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

Beginning of July tour

The past week has been spent more in the kitchen than outside.  Finally the heat wave broke and it’s back to the 70s outside!  David and I took advantage of the cool weather and spent a couple hours outside tidying up and working on projects.  I figured it was time to show what’s been happening in the garden.
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The roses are in full bloom again.  I’ve been searching for ways to preserve the blooms and am thinking about everything from rose water to rose petal preserves.  I found a decadent recipe for coconut rose petal semifreddo, which may be an option also.  I’d love suggestions if you’ve done anything with your roses before.

Notice the tomatos in the raised bed are getting larger.  David and I staked them up the other day and we can finally see the fruits.  I also spotted two finches taking advantage of the perch.

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This is Rosie’s obedient look. She just is wandering around the yard, hasn’t found her ball yet and may be getting a little impatient with my photographs.  I asked her to stop by our Abe Lincoln and Purple Prudence tomatoes.  They are both (finally) just starting to flower.  Notice the stunted peppers on the right.  I believe they are serrano or poblano and hope that they get the message to grow soon.

Behind Rosie is the mystery garden area.  There are now two mystery tomato plants as well as prolific nasturtiums.  These nasturtiums are the current source of seed pods for our pickled nasturtium pods.

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We decided that it was time to fertilize the potted plants and cucumber vines.  I recently watched a video about fertilizing cucumbers and noticed that mine were starting to get a little yellow around the edges, as he described.  So, I grabbed a box of Epsom salt from under the fish tank (I bought it for the fish water years ago, and never used it) and the organic fertilizer from the garage.  I mixed the two together, applied the side dressing and then watered.  Hopefully the little guys will enjoy it!
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The front herb bed finally got cleaned up.  There’s still more to do, but I started with cutting back the bulbs.  The chasmanthe had become too large for the space, so in addition to cutting them back, I dug out a couple dozen corms to bring to school this fall.
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I felt like I was pulling potatoes while digging them out.  Some were large, others were tiny.  Often there was a large one with little ones clinging to it.  We will probably pull out a few more to make space in the front of the house.  I didn’t want to take out too many, because it was so wonderful watching the hummingbirds flit by this winter.

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I finally pulled out our giant coriander/ cilantro plant.  We had planned to harvest the coriander, possibly in it’s green stage, but ran out of time.  At this point it is full of powdery mildew, and I’m not sure that we should harvest the coriander.  I brought the plant back to our compost bin, because it was full of lady bugs. Some of them were even spotted making new ladybugs.

Our garden in the back, near the compost bin, is full of aphids.

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The borage has had ants and aphids living on it for a month now.  David and I decided to sprinkle cornmeal around the plant, hearing that it could help get rid of the ants.  It seems to have worked well so far; we have noticed significantly less ants, more ladybugs and other insects.  There are still ants, as you can see by the is two poking the ladybug in this picture. The ladybugs seem much more brazen these days.  David told me that he spotted a ladybug being chased by ants while carrying an aphid in it’s mouth!

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The tomato next to the borage has it’s own ant situation.  When we returned home from vacation, we noticed that our tomato plants in the back have ants frozen in place along the stems.  They are dead and it’s an odd and gruesome scene.  We have no idea how it happened and would love to know any theories that you have.

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While I played with the bulbs in the front yard, David raked up avocado leaves and added them to the side yard.  This is the last stretch of dirt with nothing in it.  We recently mulched it and then added grass clippings.  David put down avocado leaves.  Next we’ll spread a few bags of composted manure, then mulch it again.  This area has to be hand watered, and the hose is not convenient.  Our succulent pots have been hanging out here recently.  This fall we plan to plant sages, lavenders and possibly native grasses.

