Green Bean Seedlings

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IMG_9526This year I’m growing three types of green beans: Alabama #1, Blue Marbut and Rattlesnake.  I love that green beans germinate at close to 100%.  The ease and speed with which these guys get going really is impressive.  They don’t like to be soggy, but don’t let them dry out or they’ll droop.  I caught a snail munching on them the other evening, so now they live on top of the patio table until they go in the ground, some in a few days, the rest in a week or so.  Once in the ground, I’ll protect them from rodents with clear plastic beverage containers that have had their tops and bottoms cut off.

Ahhhhhh, Spring!!

March Tour

Every so often I enjoy a little garden tour for the blog, sharing the essence of the moment in my little corner of the earth.

I’ll start with my personally most anticipated moment of early spring-my Red Baron peach tree in bloom.  It seems like when everyone else’s trees are already blooming, my peach is taking her sweet time.  The garden always has a way of reminding me of patience.  The first flower is about to open.

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I have sown some seeds in toilet paper rolls as I did last year but out of sometimes laziness and sometimes forgetfulness, every few nights they get left out over night.  It’s still in the high forties at night, so we will see how well they germinate.  Here’s the first seedling I spotted, which happens to be the heirloom tomato named Cherokee Purple.

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The new Minnie Royal cherry tree planted in January is off to a nice start!

The new Minnie Royal cherry tree planted in January is off to a nice start!

My tried and true sugar snap peas lend a delicate touch to these winter months.

My tried and true sugar snap peas lend a delicate touch to these winter months.

The arugula is almost 6' high!  I have thoroughly enjoyed their display.

The arugula is almost 6′ high! I have thoroughly enjoyed their display.

The arugula flowers up close.  I made a sweet bouquet using these for the dining table.

The arugula flowers up close. I made a sweet bouquet using these for the dining table.

My broccoli is a bit small, but the intensity of flavor will make up for any lack in size.

My broccoli is a bit small, but the intensity of flavor will make up for any lack in size.

Today's last photo is of a succulent in a hanging basket.  Although you can't eat it, I couldn't resist including it since the evening light hit it just so.

Today’s last photo is of a succulent in a hanging basket. Although you can’t eat it, I couldn’t resist including it since the evening light hit it just so.

The Garden Has Gone Bananas!

My banana tree typically fruits every other year and now is it’s moment in the sun.   Traditionally the bananas never ripen (I’m guessing due to the slightly less than ideal dry climate of my So. Cal. backyard).  However, it’s a fun occurrence in the garden and you never know, maybe this will be my lucky year.

Once the fruiting stalk has finished giving it’s every ounce of energy to the fruit, it does die, but thankfully there are always new shoots and young stalks.  I read today that the banana is botanically classified as a berry!  And, these plants are not really trees because they lack any sort of woody features, but are rather an herb!  The trunk is composed of the main fruiting stem enrobed by leaves.  Cool, huh?  My chickens seem to be already aware of this, since they love to snack on the base of the plant, and have even been known to cause one or two to, “timber!”

Such a stunning visual impact. Quite eye-catching for the garden!

Late January Happy Harvest

A nice harvest for our dinner!

Calabrese broccoli

This broccoli harvest is exclusively made up of side shoots, grown just by leaving the plant after the main head is harvested. The heirloom Stupice tomatoes are STILL producing, along with the hearty snap peas. I bought that package of snap pea seeds for $1 and have been harvesting them twice a week for over a month. (Most of them don't make it to their photo op and are our garden snack). There are still two other sets of snaps that I planted in succession that will each produce just as much as the first, which is just about petered out. All for $1.

Grapes of Wrath

About a month ago I made a post about a future pergola that would be built to support two grape vines in my backyard.  I’d qualify this venture as a bit lofty and perhaps, dare I say, not very well thought out.  Since then it has evolved into something more practical.  After doing more research on  grape growing, I decided on a much less expensive and time consuming support (very vineyard-esque) for the grapes.  However, this project has still required quite a bit of time and effort!

The finished product. Note the two horizontal wires and the anchor wires on either side. The little bare-root grape is there, although hard to see in this photo! Pretty amazing that soon it will be a massive vine.

