Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bloomin' Tuesday

Click on the Marigold to go to Jean's blog and Bloomin' Tuesday.

The marigolds in the greenhouse are getting big. These blooms are 3-4 inches across.

The greenhouse violas are sprawling. I know it's too warm for them but I can't bear to say goodbye to these plants. I tried to kill them without success this past fall and they sprung up in the greenhouse in February after freezing temperatures and months without water. The faces are getting a bit bleached in the afternoon sun.

This is a whatchamacallit. It's a perennial of some sort and one of the only perennials that is blooming outdoors. It looks like we won't see much excitement in the perennial flower bed until next year.

I've got a couple baskets of geranium that are basking in the heat of the greenhouse. These really brightened up the place and made it look a lot less utilitarian.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Harvest Monday

Today's harvest included about 1.5 pounds of tomatoes and a 1/2 pound of peppers.

I sliced the tomatoes into 1/4 inch chunks and coated them with a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and some herbs from the garden. I left them in the food dehydrator for half the day and ended up with "sun-dried tomatoes".

I made the peppers into a hot garlic-pepper jam. We used it to glaze some chicken breasts tonight. What was left of the tomatoes after I snacked on them went into a pilaf. I'm really looking forward to the middle of summer when we have a major surplus of tomatoes and I can make a couple batches of sun-dried tomatoes.

You can finally see a bit of green from my roof-top pictures. Before I got in the garden and weeded for a couple hours today there was a lot more green. We decided to put down some landscape fabric on the edges of the garden as the grass and invasive weeds on the property were starting to encroach on our garden. This next weekend we'll cover the fabric with mulch.

Our potatoes were almost 8 inches tall before I raked back some soil on to them. Apparently planting the potatoes in trenches and then gradually raking the soil back onto the growing plants increases production. Forgive the wonky rows, the dogs dug in the garden a couple times before it was truly puppy-proof.

My favorite bed of the garden includes fava beans (foreground), soybeans and corn. Our corn was getting devoured by birds and we strung cut up pieces of cans across the corn. This has deterred the birds quite well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rasta Pasta

Tonight's harvest resulted in what I am now calling Rasta Pasta. 1 lb 8 oz of tomatoes, 7 oz of peppers.

Added this to some Italian Sausage and Pasta. Yum!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Late Spring Indoor Gardening

Our monster tomato plants are taking over the solarium. This picture was taken about 3 weeks ago after our first harvest of ripe tomatoes. I was so excited to have ripe home grown tomatoes this early in the season that I only remembered pictures after we'd eaten the tomatoes.

We've probably harvested 4-5 pounds of tomatoes so far starting about 3 weeks ago. I think next year we can move this up a month and have ripe tomatoes from the indoor plants in mid April by starting tomatoes January 1st indoors. (This year we started plants February 1st.)

Our mandarinquat, lime and lemon are developing larger fruit and are growing more leaves. How long until these are ready? I'm already planning on making some marmalade.

Here is a cayenne pepper from the solarium with a quarter for scale. I couldn't wait to harvest this sucker and figured it would be pretty mild. When I taste-tested this pepper I ended up having to drink milk for half an hour my mouth was burning so bad. Note: Cayenne peppers do not have to turn red to set your mouth on fire. We're planning on drying and grinding these peppers for our own cayenne powder.

Now on to the greenhouse... The tomatoes are enormous. We've pruned them several times and they're still pretty big. We haven't gotten any ripe tomatoes out of the greenhouse, but have full grown green tomatoes that are starting to ripen. I don't think we could speed this up much next year. So far, the time that we planted this year seemed pretty ideal (Started seeds in February, transplanted in April). Currently I am starting new tomato plants to replace these ones and the ones in the greenhouse mid-summer. I'm guessing in a month or two they'll start to wear out and get too gangly for us. Hopefully this year we'll have ripe tomatoes from mid-May to late fall. Every house should have a solarium and greenhouse.

This is a spaghetti squash growing in the greenhouse. Apparently, some years in Montana the summer is too short to grow these outdoors. To hedge our bets, we're growing melons, and winter squash in the greenhouse along with tomatoes, peppers, onions and basil. Next year I might add okra and eggplants to the mix.

