Sunday, November 25, 2012

Harvest Monday - November 26, 2012

Its been some time since my last post. My 2012 garden is really winding down. I need to clean out my community garden...the water has been turned off and most other beds have been cleaned out. I still had a couple of plants in but everything has gone completely wild and weedy. I've just been very lazy. On my balcony, I have lots of greens that I use for smoothies and juices. I plan to just keep them in the container and clear them out when I am ready to start gardening in 2013. I haven't done much with either my balcony container garden or my community garden but I have been harvesting some veggies that are surviving. The lemongrass is so bushy now, I'm thinking about transferring them to containers. Alternatively, I will just cut and freeze them down for tea and maybe a little cooking. So for my last harvest monday of the year (thanks Daphne for hosting the harvest posts), I've got pictures I've collected in the past weeks.
From my balcony garden:
Collards and kale
Chinese Giant Peppers (sweet but not so good for roasting)
Second generation bok choy (collected seeds from last year)
Giant chinese pepper and snap peas
From the community garden:
Medley of eggplants (ichiban, black beauty, Italian)
Lemongrass and beets
Some sweet peppers, longhorn peppers (spicy) and snap peas
Side view, really lots of spicy peppers
Well, another fun season coming to a close. I'll see you all again in 2013! I'm already having fun thinking about what to start for the next season! Happy gardening everyone:)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Small container herb

I have 2 containers with herb in front of the house. I've actually been pretty bad at watering these containers, but yet again, the neglect has not hurt most of the plants. In one container, there is thyme, rosemary, and perilla (or shiso). I had totally forgotten that I had sowed perilla seeds since the first 2 weeks I didn't see any seedlings. But now, it has grown some beautiful leaves. I throw them in salads and it adds a wonderful fragrance.
Left rosemary, middle perilla, right thyme
Perilla with beautiful leaves
There were some pretty flowers on the mint plant. Overall, it looks like it is suffering from uneven watering. But mint is strong so it should survive.
Cute pink mint flowers
Mint needs a little TLC

Monday, October 8, 2012

Harvest Monday - October 8, 2012

It's been a while I've joined Harvest Monday hosted by Daphne Dandelions. I've been harvesting lot of bok choy and some kale but I forget to take pictures of these. I did take a snapshot of the harvest from the community garden: Ichiban eggplant, Italian eggplant, chinese giant red peppers, longhorn peppers, one beet, and lemongrass.
Harvest from community garden
Also, this is from 2 weeks ago, I pulled out the last of the tomatoes in my balcony garden.  These are pink champions. Next to the tomatoes are baby arugula and kale.
Last of the tomatoes from the end of september with arugula and baby kale
I'm also getting a good harvest of giant chinese red peppers. This year, the peppers are bigger than last year. I'm not sure why exactly, but I can't complain.
Giant chinese red pepper

I also found a funky looking pepper in the community garden. This is also a chinese giant red pepper. See it has a skinny little tail!
Tail on the red pepper
Side view of the alien pepper
I hope everyone's fall garden is doing well! Happy gardening!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sometimes laziness is good?!

I have not gone to my community garden for about 3 weeks or so. Since it has been raining periodically I figured the plants that are left in the garden will be alright. And it turn out, being lazy was good for my garden. One of the hot pepper plants died, but my eggplants (even the one battling the flea beetle) are thriving.  Other than these plants, I have chinese giant pepper, longhorn pepper, yellow pepper, snap peas, beets and lemongrass growing in the community garden.
Pablano pepper is dying, but other plants thriving
Ichiban eggplant
Italian eggplant - the plant that had the worst case of flea beetle attach
Black Beauty with many flowers
The lemongrass has gotten so much bigger. I need to start thinking of different ways to use it.
Bushy lemongrass
The first thing I tried was lemongrass tea. I made in the same way as mint tea, just cut up the whole lemongrass and boil it for 3 minutes. It made a beautiful and delicious tea.
Delicious lemongrass tea

Friday, October 5, 2012

Collecting basil seeds

I have been patiently waiting for the basil to produce some seeds for me to collect for next year.
Basil seed pods
some green and brown seed pods
I'm not quite sure when I'm suppose to harvest the seed pods. I thought it was when the pods were brown. But when I peek into the little pockets in the brown pods, the seeds have already dispersed. So I have harvested some brown and some green seed pods.
If you look into the pods that are still green, the seeds have not matured. So it seems that I cannot catch all the pods at the same time. I'm going to leave some in the pods after harvesting to see if they mature after harvesting. I guess I could also just pluck the pods with the mature seeds but that seems kind of tedious.
Mixture of mature and non-mature seeds

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What to do with kale? Green juice/smoothies!

