Sunday, April 17, 2011

Promises, Promises

Although I feel as though I've simply fallen down on the garden this year, several bright spots rewarded close inspection this morning:

Whirled peas, for instance. The stocky, tendril-y plants are holding each other up nicely. Soon we'll be shelling these lovelies.

In just a few weeks it will be tomato sauce time! I can hardly believe that the plants are already thinking of fruiting, but a few warm afternoons have apparently done the trick!

We hope to get at least a few good apples this year. The Anna is setting at least two dozen small fruit, although I saw some wooly aphids on damaged places on the stems. My so far successful management technique for them has been a quick shot with aerosol cooking oil spray. Smothers them and with a small tree, it's easy to get every colony of them. Doesn't damage the tree at all, either, nor is it poisonous. Win-win.

A hard pruning didn't discourage the grape vine. I'm hoping that regular watering and compost amendment will yield at least a few large clusters.

Dutiful attention to the new strawberry beds has meant stoop work as I carefully pluck off all of April's flower buds. I want the plants to push all of their energy into establishing themselves and putting out healthy root systems. Last year's strawberries, though, well, we're letting them go crazy. At least a few early berries might be worth it.

The poor espaliered apple trees are still suffering the effects of last year's blight attack. Only a few beautiful blooms with promises of fruit:

Juicy new growth on the Meyer Lemon has proved irresistible to the green aphids. Oddly, these are a very different aphid from the gray winter aphids blanketing the sickly kale out back.

Yesterday's hard water spray didn't do much to discourage them, and today was pruning day anyhow, so I cut some of the new growth off. Soapy spray seemed like the only possible response besides pruning, but a close look showed that the calvary has arrived! Fingers crossed that this is only the first of many many hungry lady beetles and their larvae.

And I hope that these are lady bug eggs. They're pinker than I expected, but maybe they're near hatching. Any amateur entomologists out there want to hazard a guess?

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Already?

Well, let's see. Rainstorms? Check. Heat wave? Check. Bee swarm calls (none of which I've gotten as I'm waiting to refurb the chicken run before having resident bees again)? Check. Frisbee season heated up? Check!

Okay, then, it is April.

And downstairs, there are flats of kale I pricked out from their first flats, in order to give them a little more room to grow before getting transplanted. Lacinato:

Red Russian:

Various lettuce mixes -- not yet thinned. They might just not get much coddling, since they should have been 6" high and out in the garden a month ago, you know? I'm just feeling cranky.

Out in the garden, the nursery-bought basil has been chomped on by wee caterpillars, I assume by the damage. Too bad for it. It was hot, now it's cool, the basil is completely bummed anyhow. No easy pesto for me, apparently. And basil-from-seed remains for some reason a pipe dream. When I lived in warmer areas yes, but not here, land of sea breezes.

Pretend that your head is tilted. These are afilia-type peas (thank you, Mr. H for the recommendation). They are relatively happy, but alas, so are the grassy weeds in the bed. That's what happens when one year you plant sweet peas thick, so thick that you can't weed, and therefore the weeds are happy, so happy that they all set seed. Thus the gardener gets to weed well into the future.

The storebought bell peppers (orange and red only) are cheerfully peppering on. I don't know ow many of the old peppers are really going to resprout, but I haven't started any more Padrones, in anticipation of having the old ones bounce back. Perhaps I'm not being smart, but who knows yet?

Tristar strawberries are finally becoming happy in their recently-tilled clover bed:

But it's nothing like the Seascape strawberries, which are throwing a party (again, with the head tilt):

Looking down on a Roma tomato. Instead of the fence system, this year I am trying two stakes each, and pruning suckers out:

This is what the tomato sees:

Mikey romped through the asparagus, and now it has a "fence." I use the word loosely because it's really just a dog-discourager:

The hoops kept the birds away from the transplanted lettuce -- and really, that's nowhere near enough spinach. Argh.

All is not well out in GardenLand, alas. A chicken is eating eggs. Must figure out how to stop that bird. Drat it all.

One experiment which seems to be working okay is the sump pump irrigation system. If I only water a portion of the garden at a time, it moves enough water from the rain totes to keep the garden alive. It's not perfect, and it takes a startling amount of water. One tote is dry already, and unless it rains soon, the others will soon follow. We're back to draining bath tubs.

So in general, enough to keep me moving forward, garden-wise, and there's still lots of room out there.