Monday, June 30, 2014

I have help

Pooka and Brother team up to help with harvest and weighing and logging the harvest. I didn't ask them. One day, the two of them came in from harvesting and Brother started weighing them and was spelling the words so Pooka could write them down. Its gotten rather nice to just get this part done, so I can move on to other things. I wonder how long it will last.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

New home for Caroline

I have been saying this needed done since last year. Caroline the lime tree was basically in pot from the store for over a year. It was a good sturdy pot but I kept saying "we need to get a real pot for Caroline." I swore I had one so I didn't want to buy one. I just needed to make time for it.

Well, then one day Pooka and I went looking for the mysterious pot and could not for the life of us find it. We went through everything and Pooka wondered if Daddy was hiding it. (This is her answer anytime she can't find something, someone is hiding it.)

Then months ago we were at a different home improvement store looking for something. I found this pot, and no it wasn't on sale or clearance, but I had that moment of clarity that says "Hey, you need this for that."  I asked Pooka which one she liked and she said a green one. Pooka carried the pot up to the counter and we finally had a pot. Perfect, I thought, we can transplant Caroline the lime tree this week.

This week, turned into this month. This month turned into 2 months. Finally, I was potting things up in the yard almost 3 months after I got the pot. The pot had sat in the garage, waiting on me. I almost forgot again, but I looked over and remembered right as I was cleaning up. I told Pooka to get the pot.

So we potted Caroline into a new home. I swear somewhere I have pictures of all this. She was rather root bound, but in decent condition otherwise. There was a moment while Pooka tucked the dirt around her in the new pot you could almost here her say "AAAAAAHHHHH"

Caroline the lime tree in her new pot. 
However it has taken me a few weeks to get this post up. Timing is not my friend this year, but I am hoping that now we can start to play catch up and get back on track. In the meantime, Caroline has budded out with more limes. Here is to hoping we get some decent sized ones. I would love to say we are getting limes now.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


About a week ago, I saw something in the garlic. Something that I was beginning to think was only a rumor, a scam to get people to buy different kinds of garlic.
What do you see?
But it turns out, they are not as mythical is bigfoot. We finally have proof that scapes do exist. We had a ton of them in our garlic bed. Scapes are actually the flowers of the garlic plant. Pooka was so excited to see these curly bits in her garlic. I was more excited since I had heard these were a yummy bit to try and we can't find them around here. Supposedly, the only way to get them is to grow your own. So Pooka and I went outside and cut them. 
I see Scapes hiding in the garlic

Pooka loved that when she cut them a bit of water came out of the plant. I told her that is how the plant is getting nutrients through it, and she found it cool. I will admit we didn't cut back as far as we probably could of, but since its our first year. I am happy with the over 5 oz we got. 

Hello lunch
 We kept our scapes simple by just sauteing them with a bit of oil. Daddy did a wonderful job of preparing them. It turns out you cut off the flower (the triangle part) and eat the stalk. I would definitely call this a success. Even Kiddo who is a tad pickier then the rest of the liked it. He said it was kinda like green beans with garlic. Pooka kept asking for more to the point we had to make her eat her meat before she could clean out the bowl. I barely got the picture before she finished them off. Now to wait another year and see if we can get more.
Cooked scapes that were yummy

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Working on Pooka's army of caterpillars

The caterpillars are returning and so is our caring for them. About a week ago, Pooka and her friend K found 3 in the parsley plants. I am sure this is only the beginning of the army. The smallest of their new friends is the tiny black dot with the white stripe on its back.
3 new friends, big, small and tiny
Since both girls were concerned they would forget the names of their little soldiers, I mean friends, they wrote them down this time. I did have to help with the spelling of some of the words, but the girls are both getting so big, they had to write it. Where has time gone. Next thing I know, they will be doing their own records of which caterpillar is which.
The girls list of names.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Replacing a raspberry

On a quick side note, I know things have been quiet this week, but Daddy and I got into a rather involved project and have been a bit busy. Hopefully things should be getting back to normal, a ton has been going on here in the garden that I need to catch you all up on.

