Urban Homesteading on a Small City Lot: May 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Lady Beetle Pictures

My husband took all of these.  I take no credit, but I just had to share them.  They are so cute.

Convergent Lady Beetle, my favorite on potato leaves.

Here is another one eating aphids at the local all-you-can-eat-buffet on my fava beans.

Check out this larva.  I love this picture the most. This guy is about to pupate, guessing by the size of him.

Here he goes back down to the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Have a nice day.

Three Pears

My little comise pear tree has three little pears on it.  I think I will let them grow and ripen, even though I probably shouldn't, it being the first growing season since I planted it last fall.  I just really want to see what they turn out like.

Pear # 1

Pear # 2

and Pear # 3.  It has a little browning on the end.  I don't really know what that means, but will keep an eye on it. The pears are all about an inch long and almost as wide.  They are spread out, one to a branch, too.

The Beans Are Finally Up.

Thank goodness I pre-soaked those bean seeds, or who knows how long that would have taken.  Most sources say that they take 4 to 5 days longer without soaking.  As it was it took 10 days for the first ones to show and they are still coming up today.  In their defense, it has been pretty cool out there these two weeks. I planted them on the second to last warm day before the cold snap we've been having.

The Scarlet Emperor Runner beans have come up the best.  They look really healthy and strong right out of the ground.

This picture shows both rows on either side of the trellis.  I see only two gaps.  I think I will need to thin these anyway.

This is where the rows of pole green beans should be.  They are definitely straggling behind. A few have had the leaves eaten off by birds or something.  You can see the bird netting I laid over one side.

This is what the pole green beans look like up close when they haven't been terrorized by birds or insects.

The cranberry beans have about half sprouted.  There are large gaps here, but new sprouts come out every day, so I think it will all fill in.

This is a close up shot of one of those.  They are a bush bean that is good as a green bean, or shelly bean or even as a dried bean.

This is what the okra sprouts look like up close.  They are hairy and cute.

Our french alpine strawberry sprouts are coming along.  They are still very small, but very cute.  They are actually starting to look like a strawberry.

This is the biggest of the celery plants.  It is starting to be recognizable, as well.

The whole row of cucumbers have their first true leaves.  I thinned them out a bit.  I may need to thin them more later.

This is the largest tomato I have so far.  It is about two inches wide now.  I think the first to ripen will be the sungold cherry tomatoes, but these won't be to far behind.

The eggplant I planted from seed is getting bigger and bigger.  When the warm weather comes back, this thing is really gonna take off.

The Cinderella pumpkins that I planted in the hills near the beans and three sisters garden area are finally up, also.  The other ones I planted earlier are much farther along:

You can just see the butternut squash

and the kabocha squash.

The 65 day cabbage is really coming along.  The head here is over 4 inches wide.

The red cabbages aren't even forming heads yet, but the plants are getting bigger and bigger.  I pulled out and stir fried all but three last week to make room for other things.

A few of the peppers are already budding.  This one is rather yellow.  I think I will add some calcium and compost to the soil in the pots.

This is a close up look at the brussel sprouts.  You can see where the actual brussel sprouts will form.  The buds are about a quarter inch in size.

The potato blossoms are about to open.  I can't wait.  They will be pretty.

This is how many tomato plants I have that are still waiting to go in.  There were 16 when I took this picture, but I have given one away now.  I have been trying to find homes for them, but I don't know what varieties they are, so it can be a hard sell. I will fit about four more in when the peas are done and perhaps some more when the fava beans are done, or I get tired of them and pull them out.  These tomatoes will be okay in these pots for a little longer.  Some of them are still quite small. I have fourteen planted in the garden now.
Still no sign of broccoli heads forming on the broccoli.  That is actually good.  The bigger the plants get before starting to bloom, the bigger the broccoli crowns you get. Or so they say.  Don't ask me who they are.  I'll quote my cousin, whom I have been spending entirely too much time with and tell you, "your mom!"

Have a wonderful day. Hope your Memorial day weekend was as awesome as mine. We spent ours with our family and friends, several of whom are retired or recently active duty military and we talked and reminisced about our grandpa who was a WWII veteran and has now left us.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chickens Nine Weeks Old

It has been a while since I have posted about the chickens.  They are still very friendly and are all doing well. Lilith has chipped her beak.  I think she must have been pecking at something through the wires of the cage.

It makes her look kind of silly.  Like she is doing the Elvis lip thing.

Here's Ginger.

Brie looks kinda mad, but she really is very sweet.

I didn't get a good picture of fluffy.  They are now nine weeks old.  They live outside now full time.  They enjoy eating grass and watermelon, and try new things every couple days.  Everyone keeps asking me, "how long before they start laying eggs?" It will be a while, August probably. Until then they will keep giving me lots of good chicken manure for the compost pile and keeping me company in the garden.

Aphids, Their Predators and The Predator's Predators

I have been watching closely what's been going on with the aphids in the garden.  I am an entomologist, so of coarse, it is all very fascinating to me.

There are at least four different kinds of aphids out there right now, but I only have pictures of two of them today. The black ones are on the fava beans.  I have shown pictures of these before.

These are on a pepper leaf.

