Monday, June 30, 2008

June 30, 2008

Well, today is going to be picture heavy.  I decided it was past time to take some pics of my garden.  The hot weather's been good to it.  So won't you join me for a virtual garden tour?

First off, my succession lettuce has REALLY matured.  I had some the last time I made my chicken finger salad.  It was yummy!  Notice that I just trimmed the tops of the green salad bowl rather than dig to find a stem?  My brother does that when he does rows and doesn't thin, and the PtF folks do it with their Square Inch Gardening.  In the bottom is my latest succession radishes. I've still got tons to eat, even after my mom harvested a shopping bag full of them for sandwiches. hehe.

Oh, and did I mention that my initial greens bed is still going strong?  Yeah the spinach is bolting (I never really harvested from it because I didnt' need to).

But low and behold, the spinach I succession planted even before I realized my spinach was bolting is now ready to eat. Yay!

Ok, random order, but here is my forest of green onions and my little cuke plants that could...

Did you notice the white on the little first pseudo leaves?  I wonder if it's leaf miners?  Any ideas?

Here's the back of one of them. In case it's too blurry, those are little black dots. I'm pretty sure it's something bad that I want to cure fast...

Here's an updated picture of my corn!  WOW, look at how fast it's grown?  Even the succession plantings are getting some growth on!

Speaking of growth, look ath this cauliflower! OMG! It's almost edible!

And we have CARROTS starting to form.  Too bad they don't get much sun behind the cauliflower.  No clue what I am going to do with my broccoli and cauliflower next year. They need beds all to themselves with the first plantings in back and the successions in front.  Unfortunately that will mean I give up a trellis row... hmm?  Thoughts?

Oh, and here are my peas!  They have really topped out over 3 feet.  The package lied, hehe.

Here's a close-up. Aren't they tasty looking?  Still haven't eaten them. Haven't been home for dinner much lately.  Grrrr.

But to cheer me up, look at the broccoli start! WOW. And I took another picture but it looks just the same.  Sure enough, I've got dueling broccoli sprouts!

And for the tallest plant award, my pole beans are trying to reach the second story, hehe!

I'll end with my topped out potato bins.  The Buttes look like a jungle of green, but I chose the Yukes to share because I noticed that the stems in the bottom left are wilting something fierce.  And the bottom right has a slightly munched leaf.  Is it a problem or is just a water problem?  I've been soaking it often to make sure I get enough water, knowing that any extra will just drain out.

Well, how did you like it?  I know I'm tickled pink... or green. Hehe.

Lastly, Judy over at has graciously offered to send me some Minnesota Midget cantaloupe seeds.  And all indications are that if I plant them immediately. I have a shot at cantalope this year!  So I'm going to fix up Toasty's SWC and get it ready to plant some mini cantaloupes (hehe, apparently there are tons of ways to spell canteloupe, hehe.  Either way, YAY!  I've got to fix it up quick and build a trellis.  I figure I'll put it between the two potato bins behind my apple tree.  It gets basically full sun, and I've got room for a trellis. hehe, I'm excited!  Thanks Judy! You're awesome!!!

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

June 29, 2008

Whew, today was a scorcher. Almost made me not want to be in the yard and garden... I say ALMOST.  hehe.  But first, I just have to nention the slew of comments I've been getting.  Not only is the information excellent (if you don't read the comments, please do), but folks have been coming out of the woodwork.  So many people have commented for the first time.  It put a smile on my face that isn't going away any time soon.  Thank you!  Hehe, of course now I'm confused about tomato suckers, hehe.  Good thing they're all gone as of today.  Thank you all for your thoughts.  I love hearing from all of you.

So, today.  Well I woke up early and read more of my garden book, relaxing and petting the cat.  It was relaxing, just like Father's Day was supposed to be. I could do whatever I wanted... I just had to make my own smoothie, hehe.  Anyway, it was relaxing up until I heard the garage door open.  Then it was a scramble to get ready. My folks didn't call first, they just came over to finish chipping up the branches.  Boy was it a hot one, even that early in the morning.  And unfortunately at that hour there was no shade.  Here's the new compost bin full of chips, not nearly as much as all the branches we cut, hehe.

And here's the old bin that's not quite done, but won't heat up.  I figure to heat up beyond 130 degrees I need more material, but I don't want to add anything, hehe.  It's a conundrum...

Does it look done to you?  It kinda looks like Joe's compost that he told me to look at to decide if mine was done.  Not sure what else I need to do with it, but I do want to use it to mulch in the rose garden. What the heck, I've got tons and am making more as we speak, hehe.  Note that I am finding that with the hot weather I am needing to add water to the bins regularly. In fact I need to water everything more frequently.  hehe. Go figure.

When we were done everyone was beat and hot, so they left and I remembered my promise to have a salad for lunch.  My greens are overflowing and I don't want them to get too "woody" on me.  So I came up with creative take on my standard salad.  I cooked up some chicken strips and cut them up on top of my salad.  Doesn't this look tasty?

