What’s Happening in the Garden, July 30, 2014

I truly can’t believe that it’s been almost a month since I posted a garden update. Where does the time go?  We’ve been doing everything… camping, hiking, visiting, working, gardening… you name it! It’s a crazy busy summer! While we’ve been so busy lots has happened in the garden.

IMG_6833We have tomatoes!! These are super sweet 100s… I haven’t grown this variety before so I’m looking forward to tasting them.

IMG_6846There are tomato plants tucked in all over the place. One of the great things about growing from seed is the sheer abundance of  plants when it’s time to plant. I’d better get that canning thing down because I’m going to need to do something with these tomatoes.

IMG_6827Yes, their a little bit too close together but I think they’ll be okay. I keep watching for blight so I can remove the yellow branches right away, and believe it or not, hardly anything is touching the ground.

IMG_6822We’ve picked several zucchini and more are on the way. I like to get them when their on the small side so their not too seedy. There is evidence of squash borer. I haven’t figured out how to organically prevent it from hitting my plants, but I have figured out how to deal with it to limit the damage….

IMG_6823I bury the base of the plant where the borers work their evil and the plant reroots almost immediately and keeps right on growing and producing. If you cut open the stalk you will clearly see the wormy little borers eating away. Not everyone handles that well. I think it’s kind of interesting.

IMG_6829There’s basil everywhere too. The flowers on this plant should have been cut back at the beginning of the bud stage. The photo that I took after I cut it was blurry, but you get the idea. You’ll have beautiful basil for a long time this summer if you cut it back!

IMG_6824The red onions look just about ready. I planted them close to the surface as I think I was supposed to and now their very high in the soil? Should I have covered them with soil as they grew or is this okay? It seems like they would have gotten bigger if they had stayed submerged a little bit longer.
IMG_6834The asparagus is gone for the year. It needs to be weeded and fertilized to shore it up for next spring.

IMG_6835The cucumbers are incredible this year! I guess the rain helped, along with researching the variety. I’ve harvested many and there’s lots more coming!

IMG_6845Okay, so, this is kind of a problem. I clearly wasn’t thinking when I put watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin in the same row.

IMG_6840The good news is that we have some fruit.

IMG_6841The bad news is that there appears to be some cross pollination happening. This is a very watermelon like cantaloupe.

IMG_6843Just across from the melon patch is a huge horseradish patch. I still have some in the freezer from last year.

IMG_6862The blueberries, covered with bird netting, are happily producing.

IMG_6855However, these brown dying branches on one of the two plants is a concern. Anyone know what’s happening here?

IMG_6857We have potatoes in the cat pot again… I mixed tons of compost in so I’m hoping for great tuber development.

IMG_6825My favorite border is hanging on. Maybe some good deadheading will bring back another bloom?

IMG_6820We made a little goldfish pond on the deck this year. It’s just a plastic barrel filled with water, pond plants and fish. It’s so easy and a nice addition to our sitting area where we enjoy our view.

IMG_6859Life is so good here…

Enjoy your blessings today!

Love, Michele


Loving My Seedlings, a Lot!

I really am! This appears to be my breakthrough year in the seed starting world. I think I got it and I love it! The time that I spent this winter reading and researching really seems to be paying off. I have quite a few plants ready for the garden now and there are more coming. Next year, look out, those seed companies won’t know what hit them! Did I mention that I finally got it and that it’s fun?

Okay, enough… here’s what I have at the moment:

IMG_5728This is my seed starting set-up. It’s simple; two shop lights with one fluorescent and one plant bulb in each. Next year I’m hoping to add a third light in the middle so that the entire table is covered.  I used the plant bulbs here at home, but at Bass River (work) I used one cool white and one warm white bulb. The seeds did very well there but I do see a faster growth rate and a sturdier plant with the plant bulb. The idea is to create light that mimics the light outdoors and the plant bulb is much brighter which is ideal for seedlings that would thrive in full sun.

IMG_5727These cantaloupe and watermelon seeds emerged from their bags (you can read about my handy dandy bag system here) the other day. They’ve been living in soil for two days and their well on their way.

IMG_5725This is cumin and purple alyssum. I have a love/hate relationship with these jiffy pots. They dry out quickly and I need to keep a very close eye on them. Actually, keeping a close eye is very helpful to new seedlings, peat pot or not.

