The weather has been cool and rainy, great for lettuce in the garden. I’ve enjoyed many lettuce harvests so far, but have one small problem—slugs. I began to notice small holes in the leaves, and found them crawling during a recent lettuce washing. YUCK!

In addition to lettuce, slugs also like beer, which kills them. So one evening this week, I made a little “fine dining” experience for them, hoping it would be their last meal. I put out a few small containers of beer and the next day found 14 drowned slugs, each about 1/2″ long. I did a second round with the beer, and caught only four, so I think they’re mostly gone.

beer_for_the_slugs

Meanwhile, other garden happenings include a workday we had a few weeks ago to spruce things up. The community gardeners got together and mostly pulled weeds, planted flowers and did general clean-up. We got a lot done in a short amount of time!

community_garden_workday

We added a bee house on the east end of the garden. The bee house is for solitary bees, which are unlike honey bees. They do not live in colonies and do not make honey. But they are efficient pollinators of small gardens. They usually seek out cavities in untreated wood, but we’ve provided a small home for them, hoping they’ll stick around.

bee_nest

What else is happening in the garden? Snow peas, and the harvest is good! So delicious, I can eat them right off the vine. So far, I’ve had them in a vegetable stir fry and have also enjoyed them raw in a salad and as a dip with hummus. I will definitely grow these again next year!

snow_pea_harvest

lovely_snow_peas

And the strawberries will be ready soon. I put a little hard-wire over them, hoping to keep the deer away. (See The Deer Ate My Garden, last year’s post.)

spring_strawberries

Finally, I bought only 2 tomato plants this year, because I am fortunate to have 3 volunteer plants (photo of one below) which came up from last year. I’m told that most likely, they are cherry tomatoes, as they frequently re-seed themselves.

volunteer_tomato

Happy Spring!

Yay Spring!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, back when there was snow on the ground. Much has been happening in the garden since then! On a nice day in early March, I got out the shovel, went down to the garden to loosen the soil, and added new material from our compost bins. (Love those compost bins!) Then on March 10, I planted snow peas and spinach:

Planting_Snow_Peas

Weeks went by and I saw absolutely nothing come up out of the ground, not even the slightest little hint of green. I grew concerned that I may have started things too early, because we had some very cold temperatures and flurries during that time. So I planted another row of snow peas and more spinach. Then as you might have guessed, here is what popped up from that first planting:

Peas_Close-Up

I was very excited to finally see those little pea buds! I went to work on making a simple trellis of wood and twine. Since I will now have TWO rows of snow peas, I’ll install the other trellis soon for that second harvest. (Good thing these are inexpensive to make.) By the way, the second planting popped up much more quickly than the first, in just two weeks! (Although just a teeny bit of green is peeking up right now.) The plants are expected to get 28″ and the trellis is about 34″ tall:

Pea_Trellis

I guess the lesson learned about not thinking that first planting would come up is: 1.) I need to practice more PATIENCE and 2.) That’s probably why they call them SNOW peas. Duh! Oh, and the spinach is fine, too. So I will have two harvests of that as well.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the garden, the garlic I planted in the fall is coming along nicely. This variety of garlic, soft-neck, does not grow scapes like the hard-neck variety. I grew some of the soft-neck last year (see photos here) and loved it:

Garlic

And, some really great news! One of my four strawberry plants survived the deer attack of last summer (see that post here). The other three strawberry plants were mowed to the ground by Bambi and friends, but this one survivor hung on and will hopefully produce this year. I will have to devise a way to make it deer-proof.

Strawberries_survived

Finally, I’ve decided to try growing broccoli. I cheated and bought two little starter plants, and we’ll see how it goes! From seed, I’ve also planted kale, Swiss chard, onions, beets, and lettuce. I’m so excited spring is finally here! YAY!

Brocoli_Start

garden_plots_in_snow

It’s hard to believe, but in one month, it will be time to start planting early Spring vegetables. In the frozen stillness of the morning, warm weather seems so far away. But even in this 23 degree weather, there are a few things still growing…

rosemary_in_snow

The rosemary is still going strong. I stroked its leaves with my gloves and it left it’s lovely scent.

garlic_in_snow

I have soft-neck garlic growing in my plot. I had lots of success with garlic last year, and planted more this year. I’m looking forward to a good Spring harvest and all the garlicy goodness.

