Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pollen and Petals

These rapini flowers are relentless. You cut them off (and eat them) and the next day they've got a bunch more. I haven't had time to keep up with them lately, so I've just been enjoying their little yellow blooms.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Raise It Up

Here's my first raised bed. It's not perfect, but it's the first thing I've ever built and I'm pretty happy with how it came out. The side boards are cedar and the posts and supports are treated pine (once again courtesy of my friend, Dan.) Hopefully I'll have three more of these 4'x8' beds built and planted in by the time I leave for Mexico.

I'm going to run fencing, the same kind I used for the trellis, from the high posts down to somewhere around the mid-point of the beds. I'll grow cucumbers and the like up the fencing, and plant lettuce and other shade-lovers in the space beneath.

The hose is pointing to one of my Little Giant blueberries, planted in front of the bed. It's much more towards the 'little' than it is the 'giant' side at the moment, but I'm looking forward to the 15 pounds of berries it's supposed to ultimately produce each season!

Pollen and Petals

These are some of the first flower buds of the season from a geranium that's one of my favorite houseplants. I rescued it from rather unfavorable circumstances last year and it still gave me loads of beautiful pink flowers. It's done very well over the winter and I'm expecting it to really produce this spring and summer.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Garden Log - April 20, 2008

I feel lucky for my relative lack of soreness, because I've been putting in some heavy hours (and heavy compost, and heavy mulch) these past few days. It's just been so nice out. The buds on just about everything have swelled up and opened. In fact, this little lemon tree that Lindsay got me for my birthday has begun to flower. Shortly after the shipping and transplant it dropped 80% of its leaves. Just recently it grew buds all over and now it's flowering. I'm glad to see it's not doing as badly as its looked like these past few months.

Here's another plant in a pot. I've been thinking about getting a bay tree for awhile, so I nabbed this guy when I saw him at the farmer's market. Thanks Renaissance Acres!

Now I've been all over the yard, but let's kick it off with that south wall garden. Today, with help from Kristy, I got my trellis set up and planted some White Niagra Grapes from Downtown. Grapes, trellis and all cost me about $20-25, with the posts courtesy of my friend Dan. Kristy also planted some of my rapini in this bed for me.

And here's a close-up of the grapes and their trellis. This shot was taken in the evening, so the lighting isn't ideal.

Switching poles, here is a shot of an impromptu garden I put in on the north side of my house. This was grass and dirt and debris up until yesterday. Now it's home to some woodland strawberries, a wintergreen plant, and one red, one purple, and one white trillium. I got the trillium from another vendor at the farmer's market who cultivates it. I'm hoping it will spread heartily and I can transplant some into the woods behind my house. I'm also expecting the wintergreen and strawberries to fill out. Again, I managed this garden pretty cheaply with $24 of edging and quite a bit of mulch.

Here are my new fruit trees. I planted three Gumi trees (more on these in a future post) on the west side of the house, and two Ussuri plums on the north side, near the road.

Moving back to gardens, I've saved the best for last. This is my new deck garden, also a bit impromptu. I rescued the logs that I edged it with from across the street after a tree service came to tidy things up over there. Here's an early shot of it, after installing the edging.

And here it is today. I've moved some of its original contents around and added some new things as well. For reference, here are some photos from last year.

The rocks wedged beneath the log are mostly from my lawn, under the sod. The yarrow was moved over from the side and the rapini went in today. In the middle of the rapini is an American Black currant. The frame has a little clematis I put in last year. Also, you can't quite see it in this photo, but I got the log to kind of ride out of the soil. I'm really happy with how this edging turned out.

And on this side I've put in a cup plant and a "rattlesnake master." I plan to fill in the empty space soon.

So that's it for now. I plan to build my raised beds early this week.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Garden Log - April 18, 2008

The end of the semester and the beginning of everything has kept me busy. Too busy to post, it would seem, however tonight's insomnia presents me with an opportunity. A lot's been going on, but here's a look at what I've got pictures of at the moment.

