Friday, July 31, 2009
Well, it's time to head out tomorrow. I packed last night and am continuing to pack for us and the kids tonight, so I wanted to post my last blog entry for a week or so. I'm sure when I get back I'll snap all sorts of pics of what has matured, been harvested or bolted. But for now, let's get into a marathon post.
First off, I wanted to show my stunted corn stalks. For some reason they only got 3 feet tall rather than the 6 feet they got last year.
Despite the short stalks, I'm getting corn. Unfortunately I think my Aunt (who will be watering) will be harvesting them.
Only two stalks have corn on them as I type, but this one has two ears and others show signs of growth. Who knows if I'll taste home grown corn or not. Someone will at least, hehe. I recall you only have 10 days after the silks die or something like that. They may last for a week. Not sure.
Oh, I found this shot on my camera, just to show how hot it's been here, look at this.
The top is the garden and the bottom is inside the house. Makes me sweat just looking at it. Oh, and the barrometer isn't calibrated right. No rain for several weeks still. Very odd for us (global warming ahem).
Speaking of the heat, that record 103 degree day did a number on my cauliflower. This was just about ready to harvest one day and the next...
Destined for the compost when I get home.
The lettuce however hadn't shown much signs of distress despite a week of temps in the 90s. In the back of my mind I knew I should shade them, but I left them as is.
As you can see, some of the leaves wilted due to that day. A day late and a dollar short, I did something about it. I removed the wood between the beds and replaced it with one of my trusty window shades and PRESTO!
Gotta love keeping junk from our window replacment project last year, hehe. Not only will the shade protect them, but the 16 inch bed sides will help them get just over 5 hours of sun a day. Should do the trick. When I get home I'll plant more I guess. Maybe I'll have time to throw some seeds in the ground tonight or tomrrow morning.
Lastly, for the grand finalle before head off into the sunset for a week on the high seas, not everything is hating the heat. No, it's not the tomatoes, they lost all their blooms due to the heat. It's acutally my cantaloupe!
I actually have 3 growing bigger than they ever got last year, with more on the way, but I believe you can only see two in this picture. Can you spot them?
Something interesting about this 31 gallon Self Watering Container. Sure it's only got 3 cantaloupe plants in it, but it never runs out of water. Seems like these plants don't need much water. Very odd.
Well, that's it for me. Sorry I haven't been around much lately, and that I'm going away again for a whole week, but I can't wait to get back and see all your blogs to see that you've been enjoying your gardens in my absence!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Well, today we shattered that record. It hit 103 officially today, though it was as high as 104 or 105 depending where you were. Again, with almost no homes having AC, and less than half having sufficient fans, it was not pretty. Poor Logan, he had soccer for 3 hours again today. Thankfully they played it safe with tons of water breaks and spent most of the time in the shade doing drills. Whew.
I must say though, despite the swealtering heat that's melting my garden and bolting my spring crops, I found enough to harvest for one deliscious salad.
So far (knock on wood), my container lettuce mix has held up to the heat and did some cut and cut again rather than pulling leaves from the outside. Then I harvested my first Bloody Butcher tomatoes. Of course I had to pull a big fat carrot, but I was surprise to find this while harvesting.
No, not the sun burnt cauliflower, but the pickling cuke next to it. The first cucumber of the season!
Yum! I was so happy, I picked it and brought all my harvest in to be prepped at 6 am. Here's what I came up with.
The verdict? I may have waited too long to harvest the ripe tomatoes. They were a bit squishy, and the flavor was a bit off to me. That and I can't say I'm thrilled with one or two of the lettuces. Maybe they were bitter from starting to bolt, not sure. The carrot was great though, and the whole thing was very edible, sans dressing, hehe. While my good buddy EG likes a little lettuce with his dressing, I like a few cranraisins thrown in for some sweetness. Yummy!
Of course I watered deeply today before work, but when I got home in 100 degree heat, the lettuce was wilting. I sprayed it with water hoping to rehydrate them. Tomorrow I'll throw them in shad to help save them. Maybe I'll plant a few squares of fall lettuce now in case the containers die out prematurely. Oh, and I had to fill my tomato SWCs twice today, hehe, poor monster plants, wilting despite my best attempts. Ah well, it's gotta cool down soon.
I hope you're staying cool. As of my writing at 9 pm, the outside temp has officially dropped below the inside temp at 89/91, so I'll start the fans blowing cooler air into the house. Take care and...
