Saturday, August 2, 2008

Slow Growing Cabbage

About a month and a half ago, I planted a 50-lb cabbage seedling that I bought at Home Depot. It was small at first, but I figured it wouldn't take too long to grow. My lettuce only took a month before I could harvest it. I believed cabbage would be the same. (I really should read these labels more carefully, but I don't. When it says 75-80 days on the label, that's when I should start practicing patience).

But I tended to other vegetables and I waited for my cabbage to take shape. Then the bugs came. They poked nice big holes into each of the leaves. (I guess not that big, but still big enough to annoy me).

Below: The cabbage with the holes... In late June

Luckily, the inside leaves (I guess this is what forms the cabbage head) remained intact, and the bugs had managed to stay away. Then I got lazy about spraying the head with anything. I just let it grow. Each day, more holes and more nasty bugs eating my cabbage.

However, as of today, the cabbage has started to show the beginnings of a cabbage head. There are not as many holes in the cabbage leaves, so I'm thankful for that.

Below: The most recent photo of the cabbage. Doesn't it look so beautiful?

And now I have to be more patient because I will probably be able to harvest this cabbage head until the end of September. I'm so glad that Nashville summers last into late September, early October.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tomatoes Are My Friends

With all the talk about cucumbers, corn, and melons, I've neglected to update you on the status of the tomatoes. None have died. In fact, they are all producing like crazy. Actually, the grape tomato plant has grown so tall that the newest flowers reach the bottom of our tall deck.

Below: The grape tomato and the new flowers... Up high in the sky.

The grape tomato has exploded in size, and the number of baby tomatoes growing on the plant is phenomenal. There are just so many ones growing, and I'm so excited about it. The only problem that I have with this plant is that the tomatoes all ripen at different cycles, so I only get a small harvest every few days. I would love to get a huge harvest (a store-sized carton), but alas, my plant does not want to cooperate. Nevertheless, I am still psyched about all the new tomatoes that are growing.

Below: Lots and lots of grape tomatoes.
Below: Keep in mind, this following photo is not sideways. The grape tomato plant has grown so large that this is one branch that has grown over half of the square foot garden box. It has extended so far that it is almost at the edge of the box!

It's strange because the cherry tomatoes have not been as successful as the grape. The cherry tomato plant does have baby tomatoes growing, but it is not growing at the same rate as the grape. I thought the cherry tomato would be just as bountiful, but alas, it is not. Oh well. I'm enjoying the ones that are growing on the plant.

Below: Cherry tomato plant

The cherry tomatoes that we have are a little bit larger than the grape tomatoes. They both taste just delicious when we eat them, so I'm satisfied either way. I love having delicious tomatoes in the summer. It won't be the same this winter when all my plants die and I'm stuck with going to the grocery store to buy bland-tasting tomatoes that could possibly be tainted by e.coli. LoL.

Below: The newest harvest of cherry and grape tomatoes
By the way, I did listen to everyone's advice and I stopped pruning the tomato plants. I've just cut off any of the diseased, yellow, or dead leaves. But other than that, I've just let the plant grow and flourish. They have all done beautifully since I've stopped my overzealous pruning efforts. LoL. Just letting you know! :-)

The larger tomato varieties are growing nicely, but we haven't had a harvest in several weeks. Still, they are growing and we have several tomato candidates that I'm looking forward to. Thankfully, birds have stayed away from the tomatoes lately. I think its because the foliage of the zucchini has prevented them from spotting any of my tomatoes. Hopefully, this will continue to be the case. If not, I will be pretty steamed.

Below: Big Boy Tomatoes...

Below: Rutledge Tomatoes

Below: I think this is the Whopper tomato. It is the largest of the big varieties. I'm most excited about this one!

And finally, I end with a wild kitten on the hunt.

Oh, by the way, I let her outside yesterday while I was tending the garden, and she climbed, not ONE, but TWO trees. I had to yell at her to get down before she climbed down. She is getting too wild... Only three months old, and I may need to invest in a pet GPS.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rainy and Cloudy Days


After all those funny dances in my backyard.... And the neighbors looking at me like I'm a crazy woman... (No, not really. But isn't that a funny image?)

