Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 30, 2009

Just wanted to drop by to let folks know I'm still alive.  Barely.  Working all weekend, then every night so far this week has been hell on my body, but we're getting things done left and right. 

Thanks Dan, yeah, I did two days of trim work.  The second day we just wanted it finished, so my brother and I both shared the chop saw and hammered it out.  I must say it looks good despite doing a lot of "good enoughs," hehe.

Pretty much the only thing I can say about my garden is that I know it's still there. I watered it the other day.  But other than that, I haven't touched it. Getting home exhausted after 9 pm does that to you.

I sure hope folks that are my regular readers will come back after this weekend to continue to read about my gardening adventures.  Until then...

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 28, 2009

Well, it seems like I'm on break from working at the house. We're in the home stretch with seven days before the stager comes in to take over the finished house.  Are we ready, not even close.  So after 8 hour days this weekend, we're going to pick right back up Monday after work and do that every day this week until it's done.  Actually, we're down to one page of big ticket items, and several of them have been crossed off.  It was really cranking today with everyone pitching in and doing what needed to be done.  I even tried my hand at installing quarter round base after my brother threw up his arms and gave up, hehe.  I survived it by not overthinking it. I knew I couldn't measure the 45 degree cuts with any precision so I measured once and cut 4 times for each piece.  Young legs, hehe.

Ok, I know, this is a gardening blog, but I had to share my to-do list results and it was a biggie on the list.  I also worked on the clogged drain, hehe. Cleared it with an arosol jet product rather than removing the toilet, YAY! Now the sink isn't even slow, it's been slow for months waiting for the renovation to be done to dig into it.

As for the garden, I got home from my folks at 6:30. Immediately the boys and I went out and mowed the lawn.  Boy did it need it, but alas, that's all I got done.  I had light to put up the trellis, but my arms and legs don't move. 

During my absence today, our teacher that I started the tomatoes for stopped by for an impromptu garden tour.  She was in the neighborhood, but I wasn't.  So my wife led the tour.  I was pleased that she took home with her a boatload of lettuce and my big head of broccoli.  Now I don't have to figure out how to eat it before it blooms, hehe.  She even caught that my watermelon was really a tomato. I hadn't mentioned it to my wife and our teacher said "there may be a watermelon in there, but THAT'S a tomato." Hehe.

Well, you've heard my schedule for the coming week. I can't guaranty I'll have anything to say or get to do anything this week, so the posts may be a bit sparce.  Sorry in advance.  It will all be over in a week. Eye on the prize, hehe.

Enjoy your garden!

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 26, 2009

Hey folks, short post.  Seems folks have been running into a bit of technical challenge, needing to re-register.  Sorry about that. I have no clue what's going on. If it continues, feel free to post anonymously and I'll approve comments.  I don't mind.  I'll ask Judy to look into it assuming I can't do it myself.  You know how technically illiterate I am.

Anyway, the weather's gorgeous out there, in the 70s today, and I've already watered, so it's time to play with my kids.  They've taken to wanting to ride their bikes so we have for the past two days.  They enjoy it.

On the garden front, the broccoli is just about over-done, but we still have some in the crisper, so I may be pulling it regardless this weekend. 

In addition, I'm on a quest to find out just how a tomato plant got into my watermelon bin? Now that KitsapFG confirmed that I don't have a watermelon growing, I know it's a tomato plant.  How it got in there I have NO idea.  I am interested to find out what variety it is, since I know I didn't plant it.  More on that as it grows.

Other than that, this weekend is going to be spent on renovation work. We need to paint and install quarter round and base molding throughout the house and pressure wash the roof and siding a bit.  Oh, and there's the little problem of my bathroom drain not working, so I need to remove the toilet and snake the drain.  Joy.

If I get time, I desperately need to mow the lawn and put up the trellis in the main garden.  I think my peas and cukes are starting to grab hold of anything they can. hehe.

Hope you enjoy your garden!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 25, 2009

I guess this is a random garden tour-like post.  I've been accumulating pics of things that struck my fancy for a while and just haven't had opportunity to work them into posts.  After chatting with Judy on Facebook tonight, I commented on my freaky corn and I promised her I would show it in my blog post tonight. 

I've been trying to get it to grow fast by side dressing with fish emulsion every week or two.  That may have had something to do with these side shoots...

