30 June 2010


You can see why I want more Cosmos in the garden. The flowers are visited all the time by fat bees
and delicate butterflies.


The Pea plants are starting to look awful, dried up and shabby. I picked another bunch today, though, so keeping them on a bit longer.
Still not enough ever for cooking, just for fresh snacks. I always make the mistake of picking some that aren't quite ready yet.
Picked the first good bunch of Green Beans today!
All the newer ones I planted in the cauliflower space are coming up.
Last time we ate Chard I saved the stems
and found a recipe them. It's pretty simple. First you clean and cut the stems, then boil lightly in salted water for five minutes
then arrange in a baking dish, spray w/olive oil, sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan and bake at 400 for 20 min. It turned out yummy! My husb was impressed. He said "I didn't know chard could be so versatile."
Ate another bunch of Beets yesterday too, but I've taken enough pics of those. The plot is almost done, only about a dozen left, and then I'll be replanting it for fall beets.

29 June 2010

plant survey

Not much to do outside today but yank a few weeds, so I walked around admiring the plants and taking pictures. My Pumpkins are doing fabulous. I've never seen such huge leaves before.
They seem to like their grass-clipping mulch. Here's the other side. There's lots of little flower buds and reaching tendrils inside there, under the leaves. I'm waiting for them to start crawling out all over the place!
I've just sown some Sunflower and Cosmos seed in a row behind the pumpkins. It might be too late for them to grow and flower, but I want to try. On the side of the driveway, the Tithonia sunflowers I grew are getting bigger, but they don't look very nice. The leaves have uneven edges, and they look like nothing more than overgrown weeds.
 The Zucchinis look lovely and are making lots of flowers. I'm satisfied I've beaten the cucumber beetles this year, but there are no fruit forming yet. The flowers just dry up and fall off.
After looking at some photos of Zucchini flowers, then at my own again, it looks like all the flowers are male so far. But- I didn't know this before- most Zucchinis grow both male and female flowers on the same plant. They sometimes make male flowers first to produce pollen, the the female flowers come soon after. There are lots more flower buds on the plants, so I'm still hoping for Zucchini!
 My Pepper plants are nice and big, too. I'm amazed how large they grew from the tiny plants I set out weeks ago. More small white flowers, and the first tiny nubbin of a fruit is forming.

new bed

Made a new garden bed by covering a patch with garbage bags (full of the dead leaves) for a few weeks so it would smother the grass and weeds. Works very well, if unsightly for a while! After a heavy rain, it was easy to pull up the remaining roots from some vine that was in there. I raked up all the litter then planted in the little Watermelons, which had crowded up their pots.
One already has a small flower.


Had a thundershower yesterday, with heavy rain I delight in (won't have to water the garden for at least two days!). It flattened some of my Gladiolas and instead of staking them up again I just cut the flower stalks and brought inside. I love the brilliant, bold color.

28 June 2010


I really want more flowers outside, so even though it's late in the season I planted more trays of Marigolds and Cosmos. I also figured I should start the fall Broccoli and Cauliflower now, as it should go outside end of august, and the ones I did for spring grew in pots two months before going in the ground.
So today was a sowing day. I also sorted my seed packets, into ones that will wait for next summer, ones that I'll plant for fall a little later or directly in the ground, and the ones I'm starting now.
 I keep seeds in recycled glass jars with lids, the packets taped shut, and a bit of dry (clean!) kitty litter on the bottom to absorb moisture. For my own seed I just fold a piece of clean white paper into a small envelope, label it, fold and tape it shut. It seems to work pretty well- most of my seeds have germinated, both those I saved off my own plants and those leftover from last year's bought packets. This year I only had to buy new a third of the seed I used. So I didn't spend nearly as much money on seed, but what I did spend more on was potting soil! I started a lot more stuff indoors this year, and I think it helped- I got better plants, some of which I wasn't able to grow at all before (like the corn). But cost of soil was more. I should buy in bulk next time, ha.


Since we have such an abundance of Chard I've been finding new recipes to try with it. Last night I cooked a swiss chard frittata- a kind of italian omelet that's cooked slowly at a low temperature (in this case, in the oven) without folding.
This one is made with eggs, sausage, onions, feta cheese, a bit of cream and of course, swiss chard. Lots! I cut the recipe in half (which ended up making plenty for us) and still had to cut three entire plants for enough chard.

