Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 12, 2009

Well, a lot has happened in the last month.  First off, I lost my job, so I'm even more excited about becoming more self sufficient.  The economy is such that it may be a while before I can find something comparable to what I was doing before.

Thankfully we are still eating the potatoes I harvested last month.  They work very well to mix in with store-bought.  We also have foot-long carrots that we're pulling out of the garden.  They're nice and sweet.  One carrot is enough for a dinner vegetable for the whole family.  The kids still love them raw, so that's how we are eating them. 

As for an update on my stevia plant.  It didn't over winter inside well at all.  It died from the bottom up despite giving it light and water.  Not sure I'll grow them next year.  The seeds didn't germinate well at all, and if they don't overwinter here, it is a fairly expensive process.  We tried a bruised leaf steeped in our tea, but it wasn't very sweet.  Anyone use stevia leaves effectively? 

Well, last week had nightly temps down to 18 degrees, blowing the theory that we don't get temperatures below 20 in the Puget Sound Area.  I wonder if they'll revise our rating?  Thank goodness we did all that work on the insulation, furnace and windows over the last two years.  Sure is coming in handy.  Of course the ground is rock solid.  Haven't tried to harvest a carrot, but it could be challenging right now.

Stay warm everyone, and start ramping up for spring.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 14, 2009

Brrr it was cold today.  Not freezing, but puddles were iced over none-the-less.  It wasn't raining so the boys and I spent part of the day outside raking leaves.  Remind me not to wait until mid-November to do it next year.  Wet leaves are more of a pain to deal with and wet junk droppings weigh a ton, making it impossible to get them all into my yard waste container (I don't want them in my compost, not sure why). 

So now my compost bin is full up with wet leaves.  Maybe I'll run to Starbucks tomorrow and grab some Grounds for Your Garden to throw in on top.  Maybe get some heat action going so I can see the steam wafting off it.  I haven't been as active at composting this fall since work's been hellish.  In fact, I haven't even been using my kitchen compost because the bucket is full.  I SO need to empty it tomorrow so we can get back to using it.  I am such a bad gardener right now, it's unreal.

Anyway, thanks all for your thoughts on my stevia plant.  It wasn't getting any sunlight on the top of my fridge.  I have since moved it to the unheated garage where it's in the southern facing window.  Hopefully the limited direct sunlight it gets in the fall/winter is better at keeping it alive than warmth since it's really cold in there right now.  hehe  Oh, and as for the grow lights idea, unfortunately my setup doesn't reach more than 18 inches and the plant is taller than that in the pot, so that won't work. 

Stay warm and dry and dream of spring!

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13, 2009

Happy Friday the 13th!  Just had to post tonight to say that my youngest grabbed a broccoli stalk from a snack tray and started nibbling on it.  Now he loves it all of a sudden.  This is huge because he's my junk food kid.  My eldest tried it and gagged.  I always expected him to like it first since he's my veggie kid. 

Anyway I'm thrilled.  The only bad part is he doesn't believe that daddy's broccoli tastes even better, and I am fresh out this year to prove him wrong.  Too bad my broccoli didn't have enough time to mature before fall.  Next year I'll follow KitsapFG to the T.

Short post, but on a separate note, I brought my 18 inch tall stevia plant inside this fall hoping to keep it alive through the winter so it would be perennial.  Well, so far, it's been parked on top of my fridge and the lower leaves are all turning brown and dying.  It's not for lack of water.  Any ideas?

Lastly, it hailed at my house today, then froze into a crunch sheet of ice.  Insane for November here.  How's your weather?

Monday, November 9, 2009

November 9, 2009

Whew, I was on my way home, hankerin' for some baked-potato soup made from home grown potatos and green onions when my wife called.  Of course I needed to pick up sour cream from the store.  What almost made me crash was that she said after that.  Apparently the potatoes smelled like fish and were rotten!

My immediate thought was "drat, I knew I should have harvested sooner."  The yukon gold plants died off a month ago and I just harvested them Sunday.

It wasn't until she explained that it was the bag of Russetts we picked up from Costco that were the fishy rotten ones that my heart started beating again.  Seems we now know how they could grow, harvest, package and bring to market potatoes at $0.25/pound.  They were past their prime. 

All that meant is that we needed to use more of our prescious stock to make the soup.  I had planned on mixing them to not only add flavor, but to drag out our supply.  In the end, it was the best potato soup I've ever had.  I can't wait for left overs. Yum!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 8, 2009

Hey folks, sorry I haven't been posting for a while.  Work has been in panic mode with this economy.  That and Fall has made it so I leave in the dark and get home in the dark. 

