Sunday, May 22, 2011

Whirlwind Weekend of Gardens and Gardening

This weekend started with a trip to TAGRO.  On Friday, we loaded up a truckload of free TAGRO mix and amended and planted our parking strip garden.  In the evening, I went to the first garden social gathering of the year at my friend's garden in U.P.  It was so fun catching up and seeing how much they are expanding their kitchen garden this year.  

Saturday morning we hosted a work party at the Orchard & Vine Community Garden.  The Garden had it's first vandalism incident sometime Friday night.   Someone ripped out all eight blueberry shrubs that were planted in the fence planters and threw them into the street.  A neighbor kindly placed them back in their holes in the morning.  Only one was totally broken off from the roots.  A few nice large flowering branches were lost too.  So sad.  I moved a few of the nicer blueberries into a vacant bed in the back of the garden, just in case it happens again.  My strategy now is to plant "expendable plants" in the empty spots in the fence planters like annual flowers and herbs that recover quickly when damaged.  Per our original plans for the day, we continued sheet mulching the garden to smother the weeds.  We also planted some strawberries into the fence planter beds.  And we harvested some young mixed lettuce from our plot.  We ate a fantastic salad for dinner.  

Later Saturday, we picked up a rain barrel that our neighbor didn't want.  In return, we built frames with branches harvested from our garden over her raised beds and covered them with plastic to create rustic greenhouses for her.  

Sunday, we took Smithers to the Dog Park and Soggy Doggy, transplanted more tomatoes into gallon pots, cleared out some spent veg, grilled some chard and cut a bouquet of lilac flowers for my table. 

Needless to say, nothing got done on the kitchen this weekend.  I'll be back at it tomorrow.  

This is where some of the blueberries landed in the street.

Planter boxes sad- lost their blueberry friends.

A casualty.  Every bloom lost is a blueberry lost.  

At home, the bush peas are looking good

The sugar snap peas are blooming!

The tomatoes are happy.

The beets have gone to flower.  We ripped out most of them, but left a few of each type to collect the seeds.

Lots of onion rust.  I need to cut off all the affected parts.  It's been a cool spring and fungus thrives in cool wet conditions.

Cabbage Moth eggs on the back of a cabbage leaf.  We've been checking each plant periodically and squishing the eggs.  

Apple blossoms are almost done.  We saw lots of bees pollinating the flowers.

My young grape vine is going to have flowers this year.  Maybe we'll get a few grapes too.

We prepped and planted out most of our parking strip this weekend. We weeded and amended the soil with some Tagro.  We planted pole beans, bush beans, summer squash, winter squash, and half our corn bed.

This is our winter squash bed.  We planted pumpkins, Turban, Blue Hubbard, Buttercup, and Butternut. We're trying to not overplant and crowd the squash this year.

We filled in the trenches around our early potatoes.  The later ones are coming up nicely.

Fava Beans are blooming.

Fava Bean crop.

We grilled swiss chard for the first time today.  It was really good.  

Pretty Lilacs with Chive flowers.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Time to Heat Things Up

So, our cool wet spring hasn't been very conducive to moving our tomatoes along.  We planted several out last weekend and put plastic over their tomato cages.  It was a windy day and the tomatoes weren't hardened off.  The plastic also didn't quite enclose the tops of the cages completely.  The tomatoes were a bit shocked, but they should survive if we get some sunshine. 

The weather forecast is gloomy, so we decided to go ahead and put up greenhouses over our tomato bed and a vacant bed that we'll use to grow the rest of our tomato starts along until we find them good homes.  This morning was sunny and warm, so Terry sketched up a materials list and headed to the store for PVC piping and heavy duty plastic sheeting.

We spent the afternoon setting up the houses and transplanting starts.  My tomatoes were getting very leggy in my dining room window, so I transplanted about twenty into one gallon pots.  They needed staking and we didn't have any little stakes, so I did some quick pruning in our shrub thicket and made some.
This bed is only about 2 1/2 feet wide.  Just enough space to have plants along each wall and have a little path down the middle.  It was really toasty inside with the sun shining.  The plastic is secured to one side of the bed with bits of plywood and nails.  The other side is held down with bricks, so we can easily move them off and remove the plastic to access the plants.  The ends are just folded and secured with clamps.  On sunny warm days we can open the ends up for ventilation.

Hopefully we won't have to keep the greenhouses up all summer.  

Other garden notes:
  • Lots of baby slugs- they especially like chinese cabbage and marigolds.
  • One Chinese cabbage has bolted which is fine because it's slug infested anyway.
  • Lots of cabbage moth eggs on my brassicas.  I squished a hundred or so eggs.  Terry killed a moth with his trusty tennis racquet.  (He bought a new racquet last year before he broke his ankle.  He has yet to actually play tennis with it.)
  • Lots of rust on my older Evergreen Bunching Onions.
  • Apple trees are loaded with blossoms.
  • Peach tree had virtually no blooms and hardly any leaves emerging.  Nectarine tree is virtually dead.
  • Grape vines are leafing out.
  • Peas, Lettuce, Onions, Garlic, Parsley, Chives, Mint, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts are all growing nicely.
  • I'm starting more flower seeds- cosmos, sunflowers, nasturtiums.
  • Terry is starting more peppers- is it too late?  We'll see.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Birdie in the Tree

We spotted a beautiful bird in our peach tree this past Saturday as we were hanging out in the garden.  We looked it up in a bird field guide, it was a Western Tanager.  It had an orange head, yellow body, and black wings.  It only stayed out for a minute or so and flew away.

We have a garden because we love growing things and I appreciate the colors, forms, and textures of the plant world.  When I developed a plan for the garden, I never really gave much thought to the how it would be appreciated by the animal kingdom.

As the garden has grown, we have really enjoyed watching and listening to our feathered visitors.  We marvel at the diversity of bees and other insects.  We've watched hundreds of worms mating in the moonlight.  There have been so many wondrous moments in our garden and the more we sit, look, and listen, the more we are become aware of.