First off, here's a shot of last year's herb garden. It contains fennel (looks dead but presumably re-seeded?), sage, savory, oregano, and two kinds of thyme. With the exception of the fennel, it looks like it over-wintered quite well to me.

Here's a shot of my two 3'x8' in-ground beds. One contains garlic planted late last fall and the other has some chard and rapini transplants from inside. This is the same chard seen in previous posts. That latter bed has a number of things I planted by seed, none of which has come up just yet.

Last week I received a big order of fruit and berry trees and bushes from Oikos and I've been working on getting them in the ground. Most of these I put into a new garden on the south side of my house. When the snow melted it was all grass there. Here's a shot taken after some prep-work.

And after a little more work, here it is with plums, quinces, strawberries, and a currant bush. The timber part of the edging I brought home from work, intended as firewood, last fall. One of them is actually partly burnt. The two logs are from the woods that abut my property.

And here are some close-ups. First, one of two Nana Beach Plum bushes. These are supposed to bloom nicely so I put them closest to my deck.

There are four strawberry plants around the window well, two Alpines and two "Berries Galore."

Next up are the lemony quinces, one of two shown below.

And finally, a currant bush. I've got another of these I plan to put in elsewhere, after some sleep.

And right near the currant and the quinces, a bit of crowberry. This is a groundcover that should spread, not getting any taller than its current size. It is supposed to "produce sweet acidic purple black berries available year round [...] They were and still are used by Eskimo where they are used to make pies and mixed with other berries to make jelly."

I've done more than this and have a lot going on inside as well, but I'll call it a post for now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

To Plate

Last week Lindsay and I made our first dish using substantial amounts of homegrown produce. I wanted to do something nice with the chard I had harvested, and the recipe we settled on was from Vegweb, simply called Millet with Red Swiss Chard Leaves and Carrots. Before I go on with the details, I'd like to mention that I'm using this post for Grow Your Own, a monthly food blogging event hosted over at Andrea's Recipes.

Now, it so happens that I'm a pretty big fan of millet (and carrots), so this looked like a good recipe to me. I decided to modify it a little, because I didn't believe the millet would cook through properly as described. As it turns out, I didn't modify it quite enough. Millet, in my experience, is best prepared at a little less than a 1:3 ratio of grain to water, cooked covered for 30 minutes, and then left to stand slightly uncovered for around 10 more minutes. If I try this recipe again, I will probably cook the millet through separately before mixing with the vegetables. Speaking of the vegetables, though I didn't grow these I just had to include a picture of the onion and carrots.

Pretty, no? Anyhow, everything seemed like it was going quite well. For soup broth, I used a cup of Trader Joe's Carrot and Ginger soup and added a cup of water as well. I thought this would complement the ingredients well, but again I think I would do things differently. The dish ended up being a bit bland to my taste. I think a saltier broth would have provided better contrast within the dish when all is said and done.

I cooked the millet separately for about 15 minutes before adding the vegetables and cooking for another 15 minutes. The millet didn't seem like it was done, so I continued to add water and simmer for awhile. I would say another full cup of water was added to the dish during this time.

Unfortunately the millet just didn't quite finish cooking. We didn't want to leave it on any longer because we were afraid the chard and onions would just turn to mush.

I'll probably try this dish again, but first cook the millet through and let it sit a bit before later mixing it with the vegetables. I'll also use a different broth, with hopes that this will minimize the need for Braggs and nutritional yeast, which we ended up using this time around. I do like the combinations in this dish, as well as the fact that it uses the entire chard leaf, including the stem.

For anyone who hasn't tried millet yet but is interested, I encourage you to do so. Around these parts you can pick it up at the Peoples Food Coop and probably at other places as well. I regularly enjoy cooking this with soup broth instead of water to give it a richer flavor.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008