Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15, 2009

Well, life sure goes fast when you're busy.  I haven't had time to garden much since late summer.  As a result, when my site came back up, I had little to talk about.  Of course I feel bad because there are tons of you that enjoy reading about my garden adventures and antics.  Well this year was more of the later. 

I never got around to harvesting my garlic.  It got so bad that after I finally ripped the weeds out that permiate that bed, I found whole heads of garlic forming roots.  Here's where the adventure comes in. I left them right where they were.  It was nearly October and that's when you're supposed to plant cloves.  We'll see if I get garlic growing next year.  Maybe next June I'll be able to convince my brother to help me harvest and dry them.  I really like seeing it done before I try something intricate like that.  Besides, if someone is helping me in the garden, I am more compelled to actually get things done. 

Yep, it seems this year I became a lazy gardener.  My corn was a bust, partly due to severe lack of production from the six stalks, but also because I was late to harvest it again.  This year it wasn't enough to give away to the Sandy's chickens and goats.

My cantaloupe was a bust also, though mostly I blame it on just not being able to grow cantaloupe here.  The worst part is that I still haven't emptied the Self Watering Container (any of them for that matter).  Again, the laziness.  Sure I'm busy, but most weekends when I have time I have no energy to go out and man-handle 60 plus pounds of SWC.  I've decided I will just dump the contents into my compost bin and use compost next year rather than Mel's Mix. I'm out and shouldn't have to make more every other year.

My potatoes were the worst this year.  Mid summer sucked for time for me, with vacations and travel, I had no time to tend to my potato bins.  As a result, I stopped half-way up the tower and just let them go.  I should have been fine, with just a smaller havest, but I still haven't harvested them and the plants died back a while ago.  There is still some minor hope that they're salvagable, but we shall see.

Tomatos also didn't do all that well for me.  Again, my fault.  I didn't keep up with harvesting all the tomatoes, so they rotted on the vine, or succumed to Blossom End Rot.  Planting only heirlooms is not as glamorous as it sounds.  They don't have the resistances that hybrids do.  Also, you get orange Yellow Pear tomatoes.  I had no idea if they were done. I figured they would eventually turn yellow.  Nope. They rotted. 

About the only tomatoes that did well for me this year were my volunteers.  I hope to eat one from the complete mystery, and I swear I pulled a 5 pound tomato from the sucker start that doesn't look like anything I grew.  Unfortunately the beafsteak or whatever was cracked and not edible.  It was cool though.  I should post a pic of it.  Something to behold.

So you see, there hasn't been a good reason to post.  This year was a self-inflicted failure.  Next year should be better as my kids are getting into gardening and I'll keep at it for them.  Besides, with the economy showing strong signs for a 2011 recovery, growing my more fresh veggies is a good idea.  Don't you agree.

All this isn't to say that I didn't have any success.  Again, my carrots were great.  My sons still are bringing them in daily to eat.  I will not be doing the creative varieties next year.  They were duds.  Even the Purple Haze just isn't worth it.  The plain Jane orange carrots are just fine.  Variety not needed for my family.  /shrug

The broccoli and califlower are always a hit, though I think I will devote one bed to them next year so I don't run into late maturing cole crops interferring with my cubrits in summer.  Blah blah blah.  What I mean is my tall broccoli plants shaded the heck out of my cucumber starts so I got nothing to speak of from my summer cukes.  I think two plants survived to produce out of 18.  I think I'll plant tons of succession broccoli and cauliflower in my 44 SF bed.  It won't block anything and I will have tons of food the adults in my family love.  Still working on the kids, hehe.

For fall, I planted tons more carrots, some lettuce and broccoli / cauliflower.  Dosn't look like anything but the carrots have done much.  I guess I'll start even earlier next year.  I'll take KitsapFG's schedule and beat her to the punch by a month.  Or else I'll start inside like she does.  Sounds silly to start seeds indoors in the summer, but she'd know... She's the expert.

Sorry I haven't been posting anything.  There really hasn't been much to say.  When I do something I'll let you know, but it's fall and growth is pretty much at a standstill til spring.  Thanks for sticking around.  Next year will be better.

Enjoy your garden.


  1. There is something to be said for taking stock and doing what works for you, vs. what you think you should do. Succession planning is difficult for me, so I'm using the old pen and paper approach. We'll see.

  2. That's one thing I learned this year as well. Only grow what you'll eat and only grow what will grow well given your circumstances.

    Sometimes we get into a funk with our hobbies, especially when we work so hard at it one year and things turn out well and we're faced with setback after setback the next year. You worked so hard on your parents' house earlier this year, you deserved a break. The garden will still be there next spring.

