Monday, June 6, 2011

Spring, no, better make that early summer garden update

A few days last week seemed to herald the end of spring -- the daytime temperatures shot up above 90ºF., nighttime lows (71ºF. one night) were not really low and everything seemed to shimmer with heat waves, especially me! But by the weekend it leveled off and Sunday was a gorgeous day. We went to a graduation party at a nearby lake in the afternoon and it was warm enough to swim yet comfortable enough in the shade to be, well, comfortable. I still think it's more summer than spring but, by the calendar, it's at least two more weeks till summer's official.
Jericho and Rouge d'Hiver lettuces are keepers for next year's garden list.
Savoy "Ace" cabbage proves it was worth searching out the seeds again this year.
Ruby red cabbage
Cool weather plants like lettuce and cabbage are still looking good.  I really wanted to try row covers for the cabbage this year but the time came and went for covering them and I still hadn't decided which type to order.  Maybe next year.  So far they're not showing much, if any, damage so perhaps this won't be a bad year for cabbage loopers.  One type of kale has gone to seed but I managed to fill the dehydrator with kale chips early last week using the other varieties that are hanging in there for now. 

Various tomatoes
I made a crock of kimchi with the last of the Michihili cabbage which is billed as a "Chinese" cabbage.  I like it but so do the bugs.  A lot.  Every year I say we won't plant it again because of how bug-eaten the leafy part becomes but the crisp stalk part more than makes up for what I have to trim away.  And the sheep and chickens seem to like the leafy part -- bugs aren't an issue for them, I guess.

Caged cucumbers
The tomatoes are set out and, in some cases, staked plus green beans are up.  If only the rabbits and birds would leave them alone.  DH had to do a second planting for beans and some squash and cucumbers thanks to those rascally rabbits.  He cages them till they're of a size that's no longer quite so tasty but I think the birds must nip off more than just beans because the rabbits I see in the late evening are too big to get through the cages...
Potatoes in bloom

Three types of potatoes (kennebec, pontiac red, and yukon gold) are blooming so I'm looking forward to scrabbling along the edges for new potatoes in a week or two when the flowers die back.  DH always acts irritated when I do that but the one year I managed to hold off, he came in carrying a bunch of golf ball-size potatoes in his shirttail asking if I would fix them for dinner.

Steamed, stir fried, pickled and straight from the vine -- that's how we've had sugar snap peas so far.  I picked a couple of pounds right after taking this photo on Saturday and we should have another picking ready today or tomorrow.  They will keep blooming if I keep them picked and the temperature doesn't soar again (and stay that way).

Blooming herbs and sugar snap vines loaded with peas
I really need to pick some of the herbs in the surrounding beds and dry them or, in a few cases, use to flavor vinegar.  They could all be used like that, really, but I've found that lovage, chive, and tarragon vinegars are the ones I use the most.  One of the cold frames has a few Swiss chard stragglers that DH never got around to transplanting out and I plan to dry that and some of the kale to serve as a vegetable base I want to try.  I dried kale and powdered it on its own last year and really enjoyed the little burst of "green" flavor it could add to soup and broth.

Other than herbs, the other more-or-less permanent plantings like berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries), rhubarb, garlic,etc. are not planted in the regular garden beds area.  But a little over a year ago, my mother needed to relocate a gooseberry bush so DH said he'd just "heel it in" one of the garden beds.  Well, after a brief discussion of where it should go "for good" -- I wanted to put it near the little one he constantly mows down in hopes he'd quit doing that, we promptly forgot about it and so it's stayed in it's temporary spot and, apparently, is thriving.  DH took the headboard from an old maple bed frame I intended to use in a flower bed and set it as a support for the gooseberry.  I guess I'll have to figure out how to prune this one but I kind of like the way it looks leaning on it's frame.

Watching the mist burn away as the day warms up - 6:30am on the first Saturday in June

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