The 2011 Garden

It’s been three months, and it’s beyond time I posted something to move the last post with that depressing mountain of snow down the queue.  How about this…

Or this…

That’s my clearance sale rhododendron that I got last spring.  There were a few blooms on it when I got it, but in the fall there were tons of flower buds on the plant.  A few of them opened, but then winter set in.   When the weather started warming up, the plant just picked up where it left off last fall and bloomed beautifully.

So sorry I haven’t been a good blogger girl these past few months, but I have been doing a few things here and there gardening related.  In March when we had out first relatively warm day I planted the south bed with my seed tape.  Then the temperatures dropped…we had snow…a number of times.  I thought the seeds were dead, but low and behold one day I saw the pointy leaves of spinach.  Here’s what the bed looks like now.

I planted three or four varieties of spinach, radish and bok choi using the seed tape.  Once the seeds started growing in, I interplanted each row with lettuces.  I think this is the first time that I’m picking more than just a few leaves of spinach.  The only thing that didn’t germinate well was the bok choi, although I was pleasantly surprised to find a few plants growing today.

I did a bit of winter sowing with the spinach seeds too.  I tried to overwinter some lettuce in this big bin, but I saw bugs in it and it had to go.  But before I sat it outside on the porch, I planted some spinach seeds.  Sure enough, when the weather started warming up, the spinach started to grow.  Then I transplanted a few other plants into the bin and have been harvesting baby leaves.

Right now I’m hardening off my tomato and pepper plants.  I went the heirloom route this year.  Red and yellow brandywine, although I’ve lost most of the yellow, Cherokee Purple, Chocolate Cherry, Principe Borghese (hope I spelled that right), Lemon Pear.   I’ll be glad when the weather mellows out so I can actually put them in the ground.

So…what else is going on?  One of the flat leaf parsley plants made it through the winter and is growing great. I think all of the onions that were left last year started growing, and I’ve harvested them already to clear out the bed for the tomatoes.   I’m in the process of doing a raised bed in front of the garage where I grew the corn last year.  I’m thinking of doing white potatoes one one side and sweet potatoes on the other side.  I’ve got peas, broccoli and a couple cabbages in the ground already, although they’re growing kind of slow, and the strawberries have quite a few blooms on them

Anyway, that’s a little catch-up on what’s going on in my world…as I anxiously wait for the weather to break.

Happy Gardening!!!

Harvest Monday_August 2, 2010

Another Harvest Monday has rolled around.  Time to show off your harvest, big or small.  Link up at Daphne’s Dandelions and show the blogsphere what you’re harvesting in your piece of paradise.  My 2010 Harvest as of 8-2-2010 so far is1738.4 ounces, which translates to 108.65 pounds of produce using the handy dandy ounces to pounds converter.

I’m getting cherry tomatoes and peppers and, of course, squash.    Not too much else.

I pulled the container yard long beans because the plants were expiring from the bottom up.  They’re supposed to keep on producing the whole season, but these didn’t.  I left the few plants at the base of the stairs so they can go to seed.   The okra plants are finally producing.  There’s only four plants, but that’s enough for me.  I only use the pods in greens and soup.

I was straightening up the garden the other day.  It’s nice to get paid for your hobby with organic vegetables.  I picked (clockwise) a yard long cuke, collard greens, chard, Russian kale, leaves from a turnip plant that started growing when I started watering the garden more, cherry tomatoes, patio basil, dwarf kale, and mustard greens.

Lettuce is on the way.  See that tray under the swing?  I started a few cucumbers and some lettuce.  I also threw a few seeds in some blank spots in the yard, and they’re germinating.  I’m really looking forward to garden lettuce again.

I don’t know how it happened, but I forgot to take a picture of Sunday’s harvest.  Two squash, one okra pod, a few green beans and some cherry tomatoes.

And here’s today’s harvest.  One Armenian cucumber and three okra pods.

and…

…eight bell peppers, two okra pods, and 105 cherry tomatoes.  This round of peppers are bigger than the last group I picked.  I decided to make stuffed peppers, which I’ve never made before.   The recipe called for rice, onions, tomato sauce, garlic, ground beef as some of the mian ingredients.  I didn’t have rice or tomato sauce.  I used a box of Spanish rice and a bottle of spaghetti sauce. 

They were pretty good.

 Happy Gardening!!

Armenian Cucumber_from seed to table

It’s not usual that a plant does better in a pot than it does in the earth with so much room for the roots to spread, but this Jalapeno pepper (seeds compliments of Granny)… 

…outperformed his in-soil counterpart.  (The peppers were harvested and included with the 7-19 Harvest Day post).

In the lower right corner is the in-ground pepper.  It’s actually perked up a little over the past week and has a couple peppers growing and a few flowers.  Maybe it got a little jealous of the other pepper and decided to work a little harder.  And please excuse my mess.  I started thinning out the strawberry plants last night.

