Strawberries from the Garden

Strawberries from the Garden

Jun 14, 2012

Garden Progress as of June 14, 2012

Cherokee Purple Tomato
Carrots and Radishes Under
Tomato Plants

We have had a good amount of rain and the garden is growing quite rapidly at the moment. I went out again today and tied tomatoes to their stakes. They seem to have grown another 4-6 inches in a very short amount of time. Judging by the number of blooms on the tomato plants, I think we will have a pretty good crop of tomatoes this year. 
As I look around the garden, it seems that everything is actually doing pretty well right now. All of the berries are growing well and the warm weather crops such as the beans, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and squash are all starting to really show substantial growth and they are all producing a good amount of flowers. At this rate, we should have a pretty good harvest this summer.
Blush of Color (Blueberries)


Good Neighbors; Tomato,
Marigolds, Radishes, and

First Sign of Zucchini

The Beauty of Companion Gardening
Lilies, Glads, Cabbage

The Last of the Sweet Peas

New Blooms in the
Perennial Bed

Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans

Sugar Baby Watermelon

Squash Neighborhood

Blue Berries

Red Raspberries
Swiss Chard

Jun 9, 2012

Garlic Scapes

Curled Garlic Scape
Don't forget to cut your garlic scapes from your garlic to increase the amount of energy directed to the garlic bulb, which will give you larger bulbs to harvest. The garlic scapes are great to use in stir fry recipes, pasta recipes, and you might even like them as a new way to make pesto. There are a lot of recipes online if you search for garlic scape recipes.

When you harvest the garlic scapes, remember, the best, more tender scapes are the ones that are smaller and more curled. As they mature, they grow larger, a little tougher, and they begin to straighten out. 
Take a walk through your garden, you might find a new ingredient to try in one of your favorite recipes!

Jun 5, 2012

Garden Progress As of June 5, 2012

Red Raspberries
Blue Berries
The garden is growing full speed at this point! I love walking through the garden and seeing all of the different veggies and berries at different stages. Everything is growing and everything is moving ahead at it's own pace which makes for great variety in meals this time of year.

Berries are at various stages right now. We have been picking strawberries for several weeks now and we have enjoyed eating them with shortcake and ice cream, but I think my favorite way to enjoy them is right out of the garden. It's really hard to eat strawberries from the grocery store once you grow your own! They are worth the space and the effort.

Black Berries
Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans

Swiss Chard under Bean Teepee
 Right now, the red raspberries are just starting to ripen. You can pick one or two here and there, not by the quart yet. In about a week or week and a half, I'll be freezing them and making jam.

The blue berries are starting to show hints of blue, but it will be about a month yet before they are ready. The black berries are new for me this year. I am very excited to see how well they are doing. Last year we accidentally lost some of the plants to the weed eater, but I think they have recovered nicely. I'm not sure how long they will take to ripen. I have really enjoyed them so far due to their large blossoms. They are quite striking.

Weather has been tricky for lettuce and such, I did have to pull some that had bolted and was starting to taste a little bitter. I should have put the shade cloth on, but I lost track of time. I do have some young seedlings of lettuce nestled here and there that are starting to look good. There is Swiss Chard planted beneath one of my teepees that I use for pole beans. It will last really well in the shade of the beans.

I have three Black Krim pole tomatoes planted this year. I started them from seed indoors and then transplanted them to the garden. I am very curious to see how they grow. I usually have tomatoes that reach 6-8 ft anyway, so I am almost afraid to see how tall an actual pole tomato may grow. This could be quite a site to see!
Black Krim Pole Tomato

Cherokee and San Marzano Tomatoes

Garden Progress as of June 5th
 My main tomato bed has two of my favorites. I planted Cherokee purple and San Marzano. Both of these tomatoes are quite meaty and a delight in any recipe. I mainly use the San Marzano for sauce and salsa. The Cherokee is fantastic  on a sandwich or a salad. One of my favorite ways to prepare the Cherokee tomatoes is to dice it up with garlic, olive oil, and   basil and can it. It makes a great 'fresh tasting' sauce to grab off of the shelf in the winter. It's a favorite!
Perennial Garden at Corner of Garden

As I look across the garden and start to look at the progress of the garden, I think that it is in pretty good shape this year. I still have the busiest time yet to come, but it looks like it is coming a long nicely.