All that's missing are tomatoes and cucumbers, but those aren't ready yet.  I just have got to get used to doing without what's not in season.  The PtF folks are good at that, and the book I'm reading by Steve Solomon talks about eating what your garden produces year round.  I'm not very far into it, but I'm encouraged that when I'm done I'll have a much better idea on how to garden year-round in Seattle.  That's very good news!

As I was cleaning up the back yard getting ready to mow (boy do the kids have tons of toys on the lawn), I just had to take some pics of my rose garden.  As much as I complain about the placement of colors and the overgrowing morning glories, you have to admit it is beautiful!

And here's a shot from the other side. Unfortunately my wife tried to kill it by leaning the kiddie pool against it, breaking a few of the branches.

I'm thinking about putting strawberries under the bathroom window.  I've got a concrete box already built for them.  It's the old foundation for the bathoom that we shrunk down when we rebuilt it last year.  It would be a nice little 1x5 box that no runner's going to get out of. hehe.  It's a thought.

After lunch I mowed the lawn.  It didn't need it as badly as I thought it did.  I hardly filled one yard waste container, which of course went on top of the branch chips and the contents of my kitchen compost bucket. I've been saving it for the new bin.  Speaking of the kitchen compost, we put tons of browns and greens in it (tissues/paper towels and fruit/veggie scraps) and yet it NEVER smells.  It's amazing!

By the time I was done with the lawn, the family was home and my bachelor weekend was over.  My eldest was a crank after a rare nap (he always wakes up on the wrong side of the bed) and the youngest was ALL about Daddy, even before my shower.  Ewww, hehe.  That's love for ya!

So the weekend's over. Let's see what I didn't get to from my to-do list.  Well, the peas are still on the vine. I was so hungry that we went bad for us. Tomorrow I hope to have a nice sit-down meal with fresh peas as part of dinner.

Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 28, 2008

Well, today was fun.  I slept in until my body woke me up (10 pm). I haven't done that in over 5 years.  Then I leasurely tended the garden before my folks came over to help trim back some more plants that had gotten unruley.

While I was out there, I realized we'd be chipping up the branches and I swore I was going to stop adding to the compost bin.  So the solution was to run to the hardware store (True Value to save on gas... shop locally) and bought galvinized 3" deck screws.  I used only two of my remaining four pallets because I used the side of my first bin as a side of my second.  It also saved on space as I am almost touching my pear tree.   I used cardboard this time to line the bottom because newsprint is just too flimsy to keep the pitchfork and weeds from penetrating it.  Here's a pic of it, sorry it's soooo dark, I forgot to take a pic of it since my folks showed up as I was finishing it, so I went out at dusk.

I think I'll move some of the old compost to the new bed to make it not so much.  It's nearly to the top of the bin. hehe.  I'll also have more chips tomorrow and likely grass clippings. I've got to mow.  My aunt wants to use some of my compost to mulch the rose garden.  I'm not sure it's the perfect mulch, but it should help them grow, hehe and if it smothers out morning glories, then I'm all for it. hehe

Anyway, today it was pruning the "parking strip" which is the area on the edge of my property just outside my garden on the corn side.  It's where I park my car and has a storm sewer down the middle of it.  Well between a vining maple, a lilac, a rhodie and some other bush, they were all too tall and definitely encroaching on the parking area, especially where my mom parks when she comes over.  So that's why she wanted it done.  Hehe.  Anyway, we didn't do much for the height but it looks much better now.  We didn't get it all chipped up so we just left it in the driveway and will finish tomorrow. 

After that we went out for a nice steak dinner and stopped by at the dollar store afterward.  There I found a great deal on a tricky component in building an SWC.  When I was shopping for materials, the pond basket I found was too big and nearly $10.  It would have taken up too much of the reservior space.  I went with a smaller improvised basket though it was still $7.  Anyway, in the dollar store I found a basket that would work just as well for, you guessed it, $1.  Hehe look at this.

And for all you "guys" out there, sure it's purple, sure they're butterflies, but who cares, once you build it, you never see it again.  It's a good height and width and everything. I won't let out much dirt and will definitely let in water.  That makes the SWC even cheaper to build.  Too bad I don't need anymore SWCs or I'd have bought one.

As the evening drew to a close, my mom (the veggie gardener) checked out my cauliflower. I've got a second head forming and my first is almost the size of a soft ball now. WOW!  She said it's not time to tie up the leaves but she did bend a young leaf over the top of the head to keep the sun out.  The big leaves are doing a good job of that too since the sun is never directly overhead.  She also picked close to two dozen radishes for her radish sandwiches.  I didn't mind since I went overboard planting after we ran out the first time.  I have GOT to eat more salads now that I'm healthy.  Tomorrow for lunch for sure.