I went out today and those V side shoots are thicker and looking like more stalks.  It almost looks like the stalks that the ears grow on, but they should be mid-way up a 3 foot tall stalk, not coming out of the ground?  What do you think? Can I expect ears from each side shoot?  Very odd.  I'd wanted the nitrogen to help them grow tall, not freaky, hehe.

Ok, now I'm normally good at segwaying to the next topic and pic, but I'm not going to bother this post, sorry.  Instead I'll just jump from topic to topic to clear up my pics, hehe.

Here is a demonstration of what a few weeks can do for my peas.

I took that a week or two ago, and that same pea yesterday looked like this...

What do you think, snap peas ready now or should I wait?  I'm so nervous after waiting too long on my beans that I'm gunshy. hehe.

Now on to tomatoes.  I finally found another plant that is producing fruit. 

It's clearly a cherry, though not sure which one.  I'm kind of liking the mystery of it all.  Oh, and if you're wondering like I was, the grey thing at the bottom left is my wand, filling the SWC.  These plants are going through water very fast, much earlier than last year.  As a result, I may very well have home grown tomatoes by the 4th of July.  No, not these, but look at what I found when I last watered.

Yep, I've got two (Bloody Butcher?) ripening.  Pretty cool.

Next, I thought this shot was cool, so I snapped it.  It's a pic of my yukon gold potato patch.  Some of the plants are nearly 3 feet tall now, but some have dodged the crowd and are growing out into the path.

I remember last year I had a broccoli that did this, the stalk was leggy and in the shape of an S with the head growing two feet off the ground.

This next pic is yet another from my lone surviving Blacktail Mountain watermelon plant in a scrap SWC.  I'm just waiting for tomatoes to grow on it.  Very odd.

Lastly, I just had to take a pic today of one of my new blueberry bushes.  It's too small to allow it to grow a full harvest, but I like to let a cluster or two mature to taste them while most of the energy goes to developing a sturdy root system and strong canes.  This Jersey will be the first to mature a berry.  Look at them!

I'm worried that if those corn with the V stalks grows much bigger, they'll shade this plant, hehe.  Tough to do from the north, but it could create a canopy.

Anyway, sorry for the random thoughts.  Hope you've enjoyed my miscellaneous pics and have a big weekend planned in your garden.  I've got renovation and plumbing repairs scheduled. /sigh.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 24, 2009

Thanks all for your comments.  As for the carrots, they were this year's first planting.  I was thinking back to what I had planted there last year to see if there could have been overwintered carrots there, and that's impossible.  Last year I had corn there.  Quite odd since they came from this year's seed too.  Unfortunately I'm not sure if they were bad Danvers or Purple Haze.  All I can say is there were a ton of them all together in the middle of the carrot patch.  My wife did me a favor and yanked them.  Here's another shot of the lot of them on top of the cole crop leaves destined for the compost bin.

There were about a dozen of them, all woody with thick 3 foot tall bushy stalks.  I didn't pay attention to what I planted where in the carrot patch, I figured if it was purple I'd know when I pulled them, which we have pulled one that tasted fine.  Well, enough about carrots.  What else do you give Rudolph at Christmas?  Yep, apples.

Last night I was at the Mariner's game in a suite for work.  They were loosing of course so I was chatting with the folks in the room and happened upon a gardening conversation.  A co-worker was talking about her apple orchard and her failed experiment at covering them with panty hoes booties.  Aparently it is too much work for a 20 foot tall tree, let alone a half-dozen of them.  So when it came up that I had a small tree with a dozen or so apples, she offered to give me her booties.  Tonight after watering the garden, the boys and I went out and covered some tiny apples.  We wouldn't have done it if we had a bigger tree or tons of apples, but a dozen is no big deal.

Little Owen proudly standing next to his apple tree.

They may be a bit big to cover, but better late than never.  The kids weren't a ton of help, but they sure had fun trying.  Owen for instance held the bag of booties (I have about 200 of them), and Logan put the booties over the apples.

Then, instead of using ties to close the ends, my co-worker suggested I just tie the ends together.  So I twisted the ends and simply tied them in a knot.  Not sure how well it will hold as the apples grow, but I'll check on them each time I water.

Don't they look silly?  Why do this, you ask?  Well, Western Washington is under a several decade-long Apple Maggot quarantine and we have a major Coddling Moth problem (did I mention Washington is the Apple capital of the world?).  How they found my little tree I have no idea, but last year before I picked off the tiny apples to let it grow, I found a couple of moths coddling.  I thought they were a dead leaf so I grabbed it to remove it... eww.  Anyway, I practiced organic pest control... I stomped on them, hehe.  Now I just hope I caught them before the moths found them.