The backyard area is starting to fill in.  We’ve been needing to finish the A-frame squash support, but the squashes don’t seem to notice that we are slow.
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The cucumbers and delicata are attempting to climb the bamboo tripod (front left).  I snagged an unplanted little leaf cucumber from the school greenhouse the other day, and planted it to fill in the front of the support.  Two baby delicata squash were flowering when I took this picture. Behind the cucumbers are the overzealous tomatillos.  We’ve been checking their paper husks, and we’re hoping to start making salsa verde in a couple of weeks.

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The buttercup and red kuri squash climbing up the cattle panel trellis are doing great!  We’ve started to guide the squash back down the same side that it came up.  The supported squashes are maturing and the small arbor provides shade for us to rest on a hot day.

P1020393This is taken from underneath the trellis where a new red kuri squash is growing.  It seems to be supported by the fence and we’re debating giving it a little hammock.  While watching our squashes grow, I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell when they’re ready to pick.  A lot of what I read is not helpful for Southern California gardening.  For example, I learned that I should harvest winter squash before the first frost, but it’s ok to leave it on the vine if it’s not a heavy frost.  We don’t get frost.  Ever.  (Year-round gardening is wonderful, and our bugs are huge to prove it.)

So from what I gather, I look for mature fruit color and size, as well as the stem starts to turn brown and my fingernail can not pierce the skin.  I’d love confirmation on this from the people who know.
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Our sweet dumpling squashes are just starting to grow.  I put straw underneath them, and now I notice they are covered in tiny black bugs.  Looking at the pictures, I notice that the straw is as well.  This is new to me. I wonder if it’s from the straw and hope that the squash are healthy.

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We’re watching our Pinnacle spaghetti squash and I wonder why I thought smaller squash was better to order than larger squash.  The compact vines have three fruits right now, and we’re hoping for more.  The plants are getting a bit hidden by their prolific neighbor, a buttercup vine, and we’re working on fixing that problem.  The A-frame trellis got a bit held up, and we’re rethinking the support system.  I’ll write more on that as we resolve the issue.
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Our Kazakh melons are taking over.  There are three fruits right now, the largest is about the size of  a softball.

P1020396The vine, however, has taken up four feet of the 8×8 bed.  You can see the thai basil poking through by the bamboo pole.  This melon has many branches, and I’m trying to get them to grow up the fence, or up the start of the trellis, but they are resistant to being tamed and keep making more vines.  This variety is supposed to be a good climber, so perhaps if I give it more attention, it will climb.  We’ll see how the melons taste before deciding if we’ll grow this again next year.  Our space is small, and we both really want squash but this year is more of a test year for the vines. Most likely we will still save seeds from this rare heirloom, even if we don’t plan to grow it ourselves.

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We have a chocolate sunflower! Besides sounding delicious, we picked these because of their size.  We are enjoying it in the garden while it’s flowering.

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Our yarrow has opened and the color is so bright, it’s almost florescent.  We made our first three cuts of apricot branches to allow this plant to grow up straight.  The yarrow had been reaching into the garden aisle because there was a tree branch over it’s head.  We haven’t wanted to cut our baby apricot tree, but it was time to take a few snips and help it branch out.

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While we were in Florida, we picked up a friend to keep the tree and yarrow company.  This is our new giant fly, and it will hopefully protect our garden from bad bugs and welcome in the good.

P1020405We planted our sweet peas too late.  All spring we watched them climb up the fence.  Currently they are covered in powdery mildew and will be torn out this week.  So now they start to flower.  And they are beautiful.  Each of the two blooming flowers is beautiful.

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Further down the fence, our yard long beans are starting to grow beans.  They are filling in the fence, flowering and climbing away.  David loves long beans.  I haven’t quite acquired a taste for them.  I’m excited to see what he does with them.

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We’re also starting to get scarlet runner beans.  This is our first year with these plants and I’m in love with their luscious red flowers.  I’ve found a few recipes for them, and think we’re going to let the seed pods dry on the vine.  I must chat with people who grow these regularly to find out what they do with the beans and how they enjoy eating them.

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Our zucchini that fell over during vacation is back up and fruiting!  We look forward to grilled zucchini and more zucchini pickles.

