Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August photos, as promised

\Welcome to the Garden of the Kitchen Witch, August edition :) This is Yeti, my familiar and constant companion. Isn't she sweet? She's a 9 yr old border collie/basset hound/lab/chow mix and I love her dearly :)
Ah, the tomatoes. We've had to string up the tomatoes, the 'cages' just weren't working. Neither were tripods. I realize now (way too late) that I've got too many plants going on here, next year I'll be better about my thinning out. The far back with the white PVC pipe support is the Cherokee Purple tomatoes, center with the rope support is the cherry tomatoes and in the back in tripods are the beefsteaks. We've had 1 red cherry tomato so far...lots & lots of greens on the vine, and a few starting to blush. Come on August heat, work your magic and redden my 'maters! Please!

This is a Cherokee Purple that's stringing out, I just thought it was pretty and graceful with its long branch and yellow flowers.

Cherokee Purple starting to take on a hint of blush.

Cherry tomatoes starting to blush! Looks like we'll have homegrown cherry tomatoes if nothing else :)

Beets. None of us are really beet fans - so why did I plant them? Because I saw a recipe for crimson mashed potatoes, made with beets. And I've been obsessed with making them ever since. Hence the beets. I hope these stupid red mashed potatoes are good, otherwise I've got a lot of beets to use. Joy...

Cucumbers, FINALLY starting to climb the trellis. I've had to coax these babies along the entire way. They did NOT want to climb it, but I think I've convinced them that its the only smart thing to do. There are some baby gherkin size cukes on the vines, I'm beyond excited!!

Baby green bell peppers, there's about 6 of these on the plants now and many more blossoms. Hooray, bell peppers are a hit in the Witch Household!

Front yard garden from the front door view. The morning glories are really taking off around the trees, love it!

Front yard garden, the 2 big ones in the front are zucchini, the trailing vine is spaghitti squash, the ashy one on the left is butternut squash.

Front yard garden, south side, from the street view. There are close to 20 spaghetti squash out there!! WOO HOO!

Zucchinis on the vine, long & slightly crooked, good thing they all taste the same. There's 2 here, one for tomorrows harvest and a 2nd with the blossom attached, it'll be ready in 2 days.

Morning glory flower bud, should be pretty tomorrow am!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Zucchini observation

I noticed something the other day while checking for ripe zucchinis. The 1 plant that survived from seed is not producing zucchini! I've harvested about 2 from that plant, compared to the 10+ from the other 3. The fruits form, blossom, then shrivel and die. I'm assuming its from lack of pollination??? It just seemed strange to me that the one 'from seed' plant is the one that isn't producing, whereas the nursery bought counterparts are going ape shit. Whats up with that? Anyone know?? Suggestions? Do I need to go out there & hand pollinate all the babies as soon as the flowers open, cause I can if I have to :)

Also, raspberry season is over for us now. I harvested 2 gallon size bags of berries, and we ate quite a few while harvesting, too. And I made an awesome raspberry galette with some of them too. Soon I'll make jelly out of the ruby gems I've harvested. I'm really excited about that, last years jelly was the best I've ever had. the berries were even bigger, sweeter and juicer this year than they were last year so I'm beyond jazzed about this years jelly :)

I'll post pix later I promise! the tomatoes are HUGE - I realize now that I should have thinned them out more, D'OH! There is not a lot fruit on the tomatoes, I blame me and Colorado - me for not thinning properly and CO for not being warm enough at night for the fruit to develop properly. Someday I'll grow tomatoes that actually turn red. What a great day that'll be LOL :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

1st zucchini!!

Well actually, that's a lie. Brian harvested a tiny one for us the other day, I needed a zucchini for a galette I was making, he found a small 'gherkin pickle' sized one. While it was wee, it did its job and we feasted. So this is the 1st zucchini of real size that I've harvested. There are at least 6 more on the vine that I can see, viable & ready to harvest in the next few days. EXCITING!!!

this plant is the only one that survived from seedling, and its the 1st to have a harvest. Yay!

7 inches, oh yeah baby!

The raspberries have been producing nicely this year. For the most part they are nice & plump, the more scrawny ones don't' get as much water. Something we need to address next year! I started harvesting the berries July 2nd, so far I've filled 1 gallon size ziptop bag and started a 2nd. I've also made a galette out of 7.5 oz of the berries. I'd have to average our harvest yield around 12 oz a day! Not too shabby! Jam will be in our future, soon.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 7th already?!?

Holy cow I've been a lazy blogger! I just realized that the post I started over a month ago never got published...maybe I shouldn't have so many blogs LOL :) This shot is of some pretty snapdragons growing in my front yard. I've never planted a single snapdragon here, and they come back yearly. I did read somewhere that snapdragons grow around witches to protect them, that could explain why I've always got so many of the little beauties around. I like that!

