March 11, 2017

This Year's Garden Plan, version 2017

The garden runs about 30 feet by 40 feet. Beds will be between 3-5 feet wide by 30 feet long. I'm being good this year and trying to rotate the plant locations with bed #1 being closest to the house.

Zucchini and summer squash plants might get big and ungainly but they'll keep the winter squash from encroaching on the bush bean bed. And once the bush beans have run their course, it'll become a melon bed.

Gardening in our neck of the woods depends on the spring rains, whether the soil ever dries out enough to allow tilling. And peppers have to be planted out early enough so they can set fruit before high nighttime temperatures sterilizes the pollen.

Last year was a disaster with the squirrel population playing havoc with the tomatoes, but it looks like hawks had moved in and cleaned them out. There hasn't been a single squirrel sighted all winter.

The 3 beds of tomatoes are probably overkill but it's insurance after last year. I'm hoping to put up lots of salsa, tomato soup, and tomatoes this year.

I actually just purchased some short tomato cages from a friend which will get used on the bushy determinate tomato plants and cucumbers. And later they can be used in the fall for short pea vines.

Bed 1:
Okra, cucumbers, pole beans

Bed 2:
Hot peppers and melons

Bed 3:

Bed 4:

Bed 5:

Bed 6:
Bush beans, then melons

Bed 7:
Summer squash and zucchini

Bed 8:
Winter squash

February 19, 2017

This Year's Garden

I'm doing a little garden this year after all. My husband thinks we have time, painting the house shouldn't take all summer. Hopefully.

The garden will be small with just a few tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, snap beans, cucumbers, melons, and winter squash. Just the usual suspects, instead of my elaborate trials of newness.

We didn't have a winter this year. No snow to speak of, and just a few frosty windshields in the early morning. We're getting a string of days in the 70's next week, and then March and spring is just around the corner. A friend of mine is on her 3rd cutting of spinach already, she's been feeding the extra to her rabbits.

But for ourselves, we're still waiting for the ground to dry up to get the tilling done.

January 18, 2017

Sorry I haven't been around

It has been awhile since I last posted. This year I participated in NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month where participants try to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days during the month of November.

Preparations for the write-a-thon started in October. I did get the fifty-thousand words written in November and am now preparing to edit and finish it.

It is already January which would be time to start thinking about seed starting for peppers. But this year I am taking a break from gardening. We plan to paint our home this summer along with a few other projects, so gardening will definitely take a back burner this year. Although I have been thinking about starting a few flowers...

Hope all is well in your part of the world. And may we meet again soon.

October 4, 2016

A Treatise on the Growth of a Luffa

I picked some more luffas to eat but Margaret from Homegrown Adventures mentioned trying to make sponges from them. Which was kind of a revelation for me since I've only ever seen them eaten, although I've definitely read about them being used for sponges.
These are some sweet peppers, mostly Jimmy Nordello but the pointy shorter fruits are a mystery since they don't resemble anything that we should be growing. With the seedling mix-up we'll probably never know.
Female luffa flower before the blossom has opened.
Angled luffa on the left, smooth loofah on the right.
Long unopened female blossom with a cluster of unopened male blossoms above.
The angled luffas are much more prolific then the one smooth variety we're growing this year. This one is growing outside the fence along the alley.
The vines are very aggressive and climb very well.
More alley luffa.
I wonder what the neighbors think of the weird vegetable growing outside our fence.
There's 7 luffas growing outside the fence and 26 inside the fence that I can tell.
12 trellises have been taken over by their vines, only 3 trellises were planted originally in luffa and bitter melon but they've taken over the whole row. I've given up trying to control them and tearing them off the fence.

They didn't start flowering till the last week of August, I think that record breaking wet month really helped them along. But it's less then 2 months until our first frost, so it's kind of iffy whether or not they'll mature in time.

September 26, 2016

Harvest Monday, 9/26/16

I've had a surprise harvest. Having left the loofa vines in the ground since they were extra lush and having taken over the whole row of trellises and starting their meander over the fence, they have finally decided to blossom and produce.
The angled luffas on the left are longer and thicker so my guess are these are the Extra Long and the four on the right are the Chinese Okra variety. Loofahs belong to the same family as cucumbers, squashes, and watermelon. And like cucumbers if they don't get enough water they can get a slightly bitter flavor.

They're easy to prepare, I just peel off the skin and then saute in olive oil with a little garlic and salt and pepper, and maybe a dash of nuoc mam.

I'm also growing a smooth variety called Summer Cross but the fruit it's forming are irregular and dying on the vine, perhaps the plants are more susceptible to squash and harlequin bugs.
You can see the dead bean vines on this trellis that the loofahs have taken over.
There are loofas everywhere, the little yellow blobs on the ground are spent loofah flowers.
They are very good at climbing fences and seem fairly drought resistant, although without regular watering you risk a bitter fruit now and then.
The vines are massive so it's no surprise the fruit grow so quickly.

Please join us at Harvest Monday where new and experienced gardeners share their delightful vegetables.