Cucumbers Coming

Someday.

But Sunday was a big day. The sun was shining, the soil was warm, the time was right and Monday’s forecast called for the last of April’s showers. Given the Hurricane’s deep, deep, deep, affection for cucumbers, which rivals her love of tomatoes, it seemed important to get some things in the ground.

Step 1: Styrofoam, for drainage
Step 1: Styrofoam, for drainage.
Step 2: Dirt. Lots of dirt
Step 2: Dirt. Lots of dirt.
Step 3: Costume change + consultation with deck amis.
Step 3: Costume change + consultation with deck amis.
Step 4: Finally! Planting White Wonder, Adam F1, and Lemon Cucumbers
Step 4: Finally! Planting White Wonder, Adam F1, and Lemon Cucumbers

Outside, Amma!

The windows are open and cheeks are pink. Woo hoo.

With any luck, photographic evidence will follow soon, but Plants on Deck is live for 2013. And the plants out front are stylin’ in brand-new lemon yellow window boxes. Thanks, dearest Endurer for building them, and thanks, Hurricane Ye, for the inspired color choice.

Direct-seeded:

  1. Paris Market carrots — 19th century French heirloom, early red-orange golf-ball carrot. (Probably should have planted these a few weeks ago, but we do what we can these days.)
  2. Cherry Belle and random mixed radishes
  3. Mesclun salad mix
  4. Bright Lights Swiss chard
  5. Rainbow blend carrots

Seed-started:

  1. Beam’s Yellow Pear tomatoes: Seed packet sez: “Introduced to Seed Savers Exchange in 1983 by John Hartman of Indiana. Our favorite when we compared 25 different yellow pears in 1998. Endless supply of 1 1/2″ fruits with great flavor. Ideal for salads.” And Hurricane Ye.

Cheated:

  1. Early Girl tomaotes, courtesy of Gurney’s Seed and Nursery.

All Thumbs

Tom ThumbHey, gardeners, it’s March! And nothing says spring like sunshine, cold-reddened fingers, and drippy noses. And while the long-range weather report isn’t filling this gardener with a ton of enthusiasm, it’s good enough, one hopes, for the newly purchased Tom Thumb pea seeds. Courtesy of Greensgrow and the Seed Savers Exchange.

Both the seed packet and the University of Tom Thumb 2Tennessee claim Mr. Thumb can withstand hard frosts and temperatures as low as 20°. While this feels like an exceptionally cold winter for we weenie Philadelphians, here’s betting that we won’t see temperatures that cruel  until next January.

And Plants On Deck is super-excited about this particular pea. It’s a tiny dwarf heirloom, first grown in the late 1800s in Philly, that purportedly produces s-tons of peas in cramped quarters. Sounds too good to be true. We’ll know in 50-55 days.

Bitty Broccoli

broccoli
Top: Greensgrow
Below: PODgrown

Maybe it’s time to admit defeat.

Earlier this month we received our first winter CSA share from the good people at Greensgrow. It was gorgeous. And the ensuing lemon chicken with broccoli was delicious.

Speaking of broccoli, the broccoli was especially envy-making…given that POD’s broccoli is in a pretty pathetic state.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of fateful kale…

Waaay back in August, a shopping spree at that very same urban CSA mecca resulted in a deck full of cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Oh, my.

But what the CSA gods provideth, the nursery demons taketh away: just days later the starts proved themselves to be crawling in loopers. Squish, squish. Problem solved.

BUT then, a couple weeks after that, a particularly nasty-looking aphid took over. All new for 2012, people: Cabbage aphids! Which, apparently, tend to be more problematic in fall crops. Good to know. These nefarious boogers were regularly sprayed with heavy doses of a Dr. Bronner’s soapy water solution  but to no avail. Deck decimation.

(SIDE RANT: So, not only did this organic “magic all-one” soap fail to kill off the aphids, but the funky-smelling unscented variety stings toddler eyes, and when the screaming toddler flails the offending suds into a nearby adult’s eyes, it stings theirs, too. Like a lot. And it leave a nasty residue on one’s skin and a milky scum on brand-new jet black vehicles. Both the human and vehicular test subjects required two non-Bronner’s scrubbings to remove all traces of ickiness. Which clearly, POD has time for.)

Defeat admitted.

Melon Balls

On Friday, the lone French hybrid melon dropped from the vine. Surely there are better ways of ascertaining a melon’s ripe lusciousness, but POD hasn’t found a particularly reliable method just yet. So, we here at the little blue deck go for the slipping and sit method. Which basically means we let the thing fall right on off the vine (“slipping,” in gardening parlance), and then let it rest for  few days in the kitchen, until that melon musk is just too irresistible.

Popped Potatoes

french fingerling potatoesJust a few weeks ago, the French fingerlings emerged. Finally. It’s amazing what three weeks, a little Bennett Compost, and some natural rain can do.

Plants on Deck enjoyed some much-needed attention on Friday  and these potatoes were first up on the to-do list. As they had shot up from no inches to eight inches in just 14 days, it was time for the first application of additional dirt.

A layer of compost and potting soil was gently hilled around the potatoes, covering 2/3 of the exposed plant, leaving just a few inches exposed.  And wouldn’t you know it? Just four days later and they need (make that “desperately need”) another hilling.

french fingerling potatoes

Which means the stroller’s going to be doubling as a wheelbarrow tonight.

Note to future self: the deeper the container, the better!french fingerling potatoes