Not only was I productive in the garden tonight, but the kids enjoyed themselves helping me.  Isn't life grand?!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June 23, 2009

Well, Father's Day is over, and boy was it a good meal, if I do say so myself (I made it, hehe).  Of course there were the steaks grilled to perfection and baked potato with all the fixin's, but I just had to include a broccoli, cauliflower and carrot mix from my garden.  They were lightly steamed and the talk of the meal.  Everyone agreed that they were so fresh and crunchy that it wasn't even fair to call the storebought veggies by the same name.







Oh my do I need to lose a few pounds, hehe.  Gotta get this leg fixed and stop eating like a pig when I am working on the house on the weekends.  More of those niche fresh veggies should help, hehe.

This pic is a bit better.  Action shot of me harvesting the entire cauliflower plant. 

Gotta give the cukes behind it some direct sunlight.  Bad idea to plant the broccoli and cauliflower as a wall in front of the cukes.  Poor timing really since I fully expected the cole crops to be out of there before the cukes were planted.  Oops.  Next year the cole crops go in Bed 4 where my potatoes are.  Speaking of bed #4, look at how well it's grown.

Hehe, sorry if I'm in all the shots. My niece asked for some shots of me gardening so I had tons taken of me over the weekend.  Those potatoes are 3 feet tall.  And those carrots, some of them are not far behind.  Funny huh?  Carrots with 3 foot stems?  They're thick too.  I just had to see what the carrots looked like, so I dug down and found to my surprise, that the carrots were the same thickness as the stem.  I harvested one.  Take a look!

Not only that, but the carrot was inedible!  At first I thought it was the Purple Haze since it didn't look like anything I'd grown before.  And it isn't an aboration since I've got tons of them in the garden.  The funny thing is that my wife pulled an 8 inch stem out and found an inch thick carrot that was 7 inches long.  In other words, beautiful. Sorry, no pic, my son devoured it saying it was the best carrot he'd ever eaten.  Another funny thing is that the next day we pulled a Purple Haze carrot that was actually purple and good sized.  It was sweet and excellent, so it wasn't these. 

Anyway, my wife yanked all these and they're now in the compost.  I doubt the carrots will compost anytime soon they're so hard.  Grrr.  Wonder what they are?  If they're not left over Mokums, they're either Danvers or Purple Haze?

Oh well, to end this post, I wanted to share my new favorite pic. I'm using it as my Facebook photo.

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22, 2009

Well, so many of you posted great comments about my brother's garden, I thought I'd share some interesting thoughts he's had recently.

Since we're both into gardening, and he's taking it a step futher by researching the heck out of sustainability efforts, he thought it would be nice to combine those ideas for the betterment of our area.  He's taked to me briefly about creating a sustainable city site for our area.  It would be part social networking, part blog, part how-to/DIY, all surrounding a more sustainable Mountlake Terrace, WA.  He envisions a link to my blog and some of more pages from me (like that dreaded composting page I've threatened to make for a while now), while he handled the sustainable efforts.  The social side would include workshops and plant sales and the like. 

It's ambitious and we couldn't do anything until after the house is done, which is pretty late to start anything this season, but who knows.  It's a good idea, and it works nicely into both our personalities.  We both get a kick out of helping others.  He's been more local in his efforts as I've utilized the internet mostly.  He was part of the disaster relief efforts in Washington State and our county and is still called upon by folks to help out.  That's just how he is.  I hate to say it after the many years of him picking on little old me, but he's one cool brother.

Hope you had a great weekend and all you fathers out there had a great day!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June 20, 2009

Well, in honor of Father's Day, I am going to dedicate this post to my brother.  He, like me, gets lost in the shuffle when it comes to taking care of our dad.  Hmm, I was going to say dads, but he only has one, since his father-in-law passed away in Argentina years ago.  On a personal note, I've got three, hehe.  There's my dad of course, and my Father-in-Law, but then there's my wifes biological father who is kind and loving and is in regular contact, so that makes three. Whew!

Anyway, late last week my brother who convinced me to start my garden and helped design it, sent me an email saying that the project was finished!  At first I thought he meant his planting chart on Excel that he was working on to tell him when to start seed, harden off, transplant out and harvest throughout the year (I passed along KitsapFG's seed starting schedule to help him fine tune it).  Actually no, it wasn't about that, it was his garden expansion project.  He's been working evenings during the week and after working at my folks so he could plant some summer crops in them.

