Monday, July 11, 2016

Good News and Bad News

In the spirit of optimism, I will start with the good news.  The winter squash is going really well.  Every morning, when I go out to check on the garden, there are so many more flowers than before, and they all have bees in them, busily pollinating.  As a result, both kinds of winter squash are full of squashes in all sizes.

Spaghetti Squash
 This is the biggest of the squashes so far.  This will certainly be ready before September!

Spaghetti Squash

The spaghetti squash plants are covered with these tiny squashes!  Good thing they store well.

Butternut squash
 Even the butternut squash is covered with tiny fruit.  And even this tiny, they already look like butternut squash!  Good thing they store well also.

Spaghetti Squash
 This afternoon, I found this guy growing inside the garden...I swear he wasn't there yesterday!

On the bad news side of things is the zucchini.  Most all of the leaves have dried up and turned brown.  Most of the flowers are not pollinating - I'm not sure if I have all male or all female flowers, but I only had 1 small zucchini, which has since rotted.  I have pulled off most of the bad leaves and treated the rest with Neems, so maybe they can come back.  I'm going to give them a week or 2, but I'm not holding out much hope.

Sick Zucchinis

I do have quite a few Brandywine tomatoes that are looking good so far.

Brandywine Tomatoes

And a lot of yellow grape tomatoes

Grape Tomatoes

And a final bit of good news....beans!  Tonight's dinner will include fresh beans from the garden.
Green Beans

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Amazingly, it is July already.  This is coming into the time where I begin to lose control of the garden.  It's usually very hot and humid so I am less likely to go out to spend much time weeding.  And, of course, Oracle business picks up, trips begin to happen, life in general begins to happen.

This year, I am looking pretty good so far.


I went away for a 3 day trip the end of June - expecting the worst when I got back - but things were doing really well.  The cucumbers and zucchini had really taken off, but were staying somewhat contained.  Not much need to weed in that box now, about all that can survive is the cukes and zukes!

Cukes and Zukes
 Notice the ground around the boxes is relatively weed free. This is where the real progress is evident.  The garden is still pretty neat and tidy, only things growing that I want to grow.  The secret has been vinegar, believe it or not.  I found on the internet - keeper of all the knowledge, true and untrue - that spraying weeds with a mixture of white vinegar and salt, with a little dish soap to make it stick will kill the weeds.  And it is more natural and cheaper than Roundup.

I even have about a dozen of these cute little tiny cucumbers starting.  I am expecting quite a lot of cucumbers and have been stalking Pinterest for recipes for salads and pickles.  I expect to be visiting family bearing gifts!!!
Baby cucumbers
 I also have some tiny beans starting.  I only have 3 bean bushes so I really don't think I will get very many, maybe just enough for a meal of 2.

Baby beans

This looks like an interesting battle shaping up:  the mint verses the spaghetti squash. Either way, I think I win.

Mint vs. squash

When I planted the spaghetti squash, I expected it to climb the back fence, which it has, a little.  But mostly, it began to escape out into the garden and the yard.  It has been going crazy.  So this week, Bill helped me put of a fence for it to climb on, just to contain it a bit.

Squash fence

Seems that the plant likes the fence because shortly after that, it began blooming.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pea-picking time

It must be time to starting picking these sugar snap peas...if for no reason other than they are now escaping from the garden!

Sugar Snap Peas
Somewhere inside all those vines is a pea tower, with the strings for the peas to grow up. When I first planted them, I was afraid of the deer or the bunnies coming along and snacking on the very tender pea shoots, so I put fencing around them to give them a change to grow. As they grew, some of the peas actually started climbing on the fence instead so I never took it down.  I think the fence was holding them up towards the end.

Wednesday, I picked my first batch to have for dinner.

First picking of peas

There were more that were ready to pick but I left them for another day to keep fresh.  I will probably only be able to do that for another couple of days though, I don't want them to get past their prime.

Anyway, my favorite way to eat sugar snap peas, other than raw right off the plant, is very lightly stir fried.  So for Wednesday's dinner, I had some carrots, red onions, asparagus from my farmers market, and baby yellow squash, also from my farmers market.  I also had a little broccoli and some sirloin steak, but less colorful so didn't make the picture!

Stir-fry veggies

For the stir fry sauce, I used the Pioneer Woman's recipe for stir-fried veggies:

It was pretty tasty.  It also helped me figure out how to scale this down to be just enough for 2 people - this was actually enough for 3 people since I put it over rice..