To be perfectly honest, I don't know what happened. Sometimes things just don't want to survive, and I think this was one of of those times. Pooka bought some raspberries with her birthday money this year. They both seemed to do well, until suddenly one of them kept having it's leaves wither and die. Then it would grow a new set, and they did the same thing. After a few weeks of this, it stopped making leaves at all. I think it just decided the world was too hard and gave up. 
Pooka was understandably upset. She had visions of all these raspberries and they failed. She knows of the circle of life, and that sometimes plants die, but Mommy was nice. I talked to Daddy and we went to the store. They still had a few plants and while they weren't on clearance yet, the number of good looking raspberries was few. We replaced her dead one with a new one, that she came home and potted that day. We still haven't gotten the pot back to where it belongs, but we are working on it. At least its green and not a stick. But I doubt we see any berries out of it this year. Now to figure out how to overwinter these suckers so I am not replacing them next year.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Beans have sprouted.

The garden is finally starting to look like we have been planting. The last of the things started from seed have popped up, in this case the green beans. We have 2 main types of bean this year. On the left is a Blue Lake Bean. Pooka got these a gift from her grandparents as well as a garden kit. On the right are our standard kitchen bean.
 More beans have sprouted and they have all reached a good size since these pictures were taken. There is still a bit of an empty spot. I am sure it will not stay empty long since we had some plants we gave up on come back.

Friday, June 13, 2014

We have flowers

Things are finally starting to get moving around here. We have flowers on the tomatoes which hopefully means we will have tomatoes in the not so distant future. The rainbow cherry tomatoes are flowering nicely.

Rainbow cherry tomatoes
These are the brandy wine tomatoes. I love how different their flowers are and the face that it has so much more texture to them. Pooka loves the fact it looks "different" and we are both interested to see how they compare to the romas.
Brandywine tomato flower is very textured
The roma tomatoes are in flower as well. They seem to really love their current spot. That entire section of bed just went poof and grew all the sudden. We are trying this year to use actual tomato so we will see how that works as well. So far it means alot of me going "Get in there."
Roma tomatoes are doing well
Certainly not last or least is the fireball tomatoes. I can always count on them to be the early birds and great producers. Although this will be our last year of them since we ran out of their grow ums seeds and I don't see the need to repurchase a kit for more of them. These little guys even have a tomato already starting.
Fireball Tomato flowers and tomato

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Oh hello Mantises

On Sunday, the entire family was in a rush to get out and run some errands. I had walked outside first to make sure we had what we needed in the car when I glanced over at the praying mantis container and realized it was full of little mantises. Lots of them. I called Pooka and Brother to come out and see. Pooka was amazed over how many there were. 

They were so tiny but yet even Brother found them amazing. We didn't have a ton of time at that moment to look at them. Again, timing this year is not our friend. However, since I still hadn't found the bottom to the container, I didn't want a garage to be full of mantises. We already had one escapee we had to usher out on a frisbee. The plan was for them to go in the garden.
Look at all the new friends
Daddy had the brilliant idea to put the container in a shady spot of the garlic bed until we could empty it. That night we went through and shook some of  the mantises out into all the garden beds, and then the ones we couldn't get out, we left with the zippered part open and down in the garden beds in back and let them either leave on their own or die.
They are so tiny
I will say its nice knowing we put a ton of mantises in the garden. I made sure each bed had a good shaking of them and hopefully this will help keep down the pest issues in the garden. Pooka in true Pooka fashion tried naming them all, but in the end just saying goodbye and do a good job to each bed as we shook out her good bugs.
Now get to work

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Purple peas

I honestly did not plan to have two pea posts back to back, but we have peas. The purple peas have come in and they are rather prolific. I will say we have not be disappointed with them since their flowers give a nice pop of color in the garden. Pooka loves having lots of colors in her life and this gives the added bonus of not being what you expect.

Peas on the plant with flowers
 I will say that sometimes the different color makes it much easier to find the peas than sugar peas. These peas are very much "Here I am" being in such contrast with their plant. . However, sometimes the dark color also hides it when it is buried in the plant.Here is a better picture of them with the plant.
Purple Peas on the plant

I have noticed these to be rather prolific. The very random cooler spell we are having seems to be helping them quite a bit. This is just today's harvest. We are harvesting the peas when they are still rather "snow pea" thin. Supposedly, if you let these peas get too big they get rather tough since they are more like soup peas. 
The harvest today
The color is very purple, which surprised me just a bit since they were suppose to be blue podded peas. I am curious that if I leave a few on the plant for more then a day or so to fill out if they will get blue or if they will stay this neat purple color. The kids have taken to eating them raw as a snack or as a side at lunch. I am glad this experiment has gone well and Pooka is already asking if she can plant some to take to school in the fall for her lunch. Although I will say Brother is not as much of a fan and is watching the sugar peas to come in.