She also showed me how to cut or pick off the suckers on my tomato plants.  NOBODY ever told me that tomato plants get suckers.  Apparently when a vine splits it splits it Y's.  Sometimes a third branch will sprout from the middle of the Y.  That's a sucker. It won't grow flowers or fruit and should be removed to conserve water and nutrients.  Since I didn't know that before some of mine were pretty big. Those got snipped with my key-chain leatherman.  The small leaves got pinched and that was much easier.  Now that I know I'll keep an eye out.  Learn something new every day.

I have to admit that watering today was an afterthought, as in I wanted to water all day when it was 95 degrees in the sun (per, 85 in the shade, but forgot to water at dusk.  So I took my flashlight out about an hour ago and watered.  Under the flashlight it kinda looked like I was developing broccoli heads in my biggest plants. I'll check tomorrow.  Wouldn't that be cool! 

Well that's enough for me for one day. Enjoy your garden!

Friday, June 27, 2008

June 27, 2008

Ahhh, I hate to say this in fear my wife may read this and get mad.  But she's out of town this weekend and my in-laws graciously agreed to take the boys for the weekend (they don't get to see them often enough).  So that means I have the house to myself. 

Sure I miss my family tremendously, especially working as many hours as I have lately, I hardly see them as it is.  That said, working so many hours has put the garden, the house and countless projects on hold.  So tonight, after a leisurely evening in the heat of the day, I went out and got tons of garden projects done.  Hehe it's now going on 10 and this is what I did...

- I planted my pole beans, filling all the empty holes with the best germinated seeds. Those that didn't germinate inside are garbage.  Hehe I considered throwing them in the compost pile, but I don't want stuff growing in it. I also planted two of the basil sprigs that I put in water two weeks ago.  They had grown little white roots.  I hope they do well at 2 per SF.  I put them in closest open square to the tomato plants, one foot farther away than the marigolds are (in a different bed).  Tomorrow I'll try to remember to take a picture.  Let's hope they survive and don't get crowded out by my broccoli or crowd out my bush beans. Boy do I have a lot to learn about spacing.

- I watered the plants and noted that my best cuke is growing decent leaves finally (the one that I unintentionally winter-sowed). 

- I cut the final two 2x6 doug fir boards and installed them to the tipity top of my potato bins.

- I added 3 bags of Mel's Mix to the bins, filling completely the Yukon Gold bin.  Unfortunately I want to give the Butte bin a bit more growing to get some of the plants above the wood line before I cover to the top.  This time I went very slow, almost totally by hand.  I highly recommend hand filling to keep from completely burrying plants.  It was especially important with this bin. As you can see, it's a jungle in there!

Lastly I watered it in. I'm not quite sure how much water to give it. It drains very well, so that's a plus.  It's kind of expensive to use Mel's Mix in a bin that you can't use the next year (for potatoes anyway), but at least I don't have to worry too much about overwatering since there's no  bottom.

As the sun was going down, I checked the temp on my compost bin.  Unfortunately it wasn't 140, the highest I found was 135.  Not sure, it shouldn't have pettered out already.  It's a little dry but I'd put away the hose already so I'll wet it down a bit tomorrow after I fluff it again.  Maybe that's a sign it's almost done.  Odd since last weekend I added those rhodie chips.  Hmmm, something new I guess.

Tomorrow's supposed to be boiliing hot.  I hope to get out early and do work in the yard before it gets into the 80s (that's hot for us with our constant humidity). 

All in all, not bad for a day that I worked 10 hours, hehe.

Enjoy your garden!
Forgot to post my to-do list yesterday so here's a quick make-up post from by Blackberry.

This weekend I'm bacheloring it. My wife is away and the kids are at my in-laws. So I may go into the office or just work in the yard and on the house.

- Plant beans, carrots, radishes and maybe more spinach in the open squares around my beds.
- Finish building my potato bins and add the last dirt. They're really looking good.
- Build a new compost bin. I want to let the full one finish up so I can use it to replant and maybe mulch my rose garden.
- Harvest peas for a meal. I've got tons right now.
- Start the Steve Soloman book about Growing Veggies West of the Cascades. It's been highly recommended. Thanks Tim.
- Mow.
- Then there's a ton of projects around the house that need to get done and would benefit from an empty house. Too many to list.

Weather's supposed to be in the 80s so we'll see.

Enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 25, 2008

Well, nothing major on the home front. Went for a walk after watering the garden.  I left the beans soaking overnight, they had prune fingers, hehe.  I didn't mean to leave them much longer than an hour, I also forgot to take out the garbage...  It was a late night last night.

I watched the latest GardenGirlTV videos. If you aren't addicted to them and check back regularly, I suggest you click the link to the right and check out her stuff. She's not only huge into urban suststainable living, but she's a film producer so her video snipits are phenomonal.  Hehe, no cameraphone utube videos there.

Anyway, her latest video is about gardening with kids.  I am trying to get my kids actively involved with our garden but with all the stuff to do in the back yard, they're less interested in the garden right now.  I wish the carrots would grow faster so my eldest could harvest one.

