Saturday, January 21, 2012

Peas are Planted

Peas and radishes planted today. Almost a month earlier than last year! I hope I planted enough!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Visitor in the Garden

This stunning dragonfly stopped by the garden yesterday perching on a tomato cage for several minutes.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer's Finally Here

After spending all Saturday puttering in the garden, there’s not much to do there today. After a long absence from the blogosphere, here’s an update.

The harvest to date includes a few generous handfuls of snap peas, a dozen or so radishes, one turnip, quite a bit of albeit earwig-chewed, Swiss chard and at least four servings of green beans, though not all four were picked and enjoyed on the same day. 

Harvest, May 11
Snap peas on the vine, May 24
Harvest, June 13
Harvest, June 18
First tomato, June 18
Acorn squash on the vine, June 18
Many of my ornamentals have begun flowering as well. I’ve got nasturtium, cosmos, coneflower and alyssum so far.  The single sunflower that has bloomed though, I can’t take credit for. I am pretty sure it was “planted” by an industrious pair of scrub jays putting away a little something for leaner times. Several I actually sowed myself should begin flowering any day.

Sunflower, June 18

So my late-start attempt at cool weather gardening has been productive thanks to atypically low spring temperatures. Here in the northern San Joaquin Valley, gardening can easily be a year-round endeavor but I rarely get the gardening bug before its time to plant the hot-weather favorites like tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. And once they have exhausted themselves and started to wither, I too am drained from the due diligence needed to protect them from scorching temperatures. Truth be told, I typically start suffering garden fatigue in August.

The cooler weather lasting through June was an excellent opportunity to try growing some new things like the aforementioned snap peas. They did so well I was kicking myself for not planting more.
As for the heat-loving veggies that have been seemingly stagnate for what feels like months already, they are beginning to take off. I spotted the first tomato on a hybrid called Whopper last weekend and I’ve got one nubby little bell pepper. 

The acorn squash making its first appearance in my garden has been somewhat disappointing, forming at least a dozen fruit which start out beautifully but have each begun to wither and fall from the vine.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Productive Afternoon

I busied myself in the garden most of Saturday after spending an hour exploring the Elk Grove Community Garden. After making a few purchases at the annual plant sale there, it was interesting to see what was going on in the plots of other gardeners. Most beds were empty, a testament to a late start to the summer vegetable gardening season. Only a few plots were winding down on winter crops. I saw beautiful chards, lettuces and onions. There were a few growers with peas and fava beans in their plots as well. Many had strawberries awakening from their winter naps. At the sale I picked up three tomato varieties and two perennial plants. 

There was a wide variety of tomatoes to choose from however I was disappointed there were no descriptions of the many types I’d never heard of. Just as well I guess, since I tend to choose tomato transplants based on their names anyway. Here are the tomatoes I chose and descriptions and photos I mined from the internet:

Beauty Queen described as a good producer of very striped red and yellow fruit that have clearly defined markings much like Green Zebra.  Small to medium in size beefsteak-shaped fruit have excellent flavor. These have proven to be very popular at farmer’s markets. Beauty Queen is a smaller version of Beauty King which arose in the fields of Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms, Vacaville, CA. 

Beauty Queen (web image)

A search for a variety labeled  Lemon Oxheart  yielded results for Giant Lemon Oxheart described as a gigantic glowing, pale yellow beefsteak fruit with a very sweet, good taste.  It resists cracking and produces well. 

Giant Lemon Oxheart (web image)

Williams Striped is a favorite at farmers' markets with large fruit weighing a pound or more. Fruits have beautiful red and yellow colors inside and out.

Williams Striped (web image)

I was lucky to pick up a couple of perennial divides to place out front.  Santa Barbara Daisy has delicate white flowers, conserves water and attracts beneficial insects.

Santa Barbara Daisy (web image)

“Magic” Aster features purple daisy flowers during late summer and early fall. Relatively low maintenance it attracts butterflies and is a good cutting flower.

"Magic" Aster

And I got them all for just fifteen dollars. All except Beauty Queen have been transplanted. I ran out of room in the raised beds for Beauty Queen but plan to add it where there are currently radishes and perhaps where the peas are when they peter out.

I also placed two bell peppers in large containers and tried my luck with another round of flower seeds here and there. So far a I’ve got seedlings of Morning Glory, Nasturtium, Zinnia, Sweet Alyssum, and sunflowers scattered throughout the garden.

Nasturtium, sprouting outside a raised bed.