Thursday, July 7, 2011

the garden is exploding!

When we moved in, the yard was in such sorry shape that I wasn't sure whether we were going to be able to grow anything this year. I could definitely see all the potential, but it was also clear that many hours were going to be needed. (I spent at least three just ripping the rotted old clematis vines off our trellis while I decided what needed to get done next!)

There were weeds EVERYWHERE. There still are weeds most places; because they are well-established and have sturdy roots, I've had to focus only on the areas where we're growing food plants. Over the winter and next spring I'll have to beat them fully into submission.

Later on, I may post the full story of my springtime battle with the yard, but the short version is this: I planted sad, stunted little sprouts (started in our shady apartment, much to their chagrin) in the ground. Most of them didn't thrive. Some outright died. Then Chris saved the day by giving me the cinderblocks to build a raised garden bed, and Mother Nature finally decided to cooperate by giving us some sun and heat!

I only really stopped planting around June 15th, and still Jack and I planted some more carrots and chard last week, with a bit more lettuce to follow soon. I've been barreling along for two months just trying to get my plants established, until I looked around today.

What do you know? The garden is established just fine! Flowers busted out all over during the last two weeks and I'm really starting to get an idea of how much delicious food we can look forward to.

Tonight I took Jack on a tour of all our plants and showed him that our food is FINALLY growing at an appreciable rate! He hung in there with strong interest as we looked at each plant and found where it had flowered and whether it was growing the actual food yet. I wasn't expecting him to make it through the whole yard, but he did! He got more and more excited, and kept saying he was going to "eat the ____ ALL!"

So, I was smart and brought the camera with me as we toured. Here's our crop as of about 6:15 p.m. today. :) I'll have to apologize for doing tons of close-ups and not too many wide shots to let you see what the garden is like over all. But I'm just so darn excited about the FOOD we're growing! :)

These are Jack's peas. They're growing up the side of the swing set. They're about 3 feet tall and Jack is eagerly awaiting the day they'll grow up the ladder, across the top, and all the way down the slide. That will be about 30 feet, which would truly be impressive! ;)

Here are the two biggest pea pods. This was really surprising for me, because the peas only bloomed three or four days ago. How did they start making pods already??

The blooms are really pretty. And behind it you can see the "hand," as Jack calls the viny, grabby-onny bit. I think he has the right idea, though it looks more like a pine tree in this shot.

This is a winter squash. I've never seen a happier plant in all my life. We planted it maybe two weeks ago. The darn thing is going to be huge!!

It might be a bit hard to tell, but it's already putting out blossoms. This plant is excited about life! :)

This is a nasturtium, which Chris gave me two of. The blossoms are GORGEOUS and she tells me the seeds can be used as a substitute for peppercorns, so I'm looking forward to trying that! The beautiful color on this one is produced by the evening sun hitting it from the side. The orange is all sunlight; the actual blossom is red!

Here's a pepper on our biggest pepper plant. It will give us at least 30 peppers, judging by the number of flowers it's sporting. I was telling Jack that we get to harvest these peppers when they're orange. He really likes to know how we can tell when the food is ready.... This may be because last year he picked every single tomato before it was ripe, and was continuously disappointed that they didn't taste good!

A close-up on the pepper. I need to find out whether it has those cracks because I'm watering it too much, or not enough. An important question!

This is the second-biggest pepper, growing on the same plant. I have five other pepper plants that haven't bloomed yet. I hope they do as well as this guy!

Here are some new carrot sprouts, with the photo color almost completely washed out by the setting sun.

Can you find the eggplant blossoms? They're certainly not your traditional flowers. I've never paid attention to how an eggplant starts life, so I'll be watching this one closely.

More carrot sprouts. They're so cute! We must have planted at least 60 seeds in this row and only 10 germinated. That was disappointing... but then a few more sprouts appeared just today, so maybe some are just slower than others. I sure hope so! Jack revealed today that he likes to eat carrot sticks. That's a snack choice I can definitely support!

This is the Little Squash That Could. I accidentally hoed it nearly in half (of course, this was while Jack and I were hoeing the garden together and I was gesturing with my hoe and telling him "Watch out for this kind, we want to keep this kind!" ...*snap*) Well, he was so dismayed at its demise that I offered that we could tape it back together. What do you know, the tape worked! The squash is growing fine, and I'm at a complete loss to explain why.

Here's our climbing cucumber, with some twine we strung up for it. We also have a bush cucumber but I think I forgot to photograph that one.

Here's our first planting of chard. Jack put the seeds in the ground, so they're a little unevenly spaced, but I think he did a nice job overall!

Evidence! This plant really is being held together with scotch tape. I can't understand it....

I love the sight of squash blossoms because I know they foreshadow very good things to come. I'm one of those people who never gets sick of zucchini! Which is a good thing since we have six or seven of the plants!

Here's our lettuce. Again, Jack helped to put the seeds in the ground so we have a few clumps and gaps to deal with. But that's okay! Everything is growing nicely. Jack took one look and knew this lettuce was big enough to harvest, so we're going to cut some tomorrow morning and make a salad. :)

Right next door to my tomatoes (which I belatedly realize I didn't photograph at all, because Jack and I missed that part when Evie decided she was hungry and ready for bed!) is this cute little rose bush. It's only 2 feet tall and very old-fashioned. I love the color on its fresh blooms!

I just discovered I'm the proud owner of a black raspberry patch.

It's really not fair because the red ones look so tasty but they're AWFUL. You definitely have to wait for them to fully blacken!

It looks like this crazy, crappy corner of wilderness in the yard (and yes, that's basically what it is) but the raspberry is happy there. I researched today and found out how to cultivate it so it's a little less aggressive but will still give us fruit. I'm definitely looking forward to that! Right now it takes up at least 40 sq feet of garden space.

Even though we have three blueberry bushes, I wasn't expecting to get any fruit because they're planted in the shadiest part of the yard, right under a big tree. They don't look happy there! Well, it turns out we'll get at least a hundred blueberries from one bush! I'm excited to see what it can do after it gets transplanted to a spot where the sun actually shines. :P
And out in the front yard we have a seemingly accidental patch of strawberries (which I also didn't photograph, due to a hungry baby), and the world's tiniest rose bush. It's somewhere between 6 and 8 inches tall and it already has buds! I wouldn't have thought that possible. I'm not sure if it's a dwarf or if it is a seedling from the other roses that are just littering the landscape.

I'll have to do another post about the flowers, I think, if only so I can make a record for my future gardening plans. And I do have big plans... but I also have small children ;) and for now I'm just happy that we'll be eating good food out of the garden that Jack helped me to plant. Hooray! :)


Christibale said...

This is wonderful! good job.

Are you sharing raspberry starts with your friends this winter?

Anonymous said...

Melissa, careful of the zucchini ;-) they hide so that one day after you are sure that all of them are completely done, you find this huge one. we'd make stuffed zucchini and bake it for 6 people. Back in the day when I lived on a cooperative....

Melissa said...

@Chris: I suppose I HAVE to share starts, don't I? :) And that will help to curb its enthusiasm, I hope!

@Markita: That is the infamous thing about zucchini, right? "Tonight's dinner will be zucchini fries with zucchini casserole, and for dessert, zucchini cupcakes!" :D