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Monday
Aug222011

Norli snow peas versus regular snow peas

Snow peas versus Norli snow peas

Top: either "Edible podded snow" or "Snowpea snowflake" peas.

Bottom: Norli snow peas. The plants grow to only ~ 2ft.

The main benefit of the Norli peas seems to be you have peas a week earlier, but... um, they are smaller. If you leave them on longer, the pods just fill out. Ehh I think next year we'll skip them.

Saturday
Aug202011

Vegetable garden progress & more things I learned

Week 1 or ~ Day 2
Vegetable box A - early JulyVegetable box B - early July

Week 5 or ~ Day 30
Vegetable box A - day 30Vegetable box B - day 30

Day 42!
Vegetable box A - day 42Vegetable box B - day 42

Wow, you can see how much bigger the peas and lettuce are, and they're still growing. The tomatoes are now producing regularly (except the crows have stolen at least 4 ripe tomatoes...), and we're eating snow peas!

I've pulled up all the radishes and mustard greens and replanted with more lettuce, beets, and peas. I'm not sure how much I can keep planting before our first frost date in early October.

More things I've learned:

Thinning is very important to allow plants to grow big. Most of my radishes didn't get bigger than 1 cm (and were inedible) because I didn't thin out as many as I should. The little odd ones sprouting off by themselves grew delightfully big & sharp. Also, see all my lettuce? Most of the Black Seeded Simpson is staying baby lettuce size, and it's almost at mature age. It's still tasty, but if I had thinned it sooner, jimminy crickets I might have had lettuce as big as in this video. Going to experiment some more here.

Crows will eat tomatoes. Ugh. I'm hoping the hawk in our neighbours' yard will step up as the bouncer. This is going to be a problem when I start growing berries.

Norli snow peas are dwarf snow peas. I found out that's why they didn't grow higher than two feet and the pods are in miniature. The other two kinds are doing their best to show my trellis who's the boss.

Garlic is best planted in the fall. Going to try this out soon. Did I mention flea beetles hate garlic?

Flea beetles don't like hot cayenne sprinkled on the garden, or hot paprika. Take that, buggers! Though I'm wondering if the cabbage will be pre-spiced on the inside.

Wednesday
Aug032011

What's in our veggie garden: week 1 vs. week 5 photos, and a list...

Sage in sunset

Below is a list of what we actually planted in our garden on July 2nd. But first, then & now photos!

Week 1 (a few days after planting):
Vegetable box A - early JulyVegetable box B - early July

Week 5!!!
Vegetable box A - day 30Vegetable box B - day 30

What we planted (most from seed):

  • Basil plants x 4 plants -- doing really well but just started to be attacked by flea beetles. They’re leaving gross brown marks.
  • Tomato seedlings, Italian Roma x4 -- some tomatoes are small and the bushes are … overly bushy, but doing well.
  • Radishes, Cherry Belle x 1.5 rows -- despite flea beetles all over the leaves, these are doing well! They are about 1-1.5 cm in diameter so far, and tasty.
  • Spicy mix mesculun greens x 1/2 row -- the major headache of the garden, because it was heavily attacked by flea beetles. I just harvested it all and we ended up throwing out 50% of it because it had too many holes. I think I’d rather grow a few specific types of special greens (some of them taste neat!) or pick a milder mix next year.
  • Green "late" cabbage plants x 9 -- growing slowly, but some were viciously chomped by cute green cabbage worms. I was hoping for red cabbage but didn't see any plants on sale. Sean is discouraged that at some point we'll have 9 cabbages.
  • Beets, Detroit Dark Red x 1 row -- there are a few seedlings but they look rather sad.
  • Lettuce, Butterhead x 1 row
  • Lettuce, Black seeded Simpson x 1 row
  • Lettuce, Grand Rapide (green & very curly) x half row -- never showed to the party..
  • Lettuce, Prizehead (green-bronze & odd looking) x half row
  • Snow peas, 3 kinds: Norli, "edible podded snow" & "snowpea snowflake" x 3 rows total