Here are our peppers. Not quite sure how good they are doing, they are certainly putting a lot of energy into the fruit. We just fertilized these again recently and hope they get a bit bigger. If not, next year we'll start twice as many and jam them into their beds.

I'm not sure how worthwhile marigolds are as companion plants in the greenhouse, but they look so cute I had to grow some.

As the lettuce in the greenhouse has been bolting we've been replacing those sections with basil. We're planning on making some pesto once we have enough.

Here is tonight's harvest. Greenhouse hybrid tomatoes, debarao tall vine tomatoes (excellent flavor), oregano, antohi peppers, bell peppers, easter egg radish, winter density lettuce and tom thumb lettuce.

I combined our harvest with some violas, noodles, smoked sausage and cheese for a pasta salad. It was a delicious dinner!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Outdoor Garden Update

Our outdoor garden is now completely planted. We could have planted some things (peas, potatoes, onion sets, garlic) earlier, but have been so busy with garden construction that some plantings were delayed a bit. Our area's last frost date is June 1, so the tender crops were planted according to schedule. We're still waiting on quite a few bareroot plants (daisies, butterfly bush, blanket flowers, hostas, astilbe, trillium, ferns) to make their appearance. Those got planted out about 3-4 weeks ago. I'm already looking forward to next year when we have some well established perennials to add greenery to our early spring garden.

Here are some pictures to show our progress outdoors. I'll post an indoor update later in the week.

Below is an astilbe (I think) planted out in the shade bed behind the greenhouse. This is the only bed that is mulched, eventually we'll put a layer of mulch on all the perennial beds.

A butternut squash. The winter and summer squash and cucumbers don't seem to mind the recent cool rainy weather.

Something really likes my swiss chard below. I can't figure out what it can be.. it's not Jeff, the dogs, a deer, or a rabbit... What could this be? This mystery pest has been chowing down on my chard, fennel, sunflowers, cabbage and kohlrabi. It's chewed things off at the stem and left a leaf or two as evidence. No snail trails have been spotted. Any ideas? We're putting out a garlic/cayenne/neem/soap spray to deter a variety of critters since we're stumped.

Our potato plants are poking their heads up out of the ground! I can't wait to for these to get bigger and to be able to harvest baby potatoes. We planted the potatoes in 10 inch deep trenches in the garden. As the potatoes grow bigger we'll gradually add more the dirt back on them.
Below are some radishes planted under a pea trellis. I got bored of trying to plant in straight lines everywhere so started planting shapes in the garden. Why not? These radishes got planted in a heart shape, the garlic in a spiral, and the carrots in wavy parallel lines.

Here are some pea trellises that I made. Not the most durable things in the world, we'll see how they do. For the other trellises that are needed, we've decided just to use stakes and chicken wire. That seems like the most practical, affordable and movable trellis style.

As neither Jeff or I had ever grown onions before, we're growing some from sets and some from seeds to see what works best for us. Betcha can guess which ones are from sets and which from seeds. The seeded onions (on the right, obviously) were started February 1st in our germination station, moved to the solarium, and then the greenhouse before being transplanted about 3 weeks ago. I'm not sure what we should have done differently to make these bigger. They weren't even close to being root-bound, so I don't think pot size was a problem. I know that with other plants (tomatoes, peppers) I spent too much time trying to harden things off - about 4 weeks. I guess there is a good chance that this is what I did wrong with the onions. Next year I think I'll keep all of my transplants in the solarium and start hardening off plants just a week before planting. Any additional input on growing better onion transplants?

I did OK growing marigold transplants. This is the first marigold to flower in our garden. About 40 of these are planted in the flower bed, among the carrots and tomatoes.

Our perennial/annual flower bed is pictured below. Eventually this will contain winter hardy gladiolas, stargazer lilies, lavender, lupine, blanket flowers, goblin flowers, shasta daisy, alaska daisies, bee balm, butterfly flower, coreopsis, creeping thyme, and phlox. In this picture you can pretty much just see some zinnias, marigolds and lilies. The zinnias and marigolds were started from seed about 8 weeks ago and I'm pretty happy with the way those turned out.

Well, that is what we've been up to. Any input on things we can do to help control pests or for growing better transplants next year is appreciated.