Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vineyard

Our grape vineyard is in its third year -- just a beginning really.  We've had some success, and some failure, just like everything else we do, but it's shaping up!

Two summers ago we put in one row of 11 grapes, and last summer we added two more rows for a total of 33 grape plants.  Some Chardonnay, some Shiraz, and a mixture of several others. It's been a fun hobby, and hopefully someday we can talk about making some wine!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring Garden Notes, April 24, 2015

We had a nice rain during the night, but it only amounted to about 1/4" of rain.  It sounded like a lot more -- lots of lightening.  The bean plants always appreciate a good lightening storm - I swear they grow in front of your eyes afterwards.
 They've started blooming!

This is a tub that I threw the last of a packet of Siamese Dragon Stir Fry Vegetables that I got from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds several years ago.  I don't see these in their paper catalog anymore, but they are still online. These seeds were probably 3 years old, but it looks like I got almost 100% germination.  I'm not going to thin these out, just going to let them go and see what I get.  This is a mix of mizuna, some kales, various choys,  mustards, cabbages, and tatsoi.  I have no idea which is which...which should be interesting when I harvest some of it????
 The squash haus continues to fill in....
 John's been asking me which squash is which here, so I made a sign for the front so we can identify them as they grow.  They are all mixed up in the bed, so who knows!
I spent some time pruning the tomato plants again -- they were getting too leafy.  I read recently somewhere that you shouldn't let their leaves touch the ground so as to prevent diseases from getting up the plant, especially when they are damp, so I took care of that. 

I didn't last too long out there today, the dampness from the rain has drawn in all of the little "no see 'ems" and I couldn't stand it! Flying, biting bugs....yuck!

The hedges in front of our house are COVERED in blooms right now, and that means butterflies...lots and lots of butterflies.  I couldn't get over how many where on these plants when I came in. 

Covered in butterflies!

U is for Unusual

I do like to try a few new and unusual varieties of vegetables each year.  After all, that's the fun of having your own garden!
Last year I grew a Litchi Tomato that is still growing and going strong.  What a specimen that plant is -- covered in spines, the ultimate protection from predators, including humans! It's even stronger this 2nd year, survived many below 20 degree nights all winter long, and right now it is covered in blooms.
 Definitely in the night shade family, right?
The small berries are very sweet, although full of seeds.  If I ever got enough of them it might be better suited to jelly or jam of some type. 

This year I'm focusing on a few interesting new spinach varieties in the garden.  I've had some success and plenty of failure. I ordered some of these unusual seeds from an Etsy vendor, but have had almost no luck in germination with them, so I probably won't order from them again.

This is the Good King Henry spinach I had read about and was anxious to try.  Out of 12 pods only one has germinated.  Not very good results.  Its a perennial, so if I can keep this one alive, maybe I can get them going.

According to the write up, Good King Henry is an interesting example of a once-common food that has since been forgotten and is seldom cultivated, although it is a perennial and can still be found growing around abandoned homesteads. It was a typical ingredient of medieval vegetable soups from the 12th to the 16th centuries, combining with leeks, chard and bread in a tasty, vitamin-rich broth that sustained the peasant farmers in their labors.  Who wouldn't want to try it after reading that?!

Another new green for me this year is New Zealand spinach, also known as Botony Bay spinach.  I've only had one germinate out of 12 on this one too, although I read that it is very slow to germinate, so I'm going to give the others a little more time.
Planted on 3/10/15 and didn't emerge until 4/22/15.  That's pretty slow!  

And finally I've got another new spinach, a Green Stemmed Malabar Spinach.  These did fairly well, and I've got those going in a big tub by the fence, since they will be climbers.  

Are you trying anything new or unusual in your garden this year? 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Tendrils

Mother Nature is so totally amazing, isn't she? I'm constantly amazed by the tendrils that vining plants send out, seeking something to hold on to, and then wrapping themselves around and around and around.  Beautiful.

 This one just couldn't find anything, so it wrapped up around itself!
 Squash is getting bigger, but not sure exactly which one this is yet.
This one has some stripes!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Spring Garden Notes, April 22, 2015

We're getting lots of blooms all over the garden.  This is the Ashley cucumbers, but the Holland White is keeping up with them.  Should have some tiny cucs soon!
These vines are getting so long, we had to add another section of wire so they could continue to climb.  
I'm having to tie back the tomatillo as they are trying to take over the entire bed they are in.  I wish I had known that they were going to be so big, I'd have allotted them more room.  Huge! They are covered in small tomatillos.
 I didn't do too well with my sunflowers this year -- some old seeds I was trying to use up.  There are about 6 plants here that survived.  Today I planted some new seed, it's not too late!
 Sunflower about to emerge....
All 10 tomato plants have fruit on them now.  Cherry tomatoes here....
 These are Juane Flamee. This plant is covered in tomatoes.
I counted 7 more heads of broccoli just emerging.
 The basil is looking great.
 And in the yard we are being treated to the scent of honeysuckle as we exit and enter the house.  That plant is gorgeous this year.

S is for Spinach

I'm growing two different types of spinach this year.  Amsterdam Prickly and Giant Noble.  I got both from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
This first picture is Amsterdam Prickly spinach that I'm growing in a pot.  It will have an arrowhead shape when mature, but they're just getting started.  We've used quite a few of the small plants that I've been thinning out of the pots already.
And this second picture is the Giant Noble spinach in the garden bed, and I have a pot of these going also.  I love spinach and use it in salads and in cooking.  So good and so easy to grow!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Remodeling Continues on Barrera Street!

Went by to see JR and Ashley today, and the yard was full of reconstruction and a big Bobcat, being driven by a guy who was a master of that machine.  It was very interesting to watch him work.  And in the front of the house, another crew was framing the new front drive.  They're hoping the rain will hold off so the work can continue this week.
 The new back steps have been painted.
 Whatever you do, don't go out this door. You will take a nasty fall!
 Steps and landing were being removed, to be replaced by wooden steps.  A deck will be added sometime in the future.

 Wish I had one of these nifty little machines.
Ashley & JR

While all this work was going on, we walked to the Riverwalk and had lunch at the Casa Rio and watched the barges go by.  Delicious Mexican food!

When we got back to the house, the entire step and landing were gone.  The crew will be stuccoing around the bottom of the house before the steps are built.  Can't wait to see how this all turns out.