If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Vegetable Garden

I'm sorry to be so long in posting but my life has been hectic for the past three four five weeks and by the time I sit down I'm too pooped to post.  Maybe this post will make up for my slacker-ness because it is a l-o-n-g one!
Mike and I are gardeners.  We both love working in the dirt and nurturing and growing plants.  He loves growing vegetables most of all.  I think part of it is because of his need to grow and nurture and part is because the flavor of the fresh veggies is better than bought.  But I also know that part of it is because he thinks it saves us lots of money.  He probably is right in some cases but sometimes I question it.  Especially when the climate is especially dry and we are watering something like the potatoes because I can get a ten-pound bag of potatoes for about three or four dollars.  Still, it does feel and taste better when it comes from the dirt one tilled and plants one nurtured. 

We have been puttering round in the garden for the past several afternoons.  Mike got a couple of different kinds of tomatoes this year.  As a general rule, he likes the Pink Girl variety best because of its shape and size and flavor.  He also got a couple of some kind of 'boy' tomatoes as well - I don't know if they are Big Boy or Better Boy or what kind of boy tomatoes they are but they are healthy and hefty plants. 
Look at the size of that stalk!
He put those into a couple of tubs right beside the barn door and he has tied them up to stakes this week.  Then, I got him a couple of heirloom tomatoes when we were first getting started.  I have no idea what variety they are but it is easy to pick them out in the garden because the leaves look so different from the other varieties of tomato plants.
The heirloom leaves are larger and have have fewer notches in them.
The Pink Girl leaves look almost like a different kind of plant.
Remember way back when I was Pushing Spring and started a few plants in mini greenhouses in my kitchen windows?  Remember that I updated you with Plant Progress a bit later?  Remember that they got a little leggy and I had Transplants?  Well, those met a tragic end.  When I took them out to the barn to 'harden them off,'  the cats thought I had brought them something to play with and turned them over and scratched around in the spilled dirt and the poor dears died (the plants - not the aggravating cats).  We salvaged one lone cucumber plant. 
Mike transplanted it into one of the table tubs (more about these later) and it is thriving.

Needless to say, I was frustrated fit-to-be-tied  livid-and-in-a--murderous-rage quite angry and wished once again that we didn't have so may blooming (you can probably substitute some other stronger language here) cats.  (Just in case you were wondering, I am not really a cat lover anyway.) 

So, after a few tears and a few curse words and some teeth gnashing and foot stomping, I went to Bonnie's Barnyard and bought some more plants.  During my spring break, we took time to set them out and get our garden off to a fresh start.  You may remember me sharing info and pictures about our Gardening.  Well, I thought it was time to do a little updating. 

We are harvesting already!  I have picked broccoli a couple of afternoons and yesterday I got a couple of bell peppers.  (Mr. Impatient - Mike - also dug around and found a potato about half the size of my fist.)

Here are some pictures:
This is the broccoli before I covered it with garden soil.
Here it is right after I cut the first couple of heads just days ago.
See how nicely it filled out?
One beautiful Floret!
Another whopper!
Here it is on a plate.
Another view...
Here is the first cutting - almost filled a 5-gallon bucket!
Here is the second cutting - filled a 5-gallon bucket!

We have had a chicken and pasta salad with broccoli, steamed broccoli and tonight broccoli and rice casserole is on the menu.  Yum!  Plus, I froze a few pints as well.
Here are the peppers before I covered them with garden soil.
Do you see all those roots and grassy pieces?
So far, not much problem with weeds, though!
Here is a look at the peppers when we first set them.
Here they are a few days later.
Here they are after another week or so.
Here they are after Mike staked them this week
(and before he tilled them - don't tell him I showed you). 
Banana Peppers on the plant
Bell Peppers on the plant
Here are the ones I picked.
The one in the lower left corner is supposed to be a pimiento pepper.  I've never grown those but that is not what I anticipated.  I wonder if the plants got mixed with another kind of pepper.  Did I pick it too early?
Here are the little cabbage babies when we first set them out.
This is what they look like today.
They are already forming nice little heads!
These look like huge flowers!
Do you see that string there just to the left of the pepper row?

That was the day we sowed the okra seeds.  This row has been peeking out of almost every picture in this post.  It is almost like it is in the background waving and saying, "Hi, Mom!"  Or maybe holding up fingers behind everybody's head...  (If you squint your eyes and look really close, you can also see the tiny little tomato plants lined up like little soldiers on the far left edge, too.)
Here is the okra row today!
You wouldn't even notice the tomatoes without the cages in this photo.

I think Mike believed those tiny little tomatoes were not going to live.  They were just little bitty things.  He told me to sort them largest to smallest as we were planting them.  Then, after a few days, he put a few of his hand-made trellises around the larger ones. (I call them cages because that is what it looks like to me.)  I guess by the end of the week, he decided they might have a chance and he finished up with all of them. After a while they looked like this:
They are starting to fill the cages pretty well.  I have been dubbed the one who tucks them in.  Every couple or three days I go down the row and tuck in any stray limbs which are sticking out of the cage.  It is a delicate procedure and my hands turn green as I do this.  That is another reason I think those trellises are like cages.  The tomatoes seem to be trying to escape and sticking their arms out through the spaces between the bars!  Here is how they look today:
Most of them have little green tomatoes on them and all of them are full of blooms!

Here is a close-up shot of one of the heirloom tomatoes.  It has the largest fruit on it.
Notice those heart-shaped leaves.  I wish I had kept the tag to know what kind it is!

We still have squash in the freezer from last year.  There isn't so much breaded that is ready to fry.  So, we may try to freeze some like that.  I hope to freeze just a little more for casseroles this winter, too.  One can never have too much squash!  So, we set out four hills up near the potato patch.  Mike is anticipating that they will not bear for long, though, because the dirt is not as rich and deep there.  So, we might put a couple more plants down where the broccoli is after the broccoli bolts. 

Here is a shot of the squash:
They are in a place where it is hard to keep weeds out between the plants.
They are full of little yellow crooknecks and blooms, though!

We planted onions in the containers like the cucumber is in.  Here are a few that I've pulled to use for cooking:
I love that one had a bloom!  Isn't it pretty?

It seems that there is always something to do here.  So, Mike and I have learned to just tackle little bits at a time.  Since it has been so unseasonably hot and dry here, we have had to spend more time watering than we usually do at this early date.  Every afternoon we find a way to putter around in the garden or with some dirt or plants in some way.  Then by nightfall we are dragging somewhat. 

I took this last photo with my phone because the camera was in the wagon.  I just love the cuteness of it.  He almost looks like a little boy pulling his wagon back to the barn because his Mom has called him in for supper.  We pulled the grandchildren's wagon down the hill from the barn loaded with all our supplies to keep from having to make several trips.  Then, Mike pulled it back to the barn when we finished planting everything.  Even though it is a bit blurry, I think you can tell that he is a little on the droopy side by that point in the day.
I was just plain dragging my rear.