Friday, April 18, 2014

The Grackle Moon

I missed the Bluebonnet Moon, so here's an update on my garden to show how it's been coming along in the two months since I last posted. A lot happens this time of year.

I just started harvesting Tall Telephone peas. They didn't do so well this year because of the strange weather and they're not in a very good spot, but I'm still getting a decent amount of peas.

I also just started harvesting fava beans and haven't eaten any yet. I planted to varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds to compare: Aquadulce and Broad Windsor.

They are pretty close, but I think it turns out I like Aquadulce better. It seems to have longer pods with more beans per pod, which makes shelling easier. The Broad Windsor has more pods, but several that only have 1 or 2 beans each. Aquadulce is from Spain, and Broad Windsor is from England, so I wonder if Aquadulce does better in warmer temperatures. On the other hand, I'm not sure yet if I will end up getting more beans total from BW than Aquadulce since they're still producing.

Broad Windsor is by far the most common fava variety. In many catalogs it's the only fava they have. Carol Deppe suggests that when doing a trial of a standard variety vs. a rarer variety, if they come out pretty equal, or even if the standard is only slightly better than the rare variety, you should grow the rare variety to preserve more genetic diversity. So in this case I think I will order more Aquadulce next year. There really is only a slight difference between the two varieties.

I also planted a bunch of beans around bamboo teepees in the back garden that are now sprouting: Calico Lima Beans, Chinese Red Noodle Yardlong Beans, Rattlesnake Pole Beans, and Purple Podded Pole Beans.

This is the mess where my broccoli and cauliflower plants used to be. They never got very big and ended up bolting, and are being overgrown by weeds. I'm going to till it up and plant squash there.

I have four Moon and Stars watermelon plants next to the beans now. The M&S watermelon seeds I got in a GardenWeb trade had really lousy germination last year, so I planted all the rest this year, and this is what I got. They didn't do well last year, so I don't have very high hopes for them, but we'll see.

In the front garden, the garlic is looking really good. The Elephant garlic is starting to put up scapes. I hope this means I'll get a good garlic harvest this year.

The potatoes I planted later are doing well too, while the ones I planted earlier are almost all dead. So I guess that shows that it's better to wait until at least January to plant potatoes around here. In the foreground are the multiplier leeks that are also doing well. The biggest ones are putting up scapes. Can you eat leek scapes? I don't see why not.

I need to start harvesting this Swiss Chard. This is a perpetual spinach type variety that's doing really well. I've never had luck growing spinach, so I use chard as a substitute, but I've only grown Fordhook Giant and Rhubarb chard before. This chard is specially bred to be more like spinach.

The tomatillos are mostly doing well and are flowering a lot. I lost one when I had to leave when my dad was dying and they didn't get watered enough while we were gone, and another one is hanging on but doesn't look very good. But the other ones look fine.

The tomatoes have a lot of leaf curl going on. I'm not sure what's causing that, but I think it's because of a few really cold nights we've had where temperatures got all the way down into the upper 30's. That's not enough to kill tomatoes, but they don't like it.

The eggplants have just been planted and are doing well. The peppers are not doing as well. I think starting my pepper seeds in the fall was a good idea after all. My pepper plants are still really tiny and dry out fast.

My artichoke plant has an artichoke on it! That was fast. I think I'm going to let this one bloom, since what's the point of having only one artichoke? Maybe after that it will make more buds and I can get several at a time.

Still waiting to be planted are squash, okra, cucumbers, and cantaloupes. I planted them in pots while I figured out where to put them. The okra plants are getting pretty big and need to be set out soon. I think they'll go in the front garden since they're pretty.

I also started an assortment of basils. I went ahead and planted some of all the different varieties I have, but some of them germinated much better than others. I have a lot of Ms. Burns Lemon Basil, for instance. That stuff grows like crazy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Dad: July 3, 1949 - March 27, 2014

My dad lost his battle with cancer last week, which is why I missed posting a garden update for the last full moon and the spring equinox. That was around when he took a turn for the worse and was hospitalized, and he only lived a few more days after that. I was able to travel up to the DFW area to be with him when he died, so I'm grateful for that.

While all this was happening, the irises my mother-in-law gave me about two years ago finally bloomed, and the bluebonnets are out in full force. As you can see from the picture, the irises are so heavy with flowers we had to stake them up. It seems strange for him to die in the midst of all this new spring life. The spring equinox is usually one of my favorite times of year.