Wednesday, June 28, 2006
I'm doing this on a very limited scale already. I've been growing mesclun, spinach, tomatoes, and carrots in containers. I also have a couple sweet peppers and a couple Roma bean plants in containers too, although they're not doing too well so far. Today I pulled out the last of the spinach, which had bolted, and replanted the same container with more mesclun. I also sowed some more Round Romeo carrot seeds around the perimeter of the container where the berry plant is growing.
I'm trying to find whatever information I can on what varieties of vegetables would grow best in containers and I think I found a great resource: ContainerSeeds.com. They offer an impressive array of vegetables that are well-suited to containers, along with information about the size of container that is best for each plant. I think I'll be placing an order soon.
I also did something yesterday that will probably turn out to be very smart or a waste of money. I bought a small (quite small) greenhouse on ebay. It's a plastic-covered, 5-shelf structure that's roughly 6' tall, 2' wide, and 1.5' deep. Hopefully, it will be just big enough to keep some lettuces going year-round and get an early start on spring seedlings. Including shipping, it's $55. If it works out, it should pay for itself in a couple years.
So now the question is: Do I yank it, re-locate it, or just leave it?
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Because I only pulled up the one carrot, I didn't bother to cook it, just cleaned it and chomped it down. It was really tasty--nice and sweet.
I'll give the rest of the batch (which was not very big to begin with) another week or so, then harvest all of them together. They'll be really delicious steamed with butter.
These are a really good option for container planting since you don't need a very deep container. There are still a lot more seeds in the packet, so I'm looking forward to growing many more of these babies.
Friday, June 23, 2006
This volunteer plant seems to be very happy, sending up large, thin, heart-shaped, slightly hairy leaves. The plant is about 12 inches high now. I don't see any buds yet. Oh, and the whiteflies are enjoying it.
I did wonder if it was a melon plant because last year I planted a melon vine just a few feet from this spot and I thought a seed might have gone astray. But I can't remember exactly what those leaves looked like and I don't see any sign of this plant vining yet.
Can you name this plant?
Monday, June 19, 2006
I checked my postings to see when I planted the mesclun seeds, but it looks like I forgot to mention when I did it. To the best of my recollection, I planted them around May 18th, which means it was a month from seed-sowing to harvest. I want to keep track of that because I want to see if I can keep them growing year-round and I'll need to know how often I need to re-seed.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
I can't decide whether I'm depressed to think that we're so close to doomsday that this kind of facility is necessary, or relieved that someone is making plans to survive it. Probably the former, but maybe I'll feel better after a little gardening...
Friday, June 16, 2006
I went to Urban Ore in Berkeley a couple days ago and went home with two great finds. One is a white-and-rust metal hanging planter. My plan is to let it get completely rusty and use it as a centerpiece in the area that is now my vegetable bed. In the fall I plan on re-doing that entire bed and I think that this planter mounted on a pole or post of some kind in the center of the bed will look great.
My other find was a blue metal store display rack of some kind. It caught my eye because it's such a terrific shade of blue, but I knew right away it would make a great trellis for the mystery berry plant I was going to pot and re-locate. Here it is happily soaking up the sun in a new redwood pot.
The result was a nice orderly bed with room for the plants I really wanted. The sweet peas, about 8 or 9 inches tall, will now get the sun they need and hopefully a growth spurt. The poppies will have a little room to spread too. A couple liriope have started to make an appearance and there are a few mystery plants as well that I left in place until I can identify them. Then I was able to add some newcomers. In the far left corner of the bed I planted a small climbing shell vine that I'm hoping will grow up and fill the lattice work of the fence to give a little privacy. And I planted two angel trumpets, which I want to train into tree-like shapes, also to give a little privacy along that fence. And to fill in the empty spots, I sowed some crackerjack marigold seeds.
I dare the tomatoes to come back.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Yes, I should have realized that was what they were. I've had volunteer tomatoes come up in the same area where I'd planted them the previous year, but I've never grown tomato plants in this bed. And I never would have imagined that so many volunteers would sprout--there must be between one and two dozen plants. They've actually come up more successfully than the seeds I planted there myself! I can only assume that it is the result of racoons having late-night picnics in my yard.
