The pot-AH-ger has been soooo very neglected on the blog and is crying out for attention. Okay, not really, tis me who wishes to post about the vegetable garden. The AH in the potager is what I say each time I go to eat a strawberry-ah then yum! The fact that I haven't been posting about the vegetable/potager garden does not mean that it has been neglected. Quite the contrary. In fact I somehow manage to fit in maintenance on the potager as well as a few gardens but all gardens are feeling about as neglected as the potager this spring. It has been a busy spring!
The strawberries are awesome! They are so awesome the chipmunks think so too. Do you see the bite out of the big one? Yup, the chipmunks have that sixth sense and know exactly when to nibble the strawberries. We have had a big problem with chipmunks this year and I hear we are not alone. I have taken to trapping them and the dogs have been killing them. Together we might get the population down a bit so the fruits and vegetables in the potager will be safe for us to eat.
I grew June bearing strawberries this year. Actually, the plants were planted last year. We really didn't get any strawberries last year but this year we've gotten a whole bunch. I recommend planting June bearers over everbearers. The everbearers are good and sweet and you can pick a few over a period of months but you never really get enough to satisfy the desire for sweet strawberries. At least I didn't when I grew them years ago. With everbearers we actually enjoy strawberries daily and not just one or two. This is in spite of the chipmunks and a mold or fungus that has been attacking the ripe strawberries. If we don't pick the berries fast enough some of them are molding and turning gray; especially the ones inside of the above bed. The mold is very frustrating and I need to figure out the problem. For the most part the June bearers have been easy to grow and harvest and so AH yummy!
The blackberries are beginning to change colors. Raspberries are also ripening and boy are they good! I ate one on Wednesday and wow they taste just like the berries my grandmother would feed me as child. This is only the second year for both the blackberries and raspberries and judging by the amount of new canes (which will bear fruit next year) the amount of berries will only increase with time. I'm so excited!
The tomato plants are getting big. There aren't any blossoms or tomatoes as of yet. I am also growing three 'Silver Fir' heirloom tomatoes in pots out front. I started those plants from seed and had great luck with the seeds. Those plants already have blooms and I am looking forward to tasting those tomatoes. The 'Silver Fir' tomatoes are determinate and not indeterminate. Normally I grow only indeterminate tomatoes (the plant grows indefinitely) and not the determinate variety (plants stop growing at a certain point and all tomatoes ripen at the same time) 'Silver Fir' is but I received a bunch of free heirloom seeds last year. When I sowed them in the mini greenhouse in March all seeds germinated and have grown into lovely plants. I am pretty sure I got the seeds from Seeds of Change but can't find 'Silver Fir' on their website; which I think is odd. I did a posting on Seeds of Change last year you can find here if you'd like more information. Perhaps they don't carry 'Silver Fir' anymore.
The lettuce was late this year. Odd since everything else was early. Usually we eat fresh lettuce every day but so far this year we've not eaten as much. It is most likely most of the lettuce will be used to feed the rabbits as I suspect it will start turning bitter soon.
The peas are quite tall and are finally producing. I just can't get the knack of growing peas. No matter when I plant them the peas take weeks and weeks to germinate. Then they are slow to get going and before I know it the weather is hot. Note the strawberry plants outside of the potager proper, those are the strawberries for the chipmunks-if only they'd stay out of the potager they could have all they want! Since we have dogs we like to only eat the veggies and fruits from inside of the fenced potager; which makes sense for obvious reasons.
The blueberry bushes are loaded this year. They like the new location of a well watered potager over a dry partly sunny ornamental bed in the Northside Shrub Border. The robins are anxiously waiting for these berries to ripen. I can't walk near the potager without half a dozen of them flying off and scolding me for intruding on their space. The robins are a big nuisance. I will soon be netting the blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. I don't mind sharing but last year we got only ONE blueberry the whole season. That will certainly not work this year.
I have told you all about our chipmunk problem and I have also alluded to a dog problem as well, but I really haven't discussed the issues in detail. The chipmunks themselves don't cause half as much damage as the moose known as AJ and the ballerina known as Lady. AJ cannot jump so he barrels after the chipmunks-no fence or plant will stand in his way. He has destroyed daylilies, croscomia, hydrangeas, flowering tobacco, and peonies. What he doesn't destroy by trampling on his quest to catch a chipmunk (he never does catch them but does steal them from Lady when she catches them and acts like he caught the varmints) Lady will dig up. She has dug up Japanese maples, hellebores, a kerria, a camellia, and numerous other plants. I have finally gotten so fed up that we have begun outlining the gardens with the underground wire fence that keeps our dogs contained. Soon the dogs will not only be contained but they will also be limited to only grassy areas-that is my hope. That underground wire fencing system works well. Can you see AJ's collar with the receiver on his neck? He never goes outside without that collar on. Immediately after we (okay, Mr. Fix-it and the Jimster) installed the wire the dogs somehow just knew it and wouldn't even come off the deck! So far two large gardens have been wired but now the transmitter is not sending out as strong of a signal as it did when we initially installed it. The signal is enough to keep the dogs at bay for now but as we install more wire Mr. Fix-it is worried about the dogs going through the signal. All I am worried about are my gardens. We love our dogs but they can be really annoying at times.
I have to tell you a funny story about AJ. AJ tries so hard to be a good boy but he is hard headed and not as laid back as my dear BJ was. AJ cannot jump and doesn't move very fast. He is a big stocky dog with short legs and is not a nimble dog at all. The other day he came up to the back door holding in his mouth what I thought was a stick. I told him to drop it and what fell out of his mouth? A stiff and straight as a board chipmunk! And he acted like he had the best prize in the whole world. His tail was just a wagging and he was smiling at me as if to say, "Aren't I a good boy???? Yeah, yeah, yeah!" He wasn't fooling me though. That varmint he had 'caught' had been dead a while and I'll bet 100 to 1 that Miss Lady killed it. That's okay, hopefully we'll fix the chipmunk problem so the vegetables and gardens will be safe for fresh eating....
in the garden....
Happy Mother's Day to my mother and all the mothers out there!