Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gardenpalooza Day Two

Today I had very lofty goals to put in potatoes, onions, strawberries and rhubarb.
We stopped at the Home Depot to get a new rake and some more stakes for the garden fencing, and I impulsively bought onions sets and strawberry crowns. I would have preferred to get those things from a local/organic source, but sometimes I am tempted by the impulse buy. Oh well. I've got my precious little onion seedlings upstairs and I've got five organic strawberry plants, so the big box commercial items are supplemental. I'm not going to spray anything on them, so they will be organic ish by the time I'm done, right?
Anyway, I started out turning the soil in the perennial bed at the side of the house. According to the neighbor lady about 10 years ago the Italians had a rabbit run there, so I am pretty confident that the soil is good (it's where my salad and herbs have been blowin up since last year) The idea is to put all the perennials (strawberries, blackberries, perhaps some other berries, rhubarb, artichokes, and asparagus) there so they will be able to settle in undisturbed. The corner right next to the house that only gets sun part of the day will continue to be the salad bed, but hopefully I will be able to move the herbs over to herb boxes and use all the rest of the space for the perennials. So, I'm turning over this really amazing wonderful soil, humming along, thinking how awesome it is going to be to have all these berries and taters and onions planted, boy howdy, I can rest on my laurels for a week at least.....then I come across the first massive root. I struggle with it, finally get it pulled out, and then....another massive root. Ugh. There was a tree there that we had cut down last year, and although the arborists did a good job with the stump grinding, I guess they didn't really follow through with root removal. So basically, the rest of my afternoon was spent digging massive and not so massive roots out of my strawberry bed in the hot sun. After a couple hours, I did finally get all the strawberry plants and crowns in, as well as the rhubarb (though I think I am probably going to move it eventually.) Once that was done, though, there was no energy left for potatoes and onions. They can wait till the weekend. Sheesh.
So it really sucks to have to spend all afternoon digging up roots, BUT I have to say that the strawberry patch is consequently much better tilled than I would have done if the roots weren't there. So that's the positive. We got a ton of stuff accomplished the past two days, and the garden is starting to look really homestead-y. I like it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Celebrate 4/20 by PULLING Weed(s).....

Ha ha ha. I crack myself up.
Actually, the weed pulling was more a side project. The big project of today was getting the first round of roots'n'leaves in the ground.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day for gardening---like 54 degrees, slightly breezy, clear sunny skies. Love. We started the day by unloading a truck bed full of scavanged bricks that Rebby brought home last night. We plan to make foot paths between the raised beds to keep down on grass and weeds, and while unloading I also came up with a plan to build a couple more herb boxes like the ones the mint and sage and oregano are in, and then move the rosemary and sorrel over there and do further sowings of annual herbs in them too. Basically, I need to make more room for artichokes, asparagus, and rhubarb in the perennial bed and I think that's going to have to involve moving the herbs. So that is perhaps a project for tomorrow(or the weekend.)
After unloading our brick cache we went to the strip to do a little shopping, and so Rebby could get some wine yeast for this year's batch of dandelion wine. Thankfully she saved the packet she used last time so getting the yeast from the lonely brew store man did not turn into a half hour ordeal (like it did the time she sent me to get some.) Meanwhile I stocked up on tortillas and green chile at Reynas and stopped a few other places. I was super bummed that none of the places I stopped seemed to have garlic that was not grown in China. Alas. Stopped at the Quizzle to drop off a few things and pick up the tropical flower one of the customers brought in for me (I am so not sure what it is...I'll take a picture later and try to identify it)
Then we got to work.
In today went:
Red Russian Kale

Rainbow Chard
Kohlrabi, Purple and Green
Rhubarb Chard
Strawberry Spinach
Bloomsdale Spinach
Black Palm Kale
Zefo Fina Fennel
Red Elephant Carrot
Jaune Du Doubs Carrot
Flat of Egypt Beets
Dragon Purple Carrot
Carnival Carrot Blend
Bull's Blood Beet
Gourmet Blend Beets
Chiogga Beets

Whew! Tomorrow just might be potato planting day. And I might get my strawberries and rhubarb in the ground too!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Our Tour of Lesbian Garden Centers

