Monday, April 27, 2009

Another one so soon?

Now that the weather is so nice, I just can't seem to stay out of the yard. I realized that I haven't posted any pictures of the peaches yet, so here is a cute, fuzzy peach for you. I hope that we can actually eat them this year. We haven't had a year of edible peaches since we've had the tree.

Another update I forgot to include in yesterday's blog is the miracle known as "Svenja's little paw paw tree." This little guy looked dead to Dan, but I kept telling him to just wait. It was off to a rough start last year when the dogs ran it over and it broke in half. Dan wanted to yank it out, but I knew it would come back - and it did. This winter it looked like a dead stick stuck in the ground, but I was hopeful... And now look! It's sprouting leaves! I'm going to have to pull the grass from around it and mulch it, and then hope it grows a little more this year.
On another note: don't you just love the weeds in the background?

It wouldn't be a complete blog without another spider photo! This is a small one, but click on it to enlarge it and you will see what I think is a golden orbweaver - one of my favorite summer spiders. These girls get HUGE and are beautiful. This one was teeny tiny and living in the blueberry bushes (which probably won't bloom this year because we transplanted them).

Another update: I've been researching like crazy and found out that the mystery plant is Saxifraga stolonifera, more commonly known as strawberry geranium or strawberry begonia. It's native to China, so not a SC flower afterall, but it is a nice, evergreen ground cover and doesn't seem to be invasive, so I will be dividing it and planting it in other areas this fall.

The reason I grabbed the camera in the first place is that there are even more flowers out today! The cucumber had two yellow blooms:

And the green bell pepper had two as well, with ants crawling around in it. I've never taken the time to look at pepper flowers, they're pretty!

The jalapeno should be flowering tomorrow!

I was also thrilled to discover that the beans are finally "reaching out" for something to climb on.

A view down the row:

While I was out there I tossed the frisbee for Brooklyn, and I happened to catch this really cool flip on camera. Not garden-related, but still fun.

So next weekend I will be at an outdoor retreat and I'm having a little anxiety leaving my plants for that long. I guess I will just have to trust Dan. I hope I don't miss the first harvest of zucchini! Last year once the flowers bloomed we were knee-deep in zucchinis...

I'm sure I'll be posting more updates this week if the weather stays this nice. Check back!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I would like to invite all pollenators...

We've had such beautiful weather, lots of sunshine and heat, and the plants are obviously liking it. This week was a monumental week for me because one of my ranunculus bulbs came up. I planted the bulbs and the morning glories 5 weeks ago, and the morning glories have been going strong, but the ranunculi just didn't want to grow. Well, there are three reasons I had lost hope: (1) I never took the time to research how long it takes a bulb to sprout and was expecting it to be much faster, (2) I realized I should have planted them in the winter because they need cold before sprouting, and (3) I realized after the fact that I had planted them upside down. Oops.
So imagine my surprise when I peeked into my planter this week and discovered this tiny sprout! I'm hoping it's not the only one.

Ranunculus sprout

And now, on to the veggie garden! The first eggplant blossom is blooming, as well as some of the other veggies. I am hoping to have many bees and other pollenators visit us in the upcoming weeks. As you can see, the eggplant has grown a lot, with the top leaves reaching the top tier of the support cage. Dan noticed that something was eating the leaves on this plant - I had already discovered the culprit - a caterpillar of some sort. I figure as long as he doesn't destroy the plant it's ok, since he will soon be returning to pollinate my blooms.

Most people overlook them, but I think eggplants have really pretty flowers.

Looking to the right of the eggplant, here's a view down the row of beans.

And here are the leftover beans in the planter box, still keeping up. I discovered they get some nice morning sun now.

The "little squash that could" is also getting nice morning light and trying to catch up to big brother zucchini.

Another monumental event: The cukes have started climbing...

...AND are producing the first little buds! I got this great picture of morning dew on the biggest flower bud. The vine of the cucumber is getting really spiny now, so I'm glad I tied it up with twine when I did.

Here's the zucchini, with the corn behind it. I wonder how much more it will spread out? I'm glad we gave it lots more room this year.

