Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31, 2009

Man, time flies when you're busy beyond belief, and this weekend was no exception.  We got a ton done over at the folks place, including painting most of two floors of the house, but I got squat done around the homestead.  Par for the course I guess.

I did of course water, since we had tons of sun and temperatures in the low 80s all weekend (horrible weather if your painting clothes happen to be sweats, hehe).  Most of my pics came from when I watered.  My garden has been on autopilot since I haven't had time to do much of anything to it.  However, Mother Nature has done me proud by setting a few broccoli heads growing this weekend.  Here is the farthest along.


I should remember to throw in something to give perspective, but I'd say this head is about a quarter diameter size.  I was excited so I looked and counted two more of my 8 or so plants with tiny heads forming.  Not long now and I should have fresh broccoli!

Yesterday after a long day working, we had plans to go over to our friends for a barbeque and Rock Band action.  I decided I should bring a salad, so I snipped 1/100th of my greens and four radishes.  I could do that every day for a month right now.  Judy, do you think it would ship Fed Ex well to you? hehe.

While I was out there my wife came to hurry me along (I always get carried away when I'm out there).  You see, my Aunt was robbing the old house of excess plants that she or we wanted at our homes.  My brother and I each snagged a Spanish Lavender plant.  We both wanted to put them into pots so they could be used to attract bees to our gardens.  Unfortunately I didn't have an ornamental pot to put it in and we were late for the dinner party, so when I got home with a bare root wilting plant, I threw it into the blueberry bed where my dead lavender was.  You should have seen me yanking that monster out of the ground with my bare hands, hehe.  Being later for a party will do wonders for your adrenaline. 

Anyway, after that I was harvestinga salad and my wife and I got to talking about tomatoes so I had to show her (and you) the progress babies.

If these are Bloody Butchers, they'll grow much bigger than that, but they could be some of my cherry varieties.  Not sure.  Regardless, these will have their seeds saved as the first to produce.  I understand that's a good way to get earlier maturing heirlooms.

Today's evening was spent with the whole family over at my folks so the boys wouldn't have to cook after a long hard day working at the old house.  After we got back both by brother and I needed showers to wash the paint off before dinner, and I HAD to get out and hill up my potato bins.  They've grown gangbusters in this great weather.  I swear you could watch them grow.  I didn't have time to take pictures of them, but safe to say I need to add one, maybe two more boards to each bin, I just didn't have time so they're hilled well above the board level.

When we got to my folks house, I took a moment to check in on my brother's garden progress, only to find he had the same idea I did.  Only he needed to plant some peppers and squash.

As you can see, he hadn't changed out of his paint clothes to garden either, you're just going to get dirty again, hehe.  Also, you can see some of his 10 plus tomat plants planted nearly as close as my SWCs.  Then come the newly planted peppers, followed by some really close zuchinni and other squash.  He says he'll thin them later, could you see how badly they take over that bed? 

While I was there I snapped a couple more pics of his garden. 

Here you can see part of his elaborate hoop house that he left up to provide support for his peas.  In the back of the bed he's got tons of cukes in a similar state as mine, so it looks like we may have a pickling party after all. Don't worry Jen, we can have one too.  Behind that bed you can see the explosion of mint that he can't kill. It just keeps coming back with a vengence.  He plans on harvesting it and making mint jelly and tea if his tea plant provides a harvest.  You can't see it well, but the tea plant is currently in a black pot between the cukes and the mint.

In the 4x4 bed, he's got 4 more tomato plants growing nicely.  And in case you're wondering, he's not going to do Mel's method and prune heavily.  We just let our tomatoes grow together.  However, he will use the spaces in between to grow carrots when he thins his carrot patch.  Like I try to do, he thins and transplants the rejects.  He's had better luck than I have, but I keep trying it.

The last pic I'll show you of his garden is a progress shot of his expansion beds.

As you can see in this picture, he dumped the rotting railroad ties that you can't buy anymore due to the chemicals used in water proofing them.  I think the bricks will look better myself anyway.  As you can see in the back of this photo, he's got two beds built just to make sure they were going to fit like he expected.  The back one is the 2x2 for the raspberries and the closer one is the first of three 4x4 beds.  He's chomping at the bit to get this project finished so he can plant beans and other summer crops.  Yep, he's a bit behind on planting them, but as you could see how crammed full his other beds are, he needs this space something fierce.  If only we had a weekend to ourselves, hehe.

Lastly, I'll share the cuttest pic I've taken in a long time.  We had corn on the cob and the boys had a blast shucking it (ours is 4 inches high right now).

I hope you had a great weekend and got to enjoy your garden!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009

Boy am I tired.  I'm not as young as I used to be.  Yesterday was the final show of Village Theatre's season.  Much as we enjoyed the evening, it was a very late night, followed by an early morning.  Unfortunately I was so exhausted this evening that I almost didn't head out to mow the lawn despite the calf-high grass.  It must have something to the 75 to 80 degree temperatures we've been having for the last several days.