Today was a dreary, rainy, COLD, gray day. However, it was also opening day for Garden Dreams and The Urban Gardener, so we were determined to think garden thoughts. First though, we had coffee in bed and watched about half of Brokeback Mountain on Bravo. We figured we would watch until it started to get sad and that would motivate us to get out and do stuff. Which sort of worked.
We loaded up the van (Rebby just drove back from a work trip to Virginia Beach last night---with a nice parcel of seafood, BTW) with recycling and shopping bags and headed out for a circular trip: Wilkinsburg, Point Breeze, North Side, home. We found Garden Dreams easily and I got over my enormous fangirl garden crush well enough to actually ask Mindy if the strawberries were June bearing or everbearing. Seriously, she is five thousand kinds of awesome and even though I have been in the same place as her more times than I can count now, it is always hard for me to talk to her because, well, I am totally crushed out. But I didn't act like a freak and instead acted like a person who was very interested in perennial food plants, which is what I am. I ended up getting four Sarian strawberry plants, four nice hearty asparagus starts(I can't remember their name right now, I'll look later), and a big lovely rhubarb. She grows all kinds of interesting tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, but I want to see what I can cultivate out of my seedling starts before I buy any plants. I will probably want to return later on in June to pick up a few of those guys.
From there we headed to the co-op, which was about as nightmarish as usual for a Saturday. I grabbed a big cart without thinking and then when I was waiting at the cafe bar for my juice drink I could not find a spot to put it that wasn't in someone's way. I am often frustrated by space issues at the co-op. But, we shopped efficiently and paid and got out of there and over to Construction Junction for recycling. Something was going on over there so that the spaces normally used for recycling were full of parked cars, and people were making really bad choices about trying to fit their SUVs in between cars and trucks where people were moving around recycling. It was a little traumatic, but we survived.
From Point Breeze we headed over to another garden center I had heard much about but never visited on the North Side. This one seems to be more ornamental than food oriented, and they didn't have much going on just yet, but the women who run it were so friendly and nice and the little shop itself is so beautiful that I definitely want to go back later on. I'm hoping that we can eventually add some more berry bushes to our perennial garden.
In other garden news, Rebby got one half yard of compost+topsoil into the newest raised bed, and she's off this week and plans to get at least two or perhaps three more loads (our little Ford F-150 can only handle a half yard at a time) to fill in the two other beds and have some in reserve for tire taters and three sisters plantings a little later on. Lots of pea shoots are poking out their little heads, lots of radish leaves and some arugula sprouts in the salad garden, and the volunteer cilantro is jumping off. I just picked a bunch tonight to put in a peanut noodle salad. I also picked some of my overwintered red veined sorrel for a green salad--it's a pretty grassy tasting herb, but it sure is gorgeous tossed with some spinach.
Up in the nursery, we've had some casualties from the weird weather extremes. I think all the Thompson broccoli seedlings bit the dust, as well as most of the kohlrabhis. A few other things seem to be having a rough time of it too. I thought for one very sad day that I had killed my okra sprouts but they have all come back after some water, extra grow light time, and love. Seriously, I had a couple days of serious allergy drama and didn't give them the attention they deserve, and it shows. Part of tomorrow will be dedicated to the nursery--I've got some more things to start, a few things to divide (gonna try to save all the strongest tomato plants) and if the weather is sunny at all, I might even put some dudes in the ground. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Overwintereds

Red Veined Sorrel
Sweet Woodruff
Lemon Thyme
Lemon balm
German Chamomile
Garlic Chives
Potted Chives

Herbs, So Far

Chocolate Mint overwintered, I may have killed it and the Apple Mint by digging them up and dividing them. But they're mint, so probably not.
Apple Mint
Moss Curled Parsley I ADORE curled parsley. I direct seeded a bunch and I also started some plants upstairs, so I hope to have parsley like whoa.
Dill I also adore dill. I have a couple different varieties. Direct seeded a bunch and also have a few tiny little feathery friends coming up from last year's plants that went to seed.
Black Cumin, Nigella Sativa all sorts of health benefits, plus look how pretty, plus--growing my own cumin seeds!
Cilantro! I have the beginnings of a giant cilantro patch from last year's plants that went to seed. Cilantro burns out fast, so I have two more packets of seed to replace the ones that bolt (and the ones that turn into all summer long delicious salsa!)
Fenugreek! I grew some last year and saved my own seeds. The leaves are also mildly fenugreek-y in salads.
Rosemary over wintered.

And The Radishes, round one

French Breakfast Radishes
Watermelon Radish these things are gorgeous, and as big as a turnip!
White Icicle Radish special request from dad.

Easter Planting 2010, continued

I also started up the salad beds over by the side of the house. Last year I planted late salad greens here and they BLEW UP, so I am hoping to repeat the performance all season long (and also too, the beds are small enough and shaped in such a way that I can throw a window on top of the bricks around them and make a cold frame in the winter!
Mizuna Mustard
Apollo Arugula
Rucola Selvatica (wild) Arugula
Crisp Mint Lettuce doesn't that look good? I want some NOW!
Marvel of Four Seasons Butterhead Lettuce
Drunken Woman Frizzyheaded Lettuce (I picked it for the name, of course, but I grew it last year and it is a beautiful, hardy, delicious lettuce!)

Easter Planting 2010

The peas FINALLY went in on Easter morning. Rebby built a very pretty bamboo and twine trellis for them and I planted the first round. Once they sprout I plan to plant another round so we can have a longer harvest.
Schweizer Riesen Snow Pea
The Classic Lincoln Shelling Pea
Super Sugar Snap Pea