Sunday, November 30, 2008

November 30, 2008

Sorry to all the folks out there that have checked back over the last few days looking for a post from me.  I've been sick, spending quality time with the family and not gardening until today.  In short, there was nothing to say, so I was silent.  For some reason I'm not as creative as my pal EG at coming up with innovative things to do and say.  That man is always doing something interesting!

Anyway, today I went out to water the garden and get some chores done outside.  As I'd said, I've been fighting a cold and have tired easily.  So all I planned to do was water, take some picutres and then mow the leaves as I had a clearing of the fog for an hour or two.

Frankly it had been a few days since I actually went out to the garden at all.  Shame on me, but the weather had been damp, almost assuredly keeping the soil under the covers hydrated, and a few extra days of mushroom growth couldn't hurt.  So what the hey, I relaxed (and helped my folks some). 

The first thing I noticed when I went out there is that the wind had toyed with my hoop covers a bit.

Of course they still worked, but not nearly as well as they should.  If the results of my temperature tests had shown that the sealed covers kept the inside temperature higher than the outside, I would have been worried.  The plastic had come out from under my bricks in front, so the air would flow freely.  Ah well, it hasn't froze in the last week, so no harm done.  Of course the proof would be inside the covers.

Since the most discheveled cover was on Bed #3, I started there.  As expected, everything was fine. Look at the king cauliflower holding court over his subjects. 


After I picked all the mushrooms out, I moved finally to the back of the bed where the rotting remains of the cucumber plants.  The vines were nearly gone and one of the three cucumbers I was leaving to save the seed rotted.  Oops.  But I saved one good one and one so-so one.  Let's hope I can figure out the right way to save the seeds.  Of course with my luck they'll be hybrids so the children won't stay true to the parent.

But the cool part is that the back of that bed is now clear and ready to replant with peas early spring.

I figure the roots will decompose in place and be fine for the soil.  Either that or they're part of the onions next door. /shrug

Next I moved to Bed #2 and watered.  See, here's me watering for grins.

As you can see, the proper spacing for wild mushrooms is not being followed here. Mel would not be pleased.  That and some of those spinach leaves could be used to play tennis with.  I realized this weekend when I wanted to make a salad that our dressing is expired.  We like the sprays that are minimal calories per spray.  I use so little dressing with our scrumptous veggies that it's perfect for me.  Too bad they don't have much of a shelf life.  So tomorrow I'll pick some up from the store on the way home.

Look at these radishes!  They're in great shape.  Gotta keep my mother away from them or she'll harvest them all for radish and butter sandwiches.  Don't ask. hehe.

I'm skiping the spinach, which on close inspection is showing much less leaf miner damage than I had originally thought.  That's good news, both for this harvest and hopefully future plantings come spring. In the back of the bed are my stunted pea plants.  Theses are the ones that are supposed to get 30 inches high but are at most 18 inches, and others have reported them growing 5-6'.  Not for me.  Think next time I'll try the Cascadia variety and see how it compares.  Anyway, lookie what I found on close inspection...

Peas!  Sure they're small and few in number, but I'm hopeful that this is the first of many to come.  I actually saw two emerging from their flowers.  Not a meal, but a good taste test to share with the kids when they've gotten a bit bigger (the peas, not the kids, hehe).

Next I moved on to mow the leaves.  Thankfully I had enough gas in the mower to do the job without having to fill it again.  I hate to leave much gas in the tank over the winter.  I ruined a mower like that once.

Boy, if only I had more time today (we had a dinner date with my folks to get ready for) and was feeling better, it would have been a perfect time to break out my pitch fork and mix all this up to get some more aeration and possibly some more heat and decomposition of the leaves, which had some decent grass clippings mixed in.  I could tell that by the funky patterns I was making in the grass, which really should have been mowed completely or not at all.  Oops. Well, we've been having great fall weather (really pretty dry), so you never know.  Maybe next weekend I'll have the time, weather and energy to do a proper mowing.

Anyway, while I was out doing zig zags around my front yard to catch all the fallen leaves, I noticed something odd about my sidewalk area.  It was right about when I was figuring out that there was something wrong with my grass where it meets the sidewalk that my neighbor came over.  If you recall from the summer, two of my neighbors had mentioned in conversation that my yard was the only one on the block to not have my sidewalk edged.  See, my family has an edger, it's just that none of us can figure out where it is.  Each of us says the other has it, which normally means I do, but I've looked multiple times. 

Well, my neighbor explained that while he and my arborist neighbor were edging, they both decided to take pity on us less fortunate neighbors (in the edging department).  Each of them edged their neighbor's yard.  Of course my neighbor had 250' plus of edging to do as my pie-shaped lot is far bigger than my neighbors.  So after profusely thanking him for his assistance, I felt compelled to remove the sod from the sidewalk.  So, under the weather, with the fog rolling in, light fading and time creaping along toward when we had to be over at my folks for dinner, I started scraping the sidewalk.  Some of it came up really easy, such that I could just coil it up like an electrical cord.  Some I had to get down and rip it out with my hands.  When time, light and energy ran out, I had done just over half of my sidewalk.  At that point my neighbor brought over his blower and I blew the sidewalk clean.  Boy it looks good now.  I just need about an hour to finish it up next weekend.  Here's really hoping for good weather!