Enjoy your garden!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Yeah, I know, I'm late for fall planting, but I think I'll be ok. I planted tons of carrots as they're the best after a frost when the starches turn to sugars. I also planted some broccoli and cauliflower butting up where I had the lettuce. Finally I planted a square of radishes and one of green onions. Not sure if the onions will work, but they didn't work this spring. Go figure. Last time I transplanted them from indoor started seedlings and this time I direct-sowed, but it shouldn't have mattered. I'm trying again.
Not only did I sprinkle finished compost over the bed, but I worked some in. Two kitty-litter buckets full. That should replace any nutrients that the former residents took away (they tasted yummy too).
Another reason I didn't garden much is the heat. I don't know what's up, but this weather is for the birds... snow birds that is. I'd expect temps pushing 100 in Arizona or the South, but not here. We haven't had rain to speak of in weeks. It's downright insane.
Now I know what you're thinking if you're a reader from one of those insanely hot places, but we aren't built for that kind of heat here. NOBODY has AC, and fans just push the 85-90 degree interior air around. I'm ok at work but when I get home, it's an oven. And my poor family, they aren't lucky enough to spend 8+ hours in AC bliss.
Lastly, the heat's not doing well for the garden. The cauliflower that was heading nicely is prematurely going to seed, the peas died with tons left to harvest, the potatoes are laying over, and worst of all, there must be hundreds of flowers on my tomato plants that are dying. I understand fruit won't set above 90 degrees. Well it's 95 out there now. Grrr.
Well, that's all for now, stay cool all. I think I'll throw some ice cubes in a bowl and stick it in front of my fan, hehe.
Enjoy your garden!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I forgot to take a before shot, but here is most of what needs to be removed. The lettuce has bolted badly and I should really have yanked that huge broccoli when I harvested it. You think these overcrowded their squares a tad?
The funny thing is that this hot, hot weather around here has basically killed my grass. I have never watered because my lot is so wet, but this year it actually died. Oh well. I water food, not grass. What that means is that I have not mowed in a month. That's another thing that is odd about this year's weather (ahem, global warming, hehe). What that means for my compost is that I am at a sudden loss for greens. I was tempted to go to Starbucks for grounds, but this time I had more than enough from the garden. The browns of course were shredded newspaper and soiled paper products.
I couldn't believe it. I almost ran out of partially composted material to layer in between the new greens and browns. I couldn't believe just how much garden waste I had, on top of the stuff I've been saving.
I also have been trying like mad to get a good shot of my yukon potato bed. Every time I try I keep getting the bright/shadow lines that make for lousy pictures. Finally it was a good shot at dusk. Look at what's happeneing to my once proud potato stems standing tall.
Not only are they laying down, but they're touching the gravel pathways and smothering my carrots. Honestly I have never experienced this with my bins, at least until they are dying back. I wonder if that's what they're doing. They are an early variety after all. I'm still watering them in case I'm wrong. Once I see them starting to die despite the watering. I do want to get them out of there soon though, because I've got 8 SF of carrots that may or may not be doing anything under all that mess on the right.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Yesterday for instance, was a perfect example. For over a year, my garage was jam packed with junk left over from our last garage sale. It was also a catch-all for anything we didn't want in the house. I've been wanting to tackle it for the last 8 months, and so we did. It felt so good to create four piles of stuff in the driveway. Of course there was the keep and the charity piles, but there the garbage pile was broken into dump and recycling piles. Very Seattle of us.
While we were moving everything out, I came across my seed potatoes that didn't make it into the ground this year. I knew there were plenty of Buttes left, but I couldn't give them away. I had known they were trying their best to grow sans dirt, because I kept seeing the box. It looks like this.
I've been surprised that it was starting to form leaves in a mostly dark garage with, I repeat, no dirt. However, if that wasn't surprising enough, I was downright shocked to find this inside.
Look at the spaghetti noodles all bound up inside. Absolutely insane! Life will find a way I guess. These will be composted next chance I get. And I thought the sprouts were long when I planted them at about a foot. Now they're well over three feet in some cases. Crazy. I just had to share.
About all had time to do in the garden that day was to water. While I was doing it I spotted a ripening tomato. It was one of my big ones (I didn't recall having any big ones).
It was ever-so-apparent that I haven't had time to LOOK at my garden of late, because as great as this tomato looks from the top, look at the bottom.
I haven't noticed any other BER (Blossom End Rot) on any other tomatoes in my garden, which is pretty good since I am growing all heirlooms with no particular resistance. Thank goodness my inattentiveness didn't come back to bite me. I am not sure if BER is contageous or not, but it doesn't appear to have spread. Whew!