The perennial herbs are all doing great and I’m curious how they will fare next year:

  • Chives x 2 plants -- tasty!
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage, common and variegated / tricolour -- not sure what I’ll do with all this sage, actually. Be sagacious?
  • English lavender -- the seedling looked like a weakling but smells beautiful; it’s trying its best to send up new shoots.
  • In one spot we planted some miscellaneous old basil and cilantro seeds from over 3 years ago. They are actually starting to sprout - well, the ones I didn’t accidentally weed out!
Thyme and again
Monday
Aug012011

Things I'm learning about vegetable gardening

Snow pea flowers

When deciding between buying a house out of the city versus in the city, one of the major draws for out of the city for me was GARDEN space. Wow! This is the second summer in our house, and this July we finally built and planted our first vegetable garden! Squeak!

This is my first full garden since moving away from home. Mom, I now appreciate how much work it is! Here are some things I've been learning...

Flea beetles on my mesculun

Gardening is more about keeping pests down and yield up, than encouraging things to grow. At least that’s my sense so far... I keep reading the mantra “Things want to grow.” (Some pumpkin seeds we threw into the bushes are sprouting all by themselves. The basil is growing so well it keeps trying to go to seed.) However, the weeds like to grow too! And the bugs are having lots of fun.

I'm learning a lot about pests. I really like entomology, but gosh, separate from my botany. Thanks to my Aunt's book and the Internet I know we have two kinds of flea beetles and cabbage worms. I'm not so worried about the aphids and the ants. Don't tell Sean but there was a GIANT white spider with a body the size of a pea hiding in the lettuce.

I'm also learning how to identify weeds. Ragweed, my nemesis, is the first to shoot up its filigree leaves anywhere. Yoink!

I'm experimenting with companion planting. Companion planting for vegetable gardens (GardenSimply.com) I'm not sure if it's doing anything yet since we still have lots of bugs. Though the radishes with the lettuce have fewer bugs.

Little giants

You can eat radish sprouts. Besides the basil, radish sprouts were the first thing I ate out of our new garden! Thin the seedlings when they are small and still only have two leaves. They taste lightly of radish and you can use them like watercress. When they get the second pair of fuzzy, prickly leaves, they seem to lose their fresh taste and turn bitter.

Apparently you can also eat pea sprouts - and still have your pea plants keep growing and produce pea pods. DigginFood has details with photos.


Plum tomatoes turning red
Prune your tomato plants if they are determinate (“vine” tomatoes like beefsteak and cherry). Otherwise, and especially if you buy seedlings that have been partying for a while at the garden centre without supervision, you get short bushy tomato plants and not many tomatoes.
http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/pruning-tomatoes.aspx

Bonus: you can put the larger suckers in water and they will sprout roots. I have a few of these; they are a bit small to go outside but I’m wondering if they’d produce tomatoes indoors once it gets cold.

Radishes

The temperature and soil dryness can change the taste of your vegetables. We’ve had two or so very hot weeks. Lettuce can turn bitter, and radishes can become very spicy with high temperatures. Ours certainly seem to be doing so. I’m kind of sad our lettuce is a bitter, but our radishes are cute little punches of flavour.

Vegetable box B - day 30

I need a better pea trellis, or place the trellis before sowing the peas. Beans or peas on teepee trellises tend to hang down inside the trellis, so they are hard to pick. A lot of people have trellises fully upright, or in a box shape, so the pods are easier to access. I made a wonky box with bamboo sticks and string. I'm not sure how easy the peas will be to access, but it's entertaining the neighbours.

Sunday
Jun052011

My Boston Terrier likes to talk

I wish I could understand him. But I'd still end up rolling around in laughter.

Also he talks the same way to try to convince the ferrets that he is really awesome! So far Chi is not impressed.