Monthly Archives: April 2008

Spring tour

Well, how about I give a little tour of the things that are growing in our yard right now, eh? Right this way…

First up we have the peas. These are first in line because they are the most vigorous growers in the ground so far this year. Here we have Super Sugar Snap in the foreground, and Golden Sweet Snow behind. They are still a little close together, but I will wait and see this week and then decide which ones can be culled. The Super Sugar Snap we bought last year when we were planning our garden at the other house, and they were cheap because they were the previous year’s seed. I over sowed them, hoping to counteract any viability problems. It seems to me that they all germinated just fine, so I have already thinned them once, and may do it once more. You can just barely make out the radishes that are growing “inside” the pea tent. I put them in there hoping that they would reach maturity before the peas obscured the sun. I think it will work!

Now we will move on to the turnips (Milan Purple Top) which went in at the same time as the radishes, having a similar growth habit. We don’t really know what we think of turnips quite yet as we have never eaten them. This crop will determine whether we grow them again for fall, or ever.

And then we have the onions that were started indoors in February. They are thickening up nicely and seem to be thriving. We have onion sections on each end of this first bed, and will have another section or two in the other beds for the sets. There are also a few other things in this bed, but I will wait until they are a little further along before I introduce them.

That is it for the veggies for now. I have a lot more still under the grow lights, and as tiny sprouts in parts of the garden, so they will make their debut soon.

There is more than vegetables growing in our yard… We have fruit trees and bushes too! The apples are showing buds, although it looks like out yield this year will be very light. It is to be expected for newly planted young trees, I am sure. I am not sure which tree this is, but it could be one of either Jonathan, Golden Delicious, or Matsu. We have a map that gives the varieties of the fruit trees and bushes, but Bea has it filed away somewhere (we will dig it up later in the summer). They all have reddish orange flowers, but very different bark.

A little farther along in the bloom are the cherries! Three of the four have blossoms, but only two have more than a couple. Two of the cherries are Regina and the others are Montmorency and Stella. Again, I am not sure which is which at the moment…

One look at these and I am very excited for the future promises of this tree in spring! I also note that cherries have a peculiar growth habit. They look very much like alien growths early on with tentacles and red glands.

Of the four blueberry bushes, only one is flowering this year. While I am happy for the advanced sexual maturity of this one plant, I am sad that I will have to remove any flowers that bloom in order to admonish it towards enhanced root growth. Next year will be the same, and by the third year, I hope my patience will pay off. This too is a specific variety of blueberry that will have to await future identification.

In addition to our “edibles” we have some more functional plants. There are the Cascade hops. Although it is a well known variety used for brewing beer, the primary objective was lots of large leaves. Bea ordered 6 rhizomes and has buried them in strategic places to enhance or obscure aesthetic features of the yard. The plan is to erect a trellis over the cement pad that used to be covered by the pump house and well. The trellis is not there yet, but the hops are going in anyway and we may end up with a large green spread where the cement used to be. We will keep them cut back, and put in the trellis in the fall for next spring. Some of the others are along the boundary fence to create a wall of green. If we end up with hops to harvest, I know a few people who brew that would probably welcome them into their wart. I do have a picture, but they just emerged from the ground and are hard to see. As they are one of the fastest growing plants you can get, it will not be long before I can take a good picture.

And that brings us to our last stop for today. We also have some beautiful volunteers. I say volunteers because I do not remember seeing these lady’s leaves last summer. I won’t say they were not there, but we were definitely pleasantly surprised when they arrived. There are another few mixed in with the yucca, and they really do not look too comfortable there.

Thank you for joining me, and I hope yo have enjoyed your tour. Make sure to stop by the gift shop on your way out and buy worthless pieces of junk that you will either throw away, or store indefinitely, but never use. Ba-bye!

Spring vigour

Our tomatoes are growing up (sniff). It makes me so proud of them. All 54.

Cilantro is doing dandy. Not sure when I will start clipping tastiness from them, but it looks like they will be ready before June.

I did trim the unruly onions in preparation for their final digs. They look so butch. As of this afternoon, they are in their big-boy bed. *Sigh* It seems like almost yesterday that I saw them take their first clumsy stretches towards the light.

Fortunately we were able to sprinkle them liberally on our potatoes that evening.

Spring in swing

Things are getting busy here. I have “installed” one 4’x18′ bed, and am partway through a second one of similar size. We will put in at least one more in the next week or so, and possibly another 3-4 in May (at least that is the plan at the moment). The plants are all growing as they should, and the onions have been out-doors for about a week now, hardening off. We have started on the next round of seeds, and should start the direct seeding of the beds once the snow threat is gone tomorrow. Actually, most of the peas, and some radishes are in a small bed at the end of the clothes-line, and the peas should be popping up any time now. The radishes are planted behind/north of the peas and should grow and mature fast enough that the peas will not interfere. We may end up with a nice pea tent in June. We have 100+ onion seedlings and 30+ sets to put out, along with some leeks. The leeks are looking pretty weak, but I am not sure if it is because they take a long time to mature, or if they really should already be in the ground. I have kept both leeks and onions trimmed, but it is time for another. Bea started broccoli, basil and celery early this week, and has pots ready for flowers.

Bea has filed the remaining seeds based on when they should be planted, so we now have a schedule to keep. I was trying to keep track, but after 27 pots of tomatoes, 6 eggplant, 24 peppers, 38 onion, 18 leek, and 8 Chichiquelite Huckleberry, I grew weary and overwhelmed trying to determine what was next, and how much to start. It is the first year, so next year should be easier.

And… we have chicks! Bea stopped by the feed store to see what they had and came home with 4 Rhode Island Reds, 3 White Rock, and 3 Black Sex-link (Black Star). They are very cute and it is always amazing to see how early they act like chickens. They naturally scratch when they eat, pick on each other, preen, hop onto a roost, and compete for food. The kids get endless entertainment from digging worms to feed the chicks and watching them chase each other around, fighting for the tasty morsel. Also interesting is that the chicks are not really that interested in the boxelder bugs that we have wandering our house, are only slightly interested in the Japanese lady beetles, but go crazy at the sight of a worm or slug. And they are only 5 days old. Those are some strong instincts.

In preparation for the future chickens, I have made the first step towards a finished coop: I put in the posts. That was last week, and I am still gathering info on the amount of lumber/materials needed to move on to the next phase: the floor. We have 5 weeks or so before the chicks reach outdoor size and constitution, so I will be working on the coop and the run in parallel to the gardens.

There are a few items we would like to grow, but have either neglected to order them, or do not have a firm plan for them, even though they are sitting in the cheese drawer of the fridge:

  • Hops (in the fridge)
  • Raspberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Black currants
  • Peaches

We are still not sure these will all make it into our ground this year (even though I still have hope). The hops will definitely go in, but the arbor that we intended to build may not. It will be a lot easier to put in the aesthetic elements once the production is in place, I think. As the hops grow, we will be able to split/transplant them as needed in the following years to places where we want shade in summer.