Friday, April 23, 2010

The Edible Garden- and flowers

If you haven't yet decided to participate in Good Life {Eats} 'GrowCookEat' then you should head on over to the blog to see all the wonderful gardening posts :) And maybe participate in her Mother's Day Giveaways!

But on to my garden, and how it is fairing :) It was a good week for eating the garden- the kids got their first strawberries :) I am fairly sure this is the first time they have picked strawberries and eaten them straight from our garden :)

I decided that this was a fairly momentous occasion, so I managed to get the kids to post with their strawberries just before they picked them!

The verdict? "Delicious!", "Sweet!", "Juicy!".

Is it usual for us to get such early strawberries? Well usually not quite this early- but remember these ones came from the garden centre with some flowers already! However, the next strawberries will be ones that grew here. From the already started plants. Oh well, maybe I can't say they are all ours this year, but next...

You can also see some of my herbs in the pictures. Next to my son you can just spot the chives- I used those a couple of times this week as a garnish... once for a baked potato and another time for soup. Cheddar Potato soup to be precise... it is absolutely delicious!

There are some more chives next to my daughter- those are garlic chives. I have yet to do anything with those this year- I want them to recover after their being transplanted! You can also see the basil I am growing- I LOVE basil in the summer. Especially with tomatoes and mozarella cheese... mmmmm!

Speaking of tomatoes...

I always buy my tomatoes as plants- I just do not have the spot to grow them as seeds.
Plus I need at most, two plants. Only my daughter and I eat them anyway... and I have no space for storage of canned tomatoes. Although that is something to consider...
I digress. These are my sungold tomatoes- they are the best tasting cherry tomato EVER! I had to buy the hugest tomato plant because the small ones were already sold out! But that is OK. I got them- and they are already blooming!
I'll tell you a secret though- I have babies cropping up all over the garden from last year's plants ;) I planted one in the herb garden just to see if it would grow.

The tomatoes are blooming before the peas!! But the peas are doing well- since the weather cooled down. I added some extra string to my trellis so the peas could grow- and you can see the Swiss Chard coming up next to them too :)

This will eventually be given over to a later summer crop- perhaps of squash, (winter) or something that grows fast!

Maybe cucumbers!
The rain we had earlier this week has done some good though- look, Limas!
I planted these especially for my husband, who is a huge fan of them. They really don't produce much though- like peas you have to plant a lot to get a decent crop. I never seem to plant enough (and in case you wonder, I pretty much empty the pea packet!).

They are not the only beans sprouting in the garden though... you can also see blue lake green beans...

Yes, they look very much alike at this stage. However they are in totally different square foot gardens and I marked them so as to not forget which I planted where ;)

These ones are in the same garden I planted my carrots in- which are also doing well :)

As you can see. They are baby carrots, so I am hoping it wont get too hot for them too soon. I am always so happy to see them. Unfortunately, so are the swallowtails!

The bed next door is now sprouting corn. They are tiny yet, but there they are.
I need to thin them out this weekend...

The rainbow beets are taking off...

 are the lettuces and spinaches. For some reason I forgot to photograph the spinach. I think I'll be able to harvest some lettuce leaves soon though ;)

You can just about see two spinach plants growing in the second square from the back on the left. Those grassy things are my shallots. A couple did not come up, and I am considering planting my garlic in those spots if I still see no signs of life...
The garlic is stuff from the fridge that sprouted. I put it in some water and it took off!

Raspberry season is just around the corner- and you can see my raspberries are ready to go :) Look closer and you can see the berry part. I think they bloomed when I wasn't looking! These plants were given to me by a dear friend, and they produce twice a year- isn't that a great gift? :)

They sit next to this lady, who was also a gift :) This is an Elderberry- and look she is getting ready to flower. I am thinking of moving her over some so she can have a bit more room.
The raspberries have gotten quite thick, and I think they could use a trellis :)

Lest you think the garden is ALL food, I wanted to share some of the other wonders in it- like the flowering comfrey. I know, I know, I really shouldn't let the herbs flower... but I love the flowers on comfrey, and I love the bumblebees guarding it!!

