A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Posts tagged ‘zucchini’

Keeping My Interest

Some of the biggest, most beautiful blooms in my garden aren’t flowering perennials, but vegetable plants.   The squash and zucchini flowers not only catch my interest, but keep the local bee population busy all day long.  There’s plenty of nectar to go around, and the bees have to wipe their feet before exiting to dislodge caked on clumps of pollen.

honeybee tongue darts out like a sword

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Vegetable Harvest

The vegetable garden is doing very well.  I am really pleased that I decided to put it on the opposite side of the house this year.  The amount of sunlight on that side makes all the difference.  This weekend, I harvested another couple of zucchini, a few squash and a few cucumbers.  I grilled the zucchini and squash with some fresh herbs, lemon juice, olive oil and salt.  The cucumbers were sliced and added to a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette, candied pecans, grapes and carrots.   Here’s what I picked off on Sunday:

The rest of the vegetable garden is coming along nicely.  I have over a couple dozen tomatoes forming, and lots of bell peppers, habaneros and jalapenos as well.

The cantaloupe is really taking to the trellis I built a few weeks ago.  I already have a few fruit starting to form, too!

Zucchini (left) and tomato plant (right)

Zucchini, foreground, and cantaloupe on the trellis

Cantaloupe!

the melon is resting nicely on two pieces of nylon cord





Macro Monday 5.9.11

Here are a few selections for this week’s Macro Monday meme.  For more Macro Monday photos, click on the link at the bottom of the page:

Argiope trifasciata a.k.a. banded garden spider

lady beetle on gaura stem

bumble bee on Indigo Spires

Fall aster in spring

crab spider inside zucchini flower

Baby Veggies

It is always exciting when our vegetable garden starts producing.  After a few failures in the past two summers due to pests, disease and/or uncooperative weather, it is encouraging to see the plants bursting forth with tiny veggies that will continue to grow into harvest-able crops. I’ll get to those mini-veggies in a minute, but first, BIG news.  Well, sort of.  The spring/summer garden offered up its first harvest over the weekend – a single zucchini measuring 9-inches long!  I am amazed at how fast zucchinis grow!  I literally watched it grow a few inches in a matter of two days and a few more are just a day or two behind it.  I think this one plant will provide enough zucchini for us to eat for a few months – and bigger than we’ve been able to get at the grocery store.  The first picture below was taken on Saturday.  I chose not to harvest it then because I wanted it to get an inch or two larger.

Then, on Sunday, I awoke to find the same zucchini had grown almost two inches to the size of a large dinner plate!

Well, that’s the big news.  Hey, I relish in good news, whatever it is!

Now for the mini-veggie photos!  We have tomatoes, habaneros, green bell peppers, cucumbers, yellow squash, jalapenos and what looks like cantaloupe starting to form!

baby cucumber (tied with nylon cord to tomato cage)

teeny jalapeno

small Early Girl tomatoes clustered together

healthy nub of a habanero pepper

tiny yellow squash (foil to deter vine borer)

beginning of bell pepper

could it be? a cantaloupe fruit?

All of these plants received a healthy watering on Saturday, followed by a 12 oz. cup of freshly brewed compost tea to top them off!  Here is the yeasty smelling, foamy, frothy mixture right before I served it up!

What Compost Tea Does to a Veggie Garden

The veggie garden seems like it has grown by leaps and bounds the past couple of weeks.  Here is a shot taken two weeks ago, followed by a recent shot:

Image uploaded 4.5.11

Two weeks later ...

That’s what a few batches of compost tea will do!

The zucchini (upper right of the bed) is already producing.  The flowers are always so large and beautiful.  The bees love them, too.

zucchini flower

... turns into zucchini!

As you can see by the first two photos, everything has grown.  Check out the tomatoes (top two plants on left side of bed), now flowering and hopefully soon producing:

celebrity tomato bush

early girl tomato bush

Or the yellow squash (second from top, center row):

yellow crookneck squash

The cantaloupe vines are reaching out a couple feet in every direction (second plant from bottom on right row) …

cantaloupe

And the peppers…

habanero

bell pepper

The slowest growing plant has been the watermelon and it was planted a couple weeks after the others (the first plant died).  It is finally starting to grow more, too:

watermelon

And my flowers get compost tea, too.  The gauras are just going crazy right now and the Indigo Spires salvia is starting to bloom!

