Saturday, May 31, 2008
There she showed me how her garden is doing. She doesn't have a garden like mine. No beds, mostly edible landscaping. She has potted apple trees, multiple varieties of dwarf and semi-dwarf blueberry bushes, pea trellises against the walls of their new hot tub house. It's very pretty. It apparently cost more than they wanted but is definitely worth it.
The good news is that she still hasn't planted lettuce. I wasn't going to ask if it's too late to plant lettuce, but maybe our mild climate works or she's shading it. I'll have to see. So when my salad barely got touched (there was another salad there), I gave the rest to them to use up over the next week. We still have more that we can pick and need to keep at least the spinach well pruned to keep on top of the infection.
Tomorrow's actually pretty busy so I'm not sure how much gardening is going to happen this weekend. Although I'm having fun, I hope your gardens are getting more attention than mine, hehe.
The only pic I got for you today is of my irises. They're finally blooming en-mass. We've got a 2 foot deep row of them in front of my rose garden across from the blueberries and the potato bins. Unfortunately they don't bloom when the roses do because it would be an amazing shot if they did...
Enjoy your garden!
Friday, May 30, 2008
Well, thanks to Tim, it appears that I now know what what's turning my spinach leaves white. Apparently I've been attached by Spinach Leaf Miners. What little I found online tracks with what I found on the leaves. Unforunately when Tim said I would find a couple of black specs between the leaf layers, I found dozens. The adults are flies but the larve turn into white moths. Don't ask me, I don't make this stuff up. I'm guessing the small black flies I found all over the place under my hoop covers were the adults laying eggs. I thought they were harmless. Boy was I wrong. Great way to start gardening, hehe.
Anyway, according to Tim they're "bad news" but all I could find as to how to take care of them at this point was to destroy the white parts. The rest of the leaf is ok to eat. So I'll use as much of the spinach as I can to make the salad this weekend. Unfortunately under most of the mature leaves I found small white dashes which is a sign of the start of infestation.
What I don't understand is everywhere says to prevent the infestation in the first place, put a row cover over the bed early on to keep the flies away from them. Um, I swore I DID that!!! Maybe I should have made a better seal and used insect cloth rather than the 4 mil plastic. Of course that wouldn't have protected the plants from frost.
I know I won't be planting spinach in those squares anytime again soon, but I hope I can continue to grow the seedlings that I have in various stages in three squares in that area. Thankfully they're not going for the lettuce and I am not planting any other veggie they like (chard, beets and sugar beets). I just hope it wasn't in the compost I got and thus is in all my beds. Apparently this isn't something I could even use insecticide on. Though if I spot the eggs I can squish them before they hatch. Something to watch for next time I plant spinach. And I may want to invest in a magnifying glass, hehe.
I also wonder if i should worry about any spinach stalks and maybe a white splotch that may have made its way into my compost bin before I knew what it was.
Oh, and if I sound less than panicked, it's because ignorance is bliss.
Other than that, I've got a few more pics for you. First I couldn't help but notice this beautiful rhodie, I parked under it, hehe.
Oh, and of course there were bumble bees at work. This time I got a shot of one. Busy as a bee...
Finally, anyone know how to convince my peas not to follow the light?
I thought only seedlings indoors did that. But these peas are clearly ignoring the beautiful trellis I made for them. Instead they're crowding the next square reaching southward. Hehe I recall someone saying that pole beans took up such little space that you could use the outer part of the square for other plants. I can't even use the next square for my beans. The peas crowd them out. See the bean sprouts on the far left? That's the middle of the square! Nothing grows in the northern half. I wonder if I should use my twist ties to "train" them up the trellis. So far all I've done is "grab" the trellis with the pea tendrils. They bow pretty good but hold on tight.
Hope your garden is less troublesome than mine right now.
Enjoy your garden!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I got home and checked my compost temp. It's ready to be mixed but I just ran out of time and didn't want my youngest involved. There's always this weekend for that. A few days rest won't kill it. But while I was pushing my son on the swing, I was watching and listening to the happy bumble bees on my favorite rhodie. I tried to get a shot of the bees, but I couldn't do it. Besides, for as much as I love them for what they do, they scare me, both for me and my kids. Anyway, I just want to share the beautiful color of these...
And a close-up...
Also, while I was out there I watered the potato bins, and what did I find? That after I panicked and burried them the other day they've grown tons since then...
So, after watering the garden with my son, I took him and came back out and cut more boards. A half-hour later and presto...
Unfortunately I underestimated the amount of Mel's Mix these bins can hold. Out of a half a yard of left over mix, I'm down to half a bag. I don't think I have enough to bury both bins. I may have enough to mound them again, but that's for tomorrow... hmm I think I just added something to my to-do list.
But before I end with my to-do list, I took some pictures from the garden. First off, I only shared three of the four beds yesterday. Here's my fully planted corn bed. You can't see all the new sprouts, but with the better weather the germinated seeds have been sprouting more and more every day! I love coming home and checking out what's grown since the day before.
Notice how the right side of the bed is the last planted... that's because it gets the most sun, so I wanted the "back" corn to be taller than the "front" so they get equal sun. The Seneca Horizon at the top is outpacing the Precocious. If it tastes good it's coming back and I'll try another variety next year. Gardening is a learning process that never ends.
Next I want to share a little more about the plant that towers over everything but the tomatoes. My prize cauliflower. At least it's supposed to be caulflower. Look how tall it is. The leaves are 1 SF individually!