I actually did get out and mow.  It took just over an hour and a half, which isn't bad, and the kids had fun "helping" me when I did the back yard.  The whole thing took two hours of course because I had to do the compost.  I hadn't aerated and turned it since I mowed last, which is bad, so it was difficult to turn before I added the new grass.  I actuallly had too much new material so I ended up dumping about half a 96 gallon yard waste container on top of the pile at the end.  No pictures were taken this time because it was too dark at the end.  In the end I am excited about the amount of compost that I'm making this year.  It seems like more than last year, though I'm not sure how that's possible.

Mostly this evening I spent my time staring into my rose garden.  I was searching for the bumble/carpenter bees to try to identify them.  You see, my recollection is that they had fuzzy butts which would make them bumble bees. However, EVERYTHING about their behavior screamed carpenter bee.  I've been doing a TON of research and carpenter bees nest in eves and facia, where this hive is.  They create the same size hole as I saw.  The males hang around the entrance "defending" it while the nest is being created, which would explain the bees lounging on my siding the other day.  The interesting thing about carpenter bees is that the very agressive males have no stingers so they're all bluster and no bite.  The other interesting clarification I learned is that bumble bees don't die when they sting you like honey bees, so they can sting you over and over, though you really have to piss them off to get them to attack (like get too close to their nest).  Finally, both types of bees are beneficial to gardeners, so I guess it really doesn't matter for the garden, but it does to my house (carpenter) and kids safety (bumble).

I could go on and on with all I've learned, but what I was really looking for was their torsos.  Carpenter bees have hairless black behinds and bumble bees have colorful furry ones.  When I was out there looking, I saw all sorts of bees.  My attention was first drawn to what looked like three wasps comanding the entire garden to themselves.  You know, the elongated, banded torso of and the long antenna.  Scary fighter planes is what I think of. 

Thankfully they ended up flying away over the top of my house after pawing all over all the plants.  Really odd since wasps don't like plants.  After they left, I did see several bees come and go, but they didn't hang around or go slow enough to see them, and none were lounging around the entrance. 

It wasn't until I was watering the plants in the shade that I saw a ton of bees all over my flowering rosemary plant.  They were definitely bumble bees, I got within a foot of them.  The same went for my flowering rhodie tree. However, I couldn't be sure if these were just traveling bumble bees or if they were the ones from my house.  It wasn't until I found one hanging out on the siding under the nest.  It clearly had a fuzzy behind.  I tried to get a picture of my bumble bee, but the silly bee was in the shade so my picture didn't come out.  You'll have to take my word for the fact that I have bumble bees that act exactly like carpenter bees.  So they're dangerous if the kids disturb them while they dig in the rose garden, but hopefully they'll just do fly bys over their heads until winter when they will abandon the nest and I can plug the hole. 

Of course I planned on painting the house so that would definitely anger them.  Not sure if that'll happen this summer, but if so, that'll take some thinking.

Ok, enough about bees, though that has monopolized my time ouside of work for 48 hours, hehe.  While I was out there I had to snap a shot of my purple/blue irises.

Of course my son likes the yellow the best, but they're not quite in bloom yet.  Arent these pretty?

While I was watering the scraps, I had to make note of the fact that I think I have a volunteer (weed?) in my watermelon bin.  I say this because I planted three seeds and got two different plants sprouting.

I guess I'll let them grow and see what happens.  Odd though.

Lastly, I was downloading pics from my phone, I guess I'd snapped some silly pics that I'd like to share.  First is when I was upstairs putting some things in storage I realized I still had my light setup going.  What I had really forgot is that I had some seedlings growing under those lights.  Unfortuantely I hadn't watered them in a few weeks, so there was no hope for them.

They USED to be Italienshier lettuce.  What I had THOUGHT they were originally was stevia, they were growing so slow.  It's ok that I don't have them to plant, I still have TONS of lettuce to harvest.

Whoever said I didn't have enough space to donate a CSA share of my garden clearly overestimated the amount of salads our family can eat.  Hehe.  I've still got tons of open squares to plant in my garden.

My final pic tonight was taken one morning on the way out the door to work.  I still have tons of sprouting potatoes that I don't have room to plant.  I would compost them but with my luck they'd grow and I don't want plants growing in my constantly shaded compost bins.  But look at these sprouts searching desperately for dirt to grow.

Enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 26, 2009

Short post tonight as not much to report on, but I had to share.

First off, I was catching up on my blog reading/commenting and came across KitsapFG's blog from the other side of Puget Sound.  I got half-way through her to-do/done list and had to stop to head out to the garden.  I've been seeing holes in my broccoli leaves and she had sprayed with BT, so I thought I should do so.  Thanks KitsapFG! 

However, the big news.  I've got a environmental dilemma here.  I've been planting flowers and other plants to attract bees to my yard.  We don't have honey bees here and haven't for several years, so for us bumble bees do the lion's share of the pollinating, so I love seeing them whenever I can.  I can sit there and watch them on the blueberry bushes.  They bring a smile to my face.

