Friday, May 29, 2009

You Know It's Almost June When...

Ruby red jewels grace our porch, surveying the neighborhood:

My little strawberry plant keeps going and going - it's on its third summer. Late May and early June bring dear memories of my Grandparents and their strawberry farm. I've scoped out several pick-ur-own strawberry farms within driving distance and hope to find the time to pick a batch in the next few weeks. The key will be finding a Saturday where we don't have any other plans...berries can't really wait around too long. I'll have to pick and make jam all in one day. We'll see what the coming weeks bring.

The plants outside seem to have recovered from the shock of transplant and the weather. Some leaves have been shed, but inches have been added. I'm anxious for my basil to get big enough to start harvesting. I've had to stop myself quite a few times from prematurely snipping.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Warm Spring Rain

Melon blossom after a gentle afternoon shower...

...I sure hope that my freakishly early curcurbit crop still produces lots of fruit.

It's been a fast four day weekend. Usually after four days off I come back feeling like I've had the chance to inhale deeply and clear out the cobwebs from my head. I still feel like I need a few days, though. Maybe it's because we've been relatively busy with projects and family get-togethers. Today is the first day we've had were we truly did nothing and didn't leave the house.

If I force myself to think hard enough about it, it's been over three years since I've had more than four days off in a row. It's sad that our society puts so little importance on mental and emotional health. I'm not going to leave my PTO days to rot now that I've made a new start. Not only will I not be afraid to take time off, but I also am not going to let myself feel guilty about the days I'm not zoning out in front of a computer.

My husband an I have a mini-vacation planned in a few weeks. We're calling it our "2009 Brew Cruise". We'll be visiting three of our favorite craft microbreweries in Indiana and Michigan:
Even though it will just be two days and will involve a lot of driving, it will be a break from the weekly routine we tend to fall into. Not to mention that our beer/wine "cellar" will be well-stocked for months to come...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Play Day

Oooops, this is what happens when you let a radish go to's pretty though, no?

Today was my play day - I took a vacation day from work, giving myself a wonderful 4 day weekend. My husband still had to work today, so I had plenty of time for myself and my plants. After procuring several extra bags of soil from the store, I commenced to pot up every single one of my seedlings. They have had several hot sunny days this week to toughen up, and I think they're ready.

Here are the peppers, eggplant, and melon:

And here are the tomatoes:

And last but not least here is the basil:

The only seedling that remain are ones that I'm going to offer up for adoption. My parents should be able to give them a good home.

Lots of sweat and lots of love, that's what I've got to offer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Babies are Growing Up...

Here's what "Ground Zero" looks like currently - lettuce, arugula, radish, carrot, kohlrabi, beets, zucchini, yellow squash, and peppers - quite the little garden:

I have been doing a lot of "up-sizing" the past week. Seedlings have been moved from small grow cells to larger containers. The fish peppers were finally big enough to make the leap to the great outdoors. I planted three plants in one of the large containers I purchased - their leaves are a beautiful dappled green and white. I'm curious to see how hot the peppers really are:

My tomatoes are really taking off. The Pink Brandywine is going to be a big boy, I can tell already. I'll have to be extra careful about staking him. I donated one of each tomato variety to my Aunt this weekend, along with some peppers and eggplant. I know she'll give them a good home.

I've been setting all seedlings out the past week when it's sunny in an effort to harden them off. I think they're about ready. We're expecting some 30-40F nights the next couple of days, so I think I'll hold off on the transplanting until the chill has passed over.

The past week or so I've been grazing from the herb garden: dill and onion focaccia, hippie hash with thyme, rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes...YUM. I have all of the pots sitting right outside our side door, so any time I feel the urge, I can pop out of the kitchen and snip-snip some savories. I'm actually quite liking it - maybe I'll keep the herbs on the side of the house even when we finally get the raised bed up and growing.

My Orange Hawaii marigolds have developed their first buds - I see some orange in the near future!

I'll leave you with this - possibly the only zucchini to ever blossom mid-May in the state of think I was a bit premature on this one?!

Hit and Run

Note to self - when planting catnip outdoors within easy reach, expect the neighborhood cats to mangle, gnaw, smother, slobber, and abuse:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

From Basement to Sunshine...