That said, I took the time yesterday to gut the garden a bit.  There were tomato plants everywhere that went to Cedar Grove rather than my compost bin.  I don't want to continue the Blossom End Rot that I had in droves this year.  They've got a much more sophisticated composting system than I do.

As for my fall crops, about the only things to survive and thrive were the carrots.  It looks like I've got a good amount for snacks all winter, if the raccoons keep away from them.  Let's hope the deterrents work when it gets colder. 

What didn't work was the broccoli and cauliflower.  I really need to start them indoors in June or whatever so they're hardened off and growing strong in late summer.  My biggest plant is good sized, but shredded by some pest.  There is no way a stalk is going to form in this weather.

Speaking of weather, it's storm time here in Western Washington.  Thunder, lightening and down pouring rain is par for the course.  There's nothing to protect but the carrots, so I didn't put up my hoop covers this year. 

In addition to clean-up, I harvested my potatoes. I know folks are curious how they turned out.  Well, the Yukon Golds that I threw into my SFGs did great.  I got 22 pounds out of it.  Some were very nice.  They're currently drying in the garage on some newspapers.  The kids were a big help with that.

Unfortunately the BAYG potato bins failed even worse than I thought they would.  You may recall that I gave up on building them up in August when my schedule got hectic and I couldn't keep up with it.  I just let them grow and was going to be happy with about 1.5 feet of potatoes.  Well, I dug and dug yesterday and found one lousy potato.  There were probably a few more smaller ones that I destroyed with a shovel I used at the end when I couldn't find anything.  You're really not supposed to use a shovel. 

I'm not totally convinced that potato bins are a bad idea, but I just don't have the time to baby the bins.  Maybe I'll try it next year.  Not sure.  I don't have the room to plant rows every year.  At least we've got 22 pounds of Yukon Golds!  Can't wait to try them.

Hope your fall gardens are more productive than mine. 

Enjoy your garden!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your garden.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September 28, 2009

Where have I been hiding?  Well, sitting at my computer.  I think I've mentioned that I have an addictive personality.  Well, when the site was down, I got hooked on Facebook and the various apps that it entails.  /sigh  Can you say time-sink? 

Anyway, I felt compelled to post tonight so I'm back.  I promise to try to squeeze in a post as often as I've got something to say.  This is the time where there is not much happening in the garden.  My tomatoes have all succumed to blight or whatever, as did my cantaloupe. 

Unfortunately the Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe never got beyond baseball size.  I know they're supposed to be small, but not THAT small.  So now I've got two seasons of growing those under my belt and have come to the conclusion that they just don't work in my climate.  I know others have made it work, but I'm guessing it's in a greenhouse.  Last year I planted late and they never got beyond golf ball size.  This year I had them in my container ASAP after the last frost date and look at the results.  It's just not hot enough for them to mature in their 57 day window. 

Thankfully I've got two tomato plants that may still have a shot.  One was a volunteer and the other was a sucker transplant. 

This volunteer basically took over the carrot section and the isle... I ran out of tomato cages.  It's got some great looking tomatoes on it, but they're still green.  I may have to pull them and let them redden inside.  It worked last year so I'm hopeful if it comes to that.

I hope you're late summer garden looks better than mine!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 10, 2009

Alright, you asked for it, you get pics of my disasterous garden.  In my defense, I'm almost out of broccoli and caulflower seeds and they've turned into a big hit with the big people in my family (namely my wife, who is the first person to tell you she hates those veggies).  So I decided after the plants flowered that I'd see what it took to make them go to seed.  The bumblebees loved them so I let them stay.  The bees were a welcome addition to that area of my garden.

Well, now they look like this...

I think each of those pods needs to dry out and inside are about 10 seeds.  When I opened one earlier they had about that many green seeds. 

Of course I have since seen the package and thee Fiesta broccoli from Territorial is a hybrid.  Oh well, no harm no foul.  These will make a welcome addition to the compost pile. 

Speaking of which, I haven't been doing much adding to it this year.  Three years out from the last time I weed and fed my lawn, it didn't grow at all all summer.  It really didn't turn majorly brown either, just didn't grow.  I'll take that from an effort perspective, but it makes me quite shy of greens in mass quantities for my compost pile.  I figure with the kitchen compost and leaves that are bound to start falling, I'll have one more major flip before I put it to bed for the winter.  For greens I'll use these plants and some handy coffee grounds from Starbucks. 

Lastly, I thought I'd take an overview pic of my garden to scare you all into going out this weekend and cleaning up yours, hehe.  Needless to say the major winner this year were the carrots.  I swear my kids is turning into a rabbit.