Until now.  I was standing in my kitchen making dinner tonight when outside my kitchen window I saw two fat bumble bees sunning themselves on my siding in the rose garden.  I thought it odd that they wouldn't go home as it was getting close to sundown.  Then I saw a bee fly up into the corner of my garden area above the kitchen window.  Seconds later I saw three fly down from there.  Some quick math made me say some choice four letter words.  Thankfully the kids are at their grandparents tonight, hehe (the last few sentences were literary embellishments).  Needless to say it meant I had a bumble bee nest in my house.  Sure enough, I went out to the rose garden and saw the hole where they were coming out of.  GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Why couldn't they have made their nest in a tree where I could point it out to my sons and say not to shake the tree and make them mad!?  No, they had to make their home where they are not supposed to be.  Now I have to kill them.  I really don't want to kill them. 

Maybe I'll wait until fall when the growing season's over, hehe.  Grrrrr.

Not a happy day in my garden for sure, hope you enjoy yours!

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day all. I hope you made use of the somber holiday to spread life throughout your garden.  Following my utterly exhausting day yesterday, I slept in and got a bit done at my folks place before heading to another BBQ, late as usual for this weekend.  We had fun, but thankfully for the garden's sake it ended early. When I got home I got out into the garden finally. 

I knew this weekend of beautiful weather would do wonders for the garden, and I was right.  We now have cantaloupe sprouts, watermelon and the corn is about 3 inches high.  What's even more special is that I even saw a few broccoli heads starting to form.  That's great since they're now shading the cauliflower and cukes behind them too badly.  Oops. 

Well, that's it for the cool stuff I didn't take pictures of.  Mainly I spent my time over at the potato bins.  I knew I was in for a bunch of soil adding with all the sun we've had.  I had left a bit more than an inch, maybe 3 last time I hilled last week.  Today I had another 6-8 inches of growth.  Amazing.  I'm not sure if it's bad or not, but there were even flowers starting to form.  That's not good if they're stopping growth and heading straight to potato formation this early.  Time will tell.  All I can do is continue to hill. 

I must admit that having 2 bins is about all I could stand.  My back was killing me after hilling each plant by the handfull.  It took two bags of Mel's Mix and another set of boards per bin.  I suppose I could use a scoop of some kind, but this works and I feel better, closer to the dirt my way.  Here's a shot of about how much I tend to leave.

All the lower branches of each plant got burried after I positioned them into a bare spot in the bin, hoping the potatoes grow where I want them.  I've had a few questions about my bins lately, and although I always try to personally reply to questions via email, I thought I'd share this pic with everyone as it seems to be a common issue.  Hope this helps.

While I was watering this part of my garden (I watered the raised beds yesterday), I couldn't help but notice the blueberry bushes are covered in flowers and/or berry starts.

And my other original planting...

Not bad for the second year in the ground.  I can't wait for these babbies to be 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide, hehe.

Speaking of tall plants, look at how well the garlic's growing.  I don't know what type garlic I'm growing, but I would love to know if I can harvest the greens for use as garlic flavored green onions?

I know it's tough to tell how tall they are, but that's about 2 feet.  This bed is constantly in need of weeding because I did a very poor job of it when I planted my blueberries.  My folks think I should use the front of this concrete raised bed for strawberries.  I may though I like the idea of containers for strawberries better.  If only I had room for them. Maybe I could hang them from the fence, hehe.  Go vertical?

Hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend.  Mine was about as horrible as it could be with such miraculous weather and two parties attended.  I am going to be so exhausted at work I'll be useless, and still need to desperately mow my lawn.  Hope you enjoy your garden~!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 24, 2009

Wow, it's been forever since I've posted.  Sorry about that folks.  I have a really good reason why I haven't posted.  I've been on the go 24/7 since my last post, with scarely a minute to myself.  Seriously, between helping my folks and my inlaws, it's been a crazy couple of days.  About the only thing I got to do for fun this weekend was go to my best friends 37th birthday party (I'm a few months older than he is).  It was a barbeque over at their house and I finally got to see the SWCs we made at the SWC party in action.  They've got them all lined up under their deck on a concrete patio area.  They get really good sun and there are 10 tomato plants growing in them.  Interspersed between them are the scraps with cukes and other stuff growing in them.  They creatively used the lids as saucers for the scraps to fit on/in.  Apparently they recommend having a few holes drilled in the lids so they drain.  Otherwise there is a 1 inch pond the scrap is sitting in.  Sorry to say I didn't take pictures, I was too exhausted.

I ended up leaving early while the folks were playing Rock Band.  I couldn't get my fingers to work on medium, got frustrated and decided I had had enough. You see, I got up at 6 and need to do pretty much the same tomorrow, with heavy manual labor both days.  Yep, three days of manual labor on perhaps the best weather weekend of the year (including the rest of the year I'm betting).  /sigh.  Life is far from fair.

I'd like to tell you that gardening has still been happening, but it hasn't.  All I got done was to water a bit this morning knowing it would be in the 70s today and hadn't rained for days.  While I was out there I snapped a few pictures though.

