Kicking off the 2015 Garden: Indoor Planting

Garden planting time might be my favorite time of year. The weather is finally turning warm, it’s pleasant to be outside again, and the whole world feels full of potential. This March has been warm and sunny so far, and in a fit of vitamin-d influenced optimism, last weekend, I started our 2015 garden.

spinach_seedling
Our first seedling of the year was this little spinach sprout. I planted three pots worth of spinach, which are living in our dining room window. I have three more pots to plant next week, to hopefully keep greens in rotation most of the spring. We didn’t have much luck planting greens in the ground last year. A combination of too much clay and ants made the leafy parts slow to grow, but the plants quick to bolt, so I’m sticking with pots this year.

tomato_seedlings
I am attempting grow all of our summer vegetables from seed this year. We spent a ton on seedlings last year, and this year I’m hoping to grow more plants. We currently have about two dozen little tomato seedlings, and I’m hoping to put them all in the ground.

basil_seedlings
Last year was a disaster four our herbs. We got a late start on them and the soil in our yard was so poor, the only thing that took was the mint. I missed fresh basil so much, that this year I’m hedging my bets and have a whole pallet of basil seeds sprouting.

Basil seedlings are so cute and determined looking, I find myself peering into the tray multiple times a day, just admiring their fortitude.

root_vegetable_seeds
If our Earth boxes are thawed enough, because last week they were still big blocks of frozen dirt, I’m going to bring them inside and start our first rounds of root vegetables. We also had trouble with these in the ground last year, they grew, but they were slow to take off and by the time they were sizable, they were also bitter. The ones we ate small, however, were delicious.

I’m hoping that planting the spring vegetables inside this year will give us more opportunity to get the yard ready for summer veggies and herbs and flowers. Our soil is so full of clay, I could take up ceramics and never need to buy it. We’re planning on working the compost we’ve been making since we moved in a year and a half ago into the soil and building up a few inches above the ground–we did this last year, but we decided we needed to go a few inches higher than that.

What are you planting this year?

Weekend Garden Update

After a few weeks off, we’re back with an update of what’s going on in the garden!

Our tomato plants are completely loaded, but every time I tried to take a picture of the tomatoes, my camera flipped out, so I have no tomato photos.

many jalapenos 08162014
I do have plenty of jalapenos growing. My spicy peppers seem to be doing much better than my sweet peppers. I am going to have tons of jalapenos, cayennes, and tabascos.

tiny cucumber 08162014
The cucumbers keep producing, but we’re at the time of year when you have to pick them fast, or they go bitter.

amaryllis belladonna perhaps
And we have more surprise flowers.

clump o amaryllis
Now I know absolutely nothing about flowers. The wild sunflower is the state flower of Kansas, after that, I’m out. So I had no idea what these were even though they are popping up in just about every yard in my neighborhood right now.

amaryllis in my yard
According to a google search, they appear to be Amaryllis belladonna, but I wouldn’t count on me to pick out edible plants in the wilderness, if you know what I mean. They’re very pretty, though they kind of smell like baby poop (or at least something in their vicinity smells very strongly of baby poop.) Anybody know if I’m right?

Zucchini Noodles and Pasta Sauce

zucchini noodles and meat sauce
One of my favorite ways to eat all the fresh veggies from the garden in the summer, is to make a quick pasta sauce. I make a pretty easy tomato sauce with garlic, onion, oregano, basil, salt and pepper with a pinch or two of cayenne. I usually also add about a pound of ground meat. The first eggplant of the year went into this sauce, as well a bit of frozen broccoli and scraps of zucchini leftover from making the noodles.

zucchini noodles

Since I don’t eat wheat, and am not a fan of gluten free pasta, and I am trying to eat healthfully gluten free, but still love pasta sauce, I tend to eat the sauce over vegetable. In the winter, it’s usually cauliflower, but in the summer, when zucchini is plentiful, I love a big old bowl of zucchini noodles.

zucchini and julienne peeler

All it takes is a few medium to large zucchini (I would figure one large one per person–a great way to use up the summer zucchini bounty) and a julienne peeler. I cut up my zucchini, coat the noodles in a bit of coconut oil, add a dash of salt and pepper, and microwave them for a minute or two. Super simple.

crazy daisy pyrex
My favorite microwave safe dish.

Weekend Garden Update

This week has been full of last harvests and first blooms.

instagram carrots
We harvested the last of the peas and carrots, and tomorrow we’re tearing up the spring veggie beds and planting pumpkins.

secondandthirdtomatoes

firsttomato
The first tomatoes showed up.

eggplant blossoms
The eggplant started blooming. I love eggplant blossoms. Aren’t they gorgeous?

firstzucchini
The first teeny tiny zucchini.

thelonepepper
And the lone pepper.

Weekend Garden Update

lookatthoseeffortlessberries

The garden continues to grow, in both the size and number of plants. Last Sunday we worked in the garden all afternoon, and I have the sunburn on the back of my neck to prove it.