Oh, and that monster in the picture is a volunteer tomato plant.  No clue what type it is, but it looks healthy enough.  I figured if I had tomato volunteers I'd just leave them and see what happened.  So far it looks like I'll have a late crop of salad makings, even if I have to ripen them inside.  Not Judy and EG kind of second crop, but pretty decent for the Pacific Northwest.

Enjoy your garden, and let folks know I'm back.  It's kinda lonely without the 400+ folks reading my blog each day, hehe.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

September 9, 2009

Well, I didn't get a chance to get out to the garden tonight.  As is typical these days, I rushed home from work, changed clothes, raced to the soccer field to relieve my wife so she could go to a meeting.  After practice, I took my eldest to my folks to meet up with my youngest, had a bit of dinner, helped with a project and brought the kids home to bed.  Rinse repeat.  Frankly I've been lucky to water my SWCs because they're a closed system and rain doesn't help them.  I thought I had some pics of the garden on my phone but don't, so alas, you'll have to wait another day until I can get out and snap some shots.  Trust me, it will make your garden look good.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September 8, 2009

Wow, boy how time flies.  I can't believe it's been a whole month since my last post.  I almost forgot my passwords and how to navigate my blog.  As you can tell from the August 1st comments, my patron Judy has been working diligently over the last month to convince the host company that there was a problem on their end causing all of the sites to be down. 

I have been keeping busy with summer activities, mostly non-garden related.  Gettting my eldest ready for Kindergarten has been a chore, but now my baby is all grown up and started school today.  /sigh.

Well, short post for tonight. All I can say is YAY!  I'm so glad to not only get my blog back, but all the old data is back.  Thank you Judy for backing everything up.  So sorry that most of your backups were corrupt and you lost the last year. 

Let folks know that may care.  I plan on posting almost daily like normal.  I hope you enjoyed your summer and as always, Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

August 1, 2009

Ha! And you thought I was gone.  Well, I am. The miracle of forward publishing.

I hadn't planned on posting anything, but while I was out with my Aunt doing a wet run at the watering schedule for my garden, my kids went with us.  While out in the main garden, Logan asked politely if he could pick a carrot.  Like I would say no, hehe.  I was busy filling a SWC when my Aunt made a comment about how big it was.  I turned around and saw this!

I swear that Purple Haze carrot is 8 inches long and over an inch in diameter at the stem.  Very cool.  Even cooler that he wanted me to use the hose to wash it off before he proceeded to eat the entire thing!


I actually got to share the little one with my little one.  He sort of likes carrots, mostly because his older brother does.  He had a few bites and I ate the rest. It was sweet and crisp.  Perfect in other words.

Have a great week!

Enjoy your garden.

Friday, July 31, 2009

July 31, 2009

Wow, time sure flies.  Long ago my mother called to say she was treating the family to an Alaskan cruise in recognition of all the hard work we put into rennovating their home.  Of course we were in the middle of the process so it didn't register at the time.  Then, over the next few months my sister-in-law who works for the line was trying to excite folks and get us to do what was necessary to book the cruise.  Again, I was apathetic.  It was the start of the hellish period in the renovation.  Time to pick excursions came and went and I still couldn't wrap my brain around it.  Finally the house was done and I had time again.  Alas, things needed to be done around the home and the weather got scorching hot, so I still didn't do anything. 

Well, it's time to head out tomorrow. I packed last night and am continuing to pack for us and the kids tonight, so I wanted to post my last blog entry for a week or so. I'm sure when I get back I'll snap all sorts of pics of what has matured, been harvested or bolted.  But for now, let's get into a marathon post.

First off, I wanted to show my stunted corn stalks.  For some reason they only got 3 feet tall rather than the 6 feet they got last year.

Despite the short stalks, I'm getting corn.  Unfortunately I think my Aunt (who will be watering) will be harvesting them.


Only two stalks have corn on them as I type, but this one has two ears and others show signs of growth.  Who knows if I'll taste home grown corn or not.  Someone will at least, hehe.  I recall you only have 10 days after the silks die or something like that.  They may last for a week. Not sure.

Oh, I found this shot on my camera, just to show how hot it's been here, look at this.

The top is the garden and the bottom is inside the house.  Makes me sweat just looking at it.  Oh, and the barrometer isn't calibrated right. No rain for several weeks still. Very odd for us (global warming ahem).

Speaking of the heat, that record 103 degree day did a number on my cauliflower.  This was just about ready to harvest one day and the next...

