Making space for more

David and I took a break from inside work to head outside and tidy up.  While I was helping my sister with her patio garden last week, I purchased a flat of marigolds.  Those marigolds have been staring at me every day, waiting to get in the ground. Marigolds are great companion plants. We tried growing them from seed, but they’ve been taking forever.

While I planted, David got to work at hacking back our herb garden.  Rosie was glad when we finished, because we created her a great little shady spot to hang out.

I also took some of the herb cuttings to make herb vinegars.  We made chive blossom vinegar earlier this year, and it’s been fun to use in salad dressings (and it’s bright pink).  Today we made three different vinegars: tarragon, rosemary and chive blossom vinegar.  These will hopefully go to the next food swap, although we may just keep them for salad dressings.

We’ll need lots of dressing soon, as the cucumbers are starting to take off.  20140615-144956-53396854.jpgThe mint was trimmed the other day.  A few pieces are flowering.  Our mint seems to always attract more flies than bees. 20140615-144958-53398190.jpgFinally some of our tomatoes are coloring up.  The cherry tomatoes are also coming. 20140615-144952-53392522.jpgThe blackberries are red. I wonder how long until they get darker. Notice the strawberry in the background? We’ve been eating a few a week.20140615-144951-53391716.jpgThe onions are actually starting to look more onion shaped! I’ve been pulling some to use as we need. We think we’re going to pull a bunch to bring to the produce exchange this weekend.  We have way more than we need, especially since it seems like these won’t be good storage onions.20140615-144955-53395033.jpgIn the front yard, the Thai Red Roselle is getting bigger. This is our first year growing this crop. We just learned that if we want to make hibiscus/ Red Zinger tea, we’ll need to wait until they flower and then grab the calyx from each flower. I planted marigolds and salvia under them to help keep the area looking a little more colorful.20140615-144949-53389857.jpgOur peppers are starting to flower, finally.  They were stunted for so long. Here’s a flower!20140615-144950-53390874.jpgThe peppers in the raised bed still have a ways to go.  Today I sprinkled herb seeds, such as Thai basil, parsley, dill and cilantro, in this area.  Hopefully they’ll take. Oh, this is also where we planted okra, which hasn’t done well for us the past two years. We have seeds, so it’s worth another try.20140615-144953-53393361.jpgThere’s one section of the sideyard, which never gets watered. We planted drought tolerant plants there earlier this year. I suppose the little water we’ve given them recently have encouraged them to flower, as they all look great right now!20140615-145000-53400922.jpgThis verbena we grew from seed last year, and then transplanted earlier this year.  Remember it was taking over under the apricot tree last summer?20140615-144959-53399374.jpgOur roses are flowering again as well. I love having a hedge of roses. 20140615-144954-53394188.jpg

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Trellised melons, squashes and our first okra

With summer in full swing, we’ve noticed more growth and vibrancy in the garden.  Our neighbors have a pool on one of the adjacent walls, and we often hear children splashing and smell grilled meat in the air.  It’s quite odd to be working in the garden and hear the sounds of play in the city.

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The vines on the back fence are growing well, but they still aren’t cutting it with covering the fence.  I just transplanted two more scarlet runner beans, and may toss in a few more pole beans.  The morning glories did a much more through job of hiding our neighbors from us.

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When I was next to the fence, I looked at the section in between the garage and the fence, and found Mardi sleeping away!  I ran inside to get David (and the camera) and he still didn’t wake, as we were quiet.  Once us humans continued to poke around the garden, the needy cat awoke and started meowing at us.

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The two squash trellises are holding up. The melons and squashes are each climbing on their own. On the left is buttercup (big leaves), Kazakh melon (small) and Malali watermelon (on cattle panel by wall, but hard to see).  There’s a sugar baby watermelon on the far right side of the A-frame, by the window.  Next year we’ll move the A-frame; I plan to put a window box under the window.

The right hand side is mostly part of the Kazakh melon!  It’s quite a climber, has three large melons and tons of small ones.  I’ve been making sure the plant gets plenty of water, as I think it suffered a little from our vacation.

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The Kazakh melon has a visitor.

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The Sugar Baby watermelons are starting!  There are a few of them, and each has hooked itself over the wire, preparing to grow on the trellis. These little guys are so fuzzy; it was a little surprising for me.

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We’re getting more buttercup squash, and have two that are nearly ready to pick.

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I planted a small parsley patch (and two spinach plants) under the squash A-frame.  We hope that it is shady enough to grow these without them bolting.

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Rosie, as always, enjoys hanging out in the garden with us.  She finds the best shady spots to relax.  I think she’s just as happy with the new arch as we are!

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Our delicata squash has five new squashes coming!  Five!  That’s great, especially because these are the only ones on the entire plant.

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Our string beans are sad.  I planted new ones in the nursery and plan to transplant them in.  Gardening in a new bed, I think this area dried out too quickly after watering.  When the new ones are ready to transplant, I’d like to dig in compost and worm castings to prepare the area. I planted two salvia here to spruce up the area in the meantime.

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Our tomatillos are starting to take over. The ant/aphid covered borage hasn’t flowered in a long time. It looks like it has buds forming.  Near the wall are three tomato plants that David staked using the Florida weave technique, more or less.  We’re happy with the support technique and may use it more in future.

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We picked our first two okra!  I’m hoping that it stays hot enough for them.  I just planted a Santa Fe Grande pepper behind them.

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There will be more cucumbers in a couple of days.  Looks like I’ll be making pickles again this weekend, and have just selected a fermented pickle recipe.  It’s almost time to play with lacto-fermentation!

This week I’m hoping to get the last of the transplanting done (for now) and play in the kitchen a little.  I’m at a training for work during the day, so I don’t have hours to spend canning.  Although, David says he’ll make the peach-jalepeno jam that still needs to get made.

The peaches are telling us it’s time!

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backyard farming pic