Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Garden Check In

April has been bringing showers this year, which is a very welcome thing considering how badly nature treated us last year.  In fact it has been raining so much it really has made it difficult for me to install the rest of my watering system.  In the meantime of course my garden has been growing by leaps and bounds which made it a virtual flora wrestling match to install the last few soaker hoses.  Finally though the last one went in with a bunch of huffing and puffing and sweating on my part.  All that rain makes the low 80 degree weather seem like a sauna. 

I finally got the camera out this evening and decided to take you on a tour of the garden as I saw it today.

First stop is my newest bit of yard art.  I present to you Garden Koi.  He is lurking in the Herbie bed right now, but I will probably move him to a shadier spot to prevent him fading out from the sun.

Now here we are in the second of the ceder fence beds in what I am calling the Leeky-Creole bed.  Here are three of about a dozen Creole tomatoes growing on this plant.  This is my first year with this variety which is touted as being able to set fruit in hot humid weather.  I have only love for this plant - these tomatoes are huge!

Next door to Leeky-Creole is the Big Boy tomato who has some sort of tomato unhappiness going on.  Some of its leaves have died back and the stems look a little purplish as if there is a nutritional issue.  It has plenty of fruit but they are much smaller than the Creole.  Might just be a variety thing, but I swear if this plant pulls a late blight swan dive on me I will yank it from the garden faster than the Border Collie can tear up a new stuffed toy (30 seconds is her new record).  I am already removing the dead leaves as if they are a potential contaminate to my other plants and I use surgical gloves when I handle it in order not to spread any potential gunk.  

It's Bunny!  Lovely BN444 is neck and neck with the Creoles for humongous fruit.  But on a sadder note, Bunny's first fruit went boots up for some unknown reason.  I found it all withered like a tomato raisin on the vine.  No other problems though.  The fruit was so advanced in decay I could not tell what befell it, but I think it must have been some sort of fruit injury.

Here is the other Creole in the Corny-Creole bed.  It also is adorned with bunches of these clusters and barring the descent of tomato poaching insects we should have a great tomato harvest beginning soon.

Here is a representative of the pepper clan from the six plants in the first four beds.  This is a Gypsy variety and all of the peppers are already loaded with fruit.  One more day and we will pick these and many others.  That is one thing for sure about the peppers.  Harvest often or they will get to thinking that their work is done.  We are already in a race against the night time temperatures.  As soon as they climb into the high 70s our peppers will no longer be able to set fruit.

Here are the leeks from the Leeky-Creole bed.  They are a lovely blue-green color which contrasts nicely with the other greens.  Nobody is big enough to harvest yet, but with the rain and warm weather there should be some big stalks coming.

This is the best looking of all six cabbage.  We have had some issues with I guess cabbage worms.  I have found those little guys down in the leaves of the other plants and when I find them I evict them into the dog area.  The resident Border Collie makes quick work of them and then the Westie rolls on them.  A hardy one/two punch in pest control.

Not only is this picture showing you the fence trellis I finally erected today for these burpless hybrid cucumbers, it also is showing you the pathway that I finally finished between the beds.  Okay, I lie, I have only finished five of the between bed pathways and have another four to go.  Okay, another lie - they are not actually finished until I get the ceder mulch for between the stones and the black plastic to put down over the dirt so the damn weeds will stop making my life a constant weed pulling mess.  But other than all of that backbreaking labor to come - I am finished.

Why is it the onion bed always seems to need some sort of makeover.  It did have a hard start with the whole being dug up by opossums in its first few hours as a bed and I also disturbed it by putting in the hay mulch and just recently again by putting in the soaker hose - but still does it have to look so apathetic?  Lift up your fronds (stalks?). Have some pride or something.  Ahh well - as long as it continues to onion it does not have to look pretty.

Collard greens are sort of the emperors among greens.  Unlike turnip or mustard greens, collards have to have a lot of space between each plant.  They are robust and I am sure if they were not tied down by their roots they would be setting off on all sorts of vegetable adventures involving mountains and grizzly bears.  

This started out as just a photo of a sun blasted squash blossom but on further review it revealed one of the bug friends of the garden.  This is an assassin bug and he or she is on the lookout for other bugs.  What you don't see in this photo is the long saber like snout on this thing that it gleefully stabs into other bugs in order to suck out the sweet, sweet bug nectar.  I am very glad they are only about a half an inch long because I shudder to think of having to live in a world if these were Border Collie sized.

