Friday, May 28, 2010

Garden Tour on May 28, 2010

It's been less than a month since the last garden tour but wow have some things grown, some things are gone, and new plants have been set out or set back. The month of May has been rather cool and unusually moist, conditions that the spring veggies are mostly liking and the summer ones are resenting.

Let's start with the mutant squash that volunteered outside the garden. This crazy thing has doubled in size and is covered with female blossoms, but the few male blossoms on the plant refuse to grow and open. I had it covered for while with netting to keep the deer from munching on it and then I uncovered it, if the miserly thing won't reproduce properly then it's going to be a treat for the deer.

But do you think the deer have snacked on it? Nooo, they decided to munch on the sorrel plant that is sitting right next to it. Oh well, now I know that the deer love sorrel. It's now recovering in a net covered cage awaiting another transplant.

Inside the garden proper, here's the garlic patch. Some of it is turning prematurely brown because of a sudden outbreak of . . .

rust *sigh*, I thought maybe I was going to escape this nasty infection this year. Last year it hit my garlic bed early and hard and most of the heads came out the size of large cloves. There is no recommended or proven organic treatment for garlic rust but I've found neem oil seems to slow it down considerably. I gave my young garlic plants a treatment early on and then watched and waited. This week I saw the first outbreak of spores. I suspect that the infection was there for quite some time because the leaves had started to turn yellow before I expected them to but there were no spores to be seen until this week. I thoroughly treated the garlic with neem on Wednesday, I'll see how it goes. At least most of the garlic has started to size up nicely so I won't be stuck peeling mini cloves this year.

Remember that nasty bunch of aphids in the kale that I showed on the last tour? The hover fly larvae finally got to work and now the infestation is just a bunch of aphid carcasses that have been sucked down to a dry shell. There's hardly an aphid to be found in the garden now.

Moving down that bed, here's the Green Beauty and Yellow Giant Snow Peas are starting to bloom and have set a few tiny peas. The Yellow Giant peas don't seem to have yellow peas, I guess it got it's name from it's yellowish foliage.

And next to the snow peas, the Sugar Magnolia Purple Snap Peas have topped their trellis and are sprawling all over the place.

They are beautiful. But you can see the brown foliage at the bottom which is caused by powdery mildew. The peas also got a partial treatment with neem. I don't like to spray the entire pea plants when they have pods because the neem can leave a bad tasting residue. The pots with the plants that are covered with water bottle cloches have chinense species peppers growing in them. Capsicum chinense are very resentful of cold weather and I have to baby them along early in the season.

Those purple pods certainly don't get lost in the foliage! And, I was delighted to find out that they don't lose their color when you cook them until they are crisp-tender. You don't want to overcook them though, I think that they turn gray when cooked until soft, I didn't test that though since I like my snap peas on the crisp side. They were also nice and sweet, even after spending 4 days in the refrigerator. I still have to test these using my favorite method of sautéing them in butter or brown butter and then adding liquid to briefly steam them and then let the liquid cook off so that you get a nice sauce.

Here you can see the Portuguese Dairyman's Kale (aka Smooth Leaf Kale From the Azores), full of ripening seed pods. I can't wait to get these beasts out of the garden. The are so incredibly floppy. There's I don't know how many stakes in there propping them up and recently I had to tie some of them to one of the fence poles to keep them off the peas. 

And here's the transplanted Gigante kohlrabi and Golden Chard. The chard is bolting and I need to pull it out but haven't had a chance to yet. The kohlrabi is taking forever to form bulbs, I don't think I'll bother with this variety again. The Azure Star kohlrabi sized up much more quickly, was more beautiful, took up less space and tasted good. I hope I can find a new source of seeds for it.

The next bed is home to the last of the fava plants which are full of maturing pods. I got tired of shelling and peeling after harvesting over 100 pounds from the first planting of beans so I'm letting these beans dry on the plants. 

There's a good example of how many pods set on one stalk.

Next to the beans is the last of the lettuce. There's three heads of fully mature Noga romaine which have been surprisingly good considering their size. But then, we've not had any heat to make them bitter. The butterhead and Cimmaron lettuce are resprouting from the stems that I cut down to soil level. Maybe I'll get enough to make a salad.

And in the other end of the bed where the first planting of favas used to be is the miserable planting of beans. Only 3 of the Garafal Oro romano beans sprouted and they look awful.

The Petaluma Gold Rush Beans were a bit tougher (like the 49'ers that they fed once upon a time), but they still look awful also. I've gone back to my more reliable method of sowing the seeds in paper pots and have a flat of pots hopefully sprouting for a second try. The rest of this bed is reserved for cucumbers and zucchini which are being started in 4-inch pots and nearly ready to be planted out.

Across the way, the Mammoth Red Rock Cabbage are stealing the spring brassica show. (Yes it's *still* spring around here. I'm reading other blogger posts about hot weather with envy, when will I turn the heat off in the house for good for the "summer". This morning the temps were in the 40s. I live in California for crying out loud.)

