For weeks our tomato vines have been heavily laden with fruit, but it’s only been during the past few days that they have started to turn red. We’ve gotten a good amount of cherry tomatoes already, but unfortunately we’ve lost two very large tomatoes due to something nibbling away at them before I’ve managed to pick them. Even the large tomato above has a bite taken out of it…
To try and combat the bugs (or birds) that are ruining our ripe tomatoes, I pulled some semi-red ones (along with a bit of the vine) during the weekend and another bowl this morning. I’m hoping that they will finish ripening on the counter and my fingers are crossed that they’ll turn out to be just as tasty, despite being picked slightly early. I see a lot of caprese salad, gazpacho, and other tomato-based meals in the near future!
I was finally able to replant the middle plot of our garden yesterday after the surprise March snow killed off my tomato, pepper and cucumber seedlings (sad). I purchased big boy and cherry tomatoes plants, along with jalapeno, cayenne and red bell peppers during the weekend. Before planting, I thinned the seeds I had sown directly and cleared out the weeds that sprung up during my California visit to make room.
It was quite a surprise to harvest 7 stalks of rhubarb already! I didn’t even think the plant was going to grow after the way it withered and died last summer. The impressive comeback was a lovely surprise.
A few herb plants have been ordered and will hopefully be planted by next weekend so the plots are nearly complete. Now I just need to continue thinning, weeding and keeping an eye out for whatever nasty bugs that will surely want to eat my veggies at some point. Fingers crossed for a successful summer season!
Two weekends ago while my husband toiled away organizing our basement, I set to work on our seedlings for 2012. I had thought that getting the seedlings going in mid-February would be great timing, since most call for 6–8 weeks of inside growth before being relocated to the great outdoors in late March or early April. However, as we have had temperatures reaching as high as 67 recently, I think I should have started getting ready to garden in December!
But crazy DC weather aside, come early April we will hopefully be transplanting four varieties of tomatoes, two types of cherry tomatoes, multiple bell peppers, and some jalapeno peppers, cayenne peppers, cucumbers, and red and white onions to our backyard plots. We’ve also got four flower options started to intersperse with our plants that will not only look pretty, but will (hopefully) help keep bad bugs away.
And when the time comes that it is indeed warm enough to plant outside (er, tomorrow?) we’ve got a whole bunch of direct sow seeds ready to get to growing too including leeks, carrots, sugar snap peas, green beans and a bunch of herbs.
My fingers are crossed that this marks the kick off of a wonderfully abundant gardening summer!
Apparently I have lost my skills when it comes to the fine art of hard boiling eggs. After my previous misadventure in the kitchen I took a few months off, but today I thought I was ready to once again attempt the arduous task.
Alas, I was seriously mistaken.
This time I am not really sure what went wrong. I put three eggs in the small pot, filled it with water and turned the heat on high to get it boiling. Once it did, I turned it down to simmer and set the timer for 10 minutes. Shortly before the timer was about to go off I started smelling something terrible and very egg-y. I quickly went to the kitchen to see what had gone wrong and found that one of the eggs had basically exploded, covering the other two eggs in slimy goop and making the water look like egg drop soup.
I managed to salvage the two intact eggs, but oh the smell! A few weeks ago we removed the screen off of our front door, but today I had to get fresh air in here and have left the door open to the insect world for the last hour in an attempt to air this joint out. I’ve also got a pot of water with a cinnamon stick and cloves simmering on the stove. That smells a whole lot better, but I am not sure if it is going to save the house from the funk that has filled it. Perhaps the kitchen is trying to tell me to keep out. Maybe I should listen.
It has been seven weeks since my last post. In that time I have meant to write about a variety of things: our garden plot, the refinished front door project, our backyard, traveling to California, cooking, and dog talk. Despite my best intentions to write 2 or 3 posts per week, work has been unbelievably busy and each time my calendar has alerted me that it is time to write a post I have to admit that I’ve simply hit “ignore.”
But yesterday as I finished up the dishes and was reflecting on how I was also in my third load of laundry and had prepared dinner (and was working AND it was only 2:30), I thought to myself “Self, it is time to get back into blogging!”
So here’s a mini update about all the things I have been meaning to share recently.
I’ve been paying about as much attention to our community garden plot as I have to this blog…so I can’t report too much there. I know our sage plant is totally out of control (at this point it has probably taken over the entire 4×12 foot area). Hopefully I’ll make it over this weekend and will be able to collect a few bell peppers if the bugs/birds haven’t gotten them yet. I know we also have three or four leeks, but I am not sure if they are ready to be harvested. Since there is no room in the fridge for them, hopefully they can stay at the garden a bit longer.
