Friday, June 29, 2012

Herb update: Basil, basil, and more basil

This year I went all out with the basil, planting four kinds: Greek, Lime, Genovese, and Sweet.

All were started indoors with the other seed starts. Too bad I can no longer tell the Genovese and the Sweet apart since they got mixed up early on and look so similar. Since the community garden is a car drive away, we have found that it is easier just to grow herbs inside so that we have them on hand as we are cooking. Unfortunately, our sun situation is a little iffy. Front of the house gets an intense burst for 3-4 hours and the back gets a little filtered light mid-morning.  So far, the plants in both places look pretty good. I still have a few more in yogurt cups that need to go to the garden but we'll see if they ever make it there. In the meantime we have enough to start drying.

In the back of the house we have what I belive is one of the sweet basil plants.

The lime basil next to it is already leggy and is constantly trying to set flowers. Same thing happened last year when it was in the front window. Shot up like a weed and put out flowers right away.

 The sage in the back window is still rather delicate and has had troubles with black aphids eating at it.

 In the back window we have.....

A Greek basil plant that has stayed nice and compact. The pot next to it has another Greek and I think a Genovese. The suspected Genovese has climbed a lot and already had about 4" whacked off the top.

We also have some really promising looking sage in the back window. I learned the hard way that sage does best when you pretty much starve it of water (mimicking a hot and dry Mediterranean climate). This was done accidentally this year but it looks really developed (it looks like a baby palm tree below). The marjoram next to it is doing well and has gotten pretty big considering the size of the pot it is in.

My oregano is doing well even though it is in a small pot. 

I killed my first bee balm start with waaaay too much water.  Luckily I have one more plant that may survive if I get it into the garden soon. 

My cilantro is still tiny (read: sad)  and had to be moved to the back window after it started to bolt in the front. Now it is bolting in the back as well. So much for so-called  the "Slo-Bolt" variety. If it bolts in here where it is 72 degrees I hate to think what it would look like in the 99 degree garden by now.

My chives are looking sad but they have been inside for 3 years now and probably need a boost. I need to remember to give them some fish emulsion. They are trying to flower though. I know I should snip them off since I don't want to tax the plant any further but they are so pretty!

  And here are our remaining herbs that need to go into the garden this weekend.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Weekend Garden Chores

It is going to be a scorcher this weekend, but we have plants that NEED to get in the garden. This is also our last chance to start some cucumbers and our butternut and have any hope of yielding something. Not all of this will get done but here is a rough to-do list.

Must do:
  1. Transplant basil seedlings into a bed or pot
  2. Transplant bee balm seedling into a pot
  3. Sow cucumbers (Bush Champion and Burpless Beauty) in tomato bed
  4. Sow Early Butternut squash in pepper bed
  5. Transplant Bleeding Heart plant (somewhere)
  6. Rake out remaining woodchips from under raspberries and fertilize
  7. Fertilize and mulch tomatoes and peppers
  8. Water
  9. Turn compost
  10. .....and if any time left, weed 
Nice to haves:
  1. Rip out dead chamomile and sow more  (perennial kind this time)
  2. Sow Nebuka bunching onions in a pot
  3. Sow some Italian parsley  
  4. Clean up the garden debris and encroaching invasives
  5. Clean out window boxes, fill with soil, and plant with Love in a Mist (move along fence line) 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our Tomatoes are Growing!

Went over to the garden to water today. Lettuce had all bolted (of course) and something is still eating the rhubarb but our tomatoes are setting fruit! This is exciting because all our seed starts almost ended up in the compost after my inattention led them to get horrifically leggy (pics below). Luckily hubby intervened and decided to give them a shot in the garden anyway. Our volunteer tomato is still coming along the fastest but the others look promising!! We put in Tomatoes Alive fertilizer when we planted them and have since dosed them with fish emulsion when they set flowers. Hopefully hubby will get his coveted Cherokee Purples, and I will get at least one Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge!

Just for a reference, here is a pic of our leggy tomato starts from May. Who knew they would survive?!

And because I'm still so amazed we need an picture of my (non-devoured) green beans and the rest of the haul from the hoop house:

                                   Nothing prettier than a golden beet!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June Garden Updates

The last two days it has been 99 degrees (feels like 105) so we'll see how the plants fare. Before this heat wave, the tomatoes were doing well, radishes were going to seed, our hydrangea looks fully recovered from the frost, chamomile was done and the lettuce is was on the borderline of bolting (I'm sure it has now).

Photo Update:

In the top corner you can see our onions that seem to already have the thrip. We didn't treat them in time so we will just have to live with smaller onions this year. Bottom left is our lettuce and volunteer tomato.

Top is the rhubarb, hilled potato, and radishes going to seed. In the bottom you can see the 3 kohlrabi that made it and a bit of simpson lettuce and mesclun.

Here is our volunteer tomato. Looks like a Roma. Funnily enough it looks the best out of all of our tomatoes so far

 Our towering Prime Jan blackberry. At least it lived up to the "upright" claim.

 Here are what the berries look like (gorgeous, right?!) and below is one compared to one of our raspberries.

Here are our potatoes which we are hilling in boxes. Something was chewing threw them but that seems to have stopped.

Here is our tomato bed. We are doing a square foot garden, single stemming thing with them and training them up the trellis. So far so good. It helps they were super leggy to start with so they were a bit easier to train.

The hydrangea survived! Unfortunately all the aluminum sulfate I added a few years back has dissolved and it is just pink because of our alkaline soil (as much as I wanted it to be purple or blue). Side dressing doesn't seem to help so pink it is!

 I am surprised but our chamomile is all done. Hopefully it reseeded itself otherwise I may reseed it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Heart My Row Cover

As discussed in earlier posts, this year we finally put up the hoops to use our floating row cover which was purchased last season from garden's alive but didn't get used. At first we were a bit skeptical that it would really work but after 2 years of losing our bean crop to the mexican bean beetle we were willing to try.

If you are not familiar, the mexican bean beetle is an insidious little creature that is immune to all but the most hardcore pesticides, which of course we do not want to use on our organic garden. We used kaolin clay last year (under the brand Surround At-Home Protectant) which worked okay but you have to apply it regularly and it is really hard to spray the underside of every bean leaf. So this year, our plan was just to keep them off from the start.

Boy, has it worked so far!! Everything else in our garden has been ravaged by the pests that got a free pass this year with our un-winter but everything under the row cover looks amazing. If you follow us you may remember that we were having problems with pill bugs in this bed earlier in the season. Our hypothesis worked...we worked in more organic material for them to eat and they have left our plants alone ever since.

We plan to use more covers in the future, particularly for the self-pollinating plants like the peppers and the eggplant. Luckily we do have a second cover to use; we just have to put up more hoops first. Seems like garden construction is never finished.

Here is a pic of our row cover all buttoned up. We use garden stakes around the edges and pots at the ends.

Here are what our beans and beets looked like when we peaked underneath a few weeks ago:

Here are our beans about a week ago: (They have NEVER gotten this big before without most the leaves suffering from various degrees of skeletonization). Supposedly they self-pollinate but we are starting to get nervous about that and may roll the cover back for a bit to let the bees in.

 Some of our harvests so far...yummy cynlindra beets. When you cut into them they are the most gorgeous blood red color.

 And here are some gorgeous golden beets waiting to be harvested.

We have only had one sacrifice so far. Something stripped the one and only kohlrabi that germinated in this bed. We suspect slugs. But whatever it was it has left everything else along. Thank goodness for small garden miracles.