See how it shades surrounding squares? I wouldn't mind so much but there's no sign of a caulflower growing inside. If only the leaves were edible I'd be able to feed an army! Take a look inside the center and tell me if you see anything resembling a cauliflower? hehe
Errr What's up doc? hehe Here are my carrots. They're probably getting much bigger underground right now. No clue when to pull them, but I'll try one soon I think...
Last picture. I took a close up of my spinach to show folks the white on the leaves. It's on random leaves and doesn't taste bad (I ate some small spots on accident). Is it safe, is it bad, treatable? What? hehe. Sorry for the water, I decided to take pics right after watering.
Before I tackle my to-do list, I read in the Edibles column in the Seattle P-I today about apple trees. Since I've got a new one I wanted to learn. It talked about clusters of apples from the blossoms and how you should thin them down to 2 or 3 per cluster to insure branches don't break and to encourage size, color and texture of the apples. When I got home I glanced at the tree and sure enough, the shriveled blossoms are getting fat, I think they're going to be tons of apples. However, if I've got to put nylon booties over tiny apple buds, that'd be insane, hehe.
Ok, my to-do list on the fly...
- Turn the compost bin.
- Add dirt to the potato bins.
- Make more Mel's Mix.
- Gut my greens for a monster salad for our party this weekend.
I'll add more if I think of it.
Enjoy your garden!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Anyway, I need to pick up some DE, because I've got to keep the carpenter and soil ants from ruining my garden. Speaking of my garden, I only saw it long enough to throw some water on it this morning when I was already late for work. I'll do the same tomorrow. Mostly I wanted to do as Judy suggested and post a few pics I took of my garden on my new phone.
The first pic is of my garden, showing my new trellis, my SWC and two of my beds...
Everything seems to be taking to the trellis well, and if you look close at the square right next to the SWC you can see the extra cucumbers I planted. They all sprouted indoors so I couldn't just kill them. That means I only get 3 SF of pole beans. Hopefully with my 4 SF of bush beans we'll have enough to freeze for winter.
I thought about keeping you in suspense over my best bed, but since it's in the above photo, it's hard to do that, so here's a picture of my greens. This is AFTER I harvested two huge salad's worth. Now you see why I'm crazy to have planted more lettuce in bed #2...
It's tough to see much beyond the hedge of spinach but there is salad bowl, italiansheir and red sails lettuce from left to right in the middle. Oh yeah, I actually had a huge salad for lunch today. It was my first of the season at work, and I had to show off to my buddies that are garden-friendly (rather than the ones that make fun of my garden /sigh). I just had to laugh when I opened the fridge at work and saw my gallon zip-lock bag of fresh mixed greens right next to a "bag of salad" that probably cost close to $10. And mine looked SO MUCH better. MUAHAHAHAHA!~
My favorite parts of this next picture are the rings of radishes growing around my broccoli. That and how well the peas are taking to the trellis with just a little coaxing from me. I don't have any idea what I'm going to do when the 5 SF of lettuce is ready to harvest, hehe.
Finally, here's a pic of my most active bed...
I say active because I've replanted squares of radishes already. I know I should have augmented with compost but I decided to chance it with just some veggie fertilizer mixed in a week before replanting. I should have some radishes ready to harvest again in a week or so. Much faster than last time, hehe.
Lastly, since these are on my phone it is so cool. I can zoom in and pan around on the phone and point out individual radishes or cucumber plants that are growing their next set of leaves. The pics are THAT good on my phone. Not bad for a 2 megapixel camera...
Enjoy your garden!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Right after I put the kids down I planted out the last row of my Seneca corn (I ran out when I planted last). I also planted a bunch more bush beans to fill in where they didn't sprout after germinating inside. GRRR, I'm using up all my Jade beans in one season. I think a call to Territorial is in order to complain about how bad they sprout. I'm getting about 50% sprouting after germinating in a coffee filter. And the weather's been in the 70s for a week now. I've got more soaking to germinate and continue filling in. I don't know what I was thinking when I germinated so many corn and so few beans.
I also took the time to water and hook up some more peas to the trellis. If I'd had more time I would have planted more carrots as the two SF I planted last have sprouted.
While I was out there I saw what looks like soil ants in my corn bed. They nest under ground in moist soil and eat wet wood. My guess is that Mel's Mix with city compost, twigs and all makes a great home for them. I just don't want them in my garden (or house for that mater, but I think they're gone from the later). I may have to invest in some DE and read up on where I can spread it. Hopefully in the bed.
On a separate note, I got a new temperature gauge and 24 hr weather forecaster from Oregon Scientific. It's wireless and comes with three sensors. I've got one installed in my garden (in the shade), one in my kids' room and one in the family room on the other end of the house. Currently at 10 PM it's 74 near my computer, 71 in my sons' room and a sweltering 63 in the garden! It even has an alarm feature in case I want to set up frost warnings. Pretty cool!
Finally, I'm swimming in lettuce and spinach! I've got it coming out of my ears. And the worst part is that I've got seedlings of all my greens actually growing. EEK! We've been eating salads as often as possible. Even so some of the lower leaves are getting white spots on them. I think from lack of water (the umbrella effect). To solve the oversupply problem, I think I'll bring a salad to the party we're going to this weekend. At least the greens will be home grown.
Enjoy your garden!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Secondly, I was informed that letting so much plant grow so tall with the light hitting the stems is bad for potato production. It may end up that I get no potatoes from my bins. I had read from Ciscoe's site on potatoes that you let it grow 4 inches and cover all but one inch. I swore the old site had 6 and 2, which is what I've been doing. At this point I'm just hoping I get potatoes out of the deal. I have little choice but to continue what I'm doing. Though next chance I get I'll burry all but the top leaves. Grrr to say the least.