It was a hit! Everyone found it delicious. One of the steps is to cook the chard in hot water for two minutes, and it smelled just like spinach. I wonder if I could use chard in any recipe that calls for spinach? And when we ate the frittata, my husband said Hey, I could put the chard in omelets! He hadn't realized it could have that kind of flavor before. My daughter said "Mommy, you should grow two rows of chard next year, so we can eat this all the time!"

27 June 2010


New stuff to get happy about in the garden. One of my Bell Pepper plants has its first flower. The really exciting thing about this is it's one of the plants I grew from a seed out of a grocery-store pepper. Still not sure if it will make fruit, but a flower is a promising sign!
And we've begun picking Green Beans. Not many yet but Isa couldn't wait so she'll get to eat some with her dinner.

lettuce seed

A few days ago one of my Lettuce towers started "making fuzzies". Some of the tiny yellow flowers had turned into parachutes (I like what my daughter calls them, "flower poofies"). I don't need many and don't want lettuce seed all over the garden so I cut off the ones that had formed full open parachutes, into a bowl. After taking about a dozen little poufs, I chopped the rest of the plant down, even though it could still give me ten times more flower heads. I don't need that many! It's a messy job, as the plant has sticky white sap after bolting. So I let the pieces sit for a few days to dry out, as I don't want my fingers (or the seeds) all sticky while separating them!

After they've dried a few days, here's how I separate the seed out. It's quite simple.
  I pinch each fuzzy parachute part between the tips of my fingers:
Then it's easy to pull off the dried flower part and brush the seeds off the fuzzies.
Out of fifteen poufs I think I got over a hundred seeds (that little pile has about ten).
These will be all my Lettuce seed for next year's planting, both spring and fall. I want a mix of seed from several different plants, so even though I already have plenty, I'll probably dry and harvest a few more poufs off the other Simpson plants before cutting them down. The Bibb are flowering now; they'll be next!

tomato rot

I have lots of green Tomatoes on the vine, but none are turning rosy yet. Yesterday while working at the base of the plants weeding, glanced up and saw that the bottoms of some heirlooms looked like this.
Ugh! I did some sleuthing online (love the internet!) and found it's most likely blossom end rot. Caused by lack of calcium. Exacerbated by not enough water. It is really hot, but I've been giving them a good drink every other day, and the foliage looks fine so I thought the plants were okay.

Only one plant really seems to be affected, it's one of the grown-from-seed ones that didn't get fed crushed eggshells yet (every time I have a bowl of eggshells ready I give it to one tomato plant). So today I pulled aside the mulch/compost and gave all the tomatoes some lime, what few eggshells I had, and a handful of cornmeal for good measure (I read that is good against the blight). Then put the mulch back and watered well. Don't know if any of it will help, but we'll see.

26 June 2010


Composted all my Cauliflower plants today. It's way too hot for them now. They used to be on the left, here.
I've planted in their space more Green Beans. Left the Broccoli in, there at center, as I still think I might get a few more heads- but that's probably wishful thinking. On the far right are the Peas, still providing fresh kid snacks!
 and the tall plants through the back with tiny white flowers are the Cilantro. Some have started to make seed.

Acted drastically on my Rhubarb patch. First I took out all the browned and damaged leaves, being careful to pull and twist them from the base, not cut- any stump of stem left in could rot to the crown. Then I gathered up all the leaf litter and mulch, to take a closer look at the plants.
They look so much better already, all cleaned up! But I'm afraid too many stalks have been removed- each plant lost at least one, the two on right three or four. And on closer inspection, it looks like the center has rotted out of this one.
I'm afraid it's going to die, or at least not revive after winter. I think I planted them too low in the ground, so the crowns aren't staying dry enough. After giving them a feeding of compost, I watered carefully, pouring it on slow around on the soil a distance away from the center. But the water all ran in and collected at the crowns. So maybe my problem is rotted crowns. I don't know if I can save them. It would probably shock them too much to dig up and move, now in the heat of summer.

Last night I put out beer traps near all the plants that have holes eaten in them. I was surprised to find this morning that I hadn't caught a single slug, but lots of little tiny, round brown bugs
I tried to take a picture but they're so small its very hard. I don't know what they are or if they're what's eating my plants. They were on the Rhubarb, Green Beans and Swiss Chard. I wonder if they're everywhere.

