Friday, June 20, 2008

Barbecue at Our House

A break from the traditional, I'd like to invite you to a barbecue at Cam's house. Good food and a fun time.

Remember that salad I mentioned last week? I made it for a few friends, and they loved it! Lettuce from the garden, feta cheese, grilled shrimp, and strawberries! Yum!

It was delicious! You should have been there. The lettuce was crisp and so refreshing. Sadly, a few days after the barbecue, the lettuce bolted!

Below: The sad pictures. We didn't pick the lettuce fast enough. We kept waiting for it to become a head. Next year, we won't wait so long...

I'm glad I was able to take a last bite into the lettuce. Maybe we'll have better luck with lettuce next year. Back to the barbecue . . .

The raw and seasoned

And the cooked... minutes before we gobbled it all up

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tomato Update and More Plums

It's been a while since I blogged about the tomatoes in the SFG. Out of all my vegetables, they are doing the best. Although a majority of them are still green, they're getting larger and staying very healthy.

Surprisingly, the larger varieties are getting huge. After the mini-drought of the last few weeks haven't stopped them! The fruit is getting larger and new fruit continues to form. I sprayed organic insecticidal soap on all my plants recently, so hopefully that will keep the aphids and nasty bugs away. Cam also bought a large plastic owl from Wal-Mart. He says it'll keep the birds away from the garden.

Below: The large tomato varieties. Big Boy, Bonnie Original, Whopper

I wonder how much longer I will need to wait until these green tomatoes turn red? I'm not doing anything to these plants except watering. I wonder if I need to do anything extra to the soil to help the fruits ripen quicker.

The cherry and grape tomatoes continue to ripen. Sadly, the first red cherry tomato was not edible. The bugs had eaten part of the flesh, so my much anticipated taste test has been delayed. I hope the bugs don't get any more of my plants.

Below: The cherry tomatoes begin to yellow and turn orange. Red coming up!

The windy days of early June blew many of my grape tomatoes off the plant. I only have a few left, but new ones have started to grow. The ones that survived the wind are also beginning to have color.

Below: The grape tomatoes.

I know you must be so sick of hearing about the plum tree... but man, I'm harvesting more and more plums every day. Sadly, my family cannot harvest them all in time. First, we're all short people and our ladder isn't tall enough to reach the top of the tree. The plums are ripening and constantly fall to the ground.

Below: The ground near the plum tree is scattered with deep red, extremely ripe plums.
It's a sad sight. To think I could have picked all of those plums before they fell to the ground. But alas, they all ripen at different times. As I was harvesting today, several plums fell from the tree and I couldn't catch them in time. They ended up being food for the animals. Maybe a rabbit or two will eat these instead of the other vegetables in the garden.

Not to worry, there is still plenty of plums left on the tree. There are branches that are still full of semi-green and pink fruit. Tomorrow is another day and more plums will need harvesting.

Below: More plums to look forward to...

Below: Here is my harvest for today. Two large colanders worth of plums.

If I had to guess, I think both weighed more than 10 pounds each. I don't know what I am going to do with all the plums. They are definitely way too much to eat. They will spoil. Anyone know any good recipes?

I may learn how to make plum jam. Has anyone ever made homemade jam? I'd love tips.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

All about Melons

Last week, I blogged about the watermelon plants at my parents’ house. Today, I thought I’d revisit them. There are three in total, and they are spreading very quickly. I took my dad’s advice and planted them far apart (2-3 feet) from each other. It’s a good distance, and they continue to grow.

Dave from the Home Garden mentioned that I should pinch off one of the flowers that were growing on watermelon # 1. So I did, and I’m waiting for the plants to get longer. Hopefully more flowers (and melons to follow) will start growing.

Below: The Three Watermelon Plants

They all look the same, but they are growing at different speeds and are different sizes. They are healthy and not dried up like Cam's watermelons. I'll have to post pictures of the SFG ones soon. They do not look healthy.

Above: Cantaloupe

The cantaloupe that I planted in one of the raised beds has started to flower. There are two yellow flowers underneath the green foliage. They are very pretty and look healthy, so I’m looking forward to progression of these melons.

As you can see, this circular raised bed isn't the largest, and the cantaloupe is already starting to take up a majority of the space. I hope the bell pepper, tomatoes, and eggplants (planted around the bed) don't mind. Ha! I guess we'll see.

Below: The cantaloupe flowers up-close

The cantaloupe plant, like the watermelon, really likes to spread. Not a surprise since both are melons. I wonder if I’ll have enough fruit for a salad.

Random Story:

Once when I was a teenager, a bird pooped out a seed of some kind. Weeks went by and no one noticed a little plant that grew. A month or two later, a baby watermelon started to form. Then everyone paid attention. Sadly, it was not to be. The watermelon grew into the size of a small basketball, and the vine died. We opened it up and it was immature, white inside.

I hope that history does not repeat itself. Now onto testing the soil in the SFG... I see trouble ahead. :-D

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Failed Garden Down... Another Thriving Garden To Come

Well I guess I wouldn't say that my vegetable garden at Cam's is a failure. I'm just disappointed at how things are turning out. My bell peppers, which had hope for new fruit and were flowering constantly, have started to turn for the worse.

Below: A few weeks ago, this little brown knob (where my finger is) used to be green, and it looked like it would be growing into another bell pepper. Now it's about to die.

Below: And this baby bell is very dried out, and I don't think it's going to grow any bigger.

I blame it on the rain--lack of rain, that is. It did rain over the weekend (Friday and Saturday), so that helps. I don't know if my soil is turning bad or if I need to add something to it, but my plants are not liking whatever I'm doing. The tomatoes are fine, but the bell peppers don't look so hot.

The soil isn't the mix that Mel Bartholomew (founder of Square Foot Garden and author of SFG books) recommends, but his mix seemed to be too expensive to buy. So Cam and I mixed Miracle Grow Organic Gardening Soil and topped it with Organic Top Soil. We bought it at Lowe's and Home Depot.

I am seriously going to look into a soil test kit. Cam wants to send the soil off to get tested, but I don't have the patience. I'll let you know what we decide. In the meanwhile, I need to figure out how to get rid of the bugs, aphids and slugs that keep eating my lettuce. Urg.

Onto to the second topic of this post: a thriving garden. My parents' raised bed garden seems to be doing very well. I'm growing corn in one of the raised bed. My dad has been working this soil for 10 years, and it's amazing. He adds more manure and top soil every year, and it's been productive.

I decided to try corn again. It is failing at Cam's house, but at my parent's house, it's actually thriving. I planted seeds in two rows, and the leaves are green and continue to grow at a brisk pace.

Below: Two rows of healthy corn.

I'm very optimistic this time. Corn is hard to grow, but I just want one ear of corn to eat. Just one.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tulips and Cabbage

Gorgeous tulips for father's day. These are my favorite flowers. My parents grew tulips in their garden a few years ago, but they haven't in recent years. I think these are just pretty. They are dainty, elegant and brighten even the dullest day.

The cabbage in the vegetable garden is growing pretty nicely. There have been a few bug problems, so I'll need to spray them with something. The lettuce is also having bug and ant problems. Sadly, the critters are slowly eating the lettuce away. And the slugs are plentiful. *sighs* I have so much work to do.

In the meanwhile, here's a new photo of our cabbage.