Destined for the compost when I get home.

The lettuce however hadn't shown much signs of distress despite a week of temps in the 90s.  In the back of my mind I knew I should shade them, but I left them as is.

As you can see, some of the leaves wilted due to that day.  A day late and a dollar short, I did something about it.  I removed the wood between the beds and replaced it with one of my trusty window shades and PRESTO!

Gotta love keeping junk from our window replacment project last year, hehe.  Not only will the shade protect them, but the 16 inch bed sides will help them get just over 5 hours of sun a day.  Should do the trick.  When I get home I'll plant more I guess.  Maybe I'll have time to throw some seeds in the ground tonight or tomrrow morning.

Lastly, for the grand finalle before head off into the sunset for a week on the high seas, not everything is hating the heat.  No, it's not the tomatoes, they lost all their blooms due to the heat.  It's acutally my cantaloupe!

I actually have 3 growing bigger than they ever got last year, with more on the way, but I believe you can only see two in this picture.  Can you spot them? 

Something interesting about this 31 gallon Self Watering Container.  Sure it's only got 3 cantaloupe plants in it, but it never runs out of water.  Seems like these plants don't need much water.  Very odd.

Well, that's it for me.  Sorry I haven't been around much lately, and that I'm going away again for a whole week, but I can't wait to get back and see all your blogs to see that you've been enjoying your gardens in my absence!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July 29, 2009

YIKES!  We hit a new all-time record here in the Seattle area.  Our previous record temperature was 100 hit as recently as 1994.  I personally recall playing tennis all day long in high school only to find out it hit 99, but that was when I was insane. I'm better now, hehe.

Well, today we shattered that record.  It hit 103 officially today, though it was as high as 104 or 105 depending where you were.  Again, with almost no homes having AC, and less than half having sufficient fans, it was not pretty.  Poor Logan, he had soccer for 3 hours again today.  Thankfully they played it safe with tons of water breaks and spent most of the time in the shade doing drills.  Whew.

I must say though, despite the swealtering heat that's melting my garden and bolting my spring crops, I found enough to harvest for one deliscious salad.

So far (knock on wood), my container lettuce mix has held up to the heat and did some cut and cut again rather than pulling leaves from the outside.  Then I harvested my first Bloody Butcher tomatoes.  Of course I had to pull a big fat carrot, but I was surprise to find this while harvesting.

No, not the sun burnt cauliflower, but the pickling cuke next to it.  The first cucumber of the season!

Yum!  I was so happy, I picked it and brought all my harvest in to be prepped at 6 am.  Here's what I came up with.

The verdict?  I may have waited too long to harvest the ripe tomatoes. They were a bit squishy, and the flavor was a bit off to me.  That and I can't say I'm thrilled with one or two of the lettuces.  Maybe they were bitter from starting to bolt, not sure.  The carrot was great though, and the whole thing was very edible, sans dressing, hehe.  While my good buddy EG likes a little lettuce with his dressing, I like a few cranraisins thrown in for some sweetness.  Yummy!

Of course I watered deeply today before work, but when I got home in 100 degree heat, the lettuce was wilting.  I sprayed it with water hoping to rehydrate them.  Tomorrow I'll throw them in shad to help save them.  Maybe I'll plant a few squares of fall lettuce now in case the containers die out prematurely.  Oh, and I had to fill my tomato SWCs twice today, hehe, poor monster plants, wilting despite my best attempts.  Ah well, it's gotta cool down soon.

I hope you're staying cool. As of my writing at 9 pm, the outside temp has officially dropped below the inside temp at 89/91, so I'll start the fans blowing cooler air into the house.  Take care and...

Enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

July 28, 2009

Wow, where has July gone?  Sorry I haven't posted, but it's been just plain too hot to garden much.  The later part of my vacation was spent on the garage, helping a friend move and playing at the pool with the kids.  Alas, nowhere in there did I mention gardening.  Well, that's not quite true, I did find a use for the mostly cleared bed #1.

Yeah, I know, I'm late for fall planting, but I think I'll be ok.  I planted tons of carrots as they're the best after a frost when the starches turn to sugars.  I also planted some broccoli and cauliflower butting up where I had the lettuce.  Finally I planted a square of radishes and one of green onions.  Not sure if the onions will work, but they didn't work this spring.  Go figure.  Last time I transplanted them from indoor started seedlings and this time I direct-sowed, but it shouldn't have mattered.  I'm trying again.

Not only did I sprinkle finished compost over the bed, but I worked some in. Two kitty-litter buckets full. That should replace any nutrients that the former residents took away (they tasted yummy too).

