Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mid-Summer Notes

Yesterday & today...
Planted seeds in pots for Brussels sprouts, lettuce and broccoli today. Started to do peas for the fall, but planting guide suggests later in August.

Harvested garlic and onions (can hardly wait to roast the elephant garlic). Harvested more beets, broccoli, peas, chard and the last of the lettuce. Also a few more sungold tomatoes, and the 3rd yellow tomato from the heirloom assortment.

Cooked (in oven) the first & largest fennel bulb, harvested a week ago. See his baby picture here. Tasty, but still need to find a recipe/method I like the best. Any ideas? Another is ready to harvest soon. The stalks also made a nice crunchy addition to salad (like celery, but better flavor).

First harvest of French filet beans should be this week (the few snacks in the garden already don't count).

Trimmed up some of the lamb's ear and catmint in the herb row. Pulled up the oldest of the broccoli to get this bed ready for other things. Don't worry, the bees have other broccoli plants to visit now. The pea plants may be removed later this week as the blooms have really slowed down.

I found a left over white & orange small pumpkin (see this post) some time ago and cut it open for the seeds. Last weekend, I planted them and they have now sprouted. Bet the harvest will be closer to Oct than Aug (like last year)!

Will post pumpkin patch photos soon. They are growing quickly now. Delicata squash is growing and the cucumbers are climbing their fence.

Job's Tears seeds from Hanna & her Illegal Garden are growing. I do hope to harvest seeds this year, at least enough for a bracelet!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sand Point Blue

A damp day yesterday gave us an excuse to head out on a geocaching excursion (remember, my definition of geocaching is garden tours by GPS). We went to Sand Point / Magnuson Park in Seattle. It is the site of a former Navy base on Lake Washington and now a 300+ acre park / recreation / community space area.... with gardens too. Above, is just one spot of gardening. You'll see more later this week. That's cherry tomatoes and something else growing in Nutmeg, the boat. See this post if you want to know more about geocaching. Any idea what this blue stemmed plant is called? ... thanks to visitor ErnieSue, now we know this is Blue Sea Holly!
This painted section is the harbor masters office. On the other side of this building is a dock and a small sailboat program. On a sunny day, there would be lots of people down here, but yesterday, there were only a few sailing, fishing or walking around (or geocaching).

Only 25 miles from home, but we could have been thousands of miles away. Now that's a relaxing vacation!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Thanks, Just What I Needed!

A gardener is never 'without' for long if another gardener is around. I have a shortage of cosmos this year. Only one plant seems to have grown and it isn't to the blooming stage yet. Last year had an abundance of them. As you can see above, though, I've had a recent fix!

Yesterday, I helped staff an information booth at the Renton River Days festival for Way Back Inn, a nonprofit that provides transitional housing for homeless families with children. While hunting for the street where I had parked my car, I realized I was close to the Renton Community Garden. I had visited before, but not this year. I didn't have my camera, but here is a recent article about it (hmmm... I wonder if they have greenhouse spots available).

First, I visited with a couple that were using hoop coverings to encourage those heat loving vegetables that stall out in our cool early summers. I hope to add some in the fall to extend the season so I'm gathering ideas. If this couple visits this blog, I hope they will e-mail me at spetunia(dot)msn(dot)com, especially if they would like to try burlap green coffee bags for weed blocking pathways or beds.

Then, when I admired another gardener's cosmos, she offered me some cuttings! She said no one plants them any more. They just appear everywhere and sometimes have to be discouraged. She always leaves some, though, as the bees like it so much (this is how borage is in my garden). So, now I have some bright cosmos spots in my summer bouquet.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Repurposing

The anise hyssop was taking over the young zucchini so I trimmed it back. This baby gate will work better as a drying rack than it did when we tried to use it with little Nikko, the cat.

When Nikko came to live with us, she was a tiny thing. We were sure she would get lost in the house or get upstairs and not find her way back down. We put this gate up to keep her in just a portion of the house. Came down stairs the next morning to find her sitting on the "free" side of the gate. She's a good kitty, though. She promptly jumped back to her confinement area. We took to the gate down.

Now it serves to "claim" another portion of the barn. DH still has notions that part of it is his space. We will see...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Garden Residents

Doesn't this spider look like a bean seed with legs?
Just a month ago, I was concerned about something eating the beans. Remember this post, and this coffee'd bean post? Looks like they survived. They are blooming now too. Tomorrow, they'll top the climbing structure.

