Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best and Worst of my 2010 Garden

Reflecting back on the year, my first year of blogging about my garden...

Best - growing things we hadn't tried/had success with before, like chianti sunflowers, pink tomatoes, purple pole beans, and loofah.

The pink tomatoes grew nicely and were very juicy. I definitely want to try them again next summer. I wasn't crazy about the beans, however. They didn't have the same flavor as a regular old green bean, and sadly, they lost their purple coloring once cooked. As for the loofah, they're pretty cool but a pain in the neck to peel and de-seed. Still undecided if we'll do loofahs again, but experimenting is the whole fun of gardening, no?
Worst - the extreme weather this year. We had record setting blizzards/snowfall in the winter and sizzling hot temperatures in the summer. They said the DC area set a record with over 60 days that had temperatures in excess of 90°F. It was brutal. Those temperatures made conditions ideal for certain garden pests like spider mites, and we lost a lot of plants. We also found new bugs in the garden, namely a moth that totally destroyed all our squash. That was discouraging. :(

Best - Getting to eat and cook with fresh veggies and herbs!

Life got in the way of my blog towards the end of the summer, so I lost track of exactly how much we harvested those last few weeks. Next year I want to be more organized and I want to try to calculate how much we're saving by growing our own stuff instead of buying it.

Worst - Garden pests of the non-insect variety
above: the remains of my poor strawberries after the squirrels feasted on them
I used to wonder why so many of my friends' parents and grandparents hated squirrels so much. Now that I have my own backyard and garden, I understand completely.

Best - my new garden helper
We adopted this little guy in February. Isn't he cute? Oh--and add cat grass to things I've never grown before!

Best Overall - My bouquet!

I got married this past October. This isn't really related to my backyard garden, so I thought I'd post my bouquet to make the connection. It was definitely a highlight this year. ;)


Friday, December 17, 2010

Same Time, Last Year...

I think the peppers make it look like a little Christmas plant, no?

Bitterly cold temperatures, strong winds, grey skies, and our first snow fall last night! Winter has made its appearance. I actually wasn't able to get any good pictures of the snow yesterday because it was dark by the time I got home, and today the snow is mostly melted and everything is dirty and slushy. It's great, though. A little bit of snow does get me into the holiday spirit!

This very same weekend last year is when we had the first of 3 blizzards to hit the DC area, and the pictures above are from that weekend in 2009. I am crossing my fingers that we don't have the same kind of winter this season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Final Harvest

Drumroll.....this is our final harvest of the year, collected last weekend. The tomatoes are green and I'm hoping they'll ripen inside the warm house. The peppers look and smell good and will taste delicious in a soup or sauce. The temperatures have now plummeted below freezing at night, so we brought some of our hot pepper plants inside. I'm not sure if they'll survive inside through the winter. We may have waited too long to bring them in, and the spider mites were HORRIBLE this summer. I wonder if any are dormant in the soil like they were last winter. Our cat swatted at a jalapeno pepper plant and it seemed to stress the plant out enough to activate the spider mites that were hidden inside, which then took over the plant. It's a little sad to bring these plants in. I guess winter's here now, though it's not officially winter yet. Until next spring...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Fall Foliage...On the Ground

My last post could be the "Before" shot, and this is the "After" shot. It seems that the entire neighborhood's leaves all blow down to our house and we're stuck with the biggest pile of leaves to rake. I say "we," but I really mean the husband, hehehe.

See this? There are hardly any leaves on the top part of the picture (the neighbor's house) but leaves are collected down on our end. You can even see the dividing line on the picture.

In other garden chores, we cleaned up the last of our plants last weekend. I lost track of our harvests back in August, so I won't have an accurate count of what we collected this year. Also, in the four months that I was gone from the internet, Blogger changed some of its templates and functions, and I don't why it's taking me so long to figure out stuff I used to do so quickly. I must still have turkey brain. No, I know what it is--when I log on to the internet I start online window shopping instead of taking inventory of my garden. I really will organize myself soon. It's getting too cold to do anything outdoors anyway.

Until next time...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fall Colors

I logged on the other day and could not believe that 4 months have passed since I last posted. So much has happened since my July post--most notably, I got married! Wedding and honeymoon planning, as well as a very busy work schedule, consumed the rest of our summer and all of September. We left for our honeymoon at the end of September, when the temperatures were still warm and a little humid, and came back 2 weeks later to a very chilly mid-October climate. The benefit to the cooler temperatures are the beautiful leaf color changes. I was able to snap these pictures of some of the trees in our neighborhood before the leaves came down.

This is the most beautiful tree in our neighborhood. I love how the leaves go from bright red at the top to lighter reds and orange and then yellow towards the bottom. (And sadly, the prettiest tree belongs to the meanest person! But that's a story for another blog).

 Yellow and blue and green
The last few evergreen trees standing after our back-to-back blizzards last February.

I need to do a final summary of our summer vegetable garden. So much catching up to do and the Christmas season is upon us!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chianti Sunflowers in Bloom

The chianti sunflowers have bloomed in the last week and they are beautiful! I love the deep red color.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Red, Ripe Tomatoes

We harvested all of these tomatoes on Tuesday evening, right before a thunderstorm hit. The big tomaotes on the left are the pink beefsteaks--NOT very pink, unfortunately. But they're huge and I can't wait to taste them. The small red peppers in the right-hand bowl are fajita bells. And on the right is just over 2 pints worth of the sweetest, most delicious grape tomatoes. I love July!
patio princess tomato plant 7/17/10

Monday, July 12, 2010

First Watermelon Fruit

There are a few blooms on the same vine but this is the first fruit to pop out.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sunflowers progress

Published these pictures on June 28 of our first sunflower to bloom, although some of its petals were still closed. We have more buds but no other big flowers yet. This one burst out quickly!

UPDATE: After taking these pictures a few days ago, the rest of the sunflowers have opened, and our little bumble bee visitors stopped by. These little lushes get drunk off the pollen; it's funny to watch them just collapse on the flowers.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tomato Inventory

Anxiously waiting for these big plump tomatoes to ripen so I can start making sauces and salsa.

First 3 pictures are Patio Princess variety; last picture is Pink Beefsteak variety. So curious to see if they'll really be pink!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spotlight on Red Bell Peppers

A little red for Independence Day weekend...
We've been waiting for these bell peppers to turn red before harvesting them. They started to darken last week and in the last 2 days have made real progress. Here are pictures from June 19, July 1, and July 3 (today).
June 19 (2 weeks ago)

July 1

July 3

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

First Sunflower of 2010

The first sunflower has made its appearance. Some of the petals still need to open, but here it is! So pretty. You can see how tall they get, even in containers. Matt's 6 feet tall, and they're about that height if you take away the pot.
I'm anxiously waiting to see what the red sunflowers look like. They're not very tall, maybe 3 feet? They come up to my waist.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today's Harvest

We harvested a bunch of purple beans today. Last week we only picked 4, but today we picked about a handful (estimated 1/2 lb or so). We also picked another 4 squash--3 yellow and 1 Lebanese variety of zucchini (the pale green one). I'm keeping track of what we harvest on the "Harvest to Date" link up top.

The other drama...there are hornets making a nest near our deck. They need to go. Matt's out there taking care of them right now. And some sad news--a poor little squirrel got tangled in the net around the blueberries, and sadly it didn't make it. We picked the last 4 or 5 blueberries that were ripe and took the net down. I wanted to keep critters out, but I don't want any of them to die. They can have the rest of the blueberries. We picked about a pint, which is good enough for me.