Garden Update 6/10/2018

It’s not yet official, but it is squarely summertime. In 11 days the title will match the weather. Austin gets lovely rainy breaks this time of year. Thunderstorms blow in and out and that is how we get the majority of our rain. We had a DOOZY on Monday. It pushed over the fig tree which has a trunk over 5 inches across completely over to the ground. It is a rather top-heavy tree. It blew over fences. It tossed pillows into neighbors yards. It blew trampolines onto roofs…

Out at the Garden Patch

It was a pleasant surprise to find that the garden patch weathered the storm fairly well. Instead of being destroyed, it got a big drink. No real damage was done at all. The pole tents with climbing beans were a little bent out of shape and wonky leaning to one side, but other than tossing the dill and sunchokes about which will now require staking, everything else looked great.

Peas and beans

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The right side is dried beans. The majority of the bush black turtle beans planted around the bottom are done flowering. I’m mostly just waiting for the plants to finish developing their last pods then I’ll tear up the whole plants. It’s early enough that I can probably squeeze in another planting of tepary beans in their place. Tepary’s should be able to endure crazy hot summer climates since they are Arizona natives. The right side are mostly fresh eating beans. I’ve learned some things:

IMG_0476The middle row in the picture above contains the three fresh eating bush varieties.

Fresh eating Bush beans

Dragon Tongue (fastest earliest producer) are my favorite so far. They are NOT hot weather happy plants. They like 80 degree highs and stopped looking so happy on our first day of 90 degrees. well it’s been in the high 90’s for weeks now, they have suffered. The plants that were put in the ground after April 15th in the succession planting have not yet produced anything. I think it got too hot before the plant was fully developed and I doubt if I’ll see anything. So pro tip for these, plant them all early to give them the best chance before hot weather sets in and stresses them out. The sweet spot is to pick them when they are yellow and have dark purple splotches like the picture, if left on the plant too long they get tougher and the purple fades to just a butter yellow color. This happens in a matter of a day or two so check often.

Cantare (mid producer) are less tender than the dragon tongue. More of a typical store green-bean, but MAN they produce. The hot weather has not even phased them. I also only have about three plants producing anything planted after April 15th is not doing anything yet either, but I think they got shaded out from some of the pole bean varieties planted too closely, this one is a great hot weather producer.

Soybeans (late producer) are chugging along, they are the best suited to handle the heat of the three it appears. Even the latest planted are doing just fine with now signs of stress. Everything I have read says to wait until a few leaves turn yellow on a plant to start harvesting the pods. Every plant looks green and like it is still growing even though it is loaded with pods. I’m just playing the waiting game.

Fresh eating Pole beans:

Purple Thai yard long beans

Look at this Lovely plant:

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Fresh they aren’t the absolute worst, but on the baker creek website they said they are best pan-fried. I put a handful in some Thai bun I made the other night for dinner. I pan fried in olive oil with some minced garlic until the garlic browned then took them off the heat and let them cool down in the pan. They were great. The key to these I believe is to pick them before they got too big and fat. They get a little weird the bigger they get. There is a few I have clearly missed the window on and I’m leaving them for seed. I think pencil thickness is probably the largest they should be. I have a few that look larger than fingers and I’m certain they won’t taste the same as the tender small ones. These guys absolutely love the hot weather and look like they will be a star producer.

Asian winged beans I haven’t seen anything on these plants. They honestly look like they are struggling and slow-growing. I’m not sure what they need to get them to kick off.

Beans greasy grits these are NOT fresh eating. I think it says that they can be eaten fresh at 2-3 inches long. A) good luck finding the beans when they are that small B) they are too tough in texture to bother with eating fresh compared to the other bush beans and Thai yard long beans. I’m re-purposing these as dried beans and we’ll see if they taste better that way.

Dried Bush Beans

Black turtle: Looks like it loved being planted at the end of march and has produced enough to make me thing they were really happy. I hope they taste good because i think we will have a decent amount of them.

Dried Pole Beans

Purple Cowpea looks pretty happy like it is producing a few pods. It doesn’t seem to be as prolific as I was hoping. Not sure If I shouldn’t be letting the beans mature on the plant to continue production??

Tepary beans look weak and pitiful but if I remember correctly they tend to pick up in fall so it’s ok that they aren’t doing much right now. I’ll replant to pulled up black turtles with more of these soon.

Rattle Snake Pole are the heaviest setting beans I have other than the thai yard long. The stakes are super heavy and positively covered in these pods.

Peppers and Eggplants

IMG_1120I think I might have to thin out the lower leaves of the eggplant to keep the peppers from getting too much shade. They all appear to be doing well still for the most part. Sweet peppers are on the right, hot peppers on the left. Other than Jalapeno’s I’ve decided to pick peppers only once they turn color. So I’ll get fewer per plant but they will taste better and be more vitamin rich. Also, I planted WAY more than two people need so It’s ok if I get fewer.

