Sunday, May 27, 2012

Attack of the Killer Cucumber

Yes, it is terrifying...especially for my poor pepper plant that is this crazy cuke's next door neighbor.  I was in such a rush to get all of the tendrils off the pepper, I didn't stop to take a picture of it strangling her but here is a hint of what this monster is doing and I'm so thankful that I only have one!  YIKES! 
It's almost like she's beckoning you, isn't it? Reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors so I think I may have to name her Audrey.  And, I've called out enough "B" movies for one post, I think.  So, this is actually just a regular cucumber.  Nothing remarkable about the variety but they do climb and if you don't have a large enough trellis to start with it (read:  I did not have a large enough trellis to start with.), you will be coaxing her onto an old, battered tomato cage left over from the previous owners but thank goodness, it was around.  You can see it there in the right side of the picture.  She has pulled over the darling little ladder trellis that I had to have (and, thought would be sufficient) so everyday, I pull it back up hoping that she'll balance herself out and leave the trellis where it belongs.  Honestly, I couldn't imagine that cucumbers got so big and ranged so far from their original place.  I have some faint recollection of them being on a mound of dirt or some such thing.
Look at all of the blossoms so I can't complain...she's just doing her job.  I will have lots of cucumbers in addition to the tomatoes that continue to go crazy.  I just harvested a bushel (or what seemed like one) of arugula.  The radishes are finished just in time for one of the butternut squash plants to take over that bed.  Lots of those little guys, too.  May have to do some squash blossoms in one of the next classes...  Still waiting on the beets to grow a bit.  I'm hoping they'll be ready in time for the next Seasonal Vegetable class so stayed tuned for that one.  Carrots continue to grow...beautiful fronds and, yes, you can eat carrot tops, too, so you know we will!  Pesto is on the horizon so if you're coming to class this're getting it, fresh from the garden!  Next week's update...more tomatoes and tomatoes and tomatoes!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just around the corner...

It's hard to know where to begin and what pictures to share simply because I could spend the whole day taking pictures of these darling tomatoes.  They're becoming like children!  I really didn't intend to buy any Romas but as you can see...somehow I ended up with these lovely girls and I say girls because this variety is called "Juliet".  I thought they were going to be grape tomatoes (absolutely love those) but they're already too big for grapes. And, there are going to be a lot of them.  I would say, "get ready for lots of sauce" but I fall into the camp with Mario Batali where I don't use fresh tomatoes for sauce.  Fresh tomatoes should be appreciated for their freshness so don't start making a bunch of sauce with them.  Can them, first, please.  Then, in the winter, make sauce.  The plants have become so large and lush, you almost can't tell where one ends and the next begins. 
These little guys are hidden near the ground but somehow are getting enough love to turn red.                                                                                                                                
Apparently, they were supposed to be in a container garden...oops!  They're early birds though, so they'll be gone first, hopefully before they're over run by their neighbors. 
Like those fellows below....they are heirlooms and aren't they beauties?  Variety name is Brim, not quite sure where that comes from but probably names after someone.  Anyway, I think they're going to have a very interesting kind of squatty shape so I can't wait to see them and then give them a try.   The rest of the garden is happy and healthy.  Almost at the end of radish season and it's a good thing because the butternut squash is trying to take that bed over.  I can't keep up with the arugula and the carrots tops are fuzzy and full.  The cucumber plant has some babies and it tried to wrap itself around one of the pepper plants...luckily, Kornell came to the rescue and moved it back to its trellis.  Now, if the forecasters would get their positive hats on and stop talking about another heinous summer...we'll all be happy!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gardens gone by...

It is has been so many years since I had a garden and then beyond that a garden that was actually productive.  Have I changed?  Have my methods changed?  Both?  Who knows?  All I can say is that this garden holds the promise of time well spent.  I always loved gardens and admired those who could make things grow.  When I was little, my mother had tomatoes.  They were big and red and beautiful but I wouldn't eat them...yuck!  Luckily, my taste buds have changed over the years.  She said her dad (my Grandpa Claude) grew the most beautiful Big Boy tomatoes (I don't see that variety anymore) but hers seemed pretty wonderful to me.  That year though, the birds were getting in her garden and eating them up before they matured.  As you can imagine, she was not happy.  I was probably four or five and watched a lot of cartoons and then The Wizard of Oz and would see scarecrows out in cornfields to chase off the birds.  I decided to help my mother and make a scarecrow for her.  I didn't have any wood so I used yardsticks and made a sort of stick figure then stapled (I think, although I had issues with staple guns...that's another story) a paper scarecrow on to the yardsticks, stuck it in her tomato patch and proudly told her that my scarecrow would chase the birds off.  I'm sure she thought it was cute so left the yardsticks in her garden to humor me but it actually worked and the birds stayed away!  She ended up with lots of tomatoes...none that I would eat, of course, but I liked that I had a part in keeping that garden growing.  That is my first fond memory of gardening and I'm glad that it happened to be with my mother.

This past week was mulching week.  Grass clippings from the lawn went onto the beds.  All around the tomatoes and in between the rows of green.  Whoa!  Did things take off!  Some of the tomato plants already have fruit.  The radishes (first picture) have bushy greens.  The carrots required another thinning.  The cucumber and the squashes are vining and have blossoms.  I think I will be harvesting baby arugula in the next couple of weeks...can't wait!

The beets are a little slower to grow.  They probably would do a lot better if I could keep the critters from running through them.  I may have to fire Hooty, he is present but not consistent so yardsticks and staple gun may be next!   And we can't finish without a look or two at the tomatoes and a peek at the herbs.  See you next week!