Here's an early morning picture of the sprouting yukon golds.  I think I'll hill these a bit with compost to add a few inches of growing space.  Not sure it's needed, but I have the room.

While I was in that bed, I ripped out the grass that was somehow growing in the carrot squares.  I had tons of it as you saw from my last post.  No clue how it got there.  So much for the carrot seeds I planted there a few weeks ago.

I also had to share these monster broccoli plants.

No heads forming yet, but I'm hopeful I'll get an early crop.  I have other plants that are effective succession plantings to these so I should have a good harvest of broccoli all summer long.  I just hope the cauliflower does ok.

Here's the sad looking tomato plants that have miraculously turned themselves around.

And lastly, Saturday morning I got a chance to see my favorite garden growing up.  It is at the home of my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Al in West Seattle.  My Aunt Joyce passed on a month ago and we were helping my Uncle Al out before working on the house.  They have a terraced garden with three levels and have always grown the best harvests I've ever seen. 


This picture, taken from their deck doesn't do the garden justice, but you can see the top layer at the top of the picture planted with potatoes with a soaker hose wrapped around.  Sorry to say that their garden is in a state of over grown disarray, but it's been a few years since they've been able to tend it well.  I remember growing up their garden was alive with everything under the sun.  It is one of my fondest memories of them.

Well, it's really late and I've got to get up and do it all over again.  Wellcome to the new folks to sign up.  I hope you comment and share your insites.

Enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 20, 2009

Boy am I tired... /sigh too much time playing Farm Town on Facebook with my wife.  I should have known my addictive personality would latch onto it. Thankfully though my youngest and I did some real gardening before hand.  Actually I got a ton accomplished in about an hour outside with my son.  He sure had fun too. He misses his brother when he stays the night over at Nana's on Wednesdays. 

Let's see, when I got home I knew I wanted to plant the cukes I had over-grown in the house.   Their roots were sticking out from the soil blocks all over the place.  I was thinking on the bus that my cukes are way behind everyone around here, and I want them to be ready at the same time my brother's are so we can have a pickling party.  I hate making pickles alone. 

I'm not holding out much hope for them, although they do look pretty.

Yeah, all the rest of the ones I planted out died, or maybe got munche, not sure.  Anyway, I currently have a dozen or so seeds soaking overnight to direct sow in the morning.  It worked last year and nothing else has worked this year, so it's how it's going to be.

After these three were planted in bed #1 with some compost worked in before hand, it was time to take care of the peas in bed #4.  They've done much better than the ones in bed #3 because I had a cold frame over them for several weeks.  They're about 4 to 5 inches high right now and so it was time to build my trellis.  I'm using the old 2x2 one with twine laced between screws at 6 inch intervals that I used unsuccessfully this fall.  The peas in bed #3 will have the benefit of my 7x15 trellis. 

The 2x2s are just untreated pine, so they're slowly rotting away, and the twine is rotting too so it breaks easily.  You can't see it but I had to tie it back together multiple times.  Let's hope it doesn't break before the peas die back and I harvest some seeds from what we don't eat.  I would hate to have to do some emergency surgery on the trellis. Hehe.  You can't see it but a couple are starting to be trained to grab the bottom string.  Also, the re-seeding I did is showing good germination after soaking them overnight.

At the front of that bed is a mixture of Mokum and Purple Haze carrots.  They've come up well, but I'm a bit nervous.  I'm hoping that the foliage is radically different between the two varieties.  Not that I care which is which, I would love for the kids to be surprised when they harvest them, purple or orange, you never know, hehe.  What I am worried about is that I may have a bad weed infestation all of a sudden, since the stems are nothing like carrots are supposed to look.

Insane isn't it?  Looks like blades of grass.  Very odd.  I know I composted grass and some of it didn't compost all the way before I spread it over the garden, but it shouldn't have viable grass seed in it, should it?  I don't want to pull any carrots before they're even close to being ready.  Thoughts?

Of  course between the carrots and peas in bed #4 are my yukon gold potatoes that I showed you a sprout yesterday.  Well, made my way over to the other end of the yard where my Butte's are in my bins.  They were getting close to needing to be covered before the rain storms hit two days ago.  I admit I hadn't been out to check on them in the thunder storms.  Look what I found.

Oh my how you've grown, hehe.  Seriously, this is potentially VERY bad.  Those stems are way more than 4 inches tall. I may have missed the opportunity to grow potatoes this season.  If they think they're stems instead of roots, the game's over before it starts.  I could build up 5 more boards and fill it with more dirt than I have on hand, only to get potatoes in the bottom six inches just like they were early varieities.  I really don't want that to happen because I didn't want to go out in the pouring rain and lightning to carefully add dirt by the handfulls around each plant. 

Hoping for the best I did just that today when the weather was sunny and in the low 60s.

Here's my little helper who insisted on helping me drag 3 bags of Mel's Mix over to the bins.  He then helped spot the worms that had miraculously appeared inside sealed bags of Mel's Mix.  There were a surprising number.  Anyway, it's almost time to add another board.  I was getting hungry at this point and still had another bin to do, so I didn't do it. I will have to add a board before I hill anymore, which should be in a day or two.