Guess who else is blooming? I had been checking for buds every day and thought I found a little one the other day, so imagine my surprise when I saw this gigantic flower this morning!

Another view of the corner with corn, zucchini and eggplant.

This is my first time raising roma tomatoes, and I guess this is how it's supposed to look. Its branches all grow downward, as if there was already heavy fruit hanging off of it. Very strange, but it looks healthy otherwise, so I'm going with it.

The cherry tomato plant is still blooming like crazy. It makes my mouth water to think of all the delicious little tomatoes I get to eat right off the vine in a few weeks.

View of the garden from the herbs' side:

Remember the picture I posted 5 weeks ago on planting day? There's a lot more green to see in this one! I'm excited for the cucumber to start growing upwards. Last year's cukes were so green and pretty.

So that was the veggie patch, here are some more pictures from around the yard:

I have no idea what this pretty little thing is, it grows in constant moisture and shade in the very back of the garden. It's been there since we've had the house, but I've never really looked at the flowers until now. Can anyone ID it for me? (Becky?)

I do know what this is. It's a chinese tallow tree, and it's highly invasive, which is very unfortunate because it's such a beautiful tree. This one belongs to the neighbor and grows into our yard. Ironically, it is overgrown with japanese honeysuckle and wisteria - two more invasive species.

It wouldn't be a day in the yard without a spider friend! It's still pretty early for large spiders, and this one was hiding in a shady part of the yard.

Kinda fun, right? I thought it would be cool to take a picture of one of the wisteria tendrils up close.

I've got to say that I've been neglecting the part of the yard where I spread my wildflower seed. I just haven't been at home at the right time to water it accordingly. Nevertheless, some of the little sprouts continue growing, and I can't wait to see what they are, as I just kind of tossed all my old seeds in a pile and raked them out.

Whew, the banana tree is still alive after the late frost we had.

Beautiful greenbriar growing over the fence. I love this vine.

Last, but not least, the spiderwort that grows around the perimiter of the yard. This year, for the first time, we have a white one, too. These only bloom in the mornings. I love how cheerfu they are.

That's it for this week! Tune in next week for more blooming and whatnot. Hope you enjoyed it.

(Happy plants make happy farmers.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's been one month!

We are at the one month-mark! Our plants have now been in the ground for four weeks, and we are really starting to see some progress. At this point, I'm not having to water them every day. We've had rain on and off, but since the plants are now established, I will only have to water them if we go a long time without rain.

I had some time to go out and weed a little bit today. The black tarp really cuts back on the weeds, and the ones that do grow around the base of the plants can be pulled up easily. I discovered that some of our plants are putting our their first flowers! Very exciting.

I also discovered this little gal (in the photo below). She is a Gasterocantha cancriformis, also known as a spiny orbweaver. This one is just a spiderling, but I am glad to see that she's ready to help my fight pests in my garden. I hope she sticks around and invites lots of friends to help!

See how tiny she is?

The eggplant is getting big.

And here are the first blooms!

Our poor, pathetic little squash just doesn't want to grow. Lesson learned: next year we won't be planting it in the shade.

See how big the zucchini (started out same size as squash) has gotten?

Here are some of the peppers, we have the bell pepper in front and the jalapeno behind it.

The bell pepper (below) and jalapeno have flowers!

These are the pimiento peppers.

The cayenne peppers have finally started growing, too.

Roma tomato plant, going strong.

The cherry tomato plant is looking good, and...

...also has flowers!

I can't wait for these to turn into the first tomatoes!

The cucumber has grown its first tendrills and I will be putting up some twine to help it start climbing the fence.

As you can tell, the corn is getting big! I guess it really likes protection, see how the ones in the middle are growing faster? Just like a real corn field!

The beans in the shade are growing just as fast as the beans in the sun.

Maybe next week they will start climbing?

I know the herbs don't look like they've grown that much, but I keep having to cut them back. I've gotten loads of cilantro and dill already. The basil will have to be planted in full sun next year - I may even transplant it if it continues to look so yellow and small.

Well, that's it for another week. Tune in next Sunday to see bigger plants, more blossoms and (if I'm lucky!) more spiders. :)