Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry


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Late May Garden Update

Early spring is a difficult time for blogging for me, because the garden isn’t moving at an appreciable pace, I’m not cooking anything interesting (in anticipation of the growing season) and generally because I’m a lazy sack. Knowing that I wasn’t doing anything worth writing about, I put together a fluff piece about the status of my garden in early April. I didn’t post it, because I had to upload some pictures (pictures which I already took, no less) and that was just too much work.

Now it’s the end of May, and I don’t have any better ideas, so I’m going to just post the same thing.

And if you’re expecting me to write a big long blog post to make up for all the weeks of nothingness, I have only one word to say….Nope! I’m putting together a few small stupid blog posts and scheduling them ahead of time so I can not worry about writing again for another couple weeks. You could say I’m a genius.

Late May Garden Status

Garlic is growing extremely well. So well, in fact, that I’m going to talk about it in a separate blog post. Next week or something. Don’t quote me.

Onions seem a little bit small but they are growing at a consistent rate. Two of them are already putting out little scapes, which I think is weird but the weather has been weird. Hopefully this doesn’t eat up too much of my yield, but we won’t know till harvest.

I planted two varieties each of Carrots, Green Beans and Lettuce, since I either haven’t tried or have tried without success all of these and I wanted to start making some comparisons. All of these were bought from Seed Savers Exchange, an heirloom seed outfit. I picked varieties that would be visually distinct from each other so that I would be able to tell which varieties were doing well and which weren’t more easily.

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I planted two varieties of Carrots, both heirlooms. I picked “Dragon“, a beautiful purple variety that I’ve wanted for a while and “St. Valery“, which is a variety that looks different from Dragon. I knew I didn’t want a Nantes or Danvers relative, so both of these should produce some interesting results come harvest. Rabbits have already started attacking the leaves, so I had to cover them up with chicken wire to keep them safe. In addition to planting three rows in my garden, I planted several in a large bucket (one of my potato buckets from last year). If the ones in the bucket work out, next year I may do that exclusively and save the garden space for something else.

I picked two varieties of Pole Beans, and have them running up some of my unused tomato trellises. The first variety is “Kentucky Wonder Pole“, which would definitely be my stage name if I lived in Kentucky and was considering a career in porn. Kentucky Wonder Pole is supposed to be a popular variety with high yields. The second variety was one I picked mostly because it was visually distinct: “Rattlesnake Snap“. This is a green bean with purple stripes and good reviews.

The two varieties of lettuce I picked were: “Crisp Mint” (a mint-shaped, but not mint-flavored Romaine) and “Red Iceberg“. The two varieties promise great flavor and were interesting-looking. So far they are growing well (the Crisp Mint better than the Red Iceberg).

I planted tomatoes late, because I had to completely redo that garden bed and we were saving money in the early spring. They are in the ground now though, so hopefully they can make up for the lost time. I received as gift two “Orange Wellington” plants, which were doing well but looked a little starved for nitrogen. At the store I picked up one each of “Roma”, “Big Mama”, “Homestead” and “Big Beef”. Homestead is the first Determinate variety of tomatoes I’ve ever planted, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that works out. I’ve thought about doing tomatoes in pots, and if I have success with Homestead this year I may try it next.

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My Blueberries are growing well and are putting on quite a large crop of berries compared to last year. I’d say the berries are about a third of the way to maturation, so we are looking forward to harvest with licked lips.

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The Cherries are putting out a very small harvest this year. This is fine considering I got nothing from them last year, and they are still getting established. Some of the pollinated flowers made cherries which were (for lack of a better word) stillborn, in that they seemed to have gotten fertilized but the little cherry never grew. Instead, many of them just shriveled up and fell off. Some other cherries grew about half-way and then shriveled up. If all the cherries that had been pollinated had grown, we might have ended up with a pint or two. Now, I expect to only get a handful (and I will cherish every last one). The ones we do have are looking a little smallish, but they are already starting to blush. I expect to be tasting them as early as mid-June.

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Fall 2012 Garden Plot

I dug out a second garden plot next to my first one in late July, 4×8 feet. I pulled out the grass and turned the soil over by hand, loosening up the dirt and ferreting out rocks (and trash!) to a depth of about two feet. I mixed in a few shovel-fulls of my own compost (the pile hadn’t produced enough usable compost for the entire task), a few bags of “Garden Soil” and two bags of a composted humus and manure mix to add some extra nutrients. We carefully selected some seed packets to plant in the ground starting around the beginning of August: Two varieties of lettuce, a spinach, and some carrots. I planted the seeds a little bit thickly, in rows spaced about a foot apart. The intention being that I would thin them out after things started sprouting.

This picture, taken a month and a half later, explains the results better than any words possibly could:

The ones on the left are a cluster of two or three small carrot plants. The ones on the right are some variety of loose-leaf lettuce. Everything everywhere else is dirt. WHERE THE HELL ARE ALL MY DAMNED PLANTS? Seriously. Look at this disaster of a garden. No spinach sprouted. None of my iceburg lettuce sprouted. I followed the instructions to a T: shallow rows, seeds planted very shallowly, watered, plenty of sunlight. Nothing.

By the end of the season I guess my wife and I will each get one carrot and a small pile of lettuce. Maybe we’ll make a party of it. Salads for everybody (So long as nobody else shows up)!

Actually, one thing did grow in this plot which isn’t shown in this picture: Tomatoes. Remember when I said above that I used a few shovel-fulls of compost from my pile? Apparently there were a few tomato seeds in there, and they sprouted right up. There were about a dozen of these, and while I was inclined to let them grow (since nothing else was as eager!) I knew they weren’t going to produce anything before the frost and they were starting to choke out the carrots and lettuce. Back into the compost pile they went. Seeds obviously will sprout in this forsaken little garbage pile of a garden, just not the ones I specifically planted there. Go figure.

In response to this failure of a garden I went out and bought a soil tester to make sure my pH and nutrient levels were good. The pH was a perfect 7 but the nutrient levels were low. I guess for next season it’s back to Home Depot for more compost, manure, fertilizer and whatever other crap they tell me I need.

First frost is probably coming up within a week or two, so this plot is going to be harvested soon. Shortly thereafter, if I can get the soil here fixed up, I want to get some garlic in the ground.