Saturday, May 8, 2010

Time to catch up

Magazine photographs can inspire the home gardener. Sometimes ideas can be caught right through the page, spurring one to even greater heights of creativity and effort.

Take this one, lifted from the Martha Stewart website -- can't you almost taste the different heirloom varieties of lettuce? I wonder how many teams of gardeners have to work to get them looking so uniform?

What? It wasn't that sunny in Connecticut? Oh, ok, just kidding. Those are mine. I love pretty lettuces. Since I worked as what I call a gardener's elf, I know how much work gardening takes. At least now I get to eat the results of my work!

I meant to blog a few days ago because I don't like to do "kitchen sink" posts, but I'm afraid that's what's happening here for a bit longer. Work has me under its thumb. I'm gardening, and cooking, and cleaning, and parenting, but work is the main driver of my days. It can't last forever, though.

Out front, the artichoke is putting out new buds. Next fall it might be time to divide this beauty. I think I will have enough room, and division plus feeding might mean larger 'chokes. These have been delicious, though small.

The volunteer tomato is almost as tall as the lime tree. I haven't checked for a few days, but there were definitely flowers on it a few days ago. Only a matter of time before we finally get a peek at what kind it is!

The sunflowers had better put on a significant amount of growth, soon. The potatoes, here in the setting sun, are going to town. They're almost two feet tall, and the sunflowers are down in a ditch! Go, sunflowers, go!

Speaking of tall, the Cherokee Purples are about 18" high (that 6" square wire comes in handy for more than helping them stand up). This one is terrifically happy, and has lots of flowers already, but few megaflowers.

I harvested some honey the other day, but only because it was time to finally act on a new hive stand idea I'd gotten from another beekeeper. Lifting full supers down off of a stack as tall as I was was a bad idea for my back and shoulders. I had to disassemble both hives to do this, but a couple of 2x2s, some deck screws, pipes, and spare plywood later, I had an easy-to-ant-proof, low hive stand. I hope I don't have to get out there and pull weeds soon, but I'm afraid that's what's in my future. At least the next time I harvest, I'll be lifting up!

Quick bits: Edible Johnny Jump Up violas, the tomatillos are going gangbusters and blooming already, and I think the garlic is heading up at least enough to make increase on my planting!

Finally, there's something very wrong with the front yard apple trees. I'm seeing way too many leaves like this:

Clearly, it's time for research, perhaps a call to a master gardener, or a trip to a nursery. I'm kind of tired of these trees giving me grief. But maybe it will be something easy to clear up. Let's hope so; everything else is so nice. Thanks for indulging me in another long rambly post.


chaiselongue said...

It all looks as though it's doing well, even if you are distracted by work! I'm envious of your artichokes - ours suffered in the unusually cold weather this winter and are only just recovering. Usually we're eating artichokes by now, but this year we're just glad to see the leaves growing back.

I hope you get your apple tree sorted out.

Erin said...

Sometimes we all need a kitchen sink post to catch up and dump all the thoughts our of our heads and move on - I feel one in my near future! Your artichokes look lovely, I think mine are a bust this year, but I will give it another try next year before I give up! Happy Mother's Day!

Ribbit said...

I love it. You've got such a fantastic garden that sometimes you can only see how much you've got going on at once with one of those posts.

el said...

Very productive!

I would be curious to see how big your next batch of artichokes do get. How did you start them: from seed, or did you buy them as babies, or by division? It's my understanding the latter is how the commercial growers get such large 'chokes. And it makes sense to me, a northern gardener, that I shouldn't blame myself for growing small chokes from seed.

And indeed, shorter hives make sense to me! There are two beekeepers right near me who have those things like 7-8 boxes high. Really nuts: would YOU wanna get on a ladder with a super full o' angry bees? They must have their reasons though because I guess it's fairly common.

Looking good out there though!

KatieLovesDogs said...

Gorgeous lettuces!!!!!

It would be nice to hear how you prepare them to eat. I'm always looking for good salad recipes.

Kate and Crew said...

Wow, what an awesome garden update! I'm jealous of your lettuces. I forgot to grow lettuce this time around and my spinach is looking gnarly.

What's the ant-bee connection? You mentioned getting the hive away from ants. Clearly ants would like the honey, but do bees do anything if ants come in the hive? Is there some sort of battle?? I'm intrigued by this.

Never thought about growing an artichoke. Will have to read up on them. Thanks for the inspiration!

Julie said...

I'm always jealous when I see all your wonderful vegies and the bees!!
It makes me feel better to see your apple leaves look less than perfect. Having said that.. have you opened one of them up to see what is going on on the inside? I know when mine do something similar I usually find aphids inside.
(and once again your garden is admirable)

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Is there such a thing as an ant proof hive, in California?

kitsapFG said...

