Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Gardening Update

I haven't done a gardening update in quite some time. To be honest, last year's summer garden was such a disappointment, I wasn't sure if we wanted to put in the effort and expense into another drought riddled garden. I do love the satisfaction of growing my own food. I enjoy the time outside and it's good for my mind and spirit to get my hands dirty.
We had the best winter garden we have ever had. We harvested cabbages galore. I made sauerkraut and we are still eating it. The citrus trees never disappoint. Our lemons, limes and mandarins were outstanding. We are still enjoying the carrots and herbs.
The artichokes were a little on the tough side so we have let the remainder of them go to the flowering stage. This one is going to be a beauty. It's about seven inches across at the base. I can't wait for it's purple flower to emerge.

If this season is like seasons in the past we will have a bumper crop of figs. I hope I can find some new fig recipes. I'll be searching Pinterest for new to me recipes. 

The tomatoes have started setting down fruits. This Big Zac tomato can yield fruits as large as 6-8 pounds! If I get one that big I will have a party! I can't imagine being that lucky to grow that big of a tomato.

This Black Seaman Russian tomato is a new variety for us. It is a medium sized black purple tomato.

This Italian Red Pear tomato was recommended by my nursery man. He said it never disappoints. I hope he's right. 

The super sweet mini red tomato will be a hit with the grandkids. They usually never make it all the way into the house because the grandkids eat them fresh off the vine.

All the squash plants are doing well. We have several varieties of squash planted including my favorite Romanesco Zucchini.

We are trying something new to us this year, Straw Bale Gardening. The bales got off to a slow start, I think because of our lack of rain. All it takes to condition the straw is water and blood meal. The recommended conditioning time is two weeks. But mine have taken closer to four weeks. They finally look like good composted soil. For a while I thought all I was going to be able to grow was grass and mushrooms. 
The first round of seeds I planted in the bales did not sprout very well. Only a few cucumbers germinated but none of the squash, pumpkins or watermelons did. So I planted again and I am waiting for the seeds to sprout. 
I did go out and buy new pumpkins, cucumbers and watermelons to plant in the bales. This time I bought little plantings since they are getting a later start. 
Our weather has been rather cool so the beans have not popped yet. 
I'll be doing another update in a few weeks and hopefully there will be lots more growing in the garden.

I planted some petunias in the bales and they are doing great. They help to take away from the ugly bales until things get growing a little more.

There are a few blockades up around the bales to keep Martha from eating the dirt and blood meal.

She's so darn cute, but I can't let her eat the fertilizer!

We have put several weekends into getting things started and hopefully we will have a bumper crop of fruits and vegetables this summer. Living in Zone 10 has its challenges but we are ready for them and have installed a drip watering system in the bales, carefully check for pesky insects and are keeping an eye out for the rats. So far there is one rat that we are trying to catch or poison...whichever comes first. 


Chookyblue...... said...

it's hard work gardening when it is a drought.........I've lost a couple of whole gardens since married..........heartbreaking.......things are looking ok here though....

Debbie said...

Very cool the variety you have. I am jealous (in a nice way) about your citrus - what a treat! And I hope you show off the artichoke when it blooms!

mascanlon said...

Always interesting to read about your garden. We have never had much luck or inclination except for herbs and citrus....I live your limes flavorful and juicy! Kids have lots and lots of figs so we'll have to chat about recipes!

Judy H said...

I am learning to garden in Zone 4 after 5 plus decades in zone 7, a real challenge. But check out He is a really fantastic guy in NC and does straw bale gardening. He even has a small paperback on straw bale gardening. Having been a research scientist, he puts a lot of attention to the details and well worth a look. Also, he is THE go-to guy for heirloom tomatoes, peppers, eggplants.

But I hope your garden does well. I envy you the lemon, orange and fig trees. I have a Meyer Lemon indoors and am thinking of trying a fig...outside in summer, indoors in winter.

gpc said...

Oh my, how I would love to have figs! I just googled it and it looks like some varieties can be grown in Michigan . . . what an interesting new idea for me to ponder! :)

Sue said...

I'm really interested in how your straw bale gardening goes. I have seen info on it before and it sounds fascinatingly EASY :-) Look forward to seeing your progress

Leanne said...

I love hearing about your garden. We are in zone 3 now which is better than zone 2 but a lot different than you., I've been reading about the bale gardens so will be interested to get your views as the season goes on.