The other bin was even taller than the first.  That one I absoultely needed to add a board.  It took a ton of dirt to fill in the blank spots and hill the plants, but here it is finished.

Yay! I finally have my second board.  My buddy Judy is close to harvesting her bins, but such is life in the "other" 8b (I hope you got Patti's newsletter and read our joint articles on the zone issue!).  Anyway, I'm excited even if I don't get squat from them.  If so, a painful lesson learned.

Well, that's it for tonight. Hope you enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19, 2009

Well, I MAY have got rid of my virus problems on my computer. AVG (my fourth antivirus program I tired) finally found several viruses, and eventually I think I got rid of them.  Now I finally have time to post. 

Before I get into gardening, I wanted to say that I guess I shouldn't be surprised that my linking the Monsanto post to a recent one has caused a slew of new comments on that thread.  While I don't mind folks stating their opinions, including American Farmer, be nice folks.  If the petty bickering continues I'll be forced to edit some comments out.  I don't want to do that, but after seeing threads locked in other forums my wife frequents, it may be something I have to resort to... somehow.  Ok, enough of that nasty business.

Let's see, the big news in the garden over the last few days is the rain.  We've had tons of it.  I can't say it enough, thank you for Mel's Mix.  The beds are wet, but drain like a charm.  Oh, and the plants that were wilting in the heat the other day are back alive and well.  Go figure. 

I didn't do anything in the garden, gardening wise, due to the rain, but I did snap some garden pictures to share.  Things are growing like mad!  I think I mentioned in a previous post that the heat wilted my broccoli leaves?  Well look at what a little rain did to them...

Hehe, what I see in this picture aside from some monsterous broccoli leaves, is that I have some serious planting to do.  I need to get some cukes in the ground behind these so they can grow above the broccoli, and I need to plant some succession plants, mostly carrots because my son will go through what's planted in two days if I let him, hehe.

Oh, and the other wilted produce during that heat was the lettuce.  Look at it now!

I know KitsapFG is going to say I need to harvest it. I know, hehe.  If I think about it tomorrow morning I'll make a salad for lunch.  

Speaking of huge leaves...

That spinach could be used as an umbrella (and is for those carrots, so they'll be the first to go into tomorrow's salad!

And with that lunch or dinner I had better have some radishes.  They've grown quite a bit in a short period of time.

While I was out there I had to shap a shot of the potato sprouts that came up.  In almost every square I have one or more sprout.  I wondered if I would get multiple sprouts from those monster tentacles.

The rest of the garden tour is made up of my tomatoes.  First I wanted to show how not all tomatoes planted at an angle will immediately make a 45 degree turn and head straight up toward the sun.  Look at these poor souls.

They're growing strong but not up. So I added back the tomato cages that I removed after that wind storm we had a while back.  Then I forced them inside the cages so hopefully they'll grow up instead of out.  Sheesh, do I have to hold their hands or what? hehe.

And last, but certainly not least, the culmination of my garden tour.  Remember the potato leaf Bloody Butcher that was doing so well in the 2 quart pot but didn't like being transplanted into the SWC?  Remember the cluster of flowers that wilted over and looked dead, while the new growth shot up?  Well, I was pleasently surprised today to find...

A handful of baby tomatoes!  Gotta love that.  Those dying flowers actually produced. Yay!

I sure hope you enjoy your garden half as much as I do mine!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17, 2009

Boy, I am shocked at the strong opinions dancing around my Monsanto post half a year later.  I guess it must show up on some google search or something.  Anyway, I always appreciate gardening opinions, since there's never a right or wrong way to do things in gardening.  There are of course, 100 ways to grow a tomato, hehe.

Anyway, today's weather was even better than yesterday's.  It was 75+ today and the kids just about lived outside.  I too spent a good deal of time there after helping the folks again.  My brother couldn't help because his knees were killing him.  More on that later.  So it was just my dad and I, but I'm happy with the work we did.  Unfortunately it's just getting more and more time consuming as we uncover more work to do. /sigh.

When I got home, I checked out the yukon gold potatoes.  Some have already sprouted up from the surface, but I dug down anyway.  Surprisingly, there were root systems starting already, and I found that I had for the most part, planted the seed potato 5 or 6 inches down.  I think I have room for another 2 inches of dirt on top, so I plan on hilling the squares with either straight compost or left over potato Mel's Mix. I haven't decided.  The good news is I didn't need to replant them.

At that point, I mixed up some fish emulsion and watered the tomatoes with it.  Not only did I direct water the plants through the holes I cut in the red plastic mulch, but I also topped off the reservoir with fish emulsion.  Let's hope they like it.  Unlike EG, I was too ashamed to take pics today, hehe.  Of course mostly it was because my garden was showing signs of neglect.  Naw, I still weed, well there were some mushrooms growing that I hadn't picked out yet.  What really was bad was the hoop cover plastic thrown into the walkways between the beds, the garbage from the laundry clips I got, and the clips themselves.  Everything was just laying on the gravel.  So I took some time to tidy up the place.  I even had my boys help me lay out the plastic on the grass in the back yard to dry out.  Funny thing though, whenever I set it down, condensation would form on the bottom.  So I ended up folding it up wet anyway.  Whatever, at least they're put away in the shed. 