Another reason I didn't garden much is the heat.  I don't know what's up, but this weather is for the birds... snow birds that is.  I'd expect temps pushing 100 in Arizona or the South, but not here.  We haven't had rain to speak of in weeks.  It's downright insane. 

Now I know what you're thinking if you're a reader from one of those insanely hot places, but we aren't built for that kind of heat here. NOBODY has AC, and fans just push the 85-90 degree interior air around.  I'm ok at work but when I get home, it's an oven. And my poor family, they aren't lucky enough to spend 8+ hours in AC bliss. 

Lastly, the heat's not doing well for the garden.  The cauliflower that was heading nicely is prematurely going to seed, the peas died with tons left to harvest, the potatoes are laying over, and worst of all, there must be hundreds of flowers on my tomato plants that are dying.  I understand fruit won't set above 90 degrees.  Well it's 95 out there now.  Grrr.

Well, that's all for now, stay cool all. I think I'll throw some ice cubes in a bowl and stick it in front of my fan, hehe.

Enjoy your garden!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 23, 2009

Today I got a chance to get out into the garden for the first time in a while.  Mostly I needed to gut it of all the spent and bolted plants.  The secondary benefit was to get rid of the piles (and I mean piles) of compostables that have just been sitting around (mostly in the garage) waiting for me to turn the compost.  So I got on my garden gloves and started ripping and composting.

I forgot to take a before shot, but here is most of what needs to be removed.  The lettuce has bolted badly and I should really have yanked that huge broccoli when I harvested it.  You think these overcrowded their squares a tad?

The funny thing is that this hot, hot weather around here has basically killed my grass. I have never watered because my lot is so wet, but this year it actually died.  Oh well. I water food, not grass.  What that means is that I have not mowed in a month.  That's another thing that is odd about this year's weather (ahem, global warming, hehe). What that means for my compost is that I am at a sudden loss for greens.  I was tempted to go to Starbucks for grounds, but this time I had more than enough from the garden.  The browns of course were shredded newspaper and soiled paper products.

I couldn't believe it.  I almost ran out of partially composted material to layer in between the new greens and browns.  I couldn't believe just how much garden waste I had, on top of the stuff I've been saving.

I also have been trying like mad to get a good shot of my yukon potato bed.  Every time I try I keep getting the bright/shadow lines that make for lousy pictures.  Finally it was a good shot at dusk.  Look at what's happeneing to my once proud potato stems standing tall.

Not only are they laying down, but they're touching the gravel pathways and smothering my carrots.  Honestly I have never experienced this with my bins, at least until they are dying back.  I wonder if that's what they're doing.  They are an early variety after all.  I'm still watering them in case I'm wrong. Once I see them starting to die despite the watering.  I do want to get them out of there soon though, because I've got 8 SF of carrots that may or may not be doing anything under all that mess on the right.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 22, 2009

My oh my, it has been a while.  Seems my vacation has been far more type A than type B.  Kind of a shame because sitting around and gardening is just about my speed.  Instead I've been pretty much go-go non-stop ever since we got back from camping.  Blogging about the few scant hours I spent in the garden just wasn't on the agenda. 

Yesterday for instance, was a perfect example.  For over a year, my garage was jam packed with junk left over from our last garage sale.  It was also a catch-all for anything we didn't want in the house.  I've been wanting to tackle it for the last 8 months, and so we did.  It felt so good to create four piles of stuff in the driveway.  Of course there was the keep and the charity piles, but there the garbage pile was broken into  dump and recycling piles.  Very Seattle of us. 

While we were moving everything out, I came across my seed potatoes that didn't make it into the ground this year.  I knew there were plenty of Buttes left, but I couldn't give them away.  I had known they were trying their best to grow sans dirt, because I kept seeing the box.  It looks like this.

I've been surprised that it was starting to form leaves in a mostly dark garage with, I repeat, no dirt.  However, if that wasn't surprising enough, I was downright shocked to find this inside.

Look at the spaghetti noodles all bound up inside.  Absolutely insane!  Life will find a way I guess.  These will be composted next chance I get.  And I thought the sprouts were long when I planted them at about a foot.  Now they're well over three feet in some cases.  Crazy.  I just had to share.

About all had time to do in the garden that day was to water.  While I was doing it I spotted a ripening tomato.  It was one of my big ones (I didn't recall having any big ones).

It was ever-so-apparent that I haven't had time to LOOK at my garden of late, because as great as this tomato looks from the top, look at the bottom.