Well, I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving weekend.  If you shopped like my wife did, here's hoping that you found deals and maybe kept some of the struggling retailers afloat.  If you recharged like me, I hope you spent more time in your garden than I did.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!  I have a ton to be thankful for.  Of course there's my loving family that has supported me through this crazy time at the office.  But what's new this year is all my garden buddies out there, and I've made a ton of them.  Not trying to leave anyone out, there's EG in Alabama, Judy also, DoubleD here and Sandy too, Granny not to far away when she's in town, Dan up north and pretty far east and Chrissy way over in NY.  I've learned so much from so many people and forums, I couldn't have done it without you!  Thank you!

I'm posting this message Wednesday night, after midnight because I'm amped from going to see Beauty and the Beast at the Village Theatre in Issaquah with the kids.  It was fabulous!  The vocals barely topped the set and costume design, that's how good it was.  But what's even more amazing is that it was a 100% local cast, not the traveling Broadway troop that was the only other time the musical has been performed in Seattle.  Yep, this was a first for this area, a big coup for a small regional theatre.  5th Avenue eat your heart out!  hehe.

Oh, because I was out all evening, watering will fall on Thursday this week.  It has been very dewey in the mornings so I'm hoping to find the ground moist under the hoop covers tomorrow morning.  And I plan on having a salad for lunch because, duh dinner is going to be a very heavy affair. 

Unfortunately I don't have any good garden pics yet.  But the other day I was riding into work and the weather was cool and crisp.  I happened to witness a miraculous sunrise, so I snaped a shot from the bus.  I hope you enjoy it, despite my camera not doing it justice.

As for my book. Right now I'm reading about cold frames.  Of course Colman writes about cold frames. It is freezing in Maine most of the winter.  Using a cold frame in Maine keeps the inside temp slightly above 32 degrees, keeping the cool-weather crops from freezing.  Although it doesn't allow them to grow, so you need a huge cold frame and rows and rows of greens to keep yourself in fresh salads all winter.  Here, all you need are flimsy hoop covers like I have.  And even then, I'm crossing my fingers that my greens will continue to grow after I harvest.  Sure not nearly as fast as spring, but hopefully enough that we can have a salad or two a week all winter long.

Outside the book, there has been a fair amount of discussion about rain water collection on the various sites I frequent.  This being the rainy season I can understand why.  I for one have two great spots picked out for rain barrels.  One near my blueberry bushes and three in my garden area.  I'm hoping that I can find some really cheap food-grade 55-gallon drums that I can doctor into rain barrels cheaply.  But even if I built them now, I don't think I'd hook them up.  With the rain we get in one fall or winter storm it would overwhelm ten rain barrels.  Somehow I think that's not the point.  You want to keep the barrels full but not to badly overflowing.  Either that or figure out an easy way to disconnect the system.  Not sure.  I'll have to think on that.  Of course my setup won't be anything as cool as either Sandy's or Judy's.  They've both got a half-dozen plus barrels linked together which is over the top amazing!  I don't have that kind of space (both have at least one acre).  Hehe I do everything smaller in my cramped yard.  But that's the beauty of gardening, big or small it all works.

Just make sure this coming year you start a garden if you haven't already.  If you have, consider what you can do to expand it.  Another topic I've been seeing lately on forums is the idea of doom and gloom scenarios about the economy and how it's driving more people to garden.  Now nobody should be thinking doom, but gloom is definitely here to stay for at least the next year, longer in some areas.  And while I don't think the economy should be anyone's reason to start a garden, it is a good second fiddle to one of the countless other good reasons.  It sure is to mine.  Smart or lucky, I started a hobby-stress relieving garden 6 months before I believe you'll find we entered a recession, though before anyone but a few economists were talking about the R word.  And boy am I glad now that I did.  We spend next to nothing on veggies in our house.  Just think about how much you save from your garden.  Sure my garden area cost a small fortune (it doesn't have to, but that's another post), but it's a sunk cost and I'll never have to spend it again. 

So enjoy your garden, or plan one for 2009!  And Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

November 23, 2008

Boy, how time flies.  I could have sworn I posted today.  I mean I took pictures of my garden, uploaded them to my file service and everything.  Silly me.  I left out a little thing like writing a post and linking the pics.  Oops.

So, yet another crisp, beautiful fall day came and went.  I could have spent more time in the garden, but fall gardens don't take that kind of time.  I could have mowed the leaves again, but my kids wanted to play instead.  And then there was the obligatory moving.  And to make matters worse, we spent a good portion of the time debating what us kids want to do to get the house ready to sell and what our folks want to do.  Hehe.

But today was my day to water, so that means I got pics since it wasn't dark like Wednesdays.  Come to think of it, I'd love to share different pics, but there is only so much I'm growing and what I am isn't growing very fast in this cold weather.  So sorry if these look very similar to last week's.

For grins, let's start with bed #3.  Not sure why, but the middle cauliflower is head and shoulders above the others.  And that one was the most damaged by whatever was eating them as seedlings.  It's funny that you can still see the whole-riddled leaves at the bottom with the bold majestic ones above it.  Maybe it's because the root structure is so unencumbered in the middle and the ones on the side are somehow impacted by the sides of the bed.  See...

Anyway, moving to bed #2, the radishes are getting big, maybe too big, and the spinach is in dire need of being harvested.  But the peas are still going slowly.  Gotta plant them earlier next year.

Today I didn't bother to "harvest" the mushrooms.  They multiply faster than anything else growing in there so who am I to argue.  No, actually I realize I need to dig down and get the crown or whatever out so they don't re-grow.  Another time perhaps.