Nothing much happened in the garden today other than watering. I went to a BBQ and played with the kids. I didn't mow but I have all next week and two weeks before my youngest's 2 year birthday party is happenning here.
Enjoy your garden!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Well, today was another hot and sunny day. It didn't start out that way, so I thankfully got most of the branches shredded before it heated up. We didn't prune any more bushes today, but we did clean up the yard nicely. With a nice clear yard I took the opportunity to pull out the sand box (now I need to fill it so they can dig someplace safe), and the kiddy pool. They insisted on me adding water to it so they splashed around a bit.
So all of the branches went into the chipper and then into my compost bin, except for the big stuff that couldn't fit into the household chipper we've got. Frankly I think with the mixture of browns and greens I've got in the compost I'm not worried about it. I just bucked up the big stuff and am sending it off to let Cedar Grove have a crack at it. Then I watered it down a bit to keep it moist (the temp was just over 160 in a few spots today so I wanted to cool it down a bit, but not stop the process).
Today was more about family than garden, but I did get out and pick up something I've been wanting for a while. It's an Oregon Scientific wireless weather forecaster and multi-station temperature gage. I'll have one outside in my garden area, one in my kids room and one at my computer. I've got an ancient thermometer outside that is broken because it constantly under-reads the highs and over-reads the lows. Not that I'm complaining since it came with the house we bought over a decade ago. This is taking temperature into the 20th century at least. It's one step down from the folks on Weather Underground where they have normal folks like me install mini-weather stations in their backyards with the real-time information sent back over the internet to people that want to know about it in their area. I use it all the time, but now I'll know what the weather's doing, and even have a good idea what it's going to do in the near future.
As for my garden, I've got some decisions to make. I've got five to ten SF of open space to figure out what to plant. I'd planned on 8 SF of bush beans, but I don't think I want that many at 9/SF, and besides they don't seem to be doing very well. Even germinating them inside isn't sprouting a good rate, and the sprouts are looking a tad sickly. So I've cut my spacing down to 4 SF, so I've got 4 SF in bed #2 behind the broccoli. The 2 SF next to the carrots in bed #1 will definitely get more carrots since they're like radishes in that you pick and they're gone, hehe. But I've still got 3 SF in front of my pole beans that I don't know what do do with. They were going to be extra space for the tomatoes to grow, but now I've got to figure out what to plant there. Finally, I don't want more lettuce so the 4 ish SF I didn't plant of lettuce in the front of bed #2 are open. The reason I don't want more lettuce is that we're having difficulty keeping up with the growth as it is. Hehe tonight we had a huge salad to go with corn dogs and french fries... yeah we're forcing salad. hehe
The only pic I've got today is one of my peas. They love the new trellis. I used their tendrils to latch on to the trellis and they grabbed on for dear life!
Oh, and see what I meean by the bush beans in the middle there? I germinated them inside and planted only the ones that had little sprouts! What gives?!?
Anyway, at this point my to-do list isn't done, but other than mowing tomorrow I don't think it will get done. I'm not sure I want a second compost bin, it would take up too much space, and unless I move the current bin, putting a door on it will be difficult because it will hit the swingset stand and not open enough. Besides, these days when I mention a to-do list to my wife she just rolls her eyes...
Finally, I've been seeing bumble bees all season, but with the blooming of my rhodies, I've finally started seeing honey bees. YAY! Let's hope they stick around for when they need to polinate my fruits and veggies.
Enjoy your garden!
Saturday, May 24, 2008
First off, my wife graciously let me sleep in this morning til 10 am, which is completley unlike me. During the time she was up with the kids, she saw the beautiful weather and plotted out a 5 mile walk for us (compared to our standard 3.5 mile course). So after our smoothie we started packing up for a long walk. Before we could make our escape my father and aunt showed up. My dad wanted to work on his car and my aunt wanted to work in the yard. Tis the season to butcher, er... prune rhodies and azaleas, and boy do mine need it. Needless to say my wife wasn't happy. She had her heart set on going for a walk and my aunt wanted me in the yard. Thankfully one of the items on my to-do list was for my aunt... to weed the rose garden area. If you recall, I'm not big on flowers. They're pretty, but I don't want to work for them, hehe. So we went to exercise while she started weeding.
By the time we got back she had half a yard-waste container filled. No, I didn't use any of that for my compost bin. I'm not that hard up for greens, ROFL. After changing clothes, I immediately went out and we started whacking back bushes. We did a ton of work. I was running around helping my aunt with the clippers, saws-all and chain saw and helping my dad with his car. The good news is that my dad helped me string up the trellis. It doesn't look nearly as good or straight as GardenGirl's or Judy's, but somehow I don't think the plants will care. I tried to get the peas to grab the trellis with moderate success. I'll work on it more tomorrow.
After lunch it was back at it. We accumulated QUITE a pile of branches from rhodies, azaleas, lilacs and some short tree we just cut down (after we cut it down I realized I had a huge hole in a garden area, now I have to plant a bush).
The funny thing is my eldest. He's four and loves to help. He was saying how strong he was by dragging branches from the front yard to the back yard. It was so cute. Here he is helping with a branch with part of the pile in the background...