I haven't noticed any other BER (Blossom End Rot) on any other tomatoes in my garden, which is pretty good since I am growing all heirlooms with no particular resistance. Thank goodness my inattentiveness didn't come back to bite me. I am not sure if BER is contageous or not, but it doesn't appear to have spread.  Whew!

Lastly, I had to snap this pic while I was watering.  I still haven't pulled my spent cauliflower.  I'm not sure how much longer it needs to harvest seed from it, but I don't need the space right away, so I may just wait it out. 

Ugly I know, but that's what taking a month off will do to your garden.

I had really hoped to get out more into my garden this week.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 16, 2009

Wow, it's been a while, and I hadn't even noticed.  Sorry.  At least I've been taking pictures along the way, even if I had forgotten to post them.  See, I'm going on vacation next week (staying home), so it's been slammed at work.  Such is life when you want to go on vacation.

Call this the anti-garden tour.  Things are going funny in my garden and I wanted to share.  Not sure why it's happening, other than some are obviously because I'm not harvesting the way I should.

For instance, I found this pea pod when I was snacking in the garden.  Needless to say it got composted.

As far as the corn goes, I got mixed messages from the 6 stalks.  First off, the leaves started to shrivel.

It's possible that the scrap containers dry out too fast and I need to be better at keeping it watered more often.  The good news is that the tassels are starting to form!

Unfortunately I haven't seen any cobs or silks forming.  I forget the process.  Ah well, next week I'll have plenty of time to check it out.

Also on the good/bad news front. I think it's about time to harvest my garlic.  I found out I shouldn't have been watering it, but I have.  Oops.  Help me, I've never harvested garlic before. I'm clueless and my brother says it's easy and not to worry.  How is that helpful? hehe.

Oh, don't mind the weeds, I haven't had time to weed and didn't want to disturb the garlic by uprooting the plants around it.

Lastly, I thought some of the carrots I've planted that got tall and rooty rather than carroty.  The only thing I could think was that for some reason they were going to seed immediately rather than doing so after overwintering.  Sure enough, I've found two of these.

If that's not a flower, I don't know what it is.  Now I have to decide if I'll leave it and let it go to seed and collect them for planting next year, or pull them for compost?  Thoughts?

Lastly, it looks like I'll have real salads soon with both lettuce and tomato.  Eat your heart out Judy, hehe.  Now if only I could get my cukes to grow.  It think an email to KitsapFG is in order to see if I have any prayer of getting cukes out of newly seeded cukes to fill in where didn't take in the shade of my late maturing cole crops.

I'm getting excited for next week, but before then, I'm going camping, so don't expect a post this weekend.  Enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14, 2009

Ok, by popular demand, here's the article that I would have liked 80,000 gardeners see before summer hit.  Unfortunately it was totally my fault that I didn't get the article in the newsletter. I misread the contribution email. I thought the deadline was anytime Saturday, not Saturday morning... I emailed around 5 pacific time, likely after the newsletter had been laid out.  Ah well. It's timely so here it goes.

Gardens are Forgiving

Every summer, it seems weekend calendars fill up with barbeques, games and parties.  Then there’s the weeklong vacations, or maybe “staycations” this year, that we all promise our families.  Throw that in with ever increasing work demands, and gardens take a back seat pretty quick during the heat of the summer when the garden needs vigilant attention.  Nature doesn’t take vacations and doesn’t go out of town.  So what do you do if you have to be away from your garden for an extended period of time?


I had that very problem recently with a family project that took up nearly every waking hour that I wasn’t at work, and when I wasn’t otherwise busy, I was too tired to garden, even though gardening is my relaxing stress reliever.  In addition, I was eating out constantly so my garden didn’t even get harvested.  Thank goodness I use raised beds that take so little time and effort to tend. Traditional row gardening would have gone to weeds in no-time.


The good news is that most vegetables will remain harvestable for several days beyond their peak maturity when left on the vine, giving a lot of leeway for busy summers.  So don’t be so quick to harvest before you go away for the weekend.  Notable exceptions would include cucumbers, squash and corn, which need to be harvested before or at their peak.  So if possible, a quick 10 minute walk through the garden every day or two to water and check for must-harvest produce is key if at all possible.  There’s nothing like fresh peas or a carrot straight from the garden on a daily tour.  If you cannot eat the produce yourself, giving it to a neighbor might just convince them to dig up their yard.  And if you just can’t get out due to vacations, hiring a neighbor teen to water for you not only gets much needed attention for your garden, but teaches something about gardening to the youth of America. That’s something worth more than any annual harvest if you create another gardener. 


