Friday, May 28, 2010

The long weekend

I have a long weekend coming up, and hope that I am disciplined enough to spend some of it in the garden. It is time to lightly fertilize the young summer season plants, as they should have a large growth spurt now that we have had both rain and some truly warm days. I also need to plant a second round of summer squash and cucumbers, so I have new plants getting ready to produce when the first planting winds down. For harvest? Snap peas and more snap peas.

This week has included two abundant harvests of sugar snap peas, and the vines remain full. I have gathered all we could stand to eat, plus a few bags for the freezer (blanched in boiling water first, of course, to denature the enzymes that otherwise would severely reduce the quality of the frozen veges). Check out this basket from last evenings harvest. They are beautiful. The hens will not, however, eat the strings that I remove when preparing these. I wonder why not?

Here you also see a beautiful, young basil plant. I am pinching off the tops of each branch every time it grows another joint, and it is beginning to bush out nicely. I have these planted in the same bed as the tomatoes, making it easy to pick all I need for an amazing lunch or dinner omelet. The other photo is of a tiny herb bed I have around one of my house pilings, right outside my car door when I get home. Until this week it was a mass of weeds, but I finally sat down one evening and pulled them all out. I am not sure what that tiny tree is there among the herbs (looks a little like a redbud!), but I dug it up and moved it to another bed.

Finally, a coneflower. I love coneflowers. I don't know why, but I do. This one is new to me: it is scented! I found it at the nursery last week. I look forward to seeing how it does in my survival test yard.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fruits, young veges, and good guy bugs

Do you want some lettuce? We have eaten lettuce daily, shared it in huge salads at each meal of a 4 day family gathering of 18, fed it to the chickens, and still there is lettuce. It is now bolting, so soon we will move on to another garden bounty. This year's lettuce, especially the butterhead type, was the most spectacular ever. Thick, crispy, flavorful, colorful leaves. I have been overwhelmed with it, but oh, I will miss it when it is gone.

It has been very dry here. My gardens need water, and I have really been using up the rain barrel stores. Surrounding areas have gotten some pretty good rain recently, but my house has had only light showers, barely enough to wet the surface of the soil. I am astounded at the burst of growth each time I do water the garden. You know, when the plants aren't wilting I don't usually think of water as a limiting factor in growth, but maybe I need to rethink my "water only in desperate times" practices now that I see the response.

With the rain barrel supplements, the garden is slow, but oh so beautiful. Here you see rows of green beans (a second and very late planting after returning from our trip), blueberries starting to turn blue and not yet protected from the birds (!), the first little tomato, sitting next to snap peas, and purple top turnips about ready to harvest, against a row of very slow beets. And, just for your viewing pleasure, a little ladybug on a rose leaf, and one of my honeybees in the flower of a feijoa bush (the thick, white petals are sweet and edible).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The flowers of May

May in my garden is a time for lots of wind (wow, it has blown the peas right off their trellises again this year), and for flowers. The rose campion blossoms are almost neon red. The white gaura are bobbing on their thin, almost invisible stalk, and do look like little whirling butterflies. Stalks of blue rise from the sage bush, and the rain garden sports yellow flag iris.

There is one unusual, and touching addition this year. The Christmas cactus that my Mom gave me a number of years ago bloomed this year on Mother's day, my first without her. I don't know why, but I will gratefully accept this little gift.

The bees are very, very busy, and all three hives have honey supers in place. Although I thought we would have a swarm by now, as two of the hive are bursting at the seams, we have been lucky. For now, at least, all the girls are staying home and making honey.