Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zucchini

What else starts with Z in the garden?  Had to be zucchini!
Lebanese White Marrow Squash
We love summer squash around here and grow several different kinds.  We've had good and bad years with them, but in the good years, we get so many zucchini we end up looking for people to give them to.  Mostly we eat it fresh, freeze a lot of it, and make zucchini bread with the rest.  Yummm....I'm really looking forward to the crop this year.
Golden Zucchini
These Fordhook Zucchini are several weeks behind the others -- I need to mulch and fertilize these this weekend.

I've enjoyed doing the A to Z April Blog Challenge and hope you've enjoyed reading about our garden and animals!  See you next April!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Turkey Trot!

Work started on the turkey run today, for Turk and Layla.  They're growing so fast, especially Turk.  He was so happy to have room to move around today -- he took off flapping his wings and strutting his stuff.  Layla was a bit more reserved, but she explored her new run too!
 He's outgrowing her so fast!
We got the fence put back on all around, and tomorrow we'll put the gate up for them.  I expect they'll be much happier with all this room to roam!
 My handyman!

Y is for Yucca

We have many yucca plants on our property and this is a great year for them -- they are all about to bloom! Must be all the great rain we have had this year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for eXtra Dwarf Pak Choy

That's not cheating, right? There's definitely an "X" in there!
These little Extra Dwarf Pak Choy plants are the quickest and most tasty crop, I have already picked the first planting, a total of 1 lb. 6.3 ounces.  Planted seeds on March 17, picked on April 27, so only about 40 days.
 First wash with a sprayer to remove most dirt, etc.
 Second wash, then a soak in salt water to remove any bugs that may remain - then another quick spray off and on a towel to dry.
From what I've read, Pak Choy or Bak Choy doesn't freeze well, so I divided it into two bags to use fresh in the next week.  It's also good just chopped in a salad.
A delicious stir fry for dinner -- yummm.   I added more then the recipe called for, the more the merrier, since 1 cup of this delicious vegetable is only 9 calories!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spring Garden Notes, April 27, 2015

We had another nice rain last night, almost an inch of rain for the garden.  Things are continuing to grow -- I found my first little golden zucchini this week! This photo is from my phone camera, sorry for the fuzziness.  We're fighting off the squash bugs as we find them, mostly just stomping on them.
 I found the first jalapeno pepper on Sunday, and my granddaughter picked it for me!
 There are a couple of these (squash? pumpkin?) growing out by the chicken yard.  They are volunteers, something we probably threw out to the chickens and the seeds washed out of the yard.  Kind of looking forward to finding out what they are.
 The buckwheat in the field outside of the chicken yard is looking great.  John is growing it for the pollinators, and for the chickens.  I'm impressed with how fast this crop grows!
This is the first of the Lebanese White Marrow Squash.  Kind of excited about this one, too!
The first of the cherry tomatoes is starting to ripen, turning yellowish...
All of the blackberry plants have tiny blackberries on them...this is one of the Brazos plants.  I'm wondering if we should cover these in netting so the animals/birds don't get them before us?

This is the Chester blackberry plant.  There's not as many berries on it, but they are a bit larger.  This plant is thorneless, which is nice.
The first squash plant has reached the center of the Squash Haus and is continuing to grow!  Hopefully the whole thing will be covered in a few weeks.

We have an Afghan pine tree that we started from a small plant, probably about 1-1/2 foot tall.  We bought it at the local Christmas tree farm many years ago, and it's flourished!  It's about 20 foot tall now, and still growing.  This is the first year it's put on pine cones, and I'm so excited to see them.
I also planted some sweet potato slips yesterday in a lined wire cage (forgot to take pictures) and potted up the lemon balm, a bronze fennel and both of the little spinach plants (Good King Henry and Botany Bay).  I hope I can keep them alive!

