Friday, April 29, 2011

My New Pets

I'm not the crazy cat lady, I'm the crazy plant lady!

I've been wanting to try air plants, but the ones sold in the nurseries around here aren't terribly exciting. I found a store on Etsy that sold really cool specimens and jumped all over it. To say that I'm thrilled with the purchase is perhaps the understatement of the year.  I'm IN LOVE.

These ladies don't need soil to grow...they get everything they need from their leaves.  A bi-weekly dunk in water, apparently, is all they require.

Are air plants going to be the new hypertufa? They are certainly easier to "plant" and  require less light.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Harvests...

There have been several garden harvests already this week!  We picked some arugula for dinner salads and then sandwiches over the weekend (9oz total).  I also picked one full square of mustard greens and yielded 1.6 lbs!  I also thinned the radish patch and that yielded a respectable sized bunch weighing about .4 lb.

With all this heat, the rest of the arugula is starting to bolt, so I'm going harvest that & make pesto and something else. I'm really excited to see how much that yields!  It's time to move the Swiss chard outside anyways. 

All & all, I think I may actually reach my goal of under $3/lb of produce this year!  This time last year I had only picked 0.25 lb of arugula...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Garden Update- The Inside

With Sprout's new-found mobility, it became obvious that my seedlings needed to find a new home.  This also meant, however, that they weren't in a highly visible location.  Thus, they got a little neglected and some casualties have occurred.  My sweet peppers had sprouted, but then got dried out & died.  The Purple Opal Basil, nasturtium & Thai Basil haven't germinated yet...not sure if that's a result of old seed (in the case of Thai Basil & nasturtium) or not having consistent moisture.  I've replanted all but the nasturtium in hopes of not having to purchase these.

The good news is, though, that the tomatoes, and everything else that has germinated, are looking awesome.

Just under a month until these babies go outside, so I'll start a weekly fertilization of a diluted solution of fish emulsion.  As April 15th is technically the last frost date for my zone, so I've already directly sowed some carrots outside.

I'm starting to dream of grilled eggplant and tomatoes eaten raw with just a bit of salt and pepper.  Those days are still a few months off, unfortunately.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Garden Update- The Outside

Guess who has a job?!?  This girl!  It's part-time, but it's a great start.  I'm doing manual labor at an independent nursery and loving every minute of it. It's not only nice to have an excuse to be outside (and get paid for it!) but I'm also getting an excellent opportunity to meet and mingle with a bunch of plants I haven't dealt with before.  The downside, of course, is less time for my own garden...and this blog.  My apologies for not posting more this growing season thus far.

In comparison to the summer garden, the spring garden requires less watering (thanks to the spring rains), less seed starting (most of what I planted was directly sown) and less pests (although I anticipate this will soon change). I'm wondering why it took me so long to actually implement a proper spring garden. 

The kohlrabi is really taking off and a few are even starting to bulb up a bit.  The onion sets I planted are doing better than the seeds I started but I suppose that is to be expected?  I planted radishes on a whim and those are starting to really go crazy too.  In the photo below you can see all this, plus one of our blueberry bushes leafing out & blooming (yay!).

Last week I thinned the arugula and now you can't even tell!  I'll do another thinning/harvest this week to give them more room to grow.  However, in just a few short weeks it will be time to plant the summer vegetables, so a few squares of the arugula and mustard are going to have to make way for beans.  I'm looking forward to a sizable harvest for that!

Which reminds me that this weekend I need to start my cucumbers and squashes.  Shortly, I'll do an update of the summer vegetables I've already started indoors.  It's been a mixed bag there.

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Harvest!

And I forgot to take a picture of it!

Close your eyes.  Imagine a bunch of baby arugula.  Said arugula weighs 11 oz.

Voila!  You have a very good imagination as that's *exactly* what I harvested as I was thinning out my arugula planting.  There is still more thinning to do, but I didn't need so much arugula.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Postcard: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

To be honest, one of the primary reasons I wanted to go back to London was to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  In my last visit to England, we saw a documentary on the BBC about how Kew Gardens were instrumental in creating the British Empire.  That cemented my desire to see the place for myself.

 I'm sure it's even more amazing in the warmer months, but there was more than enough to occupy us for 5 hours as it was!  And we didn't even get to see everything.  My husband said: "It's so easy to find things here.  And the walks are really pleasant."  I'm guessing that those 2 things were not, in fact, accidents and are indeed just good design.  Kew is certainly worth a trip, in our opinion!

The greenhouses are really beautiful buildings.  Overall, the plants inside didn't personally knock my socks off, but then again I'm living in the 21st century where air travel makes it easy for me to visit exotic locales and I grew up in a tropical climate.  I can imagine, though, how amazed Victorians would be at their contents.  All the exotic palms from all over the empire!  Chocolate trees!  Coffee trees!

In addition, the Order Beds (at least the ones with stuff above ground) were fascinating.  Each bed contains plants from the same family & then those beds are grouped by order.  The similarities and differences between plant "cousins" was really interesting.  I hope to go back to explore this a bit more at some point.

My favorite bit might have been the Davies Alpine House and the rock garden near it.  Perhaps because they both contained so many unusual flowering plants (who isn't a sucker for flowers?).  I love how they were all grouped too!

This is definitely a place we'll go back and visit in the future.  We didn't see everything and we'd like to come back in a different season to see how the gardens change.  Next time I'll remember my sketch book and we'll take their little trolley to save a bit of walking.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Postcard: St. James's Park

As alluded to in my previous post, I'm recently back from a London "mini-break."  While someday I'd love to visit England during the summer, late March isn't a terrible time to go.  Sure the deciduous trees are still mostly bare (although a few--like magnolias--are blooming) and most perennials are still asleep, the daffodils where in full splendor as were other bulbs.

On last visit, we strolled around Regent's Park quite a bit.  On this visit, we found ourselves particularly exhausted after a long walk from our hotel near the Marble Arch Tube Station to the area near Buckingham Palace.  We followed a random road which lead us to St. James's Park.

Obviously popular with locals, the park was quite the haven and a perfect place to spend a half an hour resting our feet.

There are, I'm sure, many extraordinary things about St. James's Park.  It's bordered by 3 palaces, after all!  However, what I found most extraordinary was the daffodil plantings.  They were, of course, in drifts as is the usual practice.  What was striking was that little pockets and harbors were created that could fit 1, 2 or 3 more.  Nothing is quite as lovely as being surrounded by cheery daffodils on an overcast day!  In the photo, you can see 2 heads just above the sea of yellow enjoying it.

The brilliance is in the scale. Pockets too small for one person to lay down would look ridiculous in such an expansive drift as would really large gaps.  But a little harbor where 3 friends can be almost surrounded by sunshine and share a picnic or a little pocket where one person can read a book?  Cozy.