We use the “Florida weave” method for trellising our tomato plants. This year we added some thick bamboo poles to our existing stash of untreated 1x1s, which don’t last too long stuck in the soil. You can find a more detailed description here, but all we do is stick supports in the ground every couple feet, wrap string or twine around the posts to secure, and then weave the twine around the plants. We add more lengths of string every 8-10 inches in a ladder-like fashion up the posts as the plants grow. We can also tuck vines up into the twine when they start to sag or get too close to the ground.
This method has worked really well for us, and has allowed us to get enough light down to the top of the beds so that our sweet potato plants can thrive.
The early spring here has meant that the garden is more lush than usual for the end of May. We are already snacking on our first cherry tomatoes, Sunsugars that we bought as starts from the farmers market. The San Marzanos are coming in too.
Scapes have been harvest from some of the garlic, and just coming in for the rest.
The first cayenne peppers are fully grown, and continuing to ripen.
The herbs are getting overgrown, including parsley, lemon balm, oregano, lavender, and Thai basil.
The last of the mulberries are ripening. We slightly modified this recipe to put up four half-pints over the first weekend in May.
We planted perennial flowers (purple coneflowers and black-eyed susans) in a sunny area on the side of our house in early spring. We are hoping they fill in over the years.
The fireflies are out at night – so I guess summer is here early!
We have been busy in the garden the past two weekends. It has been so warm – 80s in the days and 50s at night – it feels like the first of summer. We built three new raised beds and filled them with soil and compost. We bought three raspberry plants to put in one bed. The other two will have tomatoes, basil, peppers, some flowers, and maybe some greens or beans.
On Saturday we planted more than 100 sweet onion plants. We plan to use some as green onions, since sweet onions don’t store well. We also planted four strawberry plants next to the perennial herbs, and are pinching the flowers off this year to let the plants get bigger. The herbs that overwintered are rosemary, lavender, oregano, cilantro, creeping thyme, dill, and parsley. We will probably add more cilantro, lemongrass, and maybe a few others. Arugula also overwintered without any protection. It is flowering now and we love that it gets a little spicier after it flowers. The garlic is coming up very well. We planted about 90 cloves in the fall, so we’re hoping for a good garlic year.
We were surprised to see tomatoes and basil at the nursery this weekend. Last year we planted tomato, sweet potato, and pepper starts around April 18th, and covered them with row covers at night to protect from the cold. It seems crazy that the weather is about 4 weeks ahead this year. We did plant some chard starts from the nursery, as we haven’t had much success with direct sowing. So excited for the growing season!!
Other than making refrigerator pickles, my only other experience canning was putting up a few jars of tomatoes this past summer. I have checked out a number of books from my local library on preserving, but I’ll admit that I was intimated and a little overwhelmed by the whole process. But reading blog after blog and seeing picture after picture of canned goodness, I was hopeful I could get the hang of it.
Luckily for me, my sister-in-law gave me a great book, Canning for A New Generation by Liana Krissoff, this holiday. It contains a lot of information about the process of canning and many recipes for canning fruits and veggies, as well as recipes for using your canned goods in meals. Even better, it is organized by season, so recipes for all of the veggies that are available to me now are in one place.
In terms of processing, the author states that she often does smallish batches and uses a tall 9-quart stockpot instead of the typical large enameled canner. Brilliant! Since there is less water, it takes less time and energy to heat up the pot, and is certainly less intimidating, sitting there on the stove top.
The first recipe that I tried was for Spicy Carrot Pickles. The author says she was inspired by descriptions of spicy carrots served at Tartine. They sounded perfect to me, and I had just placed my order for a bunch of fresh carrots from my local farm. I halved the recipe and made 4 half-pints, processed in my largest pasta pot. Flavored with garlic, dried cayenne peppers, and fresh thyme from my garden, they are deliciously tart and a little spicy. This recipe is a keeper!
The sweet potatoes have been dug up. About 16 pounds from 9 slips (not including the ones we found later while turning over the bed).
The green bell peppers were harvested and sautéed with onions for pizza topping. The last of the tomatoes and cayenne peppers were taken in, plants dug up and composted.
The garlic is planted – about 60 of Spanish Roja and about 30 of Erik’s German White. We dug in a couple of wheelbarrows full of shredded leaves, planted the cloves about 2 inches deep and six inches apart, then topped with a couple of inches of straw mulch.
Things have slowed, but we are still collecting from the garden.