Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gold Ball turnips and a Black Spanish radish.
Our plants are growing slower than last summer, and I worried it was something we were doing until we walked around the community garden this morning and saw other people's plots.  Some have plants much further developed than ours, especially tomatoes and peppers (ours, grown from seed indoors on window sill, are pretty sad, but we're keeping our fingers crossed), but many others have some plants even smaller than ours.  So I feel better.  Even if we should be doing something differently to boost our garden's production, I think we can safely blame the weather (three days of 90, two weeks of 60, a week of 90, a week of 70...) for most of the slow growth.

Despite the inconsistent weather, we are harvesting a few things, as you can see in the photo of the turnips and one black radish we picked on July 4.  For a few weeks now, we've been snipping off leaves from the beets, turnips and radishes and steaming/sauteing them for dinner, and now we've enjoyed a roasted veggie platter that included our turnips.  We haven't eaten the radish yet, but we did stir fry some radish pods (from the radishes that bolted and went to flower quickly, then producing snap bean–like seed pods).  Not bad.  And, we're picking a few beans each day—Cherokee, wax and magpie—and will soon have enough to make a great bean salad or something.  A friendly gardener Len met while toiling away in the sun shared with us some of her broccoli, small red radishes and bok choy.  And, we're picking raspberries every day, just like the last two summers around this time.  The raspberries are the lowest maintenance, highest yield item in our edible garden.  And possibly the most delicious.

I can't wait to start picking cucumbers and zucchini—just in the past two days, I've seen itty bitty baby ones.  Oh, and we added some potatoes to the garden!  My mom gave me some little budding potato chunks that she received from a neighbor with a huge garden.  We just tossed them into the ground, and less than week later we had potato plants.  As they grow taller, we pile the dirt higher around them.

The last thing I have to report is the Insect Watch.  I saw one squash bug near our calabaza plant a couple of weeks ago.  I killed him and, after seeing the squash-bug invasion my parents are facing, I have been diligently checking the stems and undersides of the leaves of all of our squash and melon plants every time we go out to water.  So far, no new sightings and no egg clusters.  Maybe the dill, catnip and nasturtium (which hasn't yet bloomed) are working?  Meanwhile, Len is daily hunting and squishing Japanese beetles in our corn stalks.  Now we know what became of the white grubs we found while digging up the garden.  Next spring, we'll kill the grubs as we find them instead of just tossing them out of the space.  The other pest we've found is the cucumber beetle.  Rather cute little black and yellow guys, they devoured some of our squash seedlings in one weekend earlier this season.  We replanted the ones in the worst shape—and the ones that disappeared entirely—and now just keep a murderous eye out for those beetles, too.  It's always beetles.

Here's to living off the land!