Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pics from the Garden

We had a nice stormy day yesterday with scattered rain showers and even some lightning and thunder.  Here in the desert west, this kind of weather is rare, and it seems to have a profound psychological effect on people's mood in a good way.  Moisture in the atmosphere is very soothing to us.  And since this region has been in a state of drought for many years now, every bit of precipitation is gratefully received. :)

As promised, I'm posting some photos of the other boxes that I didn't get to take pictures of yesterday (At some point, it was starting to rain a little too hard for me to continue gardening, and eventually got rather cold...).

This box is dedicated to the flowers for insects in our neighborhood.  I have it planted with pansy, lobelia, snapdragon, lavender, bee balm, bachelor's button, pineapple sage, echinacea, Mexican sunflower, Mexican cosmos, and chocolate mint.  Some were planted as seeds, so you don't see them popping up yet.  Bachelor's button plants are getting huge.  They were the volunteer plants from my pots in the porch that I transplanted early in spring.  The snapdragon plants were planted early, but got hit by frost a few times and they are now starting to bloom again. ^^;

This is our 5th SFG box that I just planted yesterday.  Mostly herbs except for the cherry tomato plant in the center.  I have sweet basil, orange mint, flat leaf parsley, dill, cilantro, and thyme.  I've just sown German chamomile and garlic chive seeds this morning.   We have the 6th box in progress, which will be planted with corn.

One of my favorite plants in spring is the pea.  I love the particular green which is slightly grey-ish and the tendrils that add to the delicate look, plus the white flowers that look like bonnets.  I think they are such feminine plants.  The peas straight off the vines are so tender and sweet!

The strawberry box is overflowing with leaves that are much bigger than last year.  These plants are so vigorous and each is loaded with fruits.  They are still blooming a lot, but I got this shot this morning by looking under the leaves.  You can see the small fruits developing. :D

Because it was a nice rainy day yesterday, we had dew drops form on the strawberry's serrated leaf edges this morning.  I took many photos of the sparkly dew drops, but this is my favorite.  These are very small, young leaves (note the lighter green color), and just looked precious with sparkling beads!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Adding More SFG Boxes

It has been an unusually cold and long winter, followed by drastically different temperatures swinging between killing frost and 80s for some day's highs during most of spring in our area.  This type of spring is very hard on the spring-blooming ornamental trees and bulbs.  I've seen reduced blooms from lilacs and wisterias in my neighborhood, killed or severely delayed performance from red buds, roses, and other plants in general.

Our Spring Veggies SFG box was planted in March (see my previous entry), but some of the seedlings were killed by frost (like Swiss chard and spinach), and had to be started over.  So things were slow to get going. It also pushed back my spring planting for tender annuals.  I'm still in the middle of getting our fifth and sixth boxes filled with soil mix and planted.

Here's a look at the Spring Veggies box.  All green and filled out nicely.  ^^  The peas in the back of the box  is showing some cat-traffic damage. :(   Because the weather has warmed up so fast, my Bok Choy is already bolting. T_T  The salad mix is producing nicely -- enough to give our chickens daily treats as well as give me salads. :D  It's so nice to be able to eat fresh greens again!  Also, the broccoli that comes out in spring is so tender and mild, compared to broccoli that grows in the heat of summer.  Although these four broccoli plants have not produced a large head like we see in grocery stores, it's produced little versions of it, and they are so mild and tender I don't mind the small size. :)

Here's our Summer Veggies box.  This was last year's Corn box, which was later planted with some chrysanthemums and some winter greens.  Two of the chrysanthemum clumps have survived the harsh winter, so they will stay in this box and provide us with some color.  Meanwhile, I've planted some cauliflower plants (the two in the front are doing so much better than the other two behind them -- one of which has already been pulled by me due to what looked like root rot), two hybrid tomato plants, red pepper, two Ichiban egg plants, sweet banana pepper, and an ornamental pepper.  I've decided to stay away from the heirloom tomatoes this year.  I had a very disappointing tomato performance last year due to some disease, so I'm planting disease-resistant varieties this time around.

I read up on the tomato diseases last summer when my plants came down with symptoms.  Some of the articles did mention that there were increased cases of certain diseases that were being spread by the tiny flying insects in dry southwest.  Unfortunately, the increased popularity of heirlooms in home gardens has also inadvertently contributed to this spread.

Something I've also been staying away from growing in my gardens is anything in the squash family.  In my area, there is a problem with those nasty stink bugs.  I've seen plants get completely destroyed by these hard-to-kill (without resorting to nasty chemicals) bugs.  I don't use any type of pesticide on my plants (both ornamental and edibles).  And if I were to battle these stink bugs, I'd be so busy patrolling, removing, and killing them on a daily basis, I'd waste a lot of time which could be spent doing more fun things.  Incidentally, our SFG boxes had "inspired" one of our neighbors last year into growing some veggies of their own in their backyard.  They had three zucchini plants among other things, but these plants were all killed by the stink bugs well before the season's end (Their banana peppers did very well though.).

Here's a look at the Strawberry box. :D  Look how lush it is!  We are really excited about the strawberries this year.  I've had some experience growing them in my childhood and I remembered how well these plants did the second season after planting -- we had berries rotting on the ground because they kept coming faster than a family of four could eat!  I worried about them so much during winter since it was so cold and I had forgotten to give them straw mulch in the fall for protection.  Luckily, they had thick snow covering them for most of winter when it was the coldest.  But during the early spring's unpredictable weather in extremes, they were pretty much exposed except for the couple of nights when freeze warming was issued and I did cover them with tarp.  Under all these leaves, there are a lot of white blossoms and some developing berries.  I can't wait to smell the berries!!!

The following two shots are from our Bee Garden SFG box (last year's Summer Veggies box).  We are planting the entire box with flowers.  Right now, only about half of the box has things growing, but I will post a photo of the entire box soon. :)