Lastly, I had to snap this pic while I was watering. I still haven't pulled my spent cauliflower. I'm not sure how much longer it needs to harvest seed from it, but I don't need the space right away, so I may just wait it out.
Ugly I know, but that's what taking a month off will do to your garden.
I had really hoped to get out more into my garden this week.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Call this the anti-garden tour. Things are going funny in my garden and I wanted to share. Not sure why it's happening, other than some are obviously because I'm not harvesting the way I should.
For instance, I found this pea pod when I was snacking in the garden. Needless to say it got composted.
As far as the corn goes, I got mixed messages from the 6 stalks. First off, the leaves started to shrivel.
It's possible that the scrap containers dry out too fast and I need to be better at keeping it watered more often. The good news is that the tassels are starting to form!
Unfortunately I haven't seen any cobs or silks forming. I forget the process. Ah well, next week I'll have plenty of time to check it out.
Also on the good/bad news front. I think it's about time to harvest my garlic. I found out I shouldn't have been watering it, but I have. Oops. Help me, I've never harvested garlic before. I'm clueless and my brother says it's easy and not to worry. How is that helpful? hehe.
Oh, don't mind the weeds, I haven't had time to weed and didn't want to disturb the garlic by uprooting the plants around it.
Lastly, I thought some of the carrots I've planted that got tall and rooty rather than carroty. The only thing I could think was that for some reason they were going to seed immediately rather than doing so after overwintering. Sure enough, I've found two of these.
If that's not a flower, I don't know what it is. Now I have to decide if I'll leave it and let it go to seed and collect them for planting next year, or pull them for compost? Thoughts?
Lastly, it looks like I'll have real salads soon with both lettuce and tomato. Eat your heart out Judy, hehe. Now if only I could get my cukes to grow. It think an email to KitsapFG is in order to see if I have any prayer of getting cukes out of newly seeded cukes to fill in where didn't take in the shade of my late maturing cole crops.
I'm getting excited for next week, but before then, I'm going camping, so don't expect a post this weekend. Enjoy your garden!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Gardens are Forgiving
Every summer, it seems weekend calendars fill up with barbeques, games and parties. Then there’s the weeklong vacations, or maybe “staycations” this year, that we all promise our families. Throw that in with ever increasing work demands, and gardens take a back seat pretty quick during the heat of the summer when the garden needs vigilant attention. Nature doesn’t take vacations and doesn’t go out of town. So what do you do if you have to be away from your garden for an extended period of time?
I had that very problem recently with a family project that took up nearly every waking hour that I wasn’t at work, and when I wasn’t otherwise busy, I was too tired to garden, even though gardening is my relaxing stress reliever. In addition, I was eating out constantly so my garden didn’t even get harvested. Thank goodness I use raised beds that take so little time and effort to tend. Traditional row gardening would have gone to weeds in no-time.
The good news is that most vegetables will remain harvestable for several days beyond their peak maturity when left on the vine, giving a lot of leeway for busy summers. So don’t be so quick to harvest before you go away for the weekend. Notable exceptions would include cucumbers, squash and corn, which need to be harvested before or at their peak. So if possible, a quick 10 minute walk through the garden every day or two to water and check for must-harvest produce is key if at all possible. There’s nothing like fresh peas or a carrot straight from the garden on a daily tour. If you cannot eat the produce yourself, giving it to a neighbor might just convince them to dig up their yard. And if you just can’t get out due to vacations, hiring a neighbor teen to water for you not only gets much needed attention for your garden, but teaches something about gardening to the youth of America. That’s something worth more than any annual harvest if you create another gardener.
I just finished that two week stint where it was all I could do to keep up with watering the garden. I couldn’t harvest more than a pea or carrot to munch on while I watered. If it wasn’t for my kids harvesting carrots left and right, next to nothing would have been eaten. I must say however, that just those ten minutes in the morning or after dark kept on top of my raised bed garden, and kept me going throughout that stressful time.
So, gardens don’t need people so much as they need sun, water, nutrients and time to grow and mature. And with our busy lifestyles, we don’t always have time to devote to our gardens. Even with our hectic lives this summer, the best way to relax is to spend just 10 minutes in the garden every few days to keep us sane and is sometimes all a garden needs to thrive.
Enjoy your garden!
Monday, July 13, 2009
74° F | 52° F
81° F | 54° F
79° F | 54° F
76° F | 56° F
74° F | 54° F
|Partly Cloudy||Partly Cloudy||Partly Cloudy||Partly Cloudy||Partly Cloudy|
It was raining when I got home today, so yet another day where I felt no motivation to get out and work in the garden. However, I am chomping at the bit for nice weather.
