Category Archives: 6. June

The Garden Lives!

From March until May we live in a constant state of worrying about the seedlings — Are they getting enough sun? Are they big enough? Are they getting watered enough? Did we even plant anything on time?! Finally May rolls around and we can transplant the stuff to the beds. Only, then we spend the next two weeks worrying that nothing’s taking and we’re going to have to buy replacement plants and everything’s going to be ruined. It’s really only in June when things calm down enough to really just enjoy the garden for the first time.

State of the Garden June 9 2011

We’ve been harvesting some stuff already, mostly from the lettuce farm on the deck. The lettuce farm has turned out to be a delightful addition to Maple Hoo. So far the winner of the taste test has been Yugoslavian Red, but we’ve got a long summer and a dozen more varieties to try. Schnookie also made the astonishing discovery that a nice bowl of pasta tastes a million times awesomer for the addition of some arugula, so we’ve added that to our list of things to grow on the deck.

Lettuce Farm


Meanwhile, in the front yard things are looking good. We harvested a delightful amount of green garlic, and then the scapes came in not long after. Some of the garlic was bulbs we’d saved from last year, making them essentially completely free! (Or something.)


We also harvested the coral shell peas, which were as early as advertized. They also were short and didn’t need trellising. In short, they’re wonder peas! We’ll be planting them again next year for sure. We planted a second variety which looked to be dead in the water — literally; there was a lot of rain this spring. When things dried out, though, they bounced back and are starting to pod up now.

May 30 2011

Peas Rearing Their Head

Everything else is chugging along. After looking like they might not make it, the tomatoes have all established themselves nicely. The various cherry tomatoes, in particular, are looking hearty, with blossoms just starting to form. The peppers needed one last rainy weekend before they were ready to turn from seedlings into nice green leafy plants. The broom corn, beans, and pumpkins are all thinned and starting to fill out. (Some of the beans are also growing up. We sorta kinda ordered pole beans when we meant to get bush beans and we sorta kinda didn’t notice until they were all planted. Oops.)

June 6 2011

Not Pumpkiny Yet

Climbing Beans

Senor Patata Flowers

So far the only major set-back has been with the sunflowers we planted outside the garden fence. They were looking awesome, but something — rabbit? deer? — ate them all up. Jerks! Oh, and the passalong raspberries Schnookie got from a co-worker are looking pretty sad. Good thing the old canes (and the blackberries) are looking good.


June 12 2011

So as of mid-June, things are looking good! Here’s hoping the next four months go as well. This year we’re partaking in a Flickr project called Garden Grub 120; we’re taking a picture every day for 120 days of what we eat from the garden (or sometimes, on lazy nights, just a picture of the garden itself). You can follow along with our pictures here or with the group as a whole here.

June 14 2011


Filed under 5. May, 6. June, Garden, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

How The Garden Grows: Early June

We’ve had rain and gray skies for over a week. On the one hand, we don’t have to water. On the other hand, you can practically hear the peppers crying for lack of sun. Still, the garden rolls on. We’ve had some big milestones since the last garden report: flowers on the potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, onions that look like real plants, scapes for the harvesting, and even a tomato! A wee baby tomato!

We took the camera out in the garden to explore and to document.

The potato thicket is, as usual, out of control.

Potato Bed Overview

Potatoes Intermingling With Sage

June 3 2009

The garlic, meanwhile, is fabulous. We’ve been harvesting green garlic for pesto for weeks now, and had our first scape pesto last week.

Repeating Circles

X Marks The Spot

Next to the garlic bed, a few volunteer radishes from last year are coming up in the ground. Rather than pull them up, we’ve decided to let them flower and then go to seed. One’s a little ahead of the other, so we were able to compare the flowers to the buds.

Seed Radish

Radish Flowers

Radish Flower Buds

The onions have done their annual miracle of turning from this:

Onions Transplanted

to this:

Onion Bed

Onion in the Ground

The peppers are doing their thing despite the lack of sun. They’re already as big as they ever got last year. The Tolli’s Sweet Italian peppers are the first in the race to flower.

