Thursday, July 31, 2008

okay, so here are a few snapshots of what has been going on in the garden this week...

first, the bush bean it is, slightly afar. it grows out first as a bulbous white growth and somehow it just bursts open.

here it is close up. if these flowers are pollinated, the beans will be ready to be picked in two weeks from now.

here is that bell pepper plant, planted where the broccoli was, with a few flowers on it. it seems to have recovered from my overwatering and hopefully soon we will see some peppers! i just water the bell peppers either twice a week or more if the plant seems to be wilting. any more than that is too much.

this is a cool picture. i went out in the garden this morning, just as the sun was rising, and there was dew on everything. on the grape leaves, there were dew drops on each pointed area on the leaf. it was like this on most of the leaves...neat, huh?

remember i talked about one of my "grape" tomatoes (this is plant i grew from seed) ripening? here it is! it is really more of the size of a roma tomato. you could almost fit 3 of those grape tomatoes you can buy at the store within this so-called "grape" tomato.

these are the blue lake bush and soy bean seedlings that i have to start planting this weekend. they are already showing a set of true leaves.

this is what i harvested on wednesday. i gave most of this away. today (thursday) i harvested 2 more cucumbers and 4 zucchinis. it is just amazing at how many zucchinis and cucumbers i have harvested so far...
yes, i did take pictures of my bush bean blooms, but you will have to wait to this evening to view them. i had just enough time this morning to pick some cucumbers, sweet 100 tomatoes and a jalapeno, water what needed watering and take some shots of whats going on in my garden....and leave.

so i will post them later. what did i see this morning? well..

1) my cool weather seedlings are doing well, more are already surfacing from the new seeds i planted just last weekend. (yay)

2) i need to plant my bush bean and soy bean seedlings in the ground. both are growing their real leaves now. (where do i put them, hmmm...)

3) my bell pepper plants (the ones that i thought were slowly dying) are flowering! the one where i planted in my previous broccoli patch has 3 - 4 opened flowers! the others have flowers slowly opening now. (yay!)

4) i didn't go near the zucchini plant. that thing is crazy in the way it just grows so fast! i will have to trim off some of the leaves AGAIN this weekend. sheesh. do you think zucchini plants are actually "fruiting weeds"?

5) some of the small female flowers on my watermelon plant (the ones with the "baby" watermelons at its base) looks like the watermelon is swelling...its only an inch big now, but i can already taste the watermelon sweetness in my mouth....(it takes a month for watermelons to ripen after its flower is pollinated).

6) one of the "grape" tomatoes (the large ones that i think look more like romas, that i grew from seed) is starting to turn orange...woohoo! i can't wait to take a bite out of it.

7) on the topic of tomatoes....some of my heirloom tomatoes are also turning orange too. cool! i think the first heirloom tomato that will ripen will be on the Spitze tomato plant. these are known to make a good tomato paste.

that's all the observations i made this morning. it was just soooooo tempting to stay home that day and enjoy more of the morning sunny warmth....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

this morning, i went out to water my plants and i noticed on one of my bush bean plants, there are FLOWERS on it! they are so tiny and cute! they kinda look like mini sugar snap pea flowers, with their white color and curvy shape. i will have to try and take a picture of it tomorrow (if they are still there). if not, maybe i can take pictures of some small bush beans instead?...

i love seeing the evolution of my plants! from seed to putting out an end product - whether it be a flower or veggies. its just an amazing transition!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

sunday garden update!

first, the harvest...i have actually had a GREAT harvest. from this past friday, i have harvested about 15 cucumbers, 15 zucchini, 2 handfuls of sweet 100 tomatoes, 14 jalapenos and this...

finally! the edamame were ready! actually, i didn't realize to really look very closely to these plants until i was skimming over a seed catalog and it stated that the harvest period for edamame is a very small window and if you pick it too late, it will lose its "sweet, nutty flavor". well, i also read somewhere that all the beans would ripen at the same time. so whenever i saw some flat pods, i thought "it still needs time". well, after reading about the short harvest period, i jumped up and went for a closer look. and good thing i did!

how do you figure out if edamame is ready to be picked? if the seeds are almost touching eachother in the pod and there are plump. these are very light green, almost yellow (yellow color also is a possible color is the beans being too old, but in this case, it wasn't - thank goodness!!!). there was already one pod that was old, so i am glad that i got to them as soon as i did.

well, that part about all the beans maturing at the same time is BOGUS. i picked only about a fourth of what was available on the plants, although i think i will have to keep a closer eye on these plants the next few (available) days.

what did i do with these? i immediately washed them, set a pot of salty water on the stove and boiled them for 5 minutes (that's all you need to make them yummy tender!). i was popping them in my mouth like a crazy woman. it was just delicious! even the birds in my home loved it (except for barney). the husband didn't care for it very much...well, more for me! i also have a co-worker who will also love these. so i stopped myself from eating all of them in one sitting, placed the rest in a baggie and in the fridge it went. i will bring them with me to work tomorrow. LOVE edamame!) *controlling myself*

eww...i just realized i didn't look at one of my edamame plants..the one planted next to one of the cages used for the cucumber plants. i need to check that tomorrow morning! anyways...

seedlings and newly planted seeds! these are the fall crops. im not sure if this is too early yet, but it will take over 2 months for some of these to be ready for harvest, so i thought i'd start now. i planted more broccoli, swiss chard (fordhook giant), touchstone gold beets, more carrots, snow peas and more sugar snap peas.