I want to get out and rip out the garbage in the garden and work my compost. It's been forever and stuff is just rotting in place, not to mention my full kitchen compost that's warm to the touch, hehe.
Once I rip out the garden of all the spent plants, I need to plant cole crops, carrots and onions for fall. That and I think I will re-seed for cukes. I ony have a few surviving plants that aren't doing anything after being shaded by the broccoli and cauliflower. Remind me never to do that again. As I've found out, it takes too long for the cole crops to mature and majorly overlaps the growth period for the summer crops. I'm thinking now that my yukon gold bed will be devoted to brassicas next year.
So far I'm not inclined to put up my big trellis if I don't have cukes needing it. The peas just flopped over and grabbed onto the succession cauliflower and are almost spent. The only other things to use them are the tomatoes, which I haven't pruned at all so my harvest will be lacking. So what, I'll get something which is better than nothing considering all the absentee time this season.
Lastly, I am a bit disappointed that I wrote an article for GardenGirl about being away from your garden during the busy summer season. Unfortunately it wasn't chosen for the summer newsletter, which is a shame since it was helpful information for the comming months. Maybe I'll publish it here tomorrow if you all want to read it. 400 readers is not 80,000, but it's better than 1.
Enjoy your garden!
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Not only did I water, but I took the opportunity to add some tomato cages to the volunteer tomato and the sucker experiment.
Both now have blooms on them, so I may have some more mystery tomatoes this year. Oh, and speaking of mystery tomatoes, this one's just as mysterious as the watermelon tomato plant above. I know I didn't plant tomatoes in amongst my carrots.
This one's very late, but I may let it go. It all depends on how much space my fall planting takes up.
Speaking of fall planting, I was over at KitsapFG's site and she's already transplanted hardened off broccoli and cauliflower for fall. Oh how behind I am. Maybe tomorrow I'll direct sow the areas where I want to plant. Aside from the cole crops I want to plant carrots gallore. My kids have pretty much gutted my garden of all the carrots. Gotta love it, but sheesh. These carrots above are just about the only ones left until fall. I've got some more planted, but they're not growing fast enough to replace them.
In order to plant more, I have to gut my garden of bolting lettuce, harvested cauliflower and broccoli.
However, I hate to get rid of all this since I have tomatoes to harvest and my lettuce bins are not quite ready yet. The broccoli shoots that I had hoped would be a single meal are toast.
Ah, well, I've got more broccoli ready to harvest. Boy do I wish succession planting worked well with cole crops. I still haven't got it down.
Hope everyone is handling the weather where you are, it's been in the high 80s, low 90s and muggy. Tough to get anything done.
Enjoy your garden.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Much to my surprise, my garden marched along without me. The kids have been harvesting carrots left and right. In fact, they harvested a slew of them at once (against all I've taught them). Thankfully, I learned from Good Eat's that storing carrots with an inch of stem left on them in bubble wrap is the best way to keep them fresh for a long period.
I also found this in the garden.
These are (I believe) my bloody butchers that I should have pinched the blooms off of instead of letting them form fruit. Sure I have early fruit (probably the earliest in the neighborhood), but the plant is less than half the size of the rest of my plants. As I have read, all the energy went into the fruit and not growing the green vines, despite repeated watering with fish emulsion. Oh well, I will get to save seed from these to create an earlier maturing variety next season (hopefully). Anyway, aren't they cute?
I also found these during my personal garden tour.
These are likely yello pear as I found another that is likely roma. I can't wait until these go from green to yellow!
Well, as I said, the garden marched on for two weeks without me. I knew my cauliflower and broccoli were ready to harvest, but when you eat out every night and get home exhausted, it's tough to harvest in the dark. What that meant is that my nice, tight broccoli and cauliflower bunches got leggy. They're still edible I think, just not the peak of freshness. Grrr. Thankfully, I found this when I was out there.
I realize I don't have a hand in there, but you can tell by the 2x6 there that this is about 3 inches wide. I pinched the inner leaves together and clipped them with one of my handy dollar store clips.
Lastly, I was giving the potato bins some much needed water and saw the pest damage was getting worse. Contrary to popular belief, I don't know everything about potatoes. Mostly I know about growing them, not pest problems as I haven't had too much of that. Any idea what's causing this?