I honestly think a well planted patch of lettuce can be a pretty as a flower patch - your's definitely fits that bill. Wonderful stroll through what is happening in your garden. I like those kinds of posts periodically because it helps put things all into context as to where you are in the growing season and what you have going on.

michelle said...

I like the "kitchen sink" posts, it gives a good snapshot of the garden at a particular time. Your lettuces are beautiful and definitely worthy of a magazine spread. I had forgotten that Johnny-Jump-Ups are edible, they would add a lot of color to a salad. And nasturtiums too, I've got those volunteering also.

I think Julie is probably right about aphids in the apple leaves.

Annie*s Granny said...

Oh, how pretty! Lettuces, while not my favorite thing from the garden to eat (that would have to be carrots and potatoes) are my favorites to look at. Even if I didn't eat lettuce, I'd grow it just for its beauty. I'm loving your freckled one. I must look for a packet, because I only have about ten other varieties growing this year already ;-) None of which are growing as well as yours. Yet.

Stefaneener said...

chaiselongue, it is lovely. The chokes are doing well, each one harvested about fist sized. We'll have to eat more of them today. Seems to me they're earlier than last year, or maybe I'm just not paying attention.

Erin, if I posted more often I could stay on top of it! Sorry about your artichokes.

Ribbit, hey there. (I need your address emailed to me again.) I like the overview pictures, but more focused posts.

el, they were started from one plant from a nursery. I'm sure they start theirs from seed -- unless they're taking splits and potting them up. Eliot Coleman talks about rearing them from seeds. I think the tall hives get harvested by strong young men
: )
I have yet to work them shorter, but I can already tell it's going to be a relief.

Katie, welcome! I'm usually just a wash-the-leaves-and-eat kind of salad girl, but if I remember to toss in some nuts or cheese and dried fruit, it's even better.

Kate, it's funny -- I would only buy spinach for salads if I were buying, but I love growing lettuce. Go figure.
Ants just irritate bees. They eat honey and are a constant "presence." No one, especially a person with grumpy bees, wants to work an irritated hive. On the up side, the ants clean up dead bees and hive trash, so that's a plus.

Julie, the garden is a lot of fun. I'll have to do a video so you can see the less-lovely bits. There are aphids, but I thought they were after the fact problems. Today I'm going to cut off the affected parts and see if that helps. Dratted apples.

Lisa, yes, you know the issues! At least for this set up, the Tanglefoot only has to be on four tiny points. You'll have to come by and work them with me.

kitsapFG, I'm a lettuce sucker! They're just so pretty. You're right about the seasonal snapshot effect of all-over posts. I'll have to do a video soon.

Michelle, you may in fact be right. Got to get out there and fight the little rats. And eat the violas!

Heather said...

Wow! I cannot believe how far along your garden is already! My electrified poultry fence will be here Monday and then I can corral the marauders and plant my gardens. I feel so far behind.

Jeff Vandiver said...

Beautiful lettuce! I love how the different colors blend - it's my favorite thing to grow each year.

Apple tree problem could be 2,4D related, especially if someone has been spraying herbicides in the area.

Susan said...

Those lettuces are gorgeous, but it is the artichoke I am really impressed with. I'm taking notes on your hive stand. We've got ants and our bees stung our neighbor over the fence. We're planning to move the hive little by little farther from the fence and get it on a stand we can ant proof. I had no ideas Johnny Jump Ups were edible!

Daphne Gould said...

I love the lettuce photo. They really are just too beautiful.

Stefaneener said...

Hey, granny, I missed you. Yep, pretty lettuce must be better for you than plain lettuce. At least that's my excuse. Food for the body and soul.

Heather, you're not behind; we're all on our own schedules. I couldn't do anything if the chickens were loose.

EG, I don't think anyone has. . . it's either a disease or bugs. I'm going to wield the clippers tomorrow.

Susan, I got the idea from someone else. I'm so sorry about the neighbor -- are they sure it was your bee? The artichokes might do well in your front. Are they deer-resistant?

Daphne, thanks. I love them anew every year.

Mr. H. said...

Your potatoes really are getting big, ours just poked out of the ground a couple days ago. As for your apple tree, like Julie said, it might be aphids. They always get the top branches of our cherry and apple trees too.

Happy Mother's Day

Jan said...

Those lettuces are pretty, I love the different types together, and your tomatoes are so big! I don't know if our artichokes will produce this year, they've only just recovered from the snow that buried them for a week or more.