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And finally, we have our first eggplant flower.  This is an oriental eggplant (unknown variety).  We are also growing rosa bianca, hansel, gretel and fairy tale.  We had grand plans for perfecting our baba ganoush this summer.  We were hoping to have so much eggplant that it was coming out of our ears.

We are thankful to have a flower.

David and I also decided that we haven’t been watering our garden enough.  We read an article that suggested when you water, dig in the soil a couple of inches down to see how deep the water percolates through the top layer. It flat out said that soil lies.  The next time we watered, with a sprinkler for 15 minutes, I barely scratched the surface and saw that it was bone dry underneath.  Having a new garden, our soil is still breaking down and we are learning what it needs.  As we don’t get rain in the summer, we must learn how to properly water our garden.

Today it is cool and overcast.  Often the marine layer burns off and it warms up.  I plan to get the tomatoes in the dehydrator started soon, and start some seeds in our nursery.  It’s time to replant green beans and plant another crop of lettuce, carrots and radishes.  Hope you’re enjoying your long weekend!

The tour, June edition

The harvesting has begun, and it’s time to show the progress!  This week we have to build a lot of support systems for our floppy plants.  We’ve also started to pickle, freeze and nibble food in the gardens.

Today I wanted to share with you all a look back at how much we’ve grown since building our gardens.

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This was day one.

[Insert entire garden pic from today] At the end of the blog I’ll show you what it looks like today, but there’ll be bits and pieces as I take you on a tour around the garden!

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The acorn squash/ eggplant/ bean bed. I couldn’t take a very good picture from this angle, because the two little squash plants on the front left of the picture are now taking over a tomato cage and going everywhere!

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The beans and summer squashes are starting to produce.  The eggplants are finally taking off.  I have one more Rosa Bianca in the nursery, which I’d like to plant this week.  Part of the hold up has been that Mardi, our tomcat, likes to sit (and occasionally leave us presents) in the open space in this bed.  We’ve been working on deterring him, but he’s strong willed.

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This was taken in April, after bringing home the half dead yellow yarrow.  We had yet to plant the okra behind the apricot.

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Isn’t the apricot tree looking great?  We have been watching it and letting it take it’s shape, so that when it comes time to prune it this year we can encourage more main stems.  It’s too bad it isn’t closer to the wall, because it seems to be flat and would have been perfect to espalier.

We planted a little chamomile  that we started from seed, towards the back of the apricot.  There will be verbena and hyssop going in also.  Right now those seedlings are in the nursery, and I’ll probably transplant them into larger pots and keep them in the nursery until fall.  I hear fall is a good time to plant perennials.

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Here’s the yarrow on planting day.

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And today!  We will have flowers soon, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be yellow.  But the plant wasn’t labeled so we could get something else!IMG_1788

Here’s the potted daisy after pruning.

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And we have flowers!  I am enjoying the shape of the plant, and loving that the pink flowers have come back.  Notice the red kuri squash is overtaking the pot?  David is hoping to pick up a cattle fence panel while he’s in Bakersfield this weekend.  Then these squash vine will be growing up and over this pot!

In the side yard, the shell beans and cucumbers are growing well.
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This is right after I transplanted the little leaf pickling cucumbers and the nasturtiums.  (sorry it’s not a great picture, but I wanted to show the size.)

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Today the cucumbers are climbing up the ladder, the dill is tall and attempting to flower and the shell beans are nearly ready to be picked.  We harvested our first cucumber from these plants today!

On the other side of the cucumber ladder is the tomato raised bed.

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Here it is after we planted, and when we were still finishing up our winter growing season.

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Today the tomatoes are coming along, the basil is ready for it’s second harvest and we have a pepper growing.  We have a few varieties of radishes and carrots growing, a small patch of lettuce, and one small leek that just won’t be done growing.

In the front yard we also have our mystery garden area.  IMG_1811

We let the compost sprout, and sprinkled a wildflower mix.  The first batch of sprouts that you see here was mowed down by hungry snails.

