Wednesday, May 15, 2019

FRUSTRATIONS & BLESSINGS


After I got back home from Keenager’s this afternoon, I did a walkabout to check the rain barrels and my garden boxes … both threw frustrations my way and put a damper on yesterday’s excitement :-( (https://jeastofeden.blogspot.com/2019/05/rain-has-arrived-d.html)

The rain barrels – despite ALL the rain that has been falling – ARE EMPTY! There is barely water covering the interior bottoms. WTHeck?

So … I called my BIL, Kerry, to pick his brain and try to get this thing straightened out. Are the gutters clogged? Highly unlikely, as they were cleaned not too long ago … and I would have been able to notice a clogging issue because the water would have been pouring over the gutter sides: not happening, so the gutters are good and should be draining properly. Were the rain barrels connected to the downspout correctly? Yes – Kerry connected the first 2 and I connected the other 2 exactly as he connects his at his home at the mountain; they are set up correctly and should be draining correctly. Then, I don’t “get it”: if everything is “correct” … WHY is there NO barrel collected water to speak of?

Kerry said he barely has any collected water either in his barrels at his place, and thinks that though it is raining – and raining hard at times – it is not sufficient rain, as most of the time the rain is falling lightly and really little more than a mist.

It is disappointing.

But at least the rain IS falling continually, and the garden IS getting watered – even if collecting rainwater is not happening as anticipated.

Checking out the veggie garden boxes, I was further upset to see that the neighborhood cats wreaked havoc in my Leek bed and in my Parsley container; boldly walking down the length of the Leek bed, and skipping over the parsley planting. Those little monsters actually stepped around the upturned fork prongs >:-P

I thought I had the upturned fork closer together than they apparently were. The other veggie gardening boxes were not violated – just this one. And the parsley container, which wasn’t critter-proofed.

Both the Leek planter box and the Parsley container have been covered with bird netting now.

The Leeks will need to be replanted – I have some transplants in the house I can move out there – and the carrots, Purslane, and Miner’s Lettuce will all have to be reseeded in the disturbed spotty areas.

The Giant Musselburgh Leeks are an heirloom variety that are mild and tender. And they over-winter real well: I like to leave my leeks in the garden over the winter … and because of the darned neighborhood cats setting my planting schedule back, that is a good thing because it will take that length of time to allow them to sprout and mature.

I broad spread my carrots because I do not sell them, so they do not have to be perfect … and it seems a waste of time and effort on my part to meticulously thin them out when they are pretty much a baby carrot anyway, and I basically use my carrots in soups and stews, in which case, small is desired :-D The carrots I chose to plant this year is called Mignon, and only grows to a 5” length, with smooth skin and a tender crisp texture – perfect for roasting whole alongside a pot roast, or a chicken; and if I feel like thinning at some point, the baby carrots pulled can be washed and frozen whole for soups or stews. Broad spread seeding works for me ;-)

Golden Purslane was planted ‘just because’ – I had never planted it before, and it seemed prudent to do so this year; especially since I am a woman alone now and need to pay closer attention to my health: my mental health depends on my physical health, and THAT is vital with widows; I think more so than with anyone else as a widow is much more susceptible to physical decline which affects mental health. MPO. At any rate, Golden Purslane is an excellent source of natural antioxidants, and has more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable. This is very important for me, as I do not use doctors unless absolutely forced to (ex: asthma attack or bee sting anaphylaxis … both of which I have ‘toughed out’ on occasion) or pharmaceuticals. I live my life by faith, I garden and eat organically, and I use foods/herbs holistically.

Miner’s Lettuce is also a new thing in my garden – my husband never saw the point of “weeds” in the garden, but now that I am flying solo, I have decided to add it ;-) Miner’s Lettuce is high in Vitamin C and was a staple in pioneer living. Many pioneer homesteads were situated near a wetland area where miner’s lettuce was found to be growing. Miner’s Lettuce, once established in my garden area, should be a perennial here in the PNW, where the atmosphere is temperately humid: 

CAT TRACKS IN LEEK, CARROTS, PURSLANE & MINER'S LETTUCE BED!
EVERYTHING WILL HAVE TO BE RESEEDED. Darn cats!
LEEK GARDEN BOX COVERED WITH BIRD NETTING until I can get out there are replant.
PURSLANE coming up
MINER'S LETTUCE coming up

The squash beds are doing well too – I saw that the Spaghetti Squash, though not actually {up} yet, IS pushing its way through the hill soil in the Kandy Corn garden box :-D

I like yellow squash, but my gardening areas here is tight, so I decided to plant Golden Star yellow squash this year because it is a compact plant, perfect for container or tight space planting.