Here is a female bloom of the butternut squash.  It will be a couple of days before we know if this fruit set or not.  Meanwhile the rest of the plant is plotting the eventual take over of the entire garden.  I put in six of these into this bed and they are now moving into both beds next to them, the pathways and also eyeing the dog proof fence.  I think butternut squash may be the Kudzu of the squash kingdom.  I will let you know when it has covered our house.

Okay so these pickling cucumbers are looking a little upset and I must admit it is my fault.  They were perfectly happy and beautiful before I went and put in their soaker hose.  This involved me whipping the vines back and forth like some sort of slow vegetable monster rock dance.  I also put in their trellis fence and insisted they use it.  They haven't gotten over it yet.

Stepping out of the ceder fence garden we are met with the promise of things yet to come.  Here is the fig tree displaying three of what will be about a billion figs this year.  The abundant rain is making the fig growth lush and since we didn't trim the tree last year it means I will be doing advanced gymnastics atop the ladder this year in my quest to get my share of the figs from the birds and squirrels.  Stay tuned.

Another up and comer is the Meyer lemon.  This tree is the one I call Lazarus because we found it languishing in a pot that got buried within an enormous hedge of shrimp plant for about two years and was never watered.  Somehow even though it never grew through the pot it managed to survive.  We now have it in a place of honor in the garden and it has shown its thanks by tripling in size.  I always admire the plants I can't kill.  

It is a slow year in okra land, mostly because I decided to start them from saved seeds from last year.  This is Clemson Spinless and it is doing just fine although most are somewhat worm bitten.   No worries they will shake it off and in a couple of weeks they will put out their adult leaves and grow about six inches a day for a while.  This will soon be an okra forest.  On another note, next to this bed I put in about a half dozen Emerald Velvet okra which are supposed to be great.  I now have three of those plants remaining because something was biting the tops off the plants.  Now due to last years okra problems I vowed to blame the dogs for any okra problems this year.  I have done that officially, but just between you and me, it would be a little hard to get a doggie snout past my okra barriers.  I am almost certain this was the work of some little whiskered pest.  Specifically I am talking rodent especially because next to this bed I sprouted some cantaloupe seeds and each morning their tops had been eaten clean off.  I put the seed tray up on a table and yet again the tops were mowed off.  It seems some little critter was ecstatic that I was providing it with an abundant source of fresh sprouts.

Here is the outlier tomato known as Top gun.  He sounds all tough and stuff and I must admit he is sprouting a lot of fruit and has some rather attractive foliage, but just between you and me he doesn't hold a candle to the Creole twins in the ceder fence garden.  But who knows - this guy is supposed to handle the hot weather too, so he might just win the productivity game yet.

Now this plucky little guy is one of several tomato volunteers that applied to be the tomatoes for the Westie this year.  If it looks like it is behind bars that is because it is.  Although these are for the Westie, we must protect them from Big Foot the Border Collie who can make short work of any plant.

This is a view into the grapefruit garden and this is the single yellow squash plant that decided to come up from seed this year.  I do not have high hopes for it because you can almost hear the rumbling of the squash vine borers as they are about to pounce.  Just as soon as this plant sets fruit and that fruit almost gets ripe they will attack and that will be the end of this plant.  So far other than burying the vines I have found no cost effective organic solution to this pest.

Here we have the garden bed name-sake.  This is the first grapefruit that has set this year.  The tree is covered with fruit so far, but it remains to be seen if it will be able to bring any to ripeness.  The tree is still very young, but it is encouraging to see it trying this year.  Last year I don't even recall if it bloomed.

These are bush beans and they are loving life right now.  This year I gave them circular cages like I made for the okra and they are overjoyed.  

Their joy is my joy as is evidenced by the 15 or so incredible beans in my hand.  I had already picked about a dozen of the bush beans earlier this week which makes this enough for the first bean meal this garden season.  Yum.

Here we are at the strictly ornamental bed with the last of the amaryllis that have bloomed this year.  I am not sure of the type because these bulbs were given to me from someone who forces the blooms each year.  I consider all of the amaryllis to be nomadic because every year I move them thinking that this will be the best place for them.  So that is what I am telling them now -  this will be the best place for them...

This is a scented geranium that I managed to grow from cutting taken from one of the wildly abundant tribe growing in the ornamental garden.  These were the only successful ones I managed to grow from about a dozen clippings.  They probably all would have made it if I had managed to water them more.  They also had to survive a couple of freezes.  You need to be tough if you are going to survive in my potted plant area.

Here is a pink Pintas that managed to survive last years horrific drought.  I really love it when a plant not only survives natural disaster but also my on again, off again desire to water it. 

And last but not least, another volunteer, this time a weed.  This is a wild morning glory along with  sorrelvine and snailseed.  What is not to love about April.  Even the weeds try harder.

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