Sunday, June 30, 2013

Garden Update Part 2

I'm finally getting to finish up the state of the garden update from the other day. Is it me, or do the days just get busier and faster the older you get? I can't imagine being bored! Anyway:
I tried Charming Snow Cauliflower again and like last year I was rewarded with a bunch of nice little heads that added up to one meal's worth of cauliflower. I have some seedlings started for a fall batch, so it'll be interesting to see how that goes. I also planted a variety called Amazing, which so far hasn't lived up to its name at all. They didn't germinate all that well and so far I haven't seen any sign of a head on any of them, but they may yet "amaze", time will tell.
My beets are doing really nicely this year, which makes me very happy! We love roasted beets in salads, speaking of which, my spring lettuce was also a winner. I grew some 18 varieties and like last year I had so much I was giving it away to friends in huge bagfuls. Both beets and lettuce leave me with challenges I have yet to master. I am never successful with beets after the first sowing, no matter how hard I try. If the seedlings survive at all, they don't tend to form bulbs. My initial beet bed is thriving and thankfully it is pretty large. I sowed a second one and every day I find fewer healthy seedlings. The heat just seems to get to them before they are big and healthy enough to fight it. I thought this time around I would finally succeed with the second sowing of beets, but it's looking tenuous. And with lettuce I have yet to get a decent harvest of lettuce when the weather gets hot. My initial spring lettuce is all gone now and my second batch is at its peak. I have a third bunch started from indoor seedlings that's coming along, all of more heat tolerant varieties. They'll be ready to harvest soon and we shall see if they turn out bitter or not. And I planted a bed of heat resistant lettuce from seed last week, but I'm not seeing much of any germination, likely due to the warm weather. I'd love to be able to extend the lettuce a bit more!
I tried Scarlet Runner beans for the first time, but planted them a little too late to get any beans out of them. But they are presenting us with a beautiful display of the lovely red flowers they get their name from and I'm hoping our humming birds are enjoying them! They make the garden look happy!
My cabbages are running behind last year's crop. By this time last year I had finished harvesting the last of the earlies whereas this year I just harvested the first one today! My red cabbages were looking beautiful till a week or so ago when they were ravaged by cabbage worms and I caught them a little too late. Bummer. I have yet to have any real success with growing red cabbage which is an irritant to the German in me. Sweet and sour red cabbage is a favorite with much of my family.
Oh, and I should mention that I had an early and successful crop of bok choy, mizuna, semposai and komatsuna. Asian greens are so quick and easy to grow but unfortunately not so easy to store.
And that's where things stand as of today. My June harvest total in pounds was 6 pounds less than last year, but I had a blockbuster May so I'm still ahead of the game. Hoping we get a bit of rain tonight so I don't have to water tomorrow. How is it possible it will be July already???

