Thursday, February 7, 2008

2nd week in February...spring planting has begun!

Today is February 7th and it's been warm and sunny for a couple of days. Spring fever is definitely in the air around these parts...I've been waiting impatiently for a day when I have the time to get out there and dig.

This afternoon I finished up with work (anomaly, that...), helped the kids with homework and headed out with a small rake and a handful of seed packs. It only took me 10 minutes or so to rake the residual fall leaves and pinestraw off the beds and prepare them for planting. I just let nature mulch the beds for me in the fall and left it as it fell. The dirt in my beds is rich, dark and black...a perfect mix for sprouting my new seeds! It's damp and cool in the ground now...they raised the watering restrictions for Georgia given our plethora of rain the past couple of months and you can certainly feel the damp in my garden soil.

I have a 1/3 bed of spinach, a 1/3 bed of short carrots and 1/3 bed variety of lettuces. Approximately 1' x 4' plot of green onions (chives) which will grow into summer...and the random garlic head from last year. I've also got a plot of catnip which I may remove before it gets warm and becomes invasive...haven't decided on that yet. If I remove it I'll just transplant it over by the pergola...
Yet to be done...I need to figure out about the broccoli and cauliflower. I thought those were spring-ish plants in my zone but the packs threw me off. Will read more on that and decide.

I also need to de-stump the corner bed and then clip back as much ivy as I can. I'll be using the (shh!) Round-Up on the English Ivy as I cut it back, hoping the killer will get into the vines that are cut and actually work. Ivy is so hard to kill and it's rather invasive in my yard (thank you, original owners) beautiful though it may be, once you are done with it you have a task to remove it. Round-Up is my chemical of choice since it has a relatively short life in the dirt and it's run-off is less offensive than others IMO. By the time I plant that bed with beans and peas this spring (post-frost) it will be long gone from the soil.
I'll be re-landscaping the front bed in the next month. I'm reworking my office/school room into an office/studio space and will need a more manicured front bed to accompany my plans given the client load I'm carrying ;)

Monday, January 28, 2008 begins on my spring garden!

Yes, it is only January but we've started work on the garden so it will be ready soon for spring planting. Here in north Georgia, I can plant my cool-weather spring crops in February so I needed to get started.

Yesterday I had my first seed-swap meeting with severay friends who also garden. I'll be planting a myriad of greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions and garlic's nearly the first of February so most likely by Valentine's Day I'll have direct sowed those crops. The summer crops I'll start by mid-February in-house.

I realized that given my surgery, I never had the corner of my garden area cleared where I wanted to put beans this year. Today I mentioned that to my husband (we were out trimming back the perennials anyways) so he went and found our chainsaw. You see, there were 3 LARGE shrubs over in that corner. It's a lovely corner, a naturally raised bed with a stone retainer wall in the corner of my fenced yard. I envision a bean teepee over there with a variety of green, white, yellow and purple pole beans that the kids can help me harvest (and play inside of) this summer. I will grow peas along side of it in smaller teepees and then bush beans along the edges. The 3 shrubs had to go...they were probably 12 feet tall and were definitely at least 10 years old.

He disassembled our (broken) chainsaw, reassembled it, tinkered with it until it worked...and then got to work on the shrubs. They are gone you can see in the pictures :) The difference in light in that corner is clearly apparent already. I am thinking the entire garden will be full-sun now that those are gone. They overhung the garden and kept a lot of light out. Maybe I'll be able to grow melons over the edge of those stone retainers...I didn't have enough light last year.

BEFORE: (the first image is in April when we were building the beds, second is on July 9 -my birthday - and shows the garden in full summer bloom.)


 has started! The soil in my raised beds is lush...dark, fine and so very soft and fragrant. I'm pleased the lasagna method worked so well for me last year! I'll be adding some new layers to the top soon and begining my growing season in just a couple more weeks!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

not much to's Christmas time in the southland.

I wasn't able to plant any winter crops due to my hysterectomy in September. My gardens are mulched and eagerly awaiting spring planting, starting in-house in just a few more weeks!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

no more zukes...squash borers. weird cukes too...and a ton of jalapenos.

We've had an abundance of rains here lately. Every afternoon we have an hour of storms, at a minimum...EVERY day. I'm talking downpours here...not just a mere sprinkle. That's great since the majority of our state is in a serious drought. The water our local watershed produces supplies counties to the south as well so it only benefits all of us in the end.

