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All Kinds Of Beans And B’s Latest Pet

My garden is starting to grow so much that I can hardly keep y’all updated about it. Let me start with some plants I started a couple of months ago.

When you’re starting from seed, the soil matters

Here are two of four peppers I’d hoped to have in the ground well before now (the fern-like plant in the middle is a baby asparagus I started from seed):

babypeppers

Why are they still so tiny, you ask? Because I made a huge mistake when I started my plants from seed this year. Lacking the wonderful organic potting soil called Gardenville that is available in north Texas, I bought some el-cheapo generic potting soil from Lowes to start my seeds.

BIG mistake. The soil was very clayish, and dried up on the top quickly. So most of the 60-something seeds I planted never even germinated! Of the ones that did, I tried hard to keep the soil moist, and ended up overwatering and therefore killing most of those.

These peppers are actually doing a lot better now, having been transported to some compost I had leftover from the compost pile I had in our backyard in Plano. The pepper to the right may look pathetic, but here’s the deal: something had eaten it down to just a stem after it had first germinated. I thought it would be goner, but I kept watering it just in case, and the leaves began growing back! You can’t see it in this photo, but it is growing two tiny leaves in addition to the obvious one there.

The following herbs look tiny compared to what they should be.

herbs

However, when they were in the the clay soil they were so teeny you could hardly see them – and they sat there for weeks, not growing. Within days of being put into the compost soil, they started to grow. I already have transplanted oregano and savory into the garden which struggled and then flourished under the same circumstances.

I FINALLY got one eggplant, after starting over with the compost. Here it is, growing its first true leaf (sorry it’s so blurry):

eggplantbaby2

 

It’s so far behind, I may have to put it (and the peppers) in large pots and grow them inside this winter. Whatever. We should have a big enough house to do that by then. 😉

Current and future harvests

While the peas are finally languishing due to the heat (at the same time they have powdery mildew due to the tons of rain we had previously), we finally have green beans. Check out my first harvest:

firstbeansnotblurry

 

I try to catch them when they are babies, because they are more palatable raw then. The larger, fatter pods can be eaten raw, but taste better steamed.

Yippee! Our first pumpkin flower:

pumpkinflower

 

And the first Cherokee Purple tomato:

cherokeepurplebabyIn the spirit of self-sufficiency

I wasn’t going to plant any more Chinese Long Beans because we don’t care for the flavor all that much, but I had extra space and I thought, what the heck. They grow well here in the summer, and I want to be as self-sufficient as possible in food. So here is one of the two plants I planted.

 

chineselongbeanplanted

 

But I didn’t need to, after all! I have four that volunteered – the dried pods I missed picking fell off the vines and I didn’t get all of them out of the garden. Here is one of the volunteers:

chineselongbeanvolunteer

 

Here is the first volunteer that popped up several weeks ago, and is now growing up the pole (the others I will have to place a stake next to):

chineselongbeanvolunteer2

I also broke down and planted a couple of okra after declaring vehemently last year that I wasn’t going to grow it ever again. It’s another crop that loves the Southern heat, and it puts out really pretty flowers. Here’s the baby okra that I could find:

okra

Unfortunately, I didn’t mark where I’d planted them and totally forgot where I’d sowed the other one. Oh, well. In a month, one okra will be producing as much as we can eat.

Speaking of heat-loving crops, I decided to plant some cowpeas (of which the black-eyed pea is a variety) this year. You can eat them green, rather than waiting for them to dry (which is what people usually do with them), so I thought it would make a nice change a couple of times a week from the cucumbers we’ll be getting constantly in a bit. Here are the first ones planted, starting to grow their true leaves:

cowpeas

More strawberries!

Remember my lament about most of the strawberries getting moldy? I had expected a second crop from the everbearing plants, because that’s what they do. And the few I’ve harvested so far have been delicious!

everbearingstrawb

everbearingstrawbcloser

But, surprise, surprise, the June-bearing strawberries are apparently going to be May/June/July-bearing this year.

junestrawb

 

That red one already looks ready to pick and eat!

Critters

Just for the fun of it, I got a picture of a very common orange wasp that lives around here. They are not aggressive, but if you step on them (or they get stuck up inside your skirt, ladies), they will sting. They are great for pollinating and possibly eating smaller pests.

orangewasp

Benjamin found a baby newt (a kind of salamander).

salamanderHe’s keeping it in water in a “Critter Cage,” a plastic box made for keeping small animals. There is also a piece of driftwood in the box in case he wants to get on land for a few minutes.

Whew! I had no intention of this post being so long, but it’s been a while since I’ve updated.

See you soon for more!

Emily

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