Pepper Bed, Up Close

Tolli's Sweet Pepper Flower

Inviting Peppers

And last but not least, the tomatoes are busting out all over! (Literally. There’s a volunteer tomato in the onion bed, nowhere near where we had tomatoes planted last year. It had better not be another yellow pear tomato — those plants have been springing up all over for the last two years. There will not be a third!)

Moreton & Black Plum

Mighty Ramapo

Hey, what’s that?

Moreton Tomato Growing

Yeah, that! Is that…

First Tomato of the Season

It is! A tomato! It’s a BLT in nature! In the immortal words of Grandpa Simpson, “I can’t wait to eat that monkey!”

Moreton Tomato

The one problem area of the garden might be the area between the Ramapos and the onions. It’s become volunteer Catnip Alley. There was some talk of carefully weeding it all, but then we decided that the cats really, really, really, really love it and it’s a nice free treat for them. So what if our shoes will smell like catnip every time we go to harvest tomatoes?

Catnip Alley


Filed under 6. June, Garden, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

A Very Maple Hoo Harvest

We were greatly encouraged by our “poking at the potatoes to see what’s going on down there” test harvest last night, and discovered the Desirees were already way bigger than we really wanted them to be. They were the first of our potatoes to sprout, and the first to flower by far, and now they’re the first to be getting that “yellowing leaves means it’s time for harvest” look to them.

The others? Still looking green and robust. And planning to eat the house:

Digging up potatoes is awesome. You just push the soil around a bit, and all of a sudden, attached to a little umbilical cord shooting out of the roots, is a potato!

Tugging up the plant brings up a handful of them:

There wasn’t a huge quantity under these first two plants, so we decided to leave the other two in place for a couple more weeks. But considering this was just 1/12 of what we planted, we’re awfully pleased.

And in the next bed over? A garlic bonanza!

We planted three varieties of garlic: Persian Star, German White, and Chesnok Red. The German White was the first to sprout and the first to get scapes, so not surprisingly, it was the first to get to harvest point. When 40% of the leaves are brown, it’s time to dig the heads up.

German White seems to have heads that are made up of just a few really big cloves. These are by far the biggest garlic heads we’ve ever grown…

… And we got tons of them:

The best part about the harvest today was that it was actually less than a third of the entire garlic bed.

The New York Times recently ran an article about how much cheaper it is to grow your own veggies than to buy them, and we laughed and laughed at that notion. There is no way this is a less expensive way to get the kinds of crops that are standard staples, like tomatoes, onions, and potatoes. But in looking at how much garlic we’ve gotten this year, and considering how little effort we put into them, this might just be one crop that is not only yummier to grow yourself, but also cheaper. Oh, and Matsui enjoys home-grown garlic a lot more than store-bought.


Filed under 6. June, Garden, Harvested, Pommerdoodling

Cute Baby Veggies

On a day that saw some full-on, grown-up, for-reals vegetables pulled up out of the ground, we were equally excited to see some wee baby crops developing around the other beds.

For starters, the nardello peppers are spending all their energy growing peppers the size of the entire tiny plants. We should probably take them off, but they’re just too cute:

Even more adorable? The baby gherkins, which look like spiky infant pickles with flowers attached:

There are also itty-bitty, teensy-tiny pods growing on two of the calypso bean plants, but they’re so small we couldn’t really get a picture of them:


Filed under 6. June, Garden

Tuber Pommerdoodling!

The potato plants are, officially, completely out of control at this point.

This picture was taking four days ago, and the plants are actually about a quarter again as big now as they were then. If this goes on much longer, they are going to swallow up our house. Which means it’s time to make them sing for their supper. With Kate the Great visiting for the weekend, we decided to take a peek under the soil and pull out some new potatoes. Without putting much effort in, this is the harvest we dug up:

We didn’t have any Yellow Finns near the surface, but we did get a hold of some Desirees…

… All Blues…

… And Banana Fingerlings.

