Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekly Farm Update! 4/24/11

Well, the snow peas finally gave out and collapsed. The course has run on them and they couldn't give anymore. This means we ended up with a large amount of snow peas that will be washed and frozen.  Some of the snow peas were on the plant way too long and they need to be shelled. These will be eaten as peas but should still have a great taste.



Our next stop is the strawberries and these get tastier as the season progresses. It hasn't gotten too hot yet for these guys and they continue to thrive in the pots but they may get moved to a much bigger location at some point. Hopefully this will happen for this season. (More on that later.) I didn't spend too much on the plants, so anything they put out should be enough to cover the cost.



I am very happy to show off the first tomatoes of the season. I have found others around the garden but this is the first two. I believe this is the Early Girl as the bunches on these are only of 4-5 buds and they look like the same ones from last year. The yellow pear plants have many more buds per bunch.

If I am correct and these are the Early Girls, they normally don't take long to mature. The seed packet says that it is only 52 days to maturity and they are already about twice the size of the ones shown. Like I said, these aren't the only ones that have shown  up and I have found more sine. The season seems to be off to a great start. We shall see how it progresses.


This season has brought on new vegetables and that includes the tomatillos. These can be seen on the bottom left of this shot and the buds are popping up everywhere. The plant  has gotten fuller and quite a bit taller since they were planted directly into the ground. I know there are people out there that have said that these plants need 2 plants in order to pollinate. The fruit seems to be getting bigger and continues to grow everyday. I am just happy to see that I have been able to grow a plant with such gorgeous blooms.

My wife hopes to enjoy the fruits off this plant and I hope to be able to provide that for her.

The plants in the beds continue to grow and are showing signs of fruit. The pepper plants have tiny buds that are slowly emerging. A few of the tomato plants even have small tomatoes that will be enjoyed in many different ways. Sauces, sandwiches and soups are just beginning, heck, maybe right off the vine. I do not use ANY chemicals whatsoever. I use home-made compost and potting mix but no fertilizers, sprays, even if they say they are organic.  I just add water.

The potted plants are still kicking and putting out many buds and should be putting out fruit at some point. The heat is slowly kicking in and the plants are yearning for it. I know I still have many plants in small pots and this brings up my last piece of news.

I was seriously thinking of building large planters and put them on the patio but didn't want to cover or damage the flagstones. There were discussions about the pros and cons about the planters but a compromised was reached. No planters on the patio but there would be an expansion for the garden. There is an area behind the garage and it gets enough sun to support growth. The area is between our garage and the back wall that divides us from the house behind us. The space is just under 100 sq ft. and would fit about 6 raised beds that are the same size as the ones in that are currently in the garden now. These would be 3x3 beds and could fit all the plants on the patio and have room to spare. This garden expansion would be done over time with probably 2 beds put in a month. I've got a basic outline for it but will share that later with a post dedicated to this expansion.

I will leave you now with a photo of my tiny watermelon plant. This is in a 3 inch cup and will be moved into the garden at some point. This is a crimson sweet watermelon plant that will hopefully put out a few melons.

This is it for this week and tune in next week for another update!

Luis

The photos for this week can be found HERE.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weekly Farm Update! 4/17/11

I'm back with a new update and will get right to it!

The first shot this week is the white swiss chard that has taken off. Now that I am working and really only water during the week, it gives a chance for everything to grow. I know I say this every week but the salads have been amazing. I had not clipped any lettuce in about a week and picked enough for about 4-5 people. There is still more out there but we'll let it grow.

The weather has warmed up here and not only has the lettuce gone insane. The snow peas have grown to just under 7 feet! That is just massive and thanks to a fellow blogger, The Georgia Home Garden, I now know why the stalks are turning yellow. Turns out I just need more water! I didn't expect the plants to last all season as I know they don't like too much heat and it shows. I will be adjusting and watering more than I have.

I think all of the tomato plants, regardless of location, have those bright yellow blooms we have all come to love.  Here is a shot of one of the tomato plants in one of the raised beds. If you just joined us, no, I don't know what kind of tomatoes each specific plant this is. Labels and I have not learned to get along very well. It could be one of about 3 or 4 kinds. At the end of the day, it doesn't mater. (I know, that was a lame attempt at a joke.)