I planted Lutz Beets in the same veggie garden box as the Golden Star yellow squash. I love beets, and I like beet greens in soups too: Lutz Beets satisfies both tastes. Also, if for some reason I cannot pick the beets right away, the beet will not get hard and tough (worthless to eat).  I like how the beets slices too – with a light contrast zoning (ring) inside. Hands down, this beet is a winner.

I normally plant the purple top turnips, but this year I decided to plant Golden Ball Turnip; I don’t know why. Maybe because the seed catalog claims the flesh {never gets woody}: I can appreciate that ;-) At any rate, it is a turnip, and I am sure it will taste like a turnip.

And I planted the Joan variety of Rutabaga in this garden box also; I like rutabagas in my winter meals, and Joan fits the bill with its appealing yellow flesh and sweet taste. It also has a good resistance to club footing, and that is a good thing …

STRAIGHT NECK YELLOW SQUASH, BEETS, TURNIPS & RUTANAGA garden box
LUTZ BEETS, TURNIPS & RUTABAGA coming up

In the following gardening box, I planted Butternut and Zucchini squashes interplanted with Colossus Marigolds.

I planted Butterbush Butternut because it is another compact vegetable that grows well in a container or very tight spaces; the vines are only 3’ to 4’ long, and the squash itself only weighs 1-1/2 pounds at maturity; expectation reported to be 3 to 6 fruit per plant – PERFECT for me and for my gardening area:

BUTTERNUT & ZUCCHINI SQUASHES with Colossus Marigolds inter-planted

I saw the green Nickel Bush Beans are up in the Pea Gardening Box … as well as the yellow Soleil Bush Beans: I couldn’t see them over the box lip the other day, so I wasn’t sure if they had sprouted yet or not.

I love green beans … will eat them straight off the plant in the garden … so I always plant them and figure them into my menus. Nickel is a petit fillet bean of a French strain developed for upscale European markets and showcased at fine dining establishments – I have been growing them for as long as they have been commercially sold in seed form because I literally have had to force green beans on my family (I threaten to go on kitchen strike if they refuse to eat what I cook), and if they “have to eat them”, they don’t want to eat as much of them than they have to … a 4” green bean is better to force on them than a 7” green bean. LOL Nickel is a compact plant, so it can be grown pretty tight in a small space. Filet green beans are not as plump as regular green beans, they are bred to stay slender; and they need to be harvested at peak maturity (4” long) or they will get tough.

Soleil is a yellow wax bean, also of the fillet strain. This bean, however, will reach a peak maturity at 6” long, though it is a bush bean like Nickel.

Both bush beans are very prolific if continually harvested throughout the growing season …

SHELLING PEAS, CANELLINI & BUSH BEANS. Bonanza Marigolds on the side
SNOWPEAS, YELLOW WAX, PURPLE PIPIANT ROMANA BEANS. Bonanza marigolds on the side.
PATIO SNACKER CUCUMBERS coming up

In the Kandy Corn garden box, I spotted the Spaghetti Squash pushing up through the hill soil – it isn’t showing actual leaves yet, but it is showing a little neck.

The Spaghetti Squash is not compact – it will need to be corralled as it grows and matures. But I like Spaghetti Squash, so I will just have to be vigilant and make sure that the sprawling 5’ to 6’ vines are led to, and kept on, my side of the property line: I can do that. I have never been a negligent person: I have always been a responsible person. Ron Cook’s unfounded paranoia's, and Candy Scott's ludicrous and assumptive accusations last summer were waaay out of control (https://jeastofeden.blogspot.com/2018/09/fall-cleanup-and-forgiveness.html).

Their ridiculousness and Candy’s refusal to listen to us, seriously altered our lives (https://jeastofeden.blogspot.com/2018/12/widowhood.html).

I was a responsible gardener last year … and I will be a responsible gardener this year.

The only difference this year is that now Bob – due to the hell they raised last year – is no longer here to enjoy the fruits of our labors (he built my boxes and I am using them as we planned):

Barely seen SPAGHETTI SQUASH pushing up through the soil, flanked by sprouting Kandy Corn.