This blue beauty was the first of the irises to bloom. It used to be in my Mother-in-Law's garden, but my husband took it after she died. It sits in the bed with some other irises we rescued :) I also have one from a friend in there, but I am not sure which it is or what colour it is, so theoretically this might be it anyway :)

These yellow ones were also rescued from my Mother-in-Law's garden. They stand in front of some peonies (we also have some of those from MIL's garden, but not these ones) and an heirloom rose. Far in the background you can see the wonderful robin-egg blue pot that my tomato is in :) It sits under the pawpaw for now :)

I have no idea what this iris is. We planted it ages ago and forgot about it- it has a stunning triple bloom- very pretty!

It sits amongst the creeping phlox in the fountain garden- where the spiderwort is now blooming :)

The roses are starting to bloom. This is Rosa damascena versicolor- otherwise known as the Tudor Rose. It has the most wonderful fragrance, and is supposed to get about 5 foot tall. At MOST. This one is about 12 feet tall- and I could not reach this rose to smell it, I had to reach my arms up to get the photo- and the rose is not at the top of the plant!

The periwinkle or Vinca major is also in bloom- a carpet of green leaves studded with blue flowers. They were originally supposed to grow around the mailbox, but they no longer do, because we moved the mailbox. They have spread so far though, that I am sure they'll get back to it soon :) These were gifts from my Mother-in-Law's garden :)

With all the flowers, it is to be expected that there will be a visitor or two to them.
I saw the first hummingbird at our feeder in the last week. He was pitifully thin from his long trip, but there he was.
I had had my feeder up for a good week or so already, so I was prepared- unlike last year when he kept hovering around the window trying to tell us to supply his food ;)

They are not alone in the garden either. In fact, the garden has been harbouring a thief!
The other day, I came out to find one of my square foot garden grids all messed up... and I blamed the kids or a dog, not thinking too much about it. The grids are made of string this year, and before I bought my skewers to use as stakes, I had used some plant tags...
The following day, my daughter asked me "what is that in the tree?".
There was a robin, trying to get some string- and not just any string, but some from my garden!! She had managed to get it stuck in the tree- and if you look in the lower half of the photo- dead centre, you can see the plant tag hanging from the barely visible string. Sorry about the photo quality, but it was a rainy day! She kept attacking the string and trying to take it up to her nest- but to no avail.
I suspect she was a first timer, because about 30 minutes later, her nest fell out of the tree!
Here you can see it on the ground- complete with pieces of string and pine needles. She had not finished it yet, so at least there were no eggs!
There is also a piece of wool from my spinning stash. I still wonder how that got outside...

Well that's the garden so far :) Happy Gardening everyone!

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Over on the Goodlife (Eats) blog, Katie has started a weekly 'GrowCookEat' post- which every kitchen gardener, might just want to participate in :).

I started my garden a few weeks back- back when it was cold and I thought the weather would never warm up ;)  It has warmed since, and promises to stay pretty much that way, although they have changed our forecast since this morning :)
So I thought I would do a last minute post about my garden, and then try to keep up with weekly posts.  It is always interesting to see what is happening where anyway!

On to the garden!

FRUIT:  I have plenty of fruit in the garden growing, whether or not I get to eat it is another matter entirely!  Closest to the house, and housed in a pot, is my fig tree.

Right now it is little more than twig-stems and these tiny leaves.  I was thrilled, because last year I had a cold snap that just sent it back to the ground.  I can't say that I have had any decent fruit yet- this will be my third year, but I do indeed get figs :)  Tiny figs!  I am hoping for something better this year...

I have two blueberry bushes.  It is debatable whether I will get much out of them this year as I JUST bought one and the other has yet to flower much.  But I live in hope :)  You met the pawpaw (again) in my previous post, so next up are the raspberries...

Just getting ready to flower!  These were a delightful gift from my friend Molly- and now they are going wild!  I must have dozens of new canes shooting up just these past few weeks!  I love that (shame the ants like the raspberries too!).

As a companion, there are my (or the kids' rather) new strawberry plants...

They share a bed with my chives (also seen in a previous post) and the future herbs I hope to host in this same bed.  I am waiting for our herbs galore festival, but I already have a list!  The kids are quite excited to see these berries already!

Further over on the hill, the Trifoliate Orange is beginning to show its fruit.  I showed the flowers from just last week, the heat made them last just a few days!

And now on to the vegetables!  I showed the broccoli and potatoes earlier- nothing spectacular about the broccoli, but the potatoes are really doing well!  I hope I get lots of potatoes- I get very mixed luck with them!  (It is dependant on weather).

