How Does Your Garden Grow?

It actually grows quite well this year!

I have actual radishes this time around–last year, I planted seeds, and they sprouted, but I never got to the radish stage.  The herbs are growing well (although the cilantro has pretty much lived out it’s life span already!) and we’ve already used fresh basil and cilantro in meals.  I have lots of squash blossoms and jalepeño flowers, but no actual fruits of those yet.  And the carrot leaves are just beginning to peek through.  Not bad for having been planted just over a month ago!

The onions and garlic have been interesting.  The garlic grew really nice, and I thought it was “done,” so I pulled it, and it came out looking like a loose bunch of green onions.  I’m assuming it wasn’t quite ready to be picked, but it appears to still be usable, so I’ll just chalk that up to a learning experience.  The red onions were growing well, but I’m pretty sure that our resident rabbit, who I’ve seen a few times, (once in the garden bed, sniffing around the garlic), is eating the tops, because I’ve found lots of bulbs with the tops mysteriously down right to ground level.

The tomatoes are doing the best.  And by the best, I mean producing at an alarming rate.  It was finally dry enough for me to really inspect them the other day–I knew there had been lots of flowers, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to look for actual tomatoes.  Well, I started finding them, and I got curious, so I counted, and there are approximately 45 tomatoes growing out there right now!!!  And that’s just the first growth cycle of the summer.  I hope they do well, and keep growing at this rate–there’s nothing I like better in the summer than a fresh tomato sprinkled with salt, or a nice BLT, or some homemade pico de gallo.

Gardening is a lot of work, but the rewards certainly make it worth it!

Garden Update

So, here’s what’s going on in the garden:

  • 4 Beefsteak tomatoes and 10 Roma tomatoes currently on the vine–none have ripened yet.
  • 2 yellow summer squash growing–we had a third, but it shriveled.
  • 1 zucchini getting bigger by the minute!
  • 2 very small, very cute jalepeños
  • 3 celery plants that actually look like (small) celery
  • And, what I can only describe as two basil bushes!

I had four broccoli plants, one of them died, and, quite frankly, the others aren’t looking so hot…the one that died was on the flood end of the garden, and the one that was next to it is the other worst looking.  I still have some hope for one of them, but we’ll see.  I’ve also lost one zucchini plant, and the other two didn’t look so good, but at least one of them is producing fruit, and the other one has blossomed, so we’ll see what we get out of those.

The cucumbers have been interesting.  Lost one plant early, and I thought one of them was stunted, but that one has really taken off recently.  Tons of blossoms, and lots of little cucumbers starting, but most have shriveled.  I did have one get to maturity, which I actually just picked, and we’ll be slicing into soon. Not sure what went wrong with the others, but hopefully the one I have will be good!  I also had one incident with a cucumber plant vining onto the celery…had to untangle it.  Didn’t know they’d grow so fast or be so aggressive–hope they don’t try to vine onto me!

The radishes I planted didn’t turn out so well, but the carrots are doing OK.  We sampled one, and I think they need a little more time, but soon…

The onions all bombed–maybe root vegetables and I don’t get along so well!

The cilantro was awesome, grew really fast, flavored some of our food really well.  I did not know, however, how quickly it flowers, and I also didn’t know that once it flowers, it’s done growing, so that ended pretty fast.

Anyway, that’s what’s new in our garden.  I’m still hoping for some semi-homemade pico with the tomatoes and jalapeños, even if I will have to buy the onions and cilantro for it!  Mostly, I just want some nice, fresh tomatoes, and it’s looking good on that front–just need some more time.

Jalapeños of Death!

So, I had planned to make pico de gallo (hope I spelled that a little bit right) to console myself after my less than stellar day (more on that later).  But now I hear that my jalapeños may be carriers of the dreaded salmonella.  As I no longer trust the FDA to warn me of actual food dangers (how many tomatoes were dumped when nothing was wrong with them, and how many farmers lost how much money?), and as I have no intention of giving up produce, I am going to make and eat it anyway.  

That being said, if I die from the aforementioned salmonella, please find a disgruntled tomato farmer, and hit the FDA with a sizable lawsuit.

To Market, To Market

Farmer’s Market that is. I was on the way home from getting Turkey’s hair cut, and he and Bunny begged to stop by the Farmer’s Market. We didn’t really have anything else to do, and even though this is usually an outing I save for a morning when Daddy is home to accompany us, it was a pretty morning, so I acquiesced. Unloading the double stroller and all four children from the van is always interesting, but if we didn’t get out of the house once in a while, I’d go crazy (or crazier, depending on who you ask!)