  3. I've been wondering what you've been up to. Sorry for the issues with the garden. There's always next year.

  4. Gardening, like any other hobby, is not fun when it becomes a burden. You seemed to have a lot of things going on this year that prevented you from spending time with your garden as you would like. Luckily there is always next year. And you can take what you learned this year and apply it to the future.

  5. Fall is a great time to do a "clean sweep". Remove the debris of spent and failed crops. Get back down to the open canvas of simple earth, add compost to let it rest and revitalize over the winter, and then give yourself permission to go plan and dream about the coming year's efforts.

    The beauty of the annual gardening cycle, is that we each get a "reset" button each winter.

  6. I'm interested to see how your potatoes came out in your bins. I pulled mine up a few weeks ago. I planted about six - eight Kennebec's directly in the ground and got about 11 pounds of potatoes from them. Very good potato and I'll choose those with cheese and butter over those you buy at the store any day!

    Unfortunately, the big potato bin I made was a failure. I had about two pounds of potatoes at the very top - most of which were green. The main stem was completely rotten a few inches down and there wasn't a speck of a potato in the bin except for the top. I planted these in very light soil (basically this was almost 100% leaf compost) and it was the Kennebec variety as well. Next year I will try a later russet variety and I'm contemplating using straw to fill the bin up instead of the soil. But, it seemed that the first year you did your bin - you used regular soil and you didn't have any trouble :)

  7. yup, you got da FUNK!
    Go watch "Homegrown" to remotivate.

  8. Despite the hot summer, it was a tough year for gardening. Spring was cold and slow and overnight it was too hot. I believe you learn as much from failures as successes, so chalk 09 down as Lesson Number Two. I haven't found out yet how many lessons there are though -- I've only been at it 48 years. My garlic was a failure too. It was rubbery and I threw it out. The best garlic I ever grew was a bulb I forgot about in a bed that got watered and fertilized well and when I found it under other plants, every clove had grown into a huge bulb and the whole mass weighed about 7 lbs. I've never replicated this since. I keep trying.

  9. Checked your potatoes yet? I pulled mine in today (November 7th) and they look fine. Not sure how long they will last, but we intend to eat them relatively quickly. Mine were planted directly into the ground (here in Seattle), and I hilled up mulch around them to try to improve yields. I finally got around to harvesting today. The potato patch is in a low spot in my yard, and with all the rain we've had in the past week, the ground was so saturated that I'd dig a hole and it would fill with water. Groping around in that puddle and feeling for potatoes reminded me of clam digging. This is a far cry from what's recommended in a couple of books I've read (harvesting after it's been dry for a week or two so the skins get a chance to dry out and toughen up). Planted 3 pounds of seed potatoes and harvested around 30 pounds, so that 10 lbs/1 lb seed ratio seems about right. I'd love to increase my yield, not because I don't have the space (we have around 1000 sf that we can garden), but because the seed potatoes from Territorial are so expensive! At $12 plus shipping per pound of seed potatoes, it hardly makes economic sense to grow your own. This year, my seed came from McLendon's Hardware in Renton (just happened to see the seed bags on a random trip there). I can't remember prices, but they were much less than Territorial ($4 a pound, maybe?) I think they also weren't organic seeds, but I don't know how much difference that really makes when you're planting the potatoes instead of eating them. They had 5 or 6 varieties for sale.

    Last year (2008), I bought my seed potatoes from the Issaquah Grange. They had fewer varieties (and mostly commercial varieties), but I think their prices were around $1 a pound, maybe $2. That's a more reasonable price!

    We were also shocked this spring to discover last year's potatoes gone wild in the cupboard. We have a tiny house and no good place for long-term potato storage, so they were just in a cupboard in the kitchen in paper bags -- I blamed the warmer temperatures in the kitchen for the fact that the potatoes had sprouted like crazy. I have a photo that looks like yours, but with more color because we grew red, white, yellow, and blue potatoes, and the shoots that grew were also red,blue, etc. I took the whole mess out into the yard and untangled the roots and stems into individual plants, then coiled up the sproutings (some were 6 feet long!) and (I know you're not supposed to do this for virus reasons) planted them in the yard in an area where we don't plan to plant veggies any time soon. The yield was reasonable (probably 3-5 lbs per lb of seed), but the potatoes were much smaller, mostly the size of golf balls. We've been greatly enjoying these little potatoes in soups, etc. They're a fun size, and no cutting required!

    Go check your potatoes -- I'll bet you'll be pleasantly surprised at their condition.