Saturday, May 21, 2005

More May Progress

The story continues.

The beets are planted in the tomato enclosure beneath the peach and the fruit salad trees. I hoped the bit of shade would help them compensate for the high temperatures at this time of year. So far I have put in about 2' in two different plantings. The first ones have their first true leaves and the second planting has it's cotyledons. I haven't thinned the second planting yet. I think it's probably time to do a third planting. The variety is Detroit Dark Red.

I've planted three varieties in the tomato enclosure. They are Yellow Crookneck, Eight Ball (a round green summer squash), and Costata Romanesco (a ribbed Italian heirloom zucchini). They're in a tight space and I'm hoping I can get them to grow vertically up metal corkscrew stakes. So far they're doing very nicely. I've had lots of male blossoms on the zukes and some on the crooknecks. Only the zukes are showing signs of the first female blossoms. And, just in case anyone thinks this is a joke, here is a pic of the male blossom on its long thin stem and (look hard) the first tiny green female blossom which hasn't colored up yet but still shows the tiny ovary that will become the zuke once fertilized. Male & Female Blossoms on Zucchini Look in the center forground at the thing that seems to be pointing at 5 o'clock.

I've never had any luck with eggplant before. They grow well enough for a while but then they start looking delicious to something that turns them first into lace and then into a memory. :sigh: But I'm trying again. I put in two Black Beauties. So far they seem to be doing fine. No great spurt of growth or signs of blossoms but no lace either. They're also growing in the enclosure.

This is a repeat of one of the three plants I put in last year. Two were promptly eaten down to the ground. This one limped through the rest of last year without giving up an artichoke but came back with a vengence this Spring. I think it was a Green Globe. Here it is in the garden with three lovely artichokes on it. Artichokes And here is the one I had for lunch last week. An Artichoke for Lunch

I am growing three cantaloupe plants in a pot from which I removed the bottom and which I have sunk in the ground as a kind of 18" square raised bed. The variety is Ambrosia. So far they're sorta limping along. I had watched three potential sites for the one that was sunniest but I'm not sure how well I chose. Today I removed branches from a pyracantha to see if I could get them some more late morning sun. It pained me to do it because they were particularly graceful branches and they were loaded with berries that I'll miss in the Fall and Winter when there isn't so much other color out there. Oh well... I think the melons will benefit from a few more hours of sunlight. They'd better give us a few melons for the sacrifice I made!

I planted about 3' of Sugar Snap Peas from seeds along the enclosure fence. I got about 2'. Next year I should plant all the way to the wooden fence. Here's a pic of some of the peas on the vine. Sugar Snap Peas
They're just delicious. My only regret is that I can only pick a few pods a day. I enjoy them but I'll look forward to next year when I hope there will be enough to serve them to my whole family for dinner.

So much for the tomato enclosure area. Moving on to the wooden fence in front of the concrete pad:

Originally I planted two varieties at the first of February — Sequoias and Chandlers (both June bearers). And then the heavens opened up and we had more rain than I've ever seen in Los Angeles. Fortunately, a blogging friend (Bee/Diary_Queen from Chocolate & Zucchini) talked me through good preparation of a new strawberry bed and I only lost a handful of plants. I filled in with Quinalt (everbearing). Here they are looking purty for their closeup. The Sequoias. Sequoia Strawberries And below, the Chandlers.
Chandler Strawberries They seem to be doing fine except that lately the berries on the Quinalts are going soft and dull looking before they ripen. And the bugs are loving whatever they can sink their teeth into! The Sequoias are just beginning to fruit and it looks like they hold their fruit up on tall stems. Perhaps they'll be able to evade the sowbugs and slugs. The few Quinalt berries I was able to beat the bugs to were very nice. Not as full-flavored as I had hoped but, still, very fresh tasting and yummy.

The loose leaf lettuce that I planted in pots has all bolted. I'm presently letting it go to seed so I can collect it and sow it again in the Fall. I also planted seedlings as the front border of the strawberry mounds. Those plants are doing nicely and they're ready to start picking. I put in six-packs of three different varieties so I should be able to pick a salad every evening for a month or so before they bolt.