I just finished that two week stint where it was all I could do to keep up with watering the garden.  I couldn’t harvest more than a pea or carrot to munch on while I watered.  If it wasn’t for my kids harvesting carrots left and right, next to nothing would have been eaten.  I must say however, that just those ten minutes in the morning or after dark kept on top of my raised bed garden, and kept me going throughout that stressful time.


So, gardens don’t need people so much as they need sun, water, nutrients and time to grow and mature. And with our busy lifestyles, we don’t always have time to devote to our gardens.  Even with our hectic lives this summer, the best way to relax is to spend just 10 minutes in the garden every few days to keep us sane and is sometimes all a garden needs to thrive. 

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13, 2009

Wow, how the weather can change here in Seattle. My father used to say if you don't like the weather here, wait 15 minutes, it will change.  It hasn't been that bad, but following a 90 degree Saturday, we've had two days of 60 degree overcast weather.  It even rained, though that was welcome news to my garden.  Everything but the SWCs, which I still need to water.  The funny thing is tomorrow the weather is suppose to change back to hot.


Partly Cloudy

74° F | 52° F

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81° F | 54° F

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79° F | 54° F

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76° F | 56° F

Partly Cloudy

74° F | 54° F
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It was raining when I got home today, so yet another day where I felt no motivation to get out and work in the garden.  However, I am chomping at the bit for nice weather. 

I want to get out and rip out the garbage in the garden and work my compost. It's been forever and stuff is just rotting in place, not to mention my full kitchen compost that's warm to the touch, hehe.

Once I rip out the garden of all the spent plants, I need to plant cole crops, carrots and onions for fall.  That and I think I will re-seed for cukes.  I ony have a few surviving plants that aren't doing anything after being shaded by the broccoli and cauliflower.  Remind me never to do that again.  As I've found out, it takes too long for the cole crops to mature and majorly overlaps the growth period for the summer crops.  I'm thinking now that my yukon gold bed will be devoted to brassicas next year.

So far I'm not inclined to put up my big trellis if I don't have cukes needing it.  The peas just flopped over and grabbed onto the succession cauliflower and are almost spent.  The only other things to use them are the tomatoes, which I haven't pruned at all so my harvest will be lacking.  So what, I'll get something which is better than nothing considering all the absentee time this season.

Lastly, I am a bit disappointed that I wrote an article for GardenGirl about being away from your garden during the busy summer season.  Unfortunately it wasn't chosen for the summer newsletter, which is a shame since it was helpful information for the comming months. Maybe I'll publish it here tomorrow if you all want to read it.  400 readers is not 80,000, but it's better than 1.

Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

July 11, 2009

Well, I swore I would have bounced back by this weekend after that long stint of hectic times that ended last Tuesday.  Sure I was sluggish all week, but I slept well, but no, today I had grand plans and slept most of the day away.  Now it's past 10 and I'm wide awake.  Bad idea.  Oh well. I've got tomorrow to catch up.

Not only did I water, but I took the opportunity to add some tomato cages to the volunteer tomato and the sucker experiment.

Both now have blooms on them, so I may have some more mystery tomatoes this year.  Oh, and speaking of mystery tomatoes, this one's just as mysterious as the watermelon tomato plant above.  I know I didn't plant tomatoes in amongst my carrots.

This one's very late, but I may let it go.  It all depends on how much space my fall planting takes up.

Speaking of fall planting, I was over at KitsapFG's site and she's already transplanted hardened off broccoli and cauliflower for fall.  Oh how behind I am.  Maybe tomorrow I'll direct sow the areas where I want to plant.  Aside from the cole crops I want to plant carrots gallore.  My kids have pretty much gutted my garden of all the carrots.  Gotta love it, but sheesh.  These carrots above are just about the only ones left until fall.  I've got some more planted, but they're not growing fast enough to replace them. 

In order to plant more, I have to gut my garden of bolting lettuce, harvested cauliflower and broccoli.

However, I hate to get rid of all this since I have tomatoes to harvest and my lettuce bins are not quite ready yet.  The broccoli shoots that I had hoped would be a single meal are toast.

Ah, well, I've got more broccoli ready to harvest.  Boy do I wish succession planting worked well with cole crops.  I still haven't got it down.

Hope everyone is handling the weather where you are, it's been in the high 80s, low 90s and muggy.  Tough to get anything done.

Enjoy your garden.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 9, 2009

Well, I got out into the garden for the first time in ages. That is, not just to water it after dark.  I was getting tired of humming Gardening At Night by REM, hehe.

