Friday, July 1, 2011

Birds and Rabbits...

I battled rabbits nibbling my spinach, beans and broccoli when the garden was first planted, and then they ate my broccoli a second time before I got smart and put netting up over the whole shebang.  Now things are big and lush and I took the netting off because I figured the garden could survive a little nibbling at it's current size.  The first night I removed the cover, my spinach plants disappeared.  I wasn't all that suprised. The plants were small and it had already gotten too hot to expect much to come of the spinach plants.  I'll just plant more in a few weeks for a fall crop.

This morning I stepped out to water my plants and everything looked fine until I got to my yellow bush beans.  There was a hole in the middle of the spot where they were planted.  Several of the plants looked like they were just ripped out.  I saw a tuft of hair in the bottom of the hole and discovered some rabbits had decided to build a nest right in the middle of my beans.  Luckily what looked like a baby rabbit was just a ball of hair so there wasn't any damage except for the few plants that got ripped out.  Hopefully the plants around it will be okay, but I have more beans in my other beds anyhow.  Now I just need to find a way to keep the bunnies out, and I prefer not to cover my beds up again, it makes it a little hard to water and we're getting closer to harvest time so I don't want to uncover every time I need to pick the beans or peppers.  I don't want to hurt the rabbits, I just don't want them in my garden!

As for the birds... My blueberry plants have been doing great.  The fruit is bulging and has turned a pinkish color, on it's way to purple and then blue.  A few of the berries on my Toro variety bush actually looked like they were only a few days away from being blue!  I was so excited to taste the first berries.  Well, the birds got the first taste instead of me.  They only took the ones on the verge of being doing, so there are still plenty left for me.  I didn't want to take any chances with my precious berries though, so I was quick to cover them with some netting.  Looks like I'll have a handful of berries any day now!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What I'm Growing - Physalis Pruinosa (Aunt Molly Ground Cherry)

Here's a new series that will hopefully get me posting a little more regularly.  Each week or so I'll feature one of the plants growing in this years garden.  The list keeps getting longer and longer, so it guarantees me plenty of material!

This weeks' featured plant is called the Aunt Molly Ground Cherry, Latin name Physalis Pruinosa.  Ground Cherries are totally new to me.  I stumbled upon them while reading garden blogs about tomatillos and when I learned that they were sort of a berry, and they were annuals, I was intrigued. Most of the berries I know of are perennials and you don't usually get much or any fruit the first year.  I've been wanting to try blackberries or raspberries, but they take a few years to start producing and they require a more permanent home than I'm willing to give them at this point.

Ground cherries, on the other hand, grow from seed and produce fruit all in one year.  They are a member of the nightshade family, similar to a tomato.  The fruits grow in a husk which hangs from the plant and looks a bit like a Chinese lantern.  The plant blooms, and the calyx (green leafy part at the base of the bloom) grows and closes up to form a little pouch of sorts which grows to be the husk. The fruit grows into a little marble sized berry inside of the husk and falls to the ground when ripe, thus the name. When ripe, the fruits are a golden color and have many tiny seeds inside.

The plants are known by many names (with slight variances between varieties, although I get conflicting information as to what the differences in taste are) such a Cape Gooseberry, Pahoa, Inca Berry, and Golden Berry.  Anyone who is asked what the fruit tastes like will likely give a different answer.  I've heard of them being compared to pineapple, strawberry, mango, vanilla, custard, lime (sounds like this person's weren't ripe enough), with a hint of tomato flavor.  I can't really imagine any of these flavors being bad, so I'm ridiculously excited to try them out!  The three plants that I am growing this year have a particularly interesting/pathetic story behind them, but I'll save that for another post. :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Squarefoot Garden

I've spent a good amount of time getting my garden up and going this year.  I didn't grow a garden last summer because we were so busy planning our wedding, and the year before that we did a little in the ground patch that didn't fare so well due to poor soil conditions and lack of attention on my part.  Our soil is pretty much clay with lots of rocks and tons of weeds, so I felt like I was fighting a losing battle from the start.  This year I'm doing what is called Squarefoot Gardening, which produces more food from a smaller area.  We have built raised beds and filled them with what is known as "Mel's Mix," made of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 compost (blend of 5 types of compost to get plenty of nutrients in there).  