I left the hoops up in case the coons come back I want something to connect chicken wire or something to.  I may remove them and store them, but I do want to drill the holes for the cross beams.  I didn't do that today.

Finally, I had an opportunity to stop by my brother's today.  Recall that yesterday he was going to prep his expansion area for some new raised beds.  I wanted to share what he's up to becaus he won't, hehe, and I think it's very cool what he's doing.

Here is the side of his driveway essentially looking north.  The fence will provide morning shade.  What he plans on doing is to put 3 or 4 4x4 beds in here since the dirt area is 4 foot wide.  Using 4x4s with paths between will allow him to get to the backs without reaching so much.  Oh, and you should have seen the tam he had to remove in the front, the root ball doesn't do it justice!

Not sure why I took this picture, but if he wants to use this soil, even in part, to fill his beds, he's got a lot of work cut out for him, hehe.  I couldn't convince him to use Mel's Mix, despite the fact I proved it works last year and it's not just for seedlings anymore, hehe.

Oh, and as I was driving way, I decided to take some pictures of his future expansion area.  He wants to put 4 4x8 beds in his useless side yard.  It's where we laid 8 cubic yards of river rock a year or two ago.  My back still hurts just looking at it.

His goal is to have six 4x8 beds and 5 4x4 beds.  Eventually he'd like to get some chickens and build a Patti-style chicken tractor to fit the 4x8 beds.  I'd love him to have chickens so he could supply all three families with fresh eggs.  My wife will never let me get any.

Oh, and to give perspective to the area, here is the other half of the space for the future beds.

It's a very nice space with great southern exposure.

Anyway, that's it for me. Long weekend and it's still 75 in the house, so I'm cranky and tired.  Night all.  Hope you enjoyed your garden this weekend!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May 16, 2009

I wasn't planning on posting tonight, as I got hardly anything done in my garden today besides watering.  I was busy all day helping the folks.

That was until I got a few comments on my Monsanto post.  At first I had to laugh that I got someone reading that vehemently opposed my views and opinions.  Then I just HAD to post.  I needed to say that I truly believe that I have an open mind and appreciate a wide variety of opinions. 

I also have a huge respect for the American farmer.  It is a brutally hard life and most unfortunately often a no-win career.  What I take offense to is the farm supply industry's attempts to force farmers to constantly buy new seed, petro-chemicals and fertilizers every year.  I also believe that the verdict is still out on genetically engineered food.  It may be the salvation of a hungry planet.  It also may be damaging to our health.  With Monsanto's track record, I choose to err on the side or caution.

Never think I have something against farmers.  Without them, we could not sustain ourselves as a nation and world.  The fact that I'm working to provide my family with a bit fresher and healthier fair means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

As for not posting folks comments, if it's not spam, and not simply saying "your site sucks", it gets posted.  I care what readers think, even when they disagree with me (regular occurrence).   I encourage the American Farmer that commented on the one post to read others before jumping to conclusions. 

Other than that, it's a miraculous weekend.  It's in the lower 70s and sunny.  We just got back from a walk and boy is life grand!

Enjoy your garden!

Friday, May 15, 2009

May 15, 2009

Short post tonight.  We celebrated my father-in-law's 60th birthday today.  It was fun, but that meant I didn't get out into the garden to do anything tonight.  That said, there are a few things I wanted to mention tonight.

First is that although my potato bin traffic has dropped off quite a bit, I just reached 30,000 hits yesterday!  Very cool!  That's the size of the city where I live, hehe.  That and I am proud to say that 1,400 comments have been left on my blog, not including the nearly 3,000 spam comments I've gotten.  Bad news travels fast I guess, hehe.

Other than that, I haven't heard from my family as to our schedule this weekend, but I have some garden chores to do if i get time. 

First off, I have to dig up all my potatoes in bed #4.  Seems I planted them way too shallow.  After emailing KitsapFG, I figured out I need 6-10 inches of dirt over the seed potato. I've got 3 at most.  And while I have about 3 inches of bed space that I could add dirt to the top, I don't have that kind of dirt.  So I really hope they haven't taken root yet.  Not sure if distrubing rooted potates is more like cucumbers or tomatoes.  My guess is tomatoes since they're both nightshades.  Either way, I've got 15 inches or so that I can dig down if necessary, though I don't have the space to trench like KitsapFG does.  I'd have to remove the string grids and my wife would kill me. She spent a ton of time stringing it, hehe.

Other than that, I'd like to water, which won't take much time, but it hasn't rained in about 3 days so everything is probably wanting water.  That and I want to mix up some fish emulsion to fill the reservoirs of the tomato SWCs to give them a boost, especially the Bloody Butcher, that is still lethargic.