Further down the line, I spotted the Kalettes coming up. Again, this is something new in my garden.

The Russian Kale I planted last year didn’t do very well in a container.

Kalettes are a type of mini kale with ‘a mild nutty flavor’ grown on Brussel sprout like stalks. I bought Autumn Star seeds because it is the earliest maturing variety and I am anxious to try it out ;-)

KALETTES coming up

Moving along, I noticed more cat tracks making dents in my Parsley seeding. I broad spread my parsley seeding too, but still, the skipping paw prints will affect the productivity. I will need to smooth out the spotty spaces and reseed when the weather permits.

For now, I got some bird netting out of the shed and covered the parsley container …

CAT TRACKS IN THE PARSLEY.
PARSLEY UNDER BIRD NETTING; doesn't look pretty, but it works.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Mascara, Tom Thumb, & Little Gem Lettuces are up; and so is the Deer Tongue Lettuce :-D

The Cosmonaut Tomato plant has a blossom on it too – a bit premature as the plant is not even 6” high yet.

I also planted a Nasturtium in this veggie bed, and flanked it with herbs – Parsley and Tarragon showing in the picture.

I like the quirky appearance of Green Deer Tongue Lettuce; it grows in a pinwheel type of shape, and the leaves really do look like deer tongues. Green Deer Tongue lettuce is an heirloom seed that produces a compact plant with sweet tasting tender leaves. Good in salads.

I like Brandywine tomatoes, but really do not have the space for them here, so I opted to go with Cosmonaut Volkov Tomatoes this year – I don’t know what it will do or how it will taste because this is the first year I have tried it, but it is reported to be as tantalizing to the taste buds as Brandywine: we’ll see. Cosmonaut Volkov is a bush type tomato plant that has a compact height of about 3’ to 4’. Its fruit is reported to be a deep orange with green-tinged shoulders and a bright red interior. The tomatoes won’t be very large, only about 2’ to 3”, but that is okay. As long as I get a reasonable harvest, I will be satisfied. There is only 1 of me; and I can only eat so much in a year’s time. I do not hoard food.

The variegated leaves of Tip Top Alaska Nasturtium is what appeals to me with this particular flower – I also plan to eat some of the leaves/flowers this year, and plan on pickling the green pods as capers. While you can the green pods (https://www.gardenbetty.com/poor-mans-capers-pickled-nasturtium-pods/),THE DRY BROWN SEEDS ARE TOXIC. I am not sure how {peppery} this nasturtium strain will be, but I plan to find out. Nasturtiums are reported to be a rich source of Vitamin C and also contains an herbal equivalent of penicillin. Score!

Parsley is a must in my garden. I like Wega Parsley because it is a sturdy parsley that doesn’t fall over limply, and it doesn’t bolt or get bitter no matter how long between harvestings – it just keeps giving ang giving all season long and will even come back in the Spring like a perennial here in the PNW.

I planted Tarragon this year because my supply I harvested, dried, stored and have been using the past 7 years is finally running out – it needs replenished. French Tarragon is only available as a transplant herb. At maturity it will be 36” tall. French Tarragon is strongly pungent with a very heavy anise aroma; and I admit that when I lift the lid of my spice jar, the aroma leaves me momentarily breathless (environmental asthma situation); but I grow it, harvest it, dry it, and use it anyway.

Shallots are hard for me to grow – don’t know why; they just are. I have tried shallot bulbs and they have struggled, and my harvest was disappointedly skimpy. So this year, I have decided to try sowing shallot seed and praying over them, Seriously – I need these things to G.R.O.W. because I use a lot of shallots in my cooking and they can get pretty spendy in the grocery stores. I am trying Ambition Shallot seed, hoping the name the seeds are labeled and packaged under will give them the ambition they need to sprout and thrive here for my ambitions. LOL These shallots will have the rust-colored papery skin over the white oniony bulb flesh. And IF they grow as they should – and I pray they will – they are resorted to measure 1-1/2” to 2” across the bulb. I seeded the shallots in a large flower pot because I ran out of gardening boxes, so I hope they will do okay there. Praying!

I also use a lot of Cilantro in my cooking. I have sown seeds in the house and they sprouted readily, so I am hoping that will happen in the garden too. I have sown Calypso Cilantro because it is supposed to hold longer in the garden that other cilantro varieties and be slower to bolting in hot weather.