Seedling/Plant report:

Tomato plants: Doing good. The Cherokee purple are the heartiest of the plants so far. The cherry tomatoes are next. Beefsteak - still pretty scrawny but growing. This could be due to placement in the garden, the Cherokees get the sun first, that may explain their success while the others are lagging. But really, does 30 min of additional sunlight really make that much of a difference? Who knows?!

Back yard garden, tomato plants, you can really see the size differences here, the larger along the back (fence) side are the Cherokee Purple, 2nd row is cherry tomato and back row is beefsteak.

Cherokee Purple tomato plant

Squash, including zucchini, butternut and spaghetti: only 1 zucchini seedling survived the transplant. I replanted butternut and spaghetti by seed and they are doing great, as well as the seedling that survived and the nursery zucchini plant. The home seeded zucchini has fruit on it, a blossom that should be open in the am for pollination. I'll be out there, to help it along :) No other flowers yet on squashes, zucchini started flowering males about 10 days ago (late June)

Zucchini baby with its flower attached. I hand pollinated this myself :) Come on baby, grow!

overview of the left side of the front garden, there's 2 zucchini, 2 butternut and 1 or 2 spagheitti squash down there. Not too bad for the 1st year planting in this garden area.

Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli: poor. All but 1 Brussels sprout plant has died. All broccoli perished as well. Reason unknown, but they didn't do well after the transplant to the cups.

The sole survivor of the cruciferous plants

Lettuces: did well, they tasted funky however. Not sure if this is a variety issue or the soil, whatever it was it was gross. It made my hands and kitchen stink, too. Very unpleasant. I'm over trying to grow my own lettuce, its dirt cheap at the store and honestly it tastes better.

Cucumbers: transplants all died. Reseeded early June, they are doing great.

Peppers: doing well. Growing and thriving, no fruits or flowers yet.

Beets: seeded early June, doing very well.

Watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkins: all failed. Seedlings did survive for melons but after transplant withered & died. Causes are most likely not enough water for location, in raised beds so they get hotter than usual and the water just isn't enough to compensate. Maybe if we try again next year add drip irrigation and augment soil.

All in all the garden is doing well. There's been a few rough patches (failed transplants, hail, lack of water, etc) but its pulling through nicely. One thing I really realize after doing this post is that I need to get out there & weed again!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Let the weeding begin!

Progress update first:
Front yard:
newspapers laid down and mulch on top. this should stop the weeds (or at least slow them down!), help hold in precious moisture and provide a nice are for the squash plants to have fruit rest upon.

Added compost to growing areas. Replanted zucchini, spaghetti and butternut squashes. Zucchini I broke down & bought 2 seedling plants from the home depot at $3 a piece. We enjoy zucchini and only 1 seedling survived, so I caved & bought nursery plants. Sue me LOL :) But I did reseed everything as well. Last year I planted butternut squash late in the season, 2-3rd week in June and still yielded about 15 squash, so I'm confident that we'll have squash this year :)

Planted herbs in the front as well, bed under windows is now floral & herbal. There are also herbs in the front garden - lots of basil planted, lets see how it grows in the lousy soil out there.

Back yard:
planted beets, more cucumbers (all but 1 died in transplant), pumpkins and the melon seedlings.

Made a raised bed for the watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkins in the rocks of our back yard (75'x15' of flat rocky weedy area), the vines do well back there, lots of room to roam and their big leaves help control the weeds.

Planted herbs in pots on the deck. We have cilantro (which normally I hate but I figured I'd try growing it & see if it tastes less nasty homegrown, I've heard that its better homegrown than from the stores, and I got a free packet of cilantro seeds so I figured why not!), dill, cumin, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme all in pots.

The strawberry, the only one to survive, in the container, is growing. A lot slower than I though it would, but hey, its growing, I can't complain. We might get a berry before fall is here :)

Still need to weed & compost the back garden. It was 95 today and sunny, so I wimped out as sitting in the garden with the sun blistering my back just didn't seem like fun.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Garden is mostly planted

Wow I've been a slacker! I need to get caught up on what's going on in the land of the garden. (talk about a slacker, I've had this post ready since may 22nd and never posted it! OOPS!)

May 10: herbs are moved from main backyard garden to flower/herb beds. They have been quite successful in their new locations. I lined the new beds with compost/garden soil mixture and took large root balls when transplanting. Happy with this transplant.

