Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 61

   Day 61 already.  It's hard to believe that this box has been growing for over 2 months.  Everything except for the sweet williams in the lower right and the parsley plant in the lower left was started from seeds.  The Swiss chard keeps on producing strong.  I can make a harvest for one serving's worth of leaves for stir-fry one day and two days later, I can make another mini-harvest.  They just keep coming.  The same have been going on in the two Mesclun salad squares.  They have produced so much for me, I have nothing bad to say.  Some of the varieties are starting to try to go to seed (I keep trimming the flower heads.), and their leaves have developed the bitter/hot flavor.  When they were young, these were very mild in flavor (almost lacking in personality, some might say), so now they are starting to taste like their spicier cousins.  They totally wilt in the mid-day sun, but in the morning and after sunset, they're crisp and tasty.  Soy beans are now starting to really grow.  I'd imagine that they will be overflowing their square very soon.  Since my curly leaf parsley is slow to get going after transplant, I added Swiss chard seeds in the four corners of the same square (I'm such a rebel, breaking the rule. XD ).  I figure that I'd be eating the chard as soon as leaves get big enough that there should be plenty of room for the parsley in the middle (Also, the SFG book said I could plant 4 parsley plants in one square, so I was under-utilizing that square.).  The Alaska peas have slowed down the production although I'm always picking them when they are ready.  I think it has been simply too hot for peas.  The snow peas are steadily producing and I have a handful to throw into my sitr-fry or salad every day.

Corn Box on Day 45

     Here's a view of my Summer Veggies Box.  This was the fourth box we set up after the Spring Veggies, Strawberry, and Corn Boxes.  I bought the seedlings of some of the veggies from a few local sources: Red Bell Pepper, "Ichiban" Eggplant, Italian Parsley, Basil, "Brandywine" tomato, "Black Krim" tomato, "Yellow Pear" tomato.   I like "Ichiban" eggplant, because it's the long and skinny eggplant that I grew up in Japan.  Both the texture and taste seem milder and more delicate than the big, round varieties often seen at the grocery stores.  I decided to get one pepper plant because I'll most likely be the only person who'll be enjoying it on a regular basis and I should be able to get both green and red out of this single plant. :D  Both the Italian parsley and Sweet Basil are for spaghetti sauce and lasagna sauce we'll surely be making once the tomatoes start to produce lots of fruits.

   Speaking of tomatoes,  I had been pretty good about cutting the suckers (side shoots) off until I spotted the flower buds.  I got too excited about them and stopped checking for the suckers and today I realized that I had two large stems at the top of each plant.  I had to make a choice and cut one of them to keep the single central stem going.  Previously, I always let the tomato plants do whatever they wanted to do.  Plant them in a cage and let them just go wild.  I always ended up with more fruits than I could use myself or with my family.  This year though, I'm following the "All New Square Foot Gardening" book's suggestion,  the "Single Stem Method".  As the name says, you keep cutting the side shoots/ suckers off to maintain a strong central stem throughout the plant's life.  Since I am using a 4-foot by 4-foot square box here that is planted with plenty of other veggies, it makes sense to follow the Single Stem Method and train the tomato plants on the trellis support (to be built soon).  I will keep track of how they do.

   So far, the Summer Veggies Box has been free of pest (if you exclude cats trying to get in the box that is...) and disease.  Everything is growing nice and strong and I'm very happy about that.  It really is with minimal effort on my part as well. :D  I did notice though that there were cabbage worm butterflies coming to my boxes lately.  It really is amazing how they can spot my tiny broccoli plants out of so many plants and they lay eggs there since broccoli is related to cabbage.  They don't mess with any other plant's leaves.  Nature is really amazing.  I have been scraping the tiny eggs off the underside of the leaves.  Really, these seedlings are too small if they start to get eaten by the cabbage worms!  I still do have wasps patrolling the garden every day.  I know that if there were worms that escape my wrath, they'll be the ones to catch and use as food.  I have seen wasps kill juicy fat caterpillars, chew on the flesh and work it with their legs to turn it into a meatball and fly away to their nest with it.   I have been viewing wasps as good garden predator and pest controller. 

Another view of the Summer Veggies Box.

One of the flower pots on the back porch.  The plants are getting bigger every day.

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