So far, this is what the garden looks like... 

In the back left, my tomatoes are reaching for the trellis, and two squares of cukes next to them are getting their first real leaves on them. Next row, my potatoes need topped up with more soil, and the carrots are looking good! In the front two rows, eggplants and red and green bell peppers are looking good. My yellow bush beans....not so much. Only had about 50% germinate, but I stuck a few more seeds in the missing spots this morning.

Back left, Kentucky Wonder pole beans are coming along nicely and will be guided to the trellis soon. Yellow squash (Burpee golden zucchini) is doing well, although I'm getting conflicting information as to weather this is a vining variety or not. The zucchini I am learning will not vine, so I will either move that one to another small box and let it do it's thing, or try to stake it as I've seen some youtube videos demonstrate. In front of the beans there are 3 jalepenos hiding, one got nibbled by rabbits, so hopefully he'll make a recovery. On the far right behind the onions are mustard greens which are just sprouting. I have no idea if it's too late for them but we will see! Far left front two squares are broccoli. There used to be four plants, but rabbits got to those too, so now I'm down to two. We'll see how they do. I also have a mini bell pepper, red and yellow onions, spinach that got pelted by rain the past few days (we'll see if it survives, I have faith!) and radishes that are about ready for harvest.

My sugar snaps are climbing nicely, hopefully I'll see some blossoms soon! I took this photo Tuesday and they are already almost a foot taller! Next to them my brussel sprouts are getting gigantic, I had no idea they'd get to large! I am staking them up so hopefully they won't take over too much. Question At least the lettuce (which needs thinning) in front of the bs will have some shade as the weather gets warmer. In front of the peas, our pumpkin is just sprouting. We'll let him spill out of the bed and crawl all over the lawn (hubby isn't crazy about that idea haha). Sunflowers and empty boxes to the left of the bs waiting to be planted (if there is any room as the bs fill in!).

Sorry for the rotten through-the-window-didn't-even-take-out-the-screen photo, we'll just call this one a teaser! Wink Just wanted to show I built two smaller 2x4 table tops for some more vining crops and herbs. We are putting up a fence in a few weeks and I'm not sure how I'll want my garden layed out next year so rather than kill the grass under some beds that might be moved next season, we did tabletops so the only grass killed is under the legs. Anyhow, I have seeds in for cantaloupe and watermelon in one and acorn and butternut squash in the other. They'll both have trellises soon to climb up. In front of those crops I put in some chives, shallots, and a few types of bush beans.  I'm thinking about painting all my boxes white so they look clean and  uniform.  The wood we used is a little rough looking, but it was cheap and serves it's purpose.

My blueberries are coming along very nicely. I dressed the tops of the pots with some peat moss and added a little more soil sulfer and the leaves are nice and green now and berries are getting plump. I have four pots, all different varieties that mature at different times. They all have nice clusters except for one which is just flowering now. I can't wait for them to turn blue, how long does that take? This is the only picture I got before it started to rain and I ran for cover.

And finally, I can't help but include a picture of my youngest assistant Smile

Monday, May 23, 2011

For Kate :)

What a bad, bad blogger I am.  I can come up with at least a dozen excuses as to why I haven't kept up with the blog but none of them are very good.  I didn't realize I had an acutal audience, and wasn't sure that the few people who were reading found the material interesting.  Now I guess family members might be a little bit partial to me or just want to keep up with what I'm doing, but I suppose that counts for something.  That aside, I do enjoy writing and creating things, so keeping track of it all here for my own record should be reason enough.

I rode up to Cleveland last weekend for my little brother's college graduation.  I went with my parents and brother's girlfriend, Kate. Although getting there was a little rough, it went well and I'm so proud of my brother!  Anyhow, Kate mentioned the blog and that she enjoyed reading it and wondered if I was going to continue with it. I have so many projects going on so lack of blogging material isn't really an excuse haha.  I'm aiming to make better use of my time and get back to blogging.  So Kate, this is for you! :)

I've been doing lots of work outside getting my vegetable garden together and sprucing up in general.  It looks like there might be a break in the clouds today so I plan to take a trip out with the camera and get back on the blogging bandwagon.  Lots to tell, lots to tell.

(I better hold to my promise or else I'm going to have a blog full of posts about not blogging)