The clouds have been angry, the sky cried, and the thunder rumbled. The earth was blessed by the wet rain drops, and my plants drank it all up.


(And of course, I have to take a zillion photos! Hehe!)

I have not been so excited for rain in such a long time. I did rain once last week (and I think it rained when I was on vacation), but for two days in a row, the rain has come and I've noticed! This means, no watering on my part. No need to get out and facing the nasty bugs that love to bite on my legs and crawl all over my arms and take my sweet blood. (Mosquitoes are getting quite a problem in my neck of the woods...)

My plants don't have a problem with all the rain. They are loving it up! Especially the melons. I'm still waiting for the day when I can pick those sweet watermelons and Freddie....

And by the way, Freddie has a new sister. More on her, next week. I shall call her Betty. I hope she survives her childhood diseases and grows up big and strong!

Now to show you what one of the cucumbers looks like, once you cut it open:

The seeds are a little larger, but not any larger than the ones I tend to buy at the grocery store. And you can taste the freshness of it. So yummy and delicious. And remember those five, long cucumbers I had last week? ALL GONE! I never had a chance to pickle it. My family eats those like they are candy.

My father says that the plants are not producing enough for us, and we have about eight cucumber plants, and all are producing pretty regularly. Isn't that crazy? Maybe next year, we'll plant two beds full of cucumber plants... So you think 14 will be enough to satisfy the cucumber-crazed family?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My Favorite Herb: Houttuynia Cordata

Growing up, my parents were avid gardeners. As I've written about in the past, they used to be farmers in Vietnam, and gardening and farming go hand-in-hand. When we moved to the United States, our first house was one with ample land. But we rented, and although our landlord was one of the nicest men, my parents didn't feel comfortable tearing up the nice grass for their gardening excursions. Instead, they chose a small patch of land to garden on. But due to the space and weather constraints, they decided against growing any vegetables. Instead, they decided to grow traditional Vietnamese mints and herbs.

Today, I want to take time and pay tribute to my favorite herb of all: Houttuynia Cordata or giấp cá in Vietnamese.

Many Americans use this herb as ground cover, but any Vietnamese gardener who grows this will use as part of their diet, their cuisine. It has a distinct smell and a very distinct flavor. Cam can't stand the smell of it, and he gags if I try to make him eat it. Most mints have a strong flavor, but this one isn't just strong. It has a somewhat sour, fishy flavor. I love the tangy flavor, and I will eat this raw with my rice. I'll eat like it's lettuce or something. I just love it.

My parents sell giấp cá to some of the Asian grocery stores in town. Because of its smell, you won't ever find it in any of the regular grocery stores. But despite this, this plant is so pretty, and the flowers are delicate, white and yellow.

Be warned though, if you plant this in your garden, it will spread. It spreads like crazy. It's not a problem for us because we eat it so quickly that we welcome the growth. I've read that the aldehydes and ketones of the plant are the source of its smell.

The herb is also used often in Chinese and Vietnamese herbal medicine. It has been medically proven to have antibacterial effects. When the plant is dried and brewed, herbal doctors have used it to treat hypertension, pulmonary tuberculosis, colds, constipation, para nasal sinustics, pus removal, as a diuretic, and even allergies.

Even though I've lived in Nashville since I was 7, I have never fallen ill due to allergies. Almost everyone I know has some kind of allergy. I believe that because I've been eating this herb since I was little, its medicial effects have helped me grow into a stronger person.

I think mints and herbs are awesome. I thought I would share.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Corn in the Making

Corn is growing beautifully in the garden. The stalks aren't as tall as I thought they would be, but obviously they have pollinated and beautiful baby corns are growing out of the corners of the stalk.

We have deer that roam these areas, but so far, they haven't disturbed the garden. These have been growing peacefully and without any injuries. I'm so excited! I have never tasted fresh corn from the garden.

They say that corn tastes best if boiled within 30 minutes of harvesting.

Only a few weeks left to go! Yay!