Now for bed #1.  The carrots are doing great.  That's excellent news as my son continues to harvest his own snacks regularly.  I guess as long as we don't try to make a meal out of the, he'll be able to do that for quite some time.

This pic is probably the worst of the bunch because the carrots haven't grown in a while.  Especially the succession planting on the right.  I'm worried about them.  I know I've since read that when it gets cold, carrots make more sugars, but they stop growing.  I sure hope the good weather and hoop covers help them to mature.  Crossing fingers...

So, the lettuce.  As you can see it's ready to harvest. 

I almost harvested a bunch of lettuce and spinach to make a salad to take to the preschool potluck today.  If it weren't for the fact that we were already bringing a lasagna and chips and dip, I would have.  Of course there was already two salads there.  But it would have given me incentive to put a salald together.  Notice the Salad Bowl on the left.  It's looking very ready to harvest.  Kinda like the spinach.  Of course the Italianshier and the Red Sails (never buying it again, grrr Monsanto) only get better as they get bigger.  Not so with the Salad Bowl.  I'm worried that I pick it and it won't grow back for a month.  I guess I'll just have to live with it.

Enjoy your garden.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22, 2008

Yay! Gardengirl's newsletter came out today.  She did an even better job of putting it together than I'd hoped!  Hehe, all I did was write the short piece and point her to where I keep the pics I post here. 

For my regular readers here, sorry, I have no idea how to link up an email newsletter to be viewed on the web.  But I can forward it to you if you want.  Just let me know.

Oh, and for those of you that happened by me yet again from a link from Patti's newsletter, I hope you read some of the older posts.  They're MUCH better than the recent ones where I'm working 14 hour days and never get a chance to take pictures of my garden since it's dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home.

The good news is that my first foray into four season harvesting is working very well.  My salad greens are ready for harvest now, along with carrots, radishes, and green onions.  Sounds like a very good fall salad to me.  I think we'll have that for dinner.  Maybe grill up some chicken breasts to go along with it.

Well, I spent the day helping my folks again so no pics or much to even talk about.  Just wanted to post to say howdy to everyone that read Patti's newsletter and thank her publically for allowing me to contribute in my own small way.

Enjoy your garden!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

November 20, 2008

Well, unfortunately the end of my project just meant that folks decided I could take on more projects.  Funny how that goes.  If this keeps up, I'll go insane, so they're production will drop tremendously.

Anyway, I was reading my book.  Eliot Colman does like his tools.  Of course they're all hand tools.  Power tools would lose that connection to the soil.  What's more, he rarely uses a tool that he didn't make himself, or modify to work better. 

Another thing that I've noticed in the book is something that one of the Dervaes said.  Gardening books without pictures of their garden proving they walk the talk are not nearly as good as the ones that have them.  What's in Four Season Harvest?   Drawings.  Just funny.

Anyway, he still hasn't got into anything of value yet.  I'm not sure this is the first book a potential gardener will pick up, but he writes it like he's trying to convince you to garden, then teach you how to without the basics.  Very odd.

Of course Mel spends the first half of his book trying to convince skeptics that his method is of value.  Um, why would we be reading it if we didn't agree, hehe.

Ok, I'm getting too cynical.  Maybe it's the weather and constant darkness.  It's not that I mind the weather, but not seeing the daylight really sucks.  Ah, I can't wait to take time off.  I put in for the last two weeks of the year.  I'm never good at taking the time in the summer when the weather's good.  Always too busy.  So when do I get off?  When it's dark and rainy.  Better planning is in order.

Well that's all I have for today. I'm looking forward to reading GardenGirl's newsletter this month.  I think my blurb is going to be in it (maybe).  It's nothing much, just an expansion of my story, but it's what she asked for, so I aim to please.

Enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 19, 2008

Well, I finished my project.  Well, I submitted it for approval anyway.  Of course I still should probably READ what I wrote.  I hate it when I miss a typo or forget to finish a sentance.  But reading my own work is difficult. I KNOW what I wanted to say, so sometimes I read what I wanted to say, not what I said.  And proofing 30 pages is that much more challenging. Hehe.

I should really get out and water tonight.  Unfortunately I won't be harvesting, unless I harvest for lunch tomorrow, because I got home late and my wife was exhausted, so I went in immediately to take over with the kids.  We had healthy smoothies for dinner tonight.  No, not the green smoothies that include spinach and all sorts of non-smoothie veggies yet still look and supposedly taste like smoothies. 

Anyway, I was reading the my book and came across a few tidbits to share.  First off, a good idea...

Seems Mr. Colman likes to use a template to space his transplants.  He also uses a 1x2 on edge to create a trough for small seeds.  But I thought it would be good for those of us spacially challenged folks to make a pattern like his templates to space our various squares.  You could have ones for 4, 6, 8, 16, the sky's the limit.  Sure most of us just eye it, or break the square into managable quadrants and then use them to space like Mel suggests, but it was a good idea.

A not-so-good idea would be that he seems to be a devote of Mel's tomato method.  He talks about setting up a trellis for tomatoes and using a single string trellis, pruning it down to one vine.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.  To each their own I guess.

I do like the way he traced the latitude from Maine where he lives to France which shares his climate.  He spent an entire chapter talking about how wonderful France was and their ancient gardening secrets that can be used here.  He even visited countless gardens and a few seed companies there and talked all about them.  Joy oh joy.  I can't wait until he enlightens us about four season harvests... I mean it, I REALLY can't wait, hehe.  Of course if someone had done the same trip to England and talked about that climate, which is very much like ours here in the Maritime PNW, that could be interesting.  That's why I read a blog or two of folks in England.  You never know when you'll pick up something useful.

