Saturday, July 25, 2009

View of the Garden

Another overcast morning. More rain on the way. As you can see, most of the garden is simply existing, rather than thriving.

Corn - should be "knee high by the fourth of July." Well, here it is, just to the left of this five foot pole. It's still not quite knee high, and it's well past the 4th.

Pole beans - last year at this time they were pushing six feet tall. Most are barely three feet this year, if that. This variety is blue coco, and it is the only one in my garden that is actually becoming tall.

The onions are actually looking very good this year. These are walla-wallas, and they are almost the size of baseballs already!

Peas are starting to come right along now. These are the prized Blue Podded Peas, which date back to the 16th century! A lot of blue (or purple) veg are popular now (peas, beans, potatoes, carrots), and you'd think they were all new varieties, but in truth many of these blue veg are very old varieties.

Sunflowers and borage. This is supposed to be a bed of cucumbers. Guess what didn't grow. The borage is doing great, but these giant sunflowers are supposed to be 6-12' tall, like last year. But no, this year they are maybe 5' tall.

Here's a close-up of the borage flower. Borage is edible and makes a colorful addition to your salads.

Sweet Annie, a member of the artemisia family, is a good companion plant for many garden veg. It will reseed vigorously, so be warned.

The black hollyhocks have flowers this year (they were planted last year). No flower is truly black, but these are close!

Verbascum...lovely...and up close so very colorful! This year, however, it has popped up all over the garden! Hm...another "vigorous grower."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Splash of Color

Have you ever seen a more beautiful pea flower?
And it's not even a sweet pea!

Monday, July 13, 2009

We need SUN!

How can we have such a wet summer (okay, Newcomb hasn't had the feet of rain the rest of the state has had, but it has rained just about every day for a month and a half) and things not grow? Because they need SUNLIGHT as well. Our daily temps have been in the 50s and 60s. Very pleasant as far as I'm concerned, but the garden needs some heat.

I've never seen such short plants in my gardens! Holy cats! Tomatoes are barely a foot tall. I've only just harvested my first peas -about a dozen pods. It was enough to give Toby his veg serving at dinner. This time last year I was harvesting peas by the bowlful every day! But at least the vines now have some blossoms on them. One variety (I have to consult the garden map to figure which one it is) has the most beautiful blossoms - will have to skillfully acquire a camera and get photos.

I've actually begun weeding potatoes. As in: the potatoes are the weeds. I've got 'taters growing in almost every bed - I needed to remove some so the broccoli and tomatoes could have a chance! Seems like my potato-digging skills leave a lot to be desired. This year I will have to go about the potato harvest with a vengence.

And did you hear about the potato and tomato blight that is crossing the US? That's what you get from buying cheap stock at the Big Box Stores. I haven't heard of it hitting our neck of the woods yet...CPB are enough of a headache, but I'd rather deal with them!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Oh, yes...and peas

We finally had a sunny day on, appropriately, Sunday. A nice cool breeze and temps in the 70s. Very nice indeed. After doing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen and mopping the floor (not a big deal for many folks, but major for me), I threw clothes in the washing machine and spent the rest of the day outside.

A quick tour of the garden surprised me with actual pea pods on some of the peas! I didn't think any of them had gotten that far, since I've only just started to see flowers on the plants. If I was a pea-pod-eater, I would've had a feast, but no, I prefer to eat the peas themselves, so they will have to ripen a bit before I pick them.

My lettuce, however, is still no more than a half inch tall! (Even the peas are under two feet tall.) I'm disappointed to still have to get my greens elsewhere! Although...I

It's amazing what a little bit of sunshine will do. I strung up "trellises" for the pole beans (the corn is just never going to get tall enough to work) in the morning, and by afternoon the beans had already sent up tendrils to grab them! Not as fast as kudzu, I'm sure, but not far behind!

Found more CPB on plants I haven't sprayed, but those that were sprayed before the last week of rain seem to be CPB-free...for the moment. (And there was much rejoicing and dancing in the streets.)

Chicken Shortage

I had a right good chuckle the other day as I was reading the comments to my posts over at Adirondack Almanack. For the one where I was moaning about the invasion of Colorado Poatao Beetles, a delightful reader posted "You don't have a CPB have a chicken shortage."

How true, how true and how!

I keep contemplating chickens. And ducks (they are good for slug patrols). But I always run into the wall known as "housing." I don't have handyman skills enough to build my own coop, and purchasing one is SOOOOOO expensive!

And then there's the whole care in the winter issue! Sure, I could harvest them all and eat chicken all winter, but part of the joy of having chickens is having fresh eggs all year.

I'll have to keep pondering it, though...perhaps there are chickens in my future.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Views Around the Estate

Here are the latest views from the gardens.

Bush beans and potatoes. I only had three beds left for potatoes and beans, but I had more potatoes than I thought, so I had to tuck them in anywhere there was room. Combine this with all the volunteer potatoes from 2008 and even 2007, and I will be over run with spuds this year! I really must work out a better storage system for them, because they sprout before I get to eat them all!

Cukes and sunflowers. At least I think those are cukes. Not too many squash family seeds sprouted this year, so I kept adding miscellaneous seeds to the beds to the point where I'm not sure what is sprouting where!

Garlic. The garlic is growing very well. I snapped off the scapes this last week - they were lovely with their curlicue shapes. Bagged several up to give to friends, but no one seemed to want them. I think one needs to be in an up-scale urbanesque area to find a market for scapes. (Yes, those are potatoes with the garlic...leftovers from 2008.)

Carrots. I have six or seven carrot patches squeezed between the onion patches. This last weekend I divvied up several of the carrot clumps, moving them into areas where carrot seeds didn't sprout. Looks like I may need to move some more. The sunshine and rain from the last couple of days made many of the carrot tops just shoot up. My goal is long carrots this year, not hundreds of midget carrots. Hopefully the transplanting will help with that.

Pumpkins. I had to dig into the remains of the manure pile to get enough in one spot to plant the pumpkins this year, but there seems to be enough "juice" left for them to do well (so far). All we need now is some sunshine!

Broccoli and cauliflower. Yes, they are there under that row cover by the crabapple tree. I haven't peeked under since I planted them...don't want to be discouraged. This year I'm thinking of leaving the row cover in place as a foil for the cabbage whites and their larvae.

Peas. Lots of peas and they've started to flower. None are terribly tall, though. Maybe some are just short varieties, but I suspect the lack of sunshine has also stunted their growth.

Moving onto the flowerbeds, we find several plants in bloom. The lupines are pretty much finsihed, but now we have toadflax,



garlic chives,


mountain bluets,

and Maltese cross.

The splashes of color brighten things up, even on overcast days.


Now there's an image that will give you nightmares! This is a Colorado Potato Beetle larva. Vile-looking creature isn't it? At least the adults are somewhat attractive.
I've sprayed my potato plants a couple times now, but we keep getting rain, so I'm not sure how much good it does. That said, last night I only saw a couple plants that had infestations (which I squished). Perhaps the spray I got (which is listed as organic) works!