Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What's up, Doc?

Flowering kale leaned way over in the garden bed, and it wasn't until this morning's walk around that I noticed some of the Nantes and Danvers half long carrots were bolting. Time to get them all out, I decreed! I was like a cartoon digger, flinging carrots up and out.

Then I decided to go all Michelle on my picture. Think I'm going to give her a run for her money? Instead of Martha Stewart's stylist, I think I look like "crazy gardener about to be committed, makes an alien-attracting 'Close Encounters'-like pile."

Anyhow, lots and lots of carroty goodness. Changed the menu for my potluck side dish this weekend from salad to carrot slaw. Maybe carrot cake. And carrot muffins. And carrot sticks. . .

Weekends away

Despite the sunny weather this past weekend, I didn't do much outside beyond pulling some weeds. The bees need seeing to, and I'd like to figure out what to put in an empty spot, but I was delighted to not be home, but instead I was lucky enough to watch the kids play.

Daughter had more fun than son, but neither was what you'd call "bad." Besides, he got snacks!

I do love gardening, but I have some tender shoots to nurture outside of it. I assume this won't last forever.

Catch and Release

There is real knitting going on here, partially because a new crop of babies is hatching all around me, it seems. One item is completely finished, but I haven't gotten pictures of it yet. One requires a zipper-sewing (and that baby is here), and one requires that I untangle the yarn so I can finish the socks to go with the hat. So you'll just have to trust me that I'm waving needles around. Oh, and spinning. Lots of spinning. On a spindle, no less. I'll show that eventually. When I find the bag with the spindle and fiber in it. . .

Knitting or no, I stepped away from my "no new yarn this year unless I'm traveling" vow long enough to go to a fellow Raveler's yard sale with my sister. Believe it or not, I actually exercised a bit of restraint. Note to self, do NOT take the youngest yarn shopping. I came home with some Baby Ull in shades I do not love.

The most recent pressing news is that the Ultimate season is in full swing. Last weekend was the States tournament. The kid played well, but more importantly, she played with total heart. The first day wasn't the best for her, she didn't get to play on the team she would have loved to play on, but you couldn't tell from watching her. She ran the entire time, despite heat, despite no feeling terrific, and she still had a big smile by the end of the weekend.

She was occasionally in just the right place, and the disc shot in, and she was there. Catching.

Only to release off to a teammate.

And sometimes the defenders are there, just the way you hope to be when on defense. It was a nice play, anyhow. And the joy of this sport is that there is always another play.

As far as I'm concerned, she's a champion (as was the upper-division team). Now it's on to Westerns, although I won't be able to go! I'll sit and knit and wait for the phone calls.

This parenting thing seems to be exercise after exercise in letting them go, launching them off, just when you might want to hold them a little closer. I wonder if the new baby parents are ready for this?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Time's up

Perhaps if I had an entire farm, crops would come to fruition, be harvested, and then be pulled and followed with a soil-building cover crop, while elsewhere, cover crops would be turned under and then followed with new, seasonally-appropriate crops.


Or maybe it would be like my garden now, where plantings are pulled before they're completely ready, to be immediately followed with the ones which are outgrowing their pots.

I transplanted today.

Pickling cucumbers where the Melting Sugar and Oregon Spring snow peas were. I wasn't going to save seed from those, so out they went. Well, mostly.

Bolting yellow carrots up to make room for rainbow bell peppers.

Elsewhere I turned soil and weeded and put out the butternut squash, then placed the sunflowers between the potatoes. That should provide some much-needed aesthetic oomph, plus lovely cut flowers.

By then, maybe the sweet peas would be done, anyhow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A break in the rain

Don't let this sun fool you -- 2" overnight and currently it's raining again. I think there's a whole storm system overhead. Not that I'm complaining, mind you; I had thought we would have to begin irrigating and I'm delighted to have "free" water. The potatoes were so tickled by their first hilling followed by the rain that they all practically leapt for joy. I could almost see the growth since yesterday. Even without Granny's secrets, I hope to get some real 'taters this year.

Another excitement is that the keeping onions (Talon and a yellow Italian variety whose name escapes me right now) are actually bulbing up. I hope the really thick necks don't mean that they're going to bolt instead of making nice keeper onions, but I've only grown keepers once before, and not here, so this is good, I think.

Just one more picking before the Green Beauty snow peas from Michelle get to be left alone to mature into saved peas. They're all being hit hard with powdery mildew.

And, this year it appears we'll get some Anna apples. Not too many, but more than "none," which was our harvest last year.

Although I think of them as sunny fruit, the Katy apricots seem not to mind the rain too much.