Purple peas

Friday, June 6, 2014

A huge difference

This year we are planting two very different types of peas. The normal sugar snap peas that have yellow flowers. These are the flowers we expect to see, a yellow white flower that is cute but more a sign of food on the way. Pooka told me the other day that she observed the difference between these peas and the blue podded peas.
Picture from last year, See the white/yellow flowers
Imagine our surprise when the purple podded peas started to flower. The plants all have multiple flower colors and they are give a great pop of color. There were pink flowers on some of the plants. Sorry, Pooka just corrected me and told me the flowers are fuchsia. I guess I live in an 8 bit color world.
Pink and purple flowers
There are blueish purple flowers mixed in as well. The bluish flowers seem to be a bit more rare right now. I had a friend over recently and she said asked what pretty flower I had in the pots. She was shocked to learn it was actually a pea plant and said if I hadn't told her better, she would of thought I was just growing flowers. Of course, this friend is starting her own journey into growing food and knew I wouldn't grow flowers unless there was a good reason.

More pea flowers.
There are also some pretty purple flowers of their own. I will say it is nice to have a pop of color out there that will still bring us food in the long run. Here is to having peas in the near future.
Another shot of the pea flowers. Gotta admit they look great

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One big push and 1st of the month pictures

I can officially say the garden is in the ground. Over Memorial day weekend, Daddy, Pooka and I made a huge 2 day long push to get everything in the ground. It was a long couple of days, but now we can sit back and work on other things without worrying that things will die in pots.

Pollinator bed
 Pooka's pollinator bed is in and starting to grow. Since we did so much from seed and in a scatter pattern, I don't know what is a weed and what is a plant. we are going to let it grow a bit and see what happens. I do know I need to pull some nettles out, but those require gloves sadly.
Garlic bed
 The garlic bed is growing quite well. We finally have some scrapes we are going to try for dinner this week. We have only been waiting for 3 years to try them. Although some of the garlic plants are really good sized, I am hoping for a much better garlic haul this year. Daddy is so tempted to pull the plants and I have to keep telling him no. You can also see the mint plant in its new home.
The herb bed part A
The herb bed you can see took a running start this year. We have had to replace a number of plants, but we are doing well. This picture is also after Aunt T took almost a half pound of tarragon in hopes of making her own plant. Looks like the tarragon needs cut back as well as some parsley and oregano. It is so nice to have fresh herbs to cook with again. At this rate, the dehydrator may need to come out sooner rather then later.
Herb bed part B

As you can see the second section of garlic is doing well but not as well as the other. But this section is primarily the grocery store grown garlic so I am still okay with it. We have the colored peppers in next to the garlic then the basil plants next to that. We keep increasing the kinds of basil we use. I don't mind buying these as starts since it means I have less to keep alive as seedlings.

The deck
The pots on the deck are doing quite well. The squash has sprouted, as has the zucchini. Soon this entire will be covered in green and making food. Audrey the morning glory as sprouted as well, so I will be keeping her in line as well.

Plant stand corner
 The little plant stand corner is doing well. Pooka's hummingbird planter has come to life and is covered in color. We haven't seen any birds yet, but maybe later this year. Everything in this corner is started and sprouted, even if it doesn't look it just yet. Some of the potted plants were the last to get done. In fact, this last weekend Pooka and I were running out between rainstorms to get the last of the lettuce and spinach seeds planted.


The onions are doing well. The store bought onion is seeming to grow quite well as well. This is another bed of leave it and let nature do her thing. I just need to watch the weeds in it.

Brandywine        rainbow cherry        fireballs
This area is our 3 year rotation for tomatoes. The brandywine tomatoes are next to the stairs, followed by Rainbow cherries then fireballs. I have already seen flowers starting on the rainbow cherries and the fireballs. Tomatoes here we come. I am so looking forward to them.

Peppers and peas
 All the sweet peppers are doing well. We have carnival next to a couple of sweet peas and then Pooka's lilac pepper, then the long sweets that are a favorite around here followed by Daddy's cubanelle peppers.