Well, that's about it for the book today.  Again, so far it's teaching you basics of gardening.  Can't they assume we already know that and get to the point of their system?  Sure the book would be shorter, maybe even a pamphlet, but I'd buy it if it was useful.  Alright, I would check it out from the library. I'm cheap like that (and we've got a killer library system... several in fact.  We like to read here in the rainy PNW if you hadn't figured that out.

I'll end with a surprising character study.  For a year or so I've been disappointed that the cul-du-sac across the street is always in use when I wanted to take my son there to ride his tricycle or learn to ride his bike.  Specifically, neighborhood kids use it to ride their skateboards.  When I was a kid, skateboards were stuid and dangerous.  Now it can be worse with some unsavory types that just happen to ride skateboards.  That was my fear.  That and they don't wear protective gear.  What must their parent's think? 

Anyway, my wife told me that one of them came over the other day, sans board, and asked if we needed our leaves raked.  Of course he probably wanted the money for more skateboard equipment, but I was impressed.  Had I been home I probably would have given him $20 to rake them all into a pile for me, even though my mower does a great job.  Gotta love the entreprenurial spirit.

Oh, and I did go out and water, though without a flashlight so I didn't harvest anything.  Shame on me.  Tomorrow.

Til then, enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 18, 2008

Well, how am I doing so far at working less hours and blogging more? Not so good is the obvious answer.  I'm really hoping after tomorrow's deadline hits my days will get much more managable.  Otherwise, my garden is not going to be the only thing in trouble, hehe.

I haven't much to report on my garden, I haven't seen it since the weekend.  I just haven't gone out with a flashlight to check, much less harvest anything.  I bet DoubleD is shaking her head over me already. 

One thing I can share is that the weather's changing.  For a month or so now we've been having unseasonably warm weather.  It's been in the mid 50s up until 10 pm most nights, even if it rained.  Now, when I got home from work at 6:30 I could see my breathe.  I have a strong feeling I'll be happy I didn't take down my hoop covers.  Because despite the experiment that showed there's no temperature difference, I'm convinced it does something beneficial.  Maybe it's what I've read in my Four Season Harvest book that said the cold wind is more damaging to plants than a frost.  Who knows.

Tomorrow's watering day, so hopefully I'll get out and harvest some.  It's a goal anyway.  Tough to have PB&J (with yummy home made plum jelly) and salad, hehe.

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

November 16, 2008

Well, I bet you didn't expect to hear from me anytime soon.  I must say, today was a good day.  I haven't been able to say that for a while.  Sure tomorrow will be hellish as always, but I expect to be home at a reasonable hour for a change.  Of course I won't be able to garden without a flashlight, but I hope to actually take DoubleD's proding and have a salad with dinner tomorrow.  She was right, my spinach should be eaten. 

Anyway, today was a day with the family.  I spent a good part of the morning outside with the kids, allowing my wife to do some work for the school.  She's part of the auction team to earn money to help the school relocate in the event the building where it's housed is sold by the school district. 

So this morning the kids and I went out and raked up the leaves.

Well, they raked the leaves off the concrete while I mowed the leaves off the grass.  All of the leaves in the back yard went into the compost bin, along with two bags of Starbuck's coffee grounds and a bit of grass clippings that came up with the leaves.  However, when it came to the front yard, I didn't feel like hiking back and forth with the mower bag, so I started to fill a yard waste container.  In the end, I had a ton of stuff in there but it was so heavy that I couldn't lift it so I gave up and left it for pickup.  If I can't figure out how to get it in there I won't worry about it.

And while I was out there I took a pic of my fall storm ravenged hoop covers.

And finally today, I was showing the kids the fall colors on the blueberry bushes and noticed that I had a half dozen sprouts on my garlic!

Of course I found 6 out of 40 cloves planted.  So I think it's early.  And it's a good time to let you know that all I know about garlic is that you plant it in October and harvest it in summer.  If there's something I should be doing that you now of, let me know, hehe.

Finally, I really hope to have time to post more often.  I still won't have a ton of pics during the week, as my flash on the phone doesn't work that well.  But if you're a regular visitor, check back more regularly.  I was looking at my calendar on the site and I recall back when I was upset when I missed a day of posting.  Not sure I'll have something to say every day, but I'll try.

Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November 15, 2008

I can't believe it. As if someone is poking and proding me that I'm behind the 8 ball on everything, one of the radio stations here has started playing nothing but Christmas music already.  How insane is that?  Maybe the day after Thanksgiving you can start, but until then, give me a break. hehe

Well, I got a draft of my deal from hades out last night, right before I went to a charity auction.  Hopefully next week will fall back into a better schedule for me so I can spend more time at home.  Of course I still don't expect to garden without a flashlight.  But as has become my habit of late, I woke up early before going to help my folks and went out to the garden. 

The first thing I noticed is that my hoop covers held up nicely despite last week's torrential rain storms that caused numerous area rivers to flood.  The next thing I noticed is that despite not having watered anything in almost a week, the plants didn't look much worse for wear.  Of course I still want to water twice a week, but it's good to know I didn't kill my veggies.  In fact, my lettuce is looking really good!

If I can really truly get home at a reasonable enough hour to eat dinner with the family next week, it's definitely time to start harvesting for salads.  Not sure if you've noticed it or not, but I've found when I get salads lately downtown, the lettuce is a tad on the brown side and very expensive.  None of it looks or tastes ANYTHING like this... 

