Friday, March 14, 2014

Gardening Once More!

Well folks, after a few years of not being able to garden, I was bit hard by the bug this year. I kept putting off the urge for the last few months for an unfortunate reason - our yard is completely riddled with moles. They are seriously everywhere! I know it will take quite a bit of time and effort to get rid of the moles, so at first I decided I would have to forego a garden yet again. But then I went to the store to try to get a good tomato and came home empty handed for the millionth time this year. It is seriously impossible to get good tomatoes anymore! They are all white and hard or mealy - yuck. So, it renewed my vigor to plant my own :)

In light of my gardening desires combined with my mole-problems, I decided to plant mostly in containers. I have lots of pots from when I gardened while we lived in a condo a few years ago, so yesterday I went out to get soil and plants!

I started off my journey by going to my favorite local nursery - only to find that he is going out of business! I was very sad and had a nice chat with him about it all. He is trying to sell as much as possible, and he has great fruit trees so I took the plunge and bought a few I'd wanted for a while - who knows when I could get them in the future, right?
From left to right I got a key lime tree, a meyer lemon bush, and a miracle fruit tree. All of these are good sized and should produce fruit this year. The miracle fruit tree in particular is the one I knew I had to get - I've never seen another nursery around here that carries it. I can't wait to get fruits! I plan to go back next time I get paid and get a few more trees - I see peaches in my future :) I'm really sad he won't be in business after May though, so it's bittersweet. I planted all of these in a line along our side yard. This way they are out of the way, but still visible from the front to add some pizzazz to our yard.
Next here is my little herb garden :) I had to go to a different local nursery for these - I have a feeling they will be my new place after May since this place is really close to my house and also locally owned. They have only just started to get their herbs and veggies, so they didn't have everything I needed. I guess I have to go back :) For now I have Greek oregano, cilantro, English thyme, rosemary, Italian flat leaf parsley, lavender, beefsteak tomatoes, and a red pepper. I only potted the oregano, cilantro and thyme, but I will get the others done this weekend. Hooray for not having to pay grocery store prices for fresh herbs! I use them in my cooking, but my rabbit absolutely loves them - who knew? He gets really excited for parsley and cilantro in particular. It's like feeding them through a wood chipper, lol.

The center picture up there is of our inadvertent pumpkin patch - we were lazy and just set our old halloween pumpkin out the back door intending to take it to the trash ... and then it rained. The rain was so hard that it actually beat down the pumpkin and it was laying flat when we came out the next day. It decomposed quickly in the same place, and a few weeks later we noticed a couple of sprouts - it had started growing! We've nurtured it ever since, lol. I'm going to put it in a pot as well though since we don't really want a pumpkin vine right out our back door. It's looking healthy though :) And while I was in the garden, I finally helped out our old orange tree. The poor thing has been covered in moss since we moved in - so much so that it only produced one single orange. I got pretty scraped up from climbing into the tree, but it is now moss free and fertilized :) I hope we can give it a bit more TLC this year and get some oranges out of it.
Also on a gross note, check out the biggest grub I have ever personally seen in my life. I was digging the hole for the key lime tree and I stopped because it looked like there was a shrimp in the dirt. Seriously - it was the size of an uncooked jumbo shrimp, all curled up. I'm glad I found it so he couldn't munch my roots, but I had no idea what to do with him! I obviously didn't want to put him anywhere in my yard - but I also didn't want to be a jerk and toss it in my neighbors' yards. So he went in the trash can, lol. Man, he was disgusting.
In other garden related news, we harvested our loquat tree last Sunday. It's a really big tree, obviously pretty old, in our front yard and it is just covered with fruits. We got a ladder and picked what we thought would be enough to make jam - and thus the adventure began, lol. It turns out to make jam from loquats you need to clean them, peel them, remove their huge pits, and remove their inner membrane around the pits. And the recipe took 6 cups of loquat flesh to make! I'm not exaggerating - it took me about 4 hours to prep them and then make the jam. I basically vowed to never do it again, lol, but who knows - I may become addicted to the jam! It's ridiculously sweet - like apricots or honey. This was also my first try at hot water canning - they all sealed (despite my fears they wouldn't), but it did come out a bit runny. Turns out I added too much lemon juice while trying to keep the flesh from browning. Live and learn. At least it tastes good though :) My husband even likes it and he's not much of a jam eater.

So, now you will all have to survive garden related posts again, lol. I'm very excited to get to have a garden again and I am seriously counting the days until my first good tomato!

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