I am loving all the greens I have on the balcony. The community garden also produced lots of kale and collards. I have quite a few bags full of greens in my freezer. I've been looking for new ways to use these greens. I've tried salad, kale chips and various ways to cook them down. One my favorite gardening youtuber, John Kohler, is a raw foodist. I am fascinated by this lifestyle - they do not heat food over 100-something degrees. I don't agree with the scientific explanation for why this type of diet is healthy, but you can't go wrong with eating lots of fruits and vegetables.  Some of the ways John consumes the bucketload of greens he grows is by juicing them or making green smoothies. So...after thinking about it for about 6 months I finally did it. I got a VITAMIX!!!
I've wanted the Vitamix to make tofu since my home blender cannot break down the soy beans fine enough. This Vitamix is powerful (and expensive)! I've been enjoying green smoothies in the mornings. It is pretty fantastic. I've also been making green juice. First I blend everything in the Vitamix and then I strain it through a cheese cloth. This actually takes forever but I'm not ready to commit to a juicer just yet. I prefer to figure out a better way to strain the pulp after blending. Tonight I blended kale (from farmer's market), grapes, oranges and ginger.
And after straining, the green juice looks like this.
This juice is really good. The grape+kale combination is my favorite so far. This vitamix was a very good investment!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Birth of ladybugs

I've noticed several ladybug larvae around the container garden. Then they disappeared so I thought they matured and few away. Then I found this on my collards (while I was searching for harlequin bug eggs).
birthing of a ladybug
This is the first time I witnessed the transformation of ladybug larvae to an adult. The change is huge! It is like the ugly duckling, the ladybug larvae is quite grotesque (spiny little critters). And it emerges from its shell as a beautiful shiny ladybug.  Here is another at the early stages of transformation.
Larvae entering the last stage of transformation
Also the basil are flowering. These basil flowers are attracting many bees...especially the huge bumble bees. I'll try to take a picture of them next time I see them in the garden.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Harvest Monday - September 10, 2012

I have an overabundance of hot pepper. 2 pepper plants that I thought were going to be sweet ended up being spicy. The jalapeno plants were also very productive. I got to a point where I just had to many spicy peppers. Since it is time to start planting fall vegetables so I decided to harvest all my jalapenos and pull the plant. I canned the jalapenos - very tasty but I have to find a way to use them more frequently. I still have a couple of cans from last year's harvest.
Large bowl of green and red jalapenos
I was able to harvest 2 cucumbers before the plant succumbed to powdery mildew. I am also starting to harvest zucchinis. I tasted the zucchini (raven) raw, it was good but the grey summer bounty variety I grew last year were sweeter. For some reason raw zucchini gives me a bad stomachache so I will be cooking up some zucchini. I'm actually freezing them so I can use them in soups during the winter.
Raven Zucchini (top) and Champion bush cucumbers (bottom two)
Out in the community garden, there are 2 spicy pepper. The longhorn pepper and pablanos. I'm not sure if the pablanos are really pablano because at the garden store I recall it being categorized as a sweet pepper. With the longhorn pepper, I made one can of hot sauce which required blending and boiling of the pepper. My nose and fingers were burning until the next day. The hot sauce is ridiculously spicy. I'm not sure if I will be able to use it really. Fortunately, the boyfriend eats lots of spicy food so maybe he will enjoy it. I also harvested some sweet peppers (big boy peppers) as well as eggplants (black beauty, italian, and ichiban).
Harvest fromt eh community garden. The green peppers are all the spicy peppers.
I have been able to harvest some cherokee purple from the balcony garden. Compared to the community garden, the tomatoes are small. But taste-wise, the tomatoes from the balcony container garden was one million times better. I'm wondering if it is because the balcony gets more sun. I'm not sure. But these tomatoes were INSANELY sweet and delicious. There are still a couple more waiting to ripen on the plant so I can't wait to harvest them.
Not so beautiful but delicious cherokee purple tomatoes
Tomatoes were peeled, but these are the BEST tasting tomatoes!
I'm linking up to Daphne's harvest Monday. She has a beautiful harvest and awesome looking butternut squash. It's also so much fun to see what other gardeners are harvesting too!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Harlequin bugs!

