Monday, April 28, 2014

Morning in the Garden

I took these pictures almost a week ago, on a cool, dewy morning.  I’ve been so busy that I’m only now getting around to sharing them.

Chilly looking chives…

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…dramatic garlic…

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…wispy fennel fronds…

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…sturdy little pea plants…

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…elegant broccoli…

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…and colorful lettuce.

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I don’t know what variety of lettuce this is.  Miss Chef was the one who bought it, in a mixed pack of seedlings labeled something like “Lettuce Mixed Variety.”  I stopped growing lettuce a couple of years ago, because it gets bitter when the temperature rises, unless you water it constantly.  This year, however, I’m not fighting Miss Chef’s urges to put stuff in the ground that she’ll ignore after planting time, because I know it won’t go to waste.

For example, just as this was getting big enough to harvest from, Miss Chef went a bit crazy at the farmers’ market, buying way more lettuce than two people can eat.  So, after watching our own crop trying to bolt (sending up flower stalks, which also makes the leaves bitter), I followed through on my threats to Miss Chef.  This morning I picked as much lettuce as I could, then dropped off my first donation at Friendship Gardens.

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Just inside the door of the center, there is a soft drink-style cooler and a table with a computer and a scale on it.  You weigh your produce, enter the type, weight and garden it came from, then stash it in the cooler.  My lettuce weighed a half pound, which was more than I expected.  The little bag is some curly kale still hanging on in a pot by the back door.  I thought I might as well bring that in too, even though it didn’t even register on the scale.

As long as I was out in the garden (who am I kidding, I’m out there every day!), I thought I’d snap some pictures to show off how it’s doing.  These was the last picture I posted, from the beginning of April.

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Every time I look at it, it looks the same as the day before, so it’s always a surprise when I finally compare two pictures taken three weeks apart!

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You can barely see little blotches of green in the first picture, but here you can clearly see some of my broccoli plants, and the peas starting to climb the trellises in the back.  It will probably be another month or two before the garlic along the edge is ready for harvest, but I’m planning on donating some of that to Friendship Gardens, too.  In the nearest corner, the fennel plant that was just peeping over the border before is now standing quite tall.

Here are some close-ups, starting with a little radish that’s about ready to eat.

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Those little maple seeds are everywhere in the backyard right now.  They’re kind of a pain, but they do offer a bit of scale here, at least.

In this picture, that’s broccoli to the right, with onions and carrot seedlings in the background.

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If you’ve been reading along, you’ll remember that I was all jazzed up after attending a workshop on companion planting at the library.  Here you can see how I’ve rearranged my garden plan by interplanting those two root crops.  The short plant next to the broccoli is another radish; I’ve planted them all over the garden as pest chasers.  Later, their flowers will attract pollinators.

Here are the lettuces, pre-harvest, and the peas.  I wish the peas would get a move-on, as the temperatures are already climbing into the 80s, and they will not produce very well in hot, humid North Carolina summer weather.

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Hard to believe it’s barely a week since we had our last freeze!  In my brief experience gardening in Charlotte, I’ve noticed that our last freeze tends to be right around Easter.  So, in spite of all kinds of cautions about waiting until the first of May, I went ahead and put in my first tomato plant.

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This is a popular heirloom variety called a mortgage lifter.  It’s got an interesting history, harking back to a mechanic in the Great Depression called Radiator Charlie, who developed his own way of hybridizing four different varieties until he found one he liked.  You can read the story here, and listen to a radio story with a clip of an interview with that mechanic here

I also started some summer seeds, including green beans and squash. 

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Some have just come up…and some I’ve had to re-plant.  Having my varieties spread out, instead of grouped together in rows or sections, has highlighted some interesting micro-climates in my garden.  Two beans on one side of the path popped right up, the other two I dug up after another week to find rotted.  I have no idea what difference there is between the two spots, other than about three or four feet.

So I’m still watching things grow, and keeping my fingers crossed for good weather (we’re scheduled to receive some heavy storms this week, with potential for hail, so I’m a bit nervous).  In the meantime, Miss Chef and I have started a Very Exciting Project.  We ran out of daylight to finish it, so I’m going to wait for a big reveal when it’s all done.  I’ll just tease you with this:

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I’ll bet you can figure out what it is already, can’t you?

7 comments:

  1. The first photo looks like a mint dulip garnish

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    Replies
    1. Really? I wonder how they make mint juleps on your side of the ocean...

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  2. Wow, your garden is popping!
    Nope, don't know what the project is - maybe a planter box?

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  3. I wanna come watch your garden grow.

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  4. Here the common gardening rule is not to plant outside until after the full moon in June. Some years that makes a pretty short growing season. Your plot looks awesome! I like the interplanting. Anything you want to write about that would be happily read by moi.

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