and look! im finally getting around to labelling the pots. sheesh, i really should have started out doing this. i dislike having to wait till the plant actually gets its true leaves to figure out what they are and where i will place them. what are these labels made of? i cut up plastic cups - resourceful, huh? :-) next week, i think i will do more planting...michihili cabbage, pak choi...i think the last i will plant will be the onions and the lettuce - they don't take much time till they mature.

okay, here goes...

the left garden.

my recovering bush bean plants.

one of my recovering bell pepper plant

left garden overview, with my newly constructed compost bin. the one thing i didn't realize is that in this position, this bin needs a lot of water. i find myself wetting the contents twice a day. well, it has been extremely hot this weekend, but it really does get steamy in there. if i don't keep the compost contents wet, it can't decompose and the ants will come and take it over. i have already seen a lot of ants in there. i wet it pretty well, place new newspaper in there to cover up any food scraps (and ants) and rewet that layer. i go back to this bin and i am happy i didn't see any ants moving around. keep it damp!

the top garden

the trimmed zucchini forest. it doesn't look trimmed, you say? i can only thank the hot weather for that. its very happy and healthy (which is great!! what more could i ask for?) but it really takes up a lot of space. note to self - the top garden should only hold one row of squash, and each squash plant should be planted about 3 feet apart - at LEAST!.

do you notice the missing sugar snap pea plants? i do miss eating them...but i'm starting their seeds again! i was lucky to even get any after planting them during late spring.

the cucumber jungle. it truely day i would harvest a few cucumbers and think i harvested them all, and the next day i would harvest 10 (!!) more. that forest likes to hide its vegetables.

jalapeno plant growing wonderfully with lots of flowers and small jalapenos. grapes are also thriving...i just think my setup for their growing vines are very faulty...i have to buy more trellises for them.

the sweet potato plant is living the good life. whatever was put into the soil back there was extremely fertile...i dont know what it is. could this really be due to just planting beans and peas all over the place?

a blue lake bush bean plant (this is how big the bean plants should be in the left garden (which are now recovering its dark green color) and carrots.

sugar baby watermelon plants. they are branching wonderfully. i have two larger plants and one smaller one growing here.

a close up on a female flower and growing watermelon!

the all-in-one almond tree got a "haircut" today. it is just beautiful, but i want to see it a bit more bushier.

top garden overview

the right garden

here is my flower garden. i have not seen any changes to my tangarine plant. im wondering what is going on with that plant. maybe it needs more organic fertilizer? i think i will try that tomorrow. i dead-headed the dahlietta and i was surprised that there were numerous buds waiting to open up. beautiful!

my fall crop plots...

the heirlooms

currently, the best part of the tomato garden are the beautiful blooms of the tomato plants' companion plants...

right garden overview

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Reaching that next level

today i built both the worm bin and the biostack composter i received from the alameda county. it was very easy to build, even if there was a small piece broken on one of them.

the worm bin. currently i don't have my worms yet, but i will try to get them by the end of next week. i decided to at least put the base together and see what came with the entire set up.

here is the worm bin directly lifted out of the box. the legs need to be placed onto the base, the tap needs to be inserted into the bottom container (for the "worm tea"), and some anti-rodent barriers need to be inserted into the top lid.

here are the pieces laid out. even the cardboard piece placed on the top of the bin (when removed from the box) is used! don't throw that away. it is used to line the bottom of the lowest worm bin (there are 3 levels, plus one more to catch the worm tea).

and here is that little piece that either was already broken or was broken off somehow when i laid out all the pieces. i think it was already damaged because i didn't handle this thing roughly by any sense of the word. anyways, it turned out that this piece is not t-h-a-t crucial...

alacadabra! worm bin is done! it took me about 5 - 10 minutes to build it together. now all i need are the 1 lb of worms!

the brown, wrapped thing inside the worm bin is supposed to be used as the worms' bedding for the first worm level. just wet it and use it.

and barney helped my check out my handiwork. i think he was satisfied.

with the worm bin done. next is the biostack compost bin by smith and hawkin.

here is the compost bin still in the box. i found a few leaflets on how to compost and the instructions on building the compost bin, as well as a CD on making compost.

barney stands by the cd that came with the bin and looks pretty...

the most difficult part of the compost bin was finding the right spot for it. i decided to take this location - on the lawn, in front of the kitchen window. i left about 3 feet of space between the bin and the left garden, so that i have enough room to move around that side of the garden.

here is another angle.

here you can see most of the things i will use to put the compost bin together. the bottom is made of 4 pieces, interlocked together by small screws. i built the 2 (out of 3) layers of the compost bin. i can tell that this black plastic will add a lot of heat to the bin - just sitting out there in the sun, the pieces became really hot to the touch. the lid is on the right and some used newspaper and veggie leftovers are ready to be placed into the bin. i also did some trimming on the zucchini garden (it was really encroaching on the soybean plants, so that need to be removed), so this was cut up and added to the bin.

with all that compostable stuff cut up and added, and two hours only filled up half the height of the first bin layer. UGH. oh well. it will take a while to fill it up. i made sure to alternate the layers of greens (veggies, leaves, fruits, "wet" stuff) and browns ("dry" stuff, newspaper, cardboard, dried stems, dried grass) and dampen each layer with water to be slightly moist. but it was extremely hot today, so i did add some extra water later on in the day.

here is the compost bin with a better overview of its size and location. there is a third layer to this compost bin, but i think i will wait to add this layer to the least until i completely fill the first layer.

the contents of the compost bin should be turned once a week and kept moist all the time.