Garden Update – #6 – Roses!

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This is when all of our hard work starts to pay off. Above is a photo of our climbing rose bush, which is one of the many reasons why we fell in love with this condo. It was nearing the end of it’s blooms last year when we moved in, and I decided to take a chance and prune it back for the fall. It definitely paid off! I was nervous about pruning it, since I haven’t done that ever before (except maybe on some bonsai plants that I have killed off fairly quickly) but it worked very well. The rose bush is full of blooms. We’ve also had to battle aphids and some white mold on the bush this year but so far so good.

And I am happy to report that for the most part, our tomato plants are starting to take off. One of them got mauled by an unknown force (I am guessing it was a squirrel since there was also a lot of dirt moved about in our pots) but otherwise they are finally going from skinny waify things to full on tomato plants. They’re not as big as the 4 we purchased but they’re catching up:

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Today the tomato cages are going up before these guys get any bigger.

The herbs in the garden box are doing great, in fact, we’ve been using the basil already and soon we might be able to start using the parsley which makes me very happy. The chard and beets are also taking off:

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Lastly, we were finally able to purchase a composting bin from our city (they are always out of them as each time they get some in, they sell out in 24 hours) which is self contained, relatively well sized for our lack of yard space and so far does not emit any noxious fumes or bugginess. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to be better for next year, though maybe in a few months we’ll get some usable compost:

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Garden Update #5 – Some Winners and Some Losers

 

Chives, ready to bloom, came up from last year

Chives, ready to bloom, came up from last year

We had a relatively decent week in our garden, all kinds of things starting to sprout: swiss chard, parsley, beets, thyme and tarragon, which makes me both very happy and even more excited for spring. On the downside, because of the crazy wind we had today, and the fact that we transplanted all of our tomatoes yesterday into bigger pots, outside, not knowing that today would be windy – a deadly, tomato killing wind. We lost our 2 largest tomato plants because the wind just bent them in half. Here is one unsuspecting plant, on Saturday, before we planted it outside:

 

Our biggest tomato plant, lost to the wind forever

Our biggest tomato plant, lost to the wind forever

So as much as it pisses me off to have to do so, after nursing these guys for the last few months, I am going to have to go to the store and buy some hardier seedlings to round out the tomato garden. Thankfully we didn’t lose all the plants, so we’ll still get a from-seed crop. At this point, it’s just about pride!

 

Jalapeno peppers doing well

Jalapeno peppers doing well

The pepper plants are thriving well and they too made their way outside into their summer pots. 

The garden box is doing great so far, we’re very happy with it. Here are the residents of the box:

 

Basil

Basil

 

Beets in foreground and swiss chard in back

Beets in foreground and swiss chard in back

and the parsley, which took about a week longer than the beets and chard (and which I was starting to get skeptical about):

 

parsley just starting to peek out

parsley just starting to peek out

And after a long and productive day in the yard and around the house (and I finally learned how to drive a stick shift car) we settled in for some nice manhattans on the rocks:

 

mmm, tasty

mmm, tasty

Garden Update #4 – The bitchin new garden box

dsc_04602Ohhhhhhhhhhh yeah, don’t tell me you aren’t liking my new garden box. It’s awesome. With all the warm weather, and lots of helpful parents around to convince my already sure husband to buy another power tool, the little beauty above was born. Why is this so glorious? well for one, it’s about 2+ feet off the ground which is great for both my back and for the limited space we have to garden in. It’s great for herbs and shallow rooted lettuce-type items, and in fact we used the University of Maryland Salad Box as the inspiration. I had seen it demonstrated on the Martha Stewart show one day when I was home sick from work. We made the box a bit more “urban sized” – so 15″x50″ and used 1×6″ boards as the sides so it could be a bit deeper than the 2x4s the UM folks suggest. I placed some of our basil seedlings, plus I added golden beet seeds, swiss chard seeds and parsley seeds. I’ll keep updating to let you know if this bad boy is all it is cracked up to be. 