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The snails have long been killed and we’ve discovered that wildflower mix= alyssum.  The nasturtiums survived the snail onslaught, as well as the one cosmos.  We’ve been more diligent about watering this area and we’re starting to notice a tiny bit of variety appear.

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David has almost no allergies, but he’s allergic to alyssum.  It’s too bad because I think it’s beautiful, and the cats enjoy rolling around in it.

Our herb bed was cut way back when the bulbs were flowering.

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This was taken right after the sage and basil were planted, and during that small window when the cilantro was ready to pick.

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Currently the cilantro and oregano are flowering and ready to be cut down. We’ll be cutting back and pulling out most of the bulbs shortly.

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The cilantro/ coriander flowers attract flies.

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And ladybugs.

We plan to harvest some of the coriander seeds, and let the plant self seed.

And of course, here’s Rosie to point out the peppers.

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This is pretty soon after we planted the banana pepper, jalepeno and cayenne.

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The cayenne are green and growing well.  We haven’t had any turn red yet, but we know soon enough we’ll be drying them and searching for ways to use them.  Anyone have suggestions?

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The banana peppers have already been picked and been added to salsa.  There are a handful more ready to pick this week.

P1010811And of course, the jalepenos.  We’ve picked four so far, and have a few more waiting for us to use.  These plants are small but full of fruit.

We also have other pepper, tomatillo and tomato plants but they’re not doing much yet.

And here’s the backyard today!

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The tomatoes on the left were just trellised, using the Florida weave.  The arch and squash trellis should be up this week. It’ll be great when we can freely walk around again, without worrying about squishing squash vines.

I’ll try to do another tour update soon, but it may be a couple of weeks.  Life is getting busy, summer vacation is about to start and we’re already preparing food.

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Not ripe yet, but growing quickly

We’ve been busy this week. I’ve been documenting our garden’s growth, but haven’t had a chance to post pictures, so I have a lot to share!

We pulled out the last of the side yard chard to make space for a Black Krim tomato that’s been lingering in the nursery. Many of the chard leaves were full of powdery mildew, and I added to the compost as I harvested. The chard that survived my cut is in a vase in the kitchen. We’ve never preserved chard before, but I recently learned about blanching and freezing it, and that’s our plan for this bunch.
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The chard was larger than our neighboring tomato plants! Upon pulling it out, I added composted manure.  I wish that we had some of our compost to add to it, but we have been pretty lazy about turning our compost bins.  It’s about time that we get back to turning the compost regularly.  We plan to make compost tea for the first time this summer, and will need it to be further broken down.

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See our tiny Black Krim.  Hopefully it won’t be tiny for long!  I can’t help but notice the peeling paint, or is it stucco, on the house.  If you didn’t know, we live in a rental property and have minimal contact with the property owners. There are definitely parts of the outside of the house and fence that need repair, but they don’t put money into anything. We’ve opted not to put our own money into anything that will remain on the property after we one day move out.  We’ve been doing pretty great with that so far and made major improvements to the grounds (as well as removed a lot of the grass).
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The Jaune Flamme tomato plant has large clusters forming quickly. Last night I was reading the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, and came across a handful of yellow tomato recipes.  This plant should be perfect for some of those!

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The Indigo Rose are getting prettier and prettier each day.  I haven’t heard rave reviews about their taste, so I have low expectations. I’m hoping that they look pretty, and taste good, in our salads.

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Our embarrassingly sad Reisentraub tomato is finally starting to grow! There’s new growth in a couple of places and we’re cheering this little one on each day.

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This picture shows the mystery garden, pots of eggplant, peppers and a tomato and the succulent area that I have yet to clean up. We just figured out what the main plant in the mystery garden is, but more on that once it’s flowering. The pots have been planted for a couple of weeks now and the plants are still tiny. Perhaps I’ll give them a dose of fish emulsion later this week.