I didn’t buy anything this week, partly because we didn’t get there until 11:30, so it was kind of picked over, (usually we try to go before 9:00), and partly because I accidentally left my wallet in the car, and I wasn’t going to go back for it, but I was impressed with the selection. This is the first week that I saw lots of stuff I normally would buy, even with the late hour. There was an abundance of zucchini and yellow squash, quite a few cucumbers, radishes, red and white potatoes, and even some onions, with a few other items mixed in. I wouldn’t have minded getting some of those zucchini and squashes–a few of my favorite summer recipes involve those vegetables, and the children love zucchini bread (hey, any attempt to get them eat vegetables counts, right?).

There’s just nothing like fresh, locally grown produce–I can’t wait until all the varieties of onions and tomatoes are in, along with fresh corn, melons, peaches and (please let it be soon!) garlic. Going to the farmer’s market every Saturday was one of our favorite weekly outings last summer, and I can tell that this summer will be no different!

A Pioneer Woman I’m Not

I’ve decided to venture into the world of vegetable gardening this year. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not because of rising fuel and food costs–with all the money I’ve sunk into the blasted thing so far, I could probably do a full week’s worth of grocery shopping. No, I did it for two reasons. 1.) I’ve always liked the idea of gardening. It’s some kind of primitive thing I guess–tilling the land, growing something for my family to eat. The whole hard labor followed by the fruits of my labor thing. And also B.) I thought it would be a good learning experience for my children to see how something grows from seed (or seedling in a lot of cases) to a vegetable bearing plant.

So, aside from the effort that went into digging the rows for the garden, (I had no idea that what is I guess is a clay based soil would be so hard to dig through and so heavy!), and the lugging around 40 pound sacks of topsoil, there are many gardening struggles I was previously unaware of. For example, I am familiar with the concept of drought. I’ve heard about it on the news since I was a kid, read about it in the Little House books, etc., etc. I know that too little rain is a big problem for farmers. I had never considered, however, the problem of too much rain. As it is right now, I appear to be down one cucumber and two broccoli plants because of flooding. It also remains to be seen how many of the carrot and radish seeds may have been washed away. Part of this is, I’m sure, due to poor drainage and a bad slope in the backyard, but I think it’s also partly just that there has been so darn much rain the last few weeks, and plants only need so much water. Lesson learned.

Problem two, which I had considered, but kind of brushed off as not a threat–something eating my plants. Bigger threat than I anticipated. Not only did something (rabbit? skunk? bird?) have the nerve to go after on of my beautiful and amazing smelling basil plants, it apparently had no taste at all, and decided that the basil was no good, leaving the poor leaves to wilt on the ground. And it wasn’t enough to take just one leaf, but whatever it was took every leaf off of one plant. I was really looking forward to fresh pesto, too…

The third problem, which was actually the first one I ran into, was also not something unfamiliar to me, but something I certainly wasn’t expecting in late April–a late season frost. The only things that survived that calamity were the broccoli that can’t hold up to rain, celery, and the onion sets. I suppose I should have known better, but I was eager to plant, and in my defense, my experiences with living down here so far have suggested that late April is a great time for planting.

Problem four, which didn’t actually cause any damage, thankfully, but easily could have, was hail. Good thing for me, the hail was mostly pea sized, but I could see how quickly plants, especially small ones like my seedlings, could be flattened by hail.

Problem five–lack of sun. Now, I know there are some rays of light getting through, even with the crappy weather we’ve been having, but my plants are looking decidedly not green enough, so I’m guessing they’re lacking in the photosynthesis department. Both the plants and I have had enough clouds, thank you very much!

So where does that leave me? I’m just waiting for a plague of grasshoppers or a horde of hungry blackbirds (I read the Little House books a lot as a child, and I’ll admit, also as an adult!) to attack the garden next. I can’t really imagine what else could happen, but I’m sure if it can, I’ll find out about it soon enough. It’s really sobering to consider what trials farmers face–how many things can go wrong each year, and how much of it is completely out of their control. It makes me quite grateful that I don’t have to depend on the land for my survival, and that there are grocery stores and farmers markets where I can get all of the fresh produce I desire, without having to do the work or depend on the weather and wildlife to cooperate with me! I’m happy to have my little garden as a learning experience and pleasant diversion that gives me something fun to do outdoors.

To summarize what I’ve planted, even though I’ve already lost some of it–four broccoli plants, three cucumber plants, three jalepeno plants, three each summer squash and zucchini plants, three roma tomato and six beefsteak tomato plants, three celery plants, one cilantro, four basil, one set of onions (why are they called a set?) and an envelope each of carrot and radish seeds. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens, and if I actually get any produce out of this garden this year at all!