W is for Weeds

Weeds! I can't keep up with them, no matter how hard I try.  Well, I could, I guess....if I spent all day out in the garden, but no can do!
Here's how the okra bed looked this's hard to tell the good plants from the weeds!
and now how it looks after using our favorite weeding tool, the hula hoe.  Let me tell you, its a lot better then being on my knees weeding by hand all day.  I only have to pull weeds by hand right around the actual plants.  The chickens LOVE any and all of the weeds we can gather for them.
Tomorrow I'll mulch with hay around these plants.  That'll buy me some time before I have to start all over again.  Sigh.....

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vineyard

Our grape vineyard is in its third year -- just a beginning really.  We've had some success, and some failure, just like everything else we do, but it's shaping up!

Two summers ago we put in one row of 11 grapes, and last summer we added two more rows for a total of 33 grape plants.  Some Chardonnay, some Shiraz, and a mixture of several others. It's been a fun hobby, and hopefully someday we can talk about making some wine!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring Garden Notes, April 24, 2015

We had a nice rain during the night, but it only amounted to about 1/4" of rain.  It sounded like a lot more -- lots of lightening.  The bean plants always appreciate a good lightening storm - I swear they grow in front of your eyes afterwards.
 They've started blooming!

This is a tub that I threw the last of a packet of Siamese Dragon Stir Fry Vegetables that I got from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds several years ago.  I don't see these in their paper catalog anymore, but they are still online. These seeds were probably 3 years old, but it looks like I got almost 100% germination.  I'm not going to thin these out, just going to let them go and see what I get.  This is a mix of mizuna, some kales, various choys,  mustards, cabbages, and tatsoi.  I have no idea which is which...which should be interesting when I harvest some of it????
 The squash haus continues to fill in....
 John's been asking me which squash is which here, so I made a sign for the front so we can identify them as they grow.  They are all mixed up in the bed, so who knows!
I spent some time pruning the tomato plants again -- they were getting too leafy.  I read recently somewhere that you shouldn't let their leaves touch the ground so as to prevent diseases from getting up the plant, especially when they are damp, so I took care of that. 

I didn't last too long out there today, the dampness from the rain has drawn in all of the little "no see 'ems" and I couldn't stand it! Flying, biting bugs....yuck!

The hedges in front of our house are COVERED in blooms right now, and that means butterflies...lots and lots of butterflies.  I couldn't get over how many where on these plants when I came in. 

Covered in butterflies!

U is for Unusual

I do like to try a few new and unusual varieties of vegetables each year.  After all, that's the fun of having your own garden!
Last year I grew a Litchi Tomato that is still growing and going strong.  What a specimen that plant is -- covered in spines, the ultimate protection from predators, including humans! It's even stronger this 2nd year, survived many below 20 degree nights all winter long, and right now it is covered in blooms.
 Definitely in the night shade family, right?
The small berries are very sweet, although full of seeds.  If I ever got enough of them it might be better suited to jelly or jam of some type. 

This year I'm focusing on a few interesting new spinach varieties in the garden.  I've had some success and plenty of failure. I ordered some of these unusual seeds from an Etsy vendor, but have had almost no luck in germination with them, so I probably won't order from them again.

This is the Good King Henry spinach I had read about and was anxious to try.  Out of 12 pods only one has germinated.  Not very good results.  Its a perennial, so if I can keep this one alive, maybe I can get them going.

According to the write up, Good King Henry is an interesting example of a once-common food that has since been forgotten and is seldom cultivated, although it is a perennial and can still be found growing around abandoned homesteads. It was a typical ingredient of medieval vegetable soups from the 12th to the 16th centuries, combining with leeks, chard and bread in a tasty, vitamin-rich broth that sustained the peasant farmers in their labors.  Who wouldn't want to try it after reading that?!

Another new green for me this year is New Zealand spinach, also known as Botony Bay spinach.  I've only had one germinate out of 12 on this one too, although I read that it is very slow to germinate, so I'm going to give the others a little more time.
Planted on 3/10/15 and didn't emerge until 4/22/15.  That's pretty slow!  

And finally I've got another new spinach, a Green Stemmed Malabar Spinach.  These did fairly well, and I've got those going in a big tub by the fence, since they will be climbers.  

Are you trying anything new or unusual in your garden this year?