Thursday, June 27, 2013

State of the Garden...An Update

I said I was going to get back to this blog and by golly I mean to! I promised myself a post by today and though the day has surely gotten away from me here it is: an update of the 2013 garden as it stands in late June.
Last summer's garden was the best I'd had yet, but not without its share of disappointments, mostly in myself for letting things go that I should have been on top of. I vowed not to let that happen this year and I have to say, so far, mostly so good. What has helped me a lot is that I got a freebie calendar, you know, the kind that banks and auto repair shops hand out, and I wrote goals for when I wanted to get things started either as indoor seedlings or planted outside and I have stuck pretty well to that schedule. So things that were overlooked last year got done this time around. It's been a great season so far! Here's a look at things:
Not that everything has been hunky-dory. My eggplant seedlings that were so robust and beautiful were set back majorly when I hardened them off. Don't know why, I can only figure it was the cold spring. Then when I planted them out they were attacked by flea beetles and just about destroyed, a problem I have never had before. I mean, I've always had flea beetles, who hasn't, but never so that the poor eggplants were skeletonized! Anyway, they are hanging in there, but I suspect it won't be a good year for eggplant around here.
Then there were the tomatoes. I always plant my seedlings on the same date and in the same way. For whatever reason, my tomatoes, all 21 varieties, refused to grow! They sprouted and looked healthy enough, but they stayed mini until the day they were planted out in mid-May. Thankfully, they have taken off once they were outside and don't seem like they are too far behind normal at this point. Weird.
I had my first ever terrific year for spinach. I wish I had a photo of it to show you! The cool spring was a boon to spinach growers in the northeast and I harvested a few bushels of it. It was just wonderful! Spinach quiche! Greek spinach pie! And it looks like my onions, which were so pathetic last summer are going to be nice this year, barring any unforeseen disaster.
 Above is a closer look at the onions, which are thriving. I have a little more sunlight this year since my husband took down some trees that were really restricting the light and I think it is improving things a lot. The plan is to take a few more down next year, but for now I am happy with the extra sun that I've got.
 My zucchini plants are smaller than this time last summer, again due to the very cool spring we had. But the first baby zukes are showing themselves so we should be getting some soon.
 My swiss chard last year became diseased very early on. So far, so good for this season. The bed is smaller, but they all look healthy. Behind them is the garlic. I planted way too much this year so my friends will be the recipients of a lot of garlic I think! I haven't even come close to using up last year's supply and then I went and planted twice as much. Well, now I know. That won't happen again, because space is always at a premium.
 Here is some kale off to a good start. I planted a number of varieties: Siberian, Red Russian, Winterbor, Beedy's Camden and Tuscan.
 The winter squash is beginning to take off too. I have finally got a handle on the svb's I think, but last year the squash beetles were brutal. I already found my first one the other day along with a cluster of eggs which I destroyed, but will really have to be ready for them this time.
Sugar snap peas have hit their peak today. I picked six and a half pounds of them and there are still plenty for the coming days. My Little Marvel shelling peas are about done and I will likely be pulling those plants next week sometime. Well, that's some of the report and I will continue it tomorrow if I have the energy in the evening. I'm spending the day babysitting 2 adorable little toddlers who usually wear me out completely by the time they're done with me. It's my way of helping a young couple out and I get a little shot of second childhood out of it. And exhaustion...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

You Don't Have to Ask Me Twice...Er...Three Times...

Or, The Return of the Prodigal Blogger
It all started with a head of broccoli. Well, two heads. The ones pictured above. I came to my husband with them, all excited and said "Look! These are the largest broccolis I've ever grown!" To which he replied "Wow. They're as big as the ones you get in the grocery store. I hope you took a picture of them for your blog!" Hm. Eyes down, feet shuffling I told him I really wasn't doing my blog, hadn't posted to it in months. He was disappointed with me. He said I shouldn't give up my blog and disappoint my readers too. "What, all three of them?" I thought. But I never started this blog to get readers, I started it to write about my life as a gardener and to enjoy the fellowship of other bloggers and to try something new and exciting in my "golden" years. Well, I walked away from that conversation like a sulking child wrestling with my conscience. Maybe I really should discipline myself to get back to the old blog but I wasn't ready to think about it yet. This was two days ago.
Then, today, what should I get but a message from the very first person in blogland who encouraged me when I got started and whose blog I have loved, Annie's Granny wondering if I was OK and saying she missed me. Aw, wow. Sniff-sniff. Thank you Granny! You are such a caring person, you put me to shame! Thanks for asking!
Here's the deal: I'm OK. Pretty OK. It has been an up and down year here in the land of the wooden nutmeg. My older son got divorced which has been tough on us, but to make it even more tough it resulted in his moving to Florida. I have been struggling with lonliness for family and disappointment with how some things have turned out. All the younger generation have moved far away and the older ones have moved even farther. None of the young ones seem to want to have children. Thank God I have a large and loving church family so I don't wallow in depression, but there is no substitute for having your own family nearby to love, share with and cook for. I am coming to grips with the changes slowly but surely. I am not a wallower, but I have my moments. On the joyful side, my younger son who lives in New York City got married and we had a great time at his wedding where the far-off family members got together again like in the old days. Ah, that was nice.
I also turned sixty this year. Not that I mind it, but it is part and parcel with this feeling that I have to refigure what my place in life is meant to be. And those are my lame excuses for not keeping up with the blog! I had every intention of documenting this gardening season from the very first seedlings that I planted in February. I even took all the pictures to post them and redesigned the look of things. But I let myself be consumed with the day-to-day minutiae (and my new ipad mini which takes up way more of my time than it ever should!!!) I also had my share of writer's block, because sometimes I really don't think I have anything interesting to say! I stopped reading blogs too, mainly because if I read them I'd feel guilty about not writing mine. And that won't do, because I miss all the great bloggers who share their gardening and their lives and their encouraging words of wisdom!
So there's the story. I will post an update on the garden (which is doing great!) in a day or so. I am looking forward to catching up with everyone else's gardens. Now I am off to lunch with a friend who is the queen of upbeat and positive and try to learn from her!