Sweet Peppers

Jimmy Nardellos’ are the best producer by far. They are just starting to turn red. I’ll be looking forward to these roasted on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Red pepper cheese are maybe one or two per plant and that is it so far. They don’t even look like they are close to turning red yet. They are also a lot bigger than I thought they would be.

Coro Ditoro almost looks like it isn’t doing anything. I think there might be one pepper on one plant and that is it.

Hot peppers

These guys are all doing great. chugging along, cranking out some fun things to play with in the kitchen. I have no complaints or observations worth noting. Here’s a pretty poblano.

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Eggplants

Eggplants are going nuts. I Spent a few hours on pinterest to try to find recipes for them. These little dudes should continue to produce right through fall so there should be no shortage of eggplant experiments.

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Dill and Carrots

The lovely dill that crowned the corner is reduced to a bowing heap after the storm. It’s partially shading out the carrots. Even though it looks worse for wear I’ve decided to keep it there. I’ll probably come up with a better staking solution so it stays more upright. I’ll be collecting the seeds from the flower heads when the mature.

Carrots are starting to bolt. I noticed every few days I go out to water there are one or two that look like flower stalks are forming I made the mistake of using one in the Thai bun dinner the other night. Bolted carrots turn woody. I think the temperature has proved too much for them. I decided to pick all of them this weekend. I’ll roast them with some beans and onions and bring it for work lunches. I’ve decided to replant the carrot bed with basil. The basil I had between the eggplants and peppers is getting shaded out. This new-found space will provide a perfect place for some new baby herbs.

Brassica Beds

The beets are still surviving though I don’t believe they appreciate the weather. I should really have picked the green top flat of egypt variety by now. The look like they are having the hardest time. I don’t think they will be nearly as good now that they have struggled through this hot weather. I see a lot of beet soup in my future. I’m surprised the bulls blood is doing as well as it is. That variety seems like it can handle the heat a little better.  In the middle I’ve planted some squash and melons that are still pretty small.

Here’s what’s left after giving away half of the eggplants and peppers and some beans:

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I love all of the beautiful colors.

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May Home and Garden Patch Update 5/19/2018

The Back Yard

This afternoon was a perfect day to take a cruise around the back yard to see what there was to see. It’s time to use bug spray. The effect of todays little adventure resulted in no less than 30 bug bites. But this is Texas, and things bite here. I’ve gotten used to it, or rather accepted it for what it is at least.

Plum tree

IMG_0721Today the plum received protective coverings on the 6 fruits that were visible.

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One was a little too high up for me to put a cover on so I snagged it off the tree to test how ripe it was. Still a little tart, but getting close.

IMG_1001Loquat Tree

a few weeks ago I kept an eye out for the loquat fruit to ripen. Well… the loads of peaches were so distracting that I apparently forgot about them long enough the birds had their way and I didn’t get any.

IMG_0840Maybe next year… maybe next year. Until then I’ll just wonder how best to use you.

Pomegranate Tree

IMG_0995It’s starting to look as though we will actually be getting a few this year. I’m very excited by this prospect! I love pomegranates, and dreaming of pomegranate mint salads.

FlowersIMG_0996Monarda is making its first appearance of the year. I love these beauties. They’ve attracted resident humming birds in the past. And this tough little plant is one of my favorite easy growing spreaders for empty area.

IMG_0998The Echinacea patch is also just starting to bloom. I noticed it is naturalizing into the lawn. I’ll have to move clumps to other areas to keep them from getting moved over. Not a bad plant to have spread, it has such a gorgeous color.

Tomatoes and Squash

The first picture is 4/1/2018 the second picture is 4/22/2018

IMG_1002This is 5/20/2018.  Yes. the tomatoes are now covered in bird net and taller than their supports. There’s also some surprise sunchokes in the foreground.

Cucumbers and Volunteer Tomatoes

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Everything is starting to get big quickly. Most of the plants have a few flowers or immature buds.

Garden Patch

IMG_0981I’m busily pulling beets and rutabagas from the ground.

Beans

The two fresh eating beans planted first are starting to make fresh beans now. I think the dragon tongue is my favorite of the two.  Below is a picture of the dried beans that I will just continue to let produce and leave on the plant. They will be brown and leathery when the whole pant is pulled out of the ground.

IMG_1009Soy beans are getting bigger too. Lots of edamame in our future!

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Peppers

I’ve been picking hot peppers for a few weeks now. Last week I picked about 8 large Poblanos and a few Jalapeños to make a shredded chicken crock pot dish that we put into corn tortillas and poured some homemade salsa verde over.

The sweet peppers are finally starting to come on.

