Thursday, April 29, 2010

Full Egg Moon

The English name for the full moon of April is the Egg Moon. I guess that's because Easter is usually in April. I haven't been getting a lot of eggs in my CSA bag lately. The Native American name is the Pink Moon, referring to pink flowers, but there aren't a lot of pink flowers blooming around here (except for pink evening primrose), so I'll go with Egg Moon.

The bluebonnets are starting to fade and drop their blossoms, replacing them with seed pods that will eventually burst and throw pebble-looking seeds everywhere. Replacing them are Indian Blanket, a very cool looking daisy-like flower with a dark red center and yellow rim.

I like these full moon posts even if nobody else reads them, because I was able to go back and look at my previous ones and see how much progress the garden has made. A lot can happen in a month!

I've made more progress laying out paths and beds in the garden, but as you can see, the Bermuda grass is catching up with me. I'm still using RoundUp to carefully spot-treat it when it comes up in cracks, and digging up and burning as much as I can. I hate how when you try to pull it up, it just breaks off in your hand.

The Scarlet Runner beans have started flowering. The butterflies seem to enjoy them. They also seem like something a hummingbird would like, but I haven't seen a lot of hummingbirds yet, even though the nectar is disappearing from our hummingbird feeder. Maybe they just get up earlier than I do.

I gave up on the old lima bean seeds and started planting regular pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) instead. These are Kentucky Wonder, and I'm probably going to plant some Blue Coco as well.

Their legume brethren, the Tall Telephone peas, have been putting out plenty of pods lately. Looks like this is a good variety after all. Both the fall-planted and spring-planted plants are doing well, though the fall-planted ones are much bigger. I'm trying to save the peas up to cook a dish with them, but it's hard to not just eat them all right in the garden. Fresh peas straight from the pod are another one of those wonderful things you can't get anywhere else but a garden.

This is where my lettuce used to be. It's gone now. It had started to bolt and got infested with some sort of green caterpillars, so I pulled it up. The beets are still doing fine, and I interplanted them with some bush beans to fill in the gaps. I like to have my plants close together to crowd out weeds and also shade the surface of the soil to conserve moisture. Bush beans are a good plant to fill in any gaps between plants before weeds do. I just stick them in here and there wherever I can. An added bonus is they do that nitrogen-fixing legume thing.

The collard greens are working on some seed pods now. I wonder how long it will take to get mature seeds from them. The chard, on the other hand, is more heat tolerant than I thought. While the collards and lettuce have already bolted, it shows no sign of switching from leaf to seed production. Poor Daniel may still have another couple months of me trying to get him to eat chard mixed into everything.

The garlic is still green. I made the mistake of pulling one up, and it hardly had a bulb yet at all. I asked online when is the usual time for garlic to be ready in my area, and was told I've still got ANOTHER MONTH! Ugh, that's a long time.

The Rio Grande Russet potatoes are also flowering, though disappointingly the flowers tend to drop off without a fruit in sight. The other two potato varieties aren't flowering at all. Not all potato varieties do, since domesticated potatoes have become used to not having sex, but sometimes if they do flower, they will make a little fruit that has actual seeds in it. These seeds can be planted with interesting results. Or so I was told. I was hoping I could try that out for myself, but now it looks like they might not quite make it to the fruit stage.

Some other nightshades are more sexy. The tomatillos have a lot of flowers on them. No fruit set yet, but I know they will eventually. Same thing with the tomatoes. I'm really looking forward to them. Strangely, blogger's spellchecker doesn't recognise "tomatillos". It wants me to change it to "tomatoes". That's not the same thing!

The peppers and eggplants are still puny. This is one of the bigger specimens. I really should have planted them earlier, or maybe given them a heat pad during the winter. They grow really slowly when they're not warm enough. I went ahead and planted them, and a few of them died because it's been dry and warm for a while and they were so small that they dried out fast. That's a shame.

The dry weather has also affected the okra. We had a rainy spell that coaxed the seeds to sprout, but that was followed by a dry, hot spell that killed at least half of them. Tiny little seedlings just dry out so quickly! It's like one day they seem fine and the next day they're fried to a crisp. I planted more okra seeds than I needed, but enough died that I might go ahead and plant more to fill in the gaps. On the one hand, okra is very prolific, so I might not need many plants, but on the other hand not only is it a staple of Southern American and Indian cuisine (two of my favorites), but it pickles and freezes well too. I should be sure to grow plenty.

Finally, now that it's gotten warm, I've been rushing to plant my Cucurbitaceae, that is, squash, melons, cucumbers, and gourds. I'm having the same problem with direct-seeding them as I have with the okra, keeping them moist enough during their delicate seedling stage. I seem to have better luck when I plant them in pots first and then transplant them once they've gotten a few true leaves. I can keep the pots sheltered while the seedlings are small. The bigger plants, once put out in the garden, don't seem to dry out as fast. This year I'm planting a few different kinds of squash and melons along with luffa gourds. This is another garden plant family that give you (relatively) instant gratification because they grow really fast.

Daytime temperatures have been pushing the high 80's lately, though it still gets cool at night. Probably by the next full moon we'll be in the 90's. Eek! I hope by then I'll have something else to eat besides chard and peas.

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