Instead of taking a pickup full of branches to the dump and paying $20 to give Cedar Grove more material to charge $28 a yard for compost, my folks brought over their chipper. YAY! Just see if they get it back. MUAHAHAHA hehe. So the rest of the evening was spent shredding and chipping buckets full of composting goodness. The bits of leaves and branches all mixed together over the top of of a fluffed compost pile with a layer of Starbucks coffee grounds in the middle. Mmm Mmm Good!
Hehe yeah, I do look silly with those big ear phones. They're the best you could buy back 15 years ago when I worked in a safety supply warehouse for two summers. The did a good job because that little yellow machine was LOUD! I didn't finish the pile today, light gave out on me, but I made a huge dent in it and added about 6 inches of incredible mulch like chips. Hmm, I wonder if it'd work as a mulch for my SWC... I still need to cover the plastic. hehe.
Ok, just to warn you. The rest of my post has no pictures attached. See the digital camera batteries died and I was too busy to change them. So I relied on my wife to take the pictures, so the last one was the ONLY one with me in it or what we were doing. The rest were all of the kids. Hehe.
I actually stopped work on the cleanup before dusk. I had a to-do list that needed to get done in amongst the rest of the work today. In a half hour I got tons done. I cut another BAYG bin layer's worth of douglas fir and installed my first (or second) layer and added dirt. I must say I made a mistake in putting the bins so close to the fence. I can't get the screw gun between the fence and the bin. So I screwed the boards together and not into the 2x2 on that side. I got the idea from a forum where someone used the BAYG bin concept but made a frame out of the boards and slid it over the 2x2s like a sleeve. I didn't use that for all the boards, just the one in back our of necessity.
I filled them with dirt, covering up the stems again. Boy did it take a ton of dirt to cover all but 2 or 3 inches of potato plant. In the Butte bed I have a huge drop-off in the back right corner because there is a tiny sprout from that slow starter. Since it sprouted I didn't want to move it up to the level of the rest for fear of disturbing roots that may be finally growing. It was really hard to mound a ton of dirt to cover 6 or so inches of growth.
I also finally got to plant out my corn bed. Well mostly. I ran out of Seneca Horizon seeds that germinated, but the Precocious half is FULLY planted out. YAY! And what was already planted is really growing well. Well for this area mind you. Not like Judy's or Shots from GW in climates known for farming. I know I can grow corn here but until I eat the first cob out of my garden I'll remain cautiously optimistic. The last thing I did for my garden tonight was to soak more Seneca seeds to get germinating on the fridge to get in the ground fast. I want to get my corn bed growing in this nice weather so they get a jump on summer.
(NOTE: I snapped some pics in the morning and updated the page.)
Ok, sorry if this post isn't exactly coherent, but I'm fading fast. Time to take some Aleve and hit the sack (I wore my heart-rate monitor today and just the exercise and heavy working burned me 3,740 calories!). Let's hope the weather holds for tomorrow so we can continue to make more great compost (note that the forecast just changed to a high of 68 with a chance of thundershowers /sigh). And to think Mel suggests compost from 5 different sources. I can count two dozen off the top of my head, hehe!
Enjoy Spring and your garden!
Friday, May 23, 2008
For anyone that’s a regular reader here, I apologize for my silence over the past few days. If you notice I was batting 1,000 for the month of May, posting every day. But if you saw in my last post, I was deep in my investigation for a new phone. Not just any phone, but one that would replace my dying MP3 player, my effectively dead PDA and my literally glued together phone. Oh and it needed to take decent pictures of my garden or kids on the fly. I’ve been pining over such a device for 5 years, way before anyone even thought they would make one.
So after finding my lost contact at Verizon, she helped me more than any other 5 sales people at the stores. Long story short, I got a new phone. It’s a Blackberry Curve and it’s radically different from my Palm Pilot so the learning curve has been steep. And just like my garden, I kind of obsessed over learning it because if it wouldn’t do everything I needed it to, I was going to return it. Now if only I can figure out how to view GardenGirl’s videos on it. Hehe. So it’s been eating up all my time that I’d normally be blogging.
That’s not to say I haven’t been gardening. The weather’s been pretty crappy so I haven’t been doing much, but I have planted more seeds, started more seeds and tried like mad to keep ahead of the rapidly growing greens… a losing proposition I assure you. And to think I thought I’d run out and have to wait so I planted more squares in bed #2.
Specifically, I planted one plus SF of my new Ed Hume radishes, so I’ve got three different varieties going to figure out which I like the best. We’re going for a peppery taste since the Italiansheir lettuce isn’t living up to my recollection of the pepper taste. Can you tell I like black pepper? I use it on everything (within reason). I especially like it as I get older and my taste buds stop regenerating as fast.
The corn seeds I started germinating in coffee filters haven’t sprouted yet, but my goal is to plant out the rest of my bed in one-fell swoop since all the rest of the seedlings have sprouted, giving a decent succession planting.
However, at the same time I started my corn germinating, I started some pole beans that germinated too well. I had to throw some away because I filled up all my blank spots on my trellis. Actually I hope they’re pole beans, I forgot to label them and I hope they’re not bush beans because I need them too. I just don’t want them taking up trellis space. I really need to label even if I KNOW I’ll remember. Grrr.
To add to the grrrr factor, something's been eating my pole beans, well just one leaf but I'm not happy about it...