The right is a few Jimmy Nardelo’s that I’ll pick and roast when they start to turn red. The Right is red pepper cheese. A cute little turbine pepper reminiscent a Habanero but sweet and will also turn red. The Italian Yellow bells didn’t appear to have any impressive looking fruit that popped out at me yet.

Eggplant

IMG_1006My little Japanese long eggplants are starting to produce. It wont be long before we can start picking them now.

IMG_1013This is the haul for this week. I ran out to the garden patch this morning right before a thunderstorm hit so I didn’t have time to wash everything like I would normally do before I bring it into the house.

I’ve got about 10 poblano peppers we will stuff with chicken and cheese and cover in more salsa verde. I found the BEST recipe for salsa verde which I’ll use an onion and jalapeno for. I’m roasting the beets and other root vegetables for Lunches with some herbs sprinkled over the top and a drizzle of oil.

IMG_1014Things are starting to really pick up out at the garden. It has been a great feeling to be able to eat the things that are worked so hard and cared for.

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Veggie Patch 5/13/2018

The Veggie patch is now in Full-swing. Every few days I get to come home with a batch of fresh produce. There’s enough beets in the fridge for me to eat for a few weeks. That will be turned into some sort of beet soup for work lunches since the husband isn’t a fan. There are unfortunately still turnips in the fridge. I’m going to just roast and eat to get over with. In the corner to the left of the picture below you see the first pulled Rutabaga which may or may not have been a mistake like the turnips. Unfortunately there are even more rutabagas than turnips…. That is an experiment for later. One that my dear husband and I are a little hesitant to try…

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Onions are being plucked from the ground weekly. Only the Georgia Sweets are impressive in size. That is the impressive variety. Texas onions are still puny. The combination of a little later than recommended planting plus too much shade from the dill that has grown out of hand is likely the reason why they are suffering.

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Carrots are ready! Much to my surprise the carrots are ready to be picked. Equally surprising; they taste good even though it’s been in the 90’s for a few weeks. We roasted them with an onion and some new potatoes last night and MAN was that delicious! Sprinkled a little avocado oil and some of the rosemary-sage salt. My favorite variety just based off looks alone were the black ones but they are equally delicious.

Peppers are starting to produce like crazy too. The hot peppers aren’t really totally ready they are still smaller than full size but I’ve been using the Jalapeno’s for peach salsa.  I also picked some mystery peppers to try to figure out what they are. I’m guessing they are actually Hungarian yellow wax peppers.They are NOT Anaheim peppers. A few Anaheim peppers were picked too just because they were touching the ground since the plants were buried deeply and I didn’t want pest problems. The sweet peppers are still a little behind. Most are just starting to make flower buds, a few have baby peppers.

The beans are finally starting to gain some momentum. It is ridiculous how fast they are starting to grow now. The picture on the right was 15 days ago compared to the left which was today:

The climbing ones are starting to climb, some of the dried beans are starting to put on flowers and a few tiny beans. The first planted fresh eating bean is the french dragon which I got to try today for the first time.

Today I planted some squash (might be too late for that but I already have some at home.) And some melons. Here’s an overview of what the garden looks like right now:

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I even found a frog:

IMG_0969 2I love going out there. It’s much less work and much more enjoyable. Happy gardening!

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Staking peppers plot progress 3/31/2018

Pepper Beds

The hot pepper bed has really been taking off. I got some advise from my plot neighbors to stake the peppers because it gets extremely windy.

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They’ve already doubled in size since they were put in the ground. Most have little buds in their growing point and a few are already flowering.

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I planted them extra deep but now I’m wondering if that was a bad idea, The buds are fairly close to the ground. I might have to devise a way of keeping the peppers from growing down into the dirt.

The sweet pepper transplants are still dinky so maybe in a week or two they will get staked. There was not much change since last week.

Onions Carrots/Dill Beds

Look how wimpy the onions along the border to the left are compared to the right. The spacing is the same, They were purchased and planted at the same time. This is the difference between Texas Sweet (left) and Georgia Sweet (right). Both have the same watering schedule and have been supplemented with the same nutrients. I realized about two weeks ago I really messed up with the onions. These are all non-storage onions. Yeah. There’s about 200 of them total. My husband and I are not going to be able to use them all within 30 days…. I think I’ll be bringing them in to work and giving them away to friends if they actually produce. This prompted me to do research on short-day storing types. I was shocked at how limited the options were. I’ll be figuring out what to do about those here shortly to order seeds for fall.

the Carrots and Dill look like they are chugging away just fine. I’ll be starting to cut back the dill for salads here shortly.

Beets Turnips Rutabagas

This is the turnip and beet bed. These turnips have yet to produce a visible bulb but they are sure churning out the greenery. I’ll probably thin the greens and use some in a collard green recipe experiment here shortly. They are already shading out the marigolds! I’m not sure if they will bulb or not. It seems like they should have started by now.

