Saturday, June 29, 2013

Summer garden has arrived

The summer garden has arrived:

Something about this picture takes me back to the east coast. California has endless charms, but summer is surprisingly not one of them.  California summers are brown and gardens are created out of what would otherwise be brown. In Pennsylvania garden's are carved out of the green. What would otherwise be green is replaced with a slightly more controlled green.  While nothing in this picture is nature, I think the hedge continuing into the live oaks (whose foliage gives us some measure of green year round) gives that impression.

Most visible in this picture are the beans (front left), potato (front center), sunflower (front right) and kale (back center). The garden has produced some food -- we've had bok choy and kale on a few occasion, shared a single cherry tomato -- but so far has largely been the green equivalent of "all light and no heat." I think that will change, but I worry that Nicole will miss the best of the harvest. Adding to my guilt is the recent realization that the tomatoes I planted (Brandywines), while being known as some of the best eatin' tomatoes, are some of the slowest to mature. 80-100 days for the fruit!

These tomatoes remind me of one of those 6 month old dogs you see, already quite large but with GIANT paws. The tomatoes are already fairly large, but they look like miniature giant tomatoes. If my gestalt is true, it looks like they'll be on the vine quite a bit longer.

Gardening '13 has not been without it's learning, or sometimes re-learning. Aphids of various shapes and colors, white cabbage butterfly caterpillars, leaf miners have all arrived.  The leaf miners destroyed our chard but seem not to be an issue at this point in the season (the beets have bounced back remarkably). The aphid issues have responded well to spraying them off with water. The cabbage butterfly caterpillars make for a fun, proactive, hunting expedition on the back sides of kale leaves, which seems to have kept them more than in-check.

Hopefully, stage 1 was building and planting, stage 2 was largely growing, and we will now be moving into stage 3... eating! I just hope it comes to fruition before Nicole leaves.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Changes are afoot! Everything has emerged in the garden with the exception of the verbena.

Square Foot Garden:
Brandywine Tomato (transplanted 4/27/13)
Verbena (Flower) (sowed seed 4/27/13)
Asclepias Incarnata ("Butterfly Flower") (sowed seed 4/27/13, emerged c. 5/5/2013)
Carrots ("Scarlet Nantes") (sowed seed 4/27/13, emerged c. 5/5/2013)
Flax (Flower) (sowed seed 4/27/13, emerged c. 5/5/2013)
Beets (sowed seed 4/27/13, emerged 5/2/13)
Bush Beans ("Royal Burgandy") (sowed seed 4/28/13, emerged c. 5/5/2013)
Bok Choy ("Pak Choi Green Stem Dwarf Hybrid") (sowed seed 5/1/13, emerged c. 5/5/2013)
Sunflower (sowed seed 4/27/13, emerged 5/2/13)

I also sowed some "yard long" pole beans with the marigolds next to the salad bed, and planted a purple potato in the SFG. 

Yard Long Pole Beans ("Red Noodle")(sowed 5/6/2013)
Purple Potatoes (sowed 5/7/2013)

I also applied Dr. Earth 3-3-3 liquid fertilizer to pretty much everything on 5/8/2013.  The plants in the salad table appear stunted. I think I was too stingy with the growing medium, and it's not performing very well. Hopefully some fertilizer will help.

Beans are a funny plants to watch sprout. They emerge looking like fully formed plants, with large leaves that pop out of the formerly sowed bean, which has gone along for the ride and is no longer in the ground where you left it.  Their emergence is similar in some respects to the sunflower we planted, which rose from the soil overnight to a height of about an inch, still wearing the sunflower seed like a hat keeping captive its own dicots. I'm sure the sunflower would've figured it out, but my impatience and uniquely human stubborn feeling that nothing could get by without my help caused me to cajole the sunflower seed (now merely a hard shell). The shell popped right off, which is different from beans, in which the remnants of the bean, halved, remain attached to opposite sides of the stem of the young plant looking like a vestigial organ. 

The problem is, some of my beans came up without any leaves whatsoever.  Just a blunt end of a sprout where the leaves should have been. That stubborn human feeling that "something must be done" caused me to assume that, with this problem, the plants could not get by. I ripped the bad seeds up and planted new ones.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Summer Garden!

Refraction Pond is back with a new mission: following my summer garden with Nicole! Mostly I'll be using this space to keep track of sowing, emergence, and harvest dates, but I'll mix in some ramblings as well.

This is the current state of the garden:

Right now it consists of a salad table (left, built with Nicole and Julia), a square foot garden container  bed, and a variety of containers.

Salad Table:
Lacinto Kale (sowed seed 4/6/2013)
Butterhead Lettuce ("Marvel of Four Seasons") (sowed seed 4/6/2013)
Cilantro ("Long Standing") (sowed seed 4/6/2013)
Thai Sweet Basil (Langkuri) (sowed seed 4/9/2013)
Vietnamese Balm (Kinh Gioi) (sowed seed 4/9/2013)
Japanese Radish (Hattorikun, for leaves) (sowed seed 4/9/2013)
Red Leaf Amaranth (sowed seed 4/9/2013)
Chard ("Golden Sunrise") (sowed seed 4/9/2013)
Bunching Onions ("Evergreen White  Nebuka) (sowed seed 4/9/2013)
Leaf Lettuce ("New Red Fire") (sowed seed 4/9/2013)

Square Foot Garden:
Brandywine Tomato (transplanted 4/27/13)
Verbena (Flower) (sowed seed 4/27/13)
Asclepias Incarnata ("Butterfly Flower") (sowed seed 4/27/13)
Carrots ("Scarlet Nantes") (sowed seed 4/27/13)
Flax (Flower) (sowed seed 4/27/13)
Beets (sowed seed 4/27/13, emerged 5/2/13)
Bush Beans ("Royal Burgandy") (sowed seed 4/28/13)
Bok Choy ("Pak Choi Green Stem Dwarf Hybrid") (sowed seed 5/1/13)
Sunflower (sowed seed 4/27/13, emerged 5/2/13)

There's also a cherry tomato and pepper plant, both transplanted 4/6/13, and the herb garden Nicole and I initially planted.

Almost everything is in the "ground," except for a few odds and ends. Now it's time for the plants to do the work...