13 June 2008

peas please

it's pea season. cosmo has harvested the first few, and shared a couple of the peas with us. he loves them, and gets so excited when another one is ready to be picked. i remember his first peas off the vine last year, in houston, at the mandel community garden.

there is not much in this world that is prettier than a pea plant. those squiggly tendrils, reaching for the sky (or a strand of string), heart-shaped leaves, cupped around the winding vine, delicate, understated blossoms, and that pod! so adorable, with it's little elf cap. pluck, unzip and part the shell, to reveal nature's perfection. an organized row of tender green spheres. pop 'em in your mouth. just like candy.

in other news, the edamame came up about four days after planting! we had torrential rains here the day after i sowed them, and i worried they would wash away. but they were fine. it was clear and sunny the next day, rained the following day, and i guess that was just what they needed. here are shots when they first popped up, and today, with their second set of leaves (already? ahh, they grow up so fast...).

we've got cherry tomatoes setting on the vine, and i have been harvesting the purple bunching onions that i started from seed. we enjoyed some last night, with a medley of roasted vegetables.

it figures that the healthiest, fastest growing plant in the garden is one that planted itself, in the compost. here is one of the pumpkins (or melons, or squash?) taking off in the compost.

06 June 2008

the good kind of tired

i just came indoors from over 3 hours of working in the garden. it's been around 90 degrees for the past couple of days. earlier this week i dug up a 6'x7' bed in our backyard. yesterday i turned it, added compost, and turned it some more.

today i took the hoe to it, formed it into 4 rows, and planted edamame. i was inspired last week by the most recent issue of organic gardening. it sounded so easy, and cosmo loves edamame (as does the rest of the family). i quickly ordered seeds and inoculant (from johnnyseeds.com) and planned out the plot (the inoculant is a soybean specific rhizobial bacteria that helps the plants capture and fix atmospheric nitrogen in a form the plants can use. --source: organic gardening, july 2008, p.32). i didn't bother asking the landlord for permission. i was afraid he'd say no. fait accompli, facts-on-the-ground, whatever you wanna call it; the bed has been dug, the seeds have been planted. in about 90 days, we should have fresh edamame. many acres of soybeans are grown in this country, but like the corn, most of it needs to be processed to be eaten. it seems to me that the best way to consume soy, is to eat the fresh beans.

in the process of digging up the yard, i found many treasures, including a small gold chain, a bunch of bottle caps, rusty bent nails, a marble, a bone, rusty swing-set chain, eyeglass lenses... i've been told by several neighbors that a circus used to be located on, or around, the spot where our house is. i was hoping to unearth some circus artifacts, but i'm pretty sure what i found was mostly household debris.

04 June 2008

thinning seedlings/homemade bug spray

one thing that i am not cut out for is thinning. i just don't have the heart for it, and i need to remember this when i sow seeds. here is a row of carrots before and after thinning.

(you might also note all the small stones in the soil)

i tried to thin to 1-2 inches. i think i averaged about a half an inch, at best. i hate to pull up healthy plants. we've had some serious storms here in the past couple of days, and the soil in some parts of the garden is just washing away. i am particularly worried about the beets and the carrots. i built up a bunch of potting soil around them yesterday, today it was mostly gathered in the corners, and low spots of the garden.

in other news, i noticed some little bugs eating my green bean leaves,

(a close up of the bugs)

they looked to me like the type of bug a ladybug might eat, so i gathered a dozen ladybugs from a blooming shrub in the front of the yard. a generous supply of aphids inhabit that bush, so the ladybugs feed there. i captured them in cosmo's bug-observation-container, and released them onto the bean plants. they kept trying to crawl back onto me, instead of the leaves, and then they all quickly flew away. so much for imposing my agenda on other creatures (who, shockingly, have their own!).
plan B: i made a bug spray from a recipe i found in organic gardening. it consists of: garlic, onions, cayenne, dish soap and water. i tried it on the beans, and left a couple unsprayed, as an experiment. i haven't noticed an increase in the bug activity, and the beans are growing well. i need to keep applying it though, since it has been raining so much. something is eating the kale too, but i expected that. plants in the brassica family always seem to get nibbled on. i also noticed some small, purplish, aphid-looking critters on the tomatoes, but no damage to the plant so far. guess i will just wait on those.

i rescued a trunk load of beautiful stones from a dumpster in the neighborhood. someone was doing some sort of landscaping/masonry makeover, and a lot of limestone got thrown out. i've been looking out for some for a while now. i will use it too outline garden beds. i am creating a new one, which i hope to write more about next time.

03 June 2008

first blossoms

the vegetable garden has a few blooms now.

the chamomile i bought from the farmer's market is tall, with dainty flowers on top. the ones i started from seed are smaller, and not yet blooming.

we have our first proud nasturtium blooms, and the two pea plants i started indoors are now blooming. the rest are still catching up.

many of the tomatoes have put out a few blossoms. i was told to pinch them back while they are this young, so that the plant can grow stronger before putting energy into the fruit. i decided to pinch some, leave some, and see what happens.

it's incredible to see the plants i nurtured from seed, begin to reach the stage of producing their own seeds. one of the many wondrous, ordinary pleasures of gardening.