That's Piracicaba broccoli to the left of the cabbage, 4 plants. And the taller brassica in the center is Romanesco Natalino. There are 2 out of the original planting of 4 left and are nearly ready to harvest.

The Romanesco is supposed to be a smaller variety but this is ridiculous. The Natalinos have been very disappointing, producing very small heads (12 oz and 7.5 oz so far) on huge plants. They are not worth the space they are taking up. Perhaps they are buttoning, but they really haven't been subjected to conditions that normally cause buttoning. I'll stick to my summer sown, winter maturing full sized Romanescos. The one shown below is a bit funky looking also, it may have had some aphids early on but I can't find any in there now. The last head is a little larger and prettier than this one but too difficult to photograph.

Here's the last of the beets, these are an heirloom variety called Devoy. Their roots have been very slow to size up but they are beautiful plants. I think they'll be ready to harvest soon.

Newly planted out Golden Chard and Diamante Celery Root.

And newly planted Hollow Pipe of Malines Cutting celery. This celery produced really well for me last year and I expect this planting to do even better. Last year I didn't thin my plants and planted them too close together to boot. This year I thinned and gave them more room, let's see what happens! Those red petals were from the real star of this bed . . .

Monticello Poppies in full bloom (thanks Christina!).

They are at least 5 feet tall right now. That wispy stuff at their feet is the ready to be pulled and bagged for seeds but they're too wet because it's been *raining* Golden Corn Salad.

 I took too many photos of the poppies to able share them all, but here's a taste.

The tomatoes are still living undercover because of the continuing cold nights and cool days. They are coming along very nicely.

Here's my tomato bed on May 28, 2009. I got a much earlier start this year.

Here's the first tomato that I've found on the Katja plant.

Lots of flowers!

But lookie here! Now this is really exciting. That's a baseball sized tomato on the Gigantesque plant and there's another one that's just slightly smaller behind it.

And even more tomatoes have set further up in the plant. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. :)

And the first tomato on the Galinas cherry plant.

Looking into the tomato enclosure from the other end. I haven't seen a tomatoes on these Andine Cornues yet.

The Yellow Wonder strawberries seem to be recovering from my earlier neglect.

The pepper plants are growing, slowly, they are resenting the cold weather. Maybe next year I'll try covering them like the tomato plants . . .

But some are setting fruit. Here's a Chorizero pepper (thanks Teleri!).

And the first (of hopefully many) Pimento de Padrons.

That's it for this tour, I hope you enjoyed it.


  1. So many beautiful plants and a garden full of future food! :)

  2. Michelle, what a great variety of things you have! I am excited about the fava beans gowing from your seeds. The plants look pretty good! Our May is very cool, so my tomatoes lack warmth. Nevertheless, Sungold has several fruit already.
    Thank you for the tour!

  3. Reading your blog is truly humbling. I'm growing my first vegetable garden in California, and I'm struggling with slugs and my lack of understanding of the growing season. I've had to jettison all my East Coast experience.

  4. Lots happening in your garden! Things are just starting here, cold season stuff is going out, warm season stuff is going in. Those peas truly are purple, so cool! To bad purple things don't keep their color when cooked. The poppies are really huge, never seen a poppy that high.

  5. Wonderful tour, Michelle. I loved in particular the good old mutant volunteer, pretty poppies and purple pods, but it all looks terrific. Your garden looks so big and bountiful – how much space do you have there in your food garden?

  6. The purple peas are beautiful, and what variety favas are they? Are those poppies edible? Yum if they are. And the tomatoes are inspirational.

  7. I'm so glad you're enjoying the poppies. I can't get enough of them. Mine have just finished their bloom and I'm going to have more seed this year than I know what to do with. My husband is excited about the bagels and cookies and breads that I already use them in, but I want to explore some new-to-me poppy-intensive recipes this summer.

    Everything looks wonderful. Your peppers are already so far along!

  8. Everything is looking good so far. "I live in CA for crying out loud" is exactly what I'm feeling too... I don't have the resources (ie money) to spend on covers this season, so my plants have to stick it out until it gets warm.

  9. So many beautiful images, it's hard to know what to comment on. The poppies are gorgeous! And i hope you find seeds for the Azure Star as well, it was simply stunning.
    Have you tried Serenade for the PM?

  10. You have so many things in your garden going strong right now. Your tomatoes seem do be doing well even with those cold temps. Here we have been having unusually hot weather. I think I have your weather and you have mine this year.

  11. Wow! tomatoes already! We're pleased to have flowers. I love the poppy shots, especially the purple and red bud just about to unfurl.

  12. Great garden tour, I enjoyed it!
    Lovely purple peas, and how interesting that they keep color after cooking!
    I have my tomatoes out in the garden without any protection from cold nights. And there were some cold nights lately.
    We are also having a cooler weather that it’s usual for May. I hope it warms up soon.

