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

We’re getting ready for summer season!

I’ve had trouble finding time to garden and blog.  Ok, I’ve been having trouble finding time to garden even.  We have been slowly getting plants in, getting things cleaned up and even finding a few minutes to cook.

I want to show you what we’ve been up to.  Lots of pics below!

Our apricot that we planted last year is getting HUGE!  We’re still waiting to harvest our first ones.  We also will probably prune a few branches soon.

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This weekend we pulled out four Laciento kale plants.  This giant pile of kale went with us to the food swap this weekend.

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We also harvested a handful of purple carrots.  Here they are shredded, waiting to be cooked.

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And here they are turned into purple carrot cake jam.  Yummy!

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We really liked the way the Florida Weave worked out for our tomatoes last year, so we decided to plant two rows.  We included five different heirlooms in the back, two San Marzanos and three tomatillos in the front. They’re looking great so far, although they’re all just starting to flower.

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Here’s the whole backyard garden right now.  I was just pulling out a chard that popped up before taking this.  We still have to figure out what to do with the bamboo trellis, as the front right section will be soybeans and bush beans this year. (With a few other things, like bush Delicata and Sweet Dumpling thrown in.)

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I transplanted this kale a couple of weeks ago.  It’s supposed to go to my sister’s house.  Hopefully it will perk up before we give it to her.

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The long beans are starting to take off.  I have to replant a few this week, now that the bed has fresh layers of straw, leaves, manure and mulch.

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There are two eggplants that have been in the ground for a short period of time.  They were looking really sad for a while.  Just this week they started to experience new growth and perk up!

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The ladder on the side yard will have cucumbers again.  These were a little small to transplant, but I did it anyways because we were heading out of town last week.  I have a few more that are starting inside right now, but my guess is these will be ok soon.

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The onions are growing large and flowering.  I’ve heard that if they flower that means they won’t really make onion bulbs underground.  We’re using the green onion tops as we need green onions, but that hasn’t been often recently.

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We let this pepper overwinter in the garden, and I never cut off the old growth.  There are new peppers and flowers already!  I think this is the serrano plant.

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Our red mustard is finishing up with quite a show!  We’re enjoying the flowers, and David is hoping to catch a few red mustard seeds so that we can replant them later.

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Here’s proof that our tomatoes are flowering! I love tomato flowers!!

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We have a small patch of beets.  We thought our purple carrots weren’t going to be purple enough, so we picked a beet to shred and add to the carrots, ensuring that they were bright purple.  Funny thing though, we forgot that the beets were Chioggia beets, meaning they were candy striped and more white than the carrots!  As it happened, the purple carrots were super purple and the jam was just the color that I envisioned.  And the best part about the beets, they didn’t stain the kitchen, or our hands, purple!

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In addition to the red onions that are flowering, we planted spring onions/ scallions, and they’re also flowering!

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We’ve moved away from loose leaf lettuce, and have been trying to keep up with our salad needs by planting heads of lettuce.  Isn’t this head of butter lettuce beautiful?

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This winter David and I were tempted by the bare root berries.  Our blackberry is flowering!

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And our strawberries are too! We planted four berries, but have found three more that popped up around the yard, so our patch has been expanding.

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Lastly, I thought our cabbages would look great in the front flower bed, so I threw a few in there earlier this winter.  They finally started growing recently.  This green one looks ready to pick.  The aphids are starting to take over, but I’d like the cabbage to get a little bigger before we pick it.

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Hope your spring is going well!