Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Harvests Begin

Provider bush beans, 27 May 2015.
I took the pictures to the right yesterday morning, early, before the sun was fully up and before I drove to work. The lighting, as a result, is a little weird, but the idea comes across: The first of the summer crops are ready to harvest!

We still are eating lettuces and other spring crops from the garden, but three days this week my lunchbox has included home-grown green beans. Soon, our home-grown zucchini will join them, then raspberries, then cucumbers, onions, garlic, potatoes, blueberries...

In my mind, I can see our garden crops coming into the kitchen in sequence, like waves rolling to shore. 

Meanwhile, I am still planting warm season crops. The okra and nasturtiums went into the ground just this past weekend.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Corn, Planted in Nests

Sunfish nest in the Brazos river, last summer.
This spring, when I planted my corn, I worked with a vision of sunfish and warm, Midwestern streams in my mind.

The connection may seem obscure, until you see that my corn is planted in shallow saucers that look a lot like the nests that sunfish make. A major difference, though, is that my saucers are on dry ground, in the garden, and not underwater.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Twisty, Narrowed, Thickened Leaves and Other Weedkiller Damage

New growth on tomato made weird by persistent herbicide in manure.
Cabbage growth stunted and warped by persistent herbicide in manure.
There seems to be a lot of weedkiller damage in gardens this year. I've seen twisty, narrowed leaves on rose bushes (from two different yards) that were probably exposed to 2,4-D before the plants even leafed-out in spring; I've seen shortened, odd growth on hydrangeas (same cause); and I've seen vegetable plants whose growth has been stunted and made odd by a group of herbicides that persist in hay, grass clippings, and manures.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Salad Days

A tasty part of tonight's supper.
I went out early this morning to harvest lettuce for our lunchboxes, and again after work for our supper. When I went out in the early dark, the air was heavily perfumed with honeysuckle. This evening, the fragrance was less pronounced, but it was there -- glorious.

In the garden, lettuces are looking great, we still have radishes to pull, and there are a few green onions remaining.

Future supper ingredients.
 The peas are looking ever more promising, too. Pods are are hanging on the lower sections of the vines, while the tops of the plants are still covered in blossoms. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring Veggies to Harvest Now, or Soon, and Delayed Planting

We've been bringing in asparagus, green onions, and radishes, and there are little bits of lettuce to add to salads, but it will be a few more weeks before the beets and spring-planted carrots are big enough to add much mass to a meal.

The peas, though, will be ready sooner. The vines are in that covered-with-flowers-and-tiny-pea-pods stage, so I am pretty hopeful that we'll have some peas with our meals in ten days or less.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What's In Season Now?

Onion family crops to harvest in June.  Tulip to enjoy now.
I spoke with a guy last week who was looking for farm-fresh produce for a project at a local Senior Center. He was hoping for tomatoes and corn, and it was hard to get across the idea that those crops are not currently in season.

When we finally had that notion sorted, he asked about yellow squash. Let me just say now that the conversation went on in that vein for several minutes.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Are We Beyond the Last Frost? Is it Safe to Plant?

After several warm days and moderate nights, we had a weekend of cooler weather that included a drop down below 30 degrees F.

Some years, such as in 2011, 2012, and 2013, our last frost has occurred before the end of March, and it is possible that the warm weather forecast for the upcoming week will seduce gardeners who remember those warm years into setting out tender transplants, like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and tomatillos.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Indoor Seedlings for the Summer Garden

I started seeds for the summer garden in a flat indoors, back in early February. Many of the seeds germinated and have grown, but it always is amazing to me that each kind of seed has its own schedule.
Mostly tomato plants, started in February.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Time to Plant Potatoes and Peas

The quietest starting "bang" I know is the unfolding of the trout lily flowers in my back yard. Their blooming is my signal that it's time to plant potatoes and peas. Once those crops are in the ground, the new planting season rolls out before me. In years when the weather cooperates, all goes smoothly, but usually the gardening proceeds in little bursts.

