Monday, June 3, 2013

Garden Update - Things are growing!

I'm really glad I made the decision to do my garden updates every other week.  Changes and growth are so much more noticeable!
If you follow my Facebook page, you already know that the arugula has been harvested for the first time, in the name of a delicious B-A-T sandwich (bacon, arugula and tomato).  I cannot take credit for the Beefsteak lovely that we enjoyed with the greens but it did come from a farmstand close to Fort Gibson.  I pass it on the way to my boyfriend's house in the country and it is almost impossible to keep my car from making the little detour off the road to see what there is each week.  The stand is actually a very small red frame house, no more than 10 x 15. It has an old screen door posted with a sign that says "No dogs inside".  The farmer, Mr. Harrison, built it for his wife so she could sell vegetables from their garden after she became ill and couldn't work any longer.  The farmstand gave her something to do and all the visitors kept her company during the day.  She has since passed but Mr. Harrison keeps the stand open during the summer growing season.  And, although he does grow a lot of what is in the stand, I believe these tomatoes were from near the Arkansas border since we haven't had enough tomato growing weather yet but still, local enough.
Here is another charmer...many times when you stop in at the stand, no one is there.  It runs on the honor system so there is a small, spiral notebook where visitors write down what they bought and how much money they left in the little lock box on the card table.  Luckily, I had a ten so I was able to buy 5 lbs of tomatoes...because there was no one there when I stopped in.  Hard to believe that the honor system still works but isn't it nice to know that sometimes it does?
There is much to be said for buying local or growing your own.  As we were building the B-A-T (we added avocado too so I guess it was really a B-A-A-T), we couldn't help but remark on the difference between buying arugula in the grocery and pulling it out of your backyard garden.  Just think of all the people and machinery that touched the store bought arugula as it made its way to the grocery (and how dependent we are on that!).  It was harvested just like mine but that's where the similarity ends.  How long does it take to get it from the field to the store?  It must be harvested, picked over, packaged, distributed, transported and probably more that I can even think of.  And, then, on the other hand, there is walking outside to the backyard with a pair of scissors, clipping what you need, bringing it in, rinsing it, drying it and eating it.  Crazy, isn't it?  That's as close to philosophical as I'm going to get so...on to the pictures!  I know that's what you really came here for anyway, not to hear me wax poetic! is yesterday's arugula harvest.  Barely touched what was there but it was more than enough for two sandwiches.  So the rest of the crew in those boxes are from left to right starting at the bottom...two rows of Italian parsley (I don't know why one row is doing better than the other), then the other two rows are the arugula.  If you are a novice gardener, you should really try growing arugula to start out.  It's like a weed.  Easy to grow and just keeps coming back.  Then in the top box, there are radishes (why I only planted one row, I have no idea) then chioggia (candy cane) beets, bok choy and escarole.  The escarole is gorgeous!  And, what can I say, I just love those peppery, bitter greens.  Also, escarole is one of those amazing greens that stays intact even when wilted.  I put it in soup for the first time, many years ago, and couldn't believe how well it behaved.  I thought it was going to act like spinach and just melt away.  It did not!  I have been a fan ever since.

The sugar snap peas are doing quite well and are running up the trellises.  I don't know if you can tell in this picture but there are lots of white flowers so I am anticipating pea pods by the next update!  You can kind of see the pumpkins peeking out at the lower left hand side of the picture but that clearly does not do those beauties justice so take a look at this...nice, huh?!  These plants should bring us some pie pumpkins so we can have real pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year.  Fingers crossed! 

Next photograph, eggplants!  OMG!  I think I'm going to have so much eggplant, I'm going to be paying people to take them.  These two plants are lovely and with just those, not too out of control, right?  But...I planted a bunch of seeds in Jiffy Pots and I had them identified by variety then I put them outside to harden off, a storm blew in (imagine that!?) and all of my markers with it.  I had no idea what I was planting and I think I planted a BUNCH of eggplants.  YIKES!  We're going to find out shortly but I think there are at least three or four more plants. 

Some of the pepper plants are doing very well but not all of them and, once more, I don't know which is which.  I also think I've got a tomatillo or two in there but all of the markers washed away or something so I feel like the biggest ditz.  Ummm, yeah, I have this really nice garden but I just planted all these seeds and plants and I don't know what they are!  Holy smokes!!

In the bottom of the pepper photo are onion starts.  My boyfriend put them in and he says they'll grow into big round onions but we don't know what variety they are either!  Oh well, you spins the wheel, you  takes your chance!

Then, there are the tomatoes.  If I get one fruit off these plants it's going to be a miracle.  I was so stoked to have all these great heirloom varieties.  Between the critters and cutworms, I guess, they haven't done squat.  And, it hasn't helped that the weather has been cool and rainy.  They are starting to perk up a bit but I still think I'm going to lose two more of them,  Just in case, I planted a couple of other things next to them...I don't know what they are but they looked healthy so....
not knowing what it is hasn't stopped me up to this point, why should I start identifying things now or worrying about it?
I was looking at pictures from last year's garden and at how amazing the tomato plants were at this point.  But also remember that the squirrels, birds, tomato worms and heat did most of them in.  So, I haven't given up!  I sprayed everyone with Miracle Gro this morning and I have great looking compost that will go on at the end of next week so all is not lost! 

Especially since the herbs are doing beautifully.  Lush, full and fragrant. 

I have already been using them in the cooking classes so we will end on a happy note by taking a look at the rosemary, sage, oregano, basil and thyme (there's also a little bit of tarragon in there but he's still a baby).  
And, to think, I was going to pull out the rosemary and sage and start over!  Well, you just never know!

And as always...

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