I think the use of companion gardening, while may be confusing for some to look at and try to decipher, is what makes the difference between a small garden in a small space and a bountiful garden in a small space! I don't have a large backyard space for growing a garden, but with the use of interplanting, companion gardening, and successive plantings, I am able to get a fairly large harvest.

The perennial garden at the corner of the garden is more than just a pretty corner. Due to the types of plants that I keep in this garden, it is a great destination for beneficial insects and pollinators. This little addition is kind of my own insurance plan for good pollination in the garden. The pollinators love to flit through the garden as they travel to and from the perennial garden which keeps everything producing nicely.

I also interplant flowers and herbs throughout the garden to attract beneficial insects and to confuse harmful insects. Marigolds are a great way of keeping harmful insects from damaging your veggies. I get the added bonus of enjoying a garden that is not only bountiful, but beautiful.

May 6, 2012

Spring Companions

Cauliflower, Marigolds, and Radishes

Lovage, Mustard, Gourmet Mix, Cabbage

Onions, Radishes, Marigolds, Cole Crops

Red Leaf Lettuce, Cabbage, and Butter Crunch

Garlic Chives, Cauliflower, Celery, Lettuce
The advantages of companion gardening comes to light every spring. As the cole crops and lettuces begin to climb up to their harvesting size, the marigolds, radishes, and onions are in full protection mode! No, they don't actually defend the tender leaves of your veggies. It's actually believed that they confuse insects with their wonderful fragrances which keeps their leaves hole-free! This is where careful planning begins to pay off. And then there's the artist in me that just appreciates a pretty vegetable garden!

Apr 29, 2012

Leaves of April

This is when gardening starts to really pay off! You've been nursing all of these little seedlings and plants for weeks and constantly watching the weather to make sure they are protected from frost on cold nights. So here it is, the end of April and as I look out across the raised beds where I plant roots and greens I see the many leaves of April.
The leaves of the mixed greens, spinach, mustard, butter crunch, red sails, red salad bowl, romaine, and swiss chard. The colors and textures are amazing and I love seeing the light through the leaves. This is the time of year when I start to plan our meals around what is growing and ready to harvest in the garden. It looks like for this first week of May it's going to be lots of wonderful salad!

Mar 20, 2012

Go with the flow! (but use frost cloth!)

 So, I don't know what the weather has been like for you in your part of the world. But I know that here in Owings Mills, just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, it has been unseasonably warm for weeks. I can't get over how it seems to be late spring already. We have had several 80 degree days, and many days are in the mid to upper 70's with lows at night only in the 50's. This is crazy and it's really messing with my time table for starting seeds. 

This weekend I decided to just go with the flow because at this point my seeds will never be plant ready for the garden before it's bolting weather. So, I will save my seed planting of cole crops for the fall harvest. With that said, I went to my favorite garden center in Westminster, Maryland. (Bowman's) I went ahead and bought my cole crops and a few lettuce plants to get things started.

Today, I had an opportunity after work to plant the first Cabbage Neighborhood which at this point is a combination of cabbage, lettuce, and greens. I will be interplanting the other companions after I see which way the weather is going to go. I'll probably get some of the root veggies interplanted this weekend.

So, it was 78 degrees today and I was able to get the first bed of the garden ready. But with a couple of years experience, I also know to expect the unexpected. I used my fiberglass rods to create my hoops and then covered the bed with frost cloth that is anchored with lawn staples.

I'm going with the great weather and getting things rolling- but I'm prepared for what we sometimes call the 'broccoli snow'.  You never know . . . 

Feb 19, 2012

First Seedlings of 2012

First Seedlings
I planted my seedlings on the 12th and one week later, I already have seedlings coming up in the trays that I used the seed heat mats. I think I may have to look into purchasing a couple more. Right now, I just rotated trays so that the ones that have not sprouted yet are now on a heat mat.

