Saturday, April 30, 2011

It's Alive!

At long last I have blooms!
 First blooms of the year...really! Much later than last year, it's been far too cold and rainy up here for any springtime action (heck, we had snow less than a week ago!)
 I decided to bring a few in before the deer find them, as I cannot afford my Liquid Fence deer repellent this year.
At least I get to use one of the cool flower frogs I picked up awhile back. Hopefully in the next few days there will be even more blooms to enjoy. Happy Spring y'all! :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Last Season Veggie Review: Double-Double Washtubbles

This area consists of two dual wash tubs, fantastic antiques from the days of labor-intensive laundry equipment. Now they get to decorate my yard and grow veggies! The set on the ground was planted up on May 22nd with a combo of indoor-started and winter-sown plants. This side has cucumber 'Crystal Apple', broccolini 'Atlantis', broccoli 'Packman', and chinese cabbage 'Soloist'. Cutting celery 'Afina' was added in a row along the front of both tubs on the 27th after they hardened off.
This side has nasturtium 'Spitfire' (from the SeedGROW project), a store-bought marigold, another broccoli and chinese cabbage.

Gotta cover them with chicken wire until they're well established, lest the chipmunks get to excavating.
Right behind the tubs on the ground are these on legs. They served as my water gardens for several years, but began to leak. Now they are planted with seeds: summer squash 'Cocozelle' and baby corn 'Bonus'. I'd read that pretty much any corn could be harvested as "baby corn" to stir-fry, but this variety touted "baby ears are ready to pick when plants are only 18" tall". (What I didn't pay attention to in the description was "for heaviest yield, plant seeds 1" apart" D'oh!) Anyhow, more wire protection, and we're off!
By June 3rd I had to remove the wire here to let the plants out (that's right, I  let the plants out! ;-)
The corn was too tall for wire as well, but I left it over the squash awhile longer.

First harvest was this nice bunch of chinese cabbage on June 19th! Unfortunately the other one bolted, but this was fantastic sauteed in olive oil with wine cap mushrooms (grown in my asparagus patch!)
Both the broccoli and broccolini responded well to "cut and come again" harvesting, I got several servings off these three plants. Not enough to freeze for winter, but I'm still experimenting with vegetable growing. I'll dedicate more space after the results are in.

The cutting celery was true to its name, responding like a rock star with generous yields all season! It's really great to cook with, and has tasted good even out of the freezer this past winter. Sure, it's not big ol' stalks you can slather with peanut butter, but the celery flavor is bolder and it's easy as pie to grow. Winning! (Heh, one for Charlie...dammit :)
This 'Cocozelle' was the best summer squash I have ever grown! Plants were  fruiting positively non-stop, and they were yummy on the grill.
By July the tubs are almost hard to see! These are some happy plants!
The squash blooms were magnificent! So huge, almost tropical-looking. I finally got around to sauteed blooms toward the end of the season...super yummy!
The first 'Crystal Apple' cuke harvested was almost too big at baseball sized, the skin seemed to toughen easily. They were better at golfball size, and I bet they'd be tasty if collected marble sized and used for a "non-stop pickle" recipe.
Yea, I just can't stop gushing about this squash! The skin was thin and just fine left on in every way I cooked them. This will certainly be planted again this year!
Here we are on August 5th, super lush growth with tassles on the corn....
....I used a clean cosmetic brush to hand-pollinate just in case. It's customary to plant corn in rows so it can be wind-pollinated, but these six stalks are in a single file line. I wanted corn for sure.
More good-looking cruciferous tasties....
....and by August 25th we have corn! I accidentally let one ear get full-sized, but got two babies. All three were highly edible.
All the lush growth in these tubs was very attractive to the froggies.... well as some bugs (but only after my harvests were done-how polite! :)
I got a lot of consideration from the deer too-no corn damage until the harvest was over. This stalk was downed on September 21st.
One last-ditch harvest of every edible speck on October 1st....
...but these bugs harvested corn stalk material right up until October 21st....
....when frost crashed the party. Hard!
Pretty soon I get to do it all over again!