Thursday, April 30, 2009

How does my Garden Grow?

Here is a tour of what is happening around the yard. So many exciting things! The weather here in Massachusetts has been unseasonably warm, so all of the plants and trees have kicked into high gear. I've enjoyed three solid days of working outside in shorts and a t-shirt planting and weeding. I realized just now that I forgot to take pictures of my fruit trees that are flowering -- the cherry, peach and plum trees! Apple, apricot and early blueberries are ready to burst into bloom. 

Meanwhile . . . 
My garlic plants have grown! Don't they look fabulous? I'm dying to know what is happening under the soil, but don't dare to disturb one bulb. Besides, there isn't much to do at this point, right?
Here is one of my very happy 2nd year kale plants. I'm going to make a meal out of these leaves to see how they are, I'm guessing they aren't as tender? 
Ahhhhh . . . my asparagus bed. Do you see all of the shoots standing up tall? With the warmer weather we have had a full family serving every other day. That'salota asparagus!
Aren't the cute??
Amazing . . . and unusual plant. Don't you sometimes wonder how we started to eat certain things as human beings? I assume that people observed animals eating things and decided that they might be worth a try. Or, who was the poor soul who discovered that rhubarb and potato leaves are poisonous? That was not a satisfying meal!
Peas. I've heard two 'rules of thumb' on when to plant peas. 1) Plant when the crocuses bloom. 2) In our area, plant on Saint Patrick's Day. I love these home spun rules because they sound like something passed down from your grandfather around the breakfast table. "Ya know Lillian, I always said we gotta get those peas out when the crocuses bloom."
My remaining Leeks have become enormous! Time for some leek quiche! Ooooo . . . leek and asparagus quiche! As Victor would say "NOW were talkin'!"
Incidentally, I tried planting some 'lazy leeks' on the outside of our garden fence just for fun to see if they worked . . . and they did! Basically, you take the root bottom of a leek (even the ones you buy at the store) and plunk them in the ground. They should start to grow up. Interesting. The spot I've stuck them into is horrible for leeks, as they like well drained soil and this stuff here is like clay. Oh well. Just an experiment. But I might try a few more for fun! 
Look what I found! Blossoms on my strawberry plants! Now THAT'S exciting!
As you can see, our strawberry bed is much happier since installing our fence. So far, the rabbits are at bay. When the sprinkler guy came by to make some repairs (try as we did not to puncture the hoses . . . we did) he was flabbergasted by the seriousness of our fencing. Whatever it takes to keep those nibbling cottontails out of my strawberries and carrots! (We also protected against tunneling whippersnappers, just in case.)
And speaking of strawberries . . . my rhubarb has gone wild. In short order I should be able to cut some to make a pie. Can't wait. As you can see, I will have plenty for making jam, pies and whatever else you can do with rhubarb. 

Happy Rhubarb.
Here are my potato towers. You can read about them all over the web as a way to grow potatoes in a limited space. I have that gardeners disease where I always feel short on space and always want to expand. So, I thought I'd give these a try. Basically after making the wire cylinder, you fill the bottom with compost, old leaves, old grass clippings, ash is supposed to be good for PH, I threw in a little straw, a little dirt. THEN, you plunk a few seed potatoes on top of the six inches of compost cocktail, then put another 3 inches on top of the seed potatoes. When the potato plants push up through the compost, cover with more compost and continue doing this until you reach the top of the tower. Then harvest when the plants brown and die off. I'm a little concerned that potatoes will be exposed to light with this set up -- because this is what makes potatoes have a green skin and that's not good for eating. If I have to, I'll put some type of paper around the outside. We'll see. Of course my Portuguese husband thinks I'm nuts.(The Portuguese people know a thing or two about potatoes!) And he's teasing me about what his father will say when he sees my towers. Lets just hope I prove them wrong -- otherwise I'll never live it down! :)
My lilacs have sprung open. I adore lilacs. They are one of my favorite flowers. I have two, now enormous bushes. Three different colors, so they all spring open at slightly different times. This year, with the wacky weather they are all opening at once. Aren't they lovely?
An overview of my side and back yard where my garden is -- before everything is thick and lush. In the foreground is my perennial bed. Last year I started pushing into this with my herbs. So, the front part towards the road is packed with flowers, the back part -- herbs.
Our wild blackberry patch is starting to come alive!
And here is my new raspberry plot all planted. Not much to see just yet, but hopefully they will be! Only the everbearing variety I planted (1) will provide any fruit this summer. The summer raspberry fruits on one year old cane -- so I have to wait until next year. That's okay, I'm getting used to it!
And here are my bees in the afternoon. Yesterday, when I took this photograph, it was cooler than the previous 3 days so there was less activity. But they were still busy. In the afternoon they all start settling in and coming inside. 

Today I need to get suited up, start up my smoker and check to see if my queens have gotten out of their cages. Two friends who have new hives had burr comb because of how the frames are pushed all to one side to hold the queen cage between two frames. If given extra space, the bees will put 'non-approved' comb in that area. Usually this doesn't happen in just 3 days, but I'm planning on having it since two folks I know had it when they checked yesterday. Burr comb must be removed because it will prevent you from being able to remove the frames to check on your bees -- they will bind that whole area up. So, I'll have to smoke the area to get the bees off and 'quiet them' then pry off the burr comb with my hive tool. Make sure the queen isn't in it. Smoke / shake any remaining bees off it -- then get rid of it. And I was hoping for an easy intro . . . you know I'll tell you all about how it goes today! 


muddigrl39 said...

Wow I love the pictures. If I could just get proactive about doing my garden but my fruit trees are doing well.:)

Kristi said...

Your garden looks great. We'll just have to weather the potato tower storm together. I've been getting a lot of sceptical looks as well. This is the first time I have tried it as well.

Earth Angel said...

Your blog is like a breath of fresh air! I am still buried in snow and madly feeding my beehive (my first year!!). But, when I check in with your blog, I get excited for the last Utah snow before summer. Thanks for all you are doing for us snow-bound, but dedicated gardeners and beekeepers. Angie

Sandy said...

muddigrl39, thank you for the compliment. glad to hear your fruit trees are doing well! I hope mine do well this year -- it's their second year. You are so fortunate to have a longer growing season down there, if all else fails, just throw some lettuce and herb seeds in the ground. yum!
Kristi, lucky for me at least you're ahead of me. I am a little concerned about the light exposure. Time will tell! I look forward to your reports.
Angie, Awww thank you. Hats off to you with the snow. I was so thankful to have unseasonably warm weather. That's always such a gift. Looking forward to hearing about your bees . . . you just installed them a week ago?

Earth Angel said...

I brought my bees home on April 19th! On the same day I caught a virus and have needed to stay home for a couple of weeks. But, I have had a blast catching up on reading. Did you know that honeybees hum on the musical note of middle C? That is the musical note that research says promotes healing! I love these little honeybees ;) Angie