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garden update

garden update

because i had to flex my hours from commencement as well as tomorrow’s late work day, i took wednesday off. since it was a decent weather day and i had 1800 square feet to dig up, i went over to my community garden plot and got to work.
after five hours on wednesday and about four yesterday, it’s mostly put in. unfortunately, some of my tomatoes have already kicked the bucket. thank goodness we’re still early in the season and i can get more. 
charlie requested more cucumbers, so i’ve got to put more of those in, and i’m waiting for sweet potatoes (!) to show up in the mail. i also ordered a few more tomatoes in the mail because i want a certain heirloom variety that you can’t find any old place, mostly to replace the ones that died and also to have a few more. 
so, this year we’re going to have copious amounts of:

  • tomatoes – big boys, early girls, celebration, cherry, green zebra
  • peppers, hot, sweet, and boring
  • cucumbers, eating and pickling
  • green beans
  • leeks
  • kohlrabi
  • onions
  • carrots
  • sweet corn
  • popcorn (!)
  • lettuce
  • potatoes
  • butternut squash
  • summer squash
  • another winter squash i can’t remember, heirloom variety
  • pie pumpkins
  • jackolantern pumpkins
  • cinderella pumpkins
  • cantaloupe
  • watermelon
  • loofah squash
  • flowers
  • more flowers

whew. the hugely unfortunate thing about this community garden is there is no water source, so i have to haul it in. hopefully i’ll be able to mulch it well enough that nothing dies.

sorry for the break

sorry for the break

it’s been too long 🙁
here are a couple pics. i am happy to see green things growing again. 
 
green
i’m also happy that i made chocolate-peanut butter ice cream…
icecream
 
 

fickle

fickle

26275_665000317431_2432753_napril, you fickle beast, you.
i guess i shouldn’t be one to talk; i have christmas decorations yet on my chandelier and a greenhouse with baby tomatoes reaching for the light 6 feet away. 
while you tease me with 76º on the way home from work one afternoon, you drop to 64º within the hour after i happily donned my shorts and tank top. 
then after a drenching rain, you drop completely to under freezing so i’m forced to bundle up the next morning for work. 
you’re certainly living up to your reputation of april showers, as the next week holds the promise of drops from the sky, which ARE needed here, as 80% of the state is in a drought.
but after months of running on a treadmill, i finally got out of the house for runs, and that’s all i want to do – no going back to the treadmill this season.
but the WIND the WIND the WIND. not only is it maddening overall and a beast to run in, but it stirs up stuff on the ground and gets in my eyes and nose and lungs, and i’m sniffly and snotty and gross.
so i wait: hopes a little quelled; watching for the perennials to pop up; running shoes tapping impatiently; tethered to the 10-day weather outlook.
soon the weather will stabilize into above-freezing nights; the grass will green; my plants will get in the ground; my running shoes will hit pavement.
but until then.
april, you fickle beast, you.