The garden may be in serious trouble now, though. Tonight, I startled a very small rabbit in the grass. Emily dived after it, it went in the broccoli and I grabbed Emily. If he doesn't get greedy, or if he stays out of Emily's garden, he might have a right cushy life. I suspect it won't be that easy though, nor will he know when to stop eating. I am happy to share the broccoli at this point. As Petunia and friends seem to have moved to the pumpkin patch, the garden needs a new resident critter. I would prefer one Emily won't eat, though.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Bench that Hubby Built

DH recently built this bench from some salvaged wood from the neighbor children's play structure tear down. The plans call it a 3-hour bench, but DH calls it a 1 year 17 hour bench. He effectively kept misplacing the plans for about a year and then since we were using salvaged wood, we had to adapted the plans to the wood we had.

The plans allow for adjusting the slant of the seat and the back before finishing it. So of course we had to have a nice evening sit to decide how we liked it. I've come up with a foot stool plan too, but for now we use the log as a foot stool/table.

I'm very pleased to have this one in the garden and have several more places around the property I'd like a nice wood bench. Those chairs up on the hill will only last so long. I can see us making more, but DH is still in denial about it. Now where did those plans go....?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ms. Anita's Calendula

I have a little of Anita's outstanding Country Cottage Garden now blooming in Petunia's Garden! I won Anita's Easter Drawing and soon had a generous collection of seeds in my mail box. It's been a whirlwind of a year, but I did plant them and now seeing some blooms. The dill Anita advised to plant near these calendula is also growing. Pumpkins and morning glories too. I think the morning glories have been waiting for warm weather but finally decided to start climbing a little. I love calendula and hope these will find their way throughout the garden in the future seasons.

If you haven't visited Anita's garden, you have to go now! It is beautiful and so many wonderful ideas she shares with us. I bet her neighbors take the route by her house just to enjoy the gardens. Thanks, Anita, for sending these treasures to me!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bloom Day July

I had limited time to come up with a bloom day post, so I took a vote. By overwhelming majority, this is the most popular bloom in the garden! I voted for lavender and sunflowers (and I even voted several times) but those votes washed out with all the bees voting for the broccoli! I think there are some honey bees visiting the garden too. Wonder what broccoli honey tastes like?
The bees are in such a frenzy, most photos where just a blur. I don't think they even get this excited about borage. Check out their "pollen baskets," the yellow pockets of pollen on their legs. I've watched lots of bees in the garden before and have seen SOME with such full baskets. The bees in the broccoli ALL had full baskets!
These are my oldest 4 broccoli plants and they had been slowly overcoming all my tactics to keep them from blooming (at least there are still some younger plants producing). Finally, I let them go to see what the blooms would attract. Eventually, these plants, the bolting lettuce, the garlic and onions will come out and this may be where the Brussels spouts will go.

Go check out Carol's May Dreams Garden Bloom Day post here. In the comments to her post, you can find the 50+ others who have a Bloom Day post or who have listed what's blooming in their part of the world too.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Garden - Early July

Starting to get some height in the garden now. In the last week, the beans have gown up on the structure more than in this photo. Since I finally did put down soaker hoses, I'm glad the garden is layed out in beds about 4 feet x 22 feet. There are six beds plus the double row nearest the gate which is assorted herbs and other hardy plants, the bird bath and a seating area you cannot see in this photo. I'll have more to post on the seating area in a few days.

Click on the label, below, "garden-monthly photos" to see the prior months.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's Here!

Ahhhh, thanks! I needed that today. The petals still have some opening to do on this first sunflower of the summer, but the heat this week has really moved this one along.

And the warm evening means outdoor blogging! I haven't tried it from the garden yet, but the patio works just fine.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bring on the heat

Well, it is already here, actually. We've had 2 days well above our average high of 75 degrees, with a few more days to go before it cools down. That's not Petunia, above, but a soaker hose added last weekend (and it has now been covered with a mulch). A 50 foot soaker hose can go down a bed and back just about right. Different beds can be watered on different days as needed. I'm either ready for another dry summer, or encouraging it to rain. Either way works for me.
Last night, we added some straw mulch to most of the bare ground and over the soaker hoses. You can also see the coffee bagged path that runs under the bean structure. The pole & runner beans above seem happy with this arrangement. The highest climber is up to 6 feet now. It was in the upper 90's today, but tonight, I could still find cool earth under the straw.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Snap Peas Blues

Do your peas hide well?
Do they puff up in their shell?
Do they grow to be great big?
Can you ring them like a bell?
Can you search for ‘em every day
Yet find gigantic ones this way?
Do your peas hide well?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spent the morning blanching and freezing young peas and broccoli. I also picked every last giant pea pod that has been hiding out, in hopes of continuing the harvest of new peas a little longer. Some of the vines are starting to show signs of the warming summer, but others are still flowering.

Next came more beet harvest. Cooked & pickled some for the week. Added the young greens to the salad and prepared the medium sized greens for cooking tomorrow night. The largest and slightly yellowing leaves went to the compost.

