Friday, June 14, 2013

A Garden Update

I'm not going to lie.  This gardening thing is maybe one of the most stressful yet exciting endeavors I have ever embarked on in my entire life.  I said this exact thing to The General several times since early May, and it's no less true over a month into it.  When I proclaimed that growing this garden was the most fulfilling thing I've ever done in  my life, he promised not to share that confession with the girls.  I suppose growing two human beings is probably slightly more fulfilling, but sowing and reaping rewards of a garden is definitely close behind.

If you follow me on Instagram or check my Twitter feed on the sidebar of this blog, you're probably beyond bored of pictures and commentary from this rookie gardener.  Well too bad because the public has requested more (this one's for you, Old Lady)!

General Overview
It's a fact that I have taken more pictures of the garden then I have my own daughters so far this summer.  I do not apologize for this.  It grows even faster than they do!

May 19th

May 30th

June 10th following a vigorous hoeing and fertilizer application

Today, June 14th

Individual Plants
Jalapeno - one is still growing (although it's days are numbered).  The first was cut and tasted delicious diced in my cheese quesadilla.  Elaina took the challenge to eat one small piece; I don't suspect she will fall for that again.

Sweet pepper, Big Bertha variety.  Did you know if your pepper has four bumps on the bottom it's a female, where three bumps is a male?  Female peppers are filled with seeds, so male peppers give you more pepper for your money.  The more you know . . .

The largest of my three Beefsteak tomato plants.  Several blooms but no fruit yet.

Green ice and salad bowl lettuce.  My spinach never came up (or it did and I picked it thinking it was grass - oops).  Any tips on when to harvest it?

One of two zucchini plants.  Elaina should have her filled of zucchini break as requested.  You can see a sunflower on the left and a sort of sickly looking Space master variety cucumber to the right.

Vining cucumbers.  We have had the most trouble with this part of the garden.  Cucumbers are the only thing McKenna wanted, but I think the birds were getting to the seeds before they could sprout.  We bought some bush cucumbers as a back up, but I really want these to grow up the trellis The General made for me.  This is our third planting of these seeds and they look better than they have ever looked, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

My two largest sunflowers and sugar snap peas.  These are both taking off like crazy!

More sunflowers and store bought cilantro.  I needed some herbs for salsa.

Late planted bush beans (just for fun since none of us at One Carbon Hill like green beans) and bush cucumbers (I think it's an Emperor variety).  You can also see by my shoe marks that it's still pretty soggy in there from Wednesday's storm.

Another cucumber (we have five bush plants in all) - the first to flower!  McKenna was so excited when we found this today.

Two more tomato plants, both Beefsteak variety.  I have learned that I should have planted a variety of tomato types.  My mom has already put in a request for cherry and Roma tomatoes for next year.

The three sweet peppers

The jalapeno and two banana pepper plants
This is our first height comparison picture between the girls and the Russian Mammoth sunflower.  It's grown almost a foot in four days, so I'm interested to see if it will reach it's advertized height of 12 feet before it's done growing.

 The Harvest

The first two items out of our garden were  a jalapeno and this sad looking radish.  As mentioned before, the jalapeno was delish, but we pitched the radish.  I am happy to report, however, that with a little more patience on our part we have harvested much healthier radishes since then. 

Our radish supply has all been pulled (with the exception of about three more plants).  I discovered that although no one in our house will eat them, growing radishes is the perfect idea for a first time gardener.  They come up quickly and easily, and they are ready to harvest in under a month.  So no, we don't eat them but we are happy to donate them to anyone that will (thanks, Alison).  As soon as the ground dries out a little bit more you can bet I'll be planting the two new varieties I purchased last weekend.  Radishes = instant gratification!

The Challenges

About a week or so ago I decided that something was eating some of my plants, primarily the zucchini and radish leaves.  My hostas and marigolds were taking the biggest hits.  Taking advice from the knowledgeable staff at garden center, I sprinkled all the vegetables with a Hi-Yield powder and sprayed the hostas & flowers with a liquid insecticide.  After some additional online research I decided that slugs and pill bugs were probably to blame.  The remedy:  slug bait and a homemade remedy of beer in a dish.  No slugs were attracted to the beer, but the pill bugs were drunk as skunks (and dead) the next morning. 

Summer weather mean summer storms, and this week was no exception.  Although we missed the brunt of the storm, we did get hit with some serious wind and rain Wednesday night.  Just before the rain hit, as lightning popped all around and the winds whipped fiercely, my concern for the tallest of the sunflowers overrode rationale thought.  I grabbed a metal stake, quickly forced it into the ground, and tied the stem to the post.  The General watched me from the garage, shaking my head at both my dedication and stupidity.

I can't really tell how much, if any, damage the birds have done to the garden but their presence is enough to make me suspicious.  This brave bird had to audacity to squawk at me when I was out there trying to take pictures like I was bothering him.

Not pictured is my most vicious predator:  the RoGator and the chemicals it sprays on the field just west of the garden. They have sprayed the field twice, once early on in the growing season and again on Tuesday.  I restrained my overwhelming urge to run out there with a mask and a giant tarp in an effort to deflect any drift onto my crops, but I did go out there after his first pass and said a silent prayer of protection over the garden.  Luckily, so far it appears as though the light breeze out of the east did much to protect my garden while also doing its necessary and intended job of protecting the corn from its natural predators.

Overall, my biggest challenge to date is being restricted from spending seven hours a day walking among and talking to the plants.  I am the self-titled unofficial  Crazy Garden Lady.  I'm out there more than I'm in my house.  I've stopped myself several times from setting up a chair just outside the fence for no reason other than to watch it grow.  I invite people to come look at it when they stop by the house, and I force people to look at pictures I have stored on my phone.  As the vegetables start to appear the girls' excitement has also grown which is another reward of the work the garden requires.  I have little doubts we'll do it again next year with an even bigger plot to fill.


Anonymous said...

You do have some farmer genes in you! I can't believe how much it's grown since our visit on Sunday, the fertilizer and hoeing really did the trick. Your Dad knows what he's talking about! I see the delight in the girl's faces....great summer project.

Only one question...why isn't the salsa herb planted in the ground? Won't it grow better in the ground instead of the pots?
Gramma Poke

Anonymous said...

I love the pics Carbon Hill. By next year you will be canning and freezing your crop. You have a great green thumb. Kuddos to you and your girls. OL

Anonymous said...

It is a beautiful garden. So organized and clean from weeds.Page Turner

AuntieM said...

it looks great !! i'm glad you are enjoying it so much! keep the pictures coming!

Tru Stories said...

Little known fact:
Put something bright red next to your tomato plants, they are a competitive fruit and will mature faster. Try red tomato cages.
Also... No cherry tomatoes?? What? They are so amazing even Coach will eat them off of the vine.


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