Monday, August 25, 2008

...and back to normal Portland weather

After a few very hot days, the damp and cold has settled back in. Not that I am complaining - I don't have to water as much and things still ripen.

A quick harvest on Friday gave me the first beans and more zucchini, cucumbers and greens. In my planting I mixed "Kentucky Wonder" and some Tuscan pole bean variety together, and I can't tell which is which. Not that it matters that much but I will not make that mistake again. The tomatoes are cracking because of the rain and need to be used more quickly once collected. Still, they are delicious. "Black Prince" is not quite as dark as I expected. I noticed just recently that "Velvet Red" has not only furry leaves but also furry fruit.

Having exploited the break in the rainy weather to go camping over the weekend, the garden needed to look after its own for three days. Which meant even more beans, zucchini, tomatoes and cucumbers for harvesting.

Luckily, 100% of humans and guinea pigs in households polled prefer cucumber over zucchini. I am very pleased with my trellis method, which saves on space and makes the cucumbers grow straighter. Plenty more to go before the summer is out.

The corn is finally starting to flower. At this rate, I will have yummy roasted corn by the time of the first frosts. Good things come to those who wait. I have never grown corn before and it's definitely worth an experiment.

The garden is looking very lush at the moment, helped by all that rain. One drawback is that the moist soil also encourages slugs, which strangely love the "Costoluto Genovese" tomatoes (haven't spotted them on any of the other tomatoes or other vegetables).

PS. Potatoes harvested last week were very nice and stayed a purple colour even after cooking!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Portland sauna

Yet again it is too hot. Too hot for humans and too hot for plants. Everyone and everything wishes for AC. I think I even heard snippy mutterings from the rainbow chard today.

I also decided in my wisdom that today was the day that I would harvest the seeds of the arugula aka rocket. As a consequence I also had to sort out the strawberry plants and their runners that sharing the same area (long story but as reported earlier they were actually growing outside my plot boundary). 100 degree weather is not really ideal for this endeavour. I also dug up my first harvest of potatoes (Dark Red Norland, enough for a small meal, slightly disappointing amount). Nevertheless, I got it done, even though sweat was pouring off me.

Finally the first pepper harvest and others on the way. I've now had quite a few tomatoes but still waiting on more to come. The Velvet Red is a small cherry tomato which I wouldn't grow again - not enough output to make it worth it, although the foliage is pretty. The Momotaro is good and uniform with quite a good taste. The Costoluto Genovese is hanging full and is delicious but sometimes has the tendency to rot at the top of the stem. I am still waiting for Black Prince (which is starting to ripen) and the Striped German.

Lots of different flowers again - a sunflower has opened up, the aubergine aka eggplant is prettier than I ever thought and the flowers on the cucumbers and beans ensure lots of produce to come.

It's in times like this that you notice that the garden sucks up most of your life. Watering and harvesting every day is time-consuming. But then you take what you have laboured for home, cook it, serve it to friends and everything is alright.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

mixed bag

A few personal upheavals going on over the last couple of weeks. First someone I knew died unexpectedly. Her family and friends decided to give away some of her personal belongings - she was a keen gardener and through her plants, birdfeeders and tools she will live on. I chose a hoe, the handle all smooth and worked. It has a very good feel to it. I left it in the common tool shed with a note to think of Anna whenever people use it.

Then I had Lasik. Since I was laid up on the day of the surgery I sent Toxicfingers to water. She said that a zucchini would be ready soon. Unfortunately, I couldn't get out there for a coupe of days (it rained overnight so it seemed ok), only to find an enormous marrow!

The nightshades are doing really well: Along with lots of peppers, the first red tomato ("Early Girl" I think, unless I am mixing it up with "Momotaro") has appeared and the aubergine "Ichiban" has two long, thin fruits.

Lots of success with the squashes and cucumbers too. Patty pan squash "Flying Saucer" is true to its name, very stunning. At the moment I am harvesting three kinds of cucumbers: "Lemon", "Orient Express" and "nameless" (I forgot to write down what it was that I picked up randomly at a nursery but it appears to be a smaller, pickling sort).

Much more to do over the coming weeks. I noticed a that the beans are flowering so picking them cannot be far off - and I have about 20 feet of beans. The arugula needs cutting down so the seeds can be collected. I also saw that part of my potatoes are uncovered, probably the earth washed away from watering, so I will have to heap some more soil up around them.

Even - or especially - in difficult times the garden cheers me up.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

on gluts and a few other things...only few, mind

I had to deal with the first mini-glut of zucchini. It's surprising how quickly you can run out of things to do with them, except palm them off on unsuspecting friends. I do enjoy them grilled, also made some delicious roasted beet and zucchini salad. Still, if you have 7 of them in the space of a week, it's either zucchini every night for dinner or bust.

And that's not considering that other things need harvesting too. I still have some mustard greens in the fridge and more stuff on the way. Tonight after watering (hot, hot day!) I harvested a lemon cucumber (apparently they only grow to about tennis ball size) and some few assorted things. On Sunday I had a very nice basket of produce together, including a few broad (aka fava) beans. The Orient Express cucumbers are delicious.

More zucchini and patty pan squash on the way. I have an eye on a tomato which may finally ripen over the next few days. There there are finally little peppers and even little aubergines (aka eggplants).

I finally remembered to sow the winter squash last week. I'm always amazed and surprised by the ability of squashes to grow so quickly. Maybe that's why I always end up with gluts...

Since all my large plants are blocking off the whole of the plot, it may be nice to view it from a different angle. You can see the sunflowers sporting some heads soon to open, how well the greens are doing and that the beans are getting a move on. The next glut is just around the corner...