And the funny thing is that I'm just now reading the Four Season Harvest book which talks about succession planting and winter gardening.  What I've done here is all based on the Growing Veggies West of the Cascades book I read this summer.  And look what the October 1 succession / transplanted lettuce is up to...

I'm pretty amazed at the resilience of the lettuce I transplanted. It's looking just as strong as the lettuce I left. 

Lastly in that bed, I have my carrots, which are doing very well.  The succession plantings are coming along slowly but nicely and some of the new plantings may actually be ready to harvest about now. 

Notice between the tall carrots and the lettuce are some little baby carrot stems.  After an entire season of gardening I still find succession planting cool.  Oh by the way, I just took a break and went out and harvested a carrot from the summer planting area behind the lettuce.  It was a good six inches long and very crunchy.  My eldest had asked for a carrot and when a 4 year old asks for veggies for snacks, you give it to them, hehe.

In bed #2, my radishes are ready to harvest, as you could see from my garden tour last weekend.  And my spinach is still looking good.  I should really harvest more spinach then lettuce for next week's salads to use some of it up.

But one thing I should mention.  It's a problem I see with SFG.  Look how much the spinach leaves are encroaching on the adjacent squares? See the one leaf touching the outer string? That's 12 inches more than it should be taking, hehe.  What would I do if I tried to plant something there?  Of course I don't have anything planted in the squares to the north or south of the spinach for that very reason.  And since I don't need more space, it's no big deal.  But come spring it's going to be an issue.

And what do you thin of the peas?  The tallest is hitting 18 inches tall!  Not the 30 inches that they hit in spring, but they're growing still.  And next year I'll plant sooner, not being as afraid of the late summer weather as I was this year.

Moving to bed #3, the cauliflower is really taking shape now.

It's odd that the outter plants are not as big as the middle and nearly the same size as my succession plantings.  And did you see the green onions hanging on?  I saw the onions I planted in bed #1 are actually growing finally and so when those are ready these should have peter'd out. 

What I didn't take a picture of is the brown dead mess of cucumber plants in the back.  I've really got to take the time to clean up those three squares.  I glanced at the cukes in the mess and they don't look like promising candidates for seed saving, but I'll try to make it work anyway.  What have I got to lose?

The last thing I took pics of were my semi-evergreen blueberry bushes.  If I'm not mistaken, this is the Legacy in the fall.

And it looks like the Jersy that Sandy gave me is also a semi-evergreen...

I just love how pretty the leaves get in the fall, and in sharp contrast to the stick-like blueberry bushes that look dead right next to them.  For vanity's sake I didn't take pictures of them, hehe.

Well it looks like I have a day off tomorrow from moving.  They're pretty much ready for the movers to come for the furniture Wednesday, so tomorrow is a family day.  Boy, it's been a long time since I had one of those.  And look at the forecast... in fact look at the next several days!


Partly Cloudy

56° F | 45° F
13° C | 7° C

Partly Cloudy

56° F | 43° F
13° C | 6° C

Mostly Cloudy

54° F | 45° F
12° C | 7° C

Partly Cloudy

54° F | 40° F
12° C | 4° C

Partly Cloudy

56° F | 40° F
13° C | 4° C
Partly CloudyPartly CloudyMostly CloudyPartly CloudyPartly Cloudy

Not sure what we'll do but it it will be fun!  If I get any yard work done it will be mowing leaves. It needs to be done and all the leaves are off the trees. Sounds like the perfect time.  Of course the Four Season Harvest book says no to leaves in the compost, but I think I'll chance it.

Enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

November 13, 2008

Sorry for the hiatus folks. I've gone from 12 hour days to 14+ this week, including my holiday, hehe.  I know Wednesday was my watering day, but it just didn't happen.  I'll try to get out there or convince my wife to do it.

The weather's been in the upper 40s to low 50s for quite a while.  Sure it's been stormy, but what do the plants care for wind and rain under a hoop cover.  I didn't expect them to get any light right now anyway, hehe.

I've been working slowly through my book, Four Season Harvest.  So far it's a cross between we're so great and you can do it to.  Some times I just want to start gardening books in the middle.  Tell me what to do, if I wasn't interested in doing it, I wouldn't be reading the book, hehe.

So far, I've learned a number of interesting tid-bits.  Like leaves aren't good for your compost.  Who says?  Ok, I guess I'll give you that they don't break down through normal decomposition, but every time I've thrown them in there you can't find them the next week or two.  Besides, I mulch them up with a mower first.  I think I'll be fine.  The other thing I learned about leaves is while leaf mold is great for plants, it takes years to develop.  Sorry, I don't have that kind of time to devote any part of my yard to.  I'll stick to compost thanks.

Lastly today, I am reading about creating microclimates for your garden.  The only thing I could do for my garden (since I can't move it to a "warm" spot of my yard) is to build a stone wall behind my garden to trap heat.  I thought that was what my beige garage wall was doing, but if not, I've got six inches behind the beds I could do bricks.  Naw, I'm guessing microclimates are more important in New England winters. This is the Pacific NW after all.  We're not in zone 8b for nothing.  If it gets to 20 degrees here the world ends, hehe.  Of course my hoop covers don't keep my garden beds any warmer than outside the beds.  Maybe it's a microclimate after all.

Sorry folks, I'd love to have waxed philosophically about some point of the book by now, but so far it's not been that enlightening.  I'll think more and try to sneak a post in between sleep and work.