The left cluster has a pot with a serrano pepper, another small pot with an anaheim and a large pot with two purple tomatillos and a dwarf Hansel eggplant. The right cluster has a Purple Prudens tomato in the center pot, an Abe Lincoln tomato in the closest pot and two poblano peppers in the last one. We have one other large pot planted, and it has three dwarf eggplants: Hansel, Gretel and Fairytale. I’m excited about these hybrids, although we’re growing mostly heirloom plants. I’m not excited that I keep seeing the cats walking in the pots.

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The peppers that were planted a while back in the front yard are growing quickly. We’re going to be eating peppers soon, and soon after we’ll be trying to figure out what to do with the rest. While we’re watching our food mature, we decided it was time to stock up on canning supplies. We canned tomato sauce and jam within the past year, and decided that if we’re going to go all out this summer, it was time to invest in a canning kit and tools. We’re still contemplating a food mill, and think we have a gift card from our wedding that will help us get one!

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I haven’t mentioned the avocados in a while, as one tree is finishing up and the other is just getting started.  Here’s a check on our Bacon avocado tree.  They’re almost to the stage where we start finding them all over our cars and the driveway.

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Our okra is getting bigger and bigger, although it still has a long way to go before it produces fruit.  Hopefully it will be hot enough, and stay alive long enough to give us lots of pickles!  We started with two plants, and then then planted three more seeds.  As one didn’t do well, I just replanted it, with 4 more plants!  We have bulbs planted in this back area and they still haven’t flowered, so I’m taking over their space with okra!  I hope my plan works.

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Hiding under the chard in the back yard is arugula.  We’ve always had an overabundance of arugula, so I figured just a few plants this time would be enough.  We’ve also been trying to be better about keeping our lettuce and radishes planted every few weeks, so we always have them.  We haven’t quite figured out the intervals to plant yet, because we often have too much or not enough.

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When I saw this scarlet runner bean climbing up the fence, I gained hope that we won’t always see through the chain link. We haven’t had very good germination with the runner beans (they were free seeds and the friend who saved them said they were a little old).  I’m going to try planting more soon, although the first couple plants that germinated took almost a month to come up.  I wonder if I should have soaked them first.

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We’re still finding babies!  This one was sitting on the Malali watermelon in the nursery.

Aside from this watermelon, all of the squashes and melons have been planted! The nursery is smaller, and now contains mostly perennials that will probably get transplanted to larger pots later this summer.

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And I wish I had remembered to take a picture after I planted the squash, melons and Thai basil.

We have enough leaves now to surround the remaining plants.  We’re hoping the leaves will break down and act as a nice mulch. It was either compost the leaves in the bin, or add them to the garden directly, and we opted for the garden.  We always choose the garden.

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Melons!

My heart beats faster when I see flowers on our squashes and melons. Today our first melons in the melon and squash bed began to flower!

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These were the first melons that we planted in the bed, and are still the only ones on their side of the row.  They are from seeds given to me by my friend Sheila, and are Kazakh Melons.  We’re excited to see them grow and are cheering for them!

In the eggplant lasagna bed next to it, the crookneck squash is flowering and the zucchini has a few flowers open.  We finally have a female flower coming!

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Notice on the right you can see a little zucchini under the bud.  Today when David and I went to the farmers market, we eyed the Safari zucchini’s  as that is what we have coming!  Having a cage over the zucchini seems to be helping keep the leaves from taking up so much space.  We’re optimistic that it will work and we’re hoping that we don’t have hungry bugs lurking in the yard.

We also have a tomato cage over the two acorn squash, and it’s been impressive to watch them climb.

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It’s been a long time since either of us has had space to grow winter squashes in our gardens. While looking at the acorn squash, David and I observed that in the crook of each leaf axis there are flowers.  Hopefully that will translate to lots of acorn squash.  We could research more, and are curious about the male to female ration for these, but it’s more fun to watch them grow each day than to read about them online.