I've been feeling really lazy these past two weeks and been avoiding doing any garden chores. There is a lot of cleaning to do both on my balcony garden and community garden. I haven't gone to the community garden for some time...fortunately it has been raining on and off so the remaining plants are doing quite well. I planted some kale and bak choy - I will be posting updates later on.

This post is about bugs...and lots of them. I thought I would have problems with the brown stink bugs this year but in fact the little buggers that decided to hang out on my balcony is it's close cousin: the harlequin bugs. I've been noticing these creatures earlier in the season but they exploded in numbers about 3 weeks ago. There were consistently clusters of 4-5 pairs of harlequins bug couples on each of my three collard plant. There were also hanging out on my lone bok choy plant. My combat strategy was to shake them into a container filled with water, but for a while it seemed like it was not worth the fight.
The harlequin bug couples on collard are little camera shy
Harlequin bug in bok choy
The eggs of the harlequin bugs are absolutely beautiful and also easy to spot. So I've been checking the leaves frequently and scraping them off.
Eggs are pretty but must be destroyed!
At this point I feel that I may have won the war since I have not seen any harlequin honeymooners the past 2-3 days. You can clearly see the damage on the collard and bok choy. Fortunately, the damage was not too detrimental to the plant. The diversity of the insects in the garden never fails to surprise me.
Spots where harlequin feasted on collard juice
little damage on bok choy

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Something to look forward to!

    Things are definitely winding down in the community plot. I've pulled all but one of the tomato plants after harvesting all the remaining tomatoes. Now the raised garden looks so empty. I have some chinese broccoli and bok choy seedlings that I started some time ago. I'm not sure if I want to transplant them in the raised garden though...I'm finding that controlling bug/bird damage is more challenging in ground compared to my little container garden. But is an issue. I'll just have to think about it some more.
      There some exciting new developments at my balcony container garden. First, I started one zucchini (Dark green zucchini/Raven) in a 5 gallon container. It is having some problems with aphids, but I have been treating it with some soapy water and it seems to be somewhat in control. Overall it is a healthy looking plant.
Green Raven Zucchini in a 5 gallon container
And look-see. A little baby zucchini!
Little baby zucchini!
In another 5 gallon container, the surviving champion bush cucumber is doing well. I have to thank Carol for sending me the seeds!
Champion bush cucumber in 5 gallon container
As you can see, it is suffering from powdery mildew. I've been spraying it with baking soda solution...and I plan to go buy some Neem oil. If there are other solutions please let me know.
Little baby cucumber #1
Little baby cucumber #2
Despite the powdery mildew, there are some tiny cucumbers starting to fruit. So cute. There a whole bunch of little flowers so I hope I will be harvesting many more in the future. Thanks Carol!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Harvest Monday - August 20, 2012

Last week was probably my last big tomato harvest. I've eaten some in salads and the rest was used to make some tomato sauce. I think next year I will try to plant tomatoes that have more yield. This year, I've had good harvests but not as much as I hoped. 
Cherokee purple, mortgage lifter and Brandywine
Roma tomatoes
I got my first red pepper! It was pretty delicious, probably could have left it on the plant for longer. I see more are coming so I'm looking forward to that!
Roma tomatoes and Brandywine (harvested too early), one red pepper
The Ichiban eggplant is still producing some eggplants. They are a bit thin, but still delicious. out of all the eggplants, the Ichiban has been the best producers with little to no problem. Both the plant in the container and in-ground has done well. 
Ichiban eggplant, longhorn pepper, pablano pepper
I'm linking to Daphne's harvest monday!