Lastly, I started five cucumber seeds germinating in peat pucks. I know Toasty said just use coffee filters but I started them before I got her message. Oh well. Funny thing is, in the after I started the last of my pickling seeds and two more of my Green Slams, two more seeds sprouted in my garden. So I had way too many after all my indoor seeds went from nothing to inch-tall seedlings in 24 hours. After I threw them in the ground in my cuke bed (#3) and filled up spots the best I could, I had two pickling seedlings left over. They were so healthy that I didn’t want to throw them out, so I put them next to my pole beans in bed #1. Now I officially have no more room at the trellis. I was planning on putting basil there and not worrying about the trellis space right next to the SWC, but I figure basil a foot away from tomatoes and not in the same dirt will be just as good as a few inches away. /shrug
As far as research, I read in Ciscoe’s P-I column Thursday something I actually knew but didn’t think about. He said make sure you drown your transplants not just immediately after you plant but for several days after to help them over the shock. Duh. I knew that. But for some reason I didn’t do that for the rock garden my Aunt and I made a few weeks ago. The big plant’s not doing so well. So last night I went home and hit it with tons of water. Let’s hope that helps. /shrug
This is a three-day weekend, and we’re not going anywhere. I’d like to say it’s in protest to the outrageous gas prices, but we don’t normally do anything special for Memorial Day. Maybe we’ll have a barbeque. Anyway, since we don’t have a garage sale, I may actually get to my to-do list:
- Cut and install boards and add dirt for potato bins.
- Put up the trellis netting.
- Plant out my corn bed.
- Turn the compost bin and maybe build a new bin.
- Install the door for the compost bin.
- Get my Aunt to help weed my rose garden area. The morning glories have attacked in full force again.
- Maybe mow. The problem with the rain showers and 60ish weather we’ve been having is that the grass is growing fast. I may be adding to my compost pile early.
Lastly, I'd just like to say thanks and WOW! I just noticed that I've had over 1,000 hits to the Build-As-You-Grow page in just over a month. /boggle Hope you enjoy it!
Enjoy your garden!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The weather was actually perfect for the garden. It was rainy in the morning, sunny in the afternoon and rainy in the evening.
The only time I was out there was to harvest my dinner. I went light (after a bacon cheeseburger from Red Robin) with a huge salad. I say huge salad, but here's a shot of them with store-bought carrot and tomatoes. I can't wait to eat my own, but lettuce, spinach and radishes are not quite enough.
What I can say about the salad is that all this was harvested as what I would call "the bare minimum" lettuce and spinach I could do to protect the rest of my garden. It was overgrowing and crowding the other squares. It appears this is common with intensive SFG. But I felt bad for the seedlings in the adjacent spinach squares that were covered by the huge spinach leaves. Boy were they tasty.
After my first harvests of greens, I rushed out and planted more squares to get more harvest to feed us. Now I'm thinking I don't need any more greens because they re-grow, but the single-use veggies, like radishes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower need more space. So I'll plant some additional squares of those. Tonight I planted some more radishes, I tried the variety I got today. We'll see how they turn out.
Back to work tomorrow. So the last thing I did was to start up a ton of more corn seeds to germinate. The nice weather we've had sprouted everything nicely and the first plants are starting to really look like corn stalks. Short but real corn! So it's time to plant the rest of the bed. Nice succession I think. I just want it all to grow, hehe.
Enjoy your garden!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Ok, enough rambling about non-gardening junk. When I got home my trellis netting was here. Unfortunately it isn't nylon cloth netting but more like plastic. Apparently I didn't read it well enough before I bought it. I hope it works because I need it now and can't afford to wait for a replacement. So I got the two top corner screws and washers in place, but didn't install the netting because it started raining.
I did get to add dirt to my Yukon Gold bin and boy did it need it. I didn't add to the Butte bed since I needed to install more boards and couldn't find the right screws quickly. Tomorrow I'm off work so I'll do it then.
I also am having problems with my compost bin. My eldest asked me politely to move my compost bin because it stunk and he wanted to swing on his swingset. It smells just like when I open my yard waste container after dumping my grass clippings and closing the lid for a few days. Thankfully it's not that strong since it's open to the air. I don't think it's an amonia smell, but I added shredded paper to the mix and tried to aerate it anyway. I sure hope the smell goes away because my wife is not happy.
Oh, I'm running drastically low on radishes. Without radishes, I'll have to buy garnish for my lettuce and spinach. I've got tons of that to eat, but 5 more mature radishes. I've planted tons but it takes a while to grow. Go figure.
Finally, the weather's officially turned back to rain. Today was a high of 70 but late rain showers. Tomorrow is a high of 60 and rain. And tomrrow's the beach day, rain or shine. Drat!
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The three boys had a fun morning going shopping to store after store to find a new wide-brim hat for my eldest. He had been wearing an 18-24 month hat and we didn't realize it was that small. Thankfully it fits my youngest perfectly because he grew out of the infant one he was wearing. Gotta keep the kids from burning. Anyhow, remember how I said yesterday that my father-in-law found all this hardware to help build my deck, trellis and compost pile? Well this afternoon we threw together my trellis posts.
Well, only 4 2x4s worth since that's all I had. Thankfully he had amazing gold-plated lag screws because apparently it's not sturdy to attach 1 foot to a bed and leave the next 7 feet unsupported. Note in the pic above we had to install the 2x4 such that the netting will hook on the back side of the board because the roofline over the door kept us from moving the board where we wanted it. Anyway, here's what it looks like all done...
I'd like a few more 2x4s to provide more support, but we'll see if I get any more. Oh, and I had to move the SWC a bit to get the 2x4 in there after removing the 2x2 trellis I had built. I sure hope the netting shows up tomorrow because the peas want something to grab hold of.
