Monday, January 11, 2010

Spaghetti Westerns and the Redneck Container Garden

My first sick-day from work in several years came just in time for my monthly update on the Redneck Container Garden. It's been an interesting month in my first-ever fall/winter garden. Most plants are chugging along, pretty much doing what's expected, some are fighting for their lives while others are  refusing to cooperate at all. So, this month's update (in true redneck fashion) is about the good, the bad and the ugly. aaaAAAaaahhhh

The Cauliflower in the buckets is coming along surprisingly well, looks like some of it might actually produce heads. Considering their handicapped start in life, this is definitely good.

The broccoli in the planter is maturing nicely as well. The smallest one seems to have become home to some egg-laying pest. I hit it with some organic insecticidal oil, hope it helps. Since the leader of this crew looks strong, I think we'll label this one as good, but watching closely as it could go bad at any time.

These lettuces are growing faster than we can eat them. Good for sure, but then...

aaaAAAaaahh...Just a couple days after the update pics were taken, I noticed this one starting to bolt so we made one last meal of it before the bitterness set in. Only because this plant has been so good does it  only fall into the "bad" category, but I think we all know where it will be next month. Dun-dun-dunnnn.

Another lettuce answering nature's call since last month's post. Doesn't even look like the same plant. Our first nominee for ugly. I'm thinking about harvesting the seeds, but do I really want to grow more of a lettuce that has such a short life? Maybe if I had known it had such habbits I would've eaten more of it instead of just enjoying it's form and color and taking it's picture.

This is the red chard by the front door that went from beautiful to overharvested and then I have no idea what happened. It looks like a frost burn, but this plant was protected when we had our run of freezing temps. I cut off the worst of the dehydrated leaves last week and as the final picture shows, it appears to be coming back around. This chard was pretty ugly, but is now only bad and is striving for further redemption. I'll let you know next month if it pulls through.

The gold chard looks like it's doing just fine from a distance, but I noticed a small bird (waxwing?) darting in and around it the other day. Closer inspection revealed small flys and lots of their eggs, apparently the same as those on the broccoli across the way. This plant got a dose of the insect oil too. Not sure what the final outcome will be, but the pest activity has slowed and I haven't seen any of their activity on any other plants. This plant was soooo good, but now looks pretty ugly. Think I'll just call it bad since the bugs were only there because they knew a good thing when they found it. THEY are definitely ugly and given the chance, I will hang 'em high.

The Bordeaux spinach continues to be very productive and ignorant of the pests just a few buckets over. Steam this with some chard for a delish veggie course. This plant is solidly in the good column and may even be the one wearing the biggest white hat of all.

The lettuces in the recycling bins are doing nicely. The other bin is even more productive. My family clearly needs to eat more of this. Another one for the good column.

The thin-leaf cilantro in the milk jug keeps producing and the chard in the little window boxes is doing quite well. More good guys.

The peppers are clearly past their prime, but the green bell did just give us a couple baseball-sized fruit for Sunday's dinner and they were very tasty. I will do my best to nurse them through winter in hopes of earlier production in the spring. These qualify as good due to their solid performance in the summer. I think some of these need to be potted up into bigger containers before spring. Any input? All the peppers; bell, poblano & jalapeno qualify as good guys.

All-in-all, I'm pretty happy with my first winter garden. My family won't be buying lettuce or spinach any time soon and the chard is only in need of a little supplement because it is sooo tasty. I also remain hopeful that at least some of the broccoli & cauliflower will produce. I'm definitely learning a lot as the garden matures. I have also started planning for the expansion of the Redneck Container Garden to upwards of 25 buckets. Looking through online seed catalogs has generated quite a wish-list. In the mean time, I've set up a small area for starting seeds in a south-facing window. Seems a little bittersweet and maybe a touch morbid to be planning for the arrival of those plants that will take the place of those still growing vigorously.

Check back next month to see how the good, the bad & the ugly are holding up.

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