Saturday, June 14, 2008

Plum pickin’ fun

This year, the plum tree are full of fruit. More than we've ever had before. The other years that we've had plums, the birds and worms had a taste before we ever got the chance. The plums weren't as red or juicy as this year's. But this year, we've hit the gold pot! Tons and tons of fruit. Enough for the birds, worms, other little creatures and us humans!

The extremely ripe plums have dropped and are now scattered all over the ground. The birds have been picking at them, and they look delicious… If only they weren't on the ground. However, I was able to harvest a few ripe and semi-ripe plums from the lower tree branches. Sadly, the best fruit is still high above in the tree tops.

Above: The ripe plums . . . high above me, beyond my reach

I tried to climb up on a ladder to reach some of the ripe plums, but alas I was too short. (I’m only 5’0). I’m going to have to get Cam (he’s 6’2) to climb and try to harvest them for me. I wanted to make plum preserves, but with the way they are ripening, I don’t think I’m going to have a chance anytime soon.

For some reason, the plums on the lower branches are taking much longer to ripen than the plums on the highest branches. Maybe as the summer passes, I’ll be able to harvest more plums. Well, if the birds don’t beat me to it. Another chance for me to learn the virtue of patience!

Below: My meager harvest for today. Not enough to make preserves, but plenty for a delicious weekend snack.

Thank you for everyone's comments on the snake. My sister has been doing some research, and she says that the snake looked like a rat snake. Not poisonous, but still scary! Hopefully we've seen the last of him.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Attempt at Growing Green Beans

Today's post is short and sweet.

With the failure of my pea plants at Cam's house, I am optimistic about the green beans that I'm trying to grow at my parents' home. Two weeks ago, my sister and I planted two long row of bean seeds (one in full sun and one in partial shade). I'm going to see which one survives the summer.

Below: The bean seedlings are coming up.
On a shocking note, my sister saw a 6-foot snake sitting on my parents' porch yesterday. She said she didn't know what kind it was, but it was long and it had a bulge in its body. She assumed it was an animal the poor snake killed. It slithered away after an hour of lying in the shade. My mom wanted to call Animal Control, but they were closed by that time.

Anyone know what you do if you find a poisonous snake in your yard and you don't want it there?

Well happy news... it's cloudy and rain is a possibility. Yay!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Haircut and sinking deeper into the end… Plus a red bell pepper

I have to write more about the weather. It’s driving me bananas. It rained today . . . for about 30 seconds. And it wasn’t rain, it was sprinkles. Looking outside around lunch time, I saw hope of rain and cooler weather. Unfortunately, my hopes for my plants were dashed. The sun came out a few minutes later.

Funny how Tennessee weather is! I normally love sunny days and Tennessee summers, but ever since I took up gardening, I’m not such a fan of the hot, humid days. My long, black hair could not take all the heat. My head gets way too hot! So I decided to cut about 8 inches off! Now I have shoulder length hair.

(I'm not looking my best, and the lighting is horrible because we were inside a restaurant.)

Enough of my random musings! Thanks to everyone who pointed out that peas are a cool weather vegetable. I probably should have researched that before I decided to plant it. But I’m an impatient gardener who loves to experiment. Sadly, the peas are doing worse today. They are one day away from death.

See for yourselves! (In the first picture, you'll see that I tried to add "plant food/fertilizer" to the soil, hoping it would make a difference.)

In happy news, my red bell pepper in the front is starting to turn red. It’s only palm-size, and I’ve decided that when it gets completely red, I’ll pick it and make one fajita!

Below: The bell pepper last week

Below: The bell pepper gets more color this week (you can see my shadow looming over it)

Even if this year’s crop is a bust, I’ll still have good memories of crisp lettuce and palm-sized bell peppers to remember. Plus, I also harvested spinach a few times. But unfortunately, we waited too long and the plant flowered and then died. Maybe next year we’ll have better luck.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hot Weather, Watermelon and New Seedlings

Boy has it been hot in Nashville! I've never wanted it to rain more than I do today. Even poor Luka thinks its too hot. Late yesterday afternoon, we took a nice walk around the neighborhood and she was perfectly behaved. I believe she is now officially leashed-trained, but today she didn't even want to leave her air-conditioned sun room. She just laid there and hugged my leg.

