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Archive for May, 2015

One of the most common tips for planning a garden (and being successful) is determining how much sunlight your garden space will get. If you’re like us, you have a limited amount of good sunny spots for growing plants like tomatoes and peppers that need lots and lots of sun to thrive.

Our house faces north, and our gardens are around the detached garage — some on the east side and some on the south side. It’s not perfectly aligned to the compass but pretty much accurate. We also have lots of trees in our yard and in surrounding yards, which make a difference in how much sunlight each spot will get during the day.

The gallery below shows how much of a difference sunlight makes to how big plants get. It’s of the hostas we have planted in almost all of our regular garden beds. Time of day and which type of sun (morning, afternoon, etc), as well as where they are planted are noted in the captions.

 

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IMG_9688It’s actually quite pathetic. We got some broccoli and some radishes, but only enough to make side dishes for one meal.

The broccoli was just sauteed in olive oil with a squeeze of lemon. The radishes were cooked in butter with some chives.

Simple, but very good!

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We’ve tried for a couple of years to get great broccoli but it’s not working for us. Earlier this month we had a crazy hot spell — something you’d expect in July and not early May — with temperatures in the 80s and creeping toward 90 on some days.

Bolted broccoli. Again. Still tasty though!

Bolted broccoli. Again. Still tasty though!

It started really well — big leaves and small, compact broccoli heads. But once the temperatures spiked, it was all over. What broccoli was growing started to bolt. The stalks were separating and starting to produce flowers. Some of the other ones weren’t even growing (though now that the weather has cooled significantly, they seem to be bouncing back.)

Oh well. We plan try again in the fall, starting from seeds. Next year, I’m going to use our old garden beds as cold frames and get the broccoli, peas and lettuce started way early. Maybe even February. Maybe even when there is still snow on the ground. We’ll see how it goes.

The mysterious cluster of insect eggs. Or pollen. Who knows!

The mysterious cluster of insect eggs. Or pollen. Who knows!

Random side note:  This year when we cut the main heads, I discovered a cluster of what looked like yellow eggs on one of the broccoli stems. After a bit of searching, I came up empty as to what it was. Best guess was maybe ladybugs, but those looked like shinier eggs. It could just be a bunch of pollen trapped in a spider web, too. Has anyone else seen something like this?

 

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Radish ready to pick!

Radish ready to pick!

It’s pretty simple, actually. They’ll pop up out of the ground! We pulled four out so far, with more coming soon.

Even though radishes are spring crops, we plan to plant some more by the cucumbers because they help deter certain bugs, including the cucumber beetle which has hurt our plants every year.

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Last year we tore out even more honeysuckle and created a new flower bed in our backyard. It’s also a place to give our blueberry bushes a proper home.

A pop up blackberry bush?

A pop up blackberry bush?

This spring, as we covered the fallen leaves with topsoil and pulled some weeds, we noticed a plant that looked familiar. At first I thought it was poison ivy or some Virginia creeper that’s all over the woods. But, we’re pretty sure it’s a new blackberry bush.

We tore out our old one last summer because it died, but maybe it set down a shoot that’s only now sprouting. That’s our hope, at least. Only time will tell.

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Our trellis rig for the peas (snow peas here).

Our trellis rig for the peas (snow peas here).

One benefit to square foot gardening is everything is on a grid. That’s also part of its problem (for us anyway). When planting the peas earlier this year, I plopped the seeds — eight per square — in the soil and let nature take its course. It wasn’t until a week or so later that I realized my planting method was flawed.

I didn’t pay attention to where I put the seeds and thus created the “great trellis challenge” of 2015. A couple of weeks ago, the peas were growing happily, with tendrils looking for something to climb. We had to figure it out. I’ll credit my brilliant husband, Matt, for coming up with this.

We did our best to untangle the plants from each other and put two stakes in between the “rows” of peas. Then we took this bendable wire fencing we’ve had for years, folded it and slid the rig over the stakes. It’s got big enough squares to weave the peas in and out where needed, but not so big that the peas need to climb huge gaps. Also, peas are easy to train but require a bit of care because they’re rather fragile.

The wire & stake trellis for the peas (snow peas here).

The wire & stake trellis for the peas (snow peas here).

And when we needed to add another row because the peas grew even taller? We just added one more piece to the top. Admittedly, it’s quite a haphazard set up, but it was cheap and it works!

When the peas are done and the beans have started to grow, we’ll just move it where we need it. Though this time I’ll be more aware of where I’m planting the seeds.

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