In our backyard plot we added red potatoes and some blueberry bushes at the end of September. We’ve had a pretty good harvest of green beans, radishes and arugula since planting, but some nasty black and orange bugs came along and killed our thriving cucumber plant. Our chive and cilantro plants still seem to be coming along so I am hoping that they will take root before it is too chilly. It also looks like a good number of leeks are growing for use in the spring.
Front Door Refinishing:
While my in-laws were here for a weekend in September, my husband asked my father-in-law to refinish our front door. It now looks beautiful, but it meant spending three relatively chilly days and nights without a front door, which was interesting. Thankfully we still had the screens on our gate so we were able to keep bugs out at the very least. I have to admit that I was disappointed my security squeak—the super loud annoying noise that the door made every time it was opened and closed—disappeared when the door was reinstalled.
The first weekend of October we were in California to attend the sixth and seventh weddings of 2011. Along with visiting family, we took a wine tasting day trip to Amador County and spent a few nights in Santa Cruz. Now I can safely say that we are weddinged out! Thankfully we won’t be comparing cakes and dancing like fools again until 2012, but we will be heading back to California during the holidays.
As you know from earlier posts, I have to brag when I make dinner. Well, my husband is currently on work travel so I have been making dinner every night. If I want to eat I have to cook, so I suppose that I can’t really brag too much about that. But I have been doing my best to choose relatively healthy options like lentil & spinach soup, tabouleh & hummus, and black bean soup. It seems that Mother Nature has decided it is indeed fall, but despite having entered full-blown baking season I feel like I should wait for a reason other than wanting to eat a treat before I bake. Apple cake is definitely in the near future though.
My husband and I have been talking for months (years really) about getting a dog. Recently he mentioned — wait, I think this is a story for a whole other post…I’ll try not to wait for seven more weeks to write it!
There was a lot of dirt all along the narrow portion of our backyard. It had ivy and all sorts of random crap in it — bottles, wood, huge rocks, spare parts. Now there is still a lot of dirt, but hopefully it is more or less ivy-free (and free of the various other types of debris, too) thanks to all the sorting my in-laws and husband did when starting in on the garden bed project. The dirt now resides in our lovely raised garden beds and has been modified (and hopefully greatly improved) with compost, newspaper and additional soil.
We really wanted to try our hand at fall/winter crops this year since our new beds are right outside the house, so we ordered a bunch of seeds and on Saturday morning we planted the middle bed.
It may not look like much right now, but if things go as planned we will be harvesting quite a variety during the fall months—radishes, broccoli, beets, cucumbers, green beans, snap peas, leeks, spinach, arugula, and herbs. We decided to plant all our crops in one bed for now to minimize weed growth, but come spring we are going to get all three beds in on the growing action. For now, my garden piggy faithfully watches over the crop, hopefully scaring away squirrels, birds and bugs (I can dream).
July has been an interesting month at the garden. After waiting and waiting and waiting some more, our tomatoes are finally starting to turn which is great. However, now that they are changing something has decided they are tasty. After waiting so long to have tomatoes, I do not want to share them with insects, birds, squirrels or whatever else might be nibbling on them, so I have resorted to bringing them home as soon as they start to change and letting them ripen on the counter. So far it seems to be minimizing critter attacks. Sadly the Purple Ukranian Tomato plant has bit the dust, but it did give us a handful of interesting looking fruit (first picture). Wonder if they will taste any different than regular tomatoes?
A few weeks ago another gardener and I were marveling over the fact that our kale was still going strong. Neither of us could believe that it hadn’t been fried by the heat or invaded by aphids yet since last summer the leafy greens barely made it through May. Five minutes after having that discussion, I went to cut some of our prolific kale only to find that it had acquired an aphid infestation since the last time I had looked at it closely. Following that unfortunate discovery we decided it was time to cut all the greens in the plot down to the stalk.
Last weekend we harvested our garlic since the stalks were completely dead (and had been for awhile). I am pretty sure we didn’t harvest early enough though because the heads were falling apart. Also I don’t think I provided the bulbs with the right amount of water because they certainly didn’t flourish like I had expected. But it was a garlic-growing learning experience and I think I have a better idea what to do next time around.
Although our plot seems awfully empty for this time of the year, we are still getting cucumbers and all four pepper plants are flowering and slowly but surely producing. I guess we are in for a bit of a late harvest. But as you can see, we aren’t exactly hurting for tomatoes…