I've also have been reading the journals over at  One of their posts is all about eating locally.  Frankly we drink smoothies 4 or 5 times a week and one of the must-have ingredients are bananas.  I am doing my best to grow my own veggies in my garden, but our climate sucks and I can't grow things fast enough to eat them, other than cool-weather crops like greens.  There are only so many salads you can eat and lately after I eat a huge salad from my garden I'm still hungry.  Grrr, things have got to grow fast.  Please? hehe

So I'm nowhere near a 100 foot diet, or even a 50 or 100 mile diet.  Costco is still our friend and I don't see that changing.  So many posters on their site are all deep into the urban homesteading.  Its awesome, but I'll be happy if I can eat 50% of our produce from our garden.  That's a big hill to climb with all the smoothies we make.

Enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 24, 2008

Well, it must be summer.  Nice weather and I'm stuck in the office working insane hours.  /sigh  Let's hope my garden is working for me back at home. 

I know my lettuce is doing great.  At least the stuff that's not bolting.  Again, thank goodness for succession planting.  I've got great greens to replace the ones that are bolting.  It's amazing.  That spinach ladder I showed you yesterday? Well it may not be as visually pronounced, but all three lettuces have squares like that where there are baby plants, newly edible plants and leggy bolting plants.  Very cool!

Well, about all I got to do today was water and fluff my compost since I didn't get home until almost nine.  This morning before work I watered my potatoes because I don't normally go to that area of the yard after work and I don't want the dirt to dry out since the flowering started, signaling the formation of potatoes if I recall correctly.  Since I watered a few days ago I wasn't sure how moist it was deep in the BAYG bin, but when I started flooding the bin, something very cool happened.  Water started leaking out from between the bottom layer of wood.  That's a good sign that not only is Mel's Mix draining well, but it's retaining moisture as advertised.  YAY!  There's hope for my potatoes yet!

This evening when I watered my garden, I found the pole beans have grown another foot (close), I've got more peas to harvest, and I've got to plant more radishes and other veggies.  I think more spinach in another bed is in order since I've found leaf miners on the young sprouts. GRRR.  However, I purposely didn't look at the cauliflower because I want to be surprised at it's growth by only looking at it once a week, hehe.

I tell you the corn is really liking the warm weather we're having. The stalks are getting thicker and growing finally.  However, the only chance of them being knee high by the fourth of July is if I count the 16 inch beds in the calculation, hehe.  This is Seattle after all.

Finally I took a pitch fork to the compost bin.  Where I could reach with my thermometer showed 130 max so It was time.  Mostly I got to the point where I was throwing the pitch fork as deep into the pile as I could, twisting it and pulling it out to fluff it up.  It was working well.  Unfortunately I got a bit too close to the side of the bin and threw my hand into the edge of the wood pallet.  I don't know what hurts worse, the half square inch cut that pealed the skin off my knuckle or the bruse I'm sure to get where I hit the board, hehe.  Actually it doesn't hurt that bad, it's just silly.

Sorry no pics today, I couldn't think of anything creative and forgot my phone inside when I changed out of my work clothes.

Hehe, I almost forgot, I have pole and bush beans soaking in the kitchen. I've got to transfer them to damp coffee filters and baggies for the top of the fridge.  Funny thing is that when I ran out of Jade bush beans (I went through a whole package trying to get 4 SF to grow), my brother gave me some spare Blue Lake 47 bush beans.  When I got my pole beans out to soak them, I realized that they're Blue Lake also.  So I'm doinig Blue Lake bush and pole beans.  Hope the bush beans intermix well with Jade.

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 23, 2008

Well, I was beginning to think I was boring... Traffic's dropped off quite a bit of late, probably due to summer vacations and nice weather, but yesterday I doubled my views. Glad you stopped by, hope you keep coming back. I hate talking to myself. hehe

Well today I took a good many pictures.  First off, I wanted to share what my trimmed rhodie looks like now. My goal was twofold; to see my kids at play behind it and to be able to get my yard waste container around it to the compost bin.  It may look ugly to some, but I think of it in a rhodie tree fashion.  It's certainly tall enough to be a tree. Oh, and of course it has dead flowers on it. That's when you trim them is after they bloom.

And this is what the compost looked like after we chipped it all up. Of course my aunt threw some leaves on the top. That won't hurt any.  It's cooking underneath so I didn't mix this in, but I figure I've got a great mix of green and brown right on top.

Oh, and my brother actually figured this out, but can you tell me which of these three peas is a snow, a snap and a shelling?

And to continue the the triplets, take a look at three generations of spinach.  I love this shot. I've cleared two squares of bolted spinach but there's one left that has edible leaves on it so I'm keeping them until tomorrow when I make a last salad.

Hehe actually I took a short break to go harvest a salad for tomorrow's lunch.  Unfortunately it looks like the first salad bowl square has either bolted or it was shaded too much by the monster plants around it that it didn't get enough sun to thrive  So I think since the cauliflower is growing finally, and I've got great replacement squares of lettuce, I'll rip out the first lettuce squares I planted and move on to the second and third successions.  That's exactly what they're for.

