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Earliest edible tomato we’ve ever harvested

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Garden update

Monday, May 8th, 2017

I have about a half dozen little green tomatoes on plants. This is the earliest by far that this had happened. Chalk if up to starting with starts instead of seeds.

And the gourds are progressing along.

It’s been windy here this weekend so I’m hoping everything weathers it ok.

What’s growing?

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

I love spring here. So many things are blooming, and our garden is getting in full swing. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s growing right now.

  • Asparagus is still producing, but it’s starting to tail off.
  • Lettuce, arugula, chard, and radishes are producing strong. We’ve been selling all of this as well. (Our farmers market got off to a great start last week. In the first week, we had more vendors than we ever did last year. This has been a goal of mine.) I’m trying to keep up with succession planting while it’s still cool enough at nights to germinate.

    Cherry belle radishes

  • Onions, garlic, and shallots all look great. We are looking for garlic scapes now and should see them any minute. This stuff will be harvested around June.
  • I’ve planted new green beans (mostly for market), tomatoes (not for market :), and peppers, and they’re looking good. I’ll be putting in cucumbers and melons soon.
  • We’ve replanted new artichokes since the old ones got eaten down to the roots last year.
  • The pomegranates are blooming nicely so we’re hopeful for fruit this year.
  • We’ve been eating strawberries and mulberries, and the figs and blackberries are greening up.
  • One thing I’m excited about this year is growing some gourds for a friend of mine who hopes to make them into drums. The seeds have germinated, and they look strong. Stay tuned for updates on that.
  • The hedgerow and its flowers continue to be a work in progress. This year with the new fence, I’m more optimistic. I also planted some hearty native perennial flowers near the house this year. (And I said I’d never do “landscaping!”) They’re really beautiful, and I’m surprised how much they brighten things up.

flowers by the house

SpargelFest and the fence

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

The asparagus is coming in well now, and so tonight we’re having a SpargelFest (something I didn’t even know was a thing until today; thanks, E). When I saw this recipe for asparagus and green garlic soup, I thought it was time to experiment with green garlic, which is really just baby spring garlic. Here’s what I pulled up. They smell so good!

And our fence is up! Yay! Attractiveness was a big consideration, since this is right in front of our living room mountain view, and I think it came out nice. (This picture only shows about half the length of the long side — it’s a big area.)

For the first time ever, my tomato seeds didn’t germinate, so I bought starts. It feels a bit like cheating but I have to say that the starts look healthier than mine from seed ever do. I prepared the bed for them today, though I probably won’t put them out for a couple weeks. I read that marigolds are a good companion plant and can help fight off tomato works and gnarly root nematodes, so I put some seeds in for those. With the fence, I’m feeling confident that the rabbits won’t eat them this year.

 

Spring

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

With snowstorms hitting much of the country hard this week, we are enjoying sunny weather in the 80s. The first asparagus has appeared, signaling that spring is here.

We’ve also been working in earnest on fencing the garden area. We decided to go with heavy-duty cattle panels (much heavier than barbed or chicken wire — we are confident this will stop large animals like javelina from getting through) and hardware cloth on the bottom couple feet (which should stop rabbits). Rodents will still be able to climb in, but even they should be slowed down…we hope.

We’ve also been doing some new spring planting, including more greens.

And last weekend, we took a hike at Cochise Stronghold. This is national forest land with a campground that is on the west side of the Chiricahua Mountains from us.

Lettuce

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

This is the first year that I’ve successfully had lettuce all winter.

Actually, lettuce does fine here in temperatures down to zero and even in snow (though I cover it with a light row cover). It doesn’t grow a lot once it gets cold though, so the challenge is to plant it when it can germinate and grow, but not so early that it bolts. It’s also necessary to do this in an amount that gives you lettuce all winter. Until this year, I never quite got it right, but this morning, I harvested all this lettuce. There’s still more that’s harvest-ready and now another younger batch that should be ready in a few weeks. Now I just need to keep the new successions coming.

Protección de los conejos

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

So the rabbit problems have continued. We have gotten very little rain, and they’re just so starving for water. After more frustration over this than is healthy, this week we harvested and abandoned a few beds and then brainstormed what to do for the rest of the year. We decided to fence in one bed and try to grow intensively there (in addition to the greenhouses). Here are the results.

DSC_2658

I was worried about how this would look (which is why we haven’t relented and just fenced the whole thing — in addition to the time and expense and being unsure if it would work anyway), especially in front of out beautiful mountain view, but I think it looks cute.

Despite more challenges this year than we’ve ever had, we’re also having some successes. Garlic, shallots, and onions were all fabulous this year. We’ve harvested and sold over 70 bags of greens at the market so far (plus more we’ve eat here). Our new greenhouse is great. This week, we ate the first edamame and shishido peppers, and the eggplants are coming along. And the first figs have appeared!

Onions

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Having eaten all the tomatoes, the voles and rabbits moved on to the onions. Here’s an example of what they did a couple nights ago (I hope whatever ate this got very sick):

DSC_2579

So despite the fact that the onions were not really ready to be harvested, I decided to pull them to save what I could. There were a fair number that did well and will be good eats:

DSC_2583 DSC_2582

There were some others that weren’t really mature enough so I replanted them in other places to see if they might grow further. We will also eat some of the smaller ones as “spring onions.” I will also be making a red wine onion confit this week. Yum!

The variety that did the best by far was the Texas Early White.

On the weather front, we’ve started getting some sporadic storms, which seem to me like early monsoons. (We don’t normally get monsoons until early July.) As the rain picks up, this should help the garden considerably and also the pest problems.

And this week for the first time, I sold everything I took to the farmers market, which included 8 bags of greens.

Spring greens

Friday, May 27th, 2016

This week I remembered to take a picture when the beds were uncovered.

DSC_2563

The greenhouse is looking good as well.

eggplants and peppers

eggplants and peppers

chard

chard and edamame

green beans

green beans

 

Finally

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

We’ve had more than our share of struggles with the garden this year — beds of greens munched to the ground multiple times despite being covered, artichoke plants eaten beyond recovery, even the lemon grass got mowed down by something (most likely deer), a whole bed of tomato starts eaten down by the vole.

We keep trying though and are finally having some success. The new greenhouse is doing great, and we could be harvesting from it within a couple weeks. I also tried a new setup for greens in our regular beds where I put down a sheet of agribon (row cover) and then covered that with two layers of insect netting (the same stuff that we cover the hoops with — which has been getting chewed through and dug under — but this time I put it right on the ground with lots of rocks on the edges). This has worked well. I suspect that the animals either haven’t figured out what’s under there or they can’t easily get in. Probably both. At least for now.

Today we had our first harvest big enough to sell some of — arugula, tat soi, and lettuce all coming in strong. It will be nice to have our produce at the market this week in addition to bread, other baked goods, and pesto.

arugula