Friday, August 14, 2009

Garden Photo Updates

(I call this one "Splendor in the Lettuce", Mr Superchicken said he prefers "Chicken Salad")
Hello Everyone! Sorry for the MIA, but I was out of town for awhile, and before that there was no new progress to report. But I am back with updates for all! You may notice the "warm reddish" color in a few photos here. That is at this time we are stuck between 2 fires (Santa Maria area and the Santa Cruz Fire) and it makes the light all weird around here- pretty- but weird.
(This one I just think was a cool Shadow shot)
Ok- On with the show!
Here is my Pepper Plant. I never did get around to giving him a name... any ideas?
(can you see the small flower "pods"?)
Anyway, I had him in the planter for QUITE a while now, but he never really did anything... just kinda got a few new leaves here and there. And then He made little flower buds, but they never did anything or went anywhere, and I was worried that he would never fruit.
Well as soon as the heat started to get climb, he popped out a few new flower buds and they started to get bigger. You can kinda see them in the photo above.
And then, Wa-lah! In a matter of about a week or 2, they white flowers dried up and then turned into little green bulbs. and then in about 4 days they went from pencil eraser size to this big (see below)

The pepper on it is now about... oh... the size of a really FAT cherry, or the size of a big peach pit.
I am SO excited about this progress.... I had worried that he was not going to make it when I never saw progress. Kinda like Furio the Roma (but more on him later!) Alright- Onto the Lettuce & Cilantro!

(First round)
Here is the lettuce Box Photo that I took before I left for Texas. I have had about 3 cuttings of lettuce from here so far, and was about to take one more before we left (hence the large bushy look of the plants). You can also see the cilantro along the back right area.... yeah.... it Bolted. It went all rouge and feathery on me and became inedible. I have learned that it is FAR easier to just buy this than grow it. The flavor of it was SO potent fresh off the plant, that is made Mr SuperChicken get a stomach ache, and the birds didn't like it. I guess the "real" stuff was a bit stronger than the stuff from the market.

Well, the best that you can really hope for when planting lettuce, is that you get 3 or 4 cuttings of each plant before it "Bolts" and goes bitter. Once we got back from Texas, it was time to rip out all the bolted Lettuce and replace it with new lettuce plants. This was MUCH harder than I had expected.
Yes- it is just lettuce- not a pet- but to look at them and think "you are no longer useful to me and so I must kill you and rip you out of the ground" was kinda sad. Everything in the planter (except Chandler the Strawberry) had to come out. They lived a long full life, and I thanked them for the goodies before I tossed them in our compost bin to start on the next phase of their journey. Then I grabbed some more plant food (more on this in a another post coming soon), some new soil (I have found one that I LOVE, but more on that next time) and started planting new victims- I mean, Lettuce plants. I have always started from planter packs, but I am also going to attempt to plant some lettuce seeds and see how that goes. Below is a Photo of the new planter of friends.

(New Lettuce)
See all that dirt area left? I think that I will be planting some of that Lettuce seed, and maybe some Carrots.... but I still need to decide about that.

In the mean time, you can see Chandler the Strawberry in the back right near the tall chicken. He is really doing well. I had been a little nervous when all his older,big leaves started to get dry and red, but I now know better. They get red, dry up, and then make room for all the new little green leaves that will pop up out of the center of the plant. Chandler is looking really well, and seems to be growing at a nice pace for his "2nd year" (which is really only a few months since his last "season" but don't tell him!)
I think that I may see his 1st flower bud starting soon, and so I will let you know how his progress is doing soon.

Our cucumber plant is also doing pretty well. The cute bushy plant that I used to have is now this (kinda ugly) long stringy looking plant, but has been growing nice fat (but small) Cukes for us on a consistent basis. This one below is my fave. I guess he had aspirations of being a "Crookneck Squash", because he is the only one we had that didn't grow into a normal shape for a cucumber. When you are growing your own, just remember that they are best and sweetest when picked when they reach about 6 inches long. Any longer and you will start to lose that nice flavor. Also- do not leave them on the plant for longer than you have to. The plant will drain it's resources to keep it alive, and the rest of the fruits & buds will suffer.
They are best picked when dark green and before they get yellowed. Remember to put them in the fridge or they will shrivel up and dry out.
I have never been a huge Cuke fan, but when I cut up our first one, the fresh, sweet scent made my mouth water- it was SO tasty!

"Mr Crookneck"
Well that is about all the updates I have for now. Next time I will try to show the tomato progress, show you the new plants, and what I have been using to keep them all alive and happy and well fed (because nobody goes hungry in THIS house!) :)
Happy gardening!

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