Mystery Compost Plant

Mystery PlantThis mystery plant has sprouted up next to one of my pepper plants. While it might be a weed, I think it’s from a fruit or vegetable seed left over in the worm castings I used as fertilizer.

I wonder what it could be? The flowers dangle in the same way that pepper flowers do, except they are yellow, not white. The leaves are pocked with holes and the stalk is not as woody as the pepper plant stem. Hmm…

UPDATE – 7-10-11: It’s a tomatillo plant!  I am certain. Looks just like this guy here. And it makes perfect sense. I always buy tomatillos from the Associated on Seneca because they look so cute with their little paper coats. Then I bring them home and have no idea of what to do with them. They stay in fridge a couple of weeks (or more) and then go right into the compost. I’ll have to study up on some recipes in advance so my home growns don’t go to waste.


Happy 4th!

Rooftop Fireworks Ridgewood Queens View from our roof…

Ridgewood Queens Rooftop View

Garden Update

A bad summer cold has kept me out of the garden this week. But things are really growing! I felt slightly better today and took some photos. If only my sore throat would go away so I could start eating real food. Each day there is more and more to pick. The above cabbage looks ready for harvesting.

Tomato ForestThe tomato plants are finally making tomatoes.

These are either Ananas Noire or Black Elephant.

Rotten Tomato
Two have blossom end rot!  I’ve read that it may be due to a calcium deficiency. Also infrequent watering, which I am definitely guilty of this week. I must find a cure.

The beets were a real disappointment. Maybe it was too hot? I pulled them out of the ground since their leaves were starting to shrivel and brown. I think I’ll plant another batch for fall.

The Cayenne peppers are doing great – except the leaves on some of the plants are a little yellow. According to this forum on Garden Web, it might mean that they’re getting too much water.

String Beans
I have string beans! Purple and green. Some are nearly 6 inches long.

Atomic Purple CarrotHere is a baby Atomic Purple carrot. I couldn’t resist pulling it out to take a peak. My throat can only handle ice pops and chicken soup right now, so I gave it to my boyfriend and he reported back that it’s delicious.

Sugar Baby WatermelonThis is a tiny Sugar Baby Watermelon. The vines are growing 4-5 inches a day and have already reached the top of our trellises.

And here is my giant cucumber. I have a few others that have started to grow, but this one is by far the largest. Like the melon vines, the cucumbers have already climbed over the trellises and are starting to work their way across to the other side.

BeesThe bees are definitely to thank for all of this melon-cucumber activity. (Thank you, bees!) I’m no apiologist, but I think I’ve spotted at least four different species buzzing around.


Ridgewood Queens GardenThe trellises are DONE, man.

TrellisesFinally – after two weekends in the making – we have a place for our cucumbers and melons to climb.

CucumberThe project taught me a very important lesson about gardening order of operations: your trellises should be in place BEFORE your plants start to grow. (Duh.) Untangling the delicate vines and tiny tendrils and training them to go up the net was a giant P.I.T.A. There were a few casualties – some broken leaves, two bent stems – but thankfully, no fatalities. Yet.

TrellisesThe actual structures were quite easy to build: each consists of a 4 x 5′ wooden frame. Stringing the orange nylon string to create the grid was a bit more tedious. To save time, we used store-bought netting to connect the other two sides once the trellises were installed. (Word to the wise about Burpee trellis netting: it is harder to unscramble than a Rubix cube. The entire net came packaged in a giant, frustrating knot that took 30 minutes to undo.)


Harry - my Harvest Helper - with Letuce and Turnips I am finding it a little difficult to keep up with all of my chores these days…if only I could quit my job and become a full-time gardener. Regular maintenance is fine, but I have some major projects that keep getting sidelined (still working on those trellises!), and getting out the door by 7 and home again at 8 or 9 has cut my garden time down to a precious 15-30 minutes a day.

LettucesOur harvests, however, have been really great. With so much arugula, lettuce and kale, I haven’t had to buy any vegetables in a little over three weeks.

Strawberries and Cayenne Peppers
The strawberries have been – I admit – a little puny and tart. But I grew them, so they still make me proud. The cayenne peppers are nice to mix into my breakfast egg tacos. I pick some green and let the rest mature to red.

Japanese Turnips
My first crop of Japanese turnips.

Japanese Turnip Pickles
I made them into refrigerator pickles.

The arugula has started to bolt, so we’ve been gobbling it up before it becomes inedible. Salads every day this week…

Killer Kale & Rogue Tomatoes

Ridgewood Queens GardenIt was a lovely weekend to be in the garden. We made some progress on our trellises. (Actually, my boyfriend made some progress on our trellises while I danced around and pestered him.) They should be ready to install tomorrow, which is good because my cucumbers are really sprawling.

Tuscan Black KaleWith no other major projects, I was able to focus on weeding, fertilizing and harvesting. Tonight we are going to eat this gigantic head of kale.

AffenpinschersMy two little garden helpers were also out and about. Harry and Lucy – our Affenpinchers (aka “The Beasts”) – love to trample through the flowers and dig in the dirt.

Rogue TomatoesAnd while doing my rounds today, I noticed at least five new rogue tomato plants that have grown from seeds left over in the worm castings taken from our vermicompost bin.

Rogue Tomatoes
I used the castings to fertilize the soil where I planted some flowers, and I thought the tomatoes were just another variety of marigold until today. But there is no denying it – they are definitely tomatoes. And now that they’re over a foot tall, I don’t have the heart to yank them out.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll outperform my giant tomato trees in the back planters. They’ll be getting a lot of help from the marigolds (a companion plant to tomatoes) a few inches away. I’m also really curious to see what kind of fruit we get.

New Blooms

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum)While vegetables are my main focus this year, I also planted a few types of flowers to attract bees and add some color. There is no rhyme or reason to my selection and arrangement – I just tossed a bunch of seeds around to see what would grow. But once I get the whole vegetable garden thing down, I’d love to actually “curate” my flower beds.

Baby's Breath (Gypsophila)This is gypsophila – aka baby’s-breath – which came from a giant bag of Burpee Wildflower Mix (the Hummingbird & Butterfly edition).

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)Here is a California poppy.

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)Their petals close at night and open up during the day.

Pink Flower - Zinnia ?This pink beauty is a mystery flower, though I think it might be a type of zinnia.

Purple Flower - Petunia And I believe this is a petunia, although I’m not sure where it came from. I don’t recall seeing it listed among the flowers in the Burpee mix, and I definitely did not plant any petunia seeds. But now that it’s here, it’s welcome to stay.

Morning gloryThis is a perennial morning glory – a left over from Hedwig’s garden or maybe it crept over from a neighbor’s yard. It grows fast, far and wide, and chokes everything in its path. I’ve already cut a few of them back.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum)I had to relocate the nasturtiums twice because my dogs kept trampling their delicate leaves and petals.

ZinniasThese party colored zinnias were started inside under grow lights in February.

Forget-me-notsSo were these forget-me-knots

Lamb's ear
My dad gave me this lamb’s-ear from his garden in Pennsylvania. It suffered last summer (supposedly the hottest on record) and never blossomed, but this year it’s thriving and has already developed really tall stalks. The bees love it.

MarigoldsAnd finally, marigolds. Before I had a garden, I cast off marigolds as a “grandma” flower. But last year, on a whim, I picked up a packet of marigold seeds at the Associated on Seneca Ave and decided to give them a try. They blossomed into a giant marigold bush and won me over by virtue of being so easy to care for. I also discovered that their coloring can be much more complex than what I remember seeing growing up – not just “blah” yellow and orange, but lots of rich and variegated tones.