I've got to say, working in the hot sun in my garden area, it was HOT today. I hated it but the plants sure loved it! The tomatoes, beans corn and peas all showed noticable growth in the last three days! Sure all the plants loved it, but it's no coincidence that all my warm-weather crops faired incredibly well in the heat. Go figure.
What I noticed working in the garden on such a hot day was that the garage reflected so much sun into the garden area that it dries out really quickly. I need to mulch. But I don't really want beauty bark which is so prevalent here because I want to be able to either brush it aside or remove it to plant. I really like what Judy uses (Cyprus mulch I think she calls it). We don't have it here so I'm still on the lookout for he perfect mulch.
But I think I have some time before it's truely needed because after three days in the mid 80s next week it's dropping to highs of 58 and rain. Again. Haven't we had enough of this for a season? Well at least I won't have to water as much. hehe. I just hope Mother Nature doesn't shock the plants to much.
After the garage sale was done and everything put away, I finally got a chance to mow my back yard. I had been talking to my mother and aunt about my compost and pulling stuff out of the recycle bin to compost, mostly cardboard. I want to use it to line the bottom of my bin because the newspaper's not stopping the weeds from growing up into my bin. Maybe a layer of cardboard will do the trick. Eventually it will break down. Anyway, when talking to my folks, they thought I was wierd to be composting everything I have been. They didn't think cardboard could be composted. I should send them the link to 163 things you can compost. What they don't understand from their years of cold composting is that green without brown is cold composting and takes years longer than hot composting. I'll take months over years any day if I can swing it, and if the last few weeks is any indication, we go through enough brown household waste to make it work! So here's a pic of my compost bin after mowing both the front and back yards today.
Another thing that happened at the end of the sale is that my mother took all but the last 5 of our mature radishes, and would have taken all of them had I not stopped her. Hehe I've got about 4 SF worth of radishs planted around the garden to get us more, but who knows how much longer it will be until they're ready. Let's hope they mature much faster than the one's we've been eating. hehe I just wonder if I can replant radishes in the same squares I had radishes previously. I know you're not supposed to do it with other plants but radishes take so little time. Hmm?
Oh yeah, another crop that really liked the heat were the potatoes. Last week I finally needed to add dirt and bury some leaves. Now look at them!
Looks like not only do I need to add more dirt but at least the Butte bin needs another layer of boards. So the last thing I did for the evening was to cut more boards for the Build-As-You-Grow bins. Unfortunately I got quite a surprise when I went to cut the 2x6s. They were leaning up against the house in the fenced garden area waiting to be cut. When I got everything ready and went to grab one of the dozen left I found only one there.
My first thought was that we were robbed. This is a good neighborhood and the wood was behind a fence. Of course the ten foot boards stuck up over the height, but why would someone leave just one board. It's not the money, I got a screaming deal on the boards and could get more, but it was the point of the matter. So I cut the one remaining board (over a tarp so I could catch the untreated saw dust and shake it out over the compost bin, hehe I'm getting into this!). When I went in to tell my wife, I started with "bad news, looks like we've been robbed..." She had the same reaction I did. But when I explained the details, she informed me that her father had used the 2x6s to set on his saw horses to make tables for the garage sale. Hehe. I had no idea. Whew.
So despite having to do a garage sale this weekend, I got my to-do list completed. I didn't get the door put on the compost bin though. I have the hardware for it. Mostly I ran out of time, but also I'm thinking about moving it over so that the legs of the swing set don't stop the door of the compost bin from opening. If I did that though, I wouldn't have the room to build the second bin. I don't really need two bins because it seems I really don't make that much compostable waste, but as Joe said, it helps to mix it up.
Well, I hope everyone got out in their gardens this fine weekend, and if it was as sunny where you are as it was here, I hope you wore a hat and used tons of sunblock in between drinking water to remain hydrated. Enjoy your garden!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
The biggie on my list is the mowing. Of course my neighbor mowed late last week so it's a night and day difference despite the fact that my yard's not that bad. I mowed two weeks ago. That and my compost pile's down to 100 degrees and there's not much to turn under. I'm not saying it's done, but I don't know how to get it started again without more greens and browns. Browns I'm pretty good on from the house, but without my grass clippings, I'm down to the odd banana peel and some veggie stems, which isn't enough.
Back to this morning. Yesterday was supposed to be the hot day and today was supposed to be better. Yesterday wasn't 90, it was 80ish. So I figured today would be in the 70s. We hit 85, and I was outside in the sun all day working the garage sale. Oh, and since the weather was what it was, barely anyone showed up. All I kept thinking about was how much my garden was loving the sun and heat, and how I would have rather been putting up my trellis boards, or putting the door on my compost bin. Thankfully I got my planting done yesterday.
More good news, my father-in-law that is doing the garage sale with us (he sold tons of tools he doesn't need anymore). He was very helpful on digging stuff out of what he didn't need anymore to use on my garden stuff. He found lag bolts for my trellis to provide strength to the 1' of 2x4 that's connected to my bed before 7 feet towers above it. He also found heavy duty hinges for my compost bin. Most of what he told me I didn't understand. I just nodded and took what he handed me. He'll show me what it's for later. Hehe
After we wrapped up, we decided on take-out teriyaki from a local restaurant we like. Normally we get a side salad with it, which consists of iceburg lettuce and maybe a julian carrot if you're lucky. Today, we just got the teriyaki because we had salad at home. I just grabbed a reed basket I saved just for harvesting my garden, a pair of kitchen sheers and snipped off the biggest leaves and grabbed a few radishes. Here's what I harvested right today...