Stir fry

Last night, since I was by myself for dinner, I decide to stir fry some more peas.  For this one, I didn't use a recipe.  I just stir fried some peas and shrimp with garlic and tossed it over home made lemon pepper pasta that I got from the Wednesday farmers market.  A sprinkle of parm on top and this was amazing!!!

And since I cooked up the whole pound of pasta, I might even do this again tonight!

Shrimp and Sugar Snap Pea Pasta Stir-fry

Sunday, June 5, 2016

And the Battle begins

Sometimes having a garden seems like a season-long battle. Battle against weeds, battle against animals, battle for my time....

I have taken steps to win the battle for my time but the weeds and the animals....well, they are quite persistent.  This morning, when I made my usual visit to the garden, I discovered this:

First Casualty

I'm not sure what did this, or even how it was done. I would think if it was a bunny, he would have nibbled on the little seedling.  It almost looks like something was passing through and stepped on it.  Or, even more worrisome, a mole who might have eaten just the root.

I do have some repellent spray that I bought this year so once today's rain is over, I will try treating them.  For now, I put a cage over 3 of the other zucchini's to try to identify if the attack came from above or below.

And, of course, since it is so early in the season, and I have many seeds left over, I replanted in this spot.  You can never have too much zucchini...oh wait, maybe you can...

On a better note, I am thinking that in a day or 2, I will be ready to start to pick my sugar snap peas. I planted these guys on March 22 and expected to be harvesting a week or so ago.  But we had such a cold and wet spring, they sat in the ground for quite some time...little tiny sprouts that refused to do much of anything.  They are a couple of weeks behind, but welcome nonetheless!!

Sugar Snap Peas

Finally, and somewhat surprisingly, 9 of my butternut squash seeds have already sprouted.  Most of the squashes, both summer and winter, have already started with their first set of real leaves as well.  I guess the really hot weather last week did a good job of warming the soil, and the last few days of spotty rain added the needed moisture.  It is amazing to me the changes I can see each day.

Now to stand guard over all these new plants.

Butternut Squash

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Garden 2016

The last time I posted to this blog was in 2010.  Yep, 6 full years ago.  So, clearly I don't really have time to blog, or enough desire, or who knows what else.  So, why start again now?

The primary reason is really to allow my family to check on the status of my garden this year.  Now, I don't actually think anyone cares about it except me.  In fact, I think everyone would be quite happy with a weekly or biweekly status that said things were growing fine.  However, in the rare event that anyone develops a strong desire to see just what IS growing in Lucketts - and to keep me from filling up email boxes in several states with pictures - I thought I would just post pictures here.

A secondary reason, surprisingly, was that when I resurrected this blog, I found that I actually enjoyed looking back on my garden attempts of the past.  So even if no one else looks at it, I suspect I will get enjoyment in October looking back on how the garden progressed this year.

And finally, the main reason - although not the only reason -  my gardening efforts failed in years past was the presence of an extremely all-consuming job.  That job has moved to the back seat in 2016 making me optimistic about the long term prospects of this garden!

So, let's get started.

As of Memorial Day 2016, all the beds had been cleared and planted.  This week, the very beginning of June, everything except the butternut squash has sprouted.

Garden 2016

This is my herb bed.  All of these plants came as seedlings.  I have parsley, cilantro, basil, chives, rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme.  Pretty much all the herbs I usually cook with.

Herb bed

The tomato cages have cucumbers planted on all 4 sides.  I am going to try to grow them up the cages to save garden space.  The other half of the bed has zucchini.  I know, I know, 5 zucchini plants is too many and I will be drowning in zucchini....but I do have my handy dandy spiralizer and last year we ate A LOT of zucchini.  And I can always make and freeze zucchini bread if I have to.

Cukes and Zukes

This bed has 2 cherry tomatoes and one brandwine tomato plant, also seedlings.  There is one jalapeno plant and one poblano plant.  Also, a random, last minute spontaneous purchase - 3 green bean plants.  Not sure if 3 plants will provide enough beans to make it worth it but they seem really happy in this spot!
Tomatoes, peppers and beans

And finally, this bed has spaghetti squash.  All together is has 16 plants (from seed).  That does seem like a lot but they can be stored in the basement for quite a while - in fact, long enough for me to forget that they are there!  And spaghetti squash is one of our favorite, very quick dinners.
Spaghetti squash
There are 2 more packs of seeds coming in the mail, but for now, the garden is off to a good start!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Act of Faith

