Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's New?

This is probably the best time of year to be a gardener. The garden is producing well and many of our meals these days largely of what I picked only an hour before the food is placed on the table. I don't have any ripe tomatoes yet, but we've sure had some delicious green beans. I highly recommend 'Masai' as an easy to grow, tasty bean. The beans don't get real large but instead are tender and thin. So, so, good. We have also been enjoying cabbage and carrots. The cabbage are 'Mini Gonzales' and are the perfect size for a meal for two. The carrots are 'Little Finger' and I'm not sure I'll grow them again. They do pretty well in containers, but I've tasted better. The last of the beets have been harvested, and I decided to make another planting of 'Masai' beans in that container. We picked our first cucumber this week, and we are getting lots of basil. The jalapenos and two other varieties of peppers are nearly ready, and I can already taste the fresh salsa! The top picture shows the garden box containing our 3 pepper plants and some basil plants. Our trellis of 'Minnesota Midget' cantaloupe is full of baby melons. There are also 3 of the Thai melon on the vines so far (pictured below). The Thai melon will ripen to an orange color.

Nick told me recently that he thinks this may be the best garden we've ever had. I really am sold on growing the garden in the garden boxes. The amount of work it takes to produce a good quality, bountiful harvest is much less than when I planted everything in the ground. I learned a lot about container gardening last year that I applied to this year's garden. The boxes are spaced further apart, and I've added trellises. I also decided to plant tomatoes in the ground rather than containers. I also found that the zucchini do better when planted only two to a box to give them plenty of room to spread. I have to agree that this year's garden is a good one.

We had another garden surprise this summer outside of the vegetable garden. We were given a couple of large bromeliads that had been thrown out of a commercial greenhouse. Supposedly, bromeliads bloom only one time in their life. (I haven't yet done any research to see if this is indeed the case.) It seems these bromeliads were discarded because they've already bloomed and thus were no longer of interest. Well, either the once-in-a-lifetime bloom theory is incorrect, or someone was mistaken about them already having bloomed, because much to our surprise both plants have produced a beautiful and unique looking pink flower. The flower doesn't even look real. It looks as though it is made of plastic, and it even feels a bit like plastic. We have really been amazed to watch as each bloom slowly made its way out of the throat of the plant. Ironically, for a couple of weeks these plants sat mostly ignored on our front porch because we kept forgetting to buy pots and soil for them. I guess bromeliads thrive on neglect because they started flowering while lying unceremoniously in a box on the porch. Now they have a proper home worthy of their beauty.

This has really been a fun and rewarding gardening season so far. Much more is to come. I can hardly wait to taste the cantaloupe and Thai melons. We are still waiting for two types of beans, 'dragon langerie' and a yellow wax bean (I can't remember the name just now!). We also have two nice volunteer acorn squash plants growing in each back corner of the garden thanks to some seed hiding out in the compost. Ahhh, July...what a wonderful time to be a gardener!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Take a look at the garden...

This planting of green beans is nearly ready to pick! I think I'll give them one more day. They look fantastic.

The cucumbers I had to replant are finally taking off. The plants in the front are a short vined bush type especially good for small gardens and containers. The variety in the back is called 'Muncher' and is beginning to climb up the trellis.

I love how well the Minnesota Midget cantaloupe plants are doing. The melons only grow to about softball size so they are perfect to grow on a trellis. The plants are loaded with bright yellow blossoms.

Here's my experiment for this year -- sweet corn in a container garden. This variety is called Trinity Hybrid and gets about 5' tall. So far it is looking pretty good!

My favorite part of the day is when I go outside and walk down the garden path. We added the park bench to the back corner because sitting in the garden is pretty pleasant, too.