You can't see the spinach at the bottom but it's huge! But I can pick out the salad bowl, italiansheir and red sails lettuce no problem. Fresh crisp greens and spicy radishes makes an awesome salad! And just to show you what four salads does to the look of my garden...
I've harvested almost entirely from this picture... can you tell? I can't either. I won't be able to have a salad every day, but we're not THAT healthy... yet. hehe
While I was taking these, I wanted to share a few more parts of my garden. I must admit that I've always taken pictures of the best of my garden, and kinda ignored the parts that were not doing quite so well. Well, that was before we had two days of sun and 80 degree temps... hehe. I had been really worried about the lethargic looking tomatoes. I now believe that shock was part of the problem (thanks Joe), but the crappy weather had something to do with it also. The bottom leaves on one of my plants are still yellow, but look what two day's growth can look like...
It's a bad angle but there is a few inches of new growth in two days. You don't believe me? Well I didn't take a picture but the potato plants also had at least an inch of new growth since I covered them a few days ago. Hehe maybe I can get my father-in-law to whip out the skill saw and cut several layers of boards for my bins. I definetly need to put another on soon.
Just to share what a little sun can do, here's a pic of my pole beans, that are sprouting up a storm (so are my bush beans) no wonder they're summer crops...
Eww, sorry to share my splintering garage door. As I mentioned early on, the garden was a dog run in a former life with former owners. Well you can see the doggie door in the side door to the garage. I don't believe we've opened it once in a decade since we bought the house. On the to-do list this summer is to remove the door and wall up the hole. But back to the garden, aren't those pole bean sprouts something? I can't wait to see them climbing the trellis like Judy's are. She did dozens of SF of pole beans, while I'm doing 3. She "hopes" to freeze some. I fully expect to have extra to freeze, ROFL. We like beans, but not THAT much. Plus we have 6-8 SF of bush beans to harvest.
And the last picture I took today is of my corn. In the last 48 hours, I got 2 inch sprouts popping up all over. Amazing! Take a look...
Hehe, I like the side view shot. It gives some perspective to just how LONG that bed is. it's 11x4! What you can also tell is that I can't plant in a straight line to save my soul. hehe That's ok, it will work out or it won't. I know I'm taking a risk with corn in the PNW (I know it can be done, but not sure if I can make it work) and I know I'm pushing the production at nearly 200 stalks in 44 SF. Hehe, well it's not called intensive gardening for nothing.
Finally today, after letting dinner settle a bit, I raced out to mow my front yard at least. I had checked and sunset was at 8:45. I figured I could race and get the front done in 45 minutes. Alas, I had forgotten that I was completely out of gas. So all I got done was weed whacking. I HOPE to get the front yard mowed before the garage sale starts. I really shouldn't mow before 9 am, but that's the only time I've got tomorrow, so I'll give it a try.
Lastly, I wanted to share that Judy has successfully recreated her SWC instruction page. YAY! It's better than ever, so if you're interested in a great way to grow tomatoes in limited space without using up any of your garden area, check it out! I may make another one for the other isle for growing more cukes. The reason I say this is that I started 5 seeds in peat pucks this morning. Of course that's before I noticed that both the middle cukes have sprouted. So one of the pickling cukes sprouted great. Unfortunately I don't know which. I've got to label better.
Enjoy your garden! I know I hope to tomorrow!
Friday, May 16, 2008
So anyhow, the big news for today. After our walk I went out and cut myself a salad, came in, washed it and ate it! It was sooooo much better than any store bought produce. I had spinach, three different lettuces, one for taste, and two for color, and radishes. The italiansheir wasn't as peppery as I remember it, and neither are the radishes despite sitting in the ground an extra week, but it was still tasty!
Enjoy your garden!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
When I got home, we'd already decided to make use of the sun to go for a walk. I hadn't gone for our 3.5 mile walk in a week. We like to do it at least 3 or 4 times a week, weather permitting. We don't mind rain, but it sucks for the kids. By the time we got back it was 7:30. All four of us toured the garden and I took lots of pics (see below for the row-by-row tour). Then we folded up the plastic tarp and stored it in the shed. Boy do I need to clean it out and organize better. That's a project and a half. hehe. Then, while my wife got the kids fed, I decided that my potatoes were way too tall not to be covered. Don't you agree?
So I burried them alive! MUAHAHAHAHA!
Oh yeah, and good news! The tiny seed potato in the upper left corner started sprouting from an eye! Again I have no idea if sprouts are roots or stems? Any idea? I pointed it up and barely covered it with dirt after I added. That way it will catch up hopefully. I'll just get fewer potatoes from it. No biggie.
To back up, during my tour of the garden, it seemed pretty clear to my ignorant mind that at least the biggest spinach and lettuce was ready to harvest. NOBODY will tell me that but it's got to be. The lettuce leaves are as big as my hand for goodness sake! So I broke down and called my brother to ask. He's never done spinach, but he said the worst thing that can happen is that you get baby lettuce or spinach if you harvest too early. He also said to bend and cut lettuce from the center, but only two or three of the biggest leaves per plant. So that's what I'll do for dinner tomorrow. A lettuce, spinach and radish salad! Maybe grill up some chicken and yummy!
Ok, now for my garden tour. First off, an overhead shot of my spinach with my furry leg in the shot to show perspective... I wear a size 9.5 shoe, hehe.
I know, my choice of squares is a bit odd. I planted the first square and then for good measure I planted two plants in that little triangle on the right. Then I planted the next square over and the other triangle in the upper right. Then I planted the third square over. I think I'll wait a bit to plant the final two squares at the bottom. I'm not sure how long spinach will continue to produce, nor how fast they'll re-grow leaves after harvesting, so I don't know if I need more space for spinach. I've got room. Something to ponder for later.