Tonight I'll soak and start germinating pole and bush beans (Blue Lake this time) because my brother had to call to tell me that his beans are coming up.  Maybe it's time to try filling in the holes one more time.  Unfortunately I still don't know what's killing them, but I sprayed Monterey Spinosad so hopefully it works this time.  Nowhere in Mel's book does he mention how tough it is to get beans started.  Here's to crossing my fingers.

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 22, 2008

Well, for the first time in a week I had the energy to go out in the yard and actually do work.  Mostly because it was the last day of the weekend and it was now or never.  I started the day digging a 2 foot deep hole immediately adjacent to a cedar tree stump, most of it with a pick axe to cut through roots.  We planted a bush fushia next to my potato bins. It apparently blooms all summer long.  That's my kind of plant.  I love rhodies, but they bloom for such a short period of time that it's kind of a letdown.  It still hasn't stopped me from spending hours trying to track down a warlock or some-such-variety that has the most amazing midnight and purple flowers it's incredible.  If I could find one I'd get it.  I've got the perfect spot for it where we had to take out the dead willowy thing.

After we planted the fushia, we tackled the huge rhodie that needed to be hacked back to give me room to get by the swingset to take my yard waste container to the compost bin, and also so we can let the kids play out back without supervision and yet still see them.  Ok, that was a major sentance, one they'd never let me get away with at work, but heck, that's how I write.  Anyway, that took up the balance of the day.  Not the trimming, we only took about a third of the plant to try to shape it such that we can see through it but it still gives shade to the patio, kinda like a rhodie tree.  What took so long was chipping it up for the compost pile.  We did fill a yard waste container with junk I didn't want in the compost. 

I hate to say this but my major discovery today wasn't made by me, but my mom.  I was busy shredding and we had a dinner date with the in-laws so I wanted to bring a salad using up the last of my bolted spinach.  So I sent her to pick a salad for me.  She comes back a minute later and pulls me away to show me something...


TADA! Finally I've got a cauliflower head forming.  Of course its in my biggest plant, but that just means the others can't be far behind, which is perfect timing. I'll have cauliflower for weeks on end, not all at once.  And look at it, the cute little leaves are alreayd sheltering it and it's pure white.  My mom said she'd help show me how to tie it up. She's grown cauliflower before. 

She also came up to me later and put something in my mouth. I was surprised to find it was a snow pea.  Apparently just because they're small doesn't mean they're not ready.  It was very tasty with just a hint of sweetness. Yum! 

Also I decided to remove all the little apples from my tree. Even at a nickel sized, they were weighing down the branches too much.  I might not even let the apples grow next year to allow it to grow.

Well, my compost was almost ready for use.  Until I added tons of shredded leaves and branches.  Ah well, it should cook up quick enough. Hehe.

Enjoy your week, and your garden!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

June 21, 2008

Well, today was mostly a day of rest. But I felt better later in the day and went out into the garden. Watering I found out what scoundrel knocked over my corner corn stalks... it was me dragging the hose over the corner of the bed.  GRRRR. 

After watching my potato plants grow and grow and me be too sick to go out and do something about it, with the weather in the 70s and no sun, I went out and cut another level of boards.  Here's a great pick of me installing them.

Hehe, think it was a little past time?  Well I am shocked to tell you that I used five of my 2 cubic feet bags of Mel's Mix to fill them even to a point where I felt I'd done an OK job of it.  Unfortunately it was dusk at the time (9:30ish) when I took these pics. 

And take a look at the same pic of the Yukon Golds, reaching for the stars...

Tomorrow I'll add the final board and burry that tall one.  I'll leave the foreground one uncovered (hilling) to allow it to continue to grow.  I should note that I tried to move the branches into the center to provide places for potatoes to grow.  Boy those branches were brittle. I broke a couple against the walls. I doubt those will grow, but I left them anyway.  /shrug. 

While I was out there I took some shots of my rose garden. It's a mess of dead irises and evil morning glories but I thought I'd share.

Here is my favorite rose bush, well actually I just found one that's white with red tips. I tried to take a picture of it but it reflected the flash.  Tomorrow maybe.

Here's a pic of my compost bin... It's beginning to look a lot like compost... hehe.

Thanks to Joe over at, I now know more about composting than I will ever need. He's amazing for a code monkey.  Thanks Joe!  Doesn't it look good? See the grey clumps, I'll mix those up later. When I was doing that my right arm went numb hehe.

My brother was over today picking up styrofoam that I would have normally mixed into my trash as space was available, but he took it to break up in the bottom of a huge pot to plant his herb garden.  He used to use a 4x4 raised bed for herbs, but he's moving the prennials to the pot and planting veggies in the bed.  He's also considering a green house in his side yard, but that's another story for another day. 