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November 9, 2008

Well, I'm exhausted after a good long full day.  It started out with our kids graciously allowing us to sleep in a bit.  I actually beat them up at 8.  While the kids were waking up, I headed out to the garden.  I didn't get out there yesterday and vowed to get a garden tour out.  Besides, there were to-do items for the garden.

I'm getting back into the swing of gardening under cover.  I've got watering pretty much down, having not done that since last April.  But after that, I wanted to take some pictures for you all.

Here's the standard shot for comparison purposes. 

It really is looking like much of the lettuce is actually ready for limited harvest.  We won't be having daily salads, but I really would like to have a simple salad this week.

And if you notice, the succession lettuce that supposed to be ready come December and January...

Much of the succession lettuce needs to be thinned, and also have started growing their first true set of leaves.  Perfect timing to thin and transplant.  Not sure if any of it will take hold, but if nothing else, I've thinned it down to one plant per area.  But if it all works out...

All these squares will provide daily salads in December and January!  And next year I'll grow more squares of fall lettuce.  Heaven knows I've got the room for it.

And in the front of that bed, look how well the carrots are growing... well at least this one so far!

Sorry for the bad photos, the camera doesn't do well under the covers.  Not enough light I guess. hehe What does that say for the plants?

What does grow well under there are shooms.  Sheesh, every week I clear these out!

But I can't say that plants don't grow well, look at these radishes...

Of course, getting home so late and not eatting well has resulted in me missing a great spinach salad with tomatoes, cukes and radishes.  The tomatoes are rotten, the cukes are going to seed (yeah!) and look at these radishes!

But don't worry, those were just the past-prime ones. There are plenty more good ones where that came from.

The spinach has tons of huge leaves that are ready to eat.  And boy do I want to eat them.  Of course there's leaf miner rot, but not so bad that the rest isn't edible. 

And what's that growing behind the spinach?  Yep, my peas are gamely trying their best to grow in this weather.  No doubt I should have planted them earlier.  Who knew.  Next year.  But regardless, look at this!

I've counted no less than 5 blooms that will eventually produce peas.  Of course I hope to see more growth and tons of blooms, but no sun's going to bake them, so I hope to have peas harvested all winter long. 

Unfortunately, time slipped away from me and I didn't get a shot of my cauliflower, which is doing very well.  The green onions are past their prime but probably still edible.  The cukes are completely toast, but next weekend I should have some ready to try to save the seeds.

The reason I didn't have much time was that I wanted to make pancakes for the family and I needed to run to the store for eggs.  Of course, the Dervaes just head outside to get eggs.  No, I'm not going to get chickens, but someday I may.

After breakfast, I left the family yet again to head over to my folks house.  We packed and moved two loads of stuff from the old house to the new house.  The reason for the packing was that we've run out of boxes.  No boxes, no packing.  And as you may have suspected, the family is getting a bit frayed at the edges that it's taking so long.  So this weekend we all started helping to pack.  Unfortunately my dad's and brother's knees aren't what they used to be, so I ended up doing most of the box carrying. Up the stairs and down the stairs, all day long.  Boy am I sore.  Everyone was exhausted.  But it was little old me telling folks to keep it moving as we lost light.  Moving in the dark sucks. 

Well, I'd hoped to take a nice hot bath to relax some of my sore muscles, but I think at 10 I'll be much better off if I just hit the sack.  LLOONNGG week ahead of me.  So I'll head to bed and finally start my book.  Then I'll try like mad not to surf the garden sites on the bus ride, instead doing what I used to do before I got my blackberry... read a book on the bus.

I hope you enjoyed your garden this weekend, the weather cooperated for the most part around here!

Friday, November 7, 2008

November 7, 2008

Dang Horizon Air.  I spent 3 hours running all over Sea Tac airport trying to catch a ride to Spokane for the groundbreaking ceremony of a project over there.   Unfortunately they didn't inform anyone that it was canceled until you got to the gate.  Then after waiting in a half hour line with the rest of the passengers I found out that the next flight was overbooked and the one I was on would get me there an hour after the event ended, and an hour before I was to return.  Insane!  Thank goodness the client agreed and the kind folks at the gate on the other end of the airport took pity on me and refunded my money.  On the bright note, I found that it's painless to take the bus from downtown Seattle to the airport and it's only $1.50, compared to the $45 I spent on the cab ride down there.

Also unfortunately I didn't get a chance to crack my book.  Though I did want to thank the folks who thought it was a good idea to have a discussion about the points I find interesting in there.  I am really looking forward to reading it.  However, I got back to work around 1 and immediately hit a wall.  12 to 14 hour days will do that to you I guess.  I'm not as young as I used to be. 

Of course that didn't stop me from going out to dinner and a very fun showing of the Little Mermaid at the Seattle Aquarium.  The kids had a blast seeing the wall of fish (a floor to two-story ceiling aquarium with tons of fish in it), and the octopi that were HUGE.  Very cool!  Then it was candy, popcorn and juice while they watched the movie. 

The only garden thing I'll comment on is that we've had several days of winter storms.  Heavy rains (flooding in outlying areas) and extreme winds.  Not only did my garden stay warm and dry, but my hoop covers held up like the troopers they are!  Hehe.  Pretty cool. 

Well, we start moving again at 9 am but hopefully I'll get out to take some pics of the garden to share before I head out.

Enjoy your garden!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

November 6, 2008

Wow, I think I've worked more than I've done everything else over the last several days.  Insane.  And the truely sad part is it isn't getting any better anytime soon.  At least tomorrow I've decided when I get back from Spokane at 5pm I'm going home.  I've GOT to get some real rest before working all weekend at my folks houses, helping them move. 

