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Posts Tagged ‘sugar snap peas’

With my first “real” garden fully underway (I don’t count last year since we got such a late start in the house), I’m finally able to sit back, with calloused hands and tanned shoulders, to actually harvest some of what I’ve been growing!

June 23rd's Harvest

We’re kind of in a bit of a lull right now, as the very early radishes and lettuces are now gone, but we’re still waiting on the true warm weather vegetables. In the meantime, I got a small bunch of carrots, what is almost the last of the sugar snap peas, some green onion and spinach. The spinach has been remarkably heat resistant – much more so than my arugula and other greens. I noticed some seed stalks, though, yesterday, so it’ll be gone by this weekend.

I loved having my own sugar snap peas, but I feel a little disappointed in them. They didn’t really produce for as long as I would’ve hoped, and now I find myself lusting after the crisp taste of fresh snaps, right off the vine. And that, friends, is a taste you can never get from the supermarket.

I was worried about the onions – we had a warm spell, followed by a frost before it warmed up for good. I was concerned that they were going to send up seed stalks (a few did) and not form bulbs, but I just dug up a test one (which is where the green onion came from) and it looks like its starting to form nice, solid, juicy bulbs. Thank goodness — the boy desperately wanted onions, and I don’t know how I would’ve told him they weren’t going to work out.

Yea, I know...they're hybrids...I'm a hypocrite.

The carrots turned out fairly well, and there’s still more coming. I chose a “Short n Sweet” hybrid (I know I always go one about heirlooms but these has exactly the qualities I was looking for) because my soil is very rocky and a little heavy. The traditional, longer carrots were out, so I’m glad I found these. I called them “my accidental carrots,” because they took so painfully long to germinate that I all but gave up on them. I mostly stopped watering them, until one day, about a week later, I noticed the tiny seedlings sprouting. I obviously began watering them then! And, nevertheless, they seemed no worse for the wear. I think some plants are much more hardy than we give them credit for! Sometimes, its the ones I abuse and forget about that give me the best harvest. Go figure…

On a personal note, I wanted to devote much more time to keeping up the blog once the garden was settled in, so it only stands to reason that I got picked for an eight week grand jury duty term this summer! (Meaning I may have to stay late at my job some days, or worse…come in on Saturdays!) I’ve been trying (more or less) to stick to an every other day posting routine, but this monkey wrench may make it hard to do. So, if I miss a day, I didn’t forget about my readers in blogland, I’ll have new things for you as soon as I catch a moment! Till then, happy gardening!

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#2: Tame Your Vines

June is getting to be in full swing now and the planting season is underway for most likely everyone. Last time, we talked about the benefits of mulching and how it will save you valuable time in the garden. Now that you’ve freed up some precious daylight time, today we’ll mention the second step to a great garden in June: tame your vines.

Twisting, twirling and climbing plants are an integral part of my garden landscape, and for good reason. If you take care of them, they’ll reward you with bountiful harvests (in many cases, greater volume than their bush varietal cousins) and beautiful flower displays. They are space savers and have a knack for disguising ugly walls or fences with towers of green.

There are a nearly infinite variety of styles and materials to choose from. Unlike the choosing a mulch, where any product that suits your personal choice will do, trellising options should be narrowed to specifically cater to the needs of the individual plant, whether the vine be twining, clinging or sprawling.

One of my purple Morning Glories...

1) Twining: Quick, easy and beautiful, Morning Glories are the first thing that comes to mind when I think of vines, and one of the more popular choices for the home gardener. Left to its own devices, a Morning Glory plant will quickly try to take over the garden, which is why training it to climb within the confines of your support system is vitally important. The swirling tendrils that twist around supports are the definitive feature of the twining vine. These little climbers need a tall trellis that provides lots of places for it to grab onto and wrap around. I usually use a metal trellis with many decorative features and embellishments (think Victorian style) that provide lots of space to climb.

Short on cash? You can create a veritable playground for twining vines by interspersing tall sticks around the perimeter of the plant rather than springing for a full trellis system. The vines will be just as happy either way, but a word of caution – I used this system this summer and my vines have already outgrown their sticks, so use the longest ones you can find. Vining plants like to grow – and fast! – a ten foot vine is not at all out of the ordinary. Other examples of twining vines are wisteria, and for the vegetable gardener, most types of

Sugar snap peas, in pots and also on sticks they've outgrown.

peas and grapes.

2) Sprawling: Unlike their climbing cousins, sprawling vines need to be tied to a trellis to maintain support. The climbing rose is a beautiful example. This type of vine, in my opinion, is quite adaptable to different types of trellising, although for obvious reasons it will not do well on a wall system, like clinging vines. On the vegetable front, sprawlers include some types of tomatoes, melons and cucumbers. In addition to supporting the vine itself, its also necessary to support any large fruit that the vine produces, as the sprawlers usually create big vines, and even bigger fruit. Tomato fruits can almost always skate by inside a tomato cage with no additional support, but for melons and gourds it’s a necessity.

Most garden stores sell special ties to for securing sprawling vines, but I actually use hair elastics in my home garden with great success. Because they are coated, they are much easier on the plant than rubber bands or plastics, but also have a slight elasticity, allowing me to firmly secure the plant without doing it any damage.

3) Clinging: Finally, clinging vines are most at home on a wall trellis system, but be forewarned – they must never be grown up the side of a house of foundation, as the tiny roots and suckers that the plants form to support themselves will eventually work their way into the material and form cracks. A popular (and safer) planting spot is to cover an unsightly fence or divider. Many clinging vines belong to the ivy family, and are a good choice for a gardener who is working with a partially shaded site. Personally, I generally shy away from the ivies, as beautiful as they can be, because I like my vines to feed me!

Whether you have a sunny or shady site, a lot of space or are feeling cramped, there is a vine out there for you! I find them to be fun to have, generally fast growing, and usually forgiving of my mistakes when I forget to handle them with a green thumb. For these reasons, supporting your vines has made the number two spot on the Top Five. Next time on the Top Five….

1) Mulch

2) Tame Your Vines

3) Go on a bug hunt.

4) Remove spring crops that are starting to bolt.

5) Clean your tools.

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