IMG_5721The cilantro on the left is organic slow bolt, and the pots on the right are coriandrum sativum… there’s kind of a big difference in success rate so far.

IMG_5720We’ll have three varieties of basil this year; Genovese in the back, Red Rubin in the middle and Siam Queen in the foreground.

IMG_5714I started a little bit of summer squash in a jar a few days ago, planted it in the soil last night and I think they’ll be ready for the garden by the end of this coming week. I have some new ideas to help deal with the squash bugs this year so I caved and planted zucchini, even though I swore I’d take the year off after last year’s difficulties.

IMG_5702Up in my office the marigolds are showing their second set of leaves. I’m probably moving them outside later today to maximize the light and good air circulation.

IMG_5695These pumpkins and cucumbers from a few weeks ago need to be planted out asap. The weather looks pretty good so they should be in by Monday.

IMG_5691 If I could go back several weeks, I would have transplanted these tomatoes into larger containers. I think/hope the yellow at the bottom is because they need more root space. Looks like it’s time for these to hit the garden too.

IMG_5731

As you can see I have a lot more to do. The carrots need to be direct seeded, the beans will follow the peas that are growing, and the squash will probably be quick started then planted outside in the next week or two. I think I missed the window for growing peppers. What should we do? Start them indoors now anyway, direct sow or buy some plants?

IMG_5733My little girl started these seeds all by herself.

This is the best motivation in the world to share the garden with my kids, and with all of you. 🙂

Hope you plant something today!

Love, Michele

 

 

Basil Day!!!

Yesterday I harvested and processed basil. It’s one of those jobs that looks kind of overwhelming at first but ends up being fun, with a nice reward at the end. I freeze basil in one or two cup containers that I can pull out about once a month to use as I need it. This year I also tried drying it in the oven with great results.  Of course now I want to dry every herb that I’m growing, and I’m pretty sure that I will!  I think I’ll love reaching for my own oregano, basil, thyme, dill and sage when I’m cooking in January!

The day started with a trip out to the garden to bring in my first bunch of basil. I like to cut it as I go to avoid wilt and so that it’s as fresh as possible when it goes into the freezer. This also gives me wiggle room if I have to stop to run a kid somewhere or make lunch.

I wash it thoroughly, a handful or two at a time. Sometimes I dry with towels if I’m really flying along time-wise. Usually it can sit for a few minutes to dry off while I’m working on something else.

To take the leaves off the stem I lay it flat and slice in a straight line.  I still cut some leaves off  individually, but I find that I can get a lot done quickly if I kind of “power chop” it like this.

I fill the food processer right up and add a few tablespoons of olive oil.

I pulse a few times till it’s chopped finely and adjust the olive oil so it’s well covered but not soupy.

I put it into plastic containers to freeze and it’s done! I try to fill to the top to prevent freezer burn and make good use of space. I’ve found that it will keep for up to a year. Experts might recommend less than a year, but I was still pulling basil out in June  and it was just fine.

As I mentioned earlier I also ventured into drying some basil. When I started this cookie sheet was covered with leaves (and a few bunches of leaves).  I used the “warm” setting on my oven (a GE Profile) to dry this in about an hour and a half. I set the kitchen timer after an hour and checked it every ten minutes or so. It reached a point where it was clearly ready to crumble. There was no moisture left at all!

I simply crumbled it as soon as it came to room temperature and this was the result.  It smells great and looks just like dried basil!  I’m hoping for great flavor, we’ll see!

I also made a big pot of pesto… we’ll enjoy pasta with pesto and fresh tomatoes tonight.

Have I mentioned that I really, really love summer?

Enjoy everything!

Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden

It’s always fun to return after a good amount of time away from the garden to see the changes.

Here’s what we came home to this week after our twelve day road trip.

Our pot of potatoes took off!

The bee balm had bloomed

along with the lavender

.

The cucumbers had come along nicely.

Maybe this will be a good year for cucumbers since I only planted a few?

The carrots needed  weeding and thinning asap.

There were plenty of peas for the 4th..

Did you know that in the state of Maine salmon and peas is the traditional Fourth of July dinner?

It was time to pinch back the basil!

And the zucchini had done it’s thing

along with the Roma tomatoes!

It really felt like magic to come back to this.

What are you growing?

How are things in your garden?

Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Michele