So, tonight, getting home after 14 hours of work, I went out to visit the garden with a flashlight.  I needed to water.  Ironic that I needed to water in a flash flood rain storm.  With the hoop covers up, my plants could easily die without water in the pouring rain.  The odd part is that the weather's not been particularly cold since I put them up.  Well, we did have one or two cold nights, but the rest of this time has had lows in the 40s.  That, and I know my Mel's Mix could handle even the worst down pours.  Instead I used potable water to give my veggies a drink. 

The cool part is that it looked that my plants have grown since last week.  At least by the light of a flashlight they looked bigger.  I may even try to convince my wife to make me a salad some night when I leave work.  Maybe. 

On a separate note, my wife picked up my book from the library.  So I'm about to start Four Season Harvest.  I was thinking, if I learn great things out of it on a regular basis, maybe I'll comment on them here, providing fodder for my blog.  How does that sound?  Just a thought.

Enjoy your garden and start bailing...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4, 2008

Election day is here and gone, and thus ends the nearly 2 years of political junk.  Ah, no more negative adds that are so clearly garbage it's laughable.  Anyhow, I really hope you voted.  How you voted is totally up to you, but I hope you made an informed decision and looked at all sides.

Sorry that I haven't been posting a ton lately.  Mostly it's because there's nothing to say.  My garden is growing, slowly.  But frankly, I haven't seen it so I can't really report on it.  I have always had a goal to post daily updates, but I'm running out of things to say.

I will say that yesterday I finished the first draft of my article for Garden Girl's ezine.  And thanks to the comments, I think I found my muse and wrapped it up perfectly.  Of course, we'll see.  I've never done something like this, but it's fun.  And honestly, since I wanted to make people realize that they too could start a garden with absolutely no experience and a black thumb and still grow amazing produce for their family, this allows me to reach more people.  It's all good.

Another random comment I will make is that a month ago our wonderful city decided to switch to bi-weekly yard waste and recycling on alternating weeks.  I was against it and told them so.  We create more recycling than one can recycle every other week.  As for the yard waste, with all the other stuff we can recycle now, I'm not sure I want Cedar Grove's compost, hehe.  Thank goodness I make my own!  Anyway, today is the day to put out the yard waste container (of course my recycling bin is full).  Driving home I didn't see one person having theirs out.  Much as I'd like to hope they all had compost bins for their yard waste, I think it's that nobody's raking their leaves until all the leaves have fallen.  I for one am waiting to put them into the bins until I only have to rake once.  Hehe actually I don't rake.  Since I've got to mow them into little pieces anyway, that's how I get them scooped up.  And anything that remains on the ground will compost in place.  Bonus.

Well, I'm exhausted, so time to hit the sack.  Tomorrow I need to water. 

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November 2, 2008

Well, today was fun and productive.  It started out very early, since kids don't understand day-light-savings.  And since I'm the one that gets up with the kids on Sundays, I didn't get to sleep in.  But the kids and I played and had fun.  The Pumpkin Fairy came last night and traded 95% of their candy for a build a bear stuffed animal.  Much better for their teeth, hehe.  So we played with their new friends until mommy woke up and then I made french toast and smoothies for breakfast.  When the rain cleared for a bit, the kids and I went out to play. 

I cleaned out the two SWCs.  The new one I built survived nicely to grow another day.  But Toasty's handmedown didn't fair so well.  It broke in several places so it's no longer water tight.  So I guess I'll recycle the plastic and build several new ones for next year.  Just a hint. I recall finding the bins on sale for spring cleaning at the big box stores.  That's when they get in their major inventories and need to get them out of the store cheap.  That's when I'll build a few more.

The dirt went on top of the compost bin. Supposedly it helps to add compost to a compost bin, so how about a ton of used Mel's Mix. I also mowed up all the fallen leaves in the back yard and dumped the mulch into the compost.  When I added the kitchen compost though, it smelled to high heaven.  What that told me was that the lid on my kitchen compost bucket is doing great!  No smell or bugs get in or out.

In the garden I finally cut the excess plastic from my original bed that I had been bunching up on the ground, and added it to the back of bed #3 to completely cover it with plastic.  While I was doing that. I noticed I only have a handful of tiny cukes growing.  The weather has really stunted their growth, as has the complete blight of the vines.  My hope is that the cukes will grow bigger and turn yellow so I can harvest seeds from them.  Why not? I've only got three seeds of each variety left to plant next year. Hopefully I can harvest a bunch of seeds to make more pickles next year and the year after and after!

Five minutes after we came in, the sky opened up and it starte pouring rain.  I knew there was an 80% chance of rain for a reason. hehe

After lunch I went over and did a load of stuff worth of moving.  After working in the garden, all those stairs was a bit much.  We were all cranky so after one load we decided to call it a day.  It was dark when I got home so I played with the kids until bed time and then snuggled in for the evening in front of the computer.

