Right in My Own Backyard - I’m seeing red

There are a few things coming to bear in the garden now.  The beets are getting deeper red stems and leaf veins, the strawberries are ripening and the radishes are showing little red tops.  As happy as I am to see all this progress, I can’t help thinking it’s all still a little slow going.  Is it me, or are things on schedule and as they should be?  I’m not sure about when to actually pick things either.  I ate a strawberry a couple of Saturdays ago that looked absolutely perfect, but was actually quite sour when I bit into it.  A couple of days ago I saw two more that looked perfectly ripe, but again turned out to be really sour.  I left the other one on the plant and by the next day it was rotting.  Any suggestions about harvesting strawberries?  I only had two plants, so I’m a little bit disappointed with the amount of berries too.  I’d like to try to get seeds from the strawberries I do have and try to get more next year.  If anyone knows how to do that, I’d sure appreciate some pointers.

I’m wondering the radishes too; when to pick them that is.  I had a peek at one and it was still very tiny, so I pushed it back into the ground.  Last year I did the same and it seems all I did was blink and it was too late.  They dried up and got woody.  Same for the peas;  not ready one minute, too late the next.  How do you tell when stuff’s ready to harvest?  It seems I’m only able to know it’s picking time with the tomatoes and the cucumbers.

I did a few things to tidy up the garden last week. I cleared away most of the weeds that come through my neighbour’s fence and put up some weed block that I bought at the dollar store.  So far it seems to be working although, I think I need to put some bricks down along the bottom edge of it.  I had some marigold squares that had too many plants in them, so I pulled out the extras and spread them around the garden.  I found out that I’m allowed only four per square, so I put some where I was supposed to have peas and some in the empty onion squares.

I wish I had known flowers take so long to get blooms.  I’m really hoping that my idea for using my planter boxes as a cold frame works next year.  I’ll be able to start all my flowers and a lot more veggies too.I did my second round of planting last Thursday and I’ll do another round next Thursday.   I also found when I fluffed up the garden that some of my bean seeds were missing, so I’ll be replacing those in the next planting round.   Oh, and I took away some of the bricks and replaced it with black plastic edging, and I started to lift some of the other bricks too.  I’m still getting a lot of water pooling in them, so I’m trying to even them out as much as possible.  Lifting the bricks also gives each plot a more “boxed” effect.

I planted my cucumber seedlings on June 12.  I should have chequed the calendar because I thought it was actually June 13 which is supposed to be the magic date for planting cucumbers.  But they seem to be doing alright even though the ones I put in the bucket are trailing behind the ones in the ground, they are at least advancing.  I imagine I should have waited until the plants were bigger before putting them in the buckets.  I also transplanted some herbs into my hanging basket which I put up on the west fence with my dollar store hanger.  I thought for a minute the tarragon wasn’t going to make it, but it seems to have picked up well.   

I’ve been asking around about my pear tomato, and someone told me it probably has a virus.  The main stem is all bumpy and looks pretty nasty.  Luckily, I didn’t have it in the ground with the other stuff, or it might have infected my whole garden.  Seeing as it’s in a bucket though, I decided to hold off getting rid of it.  I made a soup from the sheep manure and added it last week.  It doesn’t look as bad as it did before and I’m starting to actually get tomatoes; I have two little ones now.  Do plant viruses make people sick too?  I’m wondering if the tomatoes from that plant will be any good to eat.

My backyard ashtrays seem to be quite popular.  I really didn’t think I would have made as many as I did, but since people seem to like them so much, I’ve decided to start making them to sell.  I’ve done an ebay listing ** and I’m going to see about getting a market stall at one of the farmer’s markets here in town.  Wish me luck!

**Note:  I have since removed my ebay listing, and I am putting sale of my backyard ashtray on hold, as I'm applying for a business programme that prohibits any sales prior to completing the course.
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Right in My Own Backyard - The fruit of my labour

A couple of days ago I noticed that one beefsteak and one of the sweet million tomato plants had started to show the very beginnings of actual tomatoes.  Today, the sweet million has two teeny tiny tomatoes and now, I can see the beefsteak tomato from outside the garden.  I also found a little pepper starting to grow on one of the bell pepper plants, and the strawberry plants are showing no less than ten berries; one of them red.  I’m starting to wonder if I’m actually going to get anything from the blue jay pepper plants I got.  They don’t seem to be doing anything and haven’t advanced any in terms of growth since I got them. 

The pear tomato actually has me worried.  It was pretty sickly looking for a while, and I actually had someone tell me that it looks like it has a virus.  The bumps on the main stem were pretty disgusting looking and I wondered if it was actually going to live.  I’m still concerned that it might not make it, but I feel a little more hopeful because the flowers look as though they’re pretty healthy even though the leaves are still dying off.  I don’t know if a sick plant can still produce anything, and if it does, will it be any good?  The bumps look as though they’re starting to go down and the flowers have opened up.  Last year I didn’t get any tomatoes at all from my hanging buckets.  I don’t know if certain varieties are better suited to this type of planting.  I think next time I’ll try tumblers.

