Thursday, September 18, 2008

You say tomato, I say bug farm

How is it that a 15x10' plot of land can offer such a range of experiences, from the most blissful when I see new dahlia blossoms emerging, to the most dreadful, when a much awaited, heavy Hillbilly flame heirloom tomato, is on the verge of ripening, and in my eagerness to see it's changing colors, I turn it over only to discover a bed of roly-polies feasting on the flesh that was to be mine? I've had a few major disappointments in gardening by now to not think that the end of the world is near, but still, I REALLY wanted that tomato, and I am REALLY sad that it is now sitting in the bellies of creatures who I'm sure won't appreciate it as much as I would have.
I suppose I should look on the bright side. I did, after all, bring home a radish today as a fruit of my labors.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Square Foot Garden Update

Welll, summer has finally arrived, at least temperature-wise, in the Bay Area. I'm usually not thrilled with warmer temperatures, even of those in the 80's, because usually it translates into the 90-100's in our third-story apartment. But, having a garden at least gives me perspective. The tomatoes and zucchini love the heat, and I've been bringing home a couple pounds a week. Last week I also harvested some thyme and tarragon to use on a delicious herbed roasted chicken.

So far, I haven't been that impressed with the results of my square foot garden vs. the normal soil. Here are a few notes:

Square Foot Garden:
* Transplants in general take a lot longer to adjust in the square foot garden. Maybe the soil is too artificially prepared. The only thing that has done well as a transplant has been my tuscan kale. However, as I've added more and more compost in as I've replaced old plants with new ones, I've noticed the adjustment time decrease. For example, I tried planting a sage initially, and it just turned yellow and shriveled up, but I tried planting another one later in the place that the dill used to be, and it's perfectly happy.
* Tomatoes will grow, but they will be smaller and less abundant. I've gotten some pretty sweet tomatoes from my square foot box, but there haven't been as many. I'm assuming that the main reason is not enough room for root development. I had four tomato plants spaced out in a 4x4' plot.
* Weeds have been minimal, but they still exist. In fact, it took no time for some comfrey to bust through the weed fabric, and now even some crab grass has crawled its little tentacled way over into my boxes. The soil does remain much more friable, though, and so the weeds are usually pretty easy to pull out.

Regular Garden:
* The soil is more compact (a natural result of the clay-based soil we have here).
* Things take root more easily. I think that the accumulation of years and years of different plantings have contributed a lot to the nutritional value of the soil. That said, however, I need to do an analysis this fall as I build up my beds.
* Many more weeds.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Produce Season

Some produce from a couple of weeks ago

Some heirloom tomatoes in a salad I'm making - the red ones are the sweetest I've tasted!

Saffron cream butterfly pasta, caprese salad, and zucchini ribbons with
mint and toasted pine nuts. I got the recipe for the saffron butterflies
from my new Moosewood cookbook (thanks, Aunt Kathy and Randy!)
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Freeze . . . FBI!

Wouldn't you garden too if you had a pal like this to cheer
you on?
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Box #2 Update

The tuscan kale is bigger, and the lettuce is still there, albeit not that big. The eggplant (see previous post) looks half dead, but it's producing . . . I guess that's what counts in the end, isn't it? Maybe my pepper plants will rebound and grow beyond their current height of 3 - 4 inches. We haven't been having extremely hot weather here, which is great for the psyche but not necessarily great for summer vegetables.
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Non-Square Foot Garden Update

Things are growing pretty well on this side. My Japanese Black Trifele tomato plant is producing the most, but they are producing the most in both types (square foot and non-square-foot). The swiss chard is coming up nicely, and the dwarf dahlias are getting ready to blossom. Waaaayyy in the back of this picture you can see a black beauty zucchini that has been sent to the corner. That's because if you've ever planted a summer squash plant of any kind, you know that they get a little aggressive and need a place of their own. There are also some bush beans, a brandywine tomato plant, and a thai pink egg plant that are hopefully going to be producing soon.
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Herb Garden Update

So . . . the snap peas are torn out, so there's a back row empty now,
waiting to be planted. The cilantro also went to seed, so I pulled it out,
and laid down an inch or so of compost on everything. The tarragon,
thyme, and lemon verbena are looking great!
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