My plants are also taking a beating. These peas that Cam and I planted a few weeks ago are starting to die yellow and die (see below).

I really think that it must be the heat. Before all the hot weather, these pea seedlings were green and thriving. Now look at them. They're not getting any bigger, and every day I discover any leaf that has yellowed. It's really depressing.

I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings... I hope the rain revitalizes my garden. But from the looks of things, this hot weather is slowly killing many of my hopeful vegetables. So far, only the lettuce, tomato plants, and strawberry plants seem to be unaffected. More on this dilemma in a post later this week.

Turning over to my garden at my parents' house. My sister and I planted lettuce seeds and carrot seeds last week, and they've started to sprout. I think we'll need to thin it out somehow, but everything looks good so far!

Below: The lettuce (left and middle row) and carrot (right row) seedlings

Below: The carrot seedlings up-close

The watermelon plants are also doing very well in this weather. The plant (below) was only planted a few weeks ago, but it's starting to flower! I'm feeling very hopeful.

Now let's hope that the hot weather doesn't start affecting these plants as well! *sighs* I want the rain to come. Maybe I'll do a little rain dance for fun. :-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Harvest Time!

Yesterday, I decided that it was time to harvest another head of lettuce. I was going to follow some of your advice—taking a few leaves of lettuce at a time, so that the head can continue to grow. The only problem is that we have more than six heads of lettuce that are still growing in the garden. Way too much lettuce to eat at once! So I'm going to wait to try the other method when I'm down to 2-3 lettuce heads.

Below: A nice, large head of lettuce ready for harvesting!

The lettuce heads are actually starting to form a head. Cam and I have been waiting all summer for his development! But for this particular lettuce head, I was afraid that if I continued to let it grow any larger, it would begin to seed and get very bitter.

Plus, I was in the mood of creating my signature salad: caramelized shrimp, bite-size oranges, almonds, and refreshing lettuce tossed with balsamic vinaigrette. I know it's not amazing or novel, but I love this salad. It combines all my favorite ingredients. Plus it's chocked full of vitamin C!

Below: A few pictures of the lettuce head after it was harvested. Delicious!

You can tell in the picture that a few bugs got a mini-bite of the lettuce before we could harvest it. I think I should have sprayed the organic insecticidal soap on it, but most of the greens are edible!

At my parent's house, the plums are beginning to ripen. Because of last year's unfavorable weather, their fruit trees didn't fruit. The frost killed all of the flowers. However, this year has been amazing in terms of the fruit production!

Below: A ripe plum ready to be picked.

Below: See how pretty it looks in my hand?

This plum was juicy and delicious! I cannot wait until more fruit ripens, and I can learn how to make jams, preserves and more! It'll be a summer adventure!

Finally, I thought I'd show a picture of some unripe plums on the tree . . . plus a bird nest! It's too high up for me to see into the nest, but I bet there are some eggs waiting for momma bird to come back!

When little visitors decide to make their home in your garden, that's when you know that you're a successful gardener! My parents planted this plum tree about 10 years ago, and it's been home to some adorable baby birds and one rabbit!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Purple Bell Pepper

Kittens really take up a lot of your time and energy. Luka is a ball of energy, and incredibly needy. Every time I leave the house to go outside, she cries and puts her paws to the window. It's really cute, but at the same time, so tiring! My garden has been neglected for the past weekend because of my little kitten.

But today I was able to leave Luka for a little bit and tend to my "big" baby--my vegetable garden. The purple bell pepper is now almost completely purple. It's kinda strange to think that it was once a tiny little pepper.

Below: The progression of the purple bell.

Now I'm wondering if the bell pepper is ready to be picked or if I should wait and see if it grows any larger? It's a pretty small bell pepper right now.