You see, he's wanted to expand his garden forever.  He's got two 4x8 beds and one 4x4 beds... you remember, one has a cool hoop house on it...

Well, he wants to become 70% sustainable at this house.  To do that he needs darn near 1,000 SF of growing space.  The first phase was to remove three overgrown trees.

It was pretty cool. He put an add on Craigslist and a landscape company came and took them away.  Pretty cool, recycling huge trees!  I couldn't have done it, but they had a crew.  The tam in the corner got ripped out and sent away in the yard waste containers.  Nobody wants those hellish plants, hehe, just kidding.

So now that you've seen the before, I think you'll remember that I have previously posted some of the progress pics, but I wanted to share them in sequence.  Here's the cleared area.

Note that he tried to make the rail-road ties work, but they're not produced anymore and he couldn't find enough to finish the project, so he spent the money to go bricks.  I personally think it's a major step up.  It was tons of work as he cemented each one in place.

You can see how he leveled the bottom with pavers so the wall would be level.  You can also she he's started to build his beds.  Sorry that I don't have a shot of the leveled wall area, but he sent me several angles of the completed beds.  Very cool!

Note the bed on the far left is a 2x4 bed nearest the house that will have permanent raspberries planted in them. I've encouraged him to go a thornless variety since it's right by the walkway and garbage can storage, so the last thing you want is to get caught or cut on a regular basis. 

The other three are 4x4 beds with 2 foot paths between them.  He went gravel over landscape fabric like he did in his original garden.  I think it turned out awesome!

The beds are filled with Mel's mix lite, sans peat moss.  I think he liked my vermiculite for aeration and water retention, but went 50/50 topsoil and compost from Cedar Grove (recycling his tam, hehe).  I'm told that these beds will get great late-morning and afternoon sun, or about 8 hours of summer sun a day.  Should be great!  The backs will get trellises on some beds.  He's got it all figured out.

Lastly, his next major project (likely a few years out), is to remove the 6 cubic yards of river rock that we shoveled and spread (my back hurts just remembering it) and placing 3 or 4 4x8 beds on the west side of the house. 

All his beds are what you'd call neighbor beds as they're in the front yard (with the exception of the original garden behind the fence in the middle of this picture)  His front yard is his southern facing area, the opposite of me.  He pulls it off well, don't you think?

Well, Happy Father's Day to all the young and old dads out there alike!  Hope you get to enjoy your garden!

Friday, June 19, 2009

June 19, 2009

Happy Friday! I hope you've got some great gardening and Father's Day celebrations planned this weekend. I need to mow the lawn, put up the trellis and maybe clean up and add some dirt to the potato bins to make sure I get as many potatoes as possible from my semi-failed bins.  Of course I think my dad expects some work on the house this weekend (Saturday of course), so when this all will get done I have no idea.

For this post, I've got one last thing that I accomplished this week to share.

My lettuce is starting to wilt in the heat and is growing out of control. I know KitsapFG says it's better when young, but I don't mind a meatier leaf myself, so I am still harvesting salads.  However, from last year's experience, the spring crop will eventually bolt or wilt, so a second planting is needed even for us who eat salads only once or twice a week.

This year, I decided to take a page from my brother and friends who utilized window boxes to grow lettuce.  My buddy Jen has hers on her deck railing and my brother has his on a shelf built a the top of his fence.  Either way, I love the idea for lettuce in summer.  You can control the amount of sun it gets by moving the container to the shade if it's a really hot day.

For my lettuce, I bought two self-watering window boxes from Wally World.  Then I filled them 2/3rds the way up with used Mel's mix (I'm running low so it's a good thing I am not filling my potato bins to the top).

Then I sprinkled a liberal amount of bloodmeal and 5-10-10 vegetable fertilizer.  Then I took them to my compost bin and filled them up the rest of the way with my finished compost.  Unfortunately it's not as finished as I thought it was.

The biggest problem is the dried grass that is seen in on the top of the lower bin.  It's also covering the replant of carrots, which would be good if they were fresh, but I doubt there's much nitrogen left in the dried grass that's a year old.  Regardless, it should be good for the lettuce.

To plant I removed the top 1/4 inch of compost and wet the soil.  Then I took EG's mixed loos leaf greens and sprinkled it down the middle and covered it back up with 1/4 inch of compost.  The other bin got strategic placement of my own seed for salad bowl, Italiensheir and Red Sails.  For now I placed them between two scrap 2x2s from last year's potato bins, spanning the 3rd and 4th beds.

