Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry


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Blueberries Are Growing

Neither of my two cherry trees produced any flowers so far, and I don’t have high hopes that they will do so later (and you can’t have cherries without flowers first!). I don’t know if they were just so traumatized by the cross-country trip (by UPS, as god intended) or if they were so heavily pruned by the nursery that all the flowering buds had been removed. Both trees are leafing out well and are more or less healthy-looking, but they aren’t going to give us any fruit this year. Bummer.

The Blueberries, on the other hand, are kicking butt. Both of them flowered very well, and several small blueberries are starting to form:

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I was worried that the potting soil I used for these bushes wasn’t going to be acidic enough (blueberries LOVE acidic soil, it helps with absorbing iron and other nutrients into the roots, among other benefits). I have given both of them a hearty dose of a soluble fertilizer for acid-loving plants, and they seem to be growing, flowering and fruiting with no problems. I’ll give them another dose in a few weeks to boost them into the hot summer months.

My potato plants are looking healthy but aren’t growing very fast. I’m hoping that the warm weather will start having a beneficial impact on them as well. I’m making a few notes about things I would change for next year, but right now my only option is to watch and wait.


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Garden Planting Complete

This post is a little bit delayed, but I have finally finished planting things in my garden. The last few seedlings were transplanted outdoors for the wonderful weather on Mother’s Day (minus a few last-minute changes). The weather was warm and absolutely perfect, so I figured it was as good a time as any to transplant out the last of my seedlings.

…And then there was a bunch of wind and the temperatures got down almost into the 30’s, so I had to rush out there and cover all the delicate little plants up for the night to keep them from frosting and getting killed. Maybe I should have waited? A coworker of mine lost all his pepper plants in the turbulent weather. Mine didn’t die, but some of them look like they’re hanging on for dear life. If they do die, I’ll run down to the garden store and pick up some replacements. For right now, however, it seems like disaster was narrowly averted.

The final garden breakdown looks something like this:

  • 14 Tomatoes. 4 Beefsteak (“Big Boy” and “Better Boy”), 10 of assorted plums or cherries (I’m not sure which are which)
  • 12 Peppers. 1 Tabasco, 1 Cherry Hot, 1 Cayanne, 1 orange bell, 8 assorted (pepperoncini, “California Wonder” bells and thai hots)
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 2 Pumpkin
  • 2 Spaghetti Squash

Here’s the first bed, showing the tomato plants I started from seed. They’re growing like crazy, and I just finished putting down a mulch of cardboard and straw:

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Here’s the middle bed, showing my pepper plants (still caged in chicken wire to keep the varmints out), onions and garlic (and one little tomato plant, in the back-right):

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All my peppers are still alive but several of them are looking awfully scrawny and sickly. I’m hoping the warm weather and plenty of rain we’ve been getting will help to jostle them back. If not, if they’re going to do as bad as my from-seed attempts from last year, I’ll rip them out and replace them with already grown versions from the garden store.

Most of the garlic is growing huge, but a few little stragglers are not doing as well. See if you can tell the difference:

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Finally, my new bed has the four tomato plants we bought in gallon pots (so they were already pretty large) and my 5 squash plants. This one has also been generously mulched with cardboard and straw, and a few of the smaller-looking squashes have some cages around them as well for protection:

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One of my little squash seedlings died yesterday, but luckily I found a young squash plant of unknown variety growing in the compost pile (I suspect it’s a spaghetti squash, but time will tell!). After a quick switcheroo, nobody will ever know what happened.

 

To top it off, we finally bought a hose that’s long enough to reach all the garden beds, so I no longer have to stand several feet away and spray the hose on it’s highest setting to try and reach the really far away parts. I also don’t have to fill buckets with water, and carry them around to my cherry trees. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

 


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New Garden Bed And New Plants

So much to talk about!

I finally got Dana to agree to adding a third garden bed. The reasoning goes like this: We want to buy a new swing-set for the munchkin at some point. The swing-set we’re looking at has a space for a sandbox at the bottom of it. However, the new swing-set will definitely not fit over where the sandbox is now. But if we move the sandbox, there will be a big open patch of dirt where the grass hasn’t been able to grow. In that patch of dirt we can either put down some grass seed or just turn it into another garden bed.

Since I’ve got a new shovel (with a snap-resistant fiberglass handle!), and more energy than I know what to do with, I started digging. The munchkin and I went down to Home Depot and picked up a few landscape timbers, and cut them to make a 4×8 garden. I dug up the patch and turned over all the grass. By the next weekend we were able to rip out all the dead grass clumps, and mixed in the last of the mushroom soil from last Autumn. This weekend we ran out and grabbed two bags of organic garden soil and four 40lb bags of pre-made compost. We went down to Home Depot and picked up a few new plants for the garden bed and for some empty pots we had sitting around:

We also got some spearmint from my parents last weekend (they’ve had a great perennial patch of it that’s been popping up for decades), and I have a tray of Pumpkin and Spaghetti Squash seeds just starting to sprout.

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The new garden bed has the 4 new tomato plants along the back and the Butternut Squash up front. In a few days I’ll transplant the pumpkin and Spaghetti Squash seedlings to that bed as well. This should be the end of our garden plantings for this year.

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The herbs have all been arranged in colorful pots on the porch. We used mostly some bagged potting soil for these, with some stones at the bottom to help with drainage and some peat moss mixed in for moisture control and texture. From left to right, our potted herbs are: Rosemary, Spearmint, Thyme and two pots of Sweet Basil.

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We also picked up some big pots for the blueberry bushes and transplanted them. The blueberries were potted in a mixture of about equal parts potting soil and peat moss. I’ll be adding in some special fertilizer for acid-loving plants soonish, to help ensure that the soil pH gets into  a friendly range for them. Hopefully the pH being out of range won’t hurt them too much in the near term.

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