This past weekend, with Joe's help, the potatoes and peas were planted. Next weekend, if the forecast rain isn't too abundant, I will be planting little patches of carrots, beets, lettuces, and spinach.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Growing Hominy Corn at Home

Hominy is one of those foods that doesn't make it into the cover-photos of many fancy food magazines. It may have a better chance than chitlins, but not by a whole lot. I know, though, that hominy is delicious, which is saying a lot about a food I've only ever eaten canned.

It never occurred to me to try to grow the right kind of corn and make my own hominy until this past week, when I was reading at Indian Country Today, in an article written by Anna Jefferson, about an heirloom corn being grown out for seed at Wah-Zha-Zhi Cultural Center in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, for the Osage Nation.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Still Winter, but Dreaming of Spring

It looks like this is going to be one of those awkward years when the plants and the weather aren't quite in sync. Daffodils began blooming in my yard over the weekend, but there is a drop to 11 degrees F expected on Wednesday. That drop in temperature will make a mess of my daffodils. The pink camellia blossoms aren't going to take that drop well, either. Wilted, drooping, soggy, browned flowers definitely are not part of the spring dream!

The hopeful news is that the tips of trout-lily leaves are beginning to emerge by the back fence. I use the blooming of those plants as a signal to begin planting peas, and then a week or two later the potatoes. Some years, the flowers of my trout lilies are up in abundance by the last week in February, but it may be the first week in March before I see many of those flowers this year.

Those two plantings -- the peas and potatoes -- begin the cascade of springtime activity in my garden. Lettuces, spinach, beets, and more cool-season crops will be seeded directly into the soil in that same time of beginning, and from there the planting flows fairly steadily on, right through May.

While I am waiting on the trout lilies, I have tiny plants to tend indoors. Tomato seedlings have begun their unfolding in the flat that I started on Feb. 8, a little more than a week ago. Tending those, and then the peppers and eggplants that will share the flat as they germinate and grow (always taking a little longer to emerge than the tomatoes...), will keep my gardening-energies engaged in the meantime.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Almost Seed-Starting Time

Well, it's almost time to start seeds of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants here in my area, so of course I've jumped the gun. The weather this past weekend was glorious, and I spent part of it out on the back deck setting up the first flat of those long-time-to-maturity vegetables. I added some tomatillo seeds, too.

I wrote a guest-post about seed-starting for UGA's Community Gardening blog that was posted last week, and I included two links near the end for some UGA publications about seed starting. Any beginners at seed-starting might want to check out those links, because the explanations (and illustrations!) they contain are more complete than I could fit into a blog post.

The usual garden vegetable seeds are fairly easy to germinate, partly because they are for annual plants; the seeds have simple needs for temperature, light, and water that are easy to fulfill by mimicking springtime indoors. Seeds for shrubs and other perennial plants often have additional requirements for aging, for cold-storage (mimicking winter!), and for having traveled through an animal's guts, and this winter I have been working with seeds for jujube bushes that are in this category of persnickety seeds.
Bag with 4 jujube seeds in sphagnum, stapled to instructions.

My friend Eddie brought me four jujube fruits last fall, and I have been following instructions I found online through SF Gate to prepare those seeds for spring. After eating the fruits (tasted like apples!), I soaked the seeds for about an hour, then scrubbed the remaining stuck-on fruit off the seeds. Then, I placed the seeds in a paper bag, in the dark, to dry and "finish ripening" for a couple of months. Then, I put the seeds in a ziploc bag with some damp sphagnum moss, and put that whole shebang into the fridge.

The plastic bag is stapled to the brown bag the seeds "ripened" in with a note that says the seeds can come out of the fridge anytime after February 10. That's this week! There are several more steps ahead to get those seeds ready to germinate, but I am hopeful that the process will work. Wish me luck?