Monday, November 9, 2015

The First Carrot

Gardening in Central Texas is going to take some trial and error. Between the 100+ summer temperatures and the intermittent floods, my fall/winter vegetables are struggling. I seeded some carrots mid-July--Scarlet Nantes, a variety that should take 65-70 days to mature. Figuring my carrot patch needed some extra time after the extreme weather, I waited to check on progress until this weekend. Here is the most robust specimen:

Scarlet Nantes

This variety is supposed to be 6-8 inches long! I'll give this little guy credit for tasting great, but it was two bites at most.

Patience is in order.

Speaking of which...

Here's a look at the backyard at 9am a couple of Fridays ago. It got worse before it got better and there were some nervous moments as the water crept up the threshold. Since then, my builder has graciously installed a french drain system. Now it's time to wait for the next big downpour to make sure the new system can keep up with the flow of water from three neighbors and my roof, all of which dumps into my tiny backyard.

Outside of the garden, life is good. I'm ready to return to the blog because, after a year without it, I've realized that writing here forces me to set and accomplish goals throughout the year. Otherwise, it's easy to let months at a time slip through my fingers without accomplishing much other than financial goals (my finances are nearly automated at this point, so I'm not sure that should count as an accomplishment)!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The First Cantaloupe

During my first year in Austin, I wanted to take a deep breath, navel gaze a little less, and adjust. This is why you haven't heard much from me in this space. I was a little surprised to realize that my first year is nearly up--it will be time soon for setting goals and making plans.

Until then, here are some pictures from the cantaloupe vine I've been growing in my backyard. This is the Super 45 Cantaloupe hybrid from Bonnie Plants. I transplanted the seedling in May. The first male flower appeared 14 weeks ago, the vine set its first fruit 5 weeks ago and the melon ripened last Friday. It's been a long wait!

This variety is resistant to powdery mildew and doesn't seem to mind the hot Texas summer. It has greedily taken over three separate trellises. All that space for just one melon! While plenty of other fruits have attempted to set over the past month or so, none have progressed (one theory: I don't have many pollinators visiting my backyard). Now that this first melon is off the vine it will be interesting to see whether another takes its place.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The First Tomatoes

In Tokyo, the fresh produce on offer was always of an exceptional quality. The fruit, in particular, was so perfect that it seemed unreal--much like the prices ($4 for one apple).

At some point during my two year stay in Japan and after shelling out more than my share of yen for fruits and veggies, I started thinking about the vegetables I wanted to grow when I returned to the US. I'd never had a garden before and wasn't sure I would have the yard for one any time soon. That's why it started with tomatoes.

A law school classmate with a green thumb suggested I start with a Patio Tomato. They grow well in containers, produce 3-4 ounce tomatoes, and mature quickly (70 days). For my first attempt at producing something edible, I didn't dare start from seed. Instead I bought my first Patio Tomato from Home Depot and later picked up another at HEB.

My efforts got off to a rocky start:

I let out a yelp when I found this caterpillar
chowing down on one of my first tomatoes.
After a little experimentation, I figured out where in the yard the plants would get the right amount of sun and how fend off pests. Pretty soon I had a little stockpile of ripe tomatoes in my kitchen:

Patio Tomato
Since I had also been growing some sweet basil, this means I've had more than my share of fresh, fragrant caprese salad lately:

Caprese with tomato and sweet basil from my garden
I've been surprised by how much I've enjoyed the process. There is something about the experience of growing edible plants that mirrors the excitement I felt in science lab as a teenager. The research, experimentation, and anticipation of results--there's a little suspense every time I walk into the backyard to see how things are coming along.

So much so that I've expanded my efforts. There are a few other varieties of tomatoes that I started from seed. I've recently started seedlings for a fall garden: broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, pumpkin and spinach. I also have mature herbs, watermelon and cantaloupe vines, and lemon and lime trees growing.

It all started with one little tomato plant from Home Depot. Thanks to TP for the encouragement!