Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dirt Watch - Midsummer Update

Rather photo-heavy this time around, but if you recall I use this blog as a journal to keep track of how my garden project is going. All pictures are clickable for Jolly Green Giant size.

But before getting to the yummy pictures, I'd like to introduce you to two ladies who have been co-existing peacefully with me out back.

This little lass has kindly relocated after I walked through her first attempted web without realizing it. She was trying to weave it across the area right outside the doorway, which of course just wouldn't do. I swung a length of her web towards the fence, and since then she has rebuilt (beautifully) between the fence and one of the trellises. I make a point of going the long way around now so as not to disturb her further.

This is the other lady. She lives by the spigot that I reach for daily. When she's agitated, she vibrates her web so that she's swinging back and forth, so fast that you can hardly see her. Pretty amazing.

Long-time readers know that I'm phobic about spiders, but can manage a truce as long as no startling goes on. These ladies help out by keeping the intrusive insect-American population at bay, and seem to be doing very well at it too. Other than one aphid infestation of one pea plant top (easily removed with scissors) and the vicious broccoli worms, I've had zero insect problems with the garden.

So far, I'm loving the Square Foot Gardening method that I'm trying this year. Here's a picture of the original boxes when I built them.

And here they are today:

The key point to remember is that I've been harvesting pretty steadily for the last month and a half, and the garden is still going strong.

Above are the cucumbers climbing the trellis. Buried inside this jungle are a half dozen ripening cukes, with another dozen or two just budding out. I've also harvested four (so far) that would make the Mayflower Madam blush.

Roma tomatoes. I made fresh spaghetti sauce with some of these a couple of weeks ago, along with some basil from the garden that was out of this world. I served it over grilled squash.

Here are the second crop of green beans in the ground (along the front). They're about two weeks old. I found out that there are two kinds of green beans; bush beans and pole beans (the kind that climb). Bush beans mature faster but you only get one crop, then you can get rid of them. Pole beans take longer to produce but they'll keep growing new beans until frost. It's a trade off, and this year I went for bush beans. Mainly because I didn't want to have to deal with another trellis crop.

Lots happening in this picture. In the back are my two green pepper plants. They're healthy but not really doing much. You may notice the white things on the ground, those are eggshells. Peppers really like extra calcium, so I just tossed some broken eggshells around them and hopefully they're leaching calcium into the ground. They keep slugs away too. To the right of the peppers are the start of my second snap pea crop, just getting tall enough to reach the trellis. In front of the peppers are two squares I just re-seeded with lettuce. And in front of them are my parsley and basil plants.

This is today's harvest. I finally got more carrots, including one larger than "baby" sized. Just as importantly though, the bunnies are going to be feasting on carrot greens tonight. On the right are the last leaves of the spring lettuce. The bowl of beefsteak and cherry tomatoes, along with a cucumber make a pretty centerpiece, and hidden in with the carrot greens is a huge bunch of parsley that I snipped.

A lot of people seem to think that gardening means you spend vast amounts of time tending the plants. With this Square Foot Gardening method, I water every evening for about 15 minutes, and weed once every couple of weeks for maybe 10 minutes. The whole thing is designed to be low-maintenance, and it is.