Practically underneath the acorn squash, is the fenugreek.  This week I noticed a flower and a seed pod thingy sticking straight out (9 o’clock position).

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We have two other tiny fenugreek plants that were direct seeded next to this transplant. I know it doesn’t like to be transplanted, and it’s supposed to get about two feet tall.  This little flowering specimen is about six inches tall!  I’ve read that this legume can be harvested for their leaves as a microgreen, but my plan was to see how it grows and try to get seeds for the maple like flavor.  Time will tell.

Our garden has ants.  They are everywhere. They existed in the soil before we planted, and are common problems in California.  They don’t really bite, and they don’t seem to be doing much other than looking for water.  Hopefully we can co-exist.  Our lemon tree has ants and aphids working together as a team.  It’s not that great for the lemon tree, but it’s cool to watch and we still get fruit.

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You will notice ants in many of our pictures.  They walk over everything.  I followed their path back to the fence, and they seem to going into the neighbor’s yard. David and I are conscious of them when we water, or walk around barefoot.  And again, hopefully they won’t be a problem.

We’ve been paying close attention to holes in leaves and bugs that we see.

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I spotted this little guy on a marigold.  Also notice that someone’s been eating the leaf below it and leaving it’s maze-like trail.  I must read up on bugs in the garden this summer and would love advice and suggestions.

We have a few more tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos to plant. We need to buy a couple bags of soil and figure out where the pots can live for the summer.  I’d like to get it done this weekend, but it will probably be next week. The plants are still small, so there’s no hurry.

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The tomatoes in the backyard are flowering now!  The plants are strong and we’re pulling suckers.  The side yard tomatoes are growing bigger, with the largest one being purple and half dollar size (for those of you who know how big that is).  We have one more tomato to plant in the side yard, but we must pull out our remaining chard plant to put in the tomato.  David and I aren’t sure we want to eat that much chard this week, so we’ve been stalling.

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And lastly, our peppers are flowering furiously. It’s time to start buying canning jars, and I hope David likes pickled peppers!

Speaking of pickling, today David and I stopped at Penzys Spices and bought some pickling spice.  We’d never been to the store and were quite excited to see (and smell) the selection. He’s already planning how he can use some of the exotic spices with the food that we’re growing.

Time to get back out into the garden!

 

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Fruits, flowers and bugs, oh my!

The plants are growing! Each day, David and I walk around our little backyard garden, inspecting for intruders, new flowers and growth.  We were happy that we had a few days off from watering, but are back to watering each evening and dreaming about soaker hoses and drip irrigation for during the summer.  That, and building bamboo supports for the plants, are high up on David’s project list for this summer.

Here’s a look at the back yard garden, formerly known as the morning glory jungle, now:

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The aisles and edges need more mulch (as well as the front yard flower beds), which David picked up yesterday and I’ll be spreading today. We’ve used the firepit once, and plan to use it again soon!  The squash and melons are slowly getting planted in the front right bed.  I may end up directly seeding the Malali watermelon, as the two seeds that I planted in the nursery have yet to germinate.

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Here’s the temporary nursery at the end of our driveway.  The cage on the right has our praying mantis cocoon, which we check daily. The warm driveway and full sun has been working well for the plants. We have been anxiously checking the perennial flowers that we started from seed.  This week the Munstead Lavender, Chamomile, and Verbena have finally started to get bigger!  The purple tomatillos, eggplants and tomatoes are nearly ready for planting- we’d like them to get a little bigger before they go into the beds.  The squash on the front right, buttercup, was planted right after I took this picture!

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I hacked backed this flower and posted a picture of it in my first tour blog. It’s great to see the plant recovering nicely and shooting out lots of new leaves.

The plants all around the garden are growing bigger and bigger, and slowly climbing the fence.

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The sweet peas are climbing quickly, but have yet to produce flowers. I’ve been training the strays to go up the fence as well, and to fill in the back corner.

