Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vegetable gardening coming along

This year's vegetable garden is coming along. I always love taking pictures of the new garden so I can see the progress as the year goes on.

Weather has been totally cooperative of late, in that the extremely warm early spring we enjoyed has now settled into total perfection. It is now after 11 a.m. and the temperature is holding steady at 61º. It will probably warm up to about 70º later in the afternoon.
An early view of my tomatoes, peppers, etc.
Seeds are starting to come up.
There is lettuce growing on the far end.
I watched the deer in the backyard yesterday, perilously close to my raised-bed garden. I stood on the deck eye-to-eye with them, wondering if they could read what I was trying to convey. Get out!

They probably want to wait to hit the tomato plants, like last year, just when the plants are getting close to producing ripe fruit. Right now, we have minimal protection for the plants, but I'm thinking about a more secure structure in the near future. Right now there is a rusty, metal blue heron crying to be painted, guarding the garden. He is wearing a necklace of Irish Spring as a deterrent, but I doubt it is effective. A sliver of soap was hanging on a post on the other side of the garden until we discovered it on the ground, all chewed to pieces. I have no idea if it were deer who did that deed, but I bet whoever it was  had a belly ache.

I hope my tomatoes and peppers grow as well as the Vinca-that-tried-to-eat-Arkansas.

That stuff is amazing. It is the most prolific plant I have ever seen. It grows well, has pretty purple flowers, is healthy, and requires no care. I take that back--the only care it requires is to remove it from where it doesn't belong, but that isn't much of a problem. I love this stuff! I can't believe I used to buy it every year when I lived near Chicago to add interest to flower flower pots and boxes. Here, it lives and thrives.
A few Roma tomatoes growing in a pot

The garden looks pretty much like crap right now, but I'm hoping a little Arkansas sunshine and some rain that has been promised this week will help these plants perk up.

Just in case of another deer disaster, I have planted tomatoes and peppers in pots too. I want to ensure a crop this year, even if it is just a small one. I'm tired of being skunked every year when it comes to my beloved tomatoes.

A tiny Serrano pepper growing on last year's plant
I have several pepper plants this year--varieties that claim they are red peppers. Funny, I thought all bell pepper varieties turned red eventually. Oh well, the picture of the red pepper on the label was enough to entice me.

I also saved a couple of Serrano peppers from last year. At the end of the season I dug them up, put them in a pot and brought them in the house. I had a few peppers to enjoy all winter. I just planted those same plants outside. One of them is already growing a baby pepper. My mouth is watering already. Serranos are my favorite.

I never heard of them or even considered growing hot peppers until my former neighbor Cel Hernandez brought me a couple plants. I was hooked. I will be forever grateful to him for introducing me to what is now one of my favorite foods. I love to use them in salsa, guacamole, and tacos, as well as in soups, spaghetti sauce, or just about anything. They are a little hotter than jalapenos, but are much more mild when cooked. They are so much more flavorful.

Herbs plus strawberries and raspberries
The herb garden is looking much better than the veg garden, although that is because the plants are perennial.

The only thing that was left of the herb garden was that lovely rosemary, chives, oregano, lemon balm, and sage. That is the new raised bed my hubby built this year. I added a few strawberries and two raspberries, as well as lavender, coriander, and basil. I still have a basil plant in the house, but one can never have too much of that. I had a pot of chocolate mint, but it wasn't happy so I moved it. I had planned to leave it in the pot because mint spreads so wildly, but I decided to plant it right into the garden. Perhaps she will have more clout over the Bermuda grass that continues to invade my life.

I have high hopes for this year's garden--just as I always do--around mid April. As they say, hope springs eternal.