I have posted pictures of lady bugs and a syrphid fly larva before.  They are really digging into the aphids with gusto.  Here is a large cluster of lady beetle eggs.  I caught a couple of lady beetles mating, but I didn't have my camera at the time.  Sorry, no insect porn today.

This little guy is a syrphid fly larva or maggot.

I couldn't resist the urge to pick him up and get a closer look.  You can see his mouth hooks in this picture.  He almost looks like a caterpillar, but minus the head capsule and plus a long tapering head.  He even looks like he has prolegs like a caterpillar.

I put him back on the fava beans next to a large cluster of aphids.

Bad news for the syrphid flies.  This wasp is like the evil alien from the movie Aliens with Sigourney Weaver to the Syrphid fly maggots.  It lays its eggs into the small larva so that the living, breathing, feeding larva can act like an incubator to the wasp's young.  When the wasp larva has gotten enough nutrients and grown large enough it will emerge through the integument of the maggot, leaving it to die. I actually saw this one lay eggs on a maggot, but wasn't quick enough with the camera to capture it.  Not only that, but I doubt the little point and shoot camera I have would have done it justice.

There are also aphids on my eggplants, cabbage, peas, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lettuce and potatoes.  I have plenty of food for the aphid predators.  They are certainly hanging out and laying eggs, too.  None of the nectar flowers I have planted have started blooming yet for the syrphid flies to feed at, or to attract the pollinators, but that hasn't stopped them from coming.  I have seen at least four types of native bees out there this week.  I need to find an earlier blooming nectar flower for next year.  I do have some creeping thyme starts to put in.  They are starting to bloom in their pots right now.

I hope you enjoyed the insect update, insect daily news from the garden.

Okra and Corn Sprouts

I had fun this afternoon after work taking pictures of all of the new sprouts.  Sadly the long awaited beans have not sprouted yet, but lots of other stuff has.

Loads more carrots have come up.

Almost all of the nasturtiums have come up.

Our first okra sprout.  You can't see it very well yet, but it's there all right.

A few painted mountain corn have come up.

The mammoth sunflowers I planted last week are already coming up.

I planted two different types of sunflowers.

My potatoes have started to bloom already.  It is only May 16th.

Here is one of my celery plants I planted from seed on March 3rd.  Celery sure does grow slowly.  I hope I actually get some celery before it frosts.

The Cinderella Pumpkin has two true leaves now. Yay!

The zucchini has a true leaf and a half.

The cucumbers almost have one true leaf opened up.

The cilantro is finally growing.  I have to say that I do not like peat pots.  I had forgotten that since last year, but I won't forget it again.  They dry out really fast, and you have to carefully rip them off your plants in several pieces before you plant them.  Don't believe anyone who says you can leave them on the plant when you plant them out.  I forgot this fact, even though I did already learn it, and plunked these cilantro in the ground.  They sat there and complained to me until I said, "what is your deal? Why aren't you growing right?"  I scooped one out of the ground to bury it deeper because it looked like it had popped up and was kinda floppy.  Lo and behold, the peat pot was still on it.  I knew right away that was the problem.  I ripped the peat pot off and planted it right back in the dirt.  Now it is happy.  I did the same thing to all four of the cilantro plants.  I have also direct seeded the next round of cilantro, but they haven't come up yet. I plan on planting more very two weeks.

My husband and I went to Lowe's to get two more bags of potting mix so I could re-pot my smaller tomato plants.  We both thought that we should buy this sweet mint plant and a pot to grow it in.  We see mojitos in our future now.  If only we could grow a lime tree here.

I also finally figured out what variety of eggplant it was that I loved so much when I grew it two years ago.  Now I know it was a Hansel.  I thought I had gotten the right kind last year, but as soon as it started growing I knew it wasn't the same.  I didn't like it as well either.  Last year I bought an Ichiban because the picture of the fruit looked similar, but the plant is totally different.  It grows with a different habit.  The Hansel grows taller and with large branches all with fruit, and it also has dark purple colored stems and spines.  It makes lots more fruit, and the fruit are delicious.

This is my eggplant I grew from seed.  It is a new kind I have not tried before.  It makes small round fruit.  The picture of the fruit that was on the seed packet looks like the eggplants that my friend Sean Stephan gave me from his garden a few years ago.  They were delicious. He also told me that they made a lot of fruit.  More than their family could eat, if I remember right.  Come to think of it, of coarse that is true, or I wouldn't have gotten so many.

This is our first pea.  It is the same one featured in a previous post.  It won't be long now before it is ripe.  My daughter checks it everyday.  She loves peas.

Looky, looky.  My graft is growing.  I grafted two branches, but one broke off in a wind storm a few weeks ago.  This one is finally growing leaves.  I am so excited.  you can still see the thick layer of wax I put on to keep it from drying out.  It is cracking off of the parts that are growing.

Here is the end bud.  The leaves are even bigger than the leaves on the main part of the tree.

The strawberries are coming along nicely.  I don't think I will get enough this first year for a batch of jam, but definitely enough for a batch of strawberry ice cream  and fresh fruit on pancakes and cereal a few times.  Yummy.  I can hardly wait.

Next post will be about insects in the garden. There is some cool stuff out there today.