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On the other side of the fence, the asparagus beans and scarlet runner beans are slowly getting closer to being climbers. I know that once they get a little bit bigger, they’re going to take off! We’re already drooling thinking about our fresh green beans and canned dilly beans.

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The bush beans are growing rapidly and starting to look like flowers are coming!  I planted tricolor beans, and am excited to see the purple stem on this purple bean plant.

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The Safari zucchini, pattypan and crookneck squashes are all full of buds!  David and I love eating squash blossoms and are hoping to start having male flowers that we can pick and stuff with goat cheese.  Well, I want to pick and stuff them with goat cheese and he wants to let the plants keep their flowers and buy the blossoms at the farmer’s market. Either way, we’re keeping an eye on these buds and hoping to see them blossoming soon!

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The tomatillos are getting taller and taller and are now full of flowers!  We haven’t put cages, or any sort of support on these guys yet, and it’s probably time soon.  This year we planted two tomatillo plants (and have two more purple ones in the nursery).  In the past, we have both had just one tomatillo plant and very little success with fruit.  I recently read that the plants need to be in pairs, as cross pollination is necessary.  We’re hoping that we get plenty of tomatillos this year, and have enough to make jars of salsa verde for the year.

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Our four cucumbers are all growing well.  I as a little worried they’d be eaten by slugs, like last year, but they seem to have cleared that hurdle. This one, in the back yard, looks like it’s waiting for something to climb up.  We were planning on having them trail on the ground, but it may be worth trellising it.  Check out that tendril!

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In the front yard, the peppers are full of flowers!  We ended up with an extra pepper plant that we didn’t mean to buy, so we will be finding creative ways to use cayenne peppers.  The thing is, I don’t like spicy food.  I’ve always loved growing hot peppers because the plants are so beautiful when they are full of colorful peppers.  I’ve never really enjoyed eating them.  Perhaps our friends like hot peppers and will take some off our hands once these little suckers get going.

Speaking of suckers… I’ve been pulling suckers from the tomato plants and shaping them as they fill their cages. And this week I discovered…

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BABY TOMATOES!!

The Indigo Rose is already showing her purple. And she’s tall, lanky and has a glorious purple trunk! She also has lots more flowers coming.

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We also have baby San Marzano’s!  David and I have been finding ways to use up the last of the sauce we stored in our freezer this past year.  After we use the last bag, we still have about 5 jars.  I have a feeling we’ll easily replenish our stock.  We also plan to dry, and roast them, and I’ve been looking into canning whole tomatoes also. Can’t wait until they come in and I’m on summer vacation (without graduate school or a wedding to plan like last summer).

The tomato plants are healthy, and host to many insects.

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This crane fly (I think) was found resting on a tomato leaf.

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I spotted a few of these little bugs on our flowers.  Anyone know what they are?  I grabbed my bug book, and know that they are true bugs. I hope that they are minute pirate bugs, as those are beneficial but I’m not sure about that being a correct ID. I really do need a better Insect ID book, as Peterson’s and my college textbook aren’t helping too much.  Suggestions for what these critters are, and for books, are welcome!

All of the tomatoes are doing really well, except for this one:

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The Riesentraube has been battling insects and possibly disease.  I am a little embarrassed for the plant to show it to you, looking like this, but I feel that I must be honest about how the plants are doing. We’re keeping an eye on it and hope that it recovers, but we’re not sure what we can do to help.

It has neighbors that are getting munched also.
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Most of the basil is looking great, and a few are even preparing to flower.  Our first batch of pesto will likely be prepared next weekend. This plant is the one that has made the most “friends” and hopefully having it next to the tomato is helping protect the tomato.

On the other side of the raised bed, the radish tops are also getting eaten. We have three different types of radish growing, and I’ve also been bringing some home from school.  I’m learning to like radishes, which David thinly slices into my salad.  He’s happy to eat the rest of them.

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These fast growing white icicle radishes are a hybrid from Johnny’s.  I just ordered more white radishes from Baker Creek and can’t wait to plant them!

Hope you enjoy your harvest!