25 June 2010


Pulled a bunch of the little stumpy carrots today, purposefully going around the edge of the plot to get all the short ones against the wall. I figured they'd be perfect to cook in a stew or with a roast, being already the right size and shape- just require a little scrubbing, and then trim the top and bottom off. These ones all went alongside a roast today.
Only one of the Carrots turned out straight; I scrubbed that one and gave it to Isa to snack on. She said it was the yummiest, "garden-sweet!" So I hope all the stumpies taste good tonight, as well.

sun tea

Made a batch of basil sun tea, a simple concoction I got out of this book. All you do is pick a handful of basil, slightly crush the leaves and stems, stuff it in a jar of water, and let sit in the sun for a day or two. (I couldn't find the lid that fit this jar, that's why it has a cap of foil).
Then strain out the foliage, mix in a drop of liquid soap, and spray on the plants (in the morning). I sprayed it on my zucchini, pumpkin, cantaloupe and cucumber plants today, then also the green beans and bell peppers for good measure. Instantly gratified to see all kinds of small winged critters leap up and fly away- including teensy weensy baby grasshoppers which I hadn't noticed before (but I'm sure are guilty for some damage!)

24 June 2010


My corn is growing and growing! I fed it some compost today, then topped that off with a mulch of grass clippings.
Some of the larger plants have this tuft growing in the middle, which I think will form the ear or tassel.


Pulled another handful of Beets today, and a dozen Carrots. Again, the ones from the edges, near the little brickwall, were stumpy and forked
and the ones from the middle nice and straight.
 Maybe next year I'll plant something else around the edge, and keep the carrots to the center where they seem to grow better.

23 June 2010

sick rhubarb?

Something is wrong with my Rhubarb! It's fantastically huge (the fence behind is four feet tall), but starting to look sad.
The lower leaves are turning yellow and brown, lower foliage has holes, and some have these ugly spots, too.
I check throughout the day and in the middle of the night by flashlight, but find no bugs on it except a few fireflies and earwigs. Do earwigs eat rhubarb? Are my plants just undernourished? Does it need more compost? more sun? I don't know if I should remove the damaged leaves, I'm afraid to take any off and weaken the plants.

This one looks like I planted the crown too deep; the lower leaves always end up lying on the ground:
Rhubarb, as far as I know, doesn't have many pests or diseases, so what's wrong with mine? Help!

new and strange

There are new flowers growing in my yard. I think they're gladiolas. These are plants that come up year after year, someone planted them here before we owned the house. In the front is a lovely pink spray
and in the back a red one so brilliant it looks unreal.
And I found a very strange, decorative insect on the window outside. I've never seen such crazy colors on a bug- it makes me think of a snake, for some reason. Is it a nymph of some kind?
what is this bug??


The small Garlics I dug up two weeks ago and left hanging in my mudroom, their stalks/leaves are finally all yellowed and brittle. Today I took them down to brush the loose, dry soil off and see how they fared. A few were too soft and damp- obviously they didn't cure. Tossed those. Some when I brushed the dirt off, the head fell apart, so I peeled those to go in the fridge jar and use soon. (A lot of them were teensy little cloves! you can see here where they fell down to the bottom of the jar).
So of those I only ended up with four small heads that were dry enough to keep well. I've put them up in the hanging mesh basket to wait their cooking time.
 Last week I noticed that some of my big Garlic plants were falling over.
That's a good sign they're ready to harvest. I looked up the weather, and waited for the end of a dry spell- I think part of the reason some of mine didn't cure properly last year was I dug them up without noting if they'd stayed dry in the ground long enough.

Tomorrow we might get rain again, so today I dug them up! From the side with the raised bed, where I planted garlics last fall, I got eight nice big ones. They look so lovely! and already nearly dry from being days without watering or rain.
From the other side of the garden, where I impulsively planted cloves last summer against the fence, I dug up five nice fat ones and a bunch of small bulbs (some with those strange extra cloves growing a bit up the stem).
Temporarily they're all laying out now on the slats of our lawn chairs, in the shade. I'm going to hang them in my shed to cure this year. I didn't get nearly as many garlics as last year, but that's okay because we still have plenty of last year's hanging in the kitchen! I think I did the same with mulching, composting and watering- what made this year's harvest better was that I only had planted the largest cloves, and let them dry out a week in the ground before digging them up.

The three I planted a bit late from sprouting cloves, are the only ones left in the garden now. I'll probably dig them up at the end of summer, hopefully it won't be too damp.