Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Update 6.28.10

The weather is heating up (mid-90s today!) and we're eating some new things out of the garden. Last week, the Boyfriend harvested a nice large bowl full of broccoli and made us a delicious stirfry, which also included fresh green onions from the garden. The broccoli was bright green and so fresh. We were a little late picking some of it since we had an unexpected trip out of town, but we still had a lot to enjoy. We've got lots more coming on as well. I also harvested some sugar snap peas this weekend for the first time. I only got a few, but already this morning there seemed to be many more that are almost ready.

The Siletz tomato continues to outgrow the rest. It already seems bigger than the one I grew last year. We've got a little baby green tomato in there and lots of flowers. Speaking of flowers, I noticed yesterday that one of the gladiolas is showing signs of a flower, which is super exciting. I've never grown gladiolas, so it's fun to see them grow and watch the changes.

The potatoes have completely overtaken their half of the raised bed and seem to be about ready to flower. The zucchinis have big beautiful flowers on them and seem to be doing really well. I feel like the corn isn't growing much, but it's still alive, so that's a win for us. The raspberries have finally started to reach the top wire of the trellis, which signifies nothing except I like being able to tell that they're growing! Our strawberries are not producing anything but little deformed nubbins, but the Boyfriend's strawberries at the Townhouse are still going crazy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday Update 6.15.10

Some perceptive folks out there might realize this is not Monday. However, the Boyfriend and I took yesterday off, so this is my Monday, which makes my Monday Update completely legit. On with it then . . .

This weekend the weather finally warmed up into the 80s, which seems to have really helped the garden. The tomatoes are doing really well, particularly the Siletz, but I think all of them have some flowers on them. I'm so happy the Siletz made it. It was the only seed that came up, so I didn't have a second shot at that one this year. Yay for survivors.

I have given up trying to understand what is going on with the garlic, but this week the scapes appeared. They're not as curly as the ones I've seen pictures of, but they're unmistakable all the same. I don't know if I'll have enough to cook with, but I'm sure I'll give it a shot. They're supposed to make a fabulous pesto and given the small (but growing!) condition of the basil, we could use some fresh pesto right now! In the front raised bed, the broccoli continues its Jurassic-Park-like growth. The leaves are massive, and even better, one of the plants is developing a really nice, big head of florets. We should be eating some fresh broccoli in no time!

In the back raised bed, the peas finally flowered this week and are quickly outgrowing their trellis. I tried to tame them with some twine yesterday. The Boyfriend thinks it really made the garden look classy! We also still have a lot of lettuce to eat before it bolts. We harvested two nice Little Gem romaine heads last night for a fantastic salad. We also ate our spinach harvest--which was all of about 15 leaves--this week. The carrots have grown a lot, but not enough to constitute real carrots yet, as I learned this week when I picked a tiny, flimsy, orange-ish root that slightly resembled a carrot. Oops. I guess this gardening thing takes patience. Ugh!

In the back bed along the fence, things are still growing, but the new seeds haven't come up yet. The surface of the soil seems so hard that I'm wondering if they aren't able to break through. That being said, I circled our two zucchini plants with radishes this past week and the radishes came up quite quickly. So here's to hoping some more melons, beans, sunflowers, and nasturtiums are still on their way! I'm hoping the radishes will keep the squash bugs away. The zucchini are doing well. The one I was sure the dogs killed even has a baby zucchini on it!

In the side raised bed, the warm weather has helped the basil growth. I direct sowed a few more basil seeds, because we really can't have too much basil, and they came up as well. This week we also tried to cover our potatoes a bit more, but we ran out of room to add any additional dirt. I hope we were able to hill them enough.

We have a few ripening yet deformed strawberries, but I've been content munching on berries from the Townhouse in the meantime. We also have what looks to be the beginning of some raspberries, which I'm pretty excited about.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Pansy killing day!