Finally, rhubarb! I was starting to have second thoughts about it. How could I tell if it was ready? I understand it doesn't all turn red as a signal. Would it need so much sweetening that it wasn't worth messing with? Would it be too tough? But, I already had strawberries so next came the strawberry rhubarb cobbler. Not bad at all! I'll be having some more here soon.

It actually reminds me of the tart cherry sauce I was hooked on last year. See the post about it here. Since there are only a few cherries this year, I wonder how rhubarb might substitute? (I have more cherry liqueur from Germany now too!)

So now my question is ...how long can I keep harvesting it?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Welcome: Kansas Guest Garden 1

While on our trip to Kansas in early June, we had the opportunity to visit a garden (& the gardeners) in a town south of Wichita. Now remember, this was early June and Petunia's Garden was no where near this far along. PG: My, you're a very happy garden, what's your secret?
KGG1: SUNSHINE, a little horse manure in my early days, a miracle-grow cocktail with the gardener now and then helps. And when the sunshine really makes me thirsty, nothing beats a good, long drink of water.

PG: This is such a nice spot. Are there any garden challenges here?
KGG1: Kansas weather! Always too much/too little of something - too much wind, too little rain, too much heat, too much rain, too little warmth. And rabbits ... too many rabbits!
PG: Do you have any favorite crops?
KGG1: I enjoy sharing a good crop of corn with the gardeners and it feels so good when the little gardeners run over to play hide & seek with me after a hot summer day. Cucumbers are also a favorite. So cool and juicy. A variety is always nice: Tomatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe and other melons. A pepper plant here and there.

PG: What have you grown in the past that you just won't bother with again?
KGG1: Those carrots have to stick around so long, they all start bickering before they're out of here. Almost drives me crazy. And pumpkins! They're fun I know, but for some reason, they make me itch. I think it's much better for all around if the gardeners just get their pumpkins from somewhere else.
PG: You have a nice round of tomatoes growing. I see some huge green fruit in there compared to what I have back in Washington state.
KGG1: Thank you! They're just getting started. The tall, strong wire cages should give you some idea of how much more growing they have to do! The family does like their fresh tomatoes so I try to please them.

PG: I see you do have a nice start on cucumber and melon vines, above. What advice do you have for other gardens just getting started?
KGG1: You cannot beat having a good gardener that will keep the weeds away. It helps if his/her favorite tool is a rototiller, especially in the early days! Nothing like it to stir things up and work in a good batch of leaves and other soil snacks.

PG: Thanks for the tip! Any future plans you want to share with us, before we wrap up today? KGG1: I'm thinking I'm ready to really put down some roots and commit to an asparagus bed. Annual crops offer a lot of flexibility, but I think I'm up to the commitment. Even so, I've been dreaming about some okra. And then maybe I'll need to relocate the corn, and move over the cucumbers.... No, wait! I can do it. I can commit to that asparagus bed (and fit the okra somewhere). Happy Garden Dreaming everyone!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Break Time

A few international bloggers who visit and are visited by PG have recently mentioned a trip to Pizza Hut. On our trip to Kansas, DH & I stopped at Wichita State University (we're both graduates) and also visited the original Pizza Hut. Surprise, surprise - a geocaching quest. (That's just the white WSU water tower well behind it, but in the photo looks like it is on the roof.)
It was started by two brothers in 1958, at another spot in Wichita. This little building was moved to the WSU campus in 1984 while we were attending there. WSU has a great business & entrepreneurship program so it fits it. See this LINK about the building and the Pizza Hut name too.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Emily's Garden

My name is Emily and this is my garden. It is on the end of one row in the big garden, next to the fennel and parsley. I don't like them, so I'm growing my own garden. What do I grow? Catnip of course!I check on it every day. You must be diligent if you are going to keep the weeds out (aka cosmos, marigolds and sunflowers). The other gardener didn't know I moved the catnip to this nice space. It was just too crowded in the other row and there was not room for a good roll. I've even been thinking about my mulching plans (see here). He-he-he...the other gardener thought I was just looking forward to nice clean paths. I love my catnip...
I really, really love my catnip(mphhh). Here, let's just have a little tasty (mpphh). Maybe just one bite more....oh, the aroma too!
But sometimes a gardener can love her seedlings too much.

Sometimes a little intervention needs to happen.
Sometimes plants need a little less loving to grow big and strong enough for a good roll.

Since I love my catnip, I'll let it grow in its little odd cage. I'll still check on it every day and keep it weeded (from those awful cosmos and sunflowers that keep trying to sprout).
I know how much fun it will be when it grows big enough for a good roll.

Wait! What's this? Another sprouting! Outside the protection zone. I'll just have a little taste. It won't hurt much. Just a little for now.

I love my catnip.