In the meantime, some new additions to our garden over the weekend:

dsc_0456Baby mint plants which will hopefull grow into many mint juleps down the road. Our plant from the last place didn’t survive the winter, and my hubby convinced me not to plant the mint in the ground (which we have very little of anyway) because it will take over. I am convinced, however, that it is much harder to keep potted perrennials alive than it is to keep the ones planted in the ground… 

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dsc_0458And as an exception to my earlier comment about potted perrennials, the chives we planted last year have re-emerged in glorious form. We also still have the seedlings which got potted this weekend so I am hopeful we’ll be awash in chives all summer. The thyme which was in the same long pot as the chives is also starting to show some promise of growth, so we’ll see!

Garden Update #3

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Just a brief update … Progress is being made by leaps and bounds for the seedlings in our kitchen. The basil seedlings above have been slow in advancing, but in the last week or so we’ve seen a lot of growth. The tomatoes have really taken off since we did the intermediate transplanting from the Burpee seed starter to the peat pots:

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We just picked up some compost to mix in with the soil as we prepare to move all the plants outside. Since it’s Boston, and it’ll be in the high 30s tonight, we won’t be doing our final transplant outside for another 3 weeks or so. In addition to the tomatoes, basil and chives, we’re hoping to build an herb box for parsley, the basil, and possibly a few other savories. The box will be modeled after the University of Maryland Salad Table but likely on a slightly smaller scale so we can fit it on our front porch.

Garden Update #2

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After reading about it on Local Kitchen , we decided to transpant our seedlings from the Burpee seed starter flat into intermediate pots to give them more room to grow. The seedlings in the starter flat were becoming a tangled mess and worse, the dirt had all begun to mold over on top. The Burpee kit comes with a watering pad, which keeps the seedlings moist and saves me the trouble of having to water them every day, however the mold is definitely an unpleasant side effect.  The seedlings all seem to be thrilled with the new arrangement. The tomatoes (above), have really taken off in the last few days.

Update on the Garden

Basil seedlings - The beginnings of something good

Basil seedlings - The beginnings of something good

I thought I would post an update on the early stages of our summer garden. We planted seeds about 3 weeks ago in a Burpee starter kit and we are definitely seeing a good start to our summer herbs and vegetables. At the moment, we have everything on top of a wicker chest in front of the kitchen window (which faces West). Unfortunately, with the way homes are here in Boston (one on top of the other), getting good sunlight from a lower level window is nearly impossible, so we’ve supplemented our natural light with 2 grow bulbs which are on about 12 hours a day. Here is what the set-up looks like:

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We’re hoping to get the seedlings hearty enough to plant outside in mid-May, so they’ll be able to thrive and produce tomatoes, etc, a little earlier than last year. I know it would be far easier to buy the plants already well on their way from the local greenhouse, but there’s something very satisfying about seeing things grow from seed.

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Planning for the Future…

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This is the first weekend my husband and I have both been home together in almost 5 weeks and we decided to take full advantage of it and scratch the spring fever itch by starting our summer garden. We started growing tomatoes together 2 years ago, the first summer that we lived together, and we had 4 enormous tomato plants plus basil, mint and cilantro. The garden has escalated ever since. This will be the 3rd growing season for us as a couple and this year we’ve got 3 kinds of tomatoes seeded (Tumbler, Early & Often and Big Mama!) and we’re expanding to try beets, swiss chard, jalapenos, chives and parsley. Plus we will have basil, mint and rosemary going as well. We’re hopeful that this, along with signing up for a farm share of produce, will be fodder for many excellent meals and posts this summer. We’re also going to attempt to compost for the first time with a compost bin our city provides (if you live in Somerville, I believe there is just a nominal fee for it!). Almost all of our growing is done in pots on our porch and along the side of the condo. It’s probably a good thing we live in a condo in a reasonably urban area, otherwise we’d be overwhelmed and overgrown with planting options…..