It seems that there is quite an art to growing grapes, primarily lying in the pruning.  I’m not growing wine grapes, but I still want to adhere to the pruning and growing rules of creating a successful grapevine.  I’ve only got space where I dug out a huge, unproductive shrub for 1 vine.  I could have squeezed in two but I want to do it right.  I purchased two 2×2 redwood posts from the local home improvement store and had them cut to 7′.  My husband put the posts down one and a half feet into the ground, so they stand about 5 1/2′ tall and 5 feet apart (use a level!).  Since they will only be supporting one vine, we thought that anchoring the posts was not necessary.  However, after installing the posts and wire, the posts were already leaning inward.  My handy father took some additional wire with the help of some eyelet screws on each post and into an anchor in the ground.

A note on vine orientation to the sun: ideally the vines run north and south.  This way the morning sun hits one side and the afternoon sun hits the other.  Grapes need FULL sun in order to achieve and ripen fruit.  We aligned our posts in this way.  Although it’s somewhat near our property line fence, the height of the vine will still receive full sun.  Grapes should be somewhat protected from strong winds.  The fence will help with that purpose, but there should still be enough air circulation to prevent mildew, a common disease among grapes.  Whew, there’s a lot to consider just for some little grapes!

Soil: DEEP!!  I dug and dug until I couldn’t dig anymore.  Grape roots like to go to China, so make sure you’ve got at least 2-3 feet of loose, well-drained soil.  Do not amend much, if at all.  Grapes can do well (and even sometimes are preferred) in rocky soils, ie: the hills of Tuscany.  Since my native soil has the nutritional value of a rock, I did add a bit of soil amendment, but not much.  Mix well.  I read that grapes do not like stratified soil.

While at our home improvement store, I did manage to find 14 gauge galvanized wire (9-14 gauge is recommended).  I will be extending this wire at 2 heights between the posts as the primary supports for my red flame seedless table grape vine.  One height will be at 5′ and the other at 3′.  To secure the wire to the posts, I’ve ordered something called a wire vise from Orchard Valley Supply.  The wire is threaded through pre-drilled holes in the posts and then inserted into the wire vises.  Once the wire goes though, it cannot come back out, thus securing the wire very well.  The wire vises get screwed into the posts and the job is done.

The wire vises (top) were inserted into pre-drilled holes, the wire strung through and then screwed into the posts.

Once Upon a Seed

 

Main Plot

Top/Mid Left: pumpkins. Top Right: pole green beans. Mid Left: watermelon. Mid Bottom: bell peppers. Bottom Right: Yellow crook neck squash.

My veggie garden blog starts similar to a vegetable seed.  Today I planted my seed in rich, viable soil (WordPress blog) and now with careful attention I will tend to it and watch it grow.  Hopefully I can cultivate it to the point of producing delicious, nutritious blog entries which will motivate, inspire and educate fellow novice gardeners to produce their own backyard bounties.  I write to you about 5 weeks in to my first vegetable garden endeavor.  I have been so excited about what the last month has brought that I just had to spread the news.

FYI: All my seeds are planted directly in the ground.  I understand that this is a luxury of my place on the globe, but I’m performing tests of seed starting other ways.  More on that later.  The following is a list of what I have planted thus far:

Late June:

  1. Pumpkin (seed) – I was so “green” at this point that I didn’t write down the type of pumpkin and can’t recall.
  2. Watermelon (seed) – ditto above
  3. Cucumber (seed) – These did not germinate.  Not a one.

Mid July:

  1. 2 bell peppers – 1 red, 1 yellow.  (plant)
  2. 6 pack of yellow crookneck squash
  3. 6 pack of pole green beans
  4. 2 bush cherry tomato (plant).  Boy did I get these in JUST in time!  They say July 15 is the last plating date for procrastinators.

August 18:

  1. Spinach – Organic Bloomsdale long standing (seed)
  2. Carrot- Red Cored Chantenay (seed)
  3. Beet – Detroit Dark Red, Morse’s Strain (seed)

Since I’m new at this, I like to intermingle plants and seeds to see what works best for different veggies.  Important note: Keep track of the exact plan of your garden, including plant location and description (lesson learned on that one!) to help you in following seasons with what you liked/disliked and the success or lack there of of certain crops.  I don’t want to be wracking my brain in the seed isle next spring thinking, “which kind of beet did I have last year that was so yummy?”