May 22, 2015: Ripening, reddening cherries

The Montmorency cherry tree in the center of my garden has begun to show its first signs of ripeness, with the fruits turning from green to red. In mid- to late June, they will be ready to harvest. They’re not for eating right off the tree though! This sour variety is meant for pies and jam. Add some sugar, and the tartness becomes a rich flavor, perfect for pints of preserves. Last summer, the tree barely yielded a handful of fruit given the frigid winter temperatures in 2013-2014, but like 2013, I’ll have a bumper crop in 2015!

           

May 20, 2015: Strawberry and pea and bean shoots

I grew my breakfast! Well, the fruit on top of the yogurt and granola at least. A bright red strawberry had ripened over the last few days while I was camping, and by this morning, it was ready to be picked. Also, the peas and beans I planted last week have sprouted through the soil and several little shoots are reaching up toward the sun! 

                 

May 14, 2015: Raised bed number 3

Last weekend, I underestimated the amount of soil necessary to fill each box, so I used my lunch breaks on Tuesday and Wednesday to visit the Fairmount Organic Recycling Center and Home Depot, respectively, to get more free mulch and to buy five more bags of Dr. Earth planting mix. And now, the third raised bed contains beets, beans (soy and bush beans), carrots, and squash (yellow and zucchini). Marigolds, too, of course, to serve as pest deterrents, as with the fabric cover that stretches from end to end.  

             

May 13, 2015: Tomatoes (and then I noticed an iris)

This post was intended to be all about my new tomato plants, but while I was watering this morning, I noticed the iris out front had bloomed. The color of the petals ranges from a soft, muted yellow and undertones of pink to ivory and bright white. I bought the container for the blackberry bush via Craigslist, but the irises were included. Not bad for a $20 price tag! So, about the tomatoes. Like last year’s, these are heirloom varieties from the Bartram’s Garden plant sale. From left to right, along the fence, they are: Japanese trifele, black cherry, and pink Brandywine. If they’re anything like the ones from Bartram’s I grew before, they’re bound to become 4-5 feet tall and yield dozens of delicious, organic fruits. I reused the soil from 2014, but amended it with generous handfuls of compost and Dr. Earth fertilizer, dumping all of it in a bucket and mixing it by hand before pouring it back into the containers and planting the starts. McBaine photobombed one of these photos in pursuit of an alley cat who hightailed it over to the next yard!

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

May 12, 2015: Ready, set, plant!

Since March 21, when I started the seed trays, the vegetables (and I) have been waiting for this day. Finally, I’ve planted them! It’s hard to imagine that later this summer, I’ll be able to cook with the produce that I’m growing in my garden. Using the rules of companion planting, I separated the cucumbers and eggplants with rows of peas, made sure to put the chard near the romanesco, kale, and leeks, and sowed marigold seeds all around the perimeters. Lastly, I covered the beds with lightweight fabric designed to deter insects and birds. It comes attached to hoops, so all I had to do was push down the metal ends into the soil to secure them to the boxes. Now, it’s ready, set, grow! McBaine looks determined to figure out how to dig them up. No such luck, McBaine!

                                 

May 11, 2015: Raised beds with soil

And here they are with soil! First, a layer of black fiberglass screen, then 6 inches of mulch, followed by 7.5 cubic feet of Dr. Earth organic planting soil, per box, especially for vegetable gardens. We ran out, though, as I had underestimated, so another trip to Home Depot is in order.  

           

May 9, 2015: Raised beds

Three gorgeous raised beds now grace my garden, thanks to Michael’s dad! His parents are here for the weekend from Syracuse and we all spent the afternoon assembling them. From the original concept a few months ago to a couple weeks in the wood shop, then transportation to Philly and staining with linseed oil, the boxes are now standing upright and ready to be filled. First, we will lay down mesh screen along the bottoms, then layer mulch, compost, and soil, before planting vegetable seeds and starts. They’re incredibly well made and will last for years! I can’t wait. And, the cherry tree has the beginnings of fruit. One word: jam!