Urban Homesteading on a Small City Lot: June 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Its a Jungle Out There

I have seven 8 feet by 4 feet raised garden beds.  I have decided to show you, one by one, each of them and how full to bursting they are with plants.  I have tried very hard to keep things under control and not over crowd things, but you will see that things are getting crazy.  I kinda like a bit of crazy, though.

From front to back:

Raised Bed #1

4 types of potatoes and one tomato plant

On the other side there is a buckwheat plant that escaped.  They are kinda pretty, with heart shaped leaves

and beautiful sprays of delicate white and pink flowers.

Raised Bed #2

Garlic, yellow onions, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts and peas. The peas and broccoli will be pulled out later today and some tomatoes will go in.

This picture shows the peas on a homemade trellis of plum tree prunings.

Raised Bed #3

3 types of kale, garlic, sweet onions, carrots, celery, two tomato plants and romaine lettuce.

This picture shows the last of the romaine lettuce. It is about to go to seed.  I will have to use it or lose it this week.  The three types of kale up close:

Raised Bed #4

Seven tomato plants, one zucchini plant, a row of three types of cucumbers on a trellis, two Cinderella pumpkin vines.

A picture from the other side shows the pumpkins.  I found and killed a squash bug already. I then spent a half hour looking over every inch of every squash and pumpkin leaf in the garden for eggs. I really hate those things.  They suck the life right out of your vines.

I have pruned them to single vines.  They are crawling on the ground towards the fence.  I will let them branch out now.

Here you can see the cucumbers.  They are just reaching the trellis now.  They are having a bit of trouble with aphids, but are doing okay. I am a bit worried that one of the varieties of cucumbers I planted is a bush variety and will not grow up the trellis well.

 These four plants are still only about 6 inches tall.

Raised Bed #5

2 tomato plants, five gourd vines, two warty pumpkins, seven okra plants, and several bush beans.  The beans are cranberry beans.  I recently planted some edemame beans in the empty areas where the cranberry beans didn't come up. They are supposed to grow as a bush also.  They haven't come up yet.

From the other side you can see one of the warty pumpkin plants.  The other is planted next to the trellis.  I am trying to see if I can grow it up the trellis.  This one in the picture is getting pruned for single vine growth just like the Cinderella pumpkins in bed # 4 until it reaches the ground towards the fence.

This is where the Hansel eggplant is.

The gourds are growing up the trellis like pros with almost no help from me.  I have to tuck wayward branching vines back into the trellis to keep them from reaching across to the cucumber trellis or the tomato cage sometimes.  I think I will start trimming those branches off soon.  The plants are getting very large.

This one has reached and passed the top of the trellis.

Raised Bed #6

This bed has been the experimental bed from the start. At one point I had about twenty purple cabbages in here.  I have thinned that down to two.  There three green cabbages left now that I have picked one, about five fingerling golden potato plants, a row of fava beans, two tomato plants and several volunteer dill plants.  There are a few celery plants and cilantro, but frankly I haven't seen them lately.  They may have been crowded out by the potatoes.

The is where I picked the cabbage.  The other three look ready to pick as well.  The purple cabbages haven't started making heads yet.

The other eggplant is next to this bed.

Raised Bed #7

This will ultimately be a strawberry bed with only strawberries, but right now it has a few herbs, a cabbage, a raspberry, and a few fava been plants, also.  I plan to build a raised bed in the back just for herbs later this year.

Every one of the beds also has some marigolds and nasturtiums planted to attract pollinators and beneficial insects.  I also want to make the garden pretty with lots of color.

I have 7 and a half pots full of pepper plants of different varieties: rainbow mixed bell peppers, cayenne, Hungarian wax, jalapeno, and Serrano.

The mint plant we use for mojitos is doing very well despite the fact that we have been drinking a few mojitos already.

Along with the raised beds and pots we also have this large bean trellis and hills of pumpkins, squash and corn in the back yard that we haven't landscaped yet. There are two more Cinderella pumpkins, two more warty pumpkins, a kabocha squash, and three butternut squash.  The trellis has one side planted with scarlet emperor runner beans, and the other with regular pole green beans.  The pole green beans have been really hard hit by the earwigs. I have replanted the missing ones twice. The scarlet runners are less susseptable for some reason and are really going to town.  You can see them in the left of this picture reaching up over 2/3 the way to the top of the trellis.  The trellis is almost eight feet tall.

Here you can see the painted mountain corn.  I have planted pole beans three times now for the three sisters garden experiment.  The earwigs keep eating them off before they get a chance to get started.  This last time I covered them with potting mix, planted half scarlet runner beans and added some pellet fertilizer. I really want them to grow. After those come up I will plant a pumpkin in each center.

This corn is planted in rows around the compost to hide it from view.  It is about knee high.  What is that old saying? Knee high by the Fourth of July? Well, I am two weeks early, so I guess that is good.

