Friday, June 17, 2011

Did my garden miss me as much as I missed it?

Judging by the growth spurt - no! Okay, so maybe it's an illusion. I go out every day and peer closely at my plants to see if they have grown any in the last few hours - seriously mad, I know, but I can't help myself. So you can imagine what joy it is to see my garden after three weeks. Things have really got growing out there.

I was greeted first by a profusion of flowers in the native garden. I arrived back after dark and they seemed white in the moonlight, but the next morning the Hookeri Evening Primrose (Oenothera Hookeri) flaunted her full glory.
Considering this was six inches tall when I bought it last October, it's simply stunning. And close up you can see how beautiful the blossoms really are.
The coyote mint ( Monardella villosa) has also blossomed. As well as having perfumed foliage, the purple blossoms are attracting the bees.
The old plum tree in the front yard, one of three non-natives spared in the conversion, is rewarding us for our mercy with bough breaking loads of fruit. Delicious! I see plum jam in my immediate future!
The pomegranate has blossomed. Hopefully, it will produce more fruit than it did last year -a grand total of three pomegranates! Perhaps that extreme pruning the year before last has paid off.
In the succulent garden, most of the plants are happy and some have even sent up blossoms. What a big turn around from the days when I seemed to kill every succulent I looked at!

Some funky things are going on with my vegetables. I have several squash volunteers. They sprung up in the mulch under the fruit trees. Before the mulch went down, I used everything in my compost bins to provide a layer of compost whether it had composted yet or not.  My guess is that these are from a butternut squash we'd eaten a while ago.
Why is it that volunteers seem to grow better than the ones I carefully tend to?

While I was in Ireland it rained here. This patch of unseasonably (though I've yet to figure out just what seasonable means in California!) cool weather brought a few surprises. The late peas, that I had given up on and hadn't gotten around to pulling, took off. Back to having mange-tout and sugar snap peas for dinner again - yipee!
After reseeding my parsnips several times I eventually got them to germinate. And now look at them.
I'd tried and tried to get kolrabi, the space ship-like brassica, to grow. Again I'd given up, had noticed unidentified brassica leaves growing amonst the peppers and decided to leave it until I came home. I was astonished to see a beautiful apple-sized kolrabi - ready to harvest.
I sliced it and stir-fried it with the peas and carrots I've been harvesting.

I've also been harvesting French round carrots. These are excellent for stony ground or containers. I was growing them for fun and because I got a free packet of seeds. Now, I'd grow them for taste. They have a lovely aniseed aftertaste. I steamed these ones.

The pole beans are living up to their name and growing nicely up the poles.
In the foreground you can see potatoes that are ready to harvest, and which I actually have harvested since the picture was taken. I love the maths of gardening - I planted 3 potatoes here and dug up 16 of at least the same size, if not bigger. On the topic of potatoes - my bags of spuds have really taken off.
It won't be long before I'm harvesting them.

My last garden observation involves alcohol. I have sunflowers planted in two beds. One of the beds is orderly and quite regimented. I can watch as these little sun soldiers stand up tall and turn their faces to the sun, all facing the same way.

The other bed is the one where I carried out my beer experiment on the slugs. I did spill some, but oh boy, those sunflowers have really been partying! Can you tell which bed is which?
Byddi Lee