These 2 containers hold peas. The big one is blue podded peas while the small one is regular sugar peas. The sugar peas I did start later then the big one, but I see peas in our future.

Leeks beefsteaks      roma        blueberry tomatoes
This is the second half of the tomatoes. Since it doesn't have any support behind it (like a trellis) we decided to go standard tomato cages on it. I am kinda hoping this works. I also have our homegrown leeks as well as some storebought plants tucked in a bit of free space in this bed. I think they get alone well, but we will have to see. Luckily, they are close to the beefsteaks, so I am not as concerned about them. There is beefsteak, Roma and Blueberry tomatoes in this bed.
Pots galore

In this little area we have tucked away a bunch of pots. I don't know if this will work (the weeds are getting a bit big back here) but we are going to try it. The 2 green pots are the raspberries (and yes, on doesn't look so good). The blue bin is blue corn, and the white and brown with the tomato cages are the watermelons. Cross your fingers those do well.
Beans and       tomatillos and           peas

On this side of the shed I have the green beans and tomatillos. It is really hard to find companion info on beans so we are just going to see what happens. There are more blue podded peas in the blue bin next to the bed.

Hot peppers and eggplants. 
In this bed is the hot peppers. Furtherest from the camera is the jalapeno, then the poblanos and then eggplants. This area I think may of been just a bit too dry for the tomatoes but that just means we will get nice and spicy jalapenos. Supposedly eggplants like these conditions as well, so here is to hoping for some nice eggplants that we get to figure out how to use.

Peas       broccoli               cucumber

In the last bed are the cucumbers and broccoli. I know they generally like things a tad bit shadier and cooler, but with crop rotation, they may have a less then good spot every few years. The cucumber has a bit of extra room since they like to sprawl, but I have the ever handy trellis there to help them. The broccoli still has a bit of a cage around it since the bunny issue. I am hoping to take that down in the next week or so.

I know the garden isn't completely done. Pooka needs to put out all her little fairy houses and butterflies and things, but we have it in the ground and will be slowly working on getting it done now that we are not as pressed for time. I am also hoping the butterflies will help a bit with the bunny problem. We haven't seen much of a problem but its only been a week. Cross your fingers that mr. bunny found a different buffet.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

First Berries

Strawberries are starting to come in and they are looking good. The kids actually are loving having me go out and come in with more berries to eat each day. If we only get a handful a day, I don't have to worry about the kids not eating them.
first strawberries

Monday, June 2, 2014

Lady bugs everywhere

Pooka found a surprise in her lady bug houses the other day. We officially had lady bugs. Part of this plan I will admit was to get some good bugs for the yard as well as let Pooka see their life cycle. But of course it was a great thing for her to see them grow up so quickly.
Ladybugs wandering around
The lady bugs were walking all over the inside of their little domes. Pooka loved to sit and watch them, but I told her we didn't have much in the way of food in their for them so we would need to let them go soon. 
Pooka's picture inside the dome
So the day came where I thought the weather would be nice to the lady bugs and really, I wanted to get them out of the garage. We opened the tops of dome to see through there what we could see. 
The domes at the release point
Once we were sure they would be safe outside, we took the two houses out front and released the lady bugs into the front bed. Now I would not be at all surprised if you told me we may of traumatized the silly things getting them out. The picture shows just pulling the glass off the bottom and they fly away. We couldn't get the glass off, so we took off the eye piece at the top and gave the worlds a bit of an earthquake. All the lady bugs got out of their homes and into the front bed. Pooka of course named them all, and told them to get to work saving her herbs. Then she asked when we could order more. Not today, Pooka. Not today

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Strawberries are finally planted

I fear I am falling behind on updating you all on what is going on. Such is life and I am quickly catching up I hope. The strawberries are finally planted and have been that way for a couple of weeks now. Getting them all in the hanging planter from Aunt B was a bit harder than I thought, and I was trying to be careful with the plants themselves. Since it took all my and pooka's hands to get it set up, the only picture I have is of the finished product. We will see how the summer goes and come fall I will decide what to with them. I worry if we have another bad winter all 9 plants will die. 
Strawberry hanging planter
It took some time to decide where to hang it. The pots have strawberries in them as well which I know will do well. Pooka is already looking forward to those first berries. I know Brother is as well. I am just happy to be able to say one thing is completely done.
Strawberries on the deck