This strawberry blossom is for you Grandpa...

The garden is further evolving, even if its in pieces. This year will be different from the past years on the balcony because all of the containers won't be localized within 15 feet of each other. I'm figuring out that there are probably going to be several "clusters" of plants at various spots in the yard.

This past week I transplanted my five Pink Brandywine tomatoes and five of my Fish Peppers to the plastic yogurt cups I've been saving. My husband drilled holes in the bottoms for me so they could get decent drainage.

I love the green and white variegation of the Fish Pepper's leaves:

Removing these babies from the grow tray has freed up more room for the remaining tomatoes, Red Marconi Peppers, and eggplants. I have to say though, most of the plants in that tray are just a week or two away from making the leap outside. I might be putting several extra plants up for adoption in the near future, as well. Mom and Dad sowed several veggies at my grandma's farm today. Mother's Day gift, anyone?

Today I reluctantly transplanted my oregano into an outdoor pot. Of all the things I sprouted this year, the oregano, along with the lavender, has been so hard to get to a sturdy, hardy point. I have two bigger plants and lots of small sprouts, and none of them want to beef it up. Keeping it inside under the lights doesn't seem to be doing much, so I decided to wean him and toughen him up outside. Maybe he just needs some actual sunlight, or maybe he likes drier feet. We'll see...he seemed pretty happy after I planted him though.

I harvested my first lettuce of the season this past week. I was attempting a tribute to one of our favorite sandwiches from perhaps our favorite restaurant in the city - Melt. Melt takes the best of vegetarian, vegan, and meat-based planets and mixes them all up into a drool-inducing off-kilter combination of sandwiches, salads, soups, and more. One of our favorite sammies is called the "Avocado Bliss" and consists of garlic avocado spread, tomato, onion, lettuce, smoked mozzarella, and baked tofu squeezed between two slices of soft rye bread. I think I pretty well nailed it - and that fresh lettuce from the garden tasted awesome.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


It's that time when I'm starting to transplant many of the more mature seedlings outdoors into their respective pots where they will (hopefully) grow and prosper this summer.

Last weekend I moved the marigolds, zucchini and yellow squash outdoors, and not a moment too soon. The zukes and squash were looking pretty peaked. Since being out over the past week, they have perked up a great deal and are bursting with fuzzy new leaflets. I think they're going to make it, despite being sprouted too early by their amateur mama.

The marigold has been spreading out and rising up like crazy. If he could talk I know he'd thank me for finally giving him more room to groove.

Then, mid-week I decided it was time to get the dill into a pot. He's now looking soft and happy.

Today I liberated the thyme and catnip. I should mention that earlier this week we had an "incident" with a certain huge feline deciding to take a promenade on top of my growing trays, all in the effort to get to the catnip. I came home from work and there were several smooshy pawprints in the soft dirt and several leaves of catnip missing, shredded, or on the ground. It must be a tasty variety...the cats will have to wait until I dry it to enjoy - patience kitties!

My tomato seedlings have been growing like weeds, literally. It's a beautiful thing to see how each variety has its own slight differences - now that they true leaves are coming in, there are pronounced differences. The Brandywine's leaves are flatter and less curvy and hairy than the smaller tomato varieties. I am going to do cartwheels if I can grow my own heirlooms this year.

In my transplanting frenzy, I moved the fish peppers, marconi peppers, and eggplants into the tomato tray. They needed to be separated so their roots wouldn't become too entangled. They all bore the move very well and are looking plucky.

In other updates, I can't get over the ethereal glowing purple color of the kohlrabi. It's finally starting to look like kohlrabi.

Lastly, my merveille de quatre saisons is also looking quite purpley and happy.

Now that it appears that my all my seedlings are going to make it, I'm starting to wonder what I'm going to do with all these plants. I wasn't expecting to have this much luck. My mom has already offered to adopt any plants that I don't have room for. She and my dad are planning on putting in a garden at my grandma's farm again this year. I also have an aunt who lives in Lima, OH who is planting her first garden this year. A friend of hers is an organic gardener and apparently he wasn't going to have the time to put a garden in this year. He offered her the opportunity and she jumped all over it. Maybe she would be interested in adopting some organically raised seedlings. Grown with love!