The herbs I planted in the peat pots to replace what Kiti destroyed are starting to spring up, but again, the rosemary is taking it’s time.  Is rosemary always so hard to grow?  When I had it in the planter box, I thought maybe it was poor potting soil that was causing such slow growth, then I thought maybe it was too low down in the box because I didn’t put enough soil in.  Now, I’m wondering if maybe I got a bad batch of seeds.  Or is rosemary just difficult?

Thankfully, the cucumbers seem to have made a comeback.  I started some new cucumber seeds just in case I lost my original plants, and they have started to sprout.  Since it looks like I’ll only be replacing one cucumber, I think I’m gonna try hanging a couple.  I also started some cantaloupe seeds when I saw my seedlings weren’t doing well.  They’ve all come up and I might transplant one of those to a hanging bucket too.  Last year it took forever to actually get a cantaloupe though.  And even then, it never got ripe enough to actually eat.  I just hope this year I got an early enough start to produce something worth while this year. 

On the back yard project front:  I finished restoring the donkey cart for dear MIL, I set up the tipsy plant pots I made her for her
birthday.  That poor donkey cart is so old that even with primer on it, it just sucked the paint right up.  Still, it didn’t turn out too bad considering everything that was going against this project.  I got my tipsy pots up too, and I think I’d like to make another set or two and station them at different points in the garden. 
                 Restoration Project Donkey Cart_1 Restoration Project Donkey Cart_3 Donkey Cart June 6

Donkey Cart - Original Condition
Primed & Ready to Paint
Shaping Up
                                Donkey Cart Finished June 9_3 Donkey Cart Back Home June 9_2

Finished Product
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Right in My Own Backyard–A good growth spurt

The last couple of days have been really nice weather wise.  Both yesterday and today I got up to really cool temperatures of around 7° or 8°.  I don’t think it got any higher than 13° yesterday and today we are expecting no more than 20°  I don’t know if the low temps are any good for the garden, but they’re definitely doing me a world of good.

Things in the garden seem to be off to a good start; especially with the yellow and green beans.  I shot a video a couple of days ago that showed the yellow beans just beginning to sprout, and by that same eveneing quite a few had come up.  The green beans were just starting out yesterday, but as of this morning, they’re giving a pretty good showing too.  The radish plants are small but healthy looking and I think the lettuce and spinach patch are beginning to show signs of life too. 

I’m a little disappointed that my little cantaloupe seedlings didn’t make it.  I had started to harden off my seedlings before planting time, but then we had such cold temperatures, I thought maybe I should hold off on that idea.  All of a sudden, it was just warm all the time, so I thought it’d be okay to go ahead and plant them without trying to harden off.  Well, I recently learned that I need to harden off to get the plants accustomed to the new temperature whether that’s cooler or warmer than the temperature in the house.  I just assumed  that if it was warm out, it was alright.  Anyway, I put a few seeds in with the cantaloupe plants when I first saw them starting to die off.  There is one little plant there, but I can’t be sure if it’s one of the seeds or one last seedling hanging on.  I just hope I can get at least one cantaloupe this year.  I came so close to having one last year; it wasn’t full grown, but it had seeds in it and I used some of them to plant this year. 

I thought I was going to lose all my cucumber plants too.  Over the last few days I noticed the leaves looking yellow and sick, but this morning most of them don’t look too bad; compared to what they were looking like that is, and only one looks completely dead.  My Mother was telling me that she was listening to someone on the radio who apparently has the best cucumbers in his neighbourhood every year, and he says that he always plants cucumbers on June 13; no sooner, no later.  Now, I don’t know if that’s from plants or from seed.  I started some new cucumbers from seed in one of the cucumber pots I had taken my plants from when I thought I was going to lose the ones I had planted.  If I have any plants worth planting by June 13, I’ll put one in place of the dead one and I’ll also plant some fresh seeds and see what happens.  I want to put some in hanging buckets too.

Speaking of hanging buckets, I moved the stand holding my tomatoes and strawberries a few inches further from the fence this morning.  I don’t know. but some of the tomato leaves were dying off and I wondered if it was because they were touching the fence.  Last year all my hanging stuff was a bust, so hopefully, that little flower bud is a sign that I’ll actually get something this year.

I found a little robin’s egg in my garden.  I don’t know what’s happening, it’s the second one I’ve seen on the ground.  And this is more than just a drop because there’s no tree branches directly over the garden.  I wonder if it was maybe stolen by a squirrel or something and dropped on the get away. 

Other than painting more backyard ashtrays, I started working on another backyard project.  Dear MIL asked me to retouch her little wooden donkey cart.  I guess it’s just pressed wood or something that was painted all one colour except for a few details.  I decided to give it all new colours.   So far, I’ve done the cart and the hat.  I’ll probably have that done by the upcoming weekend.

Restoration Project Donkey Cart Restoration Project Donkey Cart_3

Donkey Cart
Donkey Cart with primer

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