We boiled them up, straight out of the soil, and did a head-to-head taste test. The blues were the clear-cut loser — they were attractive, and held their shape really well, but their flavor was nothing to write home about. They’d be really nice in a potato salad, though. The Banana Fingerlings were exquisite; they were tender but not at all crumbly, and their flavor was rich and buttery. And the Desirees? Out. Of. This. World. When they were very hot they were fluffy and starchy, but when they cooled, they seemed to be much more inclined to a waxier shape-holding. And they tasted, plain, like they’d been buttered and salted to perfection. Last summer we grew Yellow Finns and thought they had to be the single greatest potato on the planet. This summer the Finns in the garden best start producing, because their claim to that title has been seriously challenged by these Desirees.


Filed under 6. June, Garden, Harvested, Pommerdoodling, Worth Selling Your Soul For

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

Okay, so today is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, a series we absolutely adore. It’s such a great idea to gather pictures from garden bloggers the world over, because it’s a ton of fun to see how things are growing on other parts of the planet, and to see how universal a gardener’s pride is. We’d love to participate today, because we’ve got some exciting veggie blossoms going right now: tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins. But it’s 75 billion degrees out with oppressive humidity and merciless sun. We’re afraid our camera will melt if it goes outside. Okay, that’s a lie — we’re afraid we will melt if we go outside. So to celebrate what’s blooming in our garden, here’s a picture of the most blossomy thing around.

Our lawn.

It might be hot, but with all the clover out there, the bees are like… well, bees in clover. Har har.

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Filed under 6. June, Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Exciting News From The Garden

While trimming some of the extra branches at the bottoms of the tomatoes, I took a closer look at where the first blossom on the Black Plum had been on May 15th. Lo and behold, it’s turned into a tomato!

We’ll be eating garden-fresh pasta sauce in no time!


Filed under 6. June, Garden

How Does Our Garden Grow?

Now that the hockey season is over, it’s time to turn the full volume of our obsessive tendencies to the garden! And as of June 1, things in there are starting to look pretty, well, gardeny.

For starters, there are the potatoes, with the first potato bloom of the season:

The plants themselves, meanwhile, are waist high and outrageously lush:

There’s no more room in the beds to keep mounding these up, so we’re just sitting back and hoping they’ve got enough room to produce crops as impressive as the above-ground show they’re putting on.

Speaking of underground crops that are really hard not to pull up now just to see how they’re doing, the garlic is a veritable jungle. And more exciting than just their foliage is that they’re finally getting scapes.

Scapes are the actual shoots of the garlic plant, and the idea is that you cut them off after they curl (it’s the strangest thing — they grow in a loop-de-loop) to encourage the plant to focus on growing a nice, fat bulb instead. The benefits of this are twofold: you get the aforementioned nice, fat garlic bulb in a month or so, and in the meantime, you get to eat the scapes. They have a mild garlicky flavor, a bit sharper than green garlic, but still nowhere near as powerful as garlic garlic. We love putting them in mashed potatoes, but they’re also, I’m told, great in stir-fries and salads. Last year we didn’t do much with them at all because we were without a refrigerator during the scape harvest and we’d lost our will to live; this year, between the farm’s scapes and ours, we should have way more than we know what to do with. I can’t wait!

Another disappointment last year was our onion crop, in that it was nonexistent. For some reason we had a massive bumper crop our first year as gardeners, and assumed it was a piece of cake to toss onion seeds in the ground and then harvest buckets and buckets of onions later in the summer. Last year we tried that again, the bed got repeatedly ravaged by squirrels, and we harvested not a single onion. So we’d kind of forgotten what happy, growing onions look like.

As it turns out, they seem to go from scraggly, grassy little plants to robust, deep green sturdy plants overnight! We like to anoint the halest and heartiest of each crop “Big Papi”, and there are several onions competing for that honor. What the picture doesn’t show is that our scallions are all competing to see who gets to be considered the biggest failure. It will forever be a mystery how we managed to grow 10,000 scallions our first year, and we’ve sucked colossally at growing them ever since. Oh well! That just leaves more space for the onions to stretch out.

The new crop for us this year is gherkins, and after looking pretty touch-or-go as wee baby seedlings, they’re starting to fill out a bit:

Just a bit. But that is an actual gherkin leaf there!

Ultimately, though, it doesn’t really matter what meets our harvest expectations, because what the garden is really all about is days when it looks like this:

It doesn’t get any better than that.


Filed under 6. June, Garden