Aside from weeding, we trellised the tomatoes and the cucumbers.

tomato trellis
We haven’t tried to get rid of the clover that’s between the beds, we do mow it and attempt to keep it from creeping into the beds, which it really wants to do, and with all the compost we added to the soil, I don’t blame it. This clover is awash with bees. The buzz along side us as we work, and it’s so much fun to see them. It’s no secret that I want my own hive(s) at some point, but with my small yard and, you know, the fact that we don’t own this house. I don’t fancy asking the landlord about bringing hundreds of bees onto the property when he was very skeptical of our one, very tidy cat.

pepperplants
After finally preparing the good ole Earth Boxes we used at the apartment, I go the pepper seedlings in. We have three sweet and three spicy planted. We grew one pepper plant last year, but because of all the moving, we never harvested any of the peppers. They were spicy edibles, but we mostly ended up using it as an ornamental plant, so these plants will yield our first pepper harvest. It’s hard to make out in the photo, but somehow, one of our seedlings got fertilized while it was sitting in the dining room window, waiting for us to get our act together (this isn’t that much of a shock, we live the door open most of the weekend to allow the cat to come and go, so a bee or two sneaking in isn’t that surprising.) We should have our first ripe cayenne pepper soon!

One of the advantages of continuing to use our Earth Boxes, is that setting them up in line with the current garden rows starts setting up a new row for next year.
startingnewbeds
The boxes are very effective at killing the grass.

rabbitnibbledzucchini
This is a zucchini plant. It’s hard to tell, really, because what I suspect must be a little rabbit friend, keeps eating it down to the barest stems, letting it grow a couple of feeble leaves, and then eating it down again. There is evidence of some other bunny grazing throughout the garden, but this seems to be its favorite plant. It’s still coming back though, hardy little plant.

nibbledzucchini
This is the nibbled zucchini from the top.

thezucchininextdoor
Just for comparison, this is the zucchini plant that lives next door.

For now, we aren’t doing much about the rabbit. It seems to prefer the one plant, and really, putting up a second fence (the whole yard is fenced) around the whole garden seems a bit extreme just yet. We’ll see how the season progresses.

Perhaps the most exciting news of all, is that we visited the local garden store today and brought home a blackberry bush!
theblackberrybush
myfirstblackberrybush
My grandparents always raised blackberries. We used to go over to their house and pick blackberries in the summer. My grandmother made blackberry jelly for us every year and the most amazing blackberry cobbler…it’s still one of my favorite desserts. Blackberries are part of my fondest childhood memories, and I’ve always wanted to grow my own.

My sketches of possible garden plans last fall when we first signed the lease for this house included blackberry bushes all along the southern fence line. (There is room for five or six bushes.) I knew then that blackberry bushes like I bought today ran about $25-$35 each, so five or six bushes in one year was completely unrealistic unless that’s all I was planting. We came away with one today, but I plan on adding at least one more next year. I look forward to picking blackberries with my sons, and making them jellies and cobblers to remember as they grow older.

gardenharvest06092014
This week’s harvest saw the first of our decent-sized carrots and the last of the turnips. I still have a few beets in the ground, but I’m pulling them today so we can mow over the bed and replant it with pumpkins for the fall harvest.

Weekend Garden Update*

*I started this post three days ago, so you might actually have read this on the weekend. But that’s life with an infant. Also, I have actually been spending time out in he garden.

tomatobed

We planted our summer seedlings in mid-May–so about right on time. We have 8 tomato plants this year, all big, hearty heirlooms. Six are your normal big red varieties, but we also planted two Cherokee Purple, just for fun.

cucumber
Brock and I like cucumber so much, we have a whole bed of them. This one looks particularly hearty. I’m hoping to have plenty for fresh cucumbers and enough for pickles.–which I have never made before, so that should be fun. Look for adventures in canning, right here, coming soon.

eggplant
Eggplant. We have two plants this year. In years past, we’ve easily been fed by one eggplant, but we really like it, so we went with two. We might be eating a lot of baba ganoush later on this year.

zuchinni
Zucchini. I have only tried growing this once before, when we were doing our container garden. It was dreadfully windy that year. Even windier than usual in Kansas. The plant got half uprooted early on in the summer and all of the fruit it produced grew just larger than wee and then shriveled up and died–except one, that we didn’t find until we were pulling the plants out of the boxes for the year. It was hidden in all the blown over leaves and it was gargantuan. (There might even be a photo in the archives from 2012.) We didn’t do anything with it. It was too old and the skin had become a rind. It wasn’t quite the experience every says it is, growing zucchini, with having more fruit than you know what to do with. This year we have three plants (if the rabbits ever let the third one grow), I’m hoping to not end up with three, giant, inedible zucchini.

06052014Harvest
These are the vegetable I had in my salad tonight.

2014 Garden

You know what I haven’t talked about yet this year? My Garden! Which is awful, because this is the first year ever I’ve had a yard and planted stuff in the ground!

We didn’t get around to planting our spring crops until the last weekend in March, which is a little late for Kansas weather, because you never know, it could start being 90 degrees everyday the first weekend in April. I was gigantically pregnant, and the ground was barely soft enough to dig. Our soil was far more clay-ee than I expected, so that was fun to work with on hands and knees at full term.

peas
We planted peas–and for the first year in four years of planting peas, I have actual peas on the vines. I am so excited!

carrots
For the first time, we planted carrots. I have no idea how these will grow, but the greens keep getting bigger, so I am assuming they are growing down there, despite the clay.

beets
Beets! I think we’ll only get a handful of beets, and even if they are bit size, I will eat them.

turnips
The turnips germinated like crazy, and because I was ridiculously pregnant and busy nesting, I didn’t get back outside to weed or thin the seedlings, so I have a blanket of turnip greens in the turnip bed. We’ll see if any turnips develop. The weeds in that bed have also been nearly impossible to keep up with.

first harvest
And the radishes are my first successful crop from an in-the-ground-garden. These were extra spicy radishes.

Next time, we’ll talk about the summer plants!