Finally, if I have about a half hour I'd like to aerate the compost bin.  I don't have much to add besides a bit of kitchen compost that is mostly paper products. I've been more diligent about saving paper products since I stated mowing and have tons of greens to balance out.  Hehe, that reminds me that I haven't checked the temperature of the bin once this season, but I know it's heating up by the steam a week or two after I build it.  Of course one week is optimal I think for true hot composting, which is my goal.

What are you planning for your garden this weekend?  The weather's supposed to be sunny and nice this whole weekend here in the Seattle area.  How about your area?

Enjoy your garden!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14, 2008

Well, I finally took the plunge.  I've been looking at the box of yukon gold potato seeds and leftover un-eaten potatoes for a month now, thinking I should find a place to plant them.  You recall that they're no good for my potato bins as they only set fruit once (early varieties do that).  So, I came up with a plan to use up some of the open squares in bed #4.  It turned into quite a fun ordeal for my youngest and I.  Look at what I had to deal with.

I like to call this "attack of the potato seed", hehe.  My youngest had a blast playing with the shredded bills that we used to store them in.

To prep the bed, I did what Mel suggests and added a bit of aged compost to each square.

Then I mixed it in with the top few inches and dug a hole for the seed potato.  It was very tough to curl the foot-long sprouts around in a circle and cover it with an ich or so of dirt. 

I sure hope I didn't need to burry them deeper.  I forget how deep to plant the seed?  Is it an inch or two or should I throw more dirt on top?  If so I'll use up another bag of potato Mel's Mix that wouldn't be available for my potatoes.  I'm hoping not to need to buy more ingredients.

Some of them were even harder to plant because they had multiple thick sprouts sticking straight up.

Sorry for the blurry pic, my phone doesn't take good closeups.  Believe me, this is the better of the two pics I took. /sigh.

Here's my bed fully planted.

As you can see, I still have two rows in front of my peas and part of a row between my carrots and potatoes.  I plan on utilizing the short row for more radishes since they're one and done.

I also wanted to say that my soil isn't bad, it's just dry and not as rich compared to pure compost, hehe.

Well, that's enough for me. My computer's acting up since Farm Town on Facebook gave me a malware virus thing.  Having the harvest time removing it too.  Oh, if you're on Facebook and play Farmtown, let me know, I could always use more neighbors! hehe.

Enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

May 13, 2009

Hey folks, sorry for the brief hiatus.  Sometimes I get hooked on something and got to get it out of my system.  I guess it's the obsessive compusive gene in me.  This time it was a silly game on Facebook.  My wife plays it and it was about gardening, so I decided to try it.  It helped that I'm always searching for things we can do together.  Of course that meant I needed to sign up on facebook.  Now I guess all my friends are my friends on facebook.  All I wanted was to play the stupid game, but it would be rude to say no to friends.  I really want nothing to do with social networking sites, hehe.

Through all this, gardening has gotten done though.  I haven't shirked that duty.  But before I get to my garden, for Mother's Day we spent the afternoon at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens.  I was kind of bored because it was 99% flowers and trees, but the mother's and kids had fun.

And of course my Aunt was in her element.  All I could think of was 53 acres of weeding, hehe.

My favorite thing there was a tiny demonstration garden.  They had raised beds with gravel walk ways, but their lettuce was ages behind mine, as was their broccoli.  The only thing they were ahead of me on were peas, but I know I started them late.  Made me feel good since they probably have master gardeners tending that garden, hehe.

For the garden, I took Judy's advice and soaked the cantaloupe seeds.  Out of 5 seeds, two sunk easily, one took some coercing and two didn't do anything.  Not particularly viable after a year.  Shame.  Anyway, I planted all of them in my large SWC, so we shall see what sprouts.

I also filled in some empty squares and sparce carrot growth with new seeds, so hopefully I will have some good succession plantings of everything.  Of course I still have TONS of open spaces. Not sure what I'll do with all of them. 

Lastly, for those of you that were concerned for my Bloody Butcher tomato plant, it appears it was just shock, because the top seems to be growing again.  Too bad the stem that had that huge cluster of blooms still doesn't look good.

Well, check back tomorrow for another post. I'm back at it again.  Hope you...

Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May 9, 2009

Well, for the first time since I started this blog over a year ago, I don't quite feel like blogging tonight. There is too much going on and I'm feeling lazy.  However, I got a fair amount done today so the desire to share overwhelmed the desire to sit on my can and read a book.

Most of my gardening today either happened while I was playing tag in the sun with the kids.  You see, my wife wanted them out in the sun for 15 minutes to get their natural Vitamin D.  While I was out there, I couldn't help but be struck by the beauty of Owen's apple tree in bloom.


I've said it before but I sure hope this is a dwarf or semi-dwarf, because eventually it will shade out my prime extra growing space.  You can see the potato bins in the background.

