Friday, October 17, 2008

October 18, 2008

Well, as you may have seen, I haven't posted lately.  There are several reasons for that.  I'm posting at 3 am because my sleep patterns are all messed up.  I'm working 12+ hour days due to some MORE unforseen side effects of the economy and a strong desire to make something of this year at work.  What that's meant is that when I get home I have just enough time to put the kids down for bed and read them a story.  Great father huh?  Well this is temporary (I hope). 

It's also the first weekend that my folks own their new home, so in a few hours I'll be heading over there to work in the yard and paint a few rooms.  Too bad too, because the weather's going to be nice and I'd love to do some work in the yard here.

Speaking of which, as a non-gardener, it didn't hit me as hard last year when the days got so much shorter.  Now, I leave for work before dawn and get home after dusk.  Tell me when I can tend my garden?  Weekends?  What plants can thrive on weekly tending?  Not many veggies I'd assume.  I guess I'll be humming REM's "Gardening at Night" often this fall and winter.  Maybe it's time to see if I can fix the light in the garden area.  It's in a silly location behind the chimney, but maybe it will work.  Or maybe I'll buy a new fixture for it and have my dad tell me how to install some better lighting out there.  Either that or I'll have to get one of those miners hats to free up my hands from carrying a flashlight, hehe.  Actually I've been going without, relying on the ambient light from the streetlights 60 feet away and blocked by trees.

The other thing I've noticed from 30 second trips to the garden in the morning or evening, is that the wind is playing havoc with the plastic covering my hoop covers.  I need to take the time to clip the plastic to every PVC pipe so it doesn't whip around.  If I can find the time in the light this weekend, I'll do that.  I also need to put the plastic on bed #1.  It's done very well without it, though the carrot seedlings haven't shown as much growth as the more mature ones.  The more mature ones are getting very bushy indeed!  Maybe I missed the window on the last planting I did about a month ago.  Who knows.

I also sprayed my natural bug spray again last night.  The cauliflower and radishes are showing signs of attack again and the leaf miners are alive and well.  So we'll see if this works.  Never know.

As for my flattened spinach, not sure if it's toast or not, but it sure has grown since last week.  Despite the splotches of miners, the leaves are huge and ready to eat.  I'll make sure I wash them well, even though the spray says it's fine for consumption after 24 hours.  Maybe it's time for a spinach, radish, cucumber, carrot and tomato salad tonight?  That's what's either growing or I've got left.  Doesn't sound bad.  If only my lettuce would hurry up.  Actually it looked pretty good, well the Salad Bowl did.  The others are pretty slow going.  Must be the fall growing season.  They shot up much faster last spring.

On the home energy conservation front, I decided since I couldn't sleep I'd do some of my non-garden to-do list this early morning.  So I pulled the programable thermostat and tried to program it so we had 69 degrees when it's cold at night and 64 in the day and overnight.  Unfortuantely it's an older unit and I can't get it to reprogram, or even access the programing function.  I replaced the batteries and even found the manual online.  Grrr. I don't want to waste the money on a new thermostat, nor do I have much time to install a new one, but it looks like that will be a project.

Well, I'm getting tired so I'm going to try to hit the sack for a nap.  Take care and enjoy your garden!


  1. Winter gardening in the PNW... you're a braver soul than I. The best I hope is for plants that have ripened to *stay alive* during the winter so that they stay fresh and I can harvest them over a long time. Like I'm doing with Rutabagas and lettuce right now. I'm just hoping that my leaf-minered beets and cabbage-wormed kohlrabi will bulb up enough before the *real* dark days set in.

  2. What you are experiencing with your lettuce is normal for fall. In the spring the days are getting increasingly longer and the sun intensity is also increasing. In the fall, exactly opposite is true. The trick with fall gardening is to start your fall crops early enough that they get enough growth on before the day length and sun intensity ramps down rapidly and they go into essentially a hibernation mode. You harvest and overwinter crops that are essentially fully mature going into late fall. If you start stuff in cold frames etc... they are likely to be early spring producers for you... when the sun starts increasing again.

    My spinach and lettuces that were last planted are all taking along time to get to full size - probably cut it too close myself this year. They will be harvestable - but not as productive as they should have been. A few weeks can make a huge difference with fall plantings.

    Hope the move goes well for you and don't sweat the evening gardening... in the fall/winter the chores go down tremendously in the garden - mostly just harvesting and weed plucking!

  3. I understand completely with not liking the shorter days......i'm having to do everything with a flashlight.

  4. Hi - I'm an occasional lurker on your page and hadn't been here in a while. I'll catch up on the posts, but in the mean time I might be able to help you with the thermostat issue. We bought a programmable one two years ago but just had to upgrade due to a furnace replacement. I should double-check with the little lady before offering to give it away, but would you want a slightly used programmable?

  5. I hope that you don't make your garden so much work that it ceases to give you enjoyment. When plants are growing so slowly in our short-light days, the bugs can easily get the upper hand. There are some veggies that are great here in the PNW for winter meals and stay in the garden without need of protection. Leeks (delicious and easy to prepare. Wash, cut into 1 inch sections put in a pan with a few TBSP of water and a knob of butter and simmer for 15 minutes or so, very forgiving and the taste is not strong), beets, parsnips (great after a little frost, either roasted or sauteed), and I know some people like Kale but I've never tried it. My DH likes Swiss Chard and it is a wonderful green in the wintertime. I'm also harvesting raspberries now. I just hate these short days and sympathize with you trying to garden after work. I applaud your dedication.