Saturday, May 3, 2014

State of the Garden - May 2014

May is apparently the time for gardens here in NC! This is all stuff that would have been going on in March in FL, if I was still there; strange how just a Zone and a half difference adds two months! It's still weird that I have to relearn everything I just knew instinctively after fifteen years of gardening in subtropical North Florida, but I feel more like I have a handle on things than I did last year. And I'm starting sooner, so it's already going better.

Yesterday, I picked up a little flat of four green peppers and four baby tomatoes; I figure I can't really have enough tomatoes, and if there's unwieldy amounts, it means I'm a) having a great garden year, and b) able to preserve salsa and sauce like I've always wanted to! I don't really think that five potted tomatoes will make that many, but ya never know.

This pic also shows the little bitty cups I'm attempting to start a bunch of exotics in. I have piles of seeds, and most of them have been laying around long enough that they're basically dead--but I don't know which are and which aren't just by looking at them, so I've decided that there's been enough saving and there needs to be more planting. If they grow, yay! If they don't, I know the rest are probably donefor. I've got a fresh avocado here among various citruses, two apple seeds, a geiger fruit Emmy gave me when I went to visit her a million years ago, Indian jujubes, dates, date plums, Japanses raisin trees, and a few more I can't remember off the top of my head just now. If any of them grow at all, I'll be super-pleased; if not, the dirt goes back into circulation and I get to buy a new round of exotics. There's a hell of a lot more sources now than there was when I got those!

Here's a better shot of the tomatoes and peppers. I'm so pleased that I finally have some peppers, even if they ARE totally ordinary bells because I couldn't afford the fancier ones. When I get back from my bestie's wedding in the middle of this month, I think I'm going to try to get fancier ones before it gets too late in the year.

Here's a good shot of the crabapple the Arborday Foundation sent me before the winter. Look how big it's gotten! I'd almost tossed all those poor baby twigs as compost and lost causes, and this one was the first to send out itty bitty leaf buds. Now it's got branches and is basically a real baby tree! I'm looking forward to crabapples at some distant time when I have a decent house to put it by.

And the first flowers are out on my first tomato plant! Look at them! So fuzzy and starting to open! There was already a big fat bumblebee--like, so big it sounded like an alien ship landing when it buzzed past my head--waiting for them to open. In the pic above, you can see how it's doubled in size, what with the wider pot I put it in and all the alternating rain and sun we've had so far this week.

Here's a look at the garden as a whole right now. Everything is still wee, but it's all green and growing (knock wood) and I'm loving it. Except the tulips. The tulips are about done, and they're slowly going the way of all things until next year, but we'll save them there anyway.

And look! Another one of the twig-babies has woken up! The guide they gave me says the dark blue ones are Washington hawthorn--which I find super-exciting. I've never had a hawthorn before, and if they're one of the ones that fruit, all the better! I much prefer gardening for plants that give me food in return for all those hours of effort and upkeep, you know?

Here you can see the lilies--almost as tall as when I got them for my birthday last year! They had huge flowers on them when I got them, and that's still three-ish weeks away this year, so I'm looking forward to the blooms! And I'll DEFINITELY have to thin them into separate pots for next year, they're filling that pot like woah.

My soda-bottle-carrots experiment seems to be doing alright. They look like carrot leaves now, and they aren't crowding each other too much, so I think it's okay. The onions in the yellow pot next to them are still spindly though.

This is the Immortal Lettuce. When the snow melted, there it was! And now it's putting out big fancy romaine leaves all over the place. If nothing else, it can be the greens in my smoothies in a few weeks! I might let it bolt at the end of the summer just to see if the seeds make snow-hardy lettuce, too.

Look how happy they are! I've gotten one strawberry off them, so far, and one that went squishy when we were out of town a while ago. but now there are so many flowers it's crazy. If I can, I totally plan to pick up a few more of these babies so I can really get some fruit, but really it was an experiment to see if they'd grow here. A successful one, apparently!

And last but not least, there's Hugs the Prickly Pear. Someone pulled him up and threw him out where people would walk on him, so I rescued him and brought him home. He's currently in my hanging planter (as you can see) over the garden, since he's less likely to care that the planter can't seem to maintain high levels of moisture. I hope he sticks around and makes it his home, because I love prickly pear syrup (it makes amazing lemonade, and is killer on vanilla icecream), and I still want to figure out how to gel it into jam!

The beets never came up, but there's a potato that seems to be doing well right in the corner of the windowbox planter that I forgot to take a picture of.

Next up (probably this afternoon, since I'm feeling gardening more than other things today), I'm planting the windowbox full of sunflowers, and the last two pots, where the peas never happened and the other lettuce melted away, I'm planting zucchini.

How's your garden doing? What're you growing this year? Where do you get your plants, and how do you grow them?
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