Thursday, July 25, 2013
Monday, July 22, 2013
|The current state of the garden: a fortress against bunnies and ready to produce.|
In spring, I am just eager to have warm weather, never mind the food and flowers. In summer, of course it's all about the towering tomatoes, beans, and okra. But fall may be my favorite time to garden. It helps soften the blow of winter coming, plus winter is the hardest time to get fresh vegetables, so the best time to grow your own!
I've lamented over and over again how hard it is to get the timing right for cool season crops, but each year it gets easier. For one thing, more garden beds means more space to leave empty (meaning avoiding trying to start seeds under those towering tomatoes, for example). Plus, with row cover and plastic greenhouses, I can easily overwinter most things. So, I may not have a bunch of parsnips and pounds of Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving, but I am sure to have a head start in late winter/early spring as well as plenty of greens during the winter.
This year, I am behind on some things already, but you can rarely predict the weather, so I'll try anyway. Last week, I direct seeded parsnips (over a month behind) and sowed some Brussels sprouts seeds as an experiment (the seeds are old, but it was worth a shot). The sprouts I grew last winter have long since gone to seed and sprouted anew. I'm letting the plant set its own timing--and I'll transplant those seedlings when they get some size on them. I am behind on those as well, but I was this-close to having fully formed sprouts this year with seedlings planted around Labor day, so I believe I have a fighting chance. Brassica also have a nice habit of growing new plants from their base, so my Brussels sprouts, kales, Chinese broccoli, and collards are helping me out by propagating themselves.
|This new Brussels sprout plant sprouted from an old plant going to seed.|
I prefer direct sowing, but in an effort to get a cauliflower or broccoli crop, I started those inside (on time!) and some celery--an experiment.
I learned about piracicaba broccoli from Margaret. Abundant side shoots may be easier to produce than one large perfect head.
I'm using Johnny's fall planting calculator to keep me on track for an abundant fall garden. I'll also direct sow kale, collards, broccoli, and cauliflower in case the seedlings started inside fail. Next up, roots (beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips). Then it will be time to sow the Asian greens--in addition to bok choy, I've got some rarer varieties from Kitazawa. I'll finish up with lettuce, arugula, and spinach; fava beans; another crop of onions; and maybe a fall pea sowing.
As proof of my excitement for fall, this is all planned out before I have picked one pepper, bean,
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Friday, July 12, 2013
Well this would have been my first tatume squash, but the next day, it was gone--chewed off at the stem along with many others. &$):%#*/@( chipmunks! I finally find a squash resistant to squash vine borers, and disease so far, and now this. What next, locusts?
It is interesting how an insect (bumblebee?) chewed through the flower.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I purchased the seed from Botanical Interests, but they do not have it this year. You can find it online from other sellers. It is reputed to self seed prolifically.
The blooms do not last long. This one, barely open the evening before, was gone the next morning, but then you get the cool seed heads:
Monday, July 8, 2013
|So, not the greatest way to start off a Saturday.|
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
|Does this look like the face of evil?|
Squirrels and birds are only an occasional nuisance in the vegetable garden, grabbing the first ripe tomato or scratching up seedlings (I'll just ignore the berry issue, because how could they resist?).
Birds actually do far more good than harm, eating insects and brightening up the place in general..
So, this post started off in a bemused "oh cute lil bunny, you make me smile but you eat my stuff" kind of way. It took exactly one day for me to wish for the return of hawkhead or better yet a reappearance of the fox. I am now convinced that cuteness must be an adaptive strategy to avoid strangulation.
In the past, the rabbits have lulled me into complacency, nibbling happily on plantain and clover until I forget about them ... and then they eat every. single. bean. Not so this year. I wrapped some bird netting around the base of the bed of black eyed peas, and then I did the same for the other bean bed.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Well of course a garden is rarely "finished," but in the case of my small yard and the obsessive nature with which I purchase plants, this one really IS. It pretty much ended up as I planned it, with a bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) subbing for the Fothergilla.
I think the aggressive anemone may be why my black cohosh has yet to bloom, though they are reportedly slow to establish..It has been getting plenty of water this monsoon season, but the anemone is probably crowding it and zapping all of the nutrients. The pale leaves are the tell tale sign.
I know I also planted the black cohosh too close to the Clethra, but I was loathe to move it. Speaking of the clethra, it is getting ready for its moment. It rarely looks like much, which is why it was planted behind the multi-season stunner Itea. However, it beats itea in the scent category. Also soon to bloom is Heuchera "autumn bride." IF the black cohosh was blooming this year, it would be blooming now, as a gardener in an adjacent neighborhood has a few that are gor-ge-ous.
This subtle garden never commands attention, but there is always something blooming, and the wall of green is soothing. It's a place I can stare when I am exhausted from constantly rearranging things in the sunny border.