Friday, April 10, 2015

Gardening Update: 4/10/15

It's been a while since I've posted a gardening update and, while my garden isn't the lush paradise that some lucky gardeners keep, I like posting pictures here to keep track of its progress and reminisce, once in a while.  Let's get started!

Greg installed the edging that I bought, last weekend, although I need to get another roll because he ran out.  I decided to get landscaping fabric as well so I'm hoping the weather will be less hot (i.e. more cloudy) this weekend so I can install it. I'll probably layer the cardboard on top, to reduce the weeds even more, and then I'll mulch the top.  Hopefully this will prevent the weeds from encroaching on the patio.  Once it's done, I will put the blue pots (seen here in the background) containing some of my herbs back on the berm.

The rhubarb hasn't grown much, but it also hasn't died yet!  I think I need to find a larger pot for it, though. I'll go digging for one in my garden shed, I should be able to find something.

My basil is going great!  The plant on the left, that's flowering, is from a cutting that I had put in water and transplanted after it grew roots.  The plants on the right were grown from seed, starting in January. I transplanted them outdoors on March 6, I believe. I really ought to harvest it.  Since I don't have the shrimp that I needed for dinner on Sunday, I'll be making a chicken recipe that calls for fresh basil.

The oregano (planted from seed, also in January) is growing very slowly but steadily.

The dill (also planted from seed in January) was very plentiful but going to seed already so I harvested a bunch of it yesterday and set it out to dry.  I wonder if the stems will regenerate leaves?

Same with the cilantro. The harvest from yesterday will be chopped today and frozen in ice cubes for future use in soups and such.  I'm growing more indoors right now.

The sage and marjoram (also grown from seed) are beautiful!  I have harvested marjoram twice (unlike oregano, it's growing and propagating very fast!) and it's drying right now.  I haven't harvested the sage yet but I ought to. Probably this weekend.

I also planted this parsley from seed. I'm always perplexed when people say that their parsley is so bountiful, it's overtaking everything in their yard because I've always had trouble growing it. At least the caterpillars haven't found it yet... (those people must be sowing parsley by the bagful!). I planted more seeds indoors but it's very slow to germinate.

This small planter harbors the milkweed seedlings growing from seeds that I collected from my store-bought milkweed plants.  Methinks that a squash seed of some kind might have also found its way in the planter? Maybe a squirrel transplanted it in here...

This is the spearmint that I planted from seed. It's growing slowly but surely.  I also have sweet mint in 2 other pots.

The tomato plants that I planted from seed last Fall, seemed to have died during the February freeze, but came back, are definitely looking bedraggled these days, but they have 9 Roma tomatoes growing on them and more flowers as well.

My main collard greens plants keeps on amazing me!  I harvested a whole bunch of it earlier this week and  look at it, still! What a trooper.  It's looking a little thirsty here, but I assure you that I had just watered it. Also: no bugs are attacking this plant.  Amazing, I tell you.  The cabbage next to it is competing for sunlight.  I should be able to harvest the head in the next few weeks. I'll make stuffed cabbage leaves with the outer leaves (yum).

The other cabbages are growing slowly as well.

Part 1 of my pineapple empire, all heads regrown from tops that I harvested from store-bought pineapples.

Part 2... I'm using upcycled nursery pots from previous plant purchases.  I do need more of the larger ones, I should check Craigslist.

The tomatoes that I grew from seed this winter are doing great in their self-watering bins and have tons of blooms on them.

One of my guest squash plants that's growing in my bean patch had a little flower today. Based on the size of the flower, I think this might be a cucumber plant (I'm saying that because the cucumber seedlings that I grew had the exact same size and shape of flowers when I transplanted them).

The beans have climbed to the top of their tower!  They look very thirsty but I had just watered them. I've had to kill a small green worm here and there but so far (knock on wood!), so good.  I'm delighted that they're doing so well and I credit my homemade compost for this.

 Right next to it, though, the cursed garden bed where nothing grows continues to be jinxed.  I had planted bush beans in there but they never germinated.  However, the beans were old (2010, I think) so I'm not too surprised.  I hesitate to "waste" newer seeds in there since it seems that nothing ever grows.

Then, next to the accursed plot, is where I replanted my cucumber seedlings in March. They all died :( This is where I grow my cowpeas last spring/summer and the year before that it was a very productive patch (my neighbor had given me chicken manure) where I had a huge broccoli plant, okra, lettuce and eggplants.  I think I'll leave it alone for this season and try planting winter squash in it in the fall.