You see, while I was moving I got an email from none-other-than Patti the Garden Girl!  I'm a member of her message board (among many other boards), but she's brought together experts in various fields and created someplace special to get questions answered and have discussions about all aspects of urban sustainability.  It's a cool place.  So anyway, the email wasn't her regular newsletter. It was addressed to me.  She wanted to know if I'd write about my story for her ezine!  Very cool.  So I spent a few hours drafting something up.  And if I'm lucky, I'll get to write again for her readers.  Little old me.  Who'd have guessed?  I'm nothing special, but hard work and tons of failure has taught me a lot.  Funny though, I post here and elsewhere every day, and I write for a living.  But for some reason this assignment is hard.  I guess I want it to be perfect, and I'm so not perfect in anything else I do.  Sometimes it's a problem at work, but I am less concerned with perfection than the big picture.  Now I get to refine and rewrite until it's as good as I can make it.  It'll be fun.  Anyway...

Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November 1, 2008

Well, today was a traditional fall day.  Off and on rain, overcast skies, and tons of wind.  Of course we were moving most of the day.  Didn't get as much done as I'd hoped, but all of us were exhausted afterwards, so it was all good. 

When I got home, I watered the garden.  I didn't see too much to do out there so all I really did was take update pictures from under my hoop covers.

I'll start with my lettuce.  The squares that just aren't growing nearly fast enough.  Next year I definitely plant more than one square per variety.  Who knew.  Still, they look good, if not a bit stingy on their growth.

You can see the leaves look tasty.  If I harvested them now I'm sure they'd taste awesome.  Unfortunately I could really only get one meal out of them.  And then I'm not sure they'd have enough left to grow again.  Even if they did, how long would it take?  So I am going to wait longer.

Thankfully, I may not have to wait until next fall to plant more squares of lettuce.  As you can see, the October succession plantings are sprouting now.

I've got tons of viable lettuce seedlings of each variety.  I'm going to wait until they grow their first true leaves before I pull them and replant them in adjacent squares.  I've definitely got the room.  That way, if Steve Solomon is right, come December and January, I'll have decent lettuce.  Just later than I'd hoped.  Keep your fingers crossed that they transplant well and grow like the book said.  Hehe.

Speaking of slow growth, but growth of some kind, here are the very last plantings of carrots way back when.  Oh my goodness they've taken a while.  But contrary to what I've since read, they are actually growing in this fall weather, rather than not at all.

When I last lookd at them a week ago, they just had their firs leaves, now they've almost all got their first true leaves.  I'm so proud of the little guys, hehe.  The rest of my carrots are doing very well. I'm still excited to see just how the ones I thinned/transplanted do.  I may very we have stubby carrots since I broke the root vs. pulling the long thin one that grows into a carrot.  We'll see.  I've got nothing to lose.

The middle bed (#2) is doing far better I'd say.  The spinach is doing as well as ever.  Boy does it like this weather.  Unfortunately so do the leaf miners.  No biggie.  So far at least they haven't infested too badly and I can cut away what they've eaten. 

I'm happy that even the succession plantings (replants of bare spots) are doing well.  They're a big winner this season despite the continued bug problems.  I don't know if you can pic it out, but on the far left, there's actually a pea plant growing.  I must have dropped a seed when I was planting the trellis line.  Why THAT seed decided to grow when dozens of his compatriots didn't, I'll never know. I don't think I'll risk transplanting it since the rest of the trellis squares are pretty full.  Or full enough.

While they're only a foot tall, I found my first flower today!  Of course I want to see dozens and dozens of flowers, but at least I know they're growing in this climate.  Sure I should have planted sooner.  Next year I'll do that.  But for now I'm just hoping for the best.

What you don't see really is all the mushrooms that continue to grow like crazy.  I swear I didn't plant them. hehe.  I understand they're not bad for the garden, so I just dead head them whenever I can reach them.  Ah, the joys of PNW gardening.

Well, tomorrow was initially going to be another moving day, but my folks aren't ready for us to move more stuff, so my brother called it a family day.  Not sure what we'll do. I really want to spend some time with my wife and kids.  You know, let them know that daddy is still alive.  Although theres a 70% chance of rain tomorrow.  I might consider trying for a fall hike.  I'm sure my wife will think I'm crazy, but I really want to keep my kids liking to hike.  Probably won't, but we'll do something fun.

Maybe I'll get a chance to clean out my SWCs.  The dirt will go nicely into the compost bin.  Speaking of that. My aunt has a yard waste container full of leaves for me.  The fall colors are so beautiful these days, but all I can think of is how beautiful they'd look in my compost bin.  Hehe EG and others have me salivating over loading the open bin full of leaves, a little compost and tons of coffee grounds.  Maybe I'll spend some time doing that tomorrow.  We'll see.

Lastly, I can't believe I haven't mentioned this.  At work we've always had a recycling container for glass and cans, and of course for paper.  But about a year ago, our building has decided to be "green".  I know, it's the "in" thing to do, but for those of us serious about it, we'll take anything we can get.  So about a month ago, these showed up in the break rooms.

Seems even the bags are compostable.  They even posted these signs telling you just what you can put in there and what you can't.  Now I wouldn't compost bones and pizza boxes and the like, but Cedar Grove (if it is going there) is more set up to compost anything and everything.  Around our shop, paper towels are a big thing.  They're used for everything, and thrown away.  They're also clearly compostable.  So some of us made a sign to remind folks that paper towels are not garbage, and to compost them.  Unfortunately people are stubborn.  So the latest manuver in the battle is to move the compost bin closer to the door than the garbage can.  Men tend to use a paper towel to open the bathoom door on the way out, and then toss the towel in the trash in this break room.  Now the closest recepticle is the compost bin.  So far it's working.  Not perfectly, but it's better than it was, and that's all I can ask.  Hehe.  Some people.

Well that's it for me.  Time to hit the sack to get up with the kids and plan a fun day.

Enjoy your garden!