Freaky Fig Trees

In May of 2011 my husband and I took our first steps into gardening for food production. Neither of us had ever planted anything edible in our lives, though we come from farm stock. He bought a few berry bushes and fig plants to start us out. He didn’t spend much money on them, as we were clueless and figured if they died, we could always start over the following year. We kept them all in pots until we  figured out where we wanted to plant them. The  blueberry bushes gave us a handful of berries and more for the squirrels that first summer before we planted in our backyard in the Fall. Last summer we had a nice  crop of blueberries

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 and blackberries.   170422_4210171941960_106694488_oOur fig trees are a different story. At the end of the Summer of 2011, our two little fig plants surprised us with about 12-15 delicious figs. We decided to try overwintering them in our house because all we had read about their care in the gardening zone 5A said we had to wrap them or bury them and that just sounded like too much work for first time gardeners.  The small trees started growing buds and leaves in February and added almost a foot of growth to some of the branches before I transferred them outdoors. We had high hopes for them. Then a scorching summer hit and not only did their leaves scorch and fall off, but we had no figs between our two trees.

Once again we are overwintering our figs indoors. We brought them inside in mid November. This is what they look like only 2 months later.

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I measured some of the new growth and one branch has added 2 feet, which I find amazing. If you know anything about figs. I would love to hear any tips you might have. I just hope we get fruit this summer.

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Summer Salad #1

Easy summer salad

This is a salad I made with some vegetables I had on hand and some herbs from the garden. When I cook, I rarely follow a recipe (unless it is for baking). The amounts are approximate.

Easy Summer Salad

2 – 3 large beefsteak tomatoes (can substitute more tomatoes if using a smaller variety such as Roma) cut into  1 inch chunks

1 large cumber, cut into  1 inch chunks

3-5 green onions, sliced, use some of the green and all the white parts

fresh parsley, finely chopped

garlic onion, (the mystery  plant that bloomed in my yard last year) finely chopped

cilantro, finely chopped

a few shakes of salt

a few splashes of vinegar

a few splashes of oil

Mix all the ingredients together. Let the salad sit for a bit so the flavors are stronger.

Enjoy!

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

If you’ve read my blog, you probably guessed that I am a bit gaga for gardening this summer. So far I have written about my garden bed and my berries. I also have some herbs growing in pots on my back deck. I planted parsley, sage, rosemary, (lemon) thyme, oregano, sage, cilantro, basil and mint. My spice cabinet always has dried herbs in it, but I think fresh herbs taste better, especially in the summer.

More herbs from the patio garden

I found this growing in my yard last summer. I dug it up because we built a fence built. Can you identify this mystery plant? I think it is garlic herb from the Allium family.

Do you have a favorite herb that you like to use when you cook?

Adventures of a First Time Gardener

My newly planted garden: cucumbers, beans, tomatoes and zucchini.

We decided to plant a garden this year. In another post, I mentioned that part of our yard was once an expanse of gravel. The previous owners did not have a garage. Instead they had a parking pad. We  decided to forgo a garage as well. After all, everyone else on our block parks on the street. One of the reasons was we wanted to keep some yard space and add a  garden.

In order to plant the garden, my husband had to dig up the compacted gravel first.  What a chore. It was a painstakingly slow process for many reasons. First, the gravel was several layers deep. Second, did I mention it was compacted? Third, once he dug down, he uncovered all sorts of uh, interesting yardifacts (artifacts from our yard). Among other things, he found:a bottle from 1965 from a now defunct local brewing company, a radiator belt, rusty nails and screws, glass, pieces of metal siding, pieces of cut up trees, bricks, concrete chunks. I was thinking there might be a body or some bones in the near future.

Needless to say, after unearthing all of that junk in only a small section of the former parking pad, I did not want to grow anything edible in that ground. My talented and handy husband built a raised garden bed instead. I made two trips to the store for peat moss, soil and manure and he filled up the bed. I selected a variety of vegetables at the garden center and with the help of my mom planted them in the ground on June 2nd.

One thing I have discovered with young plants from the nursery is that it is difficult to know exactly how old the plant is you are buying. I assumed that I had a certain amount of days for each plant before being able to enjoy fresh, homegrown vegetables. Already it looks wonderful and all I have done is add water and pick a few weeds.

The Garden a few weeks later

Zucchini plant 19 days after planting

Bush Beans

Tomatoes

Stay tuned for more pictures and highlights about what is happening in my garden.

More Berries

Strawberries grown in a pot on our deck

In my last post I mentioned we bought berry bushes last year. It was a surprise to have a small, but nice crop this year. It takes a while for blueberries to get established before they are ready to produce fruit.

Not so with strawberries. When I bought annuals and herbs to plant this year, I noticed a few strawberry plants at the local garden center my neighbor recommended. I decided to pick up two plants to see what would happen. As a child, I recall my mom had converted our old sandbox into a strawberry patch. Her only complaint: neighborhood cats used it as a litter box. I was not a big fan of those crazy looking terracotta pots with openings on the sides to grow berries. I inquired at the garden center and the owner’s son mentioned customers from last year had huge success growing them in wide pots or in hanging baskets so they can tumble over the side and not sit in wet dirt. I knew just the pot to place them in.

These three berries are ready to be picked. I planted them 25 days ago. All I did was water them regularly and pull off a few runners (because my mom said I should). Not bad. I may have to return to the garden center and buy a few more.

My Backyard

One of our Blueberry bushes in the backyard.

I know I said a few months ago that I was going to get back to blogging regularly. Rather than bore you with the reasons for my interruptions, I’ve decided to adopt the philosophy of one of Tom Petty’s songs. He sings:

“It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going, what lies ahead I have no way of knowing. Under my feet, the grass is growing, it’s time to move on, it’s time to get going.”

So, speaking of grass and nature, I have been busy outdoors a bit. Specifically in my backyard. When we moved into our house almost two years ago, we knew the yard needed a lot. We had a large, grassy space, a gravel parking pad and a swatch of bright orange day lily’s to work with. We took it easy the first summer and did nothing but acquire a lawn mower and water the grass. Last year we decided to do away with the gravel parking pad and start to strategically plan where we would like to plant living things. We didn’t get very far, only buying annuals for pots and a few fruit bushes.

As this third summer began, I was thrilled to discover fruit ripening on our blueberry plants. I think those fruit bushes are saying they are very happy because this year we have harvested four cups of blueberries from this plant alone.

I can’t wait for the rest of the summer to unfold. Stay tuned for more updates from my backyard.