The compost is doing  pretty well.  The stuff on the edges doesn't break down like the stuff in the middle, but I have stirred it three times and added more stuff in layers of carbon and nitrogen on top.  The stuff in the middle and bottom is probably ready to use, but I will leave it until after harvest this fall and keep adding to it.

You can see from these pictures that the garden has become a huge jungle.  I am still watering it each night by hand, which is a bit of a pain, but it is my me time.  I kind of enjoy getting out there at twilight and just mindlessly watering for a while. It helps me unwind.  Sometimes my hubby comes out and brings me a beer, and we chat about our day.  That is also very nice.  Twice now, I have been very busy and have had to ask him to water for me.  He hasn't complained too much, but he has mentioned that we should get around to automating some of it soon.  That will be nice.  Right now it takes me about half an hour to 45 minutes to water.  It is very dry here with very low humidity and hot temperatures, so it almost never happens that we get to skip a day of watering.  I don't wish for rain though because it is getting close to cherry harvest here and that is bad for the cherries.  Also, this time of the year rain, if we get any, usually comes with thunderstorms, hail and wind, which are all bad for the garden.

Middle of June Already? Where Did the Spring Go?

My rhubarb is very young, only having been planted this spring, and having had to overcome ants and earwigs feeding on it, but it is doing so well that I went ahead and harvested two very large stems.  It was exactly enough to make my favorite dessert: strawberry rhubarb squares.  We served it up at one of our latest barbecues with my aunt and uncle along with some creamed peas and new potatoes.  I will post both of those family recipes on the recipe page as soon as I finish this post.

The strawberries I used for the strawberry rhubarb squares were also from the garden.  The recipe calls for 2 cups of each: sliced rhubarb and sliced strawberries. I know I won't have enough strawberries for jam, but I had plenty for this recipe from one day of picking.

My pears are doing well.  The tree looks healthy, and the pears are getting bigger and bigger every week.

The peas are almost done. If you have been reading my blog all along, you know that I planted two different plantings of peas two weeks apart to stagger the harvests.  I also planted three different types of peas in hopes to have different harvest times and make the pea harvest last longer.  Yeah. So.... That didn't work out for me at all. The warm weather lately has forced all the peas to ripen together.  I think that the weather around here can be counted on to do this to me every year.  I don't know why I even try.  Oh well.  The peas have been delicious.  Only one of the pea varieties I planted has edible pods.  My daughter really likes those.  There have been enough of those for her, and enough of the other shelling peas for me to make four dinners for us and to give a whole 2 cups to my grandparents whose peas are just flowering now. My peas are pretty much done now, though.  I will pull them out later today and put in some more tomato plants that are getting very tired of being in pots.

There are still a few new pea pods, but the weather is supposed to be in the nineties again tomorrow, so the peas are done.

The peppers, however, are really thriving in the hot weather.  They are starting to flower.

The carrots are starting to look like carrot plants.  I love carrots.

Molly's gourds are flowering.  I have never grown gourds before, so when these beautiful flowers opening I was very pleasantly surprised.

Here is another flower on another type of gourd.

The Hansel eggplant is making flower buds even though it is still very small.  It is having a bit of a challenge with aphids.

The potatoes are dealing with aphids and leaf hoppers.  You can see a leaf hopper feeding on this flower.

There are so many lady bugs and lady bug larvae around.

The fava beans are so huge.  I have to do some reading about what to do with these when they are ripe. I want to try making falafel.

My first round of cilantro has become coriander.  By that, I mean that it has gone to seed.

It is a good thing I have been planting more.

Here are the hens.  They are getting to be really grown up hens instead of chicks.  I let them out into a round pen mad of chicken wire when I am outside.  They love it.  They eat bugs and weeds and talk all about it. They can also fly now.  They have flown out of the round pen a few times, but they don't go far and because I don't leave them out there by themselves, it is easy to round them back up.

The zuccini plant is just about to flower with it's first fruit.  I haven't seen any male flowers yet, so I am not sure this fruit will be pollinated.  I could pick it right now and eat it as is.  Mmm, embrionic squash.  My husband loves zucchini.  He can't wait till we start  getting to eat it.

Also, since my last post, the broccoli heads developed and were harvested and eaten.  They were very tasty.  The secondary buds on the sides have also been harvested and eaten, except this one, which it appears that I missed.  Don't worry.  I won't let it go to waste.

Look at these little guys.  The brussel sprouts are starting to form.  I think they will really thrive once I pull out the peas which are shading them and encroaching on their space quite a bit.

I notice this little gourd this time when I walked through.  It is so fuzzy and cute.  If it is pollinated it will grow to be a pretty large gourd.

Over all, the garden is turning into quite a jungle.  I have been out there several times with the pruners to trim things back and keep them under control.  I have trimmed the onions, garlic and the tomatoes.  I have thinned out the kale and carrots.  I have been training the pumpkins and cucumbers to have a single vine in one direction, and I have been trying to keep the gourds under some semblance of control. There is also a bit of weeding to do, especially between the raised beds. I guess I better get to work.