Another March weekend began without rain! This was a colder weekend than last, but Saturday was very sunny and dry, and I did have more pea seeds to plant, so I braved the cool temperatures and spent the afternoon cleaning out 2 more boxes. Again, I had help. Bill came out and re-strung the string on the second pea pole, and Shelby came out and laid wherever I was trying to dig. While I strive to aerate the soil, he works at compacting it. He' s not quite the gardener that Jackson was, but he does try! We managed to get 2 more beds cleaned out and re-enforced with leaf mold compost and manure compost. I finished planting the remaining spinach in the first box, which I hope will give me spinach from the end of April until the end of May. I also planted the second half of the Sugar Snap peas in the second box. Around the second planting of peas, I planted 2 varieties of Mesclun - Sweet Salad Mix and Early mix. I should be able to start harvesting some salad greens by the end of April. Finally, because I was able to clear the third box on Saturday, I planted the Sugar Bon Snap peas on Sunday. These are bush peas, growing only to about 18-24 inches so I planted them thickly so they would support themselves as they grow. As I was cleaning up and preparing to come inside this morning, it occurred to me that this was really an act of faith. I mean, it was SO COLD this morning, and damp - so much rain in the air - this can't possibly be the appropriate time to plant anything. And none of the seeds I planted last week have even peeked their little heads up yet...clearly it is just too cold....and yet, I still planted all my spring seeds. Yep, an act of faith!

I love the early spring. Although most of the landscape still looks brown and dead, and the temperatures can still be so very cold, there are signs that yet another spring is just around the corner. Each year, the Bleeding Hearts come back bigger and bigger. These guys were planted within the first year or 2 that we lived here, and they have been moved all around the yard, but every season, without fail, they show up.

Another of my favorite early spring surprises are the Helebores. This year, I was worried that the heavy winter snows had been too much for them. They usually begin to bloom in February, and this year, when I went to look for them, there was no sign of life. But here we are in March and suddenly, they are back and in full bloom.

An act of faith...maybe it is time to have planted the peas!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

And She Tries Again!!

Saturday was the first day of spring, and what better way to celebrate it than...well, actually, I celebrated it by going into the city for a bourbon tasting. But Sunday is the second day of spring, and what better way to celebrate it than planting 2 rows of spinach and half a package of sugar snap peas.

One of my goals for this year was to get the garden started earlier than usual so that I might actually have 3 seasons of harvests. Years ago, when I first came upon the book, Crockett's Victory Garden, I was inspired by Jim Crockett's description of going out into the garden on a cold, damp March day and planting peas. Most years, I plant Sugar Snap peas, rather than the English peas he planted, but I always wanted to find myself doing it in March. And it always seemed to be at least April before I managed to do it. One reason for this is my inability to 'put the garden to bed for the winter'. By the end of every growing season, the garden is full of wild, out-of-control tomato plants, and leggy squash plants and weeds. It's not that I don't know what to do. I am aware that sometime in September or early October, I should go out there, pull off all tomatoes even though they are green, and pull up the plants. And I LIKE green tomatoes, so it should not be a problem. But it always seems that if I just leave them a little longer, I will have just a few more tasty red tomatoes. That never happens.

This year was no different, I never put the garden to bed for the winter. What was different, though, is that this year, on the second day of spring, I went outside and pulled up all the dead plants and weeds in just one growing box. And I had help. Bill came out and pulled and dug, and Shelby came out and dug and rolled. In about 2 hours, we had cleaned out one box, and cut down all the nasty, thorny bushes that were trying to grow, and that, by late April and early May, would begin to shade the garden and become unruly. Then we drove down to Home Depot and bought 4 bags of compost to enrich and replace some of the soil. And, because of the miracle of Daylight's Savings, it was still light so I planted half a bag of Sugar Snap Peas that may be ready to pick by the last couple of days of May. Not only will I have snap peas sooner that usual, but this means I will be able to harvest them, pull up the spent bean plants, and actually put in tomato seedlings or maybe the cute little Ronde de Nice heirloom zucchini squashes. It also means I have time to put in another planting of peas next weekend so that the harvest is staggered. Of course, if my sister gets wind of this, I won't need a staggered harvest.

I also planted 2 rows of spinach. The spinach benefits from an early planting. Often, because I plant it later in the spring, I am only able to harvest for a short time and then the weather gets too hot and it bolts. These 2 rows should be ready to harvest for baby spinach for salads by the end of April, giving me a month and a half for harvest.

The weather for the beginning of the coming week is rainy and cool, perfect for the newly planted seeds. Hopefully, there will be some dry days in the middle of the week so I can prep another box. But for now, I am happy, I finally got the season started in March!