My oregano is running low too, so I planted a white pot of Oregano Vulgare, which will be a dark green with pink to deep purple blossoms. Both the leaves and the blossoms are edible – the leaves being stronger and more pungent in aroma and flavor.

Ditto for marjoram … I never seem to have marjoram in leaf from when I need it. And it is wildly expensive in the grocery stores – if it can be found at all. Sweet Marjoram is what I planted in the other matching white pot; these pots originally held flowers, but the flowers were annuals and they eventually died. And I horde flower pots. So Sweet Marjoram was seeded in this one. I broad spread the seed, so I should – hopefully – have as much marjoram as I require; and then some ;-)

The shallots, cilantro, oregano and marjoram pots were all covered with bird netting too just in case that cat decides to skip across my containers again. 

GRRRRR!

LETTUCES, TOMATOES, NASTURTIUMS. Parsley & Tarragon in containers.
MASCARA (burgundy) & TOM THUMB LETTUCES coming up
DEER TONGUE & LITTLE GEM LETTUCES coming up
SHALLOTS & CILANTRO under bird netting
OREGANO & MARJORAM under bird netting. The pruned German Thyme looks like it is thriving.

Bell Peppers should do well here because their veggie garden box will be in full sunlight the bulk of the day. I planted 4 different varieties because I like color – and lots of it ;-) ALL the Bell Peppers will start out as Green peppers. ALL will eventually mature into various colors. The Wonder Bell & the Purple Star will mature into Red Bell Peppers if left on the bush. Golden Star will mature into a stunning Yellow Bell Pepper. And Milena will dazzle when it matures into a ripe bright Orange Bell Pepper. I will glean several Green Bells off EACH bush before allowing them to ripen into their mature colorations because the green peppers are what I use the most of in the kitchen:

BELL PEPPERS with Whirligig Zinnias interplanted (https://jeastofeden.blogspot.com/2019/04/garden-planting-kickoff.html). Oregano, Thyme (https://jeastofeden.blogspot.com/2019/05/all-new.html) & Marjoram in containers.

I have never been able to grow a watermelon or cantaloupe, though I know people who have – even in the mountains!

But there is a LOT of direct sunshine here, so hopefully I will be successful this year.

So far, my melon transplants have actually made it to their veggie garden boxes; and seem to be thriving. I chose Mini Love Watermelon because it matures in 70 days. And it is compact; designed to fit into the tightest of spaces, reported to {stay within a 36” space}, and will yield 6 ct. 7- to 9-lb fruits each plant. I plant to blend and freeze the majority of these fruits for Fall and Winter beverages.

The Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe is an heirloom seed and it also is a compact plant specifically bred to squeeze into a small space garden – or even a container. It is a short-season melon and will ripen about the same time as the watermelon. The fruits will be between 4” to 6” across; not much smaller than the cantaloupe sold in grocery stores. Like with the watermelons, these cantaloupes will also be chopped, blended into a juicy pulp, and frozen for Fall and Winter beverages.

I have grown the Jack Be Little Pumpkins before. The vines are reasonably short at about 5’ long. And it is a prolific producer of 3” to 4” pumpkins. I use pumpkin in many of my Fall/Winter meals, and since I am flying solo now, these little pumpkins are perfect for my recipe needs. They taste like acorn squash.

JACK BE LITTLE PUMPKINS

The Fennel is coming up … but the Celeriac needs reseeding; it has died out after being set out.

I have a lot of recipes calling for fennel bulb, and I haven’t seen it in the grocery stores, so I thought I’d try my hand at growing it. So far, the 2 I transplanted are thriving. I only planted 2 because I want to be sure I will like it well enough to eat it before going wild with plantings of it. I am growing Perfection Fennel because it is supposed to resist bolting – that is important in our fluctuating PNW weather.

CANTALOUPE w-nasturtiums inter-planted.
FENNEL. Celeriac needs reseeding & Parsnips not yet showing.

If the frustrating weather cooperates, and the frustrating cats are detoured now, this garden might do very well in the gardening boxes my husband blessed me with so that I may find enjoyment in them as well as glean plentiful provisions to carry me from Spring to Spring with very little downtown supplement.

This is a very nice sized full garden for a single person - or a couple.

I am thankful.

And I will feel Bob with me every time I am tending my gardens and eating my meals.

Love you Babe.

Always.

OX