This year we’ve decided to try a new crop to our little urban garden. Potatoes! Yukon gold in fact. I tried going the cheap route and bought some from the grocery store. After a couple of weeks trying to sprout them, I read that sometimes potatoes are soaked in something to prevent them from sprouting. Euw! Not sure what that is.
So then I decided to order “official” seed potatoes. By the time they arrived my grocery store ones started to sprout. Of course! So if the potatoes work, I will be rich with them. The potatoes are from a place in Colorado called The Potato Garden.
And since my soil is lousy and filled with glass, I looked into suitable containers for growing them. You have to have something that is deep, so you can keep adding soil (hilling) as the plants grow. This keeps the potatoes from getting hit by the sun, which causes them to turn green and be bitter. I found Smart Pots and ordered 2 of them. They are made out of a sturdy fabric. I thought I would give them a try.
placing one of the seed potatoes
As usual, I have to put my garden behind bars to keep the squirrels from destroying the unestablished plants.
potatoes planted and behind bars
Is it just me, or does everyone love venus fly traps? I just got one at a farm stand/general store on the way home from a hike. I put it in my kitchen near my compost bucket and the next day it had caught a fruit fly!
I noticed a dead fly on my back steps the next day, so decided to try and feed it to my plant. I think my eyes were bigger than it’s stomach so to speak, because it couldn’t quite wrap it’s jaws around the fly. I’m giving the plant a break from force feeding it. Turns out if you play with the traps too much, you can kill the plant. I think I’ll just stick to watering it and let it catch whatever size fly it likes.
At the beginning of the spring, I noticed that my two tiny apple trees had a bumper crop of apples. There were easily 3 fruits per cluster, which was way more than the tiny trees could support. I was going to have to thin the fruit, which helps the remaining fruit grow larger, and also protects the young tree from broken branches.
Before I thinned the fruit, the tree did it for me. There are lots of tiny apples under both trees, and now there are no more than 2 fruits per cluster. Nature is amazing.
I think that this post should be called The Lazy Gardener Gets the Kale.
So for some unknown reason, I didn’t harvest my kale last fall. Don’t ask me why because I don’t have a valid reason. Or any reason for that matter. So I guess the glaring answer is laziness…
Anyhow, we had such a mild winter that the kale survived. I didn’t even have to cover it. Again with the laziness. Sheesh!
I’ve been planting away this spring and decided to finally pull up the spindly looking kale and actually eat it. It’s Tuscan kale, or lacinato kale, which is very tender. And just to keep the whole lazy streak going, I did the simplest (and very delicious) preparation, which is to sauté it in olive oil with garlic. It was worth the wait!
If you’ve spent time reading this blog, you will know that the soil in my garden isn’t great. The term to describe it is “rubble.” I don’t really trust growing food items directly in it. Besides the sunniest area of my garden is paved, so that limits my options. This has lead me to trying raised beds. I have a mish-mosh of containers that I hope are creative and fun and not reminiscent of the set of Sanford and Son.
These are the wine crates I salvaged last year. They are holding up well.
This year I’m not going to grow beans or try and coax tomatoes to grow in a partly sunny garden. I’m going to stick to herbs, which do very well in my yard. I love mixing flowers, herbs and vegetables together.
Spring is finally in my garden. It lifts my spirits to look out of our window and see a color other than brown. I have been slowly planting more edible and native plants in my yard. I haven’t ripped out any of the other plants, so there are still some non-native species.
The white crabapple blossoms make your feet lift off the ground when you smell their scent. I know my neighbors are used to seeing me do strange things in the garden, so they probably don’t batt an eyelash seeing me standing under the tree sniffing for minutes on end.
You are looking at the crabapple blossoms, the double cherry tree (ornamental), my little apple tree, which is loaded with blossoms, a blueberry, the bleeding hearts, a Solomon’s Seal and a couple of ramps I planted last year.
If a reader hadn’t asked, I might have forgotten to post about my little apple tree. In the early spring I posted about trying to pollinate my Sundance apple tree. I pruned branches from another tree and put the branches near my flowering tree in the hopes that the bees would do the cross-pollinating. You can read about the process here. The good news is that it worked and I had 5 apples growing on my tree. I don’t have any experience with dwarf apple trees, so I don’t know if this is a decent number for the first year of fruit. I also wasn’t familiar with this variety of apple, so wasn’t sure how it would look when the fruit was ripe. This apple is one of the 5 from my tree. The fruit is sweet and crisp and delicious. I’ve always dreamed of having a small home orchard, and although 5 apples is a laughably small amount, it is a beginning.
Click on the image to view it larger. It shows how much land you need to feed a family of 4 for a year. Pretty interesting.
As I’ve probably mentioned before, I have a tiny backyard surrounded by tall buildings. What this means is that for several hours a day (more in winter) the sun is blocked by these buildings. So while my yard looks sunny, the sun travels and doesn’t hit one spot all day long.
The spot that gets the most sun is (of course) the area that is paved. I have had an assortment of pots and planters there, and this year I put in some raised bed planters. Instead of building them, I scavenged wooden wine boxes from our local wine shops. They are the same width (wine bottle length), so even though they are different lengths, they make a nice, even row.
I have to be somewhat smart about what I can plant with my limited sunshine. I have bush beans, lots of greens including mâche, deer tongue, new zealand spinach and lacinata kale. I can grow tomato plants that don’t produce a lot. Cherries do best. This year I planted white currant tomatoes. I have way too many, since I started them from seed, so if anyone wants some, let me know.
I am trying yukon gold potatoes and ground cherries for the first time.
And if you are wondering why I have wire over my beds, it’s because I have very tenacious squirrels. They dig like lunatics in my beds, which rips up anything that isn’t well established.