Category Archives: weeds

First harvests

I have been spending my spare time weeding, rather than posting on this blog, for which I apologize.  I find this the longest time of the year, when everything is growing merrily (especially the weeds) but there is nothing to pick and enjoy.  But that is starting to change.  First up:

Turnips and lettuce
Turnips and lettuce

This year we are growing the same lettuce mix we purchased from Pinetree last year, and it is doing equally well.  We have a new type of turnip, an Asian-style that you pick while they are still fairly small.  I have been trying to correct my less-than-stellar thinning efforts from earlier in the season by picking ones that are too close to other ones.  We only have a small row of them – about five feet across – so I am picking them for meals as we need them.

Yesterday was very exciting, because this is what was harvested:

Summer squash, banana peppers, sungold tomato
Summer squash, banana peppers, sungold tomato

Oh yes, your eyes do not deceive you – that is the first sungold tomato of the season.  J picked it and brought it in for me to enjoy – what a generous guy.  I think I surprised him when I cut it in half to share.  That’s very unlike me, where sungolds are concerned.

The precioussssssss
The precioussssssss

Meanwhile, our search for a substitute pet continues:

Not as cute as a cat
Not as cute as a cat

I really couldn’t tell if the toad was closing his eyes because he was relaxed, or he expected imminent death and didn’t want to see it coming.

We maybe need something with fur.

Summer begins

So once again, I cannot take a lot of credit for moving the garden from concept to reality – J has done the lion’s share of the seedling care & planting. I did go on a massive weeding spree this past weekend, so the gardens are attractive enough to be posted on the internet:

Main garden
Main garden
Parsnips, carrots, turnips, beets
Parsnips, carrots, turnips, beets
Herbs & lettuce
Herbs & lettuce

It has been such a cold spring that growth has been sluggish.  Everything went into the ground the weekend of May 17th but it’s barely done anything.  I know the heat of July will kick everything into high gear.

One crop that is doing well are the hops – J bought three different types a few years ago.  The first year we put them in pots outside our sun porch, and ran them up a trellis.  Last year they were transplanted out into a sunny spot in the area where the orchard is going to go, and this year he split them.  Several of them are already higher than five feet:

Hop vines - without flowers (yet)
Hop vines – without flowers (yet)

Two years ago J grew barley, with the intent of trying to brew his own beer.  The birds ate most of it, and Max napped in what the birds didn’t get.  It was less than optimal, so we’ve abandoned barley.  And beer brewing, truth be told.  Turns out Sam Adams makes perfectly acceptable beer, and it is ten times easier to get it at the store.  Go figure.

Finally, the back garden went in this weekend – this year, everything is being started from seed (watermelons, corn, beans, peas, pumpkins, etc.) so there’s nothing to look at here except exceptionally fluffy soil and beautiful rows achieved with the assistance of some John Deere tractor attachment that’s been cluttering up our basement.  Meaning that it gets to live another year at our house, because there is no way I want to rake a 25′ x 90′ garden into parallel rows.

Back 40, after planting
Back 40, after planting

And now we wait.

“Gardening is a kind of disease.  It infects you, you cannot escape it.  When you go visiting, your eyes rove about the garden; you interrupt the serious cocktail drinking because of an irresistible impulse to get up and pull a weed.”  ~Lewis Gannit
This is so very true.  This past weekend my MIL came for a visit which allowed me to knock off early from my planned garden chores on Saturday as my parents were also joining us for dinner.  The whole time we were sitting on the deck having dinner I could hear the weeds growing in the ornamental bed behind me, and had to resist the urge to jump up and go weed.  I take orderly, tidy gardening to new heights.  My thought is, why should the weeds reap the benefits of proper watering and fertilization?

It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening.  You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not.  ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936
Last night I worked outside in the garden until 8:45 PM weeding, defoliating the bean plants that have been attacked by bugs, and spraying neem oil to try and save the plants.  This year has been particularly brutal for all sorts of bugs (especially ticks; we pull one off one or the other of us nearly every time we come into the house) and they have been munching heavily on our eggplants, peppers and especially beans.  But only in the main garden; the beans in the back 40 appear to have escaped almost unscathed.  Still, we want beans, and in an old edition of Organic Gardening magazine I found references to using neem oil as an organic pesticide.  Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem, an evergreen tree found originally on the Indian subcontinent and now in many other parts of the tropics.  I have had some success with bug prevention with my lillies by using cayenne pepper spray, but those bugs are red lilly leaf beetles, which are altogether different foliage-destroyers:
Moments before death
I have to be vigilant, though.  I usually hand-remove and crush them and then spray down the plants once I think I’ve removed them all, but there are often more tiny holes in the lilly leaves a few days later, and the cycle repeats.  I think we’ll be on the same path with the beans, if we even get any beans this year.  Fortunately the peas appear to have no infestations whatsoever, meaning we could have a bumper crop and I am really going to need to start researching chest freezers.