Yesterday was the much-awaited day--pansy killing day! Wait, you might ask--wasn't I just recently excited for pansy planting day? Yes, of course, but I've moved on. Planting pansies--or better yet, watching last fall's pansies come up in the spring--is a much-anticipated event in late winter that assures us all that spring is coming. Those little pansies give us an excuse to get our hands in the dirt, or, shame on me, clean out the flower pots from last fall that might have been neglected when football season came around. In any case, I look forward to planting pansies every year.

But as the weather starts to warm . . . wait, that hasn't happened yet . . . um, as June rolls around, the pansies usually start to outgrow their little pots and start shooting toward the sky. They start looking lanky and weed-like and much less desirable than all the warm-weather flowers that have since appeared in the stores and nurseries. This year, my pansies took longer than usual to make the transition from cute little pansy to awkward teenager pansy. In fact, they looked great up until about a week ago (some would debate this point, but more about that later). As I walked past the aisles of beautiful flowers at Edwards a couple weekends ago with Mom, I think I was actually willing my pansies to die faster. This past weekend I decided it was time. Either that or I was so sick of the rain that I decided I had to do some planting to stay sane. So the Boyfriend and I headed to Edwards on a dreary, gray, this-is-why-people-hate-Sundays type of day and wandered around the humid, warm, colorful greenhouses. We both picked out some plants--some old standards and some new experiments. Last night, after taking sadistic pleasure in yanking out those lanky pansies, I got the new blooms planted in our "Downtown" planter. (The Boyfriend says it looks like one of the giant planters they have downtown. Aren't we fancy?! Yeah, it was a gift.)

So I have a few side notes/confessions that seem only right to put forth. First, some members of our household have expressed amusement at pulling out living plants just to spend money on new plants. Since the dogs can't talk, I'll let you figure out who this nonconformist is for yourself. Got it? Ok. Well I would just like to state for the record that he also performed this coming-of-summer ritual each year at the townhouse. Enough said. Second, I still have multiple pots full of pansies. Some just look too good to pull out, but I think the biggest reason I didn't pull them out at the same time is because I love buying flowers. We only have so many pots, which means each year I don't get to buy flowers all that often. I'm spacing it out. I'm trying to find as many excuses to go buy flowers as possible. If I did it all in one day, what fun would that be? I see it like this . . . it is like going to the ice cream shop (and who can't relate to the excitement and happiness that brings?). Your choice is to either buy that monster 25-scoop ice cream sundae you see on a Food Network eating challenge show and go once a year, or you can visit any leisurely afternoon you'd like on multiple occasions and savor one or two sweet, creamy, colorful scoops. Yeah, I'll take that.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Update 6.7.10

Today's post is the first in a series (oooo, ahhh!) of Monday updates about the garden. I'm starting this Monday with the hope that the weather is soon going to turn nice and warm and things are going to start growing gangbusters!

The tomatoes have really turned around and are doing quite well. All my tomatoes came from seed this year. They spent a little too much time in small containers in bad soil, so they looked pretty bad there for a while. They turned very purple, which I read means they need phosphorus. After a transplanting and a dose of plant food, they seem to be doing really well. I did most of my tomatoes this year in containers, but stuck a couple in the raised bed where the lettuce will undoubtedly be going to seed someday when it turns warm.

In the front raised bed, the garlic are starting to look pretty scraggly, which I'm hoping means the end is near. The Boyfriend's broccoli are huge and have a couple small heads on them. The spinach in between the garlic finally started growing and the onions are doing well. The poor peppers are just hanging out. I don't think they've grown at all since I planted them weeks ago. It's just been so cool and cloudy.

In the back raised bed, the peas have really taken off. They've grown a lot in the last week, but no flowers yet. In front of the peas (and to the side) are carrots, which are doing really well. On the second trellis my cucumbers died. I put some seeds in but they haven't come up yet. We might have to admit defeat and go buy a couple plants, but I'm going to give them a little longer. Our lettuce is still doing amazing in this cool, wet weather. We even harvested a head of Little Gem romaine-type lettuce this weekend and have a couple more ready. We're really enjoying all the fresh lettuce.