He called today to ask if I wanted a few chive plants. They reproduce like weeds and he's got more than he needs.  So I've got to figure out an herb garden solution of my own, and fast.  I like the idea of pots, but I've got to figure out where to put them.  And of course I've got to buy the pots.  Hehe I just told a garden buddy today that I was trying not to spend any more money on my garden than necessary.  See how long not spending money on my garden lasted, hehe.

Man it feels good to work in the yard.

Enjoy your garden!

Friday, June 20, 2008

First day of Summer! June 20, 2008

Ok, I think Mother Nature took up my challenge and is calling me a liar.  Today is the first day of Summer, and we had the weather to show it.  It was a high of 83 here at the house.  And unfortunately I'm still recovering and have little desire to be out much.  What little I was I spent time watering in my garden. 

Unfortunately, despite the confidence of two gardeners I admire, my tomatoes are still looking sorry.  I filled the reservior again (the water I put in yesterday just rehydrated the soil), so hopefully tomorrow it will be perky. 

The spinach however, is doing great, hehe if I wanted to save the seeds. But that's for another year... maybe.  Toasty cut hers down to the ground and maybe it will grow back.  I think I'll harvest the remaining leaves and hack away.  Hehe maybe then the lettuce will get some light.  Then I have to decide if I want to leave the roots in the ground for possible regrowth or replant something else.  I'm definitely not going to replant spinach there for a few years to make sure I don't make easy for the leaf miners.

Speaking of growing stuff. I've been rethinking my growing patterns.  I put tall stuff in front of low stuff, and successions in front of sprouts.  I did it all wrong.  Not only should the tall stuff go in back (and cauliflower maybe not grow in a SFG at all), but the first succession should go in back and the subsequent plantings in front.  I just wasn't thinking.  Next year I'll have to remember that.

Oh, before I forget, I did take one picture today.  Toasty was right (she normally is). I went out today and found not one but four snow peas growing! One even still was shrugging off part of a white flower that it grew out of (the one at the top of the pic).  They need to be tied back again.  Maybe I'll go out after the kids are down.

As for flowers, my roses are starting to bloom, just a few weeks behind Toasty, just like my peas.  Now I remember, the pink roses have center stage and the brilliant reds are on the sides.  Stupid planting if you ask me. White or red deserve center stage.

Lastly I found two partial bags of Starbucks coffee grounds that my wife picked up for me. I added them to the top of the compost pile and watered it down a bit.  When I'm feeling better I need to fluff it to get it going again.  I'm certain it's no longer cooking.

Lots to do so I better rest up for some serious gardening!

Enjoy your garden!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June 19, 2008

First off, sorry for the outage.  Apparently someone was trying to spam slam kill somethingerother the boards and the provider took down the sites to shore up the defenses.  You can tell I'm a reall computer guru...  Anyway, it was short lived and nobody lost anything, so all's good.  Besides, I'm still under the weather and working insane hours so the garden hasn't gotten much attention.

Let's see, the spinach is over two feet tall and shading everything in the bed. The best I can come up with is from various places that sell Space Spinach and say it has an "upright growth" so I guess that means it grows 2+ feet tall.  If I'd known that I would have put it behind things.  Next year I'll have to remember to put the lettuce in front, then carrots, then broccoli, spinach and cauliflower.  hehe  Ahem, I went out to water after writing this and found my mom harvested all my spinach.  She's going to blanch it and freeze it to make spinach caseroles.  While I was out there I noticed the start of flowers in the middle of the stars.  Darn, they are bolting.  Ah well.  The baby spinach is close to being ready.

Speaking of spinach, being sick has made me not want salad.  My last salad was Monday and I'm still only wanting smoothies for dinner.  So yesterday thinking that my spinach was bolting, I called my family and asked my mom and brother to come and harvest greens and radishes. My radishes I planted around my broccoli are all mature and I don't want them to split.

One of the first things I need to do when I'm feeling better is to add a board and more dirt to my potato bins. They're so tall now it's not even funny.

And this one's got real flowers on them. Not sure if I should pinch them or just burry up to them and stop there?

While I was watering I actually found the "lady bug" that my kids found this afternoon while they were harvesting spinach.  It's actually a different one but the same insect.  They seem to be on my radishes for some reason.  Anyway, I know there are imposter beetles that look like lady bugs, and frankly I've never looked at a lady bug close up, so can anyone confirm the insect here?

I put it on my tomato where it belongs just in case it is a lady bug.  If it's not I don't want it anywhere near the plants where it wanted to be. hehe.

Speaking of tomatoes, I was worried that the leaves were curling. It's getting bad, look...

I was really worried.  I "knew" it had water because I filled it last week and before that I'd filled it a month ago. In between it used less than a gallon of water.  Not knowing what to do to a closed loop system, I did the only thing I knew how, I watered it.  Sure enough the reservoir was almost bone dry.  I was shocked. It went through water really quick.  We haven't even had much warm weather lately.  Go figure.  I'll check it more regularly now.  Let's hope its just lack of water and the leaves will bounce back. 