Some Elephant Heart plums. I keep thinking that I should top that tree -- it's tall and not as useful as it could be. It's young enough to recover, so maybe I'll get my act together and cut it in half. Eeesh.

Boysenberries, in need of better support. I'll do that before the week is out.

Delicious limes. This tree needs careful pruning because it really wants to be a huge, full-sized orchardy lime. It can't be, unfortunately, but the fruit is terrific.

And not to discourage anyone with what's under that lime tree, but I expect my first tomatoes from the front yard volunteer very soon. I still don't know what it is, although I'm leaning toward a cherry, probably a Sungold. We ate them up here and probably dropped them while trying to pawn off buckets of them on neighbors.

I hope this isn't our last rainstorm, but I'm enjoying it enough for it to be.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

First Fruits

For some folks, it's asparagus. For me, it's artichokes that kick off the real new year's growing season. Tonight, with butter and garlic.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Promises, promises

I know everyone's garden is at different points, but mine seems to be in one of those liminal stages -- there's lettuce and carrots and snow peas ready to eat, but everything else is either small and therefore not ready, bulbing up and therefore not ready, or sitting around ripening seeds after a good run and therefore not ready.

Fortunately, for a gardener, even the waiting can be fun. I'm trying potatoes in two ditches down the sides of one of the beds. After they're all hilled up maybe I'll pop some sunflowers down the middle -- they would certainly be big enough to rise above potato plants, and pretty to boot.

I have no idea if these potatoes will bear. The ones I tried in the bin last year didn't produce much (although I'm open to the suggestion that it was user error) and I hope that these work better. If they don't, though, there's the former compost pile and its volunteer potato crew. Go volunteers!

This lady is out on the red kale. I'm excited about getting seeds from this -- there are always new things in gardening to charm and intrigue me, and seed saving is the mania du jour. The seed pods behind her suggest that it's going to be at least a few more weeks before these are ripe. The tat soi is much farther along, and they're nowhere near ripe. I love the fat pollen pockets on her legs. So in one view, I see the promise of new kale, honey, and baby bees, since they eat pollen to grow.

And while I'm waiting for all that promise, last night's stir fried rice (or part of it) with home grown snow peas, chopped green onions, and Danvers carrots.

So the waiting is both interesting and tasty.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The queen is dead; long live the queen

Went into the big hive yesterday, hoping to see that the blonde swarm had mixed in nicely. Alas, this was not so. No big blonde queen, no light workers, but, we did see someone else.

If you look closely, you can see bits of paint around her thorax, from last year. The old queen was there all along. I don't feel terribly, as I'm not the only experienced beekeeper who missed her and any evidence of her over many hive inspections. So.

The nice swarm is dead, and I'm sad about that. There are, however, two swarms boiling around and I think I can manage to combine everything down to only three hives in my yard. That's all I can handle.

I don't even want to detail the experiment of yesterday which seems like a dismal failure. Maybe after it's all resolved I'll get it written up.

On the upside, I harvested about 30 pounds of light spring flow honey yesterday.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April Catch-up

Things are moving so quickly now that spring is truly on us that keeping up with pictures is almost impossible. These overview shots are almost out of date, but this is the garden on April 1st.

Red kale going to seed, shelling peas over and half-pulled. Chard in one of the very small beds bolting. Potatoes planted (in the bed with the fork stuck in it), and tomatoes in the bed beyond that one. Shoddy neighbor's shed still the same, alas.

I've pulled most of the Danvers carrots near the bolting red kale. The tat soi seeds are almost ripe. I bought little envelopes if anyone wants seeds!

You can't see them all because of the bushes, but there are four beehives out there now. Two are nuc boxes, five frame temporary hives that are holding swarms. I think both of those are destined for other homes. It's been all bees, all the time here. I have something to do out there today and will be blogging that, of course.

Denise and I were just talking about what to plant where and when. I know I have a drawing somewhere, but I'm not sure if I'm going to make changes. Must pull it out and have a look. I started more paste tomatoes (San Marzano and Roma), some Genovese basil, Ground Control marigolds from Daphne, and some bush cucumbers today. The tomatoes are late, but I think it will just extend the fun.

Lunch today is carrot soup, fresh from the garden. Very simple, just butter, carrots, water, and shallots and shallot greens. Why would I pick my shallots green?

They decided to start bolting. I think the cold/hot/cold/hot temperature swings were just too much for them. I hope the rest hold.

I hope April is bringing lots of green to your garden!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Crazy Pretty

De Morges Braun lettuce, from Territorial Seeds. Two days of rain, and this puppy is almost a pound of pretty. Good thing I have vegan neighbors.