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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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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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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