Then, as we were heading out for errands, mostly to wrap up shopping for Mother's Day and visit the hospital where some good friends just had a baby (Welcome Joshua!), I stopped by the garden.  The temperature was pushing 70 in the shade in the garden area.  I've removed the bed thermometer and put it back up on top of the fireplace bricks under the eaves.  That way it's in shade and dry.  Anyway, I wanted to remove the plastic from my hoop covers so they didn't fry.  As it was, some of the broccoli looked a little toasty and some of the lettuce wilty.

What's worse is that for some reason, my Bloody Butcher tomato plant doesn't seem to be perking up after all that rain.

I sure hope I don't loose that bunch of tomatoes that was prime to grow before I transplanted them.

Anyway, before dinner I decided it was past time to plant my cantaloupe.  I got the seeds too late to get a crop to mature, but that doesn't mean I can wait forever to plant them this year.  So out I ran to position my final SWC.  This one's the 31 gallon kind and should fit three cantaloupe plants if I trellis them.  I knew I would place one half of the bin on a cedar tree stump, but the other end I didn't what I was going to do.  Thanfully there was a cool flat rock that was the perfect height to even out the SWC.  Here it is in it's final position.

Right after this I raced and dumped two bags of used potato bin Mel's Mix into the bin to fill it.  Unfortunately I don't have a shot of it because I was called in to dinner and didn't get back outside.

However, after the kids went to bed I pulled out of the fridge several packets of seeds to plant tomorrow morning.  I want to plant more carrots, spinach and radishes, though mostly I wanted to fill in the blanks on the peas.  I have no clue why I have such bad luck with peas and beans germinating in my garden.  It's wierd.  Maybe you're not supposed to soak them overnight?

Speaking of soaking, anyone know if I should soak the Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe seeds or not before planting?  I decided I would direct sow them since that's the safest method.  I have 5 seeds left from Judy and need 3 to grow so I can save seed for next year.  If only one matures, I have two spares, hehe.  Wish me luck.

Happy Mother's Day to all you mother's out there!

And enjoy your garden.

Friday, May 8, 2009

May 8, 2009

Ah, having a Friday off of work is refreshing.  I got to sleep in til 9 and go shopping with the family.  Surprisingly little got done in the garden because for the second straight day off, my time wasn't my own.  Not horrible, just a bit tiring.  My wife deserves an award, or at least a day for all she puts up with the kids.  Hehe, oh wait, that's what's going on Sunday.  Just kidding. What a lame set-up.  She'll get a big box of her favorite chocolates and a day of pampering from the guys. 

Back to today though.  Before I grabbed a shower this morning, I took the opportunity to run out and hill up the potato bins.  They haven't grown all that fast, but they were definitely 4 inches high.  That and for some reason the dirt that was covering the seed potatoes kept washing away. I hope it's not a raccoon, that deterrent should be working.  Anyway, here's what one of the bins looks like when I was done...

The other bin is a bit sparse in the greenery department.  Not sure if any more sprouts will pop up, but I'm kind of holding off putting much dirt in.   Last year one corner was 8 inches lower than the rest of the bin until I finally dug down and found a dud of a seed potato.  I suppose I could plant another seed potato in the other bin right now if wanted better coverage.  I have plenty to spare in the garage. hehe.

So, after our shopping trip, the boys and I went outside and I showed my oldest everything there was to know about mowing the lawn.  He wanted to learn.  He's still too young and not strong enough to effectively handle the self-propelled mower, but at least he's learning the basics now.  It was fun.  The back yard took much longer to mow as a result, but I still got both the front mowed before 6. 

When it was time to do the compost, wanted to take a few pics of the bin before and after, however, I also wanted to get a few shots of the volutneers.

There big one could some sort of melon, but there are tons of them down in the bottom corner.  Don't worry about the left hand corner, that's a rotten white mellon that my wife got for my eldest, but forgot to feed him.  It was growing mold so it's now composted (at the bottom, the worms will LOVE it).   Anyway, here's a close-up of the volunteer.

Sorry, it's a pain holding the phone still that close.  I guess it doesn't really matter what they are, they got composted in with the rest of the partially cooked material.  I doubt they'll be back.  They'll just be fresh greens, like I need them.  I used up all the shredded paper and still probably have too much greens in the pile.  I'll check for smell tomorrow and Sunday and add some dryer lint if necessary.

Here's the before shot.

It is definitely working as the pile's half what it was when I built it.  Boy was the full yard waste container heavy to dump into the compost bin after I aerated the pile and stored it on the edges.  I normally like to fill it only half-way if I'm dumping it myself.  This time I ended up dumping it in handfuls until it was too far down to reach in.  As for the bin that I'm working right now, it's nowhere near done.  I think on the off weeks when I don't mow I need to go out and turn the compost and maybe only add my kitchen compost. 

Ok, so the pic above tops out at the second board of the pallets.  Take a look when I was done.

Wow, it's nearly to the top board.  There's less than a foot to the lid.  I figure if this keeps up, I'll have to take up all 5x5 feet by 3 feet high.  That would be cool!  Then it would be very EGish... hehe.

I sure hope you all have a great weekend and get some gardening in.  And to all you mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day!  You've earned the day and 364 more!