By Penny Stine
Monday, August 26, 2013
I love trying new things, but it's always so disappointing when they don't grow as described on the seed packet or in the catalog. Malabar spinach is not actually a spinach, but a tropical vine that grows in Asia and can be used like spinach. It's supposed to flourish in the heat, growing up to a foot a day. The photo on the website showed a plant that was easily six feet tall on a trellis. I planted it in several places and it had a lousy germination rate.
Here are two little plants that did come up in early June, soon after I planted them. I took this photo yesterday. It should be obvious that they're still about three inches tall. Not exactly what I was hoping for when I ordered the seeds. Maybe they'll still grow, since we probably won't freeze for another month or so, but I'm not holding my breath.
One of the places I planted the Malabar greens was along my pallet trellis. When they didn't germinate, I stuck a few cucumber seeds in the ground several weeks later. So while I was looking for cucumbers Saturday, I found this. See that little green plant coming up between the cucumber vines and the weeds? It's Malabar spinach!
I don't think it's going to grow a foot a day, either.
On the other hand, I did find this cool cucumber, which is about the reddest Sikkim cucumber I've picked so far. They have a delightful, crisp sweet flavor, much better than traditional cukes and Armenian cucumbers (it's just my opinion, I know there are a lot of Armenian cucumber fans out there). Some of the skins are incredibly bitter and nasty, so I almost always peel them. Sometimes the cucumber itself has a bitter end, too, which under normal circumstances would make me not want to plant it. But it's so good when it's good that I'll plant it again next year.
By Penny Stine
Friday, August 23, 2013
Normally, I wouldn't be so excited about photos of diseased plants, but I'm thrilled with these.
Yes, these are all photos of the bindweed in various places in my yard - the bindweed doesn't appear to be very healthy.
I picked up a package of bindweed mites from the insectary in Palisade about a month ago and spent an hour one Saturday morning carefully attaching diseased plant material to my healthy bindweed. The mites don't like overhead sprinkling (like most lawn sprinklers), so I was careful to select locations that don't get hit with those types of sprinklers.
Then it rained for two hours that Saturday, and I was afraid my poor little mites got washed away before they could get established.
I've been checking periodically. For a while, I noticed that the bindweed on my tomatillos appeared to have powdery mildew, although none of the garden plants near it did. Then I noticed that some of the bindweed leaves in other places were curling up.
According to the insectary, that's a sign that the plants are now host to a colony of mites. Yay!
The mites will live on, hopefully happily ever after, in my yard and garden. They'll never fully kill the bindweed (because there goes their meal ticket if they do), but they'll keep it in check.
What made me realize the mites had gotten established in spite of the rain was this:
This little miniature rose bush had gotten so choked by the bindweed that it quit blooming. The rose and the sage next to it were totally covered by bindweed when I attached the mites. When I was out in the yard yesterday, I noticed the little red blossoms and realized that both plants looked a lot better and I hadn't done anything to them other than attached the infected bindweed on the back of the plants.
Next spring and summer, I should be able to pass on infected bindweed to other people who'd like to host a few mites in their gardens.
Oh, while I was out doing my garden stroll, I saw a tomato horn worm! In the dozen or so years I've been growing tomatoes in the Grand Valley, I had never seen one before.
It was enormous and disgusting. I should have taken a photo of it, inching up my beautiful Cherokee chocolate tomato plant, but I reacted instinctively and threw it on the ground and stomped it into two oozy little pieces.
When I had collected myself, I went inside for the camera to document the skirmish.
I warned you there was a graphic photo included in this post...
By Penny Stine
Thursday, August 22, 2013
It's easy to see what worked in the garden this time of year. Although this pic conveys the general mess that my garden is, it also shows that several things worked this year.
Using old tomato cages as a climbing toy for cucumbers: success!
Scattering marigold and zinnia seeds willy-nilly to add splashes of color: success!
Pulling all the silly amaranth because I had too much of it: Fail! (oh well... it kind of looks like one of those giant foam pointing hands, doesn't it? Who should complain about that in her garden?)
Eventually getting red tomatoes: success!
Yes, I will include all that stuff that didn't work quite as well as planned, but let me celebrate success for a few more days.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
I discovered dilly beans a few years ago. They're easy to make and oh, so tasty to eat. I forgot to make them last year, so when my friend, Jan of the awesome garden, asked me if I wanted a bag of green beans from her garden, I said yes!
My garden is producing green beans enough to eat frequently and freeze in small batches, but when making dilly beans, it's nice to have enough to actually fill seven jars. Which I did last night. I used garlic, dill and red Fresno peppers from my garden to give them some bite.
Yay! First canning of the season... it's so nice to see those canning shelves start to fill back up.
By Penny Stine
Monday, August 19, 2013
Nothing long-winded today; I have way too much to do. But check this out... yes, this is a cucumber that I planted next to a shoe rack next to a blue spruce tree that's in the middle of my biggest garden area. I hoped the cucumber would grow all over the shoe rack and would find its way to the blue spruce, which it would climb and give me cucumbers hanging from a blue spruce tree.
I don't know if you can see it or not, but there's a red Sikkim cucumber that looks ready to pick hanging from the vine that's hanging from the blue spruce. Cool, huh?