Sunday, June 14, 2009

Growing Challenge: Update!

Things in the garden are great!

The sugar snap peas are on their way out. Over the next week we'll be picking the last of the peas, and then pulling the pea plants to add to the compost pile. I am hoping to plant Scarlet Runner Beans along this same line for late summer / fall picking. May be best to get them started in the greenhouse first, we've found some of the seeds are getting dug up by our persistent bird friends. (that's why none of our sunflowers grew! every seed picked!)

The Beets, Lettuce, and Kale are doing fanstastic. I picked some Kale and Beets to steam last week for dinner. Sauteed lightly with a bit of lemon olive oil and with a dash of balsamic vinegar = perfection! I love this time of year, when dinner is inspired by what is picked.

Also picked a bag full of beets to take to my sister this weekend.

The Bell Pepper plants are doing really good this year. The last couple of years the tomato plants dominated the garden, it's good to see everything a bit more balanced this year.

I'm really impressed by how well the leeks are doing! These are two year plants.

The vine in the leeks with the bright red flower is a volunteer scarlet runner bean. I'm delighted to see it flowering, and the nitrogen it adds to the soil will help the leeks.

The cucumber plants are visible in the top middle and left of this photo. Partially hidden by the blade of the leek is a tiny golden flower - a cucumber flower! Get it bees! get it!

Yay! A teeny pepper! Just love watching plants grow from delicate seed and seedling to sturdy plant, and finally fruit bearing wonder machine.

The plums are just starting to turn ripe. I was polling people today at my sisters about who wanted plums. "We like ours a bit unripe," my twin said, "if you are taking orders." :)

Our thornless blackberry plants have fruit on them. Not much, but I'm sure it'll be enjoyed! It's a good indication of when berry picking season is coming. I'm amused to see our full sun exposure plants with ripening berries, while the blackberries I saw on my hike today under full shade have just flowered. What a difference the sun makes!

The strawberries have had their best year ever. They are two to three years old, depending on the plant. (yes, some are runner plants and thus younger.) They are planted in the minimum amount of space, totally taking part in our "competition garden!!!! only the strong survive!!" project. (hey, when you have a little space but a lot of desire...) Last year we added a drip irrigation system, which I think has helped them thrive. The other factor here is the bees. We've had several bowls of strawberries from them, about a bowl a week. So if you are thinking of drip irrigation or bees - think strawberry rewards!

I took this weekends bowls to the get together today. Having straight-from-the-garden berries is a huge treat. Loved seeing how enthusiastic one of the girls in particular was to eat them. Berry stained lips and cheeks, I was giggling my apologies to Dad. ;)

What I'm excited about this week - I installed a drip system on the tomato / cucumber bags & squash plants. The bags have developed small holes from wear, tear, and exposure, causing them to lose water quickly. Plus, they don't absorb large volumes of water quickly. This type of planting responds well to slow watering, and with their place next to the house provides them a bit of a greenhouse effect. The tomato plant in this photo showed signs of dryness faster than the others.

It was time well spent. Each bag got three water irrigators. The squash plants each got one. They are all thriving! There are loads of tomato flowers on all the plants (hint! hint bees!) and I even spotted a tiny baby tomato on one of the plants today. I'm so excited to eat garden tomatoes with garden basil on my birthday. Plants, I hope you don't disappoint!

A note about tomatoes: The smell of the plants is a smell that I associate with family, summer, safety, and warmth. It is one of the most comforting wonderful smells I know. Tomatoes from the garden are so incredibly sweet, tangy, and wonderful that a few years ago I decided I would not purchase tomatoes again at a store. I always find them anemic and disappointing. It's part of my desire to be a complete locavore, motivated by my tastebuds more than my wallet. The return of the tomatoes is something I am greatly looking forward to.


  1. The garden looks wonderful! :) Cheers about the blackberries! We have raspberries - only a few at present, but I'm hopeful for more.

    Have to agree with you about the smells in the garden - I have similar associations and really love to be out there, as it grounds me.

  2. The smells is such a part of gardening that I think gets forgotten. Gardeners know, but people considering why to have a garden are unlikely to consider the aromatherapy of it. Brushing against the rosemary, the tomatoes, the lemon balm... it even makes wedding a pleasure!