June 30, 2011

Peekaboo Potatoes

The 'Red Norland' potatoes I planted this spring are starting to form tubers. I happened to see a little red poking out of the soil after our last rainstorm. The plants just recently started to flower, so I'll wait a little longer before digging any of the potatoes.

June 29, 2011

Colorful Lettuce

My lettuce bed is looking very lush and colorful. However, the hot weather is making the leaves start to turn bitter. Hopefully I'll get to enjoy salads for a while longer.

June 27, 2011

Cactus and Lithops from Seed

I haven't posted lately about the cactus and lithops that I started from seed this spring (partially because I had them tucked away on my deck behind hundreds of vegetable seedlings that were stealing my attention most of the time. However, I recently moved my entire cacti and succulent collection to my picnic table. I've put them there each summer since I moved here and they really seem to do well outside all summer.

Some of the lithops are starting to crack open and grow their next set of "leaves". They are still really tiny (smaller than a pencil eraser).

The mixed cactus seedlings are doing really well. I don't think I've ever had them get this large the first year. The especially large ones are probably various types of opuntia because they always seem to grow faster. I should probably try to transplant some of them soon because they are forming a solid mat in some areas of the seed tray.

June 26, 2011

First Raspberry

I almost didn't notice this ripe raspberry because it was very close to the ground. I can't wait to get more!

June 25, 2011

Eggs Rolling In!

As I mentioned earlier this week, on of my chickens started laying eggs recently. While the first egg (on Monday) had no shell, I got a perfect little brown-shelled egg on Thursday and another slightly larger egg on Friday. 
I had to hurry out and install my nest boxes (storage cubes from Target) because I wasn't expecting any eggs for another several weeks. I put a grit filled Easter egg in each box as a decoy. The Easter eggs seem to be working because I saw the chicken that I suspect is doing the laying in one of the boxes "practicing" on Tuesday. I nailed a board across the bottom of the crates to create a raised edge so the eggs and bedding don't get kicked out.

The egg on the bottom is from Thursday and the slightly larger egg on top is from Friday. 

I'm assuming my brown eggs will slowly increase in size until they are more similar to this large white grocery store egg. Thinking of that, I will probably never have to buy grocery store eggs again!

June 24, 2011

Polyphemus Moth

I found this enormous polyphemus moth hanging out inside the chicken coop. This has to be the biggest insect I've ever seen in Michigan (although this doesn't even come close to some of the crazy insects I saw during my expeditions in Panama)

The antennae are very cool. They look so soft, I wanted to pet them. 

June 22, 2011

Tomato Update

There are a number of 'volunteer' tomato plants coming up around the garden including this one growing out the side of my compost pile. While most of them get pulled, I always leave a few here and there to see what will happen.

Some of the tomato plants that I got from the greenhouse at work already have somewhat large fruit. This year may be the earliest I'll ever get a ripe tomato, which is surprising considering how cold it has been.

June 21, 2011

Surprise Egg!

I was shocked to find a egg out in the chicken run last night. The chickens are only about 4 months old! I don't even have the nest boxes installed in their coop yet. The egg was laid sometime between 8 and 9:15 pm. As soon as I walked to the coop to shut the chickens in for the night I saw it out on the grass. One of the chickens grabbed the outer membrane and ran off with it greedily and the others started poking at the yolk. Luckily, I distracted them before any of them got a good taste...I would hate for my chickens to have a problem with egg eating right from the start.

Did I mention that the egg had no shell? It's normal for the first few eggs to come out a little funky. This egg had a neat orange rubbery membrane on the outside.

And look at the color of that yolk! So intensely orange! I can't wait to taste them, but I think I'll wait until they are a bit more well formed.

June 20, 2011

Homemade Pizza with Garlic Scapes and Cooked Greens

I was really happy to find garlic scapes at the farmer's market. I've never tried them before and the garlic I grow is the wrong kind for producing scapes.

