Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thursday, June 6 - Gardens and heat

Gardens and heat. That's the theme this week. As I write this, the temperature is 91, but inside it's a cool, comfortable 81. We keep the A/C turned up (as we kept the heat turned down last winter) trying to conserve electricity. We're frankly just as comfortable at 81 as we would be with the thermostat set any colder, so why waste energy? Out on the side porch, the one facing east, the temps get really hot when the sun is out. The photo of the thermometer was taken at about 10 AM, and as you can see, it reads 120 degrees. Yup, we could cook eggs on the siding if we could figure a way to keep them up there.

The heat is good for most of the garden, as long as it gets enough water. I've installed a 2-hose adapter, so we can run one hose out back to the back garden, and the other out front. We've also bought a "soaker hose" which lets small amounts of water drip through the porous material, slowly into the ground, thus doing several things -- doesn't get water on the leaves and thus burn them in the sun; waters deeply so the roots will go down deeper; saves water 'cause we're not watering everything and watching the nearly unceasing west wind carry the water off to the east. We'll see how it works. Right now, the swiss chard and the beet greens look mighty pitiful, but by morning with a cooler night (70-75 overnight), they should perk up.

I don't mean to say that things grow big down here, but have a look at what Barry harvested from five -- yes, 5 -- broccoli plants! About 6 lbs of fresh, home-grown, no-preservatives or-e-coli broccoli! Once these heads have been cut, the side-stems will develop, and we'll get another few pounds out of the plants. We understand (at least Wikipedia says...) that the leaves are edible. Not sure I want to try those just yet, but the floret heads are OH so good!

Didn't get a picture of the collard greens for this post, but we need to get those picked too. Anticipating that they would grow, Barry planted the greens about 6 inches apart. Right now the plants are about 18 inches across -- we will plant them a foot apart next year!

Back in Maine, our Swiss Chard would grow to maybe 6 inches in length. Here, this leaf is 10 inches and was still growing! I think that when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they may well have worn Kentucky chard leaves for clothing! Barry has now picked enough to go us at least into mid-winter, and there is still SO much more growing. In addition, after mid-August, we can plant another crop for harvesting before first frost (which should be about Oct 15-30), and we can probably plant more spinach too -- it grew well, but the hot weather got to it.

Just to get away from the greens for awhile, the pink and white stargazer lily is very fragrant, but unfortunately planted by the previous owner too far away from the house to smell. The daylilies are beginning to bloom, especially the Stella d'Oro variety (the name is Spanish for Star of Gold, I think).

I got this shot of a potato blossom (note the similarity to the tomato blossom -- same family biologically) and it's a real treat to the eye. These are growing in a large plant pot, having begun the growing life as a sprouted potato in the pantry. Barry put some dirt in the plant pot, then the potato, and as it grew up, he filled the pot with soil. When we harvest, all we have to do is tip it over, pull out the potatoes, and recycle the soil!

Oops, news is on, and I want to keep up with what's going on in politics. Catch y'all later.

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