My year-old jalapeño plant (I think I had bought it on clearance at Home Depot for $2) is still flowering and has a lot of jalapeños on it. This is such a trooper!  I'm growing another 2-3 jalapeño plants (those I grew from seed this year) so next year I'm going to be awash in jalapeños!

These green onions were grown from seed as well. They love the shade they're getting under the hedge. I have another pot of green onions that I have been regrowing from a free package from Target for the past 3 years, I believe, and that is closer to my sliding door so I mostly harvest the other pot. I planted these because I thought the other pot's onions were done for... not so much!  These are blooming so I will be collecting more seeds soon.

I still have no idea what this mystery plant is that has propagated itself in the huge pot that used to house my Supersweet 100 tomato plant from last year... I'm letting it grow to see if it'll bloom or what.  It has bright red roots (So it's not an onion or garlic).

This tomato seedling was started from seed at the same time as the now huge plants in the self-watering bins but I planted it (and a smaller one, yet) in a regular bin that I water by hand. It's grown some in the past couple of weeks but it's still very puny. I've read that a tomato plant needs 1 gallon of water per day!

My Ichiban eggplants... the plant had another bloom on it recently but it fell off. I ought to harvest these two and freeze them.  One of them was pecked by birds or squirrels.

The raspberry canes are still growing but they're looking a little yellow these days. Not sure if that means they're not getting enough water but that's probably it.  I think I'll put a piece of plywood between them and the wall so the window installers (there's window right above the right side, there) can replace the windows without getting hurt and without me having to dig out my canes.

 This bin contains the jalapeños (left side, front and back) and serrano chiles (right side) that I'm growing from seed.  Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

Another bed that's not too spectacular... the narrow left-side portion has kale in it (still now growing too much). I had also planted beets in between the small kale plants but those didn't grow past the seedling stage.  The wider portion has 3 spindly broccoli plants (you can't really see them).  I had had such success with broccoli 2 years ago, I was very excited to plant those last March or April... but this has been a disaster. This bed also needs homemade compost or chicken manure. I've tried mushroom compost and it hasn't helped at all.

Tiny kale is still tiny.

This broccoli plant looked like it was going to give me a tiny head, but I think it's preparing to bloom soon so no broccoli for us this year.

I never did thin the turnips.  I thought that they would love being in a self-watering bin, but they grew much better last year when I had them in-ground (where the beans and collard greens are this year). These have foliage but no turnips yet (just tiny roots). I should be able to harvest the greens, though.

The strawberries that I got at Lowe's and replanted in self-watering bins (under a pop-up tent) seem to be doing well. They've sent a couple more runners that I have buried under the leaves that I used as mulch.  No flowers yet, though. I have 2 bins of those.

As I mentioned numerous times before, the Swiss chard was a bust for me.  The picture looks much better than the reality, for once.  I was supposed to use it as greens in a recipe this week but I decided to harvest collard greens instead, since they were so beautiful.  I do need to harvest those, though, because they won't be growing much bigger now that it's getting hot.

I think that the mulch did help the kohlrabi.  The greens aren't bigger...

but this is looking plumper!  The mulch is full of small flies, though.  They were in the greens when I first mulched them and it seems that they've decided to nest in the mulch now.  This is the only bin, out of 5 under the same tent, that has the flies.  Weird!

Under another tent, look at the size of this Romaine lettuce stem!  That's the one I harvested last night.  It was huge!

This is Parris Island lettuce, growing in the bin where I had the Romaine head.

This is my Bibb lettuce that I waited too long to harvest and now it now going to seed. I'll be harvesting the leaves for lunch salads over the next few days. I'd like to try and harvest the seeds as well.  Here is a video about propagating Bibb lettuce.

Next to the Bibb lettuce bin is the spinach bin. It is also going to seed as you can see, and according to the video about propagating Bibb lettuce, it's not good to have different species of flowering lettuces/greens next to one another. Oh well.  I had harvested the largest leaves last week, I believe, and now it's time to harvest some more.  I guess I should be cooking a lot more greens!  Next year, I'll stagger 2 or 3 bins of spinach, because I was very pleased with them.

My dwarf Cavendish banana tree is growing taller but the leaves are smaller than they were in the past... or at least, not as large as I thought they would get.  I'm hoping I'll get bananas at some point. Maybe next year?

The plum tree has managed to hold on to its leaves longer than last year, although the blossoms that I had on it a few weeks ago didn't develop into anything.  Still, I'm happy that it's still alive and hoping that we'll get some fruit in future years. I need to be more diligent about watering it, though. (she says, as she didn't water it today!)

