A couple of notes before I start the Garden Update: First, thank you to all who commented on my last piece (and any musings piece for that matter), talking about issues of importance to me, touchy or otherwise, is therapeutic and always a learning experience, I hope you all feel that you get something out of our rants as well. I always hope for more dialogue, but understand that this is not why many of you come to this blog. However, if you have opinions (which I know you all do), whether you have something to add to the conversation or you disagree, please, please , don't be afraid to comment here. That is what we want when Brett and I rant or muse, we aren't just trying to put our opinions out there. You will not be chastised here, and rude or profane commentary will not be allowed, basically, what I am saying, is that if you have something to say, you have a safe outlet here, even if you disagree with us, we won't take it personally.
Secondly, please check outthe challengeson the right side of the page, and seriously consider partaking in one. These challenges are an excellent way for us to reduce our consumption and live better with less. Doing these things in 'challenge' form is a good way for folks to get together to pledge to do something, be there for one another as a support and accountability network, and give tips and hints to make these challenges easier. The end result is simple, to reduce consumption and increase awareness, which doesn't end at the culmination of the challenge, at least my hope is to continue, beyond the challenges, to limit my consumption of the things that I minimized during the challenges.
Enough about all that though, on to the Garden Update and a wrap-up of this week's CSA/Farmer's Market Booty.
My lesson of the week this week is "respect and appreciate your farmers, they work very hard." As I noted in the last Garden Update, due to the seemingly constant rain we've gotten in the Midwest this year, the weeds and grass seem to be thriving, while the crops growth is stunted due to excess moisture. Yes, things are moving along, but I just had to note that the grass and weeds seem to be doing much better all around than any of the crops. So anyway, some serious weeding was in order and we needed to put down a much thicker layer of hay.
Now, our community garden is humble, we don't have the best tools and equipment. So weeding the garden involved Brett loosening up the grass and weeds with a half broken "Garden Weasel", and me scraping off the hay and broken plant detritus with a hoe. I also used the hoe to get the roots of the grass. This was hard work seriously, hard work. Our garden plot is small, and we were only at this for about an hour, but can home sore, and I have blisters and chafing all over my hands despite having worn gloves. I can't imagine what it's like to tend to larger areas even with equipment.
Which reminds me, I've been doing some research on permaculture , and though I can't do much now as we don't own our own place and we only have so much liberty with what we can do at the community garden, this is eventually what I would like to do. The positives seem to be endless with this type of agriculture, you work with the soil, with nature, with the plants, to create a living organism that will eventually be able to take care of itself. And small areas of land dedicated to permaculture can yield surprising quantities of food.
The container garden is doing excellent, well, aside from the broccoli, but more on that in a moment. The peppers haven't had to experience the negative effects of 'too much rain' this year, and the mild summer thus far has meant that not only do the plants have optimal growing temperatures, but between the mild temps and the Keep Yer Cool Challenge, we haven't had the window air conditioner running, drying out the soil.
We finally figured out what was stunting the growth of the broccoli and causing the leaves to yellow. Though we didn't find out until the culprits hatched and began eating the broccoli plants. The culprits were caterpillars, which we have removed. I think the broccoli might be beyond hope this point, but you live and you learn, right?
Here is some of their handy-work:
We also got our first peppers this weekend. I only got a picture of one, but we picked all the large peppers off of the banana pepper plants at the Community Garden. The pepper plants there are so short and look very unhealthy, Brett and I thought that maybe taking the peppers off would give them more energy to devote to plant, not pepper growth. We'll see.
This little guy went in another batch of our traditional vegan refried beans this weekend. The beans turned out super tasty. We love this recipe for refried beans as it's incredibly versatile. This week we plan on having bean burritos, taco salad, and Local Veggie Burritos again with the huge batch I cooked up over the weekend.
Check out the container garden:
Container banana peppers, moving along.
Cayenne peppers going nuts. I hope these start to ripen soon. I plan on dehydrating them and making ground cayenne and crushed red pepper out of them.
This chocolate bell pepper has grown so much this week!
Some pictures of all the Hungarian Wax Peppers. The last in the series of three pictures is the tiny pepper that was peeking out from behind a bloom last week. They don't stay little long, do they?
I am still impressed that we were able to keep this serrano pepper plant alive over the winter and now it's fruiting again. It's amazing what a little care and pruning can do. It already looks like its set to exceed last year's yield.
Super Chiles. These guys will be used in the same manner as I use the cayenne peppers.
Orange bell peppers.
And the Community Garden:
Notice the caterpillar on the plant in the last two pictures? I didn't when I was there taking a picture of the tomatoes! We're going to go back down to the garden after I get off work today to check on the tomato plant. If caterpillars are snacking on the leaves, we will need to relocate them elsewhere.
Continuing my fascination with OPGs , here's a neat development we found this week. The picture makes this look really big, but it's actually about the size of a small lemon. We think it's a baby watermelon. Cute, eh?
This week's CSA included: collard greens, lettuce, spinach, more leaf lettuce, a cucumber, a zucchini, green onions, green beans, beets (no greens this time) and new potatoes. It keeps getting better and better each week!
And the rest of the farmer's market booty includes: local cherries (we found another purveyor!), some gorgeous baby kale, broccoli, fresh garlic (picked the day before we got it!), more green beans, and a summer squash.