Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garden state...update


My garden is growing! I haven't been very good at consistently posting blogs in general and I've been really bad at posting about how the garden is growing since I planted it (and blogged about it) in April. But, rest assurred, it's been growing...well, like a weed...or a shrub. Anyhow, it's growing.

And so has my knowledge of growing and maintaining things. Some pretty amazing and well-seasoned gardening friends have poured their expertise and experience into me and thus, I feel pretty confident about what I'm doing..or at the very least, I have people to turn to should I run into any trouble.

 As a refresher, this is what my garden looked like on planting day 4/6.

 And here's what it looked like on 5/21.

 And here's what it looks like today, 6/11.

 Isn't it crazy how much it's all grown?  This last week was the beginning of our first real harvest. I've cut some herbs from the garden but since those continuously produce, I don't really count them. We've also been able to enjoy about 10 strawberries from our three plants before the berries started getting eated by something else. I've since learned that birds love berries and that a bit of reflective tape keeps them away. And, it works!
Frugalista that I am...I cut up an old mylar balloon and staked that down. It works!

Earlier in the week, I harvested some lettuce and our first green beans....which I only noticed when I tried to put them to rights after a ferocious rain storm the night before.

Yummy green beans...right off the plant
 I picked the ones that were ready and didn't even have a chance to cook them. My daughter ate them all (after I washed them) as a snack. Oh how I love that! I also cut some basil and removed some flowers from the plant. I learned that basil flowers are good in salad and that putting the basil leaves together with your lettuce makes your salad come alive!

Basil leaves, basil flowers, green beans and lettuce
The following day, I was able to harvest three zucchinis after determining only two days prior that they were too small. I'm telling you, that rain was like a natural Miracle Gro.

At 8 inches long, these literally grew 3 inches in two days

I just harvested two more yesterday and we need to get to eating them or I need to make some zucchini bread or maybe both.

I've also learned that tomatoes grow a lot taller than I thought possible....prompting me to have to figure out a way to extend up my too-small tomato cage. I added some fencing and use a wire cutter to take out some of the metal dividers.
Sweet 100 plant in added caging

If you can believe it, I'm already starting to think that I didn't go high enough on one of the other cages.

But the star of the show, the one thing I've really been waiting for is the very first tomato. Since I first tasted a garden-fresh tomato 15 or so years ago in Missouri when I was visiting family, I have always remembered that amazing aroma and zing. My great aunt served me sliced tomatoes lightly salted for breakfast with my eggs. Not wanting to be rude (and liking tomatoes) I decided to give it a try...and wow! I'm not sure I've had anything that compares. Until today...

Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato Plant
Today, that Sweet 100 tomato plant that I've had my eye on gave up the goods. Right there in the back of the bottom of the plant was two beautiful perfectly red cherry tomatoes. I picked them both, washed them off and popped one in my mouth. I had a moment. It all came back to me....that earthy pungent tomato smell and the crisp tang of the fruit in my mouth. It was pure delight. What's more...I get to have this all summer long! With five more plants busily making tomatoes, it's going to be an amazing few months.

I also have high hopes for my blackberry vine that was transplanted from a friend's garden. It's growing like crazy. No berries yet. I'm not sure I'll get any this year, but I'm hopeful!

Watermelon vine (left), Blackberry plant (center) and Potato plant (right)

I'm still amazed that you can literally plant seeds and small plants in the ground and with a bit of care and maintenance, REAL food grows! I mean, I know this in theory. But it's an amazing thing to see it happen before your very eyes and to know that you are responsible (plus the rain and the soil) for making it happen.

(And yes...there are a plethora of analogies in here about "cultivating friendships" and "harvesting relationships." You can count on blog posts about that in the future! Muhhhahhhhaaa! Gardening has given me more fodder for blogging.)

I have also tried my hand at composting. I like the idea of using our kitchen scraps to aid in the growing process instead of putting it into a landfill. I'm still perfecting our system, but I was able to use my first batch last week...after about five weeks of it "curing" and becoming beautiful rich soil that feeds the plants.

Storage bin with interlocking lid -- we drilled holes into the sides and bottom

Some things we are still waiting on... 
  • Cucumber
  • Watermelon (vines are growing like crazy everywhere!)
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Red Onion
  • Yellow Onion
  • Pepperoncini (growing...almost there)
  • Green Onion
  • Red Pepper
  • Carrots

Now if only we had room to plant fruit trees......