May 15, 16 & 17 the bulk of the seedlings were planted.
Sat May 15, warm day, mid 60's. Rained for 2 days before planting so ground was nice & moist. Planted beans, broccoli, brussles sprouts. 3 hours after planting it starts to rain. Then it starts to hail! So we ran outside and covered the plants with milk jugs with the bottoms cut out. The pole beans were covered with a tarp. Everything survived the hail storm.

Sun May 16, warm day, low 70's. Planted the tomatoes, butternut squash, spaghitti squash, zucchini (all squash in front yard along with 3 tomatoes, 1 of each varity), bell peppers, lettuces, cucumbers. Much like the night prior, it hailed 3 hours after getting everything into the ground. Back outside with milk jugs and tarp. Again, thankfully, everything survived the storm.

Tues May 18 planted herb garden in spotted pot. It contains parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.

Left to plant still:
herbs, watermelon, canteloupe (all seedlings)
radish (maybe)
carrot (maybe)

Its been 1 week since the seedlings were transplanted. Some of them are doing better than others. However, some of the seedlings looked a LOT better than others did going into the ground. The tomatoes are looking really good, which delights me beyond belief. The broccoli and brussles sprouts weren't the strongest seedlings going into the ground. I don't know what went wrong with them. The didn't seem to thrive very well once they moved from the mini greenhouse to the beer cups. Possible reasons: too warm, too little water, not enough sun
again I'm not sure which of these is the reason behind their delay. They are looking pretty good now that they're in the ground. I want to say its a combo of all the above, these are colder weather veggies, after all.

The bell peppers are still covered with recycled plastic 1lb strawberry containers. I covered the 'lid' with a scoop of soil to anchor it. Its providing hail protection, cold protection and warms them up nicely.

I have 3 wall of water rings that I need to try on my tomatoes. People swear by them, the water holds in the day's heat which helps them grow better in our altitude. I need to get them out this weekend. I'll try a wall of water on 1 of each varity.

I need to
add compost to the front garden badly!
buy soil for the melon/pumpkin patch
adjust sprinklers in back garden and for melon patch
plant herbs
plant remaining seeds
take pictures
fertelize - check the liquid fert. I have to see if its organic, if not get organic
get a pitch fork to stir compost pile

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 Garden, 30 days in

Its been 30 days since the seeds were planted. Things are going very well I'm happy to report. Out of everything that was planted 2 green beans and the sage didn't make it. The green beans never sprouted, well one did but then it got moldy, and the sage was doing good until it didn't get enough light. That is totally my fault!! The peppers have finally sprouted and will be ready to move out of the mini green house soon.

I did a 2nd planting of peat pellets for herbs and a few lettuce. I want to have some pots of herbs on the deck and various herbs planted in the front yard and in the flower beds. Now I've got at least 3 of each herb/spice sprouted so I'll have good seedlings for the pots, the flower bed and herb garden in front I'll use seeds.

Speaking of the front, our manual labor to transform it from a weedy mess to a garden is done! We moved a pathway and recycled the blocks to make a retaining wall. Ironic really as these blocks are retaining wall blocks, they've just never been used that way. About 1/3 of the front is now ready for planting. I do need to get some compost, peat and manure down before I plant - the soil isn't the best because of the pine trees and weeds. Hopefully with a little TLC we can make it into a nice garden.

What else has been happening? We started a compost pile! Its in the dreaded rock area of our back yard and its really just pretty free form right now. I have been diligent in collecting kitchen scraps for the pile, its very satisfying knowing that what I used to throw away (peelings, mushy veg, etc) is now being put to use. I love knowing that I'm using every single cent of what I paid for these precious pieces of produce and that they in turn are helping my own garden and produce thrive. So cool! The little Witch is really excited about the compost pile, she's been asking for one for over a year now. And yes, she's only 3. Curious George composts often so she should too, right? Right!

Turns out the green beans we planted are pole beans, not bush beans like I thought. SO those have been moved to the bathroom (only place I had room!) and I've got strings hanging from the blinds for the beans to climb on. It works but I'll be very happy when I can get them planted.

All the other seedlings are looking pretty good. Some of the melon aren't as big as I'd hoped. I think its a light issue, too many plants and not enough light lately. Strawberries are OK, the container ones are doing a lot better than the garden planted ones. Only 3 of the 6 garden planted plants survived and those 3 have milk jugs over them to protect them from the cold nights. When there's been a frost advisory we've been bringing in the container berries, which is why they've been doing so much better than the garden planted ones.

We've had freeze advisories the past few nights, yet its 80 outside today. Tomorrow is looking like 60 as a high and slight chance of rain.

I plan on putting the beans, cucumbers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts the 2nd week of May. Unless I see something in the weather forecast to delay that, of course.

I'll post more pictures later on, I've run out of day light today.