Well, technically there is some fun in the garden. Some fun-gi. I went out to putter in the boxes this evening and was surprised to find this nasty little fungus taking over one of my carrot boxes. And it popped up basically over night as I poked around last night as well. The horror!
After asking my local Farm & Food group gurus if it was time to panic, I was told this particular fungus is called auricularia and shouldn’t pose any threat to my carrots – just looks kinda gross. It is also known as the Jelly Ear, or Jew’s Ear. And I’m sure no one is surprised that folks in China eat it. Seriously. I don’t think I will be eating it any time soon (or ever, thank you) and will instead be pulling it out of the box with rubber gloves and a possible gagging sound (I overreact, ok?). You can find out some more information about this pretty-anywhere-else-but-not-in-my-garden growth here.
Loving all the green in our little urban garden!
Our little urban garden, which takes up the majority of our deck, is coming along nicely. I think we will be having our first salad tonight! Not bad growth for Anchorage Alaska without the use of a greenhouse! Hooray!
I recently took a quick trip back to NY to visit the family and drink beer I don’t normally have access to (there were also chicken wings, but that’s a story for a different time). I had forgotten how choosing a salad for the 3 of us to have with dinner was a little Three Little Bears. My dad likes straight iceburg lettuce. I like the plain iceburg with a few extra frills (actual lettuce bits) but my mom is really into what I call “grass clipping” type salads – all the greens and then some. So when I’m not there playing Middle Bear, they lettuce spectrum is pretty wide. After a bit of discussion, we got some seeds and a box and my mom is on her way to growing her own “grass clipping variety lettuce” all for herself!
It’s the cheapest and easiest every day kinda eats you can do and with even just a small container, you’ll be in greens all summer. I dump the entire seed pack in the box and as the little shoots grow in, they are thinned into salads and garnishes, and if you vary where you clip, the plants will continue to produce for you well into the fall. Lettuce likes it cool, with a little sunlight, but not baking all day. Keep well watered and they will reward you in kind.
I can’t wait to get these beauties outside!
As the season has gone on and already seems to be coming to an end, we have learned even more lessons. Namely:
Lesson 9: An article I read told me to trim some of my tomato branches, starting with the little guy that sprouts in the ‘crotch’ of 2 branches. This is totally incorrect as the little crotch sprout (it’s funny to say, right?) is where the future blossoms and thus, tomatoes, will come from. One does need to trim excess greenage from the plants though as they take away growing power and water from the little growing fruits, so look for the giant leafy branches without a connection to fruit or flowers.
Lesson 10: If you see that a particular branch is heavily laden with fruit (in our case one of the Topsy Turveys with the most direct sun), keep an eye on how that fruit is dangling. One of our branches snapped with 8 or 9 large tomatoes hanging from it, as it was just too heavy to be supported. Had I been paying closer attention (or known?) I could have secured the branch and allowed the tomatoes to naturally ripen on the vine. Between that accident and a drunken intruder’s murder of a full plant off the side rail, we had quite a few little green guys evicted from their bushes too soon, but they are starting to ripen as they sit next to other ripe fruits.
Lesson 11: It’s funny – the tomato cans we used as planters have weathered elements very well, while the coffee cans used have gotten rusty on the outside and pretty ugly. I’ll be ditching most of the coffee cans after this season and continuing to save the whole tomato cans that we use for tomato soup.
Lesson 12: While the summer squash have gone totally crazy in the larger containers, they did not do nearly as well in the cans as hoped. The lack of root space inhibited fruit growth to the point where we only got 2 or 3 squash total from the cans as opposed 2-3 per week in the larger bins. Next year, no squash in cans.
Regardless it’s been a lot of fun and we’re really excited to work out more of the kinks next year to have a totally kick ass garden. Hooray!
The squash plants on the sidewalk at my storefront are insanely huge and I love it. Yesterday a customer stopped at the door “Hey! This is squash! Did you know this is squash? You have squash here!” Like perhaps these ginormous plants arrived and I was oblivious…? Either way, it was funny and today I harvested one of the largest yellow guys before he gets too big and seedy. To date we’ve eaten 3 and they have all be pretty amazing. I saute them with some chopped onions and a little of my homemade butter. Yum.