus this defense, upside-down bike panniers and other assorted baskets:
Once the seedlings get a few inches taller than this, the rabbits will leave them alone. They really seem content to munch on clover most of the time, so other than a nibble now and then, little damage is done. But I just remembered I did not cover my asters, and I bet they are toast. I remember them being eaten very quickly last year, and I was surprised to see them growing back this spring.

The other pest in the garden right now (all year, really) is the cabbage moth. They seem to leave the turnips, radishes, tat soi, and arugula alone, but other brassicas like collards and especially kale, are devoured. My solution has been to keep the kale seedlings under row cover. I'm starting cucumber seeds here as well, so maybe this will help protect them from cucumber beetles for a little while at least.

I started these inside early, and this is the most success I've had with kale so far, though I am worried the heat may make it bitter.

Finally, I'm keeping an eye out for squash vine borers on my lemon squash, buttercup squash, and this delicata squash.
It should be under row cover also, but I installed a trellis over it and made it difficult for myself. I wonder if the tat soi blooming all around it is somehow obscuring the squash or attracting beneficial insects to protect it. Fingers crossed.

Other than some tough radishes (heat, lack of water), all in all, things are going well at this transitional time of year, especially considering I took a 10 day vacation. The spinach has bolted, but the fava beans (best harvest ever!) and peas just might produce one more time. I find every time a seed packet says it does not need support, then it will need it even more so. These progress number 9 peas have flopped all over the place.
We have gobs of lettuce, many spring onions, beets, and turnips that I hope will not share the same fate as the radishes and be too tough to eat. We already have green tomatoes, the peppers and eggplant are biding their time, and the bean seedlings are up. Now I just sit back and wait.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Off to Other Ortos

With the help of a generous neighbor who waters my garden for all the berries and lettuce he can eat, I am able to take two vacations per year and leave the garden work behind. This time: Italy! I was not able to get any great shots of ortos this time around, but I like looking to the home gardens so common overseas for inspiration. I noticed lots of fava beans, onions, artichokes, and impossibly beautiful potato plants. I paid special attention to the trellises like the bamboo ones seen here. Most gardens are not as grand as the one at this villa that I overlooked for five days (I'd struggle to pay attention to weeding with a sea view like this), but all are impressive.
Italians of course appreciate the value of fresh homegrown seasonal produce. A pasta with fava beans and an antipasto of raw sliced artichoke were two of the highlights. While I was missing my own strawberries, I was eating some of the best I have ever had (from the Roero region).
On a related note, I so admire Michelle Obama's efforts on encouraging vegetable gardening. Hear her speak about the new book about the White House garden on NPR here.

I of course also saw (and drank) a lot of this:
La dolce vita, indeed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bloom Day

The clouds parted for about 30 minutes this morning, just long enough for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

 Itea up close in the native plant garden. 
Euonymus americanus (google "Hearts-a-bustin" to see what these unobtrusive flowers become in fall!)

Salvia, Allium bulgaricum, and Baptisia in bloom above, plus (almost) Agastache, in this large bed--with Echinacea, Monarda, Allium sphaerocephalon, Dahlia, and Liatris to follow
 marigold unfurling (by the way, did you know slugs LOVE marigolds?)
 Lavender and thyme
 Blue Podded peas
 native honeysuckle

 Roses--not my forte, but these were here when I got here, and they're hanging on.

 Verbena bonariensis
Allium atropurpureum
 Veronica spicata "Red Fox"
 Allium bulgaricum

Spirea "neon flash"

Lots of cilantro and parsley blooming, too. Look how the beneficial (one hopes) insects love parsley!
They love beauty berry flowers too, even before they have fully opened they are waiting--like this blurry guy (or gal)!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Building Stuff (Trellis Time)

Even with unlimited space, vertical gardening is a good idea. It allows for air circulation and makes harvesting easier in addition to maximizing space. My black-eyed peas went a little crazy last year, so after reading Vertical Vegetables and Fruit, I set to work on two trellises. The running teepee type trellis will be for black eyed peas that I have yet to plant (they will shade the spinach and lettuce in this bed, as I'm hoping to extend the season a bit).

My twine ball was missing for a few days, so I have not finished running twine for the vines yet.
Below is my attempt at a ladder-type trellis for delicata squash. Tat soi currently resides in this bed, but the squash has been planted.
These are made with untreated 1x2s from Home Depot, so they won't last forever, and since this was my first "carpentry" attempt I'm fine with that. With finer grades of wood, I would pre-drill the holes to prevent splitting, but I'm pretty satisfied with the time/money expenditure. All that is needed in addition to the wood planks are deck screws, an electric screwdriver, twine (for the bean vines to climb as well as for reinforcing the structure), and optional eye screws for attaching the twine (you could just wrap it). I pretty much built them myself, with the guys occasionally holding it steady and laughing at the "oil rig" I was building. They feel fairly sturdy right now, but probably need staking to ensure they don't get toppled. We'll see!

Berry Happy

I am boring. My berries do not end up in a galette scented with lavender or a balsamic jam (though, good ideas!). Every morning, I search under the row cover (which keeps birds out) and bring in a handful of pesticide-free berries for my cereal. And it is the best thing in the world.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Economies of Scale

Yes, favas are a lot of work, but I happen to think it worth it, and you can eat the greens, too.
These photos may not convince you, but if you pick them small you can skip the secondary bean-shelling part (as I did for the small beans in the pic below--the five or so big boys got peeled).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

DinkyDo on Apartment Therapy

Look, I was on AT's My Great Outdoors! Here are the photos I shared, from about a month ago.

Feelin' Pretty

Cloudy spring days make for a lush garden!

 native Anemone, spreading through the native plant garden
Salvia nemorosa "May Night", Allium (Nectaroscordum) bulgaricum, Baptisia australis, and Amsonia (blue star)
Peas "progress  #9"
 Peas -- Blue Podded Blauwschokker
 the prettiest radish ever (I need a new camera), with parsley, radish thinnings, and lettuce
mystery rose growing amid cilantro at the base of a black cherry tree