Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Indian Spring in Hoe-Land

Okay, so we've had an unusually mild winter and several warm days in a row. So warm, in fact, that my veggie garden is bolting and my other plants are starting to bloom. While I would normally love this, I know that over the next thirty days, we will experience at least ONE hard freeze that will throw all the bloom cycles off.

First - winter garden successes and failures.

This is one of my bolting cabbages. I tried my hand this year at cabbages and got a couple of successes, but this one flowered before I got any real cabbage leaves.

This is the only true good head of cabbage that I got this year. I was so proud that I had to take a picture. A couple more weeks and I'll be having cabbage for dinner. I got some leafy cabbage to grow, but only one head formed. Yay me!

This is my kale. I've never grown it before (or eaten it), but thought I'd put it in. Had some for dinner the other night and it's yummy. Mixed it with some swiss chard, and another oriental green that's growing, and sauteed with tomatoes, garlic and onion. It was actually good - I'll have to grow kale again next year.

Lastly, my lettuce patch. I tried to grow a bunch of lettuces really close together to see if I could go without mulch. The lettuce heads looked so good that I couldn't bear to eat many of them because they were so pretty together. Maybe next year, I'll grow it in the front for decoration and grow a separate eating crop in the back.

Now, bloomers. Because of this indian spring, I do have some early bloomers. I figure I'll capture them now because when the inevitable last winter freeze happens, at least I'll have the memories of the early blooms until they come back.

This is my carolina jessamine - I didn't realize it was evergreen, but it is. It's normally one of the first bloomers in my garden and is getting ready to really pop this year. That old saying we're so fond of "The first year is sleeps, second year it creeps and third year it leaps" really was true for this plant. This is year three and it looks great!

Here's another close-up of the jessamine. The flowers are so pretty and dainty, but the vine is so hardy. I may try to grow some and transplant to another fence for the cover.

This is wood violet. It's a groundcover/ vine that we got from a plant swap. We've planted it to grow over a small bridge on our pond. Last year was our first year and while the vines grew, this is the first time I've seen it bloom. It's really dainty and pretty - I hope it grows over the bridge.

My bearded irises are trying to bloom too. They haven't quite yet, but here's a few buds. I have three or four different kinds in this bed - light purple, dark purple, a few yellow, and the most fragrant wonderful baby blue that I've ever smelled. I picked up six or seven new varieties when they went on clearance at Lowe's about three weeks ago (and were nearly dead), and am trying to grow those in pots to see if they are any good. If they bloom, I'll replant them into the iris bed. Fingers crossed!

My grape hyacinths has survived being one of the favorites on the deer buffet. The first month these started to come up, the deer had a field day eating the tips down. Finally - some blooms. I love these little flowers - one of the few bulbs that will naturalize in our zone, I've heard. And they smell like grape bubble gum - yummy!

And lastly, my red yucca. I am so excited to see the first yucca bloom coming up. Last year was the first year I got any, and they were late in the summer. This year, they are starting early.

OK - so, that's the latest. Maybe we'll get lucky and avoid a March freeze, and I can keep my baby bloomers. I hope so - we've got lots of stuff already peeking their heads out of the mulch and if we can avoid a freeze, this spring will be a great show!

~ Hoe Naomi

It's been a while, but things are moving along...

It's been nearly a month since anyone posted, but we are still moving forward with the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) idea. We have four active participants in our garden co-op - three Hoes (Heather, Naomi and Anna), and one non-Hoe (Cynthia). We have had two work days so far and this is what we've done.

We met to go over seeds - what we want to grow and how much. We decided on two groups of crops:

a) Bulk crops - these will be grown in large quantities for our personal use and then if there are leftovers, possibly for sale at a local farmer's market. These were cucumbers, tomatoes (cherry, others), peppers (jalapeno, bell), melons, basil and green beans. Hoe Heather can correct me if I've missed any.

b) Fun "try-me" crops - these will be smaller crops, mainly for trying and testing various veggies. We chose edame, some different non-standard varieties of tomatoes, okra, and a couple of others I can't remember.

Hoe Heather is the designated list taker and organizer - she has the list of seeds, fertilizers and stuff we all currently have and the supplies we need. She is also the main seed grower - she has several different varieties of seeds that she is already beginning to propagate. This was a short meeting, but we did look at the layout of the garden and I was designated to get chicken wire to protect the garden and bounty from my rabid rabbits.

Our second meeting was much more productive, although I was sick from the flu and unable to participate much. Heather, Anna and Cynthia unloaded the compost and tilled up the entire garden bed (with help from my DH). Everything looks so good now and pretty ready to plant. Then Anna and Heather cleaned out my greenhouse (with very little help from me) and took some seed starting supplies.

Here's a picture of the area we will be gardening. Right now, I have the remnants of some winter vegetables (more about those in another post) in the front area. But the area is about 120 ft. long by 10 ft. wide. You can see the tilled area all the way back to the cedar tree, which is outside the fence. This entire area will be planted. We've decided to plant the first weekend in March - that's according to Hoe Anna's DH Manny - so we're sticking to his schedule.

More on the CSA later, but so far, so good!

~Hoe Naomi