Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Mid-June in an Austin Urban Garden June 16, 2013

For the second year in a row, I’ve planted tomatoes in February, and covered them on cold nights.  I don’t believe it ever froze at my house this winter, and the practice has paid off again, with lots of early tomatoes.  I have eaten lots of tomatoes, canned lots of crushed tomatoes, and made lots of salsa.  My larder is more than full with enough to last until next tomato season.  I will also freeze some before the season is over.

First wave of tomatoes

First wave of tomatoes

Canned Salsa

Canned Salsa

IMG_1305

Fortunately, my anti-squirrel, anti-bird contraption worked, and I didn’t lose a single tomato to either.  I simply wrapped bird netting around a makeshift fence made from the foldable tomato cages.

Fence of Bird Netting

Fence of Bird Netting

So, today is June 16, 2013, and the summer heat has set in, and the stink bugs are just starting to appear in one of my tomato beds.   I’m good on tomatoes, so I’ve begun pulling up those plants that weren’t good producers, and those who appear to be done for the season.  It isn’t cost effective for me to continue to water, more than a couple of plants that will bear fruit for another month.  And, its hot, and gardening isn’t fun in this heat.   By the end of today, I’ll only have 2 -3 tomato plants in the ground; 2 hybrids that will march through this heat, seemingly unaffected, and one hearty heirloom that is still producing new fruit.  I’ve  come to the conclusion that planting early is the only way to go.

The tomatillos grew into hearty plants, formed their lanterns, then made very few tomatillos.  I will baby these through summer, and expect to be greatly rewarded in the fall.

Tomatillos

Tomatillos

The pepper bed is happy as can be and has given me lots of wonderful peppers.

Yesterday's pepper harvest

Yesterday’s pepper harvest

I used some of these in salsa I canned yesterday, but will need to get creative to eat them all.  I will start pickling some next week.

The cucumber and watermelon beds are wild right now, and probably over crowded.  I’m literally tripping over cucumbers, that are well hidden under the big leaves.  Cucumber plants never stay in the bed, they creep over the sides and into the lawn/pathways.  It’s pretty fun finding cucumbers that I didn’t even know were there.

Cucumber bed

Cucumber bed

Cucumber and melon bed

Cucumber and melon bed

Yesterday's cucumber harvest

Yesterday’s cucumber harvest

Watermelon!

Watermelon!

So far there is just one watermelon with any size.  I’m really crossing my fingers for Moon and Stars melons, because I’ve never seen one in person.

That’s the state of my garden as we head into the dog days of summer.  I learn something new every season, and its nice to have this blog to look back and compare from season to season.  Remember, if you want pumpkins for Halloween, you’ll need to plant seeds around July 4, which is quickly approaching.

Happy Gardening!

 

Memorial Day in an Austin Urban Garden May 29, 2011

I can’t believe the end of May is already here.  I feel so blessed with my harvest of tomatoes already, and there are more to come.  My kitchen window has housed the rotation of tomatoes from daily harvests for the last 5 weeks or so.

Yesterday's window

May 16th window

May 6th window

I have no idea how many tomatoes I’ve harvested this Spring, but it has been a lot.  Everyone who visits gets a bag full; everyone I visit gets a bag full, my freezer is full, and I’m eating them as fast as I can.  I’m in garden tomato heaven, and there are lots more where those came from.

More tomatoes!

The cucumbers have done fairly well, and I’ve harvested two very different ones, a Straight 8 and a long curly one.  Since those were harvested, the plants have taken off and started flowering more.

Cucumber plant

I pickled mine and some from the farmer’s market, yesterday.

Pickles

The peppers have been heavy producers as well, and I’m eating peppers every chance I get.  This morning I picked the biggest of the jalapenos, serranos, padrons and an Anaheim.  The Hinklehatz aren’t turning red just yet, but I have a plant full of them.

This morning's pepper harvest

The watermelon plants took off after I fed them some Buds and Blooms and gave them a good douse of water.  There are tiny watermelons making an appearance.

Watermelon

I still haven’t managed to grow fantastic corn.  It is delicious, but the ears never fill out as much as I’d like.

corn

 

My breakfast gets eaten outside these days, as I pluck nearly ripe tomatoes with blackberry stained fingers.

Superfruit

The citrus are coming right along, too.  Meyer lemons, key limes, and  Satsuma oranges have all set fruit.

Meyer Lemon

I have had a dwarf peach tree in a pot on my driveway for 3 or 4 years.  Each year, it has peaches on it, and each year, they get stolen, by some animal.  This year, my little tree has 18 peaches on it, and remains unmolested by nature.  I’m ecstatic.

Peaches!

I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful garden this year.  Yet, I have no idea why my garden, and everyone else’s that I know, are so very productive and trouble free.  Did the freeze kill the bugs?  Maybe.  But where are the squirrels?  I have no idea, but I’m thankful for it!

 

Early Spring in an Austin Urban Garden March 27, 2011

I’m thankful for today,  the cooler weather, and the possibility of rain, which we sorely need around these parts.  My gardens are looking great, and I’m hopeful for some successes and fewer heartaches than last Spring, during which my crops were plagued by stinkbugs, leaf footed bugs, leaf cutters and an unrelenting either Mockingbird or Squirrel.  All is calm on all of these fronts, yet I remain cautiously optimistic, because they seemingly show up overnight.  I’m very enthusiastic about my fruit trees, all covered in blossoms and being visited by a bee daily.

The onions that had been bolting a breakneck speed, seem to have stopped, and are starting to bulb above ground.  I will have no shortage of rather large 1015′s this Spring, Summer and Fall.  The smaller, bolted onions have all been pulled, and I’m drying some for storage.

 

onions drying

 

Once they form their harder outer skin, I’ll store them in a cool dark place and use them as needed for the next 6 to 8 months, or however long they last.  I’ll do the same with the big ones when they let me know they are ready to be pulled by falling over.

 

Onions hanging in there

 

I took advantage of the available space in the other onion bed, to plant 2 jalapeno peppers and an Israeli Melon.  I predict the rest of the onions will be done in a couple of weeks and am looking forward to the space.

The big garden in the back yard is doing well too.  From left to right in the picture, are leeks, lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, and strawberries.

 

Big garden

 

I’m hopeful at the already abundant tomato production.

 

Stupice Tomatoes

Early Girl

 

The 4×8 foot garden behind the big garden is equally as full – I’m hoping not too full.  Through some creative planting, I managed to fill it with snap peas, corn, carrots, leeks, and potatoes.  If potatoes don’t make you feel like a roaring success, nothing will.  They come up big, grow fast, are dark and healthy looking, then provide you with a big crop, if all goes well.

 

4x8 foot garden

 

On the side of the house is the re-purposed garden, which I have made a dedicated tomato garden.  No matter how much food my gardens produce, I always judge my success as a gardener, by the tomatoes.  This is a 3×8 foot garden.  As I did last year, for education reasons, I planted tomatoes in Earthboxes for comparison.  This garden was unaffected by pests last year, so I’m hopeful that is the case again.

 

Just tomatoes

I’m very tempted to drop a few watermelon seeds in that bed, but I haven’t done so yet.  There is a fat Celebrity tomato in the center plant that should be my first ripe fruit of the season in a couple of weeks.

 

Right now, I couldn’t be happier or more hopeful about the status of my gardens.  But, with heat the pests come, so I’m not going to rest on my laurels just yet.

 

 
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