The plants look healthy desptie all the holes. I hope that means the potatoes are growing bigger in the tower. I also hope I kept them watered sufficiently so they aren't deformed.
Well, I'm back, and feeling better (though still sore and tired) back in the garden. Thanks for all the kind words about the house. It was listed today and there's an open house both days on the weekend. Fingers are crossed that it's a quick sale.
Oh, on a separate note, I just realized that this is my 400th post. Wow, that's a ton, hehe.
Enjoy your garden!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I think 8 months of work deserves it's own blog post. Sure I know it's not garden related, but considering all the AWOL time I've had lately, it's fitting. But before I get to the pics, I thought I'd let folks know I figured out the problem with posting. You no longer need to sign in to comment. However, if you do sign up, it is just fine by me.
Ok, now for my childhood home as I've never seen it before, hehe.
Here you can see a bit of the landscaping that my Aunt is famous for. It is incredible what she can do with a space. I keep suggesting she take the master gardener class with me. Some day.
Here's the living room with the picture window from the pic above.
The wood looking wall in the back and the right side is actually 3/4 inch oak flooring that my dad "installed" on the walls when I was a teenager. Each board had to be cut and installed by hand. Insane amount of work. Sure hope the buyers like it.
Here's the back part of the living room right as you come into the house.
You can sort of see the transition from the origial re-finished oak hardwoods to the tile entryway that we did new for the remodel. Behind that staged cabinet is wiring for surround sound, power and cable. Is sure miss the piano that used to take up that entire right hand wall.
Another archectural feature of the house is the archways like this one leading from the living room to the dining room. I wouldn't have staged the table in the middle. We had it over to the right. To each their own.
Behind that is the kitchen.
A real feature of this house is the kitchen addition that we still call the new addition, even though it was completed in the early 80s, hehe.
Downstairs (from the stairwell to the left) is a huge semi-finished basement with a big bedroom.
Upstairs is a landing with a nice window overlooking the deck and back yard.
Then there's my folk's room.
And my room, used as the guest room after I moved out.
The home's big, though as was common in the mid 20s, the rooms are fairly small, with a big living area for entertaining. Bedrooms were for sleeping, not lounging, though that room above held a huge entertainment center, a desk, two dressers and my bed back in high-school.
Well, that just about does it. I know if I had before shots you could see the major differences, but the ugly carpet's gone, the hardwoods have been restored, the walls repainted and the trim fixed.
Now you know what has been taking me from my garden and family for the last 8 months. Cross your fingers it sells quickly so we can be done with it. Hehe.
Enjoy your garden.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Today was a short work day due to the holiday. Then came a relaxing BBQ with the family. It was subdued as all the men were exhausted beyond belief, and tomorrow's the final push before the realtors and stagers take over. There is still a ton to do. Boy will I be thrilled when this is over.
After the party I got some time in the garden. It was one of the reasons I wanted to leave early. Not only did I water, but I snapped some shots to share.
First, I thought I'd start with my blueberry patch. I think I mentioned that I got the first few berries off of my Northblue bush. Boy were they sweet and plump.
I love how they mature in small bunches. It allows us to have a treat when we water. Of course, I've got tons bunches that I can harvest for cooking or preserving. I like a taste of things to come.
I think the Legacy is next to mature as the berries are plumping up nicely. I could see this providing tons when it gets more canes, but for now, it pales in comparison to...
I just love the clusters on these... like bunches of grapes. Small but coloring nicely. If I could keep this bed weeded I think they'd get more nutrients. Oh, and that's my tomato sucker transplant in the back. I need a cage for it.
Not sure what to make of this one. It looks like a cluster like the Legacy, but it's later and smaller than the Legacy. Maybe next year it will improve.
Speaking of clusters, I couldn't help but notice this future tomato cluster.
At the top you can see some cherry tomatoes starting to develop. I gave it a good shake after taking this picture, hehe. I can't wait.
And right next to this SWC is my 31 gallon bin with cantaloupe growing in it.
Oh, what did you notice first? If you're a parent, you probably saw my youngest playing in the water from the overflow valve following a refill of the reservoir. If you're a gardener, you may have noticed these...
Yep, flowers on the cantaloupe! Boy do I need to figure out a trellis for this bin. As for the flowers, they're all male. Hopefully one will still be alive when the females show up. Speaking of female flowers, when we were at my brother's, he had no fewer than 18 female cuke flowers, but not a male amongst them. Hehe. Too bad I can't swing a date between his cukes and my cantaloupe. Don't think it works that way.
Hope you had a safe and relaxing 4th!