I decided to make a vegetarian pizza with cooked greens from my garden (including arugula, chard, kale, and spinach) and sauteed garlic scapes from the farmer's market.

I was never fed cooked greens as a kid because my parents hated them, but I think they're great (especially when sauteed with garlic).

While not super attractive, the pizza was garlicky, semi-healthy (as far as pizza toppings go) and very delicious.

June 19, 2011

Grad School Rite of Passage

I thought I'd mention that I may not be posting as much in the next month (or the posts will be mostly photos). I'm starting the comprehensive exam process for my PhD tomorrow. Eek!

While it differs by University, program, and committee, my comprehensive exams will take about a month to complete. Each of my four committee members will assign me a one-day written examination over the next two weeks. After I (hopefully) pass the written exams, I will have two weeks off to make my final preparations for my oral examination. During the oral exam, my committee members spend 2 to 4 hours grilling me on basically any topic they feel like I should be knowledgeable about. Since my committee members have diverse backgrounds, that means I could be asked almost anything! I've been studying regularly since late January, so hopefully I've prepared myself enough.

This is generally an pretty stressful process for the student. I'm hoping that in the next month I don't drive my boyfriend absolutely crazy, let the garden turn into a weed-infested jungle (although it partially already is), and gain 10 pounds from stress eating.

June 17, 2011

Squirrely Pumpkin

My last remaining jarrahdale pumpkin finally started to rot. I put it out on the deck just to get it out of the house. The next morning I found this! At least somebody is getting a few extra miles out of this pumpkin.

June 16, 2011

Farmer's Markets in the News!

Here's a nice article on farmer's markets in the Lansing area that I found today in Lansing's City Pulse newspaper. I'm briefly quoted towards the end (I was interviewed last weekend at my market). Check out the cover art on the paper! It's awesome! I really wish I could get the "Veg Out" wagon printed on a t-shirt (minus the city pulse logo and other text).

June 15, 2011

First Strawberry of the Season

I scraped off the slug (and the area it was munching on) and ate it anyways. Yum!

June 13, 2011

Around the Garden

The edamame and green beans came up nicely. They don't look quite as drunken as my snow peas.

I hope these strawberries survive until ripe. I've been seeing some nipped-off stems here and there. Rabbits? Squirrels? Feral Cats?

My white peonies look great right now. As soon as it rains hard, they will flop over though.

My fava beans are looking good. I can see tiny flower buds forming.

Finally! Some harvestable spinach!

June 11, 2011

What to do with Radishes?

I've never been much of a radish eater. They are too spicy for me, but I like the flavor and crunch.

I grew a fun radish mix this year with about a dozen types with various shapes and colors. Maybe I'll find one I like!

Any suggestions on how to cook/serve/eat radishes?

June 10, 2011

Planting Time

I finally got around to planting all my veggie seedlings last weekend (and I'm finally getting around to writing about it now). Let me tell you, it takes a long time to plant 54 tomatoes plus numerous cucumbers, zucchinis, peppers, tomatillos, gourds, pumpkins, and herbs. Phew!

The bed in the foreground is the only empty spot I have left. I'm planning on putting some pattypans and watermelons there...when I get a round to it. Directly behind the empty bed are some of my tomatoes.

I'm really happy I decided to smother and mulch the grass between my raised beds this year. It's so much easier to mow around rather than in between all the paths.

My lettuce bed is doing really well now.  Hopefully the 90 degree weather we are getting all of a sudden won't ruin things for me. Seriously, we went from April-like weather to August-like weather in about one week!

June 9, 2011

Fried Chicken

I hope the chickens are adjusting to our rapidly increasing temperatures. I've been seeing lots of open mouth breathing and floppy wings lately (signs of being hot). Luckily they have shady spots all day long to rest in as well as the garage coop to take refuge. They have also taken to digging up the ground to reach cooler soil (I wonder how much longer there will be grass in their enclosure).