In the new bed along the fence, all sorts of stuff is happening! Everything is pretty small, so the picture is hard to see. But in the front of the picture is a row of corn, then a row of bush beans, then another row of corn. In the middle are a couple zucchini plants that we bought. Apollo and Kira tried to take one out, but it's miraculously hanging in there. Behind the zucchini plants I planted three melon seeds, and I just noticed this morning that one came up. Along the rock wall I planted some nasturtium seeds to bring us some pollinators, and along the fence we have sunflowers coming up. So exciting to have this giant new bed this year!

The new raised bed along the fence has basil (still very little) and two kinds of potatoes. The potatoes are really going crazy! Along the west side of the house we have our "berry patch." Sorry for the blurry photo. We've got strawberries in the square bed that came from the Boyfriend's strawberries up at the townhouse. We have two different kinds of strawberries in the strawberry pot. In the larger rectangular bed are our raspberries. I planted one last year then Erik gave us more this spring, so we've got all kinds in there. I built the trellis myself and successfully used the Boyfriend's power drill without breaking any bits--I was quite proud.

So everything really is coming along. I think if the sun decides to come out we might be on our way to having a pretty decent first attempt garden this year. If nothing else, it's sure fun to watch and we got a few salads out of it!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'm sorry, did I say spring had sprung?

We have had such a wet, cool spring here in Boise. The highlight was without a doubt May 22, which just happened to be the date of our first BBQ of the year. This is what I get for trying to plan a BBQ 4 weeks in advance. But we only got in one BBQ last year and I really wanted to have people over before the Woodlands had baby numero dos. The morning was overcast but the rain held out. In the early afternoon the sky opened up as if Noah had just completed the ark. The temperature dropped and by 6 o'clock it was snowing. Yes, snowing. On May 22. The day set records for 1) the lowest high temperature and 2) the daily maximum rainfall. The record reported by the National Weather Service was 1.41 inches, which smashes the old, long-standing record of 0.57 inches set in 1965. Excuse me, but 1.41 inches is western Oregon rain, not Boise rain. Never ones to admit defeat, we held RainFest 2010 indoors and the Boyfriend valiantly BBQed our burgers outside. We had a great time, but the next BBQ will be planned for July or August and only far enough in advance that the 7-day forecast can still be consulted.

Although the weather has been cool, all the rain has really made the garden look great. The big news is that we've finished the 2010 garden expansion and it looks fabulous. I got the third raised bed in early in the spring, which was the only addition we really planned for this year. Then, prompted by a small flood in the back corner of our yard--compliments of our neighbor--we had to raise up the level of the soil behind the garden. The Boyfriend engineered a fantastic and structurally sound wall (my attempt had been to throw wet mud at the fence while cussing at the damn yippy dog) that holds a decent amount of new dirt and resulted in a large open garden bed. It gave us the space to do a few things we had no hope of doing in the existing raised beds. We planted melons, zucchini, beans, sunflowers, and corn. We've never grown any of these things and I can't wait to see how they turn out. The next order of business will be keeping the dogs out of the bed, which we inconveniently placed right in the path of their chihuahua chasing track. Ugh.

So, since my last post, we have actually been eating out of our garden. Our lettuce has done so well in this wet, cool spring, and we've had numerous salads from our own garden. It's so nice to wonder what to have with a meal only to realize we can go out and pick a salad anytime we want. Last night we had our first green onions out of the garden, which were quite beautiful if I do say so myself! That's all we've had so far, but hopefully peas and carrots won't be too far behind! The corn and sunflowers sprouted two days ago, which was probably the highlight of this week. The rain has continued to fall, but hopefully with the coming of June we've left the snow and indoor BBQs behind!