This little guy has a few bunches of blooms and keeps growing everyday. I can't wait to see the tomatoes themselves start to form. It may be a while before this happens but it is still like opening a gift on Christmas morning, at least for me. Especially because I don't know what color or shape of tomato this will  produce.

Let's get away from tomatoes for a minute and move on to my lovely snow peas. Other than not getting enough water, they are amazing! Like I said, these bad boys are just under 7 feet tall. The blooms on these things are going nuts and producing like crazy! I pick about a handful of these every single day! I don't always pick all of them and I let them develop more because I would like to eat them more as peas. I know that defeats the purpose of snap peas and the shell is tough but the peas are so darn good.

I will try to keep these going as long as possible but don't expect it to make it through the entire season. I also have a bush bean that is just under a foot tall and hope that will be a good producer as well.

Going back to tomatoes, here is the last bed. This is the that is almost exclusively tomatoes and I say almost because the carrots I planted in between them are coming in! They were there for the update I did last week but weren't big enough to really get a decent photo but guess what; they are big enough now and here they are! I love a good carrot and the first ones won't be enough to satisfy me so I had to plant some more. Besides, I had read that carrots grow well when planted with tomatoes and who am I to deny them that happiness? I hope these grow bigger and better than the ones that are directly in the ground. The ground is heavy clay-like soil and root vegetables haven't done too well for me. By putting them in the raised beds it should, ideally, grow better and longer.


Our next stop is my blooming tomatillo plant! This one came from store bought produce and I honestly didn't think it would make it very far but it now has 2-3 open blooms on it! I have read that 2 are needed in order for proper pollination but others have dispelled that theory. I started a few but this is the only one that has made it. It looks great and the blooms are just gorgeous. For now, it is still in a small pot but will be moved up at some point. Part of me just wanted to attempt it to say that I have done it. I'm sure that I'm not the only gardener that has done that. Part of gardening is experimenting with different things and trying to grow those exotic things that cost too much at the store. These are not pricey but not found everywhere. Of course, I hope this becomes a heavy producer but we'll see.


The last photo for this week is one of miniature roses. These are the same ones my mother in law brought over around a month ago. I potted it up from the small pot it was in and they are blooming again! When I potted them up, I really didn't think they would bloom again but I guess I was wrong. It is amazing as to what plants can take and keep on ticking. These beauties haven't been through much but have stay gorgeous through the entire ordeal.

This concludes this week's update but please tune in next week, around the same tine, for a new update. Thank you and happy gardening!

Luis

This week's update in photos is HERE.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gardening Prints for A Cause

After the compliments on my photos, it got me thinking. Why not use my photos to help others? I am thinking about putting a series of sets together. These sets will only be released in small quantities, maybe 50 each, and want to know the best part? I will be donating a large, if not all, of the proceeds will be donated to charity. I have not decided on a specific charity yet, but it will be one that helps feed the hungry.  Now enters some things I need to work out which include: choosing the photos, pricing the sets, choosing the charities and any legal issues that may arise.  

Choosing Photos
Choosing photos should not be difficult but I'm thinking of placing it up for a vote. Of course, I want to include photos that people like. I will probably break it down to a about 10 or so an let people vote on it.

Pricing the Sets
I've been thinking about this for the last 2 days and have an idea but was wondering what the consensus is here. Something to remember that these prints will be in a limited quantity and no more. I was thinking about doing 50 sets each.

Choosing the Charities
This will not be easy as there are many organizations out there that do very good things. I am totally open for suggestions. One that comes to mind is Feeding America and that is only because there are so many commercials on all the time. I will also be looking at my local food banks.

Legal Side
I am sure there are some legal things I must think about but I don't know what those are or could be. I researched the net but found nothing useful. I tried different terms but didn't get much. I found many ideas to raise money but nothing about the legalities of it. I hope somebody can help enlighten me on what I need to know or at least where to start.

Well, that is pretty much it for this post. I hope to do this but as you can see, not sure on how it will work out. Any and all help/comments/questions are greatly appreciated. I hope to get this going as soon as possible as there are many charities out there that need our help.

