Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Garden Journal - May 14

I started this blog as much for myself as for anyone else to read, because it helps me remember the recipes I love and keep track of how I've modified them. And suddenly this week, I had the realization that I could do that for the garden as well! As you might expect, I mostly only like to grow vegetables (and other edible things, like fruits and herbs, and sometimes even edible flowers). I'm always experimenting, and I don't consider myself the greatest gardener in the world, but the best way to get better is to keep a journal. So I've decided to start posting my garden journal here from time to time, because it's fun to take photos of plants.


The front yard vegetable beds have artichokes, which are mighty good-looking perennials! They overwintered under a thick bed of leaves from the mulberry trees, even with our cold snap of -10F! I'm not sure why the one artichoke on the left is doing so much better, but they are supposed to become more productive as they get older, so maybe we'll get more than one this year.


Under the cover, cabbages and kale are about 6 inches tall. I hoped the Reemay cover would keep the cabbage-white butterflies off them, but I didn't make it long enough, and sure thing - I saw that little butterfly just cruising through the other day. But I do think the shade is helping. 

In another front-yard bed, I planted Desert King watermelons and Charentais melons (a type of heirloom cantaloupe). I actually direct-seeded these in late April, and not only did they come up, they actually survived the light frost on May 2!


At the other end of this bed is the strawberry patch, with 25 everbearing plants (Seascape, a variety recommended by our Cooperative Extension) from Indiana Berry. They're just little, and one didn't make it, over there on the left. I couldn't resist buying a couple more plants (Tribute, another variety recommended for NM) at the farmers' market this morning, because they already had fruit on them! I think they must have been grown in a hoop house to be so big already.


I planted borage (on the left) next to the strawberry patch, because it is supposed to be a good companion for them, and the gorgeous blue flowers are edible. They taste like cucumbers, and are so pretty in a glass of lemonade! And another weird herb (on the right) - lovage, which tastes like celery. It has lots of tiny flowers in summer that attract pollinators.


The herb bed by the back door is in full bloom - gorgeous! In the left photo, we have chives at the bottom, sage to the left, and behind that, rue and yarrow. At the very back is French tarragon (right photo) - it's pretty fantastic that all these made it through this weird winter.


The oregano (left) is coming back, too - I was a little worried. I'm so excited that the lemon verbena (right) made it through, and I'm always a little nervous because it's so late to leaf out. Like the oregano, it comes back from the roots every year, not from the old stems. The one thing that didn't make it was the pineapple sage. And surprisingly, the rosemary died back a lot, but about half the plant is still ok.

The rhubarb I planted last year is getting really big. Maybe next year I'll actually harvest some. It started leafing out in March, before the lilacs bloomed. I think the key to keeping rhubarb happy is to have it in the middle of the garden, where it gets plenty of water and a little shade from all around.

I'm trying potatoes in a barrel this year, planted in 6 inches of soil at the bottom, with straw piled around them as they grow taller. This should make it easy to harvest the potatoes, but we'll see. There's about 6 inches of straw in there already, and the potatoes are about 6 inches tall above that.

I bought about a dozen starts of different heirloom tomatoes at the Master Gardeners' plant sale - this year was their best ever. They are about 8 inches tall right now. I pinched off the bottom leaves and planted them with as much of the stem covered as seemed reasonable. This helps them grow a more extensive root system.

I gave several away, but the ones I planted in the backyard are Black Krim, Black Sea Man, Sungold, Japanese Black Trifele, Costeluto Genovese, and Mortgage Lifter (ok, that one was from the farmers' market - it's so hard to stop!)  I'm hoping to still plant Black Brandywine, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Stupice, Rio Grande, and Speckled Roman - in keg tubs on the patio.
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