Turns out that our zuke issue (not getting bigger) was lack of water...yes, even though I watered it daily, it was still not enough...since the rains started I started having 12" + zukes...unfortunately, since I am unwilling to use any pesticide I also got some bugs.

Squash vine borers are deadly to cucurbits and squash. They are moths that lay eggs on the fruit, which then hatch and bore into the vines and fruits. I knew I had an issue last week when I had to pull 3 pumpkin plants...I found ants inside the vines but something had to start that hole/tunnel. The zukes were looking weird too but I couldn't figure it out exactly. I strongly suspected vine borers but couldn't find any when I cut into some of the suspicious vines (holes along base) so I took a wait-and-see approach.

Three days ago I harvested a lovely zuke. It was about a foot long and substantial. It also had holes...bugs. Cutting into it I found two sizable borer worms. :(

Today I went out and found an 18" and a 12" zuke...but the plants looked wilty and just not so good. I pulled the fruit off and both had NUMEROUS holes plus eggs all over the outside.

In the spirit of saving the rest of my garden (pumpkins) I pulled all my zuke plants. Production was not what it should be and the borers had taken hold. This is a learning experience and I'll study for next year what I can do to prevent it (besides pesticides...)

Further, I think my lemon cukes and vining/bushmasters are cross polinating. I've been seeing some interesting phenomenon in my cukes...the bushmasters are round with undeveloped pointy ends. My only explanation is that perhaps they cross polinated. I'm also having reduced production from all the green cukes, just in time for the lemon cukes to take over LOL...There is also a weird look to the regular vining cukes now...not sure what it is but we're not eating these.

I finally harvested a bell pepper, waiting for it to turn red was just not happening and I don't know why. The rest of the plant was not producing so I figured I'd just harvest it so the plant could make more peppers.

The jalapeno plants are in overdrive...this is just a fraction of what I've got on the plants.

My tomatoes are still not ripe but we're getting there.

The lemon cukes are going to take over my yard...they're producing at insane rates...

This is the garden as it was today, after removing the zuke plants. I'll be planting some fall/winter seeds soon...not sure what, I'm going to chat with Christy & Kelley about that...

I fully realize that the issues I've had (eggplant, borers) could be solved/prevented with various pesticides but it was my intention to have a (mostly...) organic garden. I did use a wee bit of Miracle grow early on but everything else has been all natural. I've learned a TON from my plants this year...and even just one harvest of anything (I've had dozens of cukes, beans, peas and about 7 zukes that were edible) paid for my seeds/plants.
The lessons I'm learning will only help for next year :)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lemon Cucumbers!

I've been waiting IMPATIENTLY for my lemon cucumbers to be ready for harvest. IMPATIENTLY. I LOVE LOVE LOVE cucumbers of any variety and had never heard of lemon cukes before I found the seed pack this past winter. I've watched them grow with interest and impatience since it seems my bushmaster (pickle-esque) and burpless vining (long and skinny) cucumbers have been producing for weeks.

Here they are the vine just before harvest...I have a few more that will be ready tomorrow and the day after:

After harvest:

They're in the fridge now, cooling off for munching this evening. This occasion may call for a new batch of salsa ;)

Speaking of salsa, in another 2 days I'll have more jalapenos than I can possibly eat. I need to buy several more bunches of cilantro (I have 3 in the fridge waiting) and cans of tomatoes (since my romas are still green.) I'll be making salsa and putting it up for later because I just have waaaay too many peppers growing. Nice problem to have after my worry a few weeks ago!

These are sweet yellow bells growing:

Last night I made fajita chicken with some of the sweet peppers I harvested this week. So far I have one bell almost ready but it's supposed to be red and is still green...I'm trying to be patient!

And then we have the interesting tomato dilemma. I found a baby tomato earlier today (did not photograph it) that had blossom end rot. Then this afternoon I found this one on a different plant. Seems perhaps I needed more water a couple weeks back (based on my reading this problem is either caused by drought or lack of calcium in the soil...I'm saying drought since I was complaining to my Mom about the zukes not growing and then after several days of heavy rain went out to discover an 18" zucchini the other day...I harvested it together with a 12" zuke and we made bread :)

Monday, July 9, 2007

lots and lots of peppers...and a weird bug?