The blueberries are very frustrating.  After 2 years they're still nothing more than twigs, low to the ground.  They grew more leaves this spring but every year something eats them even though I can never see any bugs on them or near them. I have 3 blueberry plants and they all look the same. I had put pine bark at the foot of each plant to help with the acidity that they need, not sure if that has helped or not. They also probably need to be watered more often?  We have blueberry fields nearby so obviously those plants can be grown successfully in Florida.  Maybe I should have planted them in buckets instead of in the ground.  I wonder if I should make self-watering buckets and transplant them.

My little lemon tree is growing (slowly) as well, but I'm not convinced that I'll have a lemon or two this year. The buds look a little atrophied or dried. Yet another victim of my forgetting to water the row of fruit trees...

Here is the lemon tree in its entirety. I planted it 2 (or 3?) years ago.  This year I staked it because it looked like it was running parallel to the ground.

Now that the blooms have fallen off the orange tree, it's kind of hard to find the small orange buds but I did manage to spy some...

As I looked at the wild blackberry vine growing on the old tree stump at the back of our property, I was startled to see a few berries on it!  Usually the birds get those before I can even take a picture!

Most of the blooms dried up without turning into berries, though.  The vine is full of the dried-up ones, unfortunately.

Greg has strict orders to NOT touch the vine with his weed wacker!

I did harvest what I could and Greg and I had a taste... tastes like blackberries, alright!

Don't tell the monarch catterpillars, but those milkweed plants are done for....  maybe they're eating the aphids?!

Yep,  definitely done for. I'd throw them away but they're still divesting themselves of some seeds and of course the caterpillars are on there. While they eat those plants, they're leaving my parsley and other herbs alone!

I had bought this little pine tree at Christmas 3 years ago and I just got around to putting it in a slightly larger pot this month.  It seems to be doing alright... I should add some mulch, though.

 Love the way the red canna that I bought from the South Lake Animal League thrift store in the fall is flowering. The flowers have no scent, but they're gorgeous.

 A lonely zinnia (grown from seed)

And an equally lonely Cosmos (also grown from seed)

Let's head inside for a bit of cooler air, shall we?  These are my basil and cilantro seedlings on the left. The parsley is still under plastic wrap for that "greenhouse effect".  I upcycled some old meat trays and the bottom of a cat litter jug (all washed very carefully) to use as drying trays for my herbs.  The rosemary, dill, and marjoram were harvested yesterday.  I mentioned yesterday that I read on Lifehacker that the best way to dry herbs was to microwave them and then a few hours later, I was leafing through older issues of magazines and I found instructions on how to dry them in the microwave. I'll have to scan the page and post it on this blog, in case anyone is interested.

 The last pineapple top that I have on my windowsill is finally growing roots. I'll wait a little longer before transplanting it outside.

The tiny basil cuttings that I put in water last week are also starting to develop some roots. It's my favorite way of propagating herbs, I ought to start some more cuttings this weekend.

And lookit!  The marjoram is also able to propagate by just putting a cutting in water. I wasn't sure about that (I haven't had any luck propagating rosemary, I need to read up on that... my problem might have been that I cut a piece that was too woody).

This green onion top looked like it was about to lose all its seeds on the ground so I harvested it yesterday and I'm letting it dry indoors.

The roses are blooming although the blooms aren't lasting very long (I think because of the heat). I'm glad I kept them in pots since we'll be replacing the windows all around them as well.

My rose cutting is surviving and showing some growth.

The hibiscus cutting is thriving as well, although it's lost both its blooms and they look like they were cut by some kind of a bug.

The sweet potato vine is growing all over the place. I should be covering the shoots so sweet potatoes actually grow but I keep on neglecting to do that.

The leeks are finally showing some growth if not some girth... even my green onions are fatter than my leeks :(

 One of the russet potato plant (grown from a store-bought potato) is flowering. How pretty!

This is the potato bin.  I found a prepper blog last week that detailed how he grew his potatoes... he plants the slips in the ground but puts a bucket with the bottom cut off around the plant.  As the plant grows, he hills it in the bucket, which means that the plant grows potatoes in the bucket. Once the plant dies off, he easily removes the bucket and harvests the potatoes. He says that he usually gets about 5 lbs of potatoes per bucket! Maybe this is what I should plant in one of my ill-fated garden plots next year!  I shall put this on my calendar.

One of the green pepper plants (grown from seed) is doing quite well with 3 or 4 peppers at various stages of growth.  The other plant in the bin is much punier.

Well, that's my garden tour for today.  I hope to be able to harvest the tomatoes, peppers, and beans before my European trip this summer :)

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