I love that I can bottom water from any one of the four corners, and these only cost $8 each.  Next year I plan on using these for 4 to 6 mint plants like Jen has that we loved crushed in our water and tea.  I can't wait!

Enjoy your garden!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 18, 2009

Well, Judy must be busy or out of town, because her pics are down too and she hasn't updated her blog in a few days, so bear with me folks. If she's not back this weekend I'll take a stab at re-linking the pics from one of the various other sites I've got them stashed. I don't expect the run on the site like when the Times ran their article.

So anyway, today my wife got fed up with the inch-long and half-inch thick bumble bees in her laundry room. It's too close quarters in there when they're buzzing around or crawling on the blankets that cover the floor.  I don't blame her, and I am unafraid of bees.  So, the one that was on a blanket got easily covered with a 1 gallon glass jar and walked outside.  Unfortunately for the other one, I couldn't get the jar over it and it suffered a squishy fate.  Two of three saved isn't bad I guess.  Normally I would have waited for the bee to be an easy capture, but I don't do the laundry. 

Now for the test.  I got my wife to consent to keep one or both doors closed at all times.  I don't want the possibility of a bee to fly inside the house and then go directly to the laundry room.  As remote as it sounds, I want to avoid the possibility.  So, if we find any more bees in the laundry room, I know they're coming from the attic.  I have a gas hot water heater vent pipe and a gas line pipe coming from the attic.  Both have gaps in the ceiling that a bee could get through.  I suppose I could do the humane thing and somehow plug the gaps in the ceiling if that's how they're getting in, but I must say these bees are trying my patience.  Did I mention it appears that my plum tree will have a far smaller harvest this year for some reason?  I guess the bees aren't as greatful for the free rent as I'd hope they are. hehe.

Other than bee patrol and extermination today, I watered and shook the tomatoes, which have TONS of flowers on them.  While I was out there I snapped a few pics that I wanted to share.

First thing I noticed when I walked into the garden was my short wall-o-peas.

And on closer inspection, on the back side (shade side) of the wall I found this little guy.

Funny how there were none sprouting on the sunny side but a handful on the shady side.  Maybe that's why the peas in bed #3 aren't doing as well. They're getting full sun.  Thoughts?

Also, I figured it would take a while for the cauilflower to grow to maturity.  I didn't expect it would take less than a week.

No, it's not as big as some of mine last year, but I'm not sure I want to wait til it starts growing alienish like last time, so it will probably be picked this weekend.  The cukes will like that since this one's shading several plants, hehe. 

Of course I think I've got a half-dozen broccoli all ready or near ready to harvest.  And in case you're wondering, we had grilled chicken, ride and broccoli for dinner tonight, but still have one single serving left from that big head I harvested last week, hehe.  It's clearly better fresh so I think broccoli and cauliflower are on the menu for Father's Day dinner here Sunday.

Well, if you can't tell I'm trying to keep my posts to around 500-1,000 words and as few topics as possible. Call it my expereince writing for Patti the Garden Girl.  She likes 500 word stories and I've found I'm really good at keeping my thoughts to that length.  However, when it comes to blog entries, I find the words just grow in number without even trying, thus the 1,000 word self-imposed maximum.  Hope you enjoy the brevity so you can hit all your favorite blogs every day!

Enjoy your garden, I sure am mine right now.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 17, 2009

Hmm, if you haven't noticed, there are no pics in my ever-popular Potato Bin page.  I was sure I wouldn't have problems since my garden buddy that hosts this blog site offered up her site to house my potato bin pics so they would never go down.  You may recall I had to spread the wealth after the Times article caused my file server site to overload my bandwidth (I'm cheap and won't pay for service since this is a completely free site, no inflow or outflow).  Anyway, I've emailed Judy to see what's up with the pics.  I have them elsewhere if necessary, but I don't recall the order they're in so it'd be wrong if I replaced the links back to either of my pic services.  Rest assured that the pics will be back as soon as possible.

As for the garden, I took care of some spring cleaning in the cool weather after the heat we've had of late.  In fact, according to Cliff Mass, we've had 29 day without rain, which was a record for spring in Seattle.

I needed to rip out some bolting spinach.

And as you can see, the spinach leaf miners had their way with the spinach yet again, so it didn't go into the compost.  Oh, and I didn't even attempt to save seed because this is a hybrid.

Another plant that unfortunately needed clean-up was the transplanted