Luis

P.S.: I want to welcome my new followers. I hope you stick around for a while and enjoy my blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekly Farm Update: 4/12/11

I know I say this every week but this last week really did seem to fly by. It's time for another update and here we go.

The garden has exploded with color this week. Many, if not all, of the marigolds are blooming. This is just one of the many gorgeous orange/black blooms that can be found. I have kept the small window boxes around the garden and it gives a nice splash of color between all the green. The yellow blooms on the tomato plants are also the other splash of color.

Everything is loving this recent heat and just shooting up in size. The tomato plants that were put directly in the ground have almost doubled and their little yellow blooms are everywhere with the promise of tomatoes soon!



The Snow Peas are kicking it into high gear with new blooms showing up everyday. We've enjoyed them in salads and just right off the vine. The plants are sturdy and will hopefully continue to grow well. The lettuce is enjoying the slightly warmer weather and in turn, we are enjoying the amazing salads. I just clipped some this morning and it will be enjoyed for dinner tonight. Of course, some snow peas will be tossed in there.




I don't know about you, but I  love carrots. The tops are getting up there in size and are looking better everyday. In this photo you can also see an onion on the right. Those are also getting bigger and longer tops. My wife loves onions and these could also be tossed in salads.



In the "green's bed" we have: lettuce, white swiss chard but I also added some pepper plants. Like I've said before, I know these greens may not make it  through the season and I need may need something to replace it. This shot shows the swiss chard in the center but what you don't see is the small peppers plants between the rows. They haven't gotten too big  yet but I sure hope they do. 

I only put in 3-4 peppers plants but I sowed zucchini on the end of the bed and those have come up. I don't have any true leaves yet but they are looking good so far. I put in 3 seeds because I didn't think all of them would germinate but they did. I am now trying to come up with a way to build a cheap but sturdy trellis to make a canopy of sorts. Now that I think about it, that may provide some good shade and may extend the time on the lettuce. I am some ideas on the trellis but nothing set in stone yet, or soil for that matter.

The raised beds are looking good and it all seems to be going well. The first bed on the left, has the peppers and tomatoes. These all seem to like the bed and are bigger everyday.

The middle bed includes peppers, eggplants and more tomatoes. Just like the first bed, everything is bigger and will hopefully put out some great food. 


The last bed is mainly tomatoes but have some carrots planted in between them and those have already sprouted. The carrot sprouts are really too small to get  a decent photo. I know all you can really see is tomatoes in the back and front but the open spaces have the carrots. I used tomato cages from last year and basically wove them into this bed. The supports for these haven't been an issue, yet, but will probably need more later on. 

These babies all have buds on them and will be providing us with many more tomatoes. I've told my wife that I hope she likes tomatoes because we will have more than we need. She happens to love tomatoes more than anybody I know and is excited about it. 

As if I hadn't talked enough about tomatoes, here is another shot of them but these are the ones in pots on my flagstone patio. Most, if not all, of these also have yellow flowers that are ready for 'mater production. I know many of these are in pots that are way too small for them and should be potted up. I want to see how much they put out by being in small pots. I know they will put out less than the ones in the larger pots or the ones that are in the ground but gardening is all about experimenting. 

I may also give some of these away to family and friends but not positive yet. I would love to build some massive planters and put on the patio to house these. Although, filling these planters probably won't be cheap or easy but we'll see.



That brings us to the end of this update but tune in next weekend for another post. I leave you with a shot of the current stage of my "greenhouse" and it is still full of seedlings. These include peppers, flowers and surprisingly enough, tomatoes! I don't know yet where these are going but they will find a home. 

Until next week!

Luis

This week's update in photos HERE!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekly Farm Update! 4/3/11


Well, it looks like the updates will be moving to Sundays, or at least on the weekend. I was hoping to keep the updates on Thursdays but it just didn't happen. I will probably be sticking to the new schedule and may do smaller updates during the week. Spring has sprung and there is something new popping up on an almost daily basis.

Let's cut the chit chat and get to what you have all been waiting for. 