Next is my lettuce. I took two shots because the Italiansheir is too tall and blocks the Red Sails from this angle...
Notice the succession planting on the right? It's coming along nicely, so I planted three more squares in the next bed over, and they're sprouting nicely too! Here's my Red Sails. Don't you love the color, won't it contrast nicely with the greens? hehe.
ROFL you can't tell where one plant ends and the next begins. Four plants have overrun the square! If I don't pick some of the big leaves soon they'll smother the seedlings in the next squares over.
Now it's time to share my cauliflower...
You can see my best plant in the middle there. It's over a foot tall, but it hasn't started growing a cauliflower stalk yet. /shrug Also, on the left are my succession planted cauliflower. But I decided not to plant 8 plants this year. Instead, I decided to plant 6 cauliflower and 6 broccoli to free up more squares for other plants that take up less space. Besides, I don't know that it'll work and that I'll like these varieties. So in the upper two squares on the left where you can't see anything are two direct sowed broccoli seedlings. My only two direct sowed. All the others were salvaged from my initial indoor growing failure or started inside in peat pots until they sprouted and started growing. I'm quite proud of them even if they're TINY. On my to-do list soon, though not tonight, it's dark... plant a ring of radishes around those seedlings. I've got them around all my other broccoli. hehe
Now for the carrots...
Aren't they cute? All in neat little rows! For some reason the ones on the left didn't grow. /shrug. I started from bottom to top with my succession planting. Next I need to do the next two or four squares on the left that have nothing. That's where my tomatoes WERE going to go until I planted them in my SWC (you can see it in the top left corner). I know I want more carrots, but again, I'm not sure if I want 8 SF. My kids love them and we do too, but do we really need 128 carrots? ROFL
Lastly for my recently unveiled bed #1, my pole beans. These were soaked and then germinated inside in damp coffee filters until they sprouted, then went straight into the ground. Unlike their bush bean cousins, they seemed to sprout much faster, and with much greater success (though my bush beans are actually sprouting FINALLY!)...
I know it's hard to see, but there are three in the left and two on the right in this photo. THey're small but definitely sprouting. Not sure if the others will sprout. I planted 8/SF in four inch rows to account for the trellis. Though if they don't all sprout I'll just keep planting until they do, just like my peas, which are doing quite nicely now (again FINALLY). Let it be known that I planted too early I think. I still may do it again next year but I'll do it with hoop covers over all my beds.
For grins I decided to share a shot of my peas. Note the tiny plants intermixed with the big boys? Those are the ones that were black holes in the dirt for peas. I think one spot took 3 peas before it actually sprouted. Oh and notice the bush beans in the middle? Yes they're small but there is definite sprouting. Indoor germination in coffee filters worked... to a point. I had to go through multiple coffee filters worth of seeds to germinate enough to fill 9/SF for 4 SF. This after I tried direct sowing failed when Mel said to. It will be interesting to see what hoop covers do for broccoli, peas and beans... Next year.
Lastly, I didn't take a picture because it wouldn't come out right, but this one day of hot weather sprouted dozens of corn seeds that I planted over the last week. It's amazing!
Oh wait, I can't stop my post without my to-do list for the weekend... My wife wants to have a garage sale, but I need to mow, plant more seeds, build my trellis (if I get the netting) and cut more boards for my potato bins. Not much, but I may think of something more when I'm out there in the hot sun...
Enjoy your garden!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Today seems to be the turning point in the weather. The first part of the week was horrible. So much so that I doubted the accuracy of the forecast for sun and heat come Friday. However, today started out rainy and then it stopped raining and got warm. It's still grey with complete overcast clouds, but it's in the low 60s at 7:45 pm. Not bad!
So when I got home today, I finally took down my hoop cover. It'd just be too hot in there come Friday in the 80s if they're right with the forecast. Though in the hopes of sun I draped the tarp over the neighbor's fence in my garden to dry out before I put it away for the season. The PVC's already leaning up against my shed on the side nobody sees. I must say it did it's job alright. I'm a believer in hoop covers for sure! First, here's a shot right after I covered Bed #1 for the snow. The day after it snowed, this was a shot of my bed...
Now here's the first pic of my garden without the hoop on it in almost a month...
Yep, for perspective, the plastic knife in on the far right middle is the same one in the top picture. Wow what a month in a hot house will do for veggies.
Well, since a picture is worth a thousand words, I was planning on sharing a row-by-row picture of each veggie in my bed, but unfortunately the pictures were blurry and now it's too dark to get a good shot. Maybe tomorrow I'll reshoot them. Instead here's a good shot of half my garden...
Someone tell me how to harvest my spinach and maybe some of the original lettuce for a salad, hehe. I don't want to kill the plants but the spinach is smothering the seedlings. ROFL
Now for some good news / bad news. First off, the good news. My compost was 144 today in the center of my mound, and still over 100 on the outside of the mound area. The bad news is that my poor tomatoes are acting really lethargic...
Notice the one on the right the bottom leaves are turning yellowish. Also, I read that tomatoes should double in size in a few weeks. They're the same size as when I planted them two weeks or so ago. I sure hope I don't lose these. However, I was driving home a different way today and saw a sign on the side of the road of someone selling tomato seedlings from their home. Hehe I could always pick up new ones if these don't make it. And since I didn't sow these myself it wouldn't be cheating.