The tomato I’m holding is a clone (“EG style”) from one of the cherry tomato suckers I stuck in the ground.  This plant is about four weeks old and is putting on flowers already.

But on to the subject of today’s post.

Armenian Cucumber

  • a/k/a Yard Long Cucumber   
  • a/k/a Serpent Cucumber  
  • a/k/a Snake Melon  

 The Armenian cucumber is not actually a cucumber.  Botanically it belongs in the melon family.  The cucumber can grow up to three feet long and three inches wide, but they are most flavorful if harvested at 12 to 15 inches.  If grown on a trellis, the fruit will grow straight.  If grown on the ground, however, the fruit can grow curled and/or coiled, sometimes resembling a snake.  The plant produces both male and female flowers, but the plant is self-fertile.  As the fruit matures the skin turns yellow and has a muskmelon aroma. 

The taste is quite pleasant and there is a nice crunch with each bite, even with very thin slices.  My Armenian cukes were grown from seed started on May 1, transplanted into a pot on May 23rd.  The pot is situated behind a large Brussels sprout plant growing in the planting area on one side of the base of the stairs (if that wasn’t clear, you’ll see what I’m talking about in the pictures that follow).   I attached some netting that my daughter found last year at either a yard sale or marked down onto the stair railing for the cukes to grow up the trellis.  Around the corner from the cukes, still in that same planting area, are a few yard long bean plants. 

The first pollinated fruit appeared on June 1.  Between June 6 and June 15, the fruit grew from approximately 2 inches to over a foot long and about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. 

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Armenian Cucumbers, a definite do again for next year.

Happy Gardening!!

When Muhammad (a/k/a Cheryl) couldn’t get to the mountain…

…(a/k/a the community garden plot), Muhammad (a/k/a Cheryl) built her own.

(beginning of year)

In a prior post I had mentioned that I signed up for a community garden plot, but that the logistics of getting there were a little more than I could handle.  Between the successful experiment with the squash taking over one bed, the strawberries multiplying like crazy taking over the second bed, and the perennials using up the space in the third bed I ran out of space before I got a lot of stuff in the ground and needed a home for my babies.

Bright and early on May 16th I put on my knee-knockers and gym shoes, packed up my seedlings and headed off to the community garden to claim my plot.  Well, I didn’t see anybody there.  That was the day of the plant sale where I purchased the Rosemary Prostrada plant.  Since I had the Saturday to myself, I ran errands and I’d pass the garden just to see if anybody was there.  I still didn’t see anybody.  That’s when I started toying with the idea of building another bed to put some of my homegrown seedlings in. 

The making of  “Muhammad’s Mountain” 

(5-28-10)

I constructed the frame in the garage (with FreeCycle wood, thank you very much) so it would be ready to go when I dug out the planting area.  It took four hours one evening and a couple hours of the next morning to dig out the plot and put the box in.  I did my best to “double dig” and topped the area off with a version of “Mel’s Mix.”  It consisted of my homegrown compost, peat moss, vermiculite and perlite.  I also put in some store bought composted manure.  I threw in some wood ash that one of the ladies from the gardening group gave me last year, a little blood and bone, a little dried molasses.  In other words, I threw in the kitchen sink.

The next day I moved my little babies to their new home.  (05-29-10)

Take a peek behind the planter and you’ll see the bed’s all planted out.  (To the right, that’s my dollar bush tomato plant I found at Home Depot.  First time I’ve ever tried a determinate).

Here’s a picture of the bed today.  I configured the trellis for the tomatoes a little differently than the last couple years.  (Here’s a picture of how it was configured before).  

Here’s a list of what’s growing:

  • 3 Yellow Peppers (seeds compliments of Granny)
  • 3 Big Bertha Peppers (store bought plants)
  • 3 California Wonder Peppers (grown from seed)
  • 2 Patio Basils (grown from seed)
  • 6 Marigolds (grown from seed)
  • 2 Zinnas (grown from seed)
  • 3 Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes (grown from seed)
  • 2 Stevia Plants (Store bought plant that I divided into three, and the third one is growing in a container)
  • 1 Bush Early Girl Tomato (store bought plant)
  • 2 Sugar Baby Watermelons (compliments of Gregory)
  • 2 Russian Kale (compliments of Gregory)
  •  2 Celery Plants (compliments of Gregory)
  • 1 Rainbow Swiss Chard (grown from seed)
  • 1 Leaf Lettuce (grown from seed, trying to hide out in the shade)
  • 1 volunteer mystery melon, probably cantaloupe
  • 1 volunteer canna

 In fairness to the folks at the Jackson Park Community Garden, I recently received an e-mail through one of my groups and found out that there is somebody who works in the garden every day, it’s just that she started after I had already given up.  Just my luck.

Tomorrow from 3:00 to 5:00 they’re having a workshop at the garden on…oooo, my favorite…composting.  I’ll get a chance to see what I missed out on.

Happy Gardening!!!

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