I visit my garden every day...sometimes I go out to say hi more than once in a day. It's always amazing to me how the plants change even just from morning to night.
Today I went to visit the garden and found a visitor...he was a HUGE green caterpillar of some variety. He was also quite rude...note the spike on his tail. He tried to get me with it...pesky guy.

Does anyone reading know what he is? Please let me know if you do. He was just over 3" long and fat as a marker.
(ETA he is a Tomato Hornworm...and I apparently need to go check for more of them.)

I suppose the worry I had over my tomatoes and peppers was unfounded...they are proving to be rather fecund lately. The tomato plants are as tall as me (I'm 5'4") or taller and the jalapenos are producing so many peppers I'll soon be eating poppers :D

I'm in need of recipes for sweet peppers...please share!

The zucchini are giving me an interesting issue...they are not getting very big. I tried leaving them on the vine and they rot so I have started cutting them off when they are about 7" long. They don't get any wider than the vines though...which seems odd to me. They taste ok...but they are narrow. My mom said her friends suggested lack of water. I'm not sure about that since you can see how large the plants are. They are taller than my 5yo son and have very prolific foilage. I'd think lack of pollination except that the cukes in the next bed have a ton of bees every morning (and are producing more cukes than I can eat.)

lemon cukes:

HUGE zuke plants:

typical zuke growth...


The pumpkin plants I sprouted last month are HUGE. They're grabbing everying in sight and spreading like mad. They all have blossoms now so it won't be long before we have pumpkins growing!

pumpkin blossoms:

The watermelon plants didn't do much. I'm disappointed but will try some other things next year. They weren't in the sunniest of locations initially so I am sure that impacted their growth.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Funny how I didn't realize that it has been 11 days since I updated my garden blog! Wow...I've eaten a couple of vining cukes already. Somehow I eat them before I remember to take their I thought today BEFORE I harvested I'd snap some photos to share :)

Above are the left and right beds. Growing like mad...the zuchini plants in the right bed are about as tall as my 5year old son. I'm still waiting on lemon cukes but have plenty of lemon cuke flowers going now so it shouldn't be too much longer. The bush cukes are coming in now...I've harvested 4 in 2 days with about 20 more soon to be ready. You can see how long the vining cukes are...they are a burpless hybrid (I dug out the tag from under the foilage today to find that info.) The bushmaster cukes are more of a pickling cuke (they look like pickles on the vine...Morgan got excited when he first saw them until I explained that dilling pickles was a long process...months long.)

My pumpkins are growing really well...vines spilling over the sides of the right bed now. I moved some watermelon plants over last week since the corner they are in gets too much shade and they aren't growing. I'm not sure if they'll make it or not. I'm hoping so.

Daniel, my 5yo, loves to help me in my garden. Today he was wearing his favorite silk cape and helping me harvest. He is most excited by the plethora of cucumbers I'm growing :) He also loves eating peas fresh from the vine, raw out of the pod. I hope gardening together will help the boys come to appreciate their food more and learn to enjoy more veggies. I can only hope...

Remember how concerned I was about my tomatoes and peppers? Two days ago I harvested our first sweet pepper and today I found the first Roma tomato of the season!

The long awaited jalapeno peppers growing! I also have a few mexibells, yellow and red sweet bells and more sweet peppers growing. I may have too many peppers pretty soon...thank goodness they cook up fast and freeze well ;)

The zukes are trying to grow. So far I've had a couple small ones rot on the vine. I'm not really sure why...but this is about as big as they get. Then the flower drops off and the fruit rots rather than getting bigger. Are they not getting fertilized? I've got plenty growing in there...

The peas are about done. They've grown all the way up my trellis (so pretty!) and are barely producing anything now. I got enough peas from the many plants I grew to have a couple handfuls of off-the-vine snacking...beans on the other hand have been much more productive. Every day I go out there and grab a bowlful more. I'll be starting some more soon of each for fall...

My cilantro bolted and is flowering. It's pretty! I realize I can't eat it now and that's ok. The peppers weren't ready when it was so no big deal. I love the tiny flowers !

My harvest today...I'm including the sweet pepper from 2 days ago but today I got 4 bushmaster cukes, one burpless hybrid, a bunch of beans and a couple pea pods.