June 8, 2011

First Farmer's Market Results

I meant to mention something sooner about my first farmer's market of the season last Saturday, but I've been quite busy (my comprehensive exams start in 13 days). The market was very hot and muggy. I'm not sure if that was the cause of the lack of customers, but market traffic seemed very sparse. 

Here are some photos to recap the day:

Multi-directional onion...not sure what's going on here. I took four bunches of green onions and came home with four bunches of green onions. At least my parents were happy when they received a giant bag of green onions the next day.

Salad mix with lettuce, arugula and mizuna. I sold all three bags I took. 

I was surprised that I was the only vendor selling salad mix so far. I guess I must have gotten my lettuce planted earlier than everyone else.

Bouquet of cilantro. I sold most of the bunches of cilantro too.

Here are all the crates of perennials and vegetable seedlings waiting to be loaded into the car. I was disappointed by how few of them I sold, yet I still made slightly more than my average market day last year. I'm planning on donating everything that's left after this coming Saturday's market to a local community garden 

June 6, 2011

Found Object Garden Art

I found a disassembled baby crib on the side of the road a few years back.
I turned the crib (which I lovingly refer to as a baby cage) into a decorative fence at my parent's house. I quick hose down removed all the mystery stickiness and new coat of paint made it really pop out of the garden!

Scarlet Runner Beans growing on the baby crib fence.

The purple columbines (which I have since transferred to my house) looked great with the purple backdrop.

I even used the springs from the crib for growing snow peas.

June 3, 2011

On Tap for the Farmer's Market

Here's the complete list of what I'll be selling at the farmer's market this Saturday. Hopefully the weather will hold out and the customers will come in swarms!

Fresh Produce:
green onions
(I wish there were more options in this category, but spring is so far behind this year)

Perennial Flowers:
golden marguerites
wild ginger
lamb's ears
bearded iris

spider plant
cat grass

Vegetable Transplants:
heirloom tomato

Herb Transplants:

Farmer's Market Finds

I attended our local Wednesday farmer's market (there are actually quite a few farmer's markets in my area) and came home with a wonderful loaf of rosemary potato bread, a pound of raw honey (which I drizzled on the bread), and the two heirloom tomato seedlings I mentioned yesterday (Creme Brulee, and Chocolate Stripes).

I'm happy that farmer's market season is started up now. Not only will I get to try new things at other markets, but I'll make a little money at my own market stand.

June 2, 2011

I Can't Believe I Did It Again

I can't believe I bought two more tomato seedlings at the farmer's market yesterday. But how can you resist names like 'Creme Brulee' and 'Chocolate Stripes'? I'm big into black tomatoes, so these will surely add to my collection.

In addition, I received an Orange Sungold from a friend. This will be the one and only hybrid in my garden this year, but I hear it is delicious.

Now my total tomato count is up to at least 115 plants (including 22 varieties). Many of these are for my parents, my brother and his girlfriend, or for the farmer's market (which starts Saturday, by the way). However, that still leaves 56 plants (including 21 varieties) for my personal garden. Good thing I expanded my garden so much this year.

A small portion of last year's haul.

It's gonna be a good summer...

June 1, 2011

Bearded Iris

I'm not really sure where this white iris came from. I was shocked when I discovered it in my front border. It must be a sport from my dark purple iris. Can this happen?

The flowers on this white iris are huge and pure white.

Here are the dark purple iris that I think must have given rise to the white iris. These purple iris came from my parent's house (which came to them from a neighbor). I love how plants migrate through people.

I've had dark purple columbine revert to white a couple years ago, so maybe this can happen. I don't like the white ones, but I can't bring myself to pull them out.

This light purple iris came with the house. I have a ton of it and it's gorgeous every year!

This peachy colored iris also came with the house. It used to be on the side of the house in the shade. It wasn't flowering well, so I moved it to the front border. I was surprised that it flowered this spring considering I just transplanted it a couple months ago.
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