Saturday, April 27, 2013

Charm city Peru!

My parents and I just came back from a fantastic trip to Peru. This is my first time in South America, and Peru was a perfect country to start. My mother has been wanting to visit Machu Picchu and the Nazca lines for years now and we finally got our act together and planned out (or should I say selected a travel agency) our 7-day trip to the land of the Incas. It was a very busy trip - going from one place to the next but it was one of the best vacations I've taken. Between my mother and I, we took a gazillion pictures. Here are a couple of pictures.
Coca tea - I was so excited to try this. It wasn't the best tasting tea, but it is supposed to help with the altitude
Definite highlight of the trip - Machu Picchu. So gorgeous
Inca backyard garden:)
Nazca hummingbird from the sky. I unfortunately was totally sick on the flight and could barely look out the window
Birds on the Ballestas island in Paracas. This island is FULL of birds, penguins and seals.
They collect guano for every 7 years. Paradise for these animals and also a great resource for farmers.
Usually when I take mini trips, I'm worried about my plants back home. But this time I didn't think about it much. But I was happy to come home to find all my plants happy and healthy. Updates to follow.

Friday, April 19, 2013

On the balcony: peas, arugula, fava beans shoots

The peas have started to sprout, still not big enough to grow up the trellis. I have three 3-gallon containers of snow peas - maybe I'll have enough plants to collect some snow pea tips for one little little side dish of stir fry (I just love snow pea tips).
Snow peas looking lovely
The arugula in the 18 gallon container is looking strong! Compared to the arugula growing indoors, you can really tell that the ones outside are much thicker and stronger. I sowed half the container with arugula and the other half with mache. But the mache (sowed on the far end) hasn't germinated at all.
Arugula, fava beans and sunchoke
I also sowed 3 fava beans and sunchokes in this container. You can see all three in the picture below. Can you spot the fava beans and sunchoke among the tree of arugula? (the sunchoke is really hard to see).
Fava beans, arugula and sunchoke....probably cannot see
The mint is starting to pop up too. You can tell it is root-bound since there is a cluster shoots coming up from the periphery of the pot.
Mint regrowing - coming back strong

Monday, April 15, 2013

Perils of growing indoors - gnats gnats everywhere!

I was being super super careful about watering and trying to get the soil dry in between watering. Here is my mizuna growing indoors. Still little babies but going strong... you can see the soil is dry
But look at my sticky yellow tape fly catcher...
I will continue to try to control my watering and add a little neem to the water. It is actually not too bad...but still. I just don't like bugs...especially in the house.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Containers soil recycling and potatoes planted

I had a very busy weekend of prepping all the containers for the season. I am very lucky because my parents are visiting and I had my mom to help me. I usually can only do 2 -3 pots a day because I just hate this part of gardening. I had pulled out all the vegetables that were left in the pot over the winter but I hadn't gone through to get rid of roots and break up the soil. There is nowhere to "throw" old soil out and my balcony is at full capacity. So I am amending with just a scoopful of cow manure, peat moss, vegetable fertilizer, bone meal, garden lime and azomite. I'm comfortable with almost everything except the garden lime. My mother was asking if I had "yodosekkai" - which of course I didn't know what it was but googled it and it came up as lime. I did have garden lime that I bought thinking I may grow some blueberries but had not used it.  I've been reading a little and it seems that gardeners in US (and UK) don't really use it unless their soil is very acidic. Now I'm thinking my soil may be too basic, and I am thinking of getting a pH meter to check. I did use a little peat moss so I'm hoping it equals out. But the cleaned pots look fantastic and I really appreciate my mom helping me. I definitely would not have finished without her.
Containers organized - soil recycled
My seed potatoes have really grown some big sprouts. Again I was lucky that my mother was around - she urged me that they were ready to be put into soil.
Two yukons and one purple potato
We (or I should say she) prepped two bags - tied off the ends so that it'll stay upright.
Added some soil...
then the potatoes...
some more soil and a grid to keep the rats/birds/squirrels away and now we wait to see what happens.
We also cleaned up my little corridor next to the house. My neighbor's family was visiting from out of town, and asked me the other day if I saw rats around here. I said, of course, and he said that he caught one in the corridor the some days back. I'm grateful he is combating the rats and not sure if he set up traps, but it is kind of a lost cause. This is Baltimore city...there are rats everywhere and there is no possible way to catch them all.
Cleaned up space - using every inch of my property to grow food

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Indoor veggies and preparing for the dreaded stink bug...

The container of garlic and arugula is doing exceptionally well. The arugula is growing like gangbusters! I plan to thin them out a little bit in time, but for now I really like the look of the container. There are roots coming out the bottom of the container - I'm guessing this is from the garlic. I doubtful that there is enough space for the garlic to make a substantial bulb but who knows?
arugula and garlic
I also have one container of chives...and some seeds have germinated but the "chives" are super super thin. Don't know if that is what they should look like. I feel like I should throw down more seeds because the container is looking really sparse.
Chives looking very scraggly
I've been on several sites that we are supposed to have a really bad season with stink bugs this year. It seems that last year a good portion of these critters died off at the larval stage, but this year they are back with a vengeance.  I've been saving the net bags that oranges and onions come in for the purpose of preventing cross-pollination and seed saving. But I think these may come in handy for protecting veggies from stink bugs. I hope the entomologists (or whoever monitors these bugs) have it wrong and it won't be so bad:(
Colorful netting for veggie protection