Oh dear. I really have been remiss in providing updates and photos of the garden in its first year. The last photo I posted was on June 29. We were headed to Denver and I wanted a record of it before I left. Until that time June was still a bit wet and sometimes cold. A heatwave struck while we were gone and the garden really took off from there.
This year I decided to try two new radishes in my newly built raised beds and have had equal success with both.
The first is ‘Zlata’ a small radish from Poland that is generously described as soft yellow (and often Photoshopped that way in online seed catalogues), but in my opinion turned out something much closer to beige. I didn’t pull any Photoshop trickery with the above image; that’s the colour they’ve been consistently coming up as. The interior is white. Regardless of colour, it is a good mild and crisp radish. It’s doing great with recent heatwaves and drought. My ‘Sparkler’ and ‘French Breakfast’ radishes have run out of steam, but the ‘Zlatas’ seem to be pulling through. I bought mine from Solana Seeds but they seem to be fairly widely available now.
Equally crisp and mild are ‘Pink Punch’ a variety I ordered from Renee’s Garden. Some seeds were sent to me by Renee’s for trial while others were purchased and I can’t recall which category these seeds fall under so I’m making that disclosure in case they weren’t a purchase. ‘Pink Punch’ is a very apt name for this variety as they remind me of my homemade Pink Lemonade. I will definitely grow these again next spring, but for now it is onto ‘Rattail’ radishes as the heat is too high for the regular root kind.
We ate our first tomato of the 2011 growing season on June 24, just days after the Summer Solstice. This isn’t the earliest tomato I’ve grown, but it’s been a cold, slow year so by those standards we are right on target.
The winning variety this year is ‘Ditmarsher’ a compact, tumbling determinate variety that takes very well to containers and window boxes. I started the seeds on March 20.
I first heard about this variety from my friend Julianna, the queen of tomatoes in these parts. It quickly became a favourite and one I always plan to turn to as a reliable early-producer. Like ‘Whippersnapper’ (a variety that is often the first producer of the year) it produces loads of pinkish, cherry-sized tomatoes. They just keep coming. Just look at the plant above. It’s laden with flowers that will become future tomatoes. Between it and the three others like it that I have in even larger pots, we should be set for cherry tomatoes for the remainder of the summer months.
If any of my other tomatoes are even half as productive, I’m going to have to go on a serious Nightshade Family fast come fall.
Back in late April I mentioned our plans to become self-sufficient in salad fixings. I said, “Starting next month (or so), I don’t want to buy a single head of lettuce ever again, if I can help it.”
A month or so later and we are on the way. Over the last few weeks we’ve harvested bits and pieces here and there, but today I am harvesting the first two of eight fully formed heads of lettuce from the raised bed that is dedicated to greens. Unfortunately, I can’t take full credit for these plants as I bought them as transplants and did not sow them from seed. We were so behind this year between travel, bad weather, and building the garden that I decided to buy a few to give us a push.
Meanwhile, the recycling bin salad garden is coming along swimmingly. Changing the clamps kept the squirrels out and we haven’t had a problem since. Eventually the greens grew big enough that I was able to remove the chicken wire without any further digging. Unfortunately, I had to resow some seed after the squirrel digging debacle and this resulted in a very tightly sown bin. I’ve been carefully removing seedlings from the bin and transplanting them elsewhere in the garden (as well as pots) to make use of the extra plants and provide some space for those that are still in the bin.
We now have several lettuce plants on the go all around the garden, tucked in underneath and around this and that, as well as in the raised bed. I have also planted several mustard greens and lots of edible flowers throughout.
We are coming into a windfall of salad fixings. For the time being, I’ve bought my last bag of lettuce from the market. I just hope the summer heat doesn’t come on too strong, too quickly!
Ascending up to the front door of our new place is a series of cracking concrete steps. They are fully exposed to the sun and I predict that in combination with the metal railings, they should prove to be a hot spot by mid-summer.
Since moving in I’ve been contemplating what to grow there. The steps are thin so I could not install large pots that would impede the mail man’s ability to get to the box. They’re in front of the house, and now for the first time in my life I am actually considering the neighbours. To a degree. This isn’t the suburbs after-all. Fortunately, I live in a mixed ethnicity, working class neighbourhood so it’s not an external pressure to “Keep up with the Jones” but more about not inciting bad blood with the Castilhos or receiving hostile stares from the De Silvas.