The last pic I've got is of my little pole bean that could.  It's RIGHT next to the four that died in their prime of life, yet it's reaching for the stars (ok, enough of the cliches hehe). 

The last thing I did out there was to respray the Monterey Spinosad stuff.  It's been a few weeks and we've had a fair amount of rain.  I paid close attention to the holey leaves and the beans.  If it's something eating the leaves let's hope this stuff works on them.  I removed the dead ones, they were too depressing.  But I asked for advice on GW and so far all I've seen was spider mites.  There's nothing much on the underside of leaves but specks of dirt, unless they're tiny tiny things.

Well, enough for tonight.  I better get better soon. I've got a ton to do in my garden and it's not getting done without me...

Enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June 17, 2008

To be sick at work on a beautiful day.  Ah the irony... Alas Ms. Morressette, that's irony, not many more than one of your countless attempts in your songs (though Isn't it Unfortunate doesn't sound very good as a song title).  Another looonnnnggg day of work and no time to do what I wanted in the garden, but I did get to water and snap a picture of my fallen soldiers.  Once these pole beans were proud and tall. Now they're just waiting to be pulled from my garden when I have time to replant them.

Notice the colorful straws (I've got kids can you tell?) around all the rest of the surviving beans?  Let's hope Alberta's handy advice does the trick.  You can bet as soon as I see green sprout on the replants I'll do the toilet paper roll.

Also I just noticed the tomato leaves on a few of the upper branches have begun curling and turning over.  Is that bad?  I'd like to catch anything bad before what happened to the rest of my poor garden happens to my healthy tomatoes.

It can't be water I just filled it the other day.  Again it didn't need much to fill.  Did I mention my brother was very impressed by it when he was touring my garden?  Thanks again Judy.  Check her blog to find the SWC instructions page.  Simple to do and a great way to conserve water and space for all sorts of big veggies.

Well time to scarf something down and hit the sack early.  Got a doctor's apt. tomorrow to hopefully get some antibiotics. I haven't had that many sinus infections but I don't soon forget a symptom.

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, June 16, 2008

June 16, 2008

Sorry to say this will be a very short post with no pics.  I worked a hair shy of 12 hours today, something we jokingly call a "half day" not including commuting.  That wouldn't be so horrible (ok, it would) but today was either the worst alergy day of the year so far or I've got a sinus infection.  Safe to say I'm not sure after all's said and done. Only time will tell.

While I was at work I got a great email from Alberta. She's so cool it's not even funny.  She sent me an email to tell me (just in case I missed her post) that another method to foil cutworms is to stick a twig or a straw in the ground right up against the stem.  Appartently cutworms need to wrap around the stem to cut it off, so if there's a twig or straw to double the thickness, they can't get all the way around.  A bit more organic than lacking bran with BT to get them to poison themselves, but I'll try just about anything soon enough.

When I got home I didn't even go inside to drop off my brief case.  I walked into the garden and started watering. The sun had gone down on the garden so it wasn't going to burn off.  While I was watering I decided I would finish that off and go to bed.  Unfortunately the cutworms had been at it again.  After a several day hiatus they had murdered one of my better looking pole beans.  Ok, you can have the bush beans, but don't touch my climbers!  So I went inside and grabbed a handfull of the kids colored straws and proceeded to cut them into thirds and burry them into the soil at the base of every surviving bean plant in my garden.  Unfortunately there weren't many.  If I werent' feeling horrible I would have snapped a pic and shared it with you. Maybe tomorrow. 

Rest assured, tomorrow I count heads and start soaking replacement seeds.  I think seeds will get toilet paper rolls and plants will get the straws.  Cross your fingers all.

Well, the Nyquil is kicking in and I finished stuffing my face with a quickie dinner. I was starved because all I ate today was the leftover salad. As good as it tasted, it didn't satisfy my hunger despite it being enough to feed two people.

Enjoy your garden and hope you don't have as many pests as I do.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

June 15, 2008


Alas, the party was at my house so this morning after I graciously got to sleep in, we raced to clean and get stuff ready for the day.  Then with both my father and father-in-law here I had to run around making sure everyone was happily fed with a drink in their hand.  Thankfully my brother took over (at my request) the BBQ so I could make sure everything was ready on time. I felt like a head chef. I didn't actually cook anything through to completion (except the baked potatoes), but I touched everything.  Despite not having quite enough steak (I miscounted) and too much salad, it turned out wonderfully.  Good idea on salad. Don't dress it so when you have left overs you can stick it in the crisper and have it for days.  I will have it for lunch tomorrow.

Mostly today was about sharing my garden with folks that hadn't seen it in quite a while.  My sister-in-law hadn't seen it since we got dirt, so she was impressed.  Hehe she even appropriately commented that I really didn't need to plant more lettuce.  She's right. Who knew?  Live and learn.  Everyone was duely impressed by the SWC and how well my tomatoes were growing, especially when I told them how little water they took.  Thanks Judy!