And the next area is the back fence:

This area is a bit problematical. It backs onto my neighbor's yard. Sid is elderly and no longer takes care of his yard. It's full of hip-high wild grasses and shoulder-high sowthistles. After years of trying to get my own weeds under control, I now live in dread of when his start popping up in my yard. I'm on daily patrols to get out the first signs of sprouts. All that said, here's a pic of how it's developing. Bean Teepees

I planted two varieties of cukes — a pickling vine and a Japanese vine. Both were from six-packs. Only one of the Japanese remains and only four of the pickling. I'm not sure what got them but whatever it was lopped off the whole plants relatively quickly. I planted them along the very back fence were it's relatively shady. I thought they could benefit from having the fence to climb and that the shade would keep the ground more consistently moist. The remaining plants are still only about 6" high. I guess they'll grow slowly without as much sunlight. Perhaps as they get taller they'll be able to make the most of what sun passes by there in the course of the day.

I put in three variety of pole beans. They're growing on two different teepees. One has Kentucky Wonders. The other has Royal Burgundy growing on one side and Yellow Wax "growing" on the other. The KWs and RBs came up and are doing great. The KWs were from purchased seeds and the RB were saved seeds. The Yellow Wax were also from saved seeds. I've sowed them twice already and what comes up comes up slowly and gets eated down to nubs within a couple days. I just sowed a third time. I only have a few seeds left so let's hope something can get long eough to twine up the poles! I've sampled a couple of Royal Burgundies already.
Blossoms & Bean on Royal Burgundy
You can see the sweet blossom with a mature bean to the right and an immature green one just above and behind it. I should be able to pick enough for dinner in a week or so.

I usually have more volunteers of onions than I know what to do with. This year some sort of flea got to the green onions and decimated them. It also seems to have really slowed down and whacked the shallots but they soldier on the best they can. I also put in red and white granex-type onions from seedlings. Some of them seem to be doing very well, others are just kinds lying on their sides. We'll see how they do.

I planted carrots in two different spots. The ones in the tomato enclosure next to the beets came up and promptly disappeared. Meanwhile, the ones I planted in front of the bean teepees are doing much better in spite of the relatively heavy soil they were planted in. I pulled up some decent 4" long carrots. When I replanted, I removed 12" of soil and, rather than continue to try to "improve" it, I simply replaced it with potting soil. We'll see how these do. I am obstinately insisting on raising carrots in spite of the awful adobe-quality clay of my native soil and the gardeners' insistence on whacking them down with weed whackers. :sigh:

The far area has the least sun and borders the shadiest corner of the back fence. Birdhouse Area

There are red and yellow varieties of bell peppers. So far they're carrying on. No great bursts of growth but no signs of disease either. For insurance, I planted them in gopher cages because this is the area where the gopher is most active.

I planted potatoes in this area several years ago. At first they were decimated by a foliar disease but as I amended and amended the soil with compost the volunteers that came back each year were healthier and healthier. Last year I was very aggressive about digging them all up. Consequently, I only have 5 volunteer plants this year. I think they may be Yukon Golds. At least I hope they'll be Yukon Golds. I have also planted sections of a red French Fingerling potato that I bought for dinner at Whole Foods. I put them in really late for potatoes so I don't know if they will have time to grow and I don't know if they were treated to prevent sprouting. So far, there are no signs of them behind the peppers and the tomatoes where I marked their planting holes. But it's encouraging that they were in the ground at roughly the time that the volunteers appeared above ground. I think volunteers are a great way to measure how in tune with nature your choices and timing are!

So far that's it for this year. I have a couple more plans and I'll post about that tomorrow in the hope that it will spark me on to move them from the planning stage to execution.


Blogger Ana said...

Hi Rayney
Your garden is looking good. I remember you from the C&Z forum. I participated for a while before starting my blog, but now I really have no time. I do read it but have little time to write. Anyway, you might see some of my posts around March.

My blog, Pumpkin Pie Bungalow concentrates more on the cooking simply because, again thanks to Clotilde, I got right smack in the middle of the cooking bloggers. But I also talk a little about renovating my 1937 bungalow and about gardening.

I envy you guys from California. I am now putting my plants in the ground. I could have started in the last week of May, but my backyard was not ready them. I hope to plant this weekend 2 small grape tomato plants, 3 cucumbers and some fava beans from seed. I am also going to plant 2 grape vines, one white grapes and one red grapes. Hope to make some jam sometime.

As for the age factor, I will be 59 in 3 days. I'm glad I'm in such good company. For a while I thought I was the only one.

10:02 AM  
Blogger Rainey said...

Delighted to hear from you!

I don't have any grapes but I fantasize how cool it would be to build an arbor above our patio table and have grapes growing down through the rafters above our heads. I wish you well with yours!

Is there a link to your blog? I'd love to check it out.


12:03 PM  

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