Much to my surprise, my garden marched along without me.  The kids have been harvesting carrots left and right.  In fact, they harvested a slew of them at once (against all I've taught them).  Thankfully, I learned from Good Eat's that storing carrots with an inch of stem left on them in bubble wrap is the best way to keep them fresh for a long period. 

I also found this in the garden.

These are (I believe) my bloody butchers that I should have pinched the blooms off of instead of letting them form fruit.  Sure I have early fruit (probably the earliest in the neighborhood), but the plant is less than half the size of the rest of my plants.  As I have read, all the energy went into the fruit and not growing the green vines, despite repeated watering with fish emulsion.  Oh well, I will get to save seed from these to create an earlier maturing variety next season (hopefully).  Anyway, aren't they cute?

I also found these during my personal garden tour.

These are likely yello pear as I found another that is likely roma.  I can't wait until these go from green to yellow!

Well, as I said, the garden marched on for two weeks without me.  I knew my cauliflower and broccoli were ready to harvest, but when you eat out every night and get home exhausted, it's tough to harvest in the dark.  What that meant is that my nice, tight broccoli and cauliflower bunches got leggy.  They're still edible I think, just not the peak of freshness.  Grrr.  Thankfully, I found this when I was out there.

I realize I don't have a hand in there, but you can tell by the 2x6 there that this is about 3 inches wide.  I pinched the inner leaves together and clipped them with one of my handy dollar store clips.

Lastly, I was giving the potato bins some much needed water and saw the pest damage was getting worse.  Contrary to popular belief, I don't know everything about potatoes.  Mostly I know about growing them, not pest problems as I haven't had too much of that.  Any idea what's causing this?

The plants look healthy desptie all the holes.  I hope that means the potatoes are growing bigger in the tower.  I also hope I kept them watered sufficiently so they aren't deformed.

Well, I'm back, and feeling better (though still sore and tired) back in the garden.  Thanks for all the kind words about the house.  It was listed today and there's an open house both days on the weekend. Fingers are crossed that it's a quick sale.

Oh, on a separate note, I just realized that this is my 400th post. Wow, that's a ton, hehe.

Enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 8, 2009

Well, the big news is that as of yesterday, the house is DONE!  Finally, no go-backs, everything is out of there, including the garage.  It has never looked so nice.  So, over a dozen trips to the dump and 12 days straight of working on the house, we're done.  Staging is in place and the pics have been taken.  Now all that has to happen is for the listing to be set up and open houses set.  It's out of our hands now.  Whew!  8 months of work. I can't believe it's over.

I think 8 months of work deserves it's own blog post.  Sure I know it's not garden related, but considering all the AWOL time I've had lately, it's fitting.  But before I get to the pics, I thought I'd let folks know I figured out the problem with posting.  You no longer need to sign in to comment.  However, if you do sign up, it is just fine by me. 

Ok, now for my childhood home as I've never seen it before, hehe.

Here you can see a bit of the landscaping that my Aunt is famous for.  It is incredible what she can do with a space.  I keep suggesting she take the master gardener class with me.  Some day.

Here's the living room with the picture window from the pic above.

The wood looking wall in the back and the right side is actually 3/4 inch oak flooring that my dad "installed" on the walls when I was a teenager.  Each board had to be cut and installed by hand.  Insane amount of work.  Sure hope the buyers like it.

Here's the back part of the living room right as you come into the house.

You can sort of see the transition from the origial re-finished oak hardwoods to the tile entryway that we did new for the remodel.  Behind that staged cabinet is wiring for surround sound, power and cable.  Is sure miss the piano that used to take up that entire right hand wall.

Another archectural feature of the house is the archways like this one leading from the living room to the dining room.  I wouldn't have staged the table in the middle.  We had it over to the right.  To each their own.

Behind that is the kitchen.

A real feature of this house is the kitchen addition that we still call the new addition, even though it was completed in the early 80s, hehe.

Downstairs (from the stairwell to the left) is a huge semi-finished basement with a big bedroom.

Upstairs is a landing with a nice window overlooking the deck and back yard.

Then there's my folk's room.

And my room, used as the guest room after I moved out.

The home's big, though as was common in the mid 20s, the rooms are fairly small, with a big living area for entertaining.  Bedrooms were for sleeping, not lounging, though that room above held a huge entertainment center, a desk, two dressers and my bed back in high-school.

Well, that just about does it.  I know if I had before shots you could see the major differences, but the ugly carpet's gone, the hardwoods have been restored, the walls repainted and the trim fixed.

Now you know what has been taking me from my garden and family for the last 8 months.  Cross your fingers it sells quickly so we can be done with it. Hehe.

Enjoy your garden.