So, what’s on the planting list for this Spring? Here’s what I’m thinking so far, with their planting dates:

  • Peas: March 1
  • Spinach: March 1
  • Radishes: March 10
  • Brussels sprouts: March 10
  • Onions: March 10
  • Carrots: March 20
  • Broccoli: March 20
  • Kale: March 20
  • Lettuce: March 25

Some of these will be new for me to try. I’ve been excited, in particular, about growing the Brussels sprouts, because I think the plant is so beautiful and unusual. Below is a photo of my garden neighbor’s Brussels sprouts from last year:

Brussels_sprouts

So, hurry Spring! I can’t wait for you to get here!

It’s early September and my garden plot is a crazy overgrown mess with tomatoes that are still producing, especially the Roma, which are coming out the wazoo! (More on that in a future post.) So instead of talking about my garden, I thought I would share with you some of the lovely and interesting things my community garden neighbors are growing, as well as some things that are happening around the garden.

zinnias

Lovely zinnias on the end of one garden plot.

A gorgeous eggplant.

Looks like a hot one!

Early fall planting of beets.

Fall lettuce.

I’ve read that purple tomatoes contain higher levels of antioxidents.

Our new composting system is now is use.

Lastly, the community garden has a new neighbor, the Newport dog park.

My friend, Terri has some fun with a beet!

This spring, I planted the Early Wonder Tall Top Beet, and have really been enjoying the harvest. (Happily, the deer don’t seem to bother them.) The photo above was taken in early June when the beets were still rather small, a bit smaller than a ping-pong ball. When they were that size, they were delicious roasted, just drizzled with a bit of olive oil, wrapped in parchment paper, and into the oven until nice and tender. They were amazing!

Early Wonder Tall Top Beet

Once thinned in the garden, the beets kept getting bigger. When they became a good size, I was able to cut them julienne style and put them into a stir-fry. What’s great about a stir-fry is that the greens can be used as well, and saute nicely, usually best in a covered skillet and put in last, after the vegetables are mostly cooked.

Beets with carrots, celery, red pepper, onions, and beet greens over brown rice.

The Early Wonder is great raw too, in salads for example. And I found a tasty recipe (below) for lettuce wraps with lemon-ginger dipping sauce. These are so yummy but kind of messy to eat!

Lettuce wraps with lemon-ginger dipping sauce

Lettuce Wraps with Lemon-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup raw tahini
  • a bit of honey (to taste)
  • lemon juice (you can make the sauce as thick or thin as you like)
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger

Lettuce Wraps

  • Lettuce leaves
  • julienned carrots
  • julienned raw beets
  • julienned red bell pepper
  • sunflower or mung bean sprouts
  • basil and mint leaves (optional)

Great on a hot summer day. Enjoy!

Beans (left) and strawberries (right) were casualties of the deer.

All right, Bambi, I know it was you…and you’re in big trouble! Sunday night, I went down to the garden to pick some beets for dinner, and was horrified to discover the leaves on all my strawberry plants were gone. It looked like someone had mowed them down with a weed-wacker. The beans got it too, even though I managed to salvage some of them (shown on the left, the beans are “Royalty Purple Pod” and yes, they are purple, but turn green when cooked.) It seems deer also like tomato plants, because one of mine had the top eaten off.

How to get rid of deer? I’ve heard of some crazy solutions, such as sprinkling human hair around the garden, or shaved bars of Irish Spring soap. Any other ideas? If so let me know!

Oh deer! A tomato plant got eaten, too!

The evidence!

Tomatoes!

The Fourth of July tomato is true to its name.

I wandered down to the garden this week and squealed with delight when I saw my first ripe tomato of the season! The variety (shown above) is called the Fourth of July, because it promises to be ripe by…well, you can guess when. It’s true to it’s name—I enjoyed a sweet juicy tomato on my salad this week. Well, okay…so it was only one, but others are close to ripening and this variety is soooooooo good!

Other tomato varieties I’m growing this year include:

  • Mortgage Lifter VFN - A large tomato, an improved but smaller version of the original “Radiator Charlie’s Mortage Lifter TM”
  • Sweetie – A sweet, cherry sized tomato, with fruit forming in small clusters.
  • Black Krim – An heirloom tomato, this will have a deep red, almost black color, and a naturally salty taste.
  • Striped Roma – A long Roma, with orange and red stripes. Thick and meaty.

The Black Krim are coming along. These are also supposed to be early tomatoes.

Striped Roma,.

Other happenings at the garden include a new 3-bin composting system, built out of cedar by some of our own handy community gardeners. The goal of the 3-bin system is to have compost in varying stages of decomposition. The low fronts enable ease of turning and transferring compost. I will share more about this when we begin using this system.

Our new 3-bin composting system.

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