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The Bulls Blood beets on the right had side have red leaves which was unexpected. They seem to grow slightly faster than the Flat of Egypt beets. Neither variety is bulbing yet.

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These are the turnip Nagasaki Akari Kabu which are giving me beautiful bulbs already. These are my favorite so far. They are surrounded by a most likely failed experiment of Rutabagas. The Rutabagas grow so slowly by comparison I doubt I’ll be able to keep them alive through the hot summer here. I’ll try planting them again in fall if they do not pull through to see if maybe they are a fall crop. Same thing with the really leafy turnip variety. Maybe I’m figuring out what will work in spring and possibly something different will work in fall.

Both of these beds were covered with shade cloth. The sun is getting so warm its 80 degrees and these plants like the 60’s.

Bean Beds

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The dry bean bed is doing great so far. The plants need to be thinned pretty soon but I saw some pricked out so I want to keep my numbers large until they are big enough to not be bothered by cutworms or birds.

IMG_0533The fresh bean bed is progressing nicely also. This is the first time I’ve done succession planting of the same crop. I don’t know if it works well for my situation yet but right now there are three fresh-eating beans in three different stages. full on little leafy plants, new sprouts and seeds just poked in the ground. The winged beans are planted in the middle row with the trellises in the center. They are the most sorry-looking of all the beans right now. I’m fairly certain they require more heat to really get moving than what we’ve had so far. They may have been planted a little bit early but I’m not familiar enough with the variety to know for sure.

Other beds

There’s some flower seeds that are starting to leaf out in their first true leaves, same with the parsnips. The hamburg parsley has yet to make an appearance. I don’t know if any of them germinated or ever will. Sunchokes have awoken from their slumber. I’m trying to decide if I want to plant flowers or a melon at the only unclaimed raised bed.

Things are really starting to take off. Its amazing how fast everything has grown this month!

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Crepe Myrtle

 

 

 

Planting Seeds 2/17/2018

Results of Planning

I skipped garden activities for a few weekends. The husband and I were off traveling a little bit. Beds also needed to be weeded more before they would be useful. This put my seed planting behind schedule by two weeks. Better late than never!

There has been another 8 hours of weeding done at the community garden plot. All but one of the large side beds have been cleared. Most of the middle beds are still a mess.

The other night my master plan we worked out. Ultimately I want a beautiful functional kitchen garden space. A lot of googling and pinterest-pinning later I’ve determined the elements of potagers that I love that are:

  • boldly defined raised beds with clean lines & clear pathways – Lucky me my plot already has this bold line design, it’s just needs some tidying still
  • Flowers in every bed – these could just be for beauty or serve a purpose, use them as cutting flowers, have them attract beneficial insects or have them repel insects I don’t want. They can even be edible.
  • Even spacing – I actually used a measuring tape to make sure my spacing of seeds and flowers were evenly spaced
  • Straight planting rows that frame another type of vegetable – I used a string that i had measured the placement of and planted along the string to get straight rows and planted the same type of plant all along the outside of the bed so that eventually onions will frame the carrots all the way around for example.

So my super rough sketch of what goes where is as follows:

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Planting time

The time for planting bulbing onions was two to four weeks ago. Here’s hoping it still works. I picked out two varieties. They are now bordering four varieties of carrots to experiment with primarily because they come from India or other warm places and this is the year of experiments!  There is so much more work that needs to be done. Other than weeding the remaining beds and the pathway I’ve started to lay down a thick layer of mulch over cardboard to hopefully help suppress the grass in the pathway. So what you see below is a lovely combination of half-finished projects. Partially weeded beds, partially mulched pathway and wonky supports haphazardly stuck in the ground. But, it is the truth. Nothing looks beautiful when you just start out.

Allium/Umbellifer Family beds:

Onions: Spacing 4 inches apart 2 rows per foot staggered.

  • Bulbing Texas Sweet
  • Bulbing Georgia Sweet

Carrots: spacing oxheart 3 inches per short row 1.5 inches per short row all others

  • kyoto red,
  • Pusa Asita Black,
  • Pusa Rudhira Red,
  • oxheart

Dill: one line of thinly spaced seeds in will be thinned.

  • mammoth and dukat

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Brassica family beds:

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The bed to the right has turnips in the middle of the marigolds and has rutabagas around the outside. The bed to the right has different turnips in the middles and beets surrounding the outside.

Turnips: – every 4 inches two rows

  • nagasaki akari Kabu (purple)
  • Purple top white globe

Rutabaga: – every 4 inches two rows

  • Collet vert (yellow and green)

Beets: – every 4 inches two rows.

  • Flat of egypt
  • bulls Blood
  • Colorful beet mix

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Now I hope it keeps raining so the seeds are well watered.

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