As the seedlings grow, I will slowly lift the lights higher so that the lights are always about 2 or 3 inches above them. This will help to keep them from getting too tall, too quick and they will develop into stronger plants.

Light/Hood Over Seed Tray

Right now, it is the cabbages and Pak Choy that have started to germinate and produce seedlings. I have one Cherokee Purple Tomato seedling at this point. The tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers usually take a little longer to germinate and grow into seedlings. I have the tomatoes on a heat mat, I'm curious to see what kind of difference that makes.
Cabbage Seedlings
I got my heat mats a couple of months ago from Amazon for only about $12.99. It seems now I can only find them for about 14.99. (I knew I should have bought more than 2!) Right now, I'm content moving them around.

The lights that I use are for plants and I have them in hoods that you would normally place over the top of an aquarium. My husband helped me to figure out a way to attach them with wing nuts, washers, and small metal brackets. This allows me to move them up and down as needed.

I hope to plant the rest of my seeds I need right now either later today or tomorrow. If I plant a little each week, the rotation of plants will be ready and healthy by the time it is time for outdoor planting. You have to remember to allow time for hardening off your plants. If you don't do it slowly, you will lose plants and/or set back some of your plants. I always plant a few more than I need. You never know when there is going to be a mishap and it's nice to have a few extra to share with family and friends. I never have trouble finding someone to take extra tomato, eggplant, or pepper plants!

Feb 12, 2012

Seed Starting Has Begun!

Today is the day I finally started my garden for 2012. I pulled out the seed packets, seed starting mix, my garden notebook, and all of the odds and ends that tend to make seed starting a little easier.

I am most concerned about getting my seeds started for plants that perform better if they have some size to them when set out into the garden. So, I focused first on my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. In looking at my seeds, I realized there are a few that I never got around to ordering that I need to get within the next week or so.

I have Early Italian Purple Garlic on order that will ship late March. By that time, I may be able to start some of my cole crops outside or in the cold frame. Who knows with how the weather has been this year!

In terms of starting seeds, it is well worth the investment! Once you have your basic set-up, trays with light set-up, it is really not too expensive. I find that I like being able to have more control over the varieties of vegetables that I plant in my garden. Starting my own seeds allows me to have that control. Using seeds also allows you to plant more heirloom plants which is more economical. One, cheaper than buying plants and two, you can save seeds from year to year.
My seed starting for today consisted of the following;
  • Golden California Wonder Pepper
  • Fish Pepper
  • Pole, Black Krim Tomato
  • Black Krim Tomato
  • San Marzano Tomato
  • Cherokee Purple Tomato
  • Long Purple Eggplant
  • Rosa Bianca Eggplant
  • Black Beauty Eggplant
  • Genovese Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Italian Red of Florence Bunching Scallion
  • Paris Island Romaine
  • Bright Lights Swiss Chard
  • Extra Dwarf Pak Choy
  • Brunswick Cabbage
  • Tango Green Celery
  • Large Bottle Mix Gourd
I have a new cat this year, Pica,  he's only 6 months old and boy has he been curious about what I am doing with the seed trays! He has discovered my plant stand is a great place to hang out. Now the fun begins! Keeping the kitty out of the seed trays!

Jan 9, 2012

A New Year= A New Garden!

 This is the view I am looking forward to in the months ahead. Early spring, many shades of green, a lot of freshly cultivated dirt, an assortment of seeds planted in the garden, a few seedlings reaching for the sky, and visions of fresh produce by the basketful! 

Right now, it's unseasonably warm and I'm thinking I should of planted something to take advantage of this crazy weather. But I know that had I planted something, the weather would not be favorable and I'd wish I hadn't planted. 

So, it's almost time to start my seeds inside and I can hardly wait. It's been a crazy year for me (with my day job) and I am looking forward to a new year in the garden. It's funny how each year you start everything all over again, and I don't mind at all. I like rotating which beds I plant my different neighborhoods of crops and I like experimenting with new seeds and plants as well as trying different companions within the beds.

It's January 9, 2012, and I am starting to plan my best garden yet!