The greens bed is still churning out salads every few days and with the heat we had this week, it has been growing even better. Here is one of the many salads we have enjoyed. 

My wife and I are currently obsessed with a specific bleu cheese dressing and use that exclusively for our salads. This week we were able to add sugar snap snow peas to our salad and they were a delight. 



Speaking of snow peas, here are the plants standing at just about a foot above the cage. I have small, 3 foot, bamboo poles I may add to extend the cage but I'm not sure if I will. I know these plants are not meant to last the entire season and I will be planting more. Something I need to remember though, leave more space between plants. I have 2 plants per side, 8 total, and it is a bit crowded. I will be cutting that by half. I know I won't get as much production, but I need to able to see the snow peas in the crowded mess.







I wanted to grow a bush type of bean this seasons and it looks like I am well on my way. I can't remember what variety this is but the packet said it should only be about 4 foot high. I will see how it goes and I may plant more next season or see if any space opens up in the garden. For now, this is just a baby but once the soil warms up, this little guy should take off. 






I think I know what kind of squash this plant turned out to be and it looks like acorn. Although, this is the one I was almost completely sure this was a cucumber plant. Oh well.

If this is acorn squash, it looks like it may be a bush variety. Just my luck right? I was hoping for a vine type but didn't get it. The seeds for this one came from a store bought squash. I will see how these go.



We move on to another plant that was started from store-bought produce. This little buy is a tomatillo plant. These are the "tomatoes" used in making salsa verde. The first part of this recipe HERE explains how to make it. My wife loves these and I figured I could try and grow them for her. Besides,  you should only grow what you are willing to eat. The plant has gotten a little bigger since it was taken. It also has, what appears to be, baby tomatillos on it. I will probably keep this potted for a while as the first one I moved into the garden isn't doing too well. 

I finally filled in the middle bed with more plants. I added two more eggplants and peppers into it. I added green bell and poblano peppers. The eggplants are either black beauty or front runners. (label, label, label) I remember having many black beauties last season but enjoyed every last one of them. I added front runners this year because I wanted to grow a different variety and I like the shape of them. They look like purple cucumbers. I don't know how productive they are but like everything else, we shall see. 

The other beds are doing great with new growth. Many of the tomato plants, in the garden and pots, have flowers. We know what that means but if you don't, it means we will, hopefully, have tomatoes soon!

Here is the table you see every week filled with seedlings. Green bell, poblano pepper, tomato, eggplant seedlings are all here. These little guys have not made it out to the garden yet for a few reasons. The main reason, I need to find room for them. I never thought I could run out of room but I am almost there. The original greens bed will probably not make it too late into the summer as the heat will basically kill it all. Also, I am waiting to see how the secondary greens bed progresses and if they will survive. If they survive, I  may take out the first bed and move in some of these seedlings. 

This season has also brought flowers; marigolds to be exact. These little beauties are great to bring in beneficial insects. These were all started from seed and have been doing wonderfully. I have 3 short window boxes placed throughout the garden. I put them in containers because it makes them easier to move around, if needed. It makes it easier to keep weeds and other things from growing in between them. 



Strawberries were also added to the list of things that we have eaten from the garden this season already. The list already includes lettuce, snow peas and white swiss chard. I hope to add: carrots, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, tomatillos, squash, peppers, honeydew and watermelon. Yes, you read that correctly, watermelon and more. I have a small seedling that is growing quickly and will be in the garden at some point. 

In other news, the compost bin is  working wonders. The lawn clippings go into it about every two weeks and is keeping the bin pretty hot. Every time it is opened, a nice cloud of steam emanates from it. This will definitely come in handy for adding to the garden. 


The last photo shows all of the containers on the flagstone patio. I moved them over there because it was just getting too crowded near the garage. It was making it hard to walk through there. Besides, they look nice spread out. Then again, they will look even better when they start bearing fruit. 



I hope to keep up with the updates on a weekly basis but can't promise anything. The blog serves two main purposes; sharing my experiences so others can read and hopefully learn something from the. The second reason is so I can keep track of timing and what is going on in the garden. I will probably be using this information when I put in the garden next year. 

That's all folks!

Luis

This week's photos can be found HERE.