But there is almost a bed full of them and I am always hopeful!

Here is one of the onions... well shallots actually :)  These are pretty experimental for me... a new thing to my garden (at least in that I managed to plant them on time, I think I might have tried them once before...)  They are tiny, taking up a very small portion of the square foot they were in.

You can see how big it is :)  There are several shallots in each square, I think 4, so they should all be coming up soon!

Swiss chard seedlings.  I have 4 squares, each with 1 allocated plant.  This one of course is waiting to be thinned :)

Carrots.  Also waiting to be thinned ;)  I am waiting for the second set of leaves on my seedlings, by the way, before I thin much!

 Spinach.  Three squares with spinach.  I am hoping these do well, I love fresh spinach!  especially with strawberries!

 Lettuce- another three squares with lettuce.  In both cases there are about 4 plants to each square, and I have planted them in a spot which will eventually have shade as the weather warms and the pawpaw grows leaves :)  This is important to these cool weather crops which get bitter with heat and tend to bolt.  You can see this lettuce mix is one with a red tint- heirloom variety!

Beet seedlings.  They look almost identical to Swiss Chard seedlings (so I might have my pictures mixed up LOL) because chard is essentially beet leaves!  I thinned these after taking the photo!

In the next couple of weeks I will be getting ready to plant corn, beans and limas... and of course, my herbs :)
I also hope to pick up 2 tomato plants, indeterminate, one cherry and one large!  Keep watching!


Back on the rollercoaster rider of a Virginian spring- today in the 80's, tomorrow the 60's, 70's the next day, then back up to the 80's.  I am still a little worried about my seeds- cool weather crops don't like warm weather much.  I really should know this by now!

The peas are really growing now... it's just about time for me to go appropriate their trellis and put it up for them to grow up :)  I am beginning to regret this variety, I should have gone for the more heat tolerant one again.  I do have some of those ready for a autumn crop...

My potatoes and broccoli are really coming along.  I have yet to get the bed set up with the new sides here, but you can see how the broccoli (back row) and potatoes (all the other squares) look.... I am hoping the hot weather is going to dissipate and let them all grow a nice crop of little potatoes :)

I have shown pawpaws on my blog before- this is the annual flower shot :)  The bottom one is newer than the top- and we now have three pawpaw trees in bloom.  I am not happy about the third- it is in a BAD spot!  They are extremely difficult to re-locate though.

The lilacs are already blooming- just stunning.  I love their scent.  And they are such pretty flowers, I am thinking of drawing them :)

Even the roses are getting ready to bloom!  Typically these roses are May or June bloomers, so to have buds in early April is a little early!  But that's the weather for you.

Right now though, everything is coated in a sticky layer of pollen.  There are several culprits, but here are the two main ones in my garden...

White Pine.  The flowers are quite something aren't they?  These are wind pollinated trees, so the stuff is blown hither and yon all around the neighbourhood.  It is truly unfortunate for us that there are two right in our front yard- they are not especially nice trees!

The other culprit is a birch- in this case a paperbark birch.  These 'catkins' are the birch flowers- another wind born pollen bearer!  I am not as upset with this one- because I truly love birches- and the 'paperbark' is fascinating.  Wonder if it makes for a good canvas...

There are signs of my lettuce, beet, chard and onions popping up, and I believe I saw a carrot or two this morning as well.  I also found two 'wild' lettuce and chard plants growing in my beds- volunteers from other years.  I wont complain though, I love these little visitors!  I'll save posting pictures of those until another day :)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Spring- or Summer...

It is currently 90* outside- yes on the 6th April.  No, that is not normal, but then neither is it atypical for Virginia, where our spring weather is a roller coaster of up-and-down temperatures.  The weather forecast is for 64* on Friday, so you can see the change!

The only problem with prolongued periods of warm weather in spring, is that the pollen count goes WAY up, and then the family starts coughing and sneezing until the offending tree (our white pines) stop production.
We do have some GOOD things though... for instance, the 'helicopter' seed of the red maple is a lot of fun...

These were sitting in my kitchen, courtesy of one of the kids!

Then there are the spring flowers... amazingly beautiful and stunning in colour.  From violets (above) to peach blossoms (below)...

There are the trifoliate orange blossoms...

And my pea seedlings...

And then there is the garden itself... its prettiest time of year!