The New Garden Bed

Last week, I wrote about the new garden bed I built on the north side of the house.  Although I’ve been growing veggies in raised beds in other parts of the yard for the past couple of years, I decided that I needed to do something different this season.  The main reason for building a new bed is that the veggies simply weren’t getting enough sunlight.  Vegetables require at least 8 hours of sunlight a day to be really productive and the other beds only allowed for a max of six hours of direct sunlight before being shaded from the house or the fence.  In years past, I’ve had struggles with low productivity as well as powdery mildew on my cukes and squashes.  I think the low productivity was, in part, due to the shortage of direct sunlight and, also in part, due to the extreme heat (tomatoes stop setting at consistent temps over 85 degrees, for example).  I am also fairly certain that the powdery mildew proliferated due to the amount of shade the plants received.  Being exposed to full sun all day should help this situation.  If not, I’ll be trying some different techniques to get it under control.  More on that later should the need arise.

This new bed is about four feet wide by eight feet long.  It is now in a location where 100% of the bed receives direct sunlight all day long.  If it performs well, I just might expand it for the fall, perhaps putting another 4×8′ bed next to it.  This summer, I’ll be growing tomatoes, jalapenos, bell pepper, habaneros, cucumber, yellow squash, zucchini, watermelon and cantaloupe.  I skipped the bush beans this season, but might end up putting them in the additional bed if I decide to build it for fall.

 

the new garden bed

cantaloupe leaves

 

zucchini

tomato plant

mmmm, fire.

cucumbers

yellow crookneck squash

jalapeno

green bell pepper

Checking up on the Veggie Garden

I have been so fascinated with flower, bee and butterfly pictures for the past few weeks that I have not posted a vegetable garden update.  Before the rain moved in this week, I woke up early Wednesday morning and grabbed a bag of compost, a bag of bat guano, a bag of bone meal and headed out to the garden.   The pictures included in this post were taken Saturday morning.

One of the last pictures I posted of the veggies was of a newly forming yellow crookneck squash.  The plant soon died of neglect, I’m sad to say.  Now I have an empty spot and I’m debating whether or not to try another round, or go with a different variety altogether.  That same variety failed for me last year as well.

Meanwhile, the zucchini is doing well and has been flowering.  Maybe soon it will start producing.  There is no shortage of pollinators in the yard, though I wonder if they are too busy loving on all of the natives to come and pollinate my zucchini!   I went ahead and worked some compost into the soil, then sprinkled bat guano around the plant and watered lightly to let it absorb a little.  The rain did a better job at working it in anyway.  You can see the remaining Red Sail lettuce there next to the zucchini.  It looks beautiful and has a wonderful, glossy, deep red color.  Unfortunately, since weather has been so warm, it has turned bitter.  Yet, I think this shows how resistant this variety is to bolting.  We’ve had several days of ninety degree weather and it is still compact.    This weekend I will actually have to buy lettuce for the first time in six months.

The cucumbers have really started to vine out this past week, which is good because I was starting to worry about them.  I have since tied them to the tomato cage for support, which only seems to have encouraged them.  These, too, did not make it last fall, so I am wary of their success.   I do have my fingers crossed! I gave them more compost and a sprinkling of guano as well.

The Blue Lake bush beans are coming along and they are flowering like crazy and producing lots of green pods!   The Tendergreen variety didn’t survive all of the wind.  I had started them inside and they did get pretty leggy before I transplanted them.  Then all of the strong winds took their toll on their thin stalks.  I will be resowing more this weekend.  As with the other veggies, I applied a side-dressing of guano.

I pulled up the parsley and added it to the compost pile (first, however, I made sure there weren’t any black swallowtail caterpillars – there weren’t).  Then I pulled up the lettuce and worked the soil over really well, adding some bone meal, fresh compost and bat guano.  I’m not sure what I will plant there – quite possibly more tomatoes.  I thought about retrying squash in this location, so a butternut or another summer squash might be in the not-too-distant future.

The carrots are still forming, so I have left them.  I gave them a good fertilizing with bone meal, which is a good source of phosphorus for developing roots.  I hope to be harvesting some carrots within the next couple of weeks, but I think they should definitely be ready to pull up within a month.  I don’t know how long they will last into the warmer weather.

Also in the carrot bed are three tomato plants that are also now flowering.  I will continue to pinch those flowers until I’m happy with the sizes of the plants.  I want them to get bigger and bushier first.  To encourage that, I also gave them compost and a side-dressing of guano.

My pepper bed is coming along slowly.  The cooler nights still aren’t ideal.  They like the soil to be at least 70 degrees.  The larger jalapeno plants have been producing flowers and buds like crazy, but I’ve been pinching them off to encourage a bushier plant.  I went ahead and gave them all a good amount of fresh compost and applied guano around the base of each.

Check back later this weekend for an update on the flower beds and the development of the black swallowtail caterpillars of which I now have twelve on my fennel.