Today I spent an hour or so potting up a berry plant, two roma bush beans, and two bell pepper plants. But in the next few days, I'll be digging up all of the tomato plants and potting them up. I guess I'll keep a few and try to find nice homes for the rest. As if there isn't enough to do in the yard, now I'm running an adoption service for vegetables!
Sunday, June 11, 2006
With somewhere between 60 and 70 everbearing strawberry plants now, I would have expected to have a bit heavier and a bit more consistent harvest. But so far the strawberries are trickling in. The Ogallalla berries, which are in two strawberry pots, are the only ones that have ripened so far and overall, they are not nearly as sweet and not even as big as the Quinault. The Quinault, however, have been very slow to come in. Usually, I can start picking berries in March, but there are only two Quinault berries that are even close to ripening. I think the spring rains and my overhaul last month of the strawberry bed has slowed them down, but I'm hoping they'll kick in soon.
My dwarf Meyer Lemon tree has only a couple not-quite-ripe lemons on it right now, but quite a few buds, so I'm hoping that it will continue to produce well (given its size). I'm considering getting a couple more citrus trees (perhaps a ruby red grapefruit and either a navel orange or a Satsumi tangerine) this fall to espalier along the fence in between the roses.
The mystery berry (raspberry? blackberry? black raspberry?) I found growing under the delphinium and moved to the new compost bed is doing OK, but I've decided to move it to a pot. For one thing, that will enable me to re-locate it to an area that gets sun all day. Also, since I plan on reworking the area where the compost beds are in the fall, I'd have to move them sooner or later anyway. I found a good, deep redwood pot yesterday and weird but interesting and functional metal store display thingie that will work well as a trellis. I hope to get it repotted in the next few days.
Lettuces and Greens
Two wood pots of mesclun lettuces are sprouting away and I think I'll be able to start harvesting in a few weeks. The spinach I planted in a container is doing great, while the spinach starts I transplanted to the compost bed withered and died. (I've come to the conclusion that the compost I had delivered may have included a heavy proportion of pine needles and chips and therefore may be rather acidic.) I've also started a few cabbages from seed, which I will transplant to pots when they're a bit bigger. One of the great things about having these in pots is that I can keep the lettuces cool under the pergola on the deck and out of the path of nibbling pests.
Beans and Peppers
I have two Roma bean plants that I started from seed and two Bell pepper plants I bought that are currently in the compost bed--and looking rather sickly. Again, I think this compost is just too acidic, so they're going to get transferred to pots. Hopefully, they'll perk up. I also want to start more of the Roma beans--I hope to get enough beans to freeze and I know that two plants won't produce that much.
I've also found one thing at least that is happy to be in the compost bed--corn. I planted seeds a couple weeks ago and they're already a few inches high. After I take out the beans, peppers, and berry plant, I'm going to replant that bed with more corn, plus I'm going to build one more compost bed and seed that with corn as well.
I also took a chance with some baby dutch yellow potatoes that I bought at Trader Joe's and planted some of them in the compost bed as well. They should be OK with the acidic compost, and although I know it's recommended that you only plant certified seed potatoes and not the potatoes you buy in the grocery store, these potatoes were so delicious I thought I'd just give it a try. So far, nothing's sprouted, but I'm hopeful.
I know the extremely small scale of my farming efforts may be laughable to some, but I think things are working better this way than in past years when I've planted fewer types of vegetables, but more plants and gotten bumper crops that were hard to keep up with. Given my small gardening space and the fact that I'm a one-person household, I think I'll do better with smaller, rotating crops and an effort to keep something edible growing year-round. I've learned some tips from other blogs, especially The Path to Freedom Journal, that with the right techniques (container and vertical gardening, in particular), it's possible to get a good output no matter how big your gardening space is.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
This is what it looked like on April 6:
But just two months later, it has reached the top of the pergola and is starting to wrap over the top. It has filled out beautifully and is loaded with gorgeous magenta blooms. Now this is progress!
Friday, June 02, 2006
I couldn't remember most of the plant names, so I've just thrown up all the photos without identification. My camera and my photography skills do not do these plants justice. The colors were much more vivid than they appear here.