The bane of my spring existence

The bane of my spring existence

last spring i put in gardening boxes at the back of my property, which happened to be under some black walnut trees. my entire crop was pretty much a bust. so, to explain, i’m reposting, with permission, a post on black walnuts and why they don’t play well with other plants. 
Black walnut is a common and useful tree that is native to much of North America. The natural beauty and hardness of its wood makes black walnut an excellent choice for furniture and woodworking projects. Unfortunately, black walnut is also the bane of gardeners because of its toxicity to other plants and the amount of tree care it requires. 
The roots of black walnut trees produce a toxic substance called juglone which adversely affects plants that are sensitive to it. Plants which cannot tolerate juglone will show symptoms such as yellowing and wilting foliage and they will ultimately die from its toxic effects. It is believed that juglone acts as a respiration inhibitor, leaving plants unable to breathe and sapping their energy.  
Juglone is produced in the trees’ roots but is present in all parts of black walnut trees, and is strongest in the buds and nut hulls. The leaves and twigs contain smaller amounts of juglone, but black walnut trees have a habit of continually dropping leaves and nuts from late summer through autumn and this debris only adds to the toxicity problem. Because of the accumulation of leaves and nuts beneath the tree, and also because of rain running off the leaves, the entire drip zone beneath a black walnut tree can be a hazardous environment for juglone-sensitive plants. Some plants that are extremely sensitive to juglone won’t grow within fifty feet of the dripzone of a black walnut tree.  
Cutting down the offending black walnut tree won’t solve the juglone problem either.  The roots will continue to release juglone into the soil and the area can remain toxic for several years after the tree is gone.  A gardener I know removed several scruffy black walnut trees from her backyard to make room for a garden, but even six years later she wasn’t able to grow tomatoes in that area.  
The good news is that not all plants are sensitive to juglone. Many trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables will grow in close proximity to a black walnut tree, although even some of the juglone-resistant plants will struggle if they are directly beneath the tree.   
Here’s a short list of some of the more popular plants known to tolerate juglone:  
Trees & Shrubs – Eastern redbud, hickories, oaks, most maples, Southern catalpa, red cedar,   peach, cherry, nectarine, some plums and pears, Thuja arborvitae, Euonymous species, and most Viburnums.  
Vegetables – Squash, melons, beets, corn, carrots, onions, parsnips.  
Annual Flowers – Calendula, morning glory, zinnias, fibrous begonias.  
Perennials – Hollyhocks, iris, ferns, most daffodils and narcissus, astilbe, crocus, snowdrops, Jack-in-the-pulpit, cranesbill, coral bells, monarda, spiderwort, some hostas.  
And wouldn’t it just figure:  poison ivy doesn’t mind juglone and will thrive under a black walnut tree.  
Plants which are extremely sensitive to juglone and won’t thrive within fifty feet of the drip line of a black walnut tree include hydrangeas, peonies, rhubarb, silver maple, white birches, apple trees, Norway spruce and Mugo pine, mountain laurels, most azaleas, lilacs, blueberries, cabbage and broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes.  
Juglone-sensitve plants may be grown in containers that are kept near a black walnut tree, so long as they are not directly beneath the tree where leaves and nuts could fall into the pots or rain could drip from the leaves onto the plants.  
If you like to garden, black walnut trees would not be a good choice for your landscape. But if the trees already exist on your property, you can still garden if you take a bit of extra care.  
Kathy Anderson has been an avid gardener for many years and has grown tomatoes by the acre, along with many other vegetables, flowers and landscape plants. Kathy recommends http://www.freeplants.com as a great place to learn more about gardening. Article provided by http://gardening-articles.com.  If you use this article the above links must be active.

hope in the light

hope in the light

when the sun shines during january and february, i get a little spark of hope, even though the weather and atmosphere look a bit bleak. the sun starts to set a little later in the day, and when i take off for work, it’s a wee bit lighter out. in a couple months i’ll be starting my vegetables for planting, and my list for menards starts to get a little longer.
this year my vegetable garden will be a bit different. since my beds are underneath some black walnut trees, i need to do something about my tomatoes, which are hugely affected by the toxin in the trees. i just got the st. charles community ed flyer, and the city has 20’x50′ garden plots for $15. that might be more than worth it for the tomatoes alone, although i’d probably also put cucumbers in there and some squash so they have a place to sprawl. meanwhile, my beds in back will house some foodstuffs that aren’t so affected by the walnut trees. 
meanwhile, i keep thinking about my bulbs i have planted around my mailbox and in my flower bed and the peonies that are planted on the west side of my house. pretty soon the world will tilt the way i like it to, and the earth will feel it, and the flowers will bloom, and light will be here.

boo hiss

boo hiss

my tomatoes are really starting to go south, i didn’t get as many cucumbers as i’d hoped, and my green beans seem to have just stopped doing much of anything.
on the other hand, i have a mighty fine looking pumpkin. 
here’s hoping my green tomatoes ripen up, i can get at least one more batch of pickles, and i get at least a couple more squash out of the equation here.

first pickling of the season

first pickling of the season

i did my first pickling of the season! i don’t have enough cucumbers yet (soon to come), but i did have a couple handfuls of hot peppers that i decided to pickle. i had enough for two pints, and they’re just pickled, so will hang out in the fridge for the next couple months instead of the cupboard. theoretically, they should be crispier too. 
Screen shot 2014-08-02 at 8.32.15 PM
i used a weird combination of recipes and put together the brine.
[yumprint-recipe id=’2′]

impressed with the cukes

impressed with the cukes

last time i grew cucmbers, i wasn’t that impressed with the taste – the skin was bitter, so in order to have a decent tasting cuke, you had to peel it before eating. i picked one tonight from my garden and tasted it before cutting it up for my salad tomorrow. the skin is actually sweet! i was kind of hesitant to get these because they are specifically pickling cukes, but i am totally impressed with the taste! 
now i’m just hoping i get a bucketload of them so i can make a crapton of pickles!