My brother and also talked a bit about gardening... mostly about my recent revelations about Monsanto Corporation.  These folks have completely lost their morals and ethics.  They must think that having their former corporate lawyer (Clarence Thomas) on THE Supreme Court makes everything they do legal.  Insane...

He also informed me that my bean problems have more to do with likely cutworms than weather.  He pegged my stumpy stems perfectly.  So my son's "binoculars" got taken apart so I could use the toilet paper rolls to make cutworm rings around my seeds.  He also helped me out.  When he heard I was out of Jade bush bean seeds, he brought me over close to 100 Blue Lake bush bean seeds.  He loves them.  I'll interplant them in with my Jade to fill in the squares.  I think I'll get 4 full squares now. Thanks Bro!  He's the greatest!  He even told me we'll have to pickle beans.  Apparently they're really good.  He's been reading a book on preserving.  Should be fun come fall or whenever.

Well, it's late, I'm tired and have to work int he morning.  No pics today since you've seen everything yesterday.  Hope your weekend was great and you wished your dads a Happy Father's Day.

Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

June 14, 2008

I don't really know what posessed me to look up codling moths and apple trees, but I found a post on GW about it.  It sparked something in my mind.  A few weeks ago I was out in the back yard, probably looking over my potato bins.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked like a dead leaf on my young apple tree.  I pulled it off to get rid of dead stuff and it wasn't dead.  It was in fact, two brown moth's mating.  Needless to say they died happy.  But I didn't think much more about it until today.  I looked up codling moths on Wikipedia and sure enough, they could very well have been what was on my apple tree. 

This picture was taken while I was out looking for any damage.  There were a few eaten leaves that I removed, and I thinned the apple clusters down to the two best looking apples so as not to weigh down the branch too much.  However, I have no idea if there are moth larva burrowing into the center of my apples as I speak.  I'd like that not to happen, but I also don't want to start spraying.  I understand baging the tiny apples helps, but I figure the damage is done so that's not needed (could be wrong).  I think it'd be silly to see huge sandwich baggies ziplocked around the stem of tiny little apples the size of marbles.

Also while I was out there I realized that I hadn't shared my climatis. It's blooming despite my sorry attempt to trellis it.  I should really have been more diligent about that.  It's still pretty with it's huge white flowers...

 While I was outside, I was struggling with a to-do list.  The weather was turning great (currently 68 in the garden), well great for us. And I didn't know what to do.  Then I remembered I wanted to plant out 13 SF of my garden that was still bare.  So I planted 2 SF of carrots now that my second planting is over an inch high and starting to develop real leaves.  I also planted 1 SF of onions so my wife will have 4 SF total.  Finally I planted one more SF of radishes, you can never have enough radishes.

I set to soaking my last 8 bush bean seeds. Unfortunately it won't be enough to fill in the major bare squares, so I'll do my best.  Let me say I will not be doing Jade Bush Beans from Territorial again.  Not sure what I'll do with the 4 SF in front of my bush beans and behind my broccoli.  Maybe more carrots. My son loves carrots and they're like radishes, you can't plant enough of them. 

While I was out there, I kept hearing a chain saw in the distance. I hadn't mentioned it before, but driving home from the park-n-ride for the past week I've been eyeing this tree trunk almost as big as a car in my neighbor's yard.  He's an amature arborist and works for the PUD. He's the guy that helped me cut down my trees.  Well apparently the PUD had a tree they couldn't get rid of and gave it to him.  So the kids and I went for a walk.  Here he is just about done cutting up with the biggest chain saw I've ever seen.

We got to talking and I mentioned that that sawdust was good for composting.  He said I could have it if I wanted it.  So I borrowed his wheelbarrow and took a load back to my compost.

Here's what two loads of saw dust looks like on top of all that grass...

And here it is mixed in and aerated.

So now I've got a great blend of greens and browns, and it's fluffed enough that I shouldn't have a smell for Father's Day, which is tomorrow at my house.

Finally, you should see all the bumble bees on my lavender.  They're covering it!

I love having blooming flowers that bees love on either side of my blueberry bushes. They pass back and forth and stop now and then to polinate the bushes.  How nice of them!  Oh, the "other" flowering plant is my rosemary. It's gone wild from lack of attention on my part. I've never harvested any herbs from it yet, mostly because I don't know what to use them on or how best to harvest it.

Then we headed out for a walk to enjoy the weather and grab dinner (Teriyaki and salad with my radishes thrown in for good measure).  Out we smelled tons of BBQs and it made me drool for tomorrow. Steak, baked potato, home-grown salad, and freshly brewed ice tea... what more can you ask for?  Oh, yeah, apple pie and cheesecake for desert. Yum!

Right after dinner the last garden activity for the day was to plant the last 8 bean seeds after they'd been soaking for a couple of hours. I didn't bother sprouting them because I'm half tempted to transplant the only thriving ones to one or two squares and scrap the rest.  Out of an entire package of seeds I got less than 20 plants to survive.  That's horrible.  Ah well, live and learn.

Enjoy your garden!