  13. Beautiful as always Michelle! We northwest folks are getting the prolonged cool and wet too and I am heartily tired of it. My tomatoes are fruiting and flowering though despite it due to keeping them under cover. The purple peas are enchanting looking - did they taste good too!?

  14. Thanks for the tour. Your veggies have really grown, wish I could use water bottles to cover my plants, the winds are too strong here to keep them in place.
    Love those purple peas they are so beautiful, I'll have to try some next year. I just bought some Azure Star kohlrabi from Gourmet Seeds, I wouldn't be able to use all of them, I'll share with you, let me know.

  15. Megan, Oh yes, I don't think I'll be suffering from a shortage of vegetables this summer. :)


    Tatyana, At least the favas should be enjoying the cool weather, I hope those do well for you. Those Sungolds are such a reliable tomato, I stopped growing them because they were too productive, I got tired of picking them!


    Lisa and Robb, You shouldn't feel that way, I've got such a huge advantage over you, I've been gardening in California for oh so many years . . . Do you have the book Golden Gate Gardening? That's an invaluable resource for Bay Area and coastal CA gardeners, it's my vegetable gardening bible.


    Dan, The purple peas are something aren't they? They do keep a lot of their color if you don't over cook them, but I'm starting to think that their forte would be on a crudite platter. I cooked some up last night and the faded purple color didn't bother me but I think that some people might be put off by the somewhat odd color. The poppies are a wonder also, I didn't really expect them to grow that well.


    Jamie, the four beds in my garden total about 400 square feet and I supplement with a lot of pots.


    Stefaneener, that's 2 different varieties of favas, Extra Precoce Bianco and Extra Precoce Violetto, both from Gourmet Seed. I've been really happy with them, they did seem to produce earlier and they are very productive. The poppies are breadseed poppies so it looks like I'll have plenty poppy seeds to bake with and to share. The tomatoes, I'm so thrilled to have tomatoes setting!


    Christina, the poppies are fabulous! So beautiful. I'm really curious to find out how much seed that little patch produces, I suspect I'll be trying to find a bigger patch to sow next year. I do hope you share you poppy explorations on your blog. Thanks again for the seeds.


    Momma_S, this long cool spring has been driving me crazy, but I guess I really shouldn't complain too much, it has improved our water conditions around the state. The weather will come around, it looks like this weekend is going to be delightful!


    Julie, Those poppies, I do love them! I haven't tried Serenade, I might have to look into that if, perhaps it something that won't make the peas taste bad if they get sprayed.


    Daphne, Hmmm, CA weather is vacationing in MA for a while, I hope it returns home soon! I think covering the tomato cages has really helped this year, although it is the plants that are recommended for cold climates that are doing the best, the rest of the plants are dropping their flowers unpollinated.


    chaiselongue, Yes, tomatoes already, I'm so happy and pleased about that. It seems that my experiment with planting early and providing protection is working to some degree.


    vrtlarica, I was surprised that the peas kept a lot of their color, it does leach out though and they aren't as pretty cooked as they are raw. It does seem that a lot of us are experiencing unusual spring weather, but then nobody talks about "weather as ususal".


    kitsapFG, the peas do taste good, I got the seal of approval from my husband last night. Do you grow tomato varieties that are recommended for cooler climates? I have a couple cool climate varieties this year and those are the ones that are setting tomatoes already. We are finally due for a stretch of nice weather this weekend, I hope you get some too.


    Mac, When it gets windy I put little bamboo stakes around the sides of the bottles and that helps to keep them from blowing away, but I think your wind is fiercer than what I get. I'll swap some purple snap pea seeds for those kohlrabi seeds but you'll have to wait until I've saved some.

  16. Your garden is, as always, magnificant! Love those purple peas, they would save me just standing and staring trying to focus on pod-shapes, and the poppies are so pretty. Btw I do like your new look blog theme.

  17. I definitely enjoyed the tour, Michelle. Thank you so much :)
    I hope my beans grow so well too and I pray the squirrels stay off my tomatoes. The heatwave isn't helping the situation either. [SIGH]

  18. Thanks for the tour Michelle. I feel like I was walking through your garden while I sipped my coffee this morning! Have you grown the Gigante kohlrabi before? I was just reading about it, sounds like it can get to 10 lbs or bigger and not get woody. I just eat one of my purple Kohlrabi last night. I have been growing Favas for 10 yrs now, got some seed from an old friend so don't know what type they are. I don't get as many pods on mine.

    Oh! those poppies are really something!

  19. Wow! fabulous tour! Thanks a lot. What a variety of healthy looking veggies! I enjoyed the most the purple peas, and the wild looking poppies.

  20. Congratulations on your green tomatoes! I still don't have any fruit set on mine, but lots of flowers. It must be the covering that increase their growth and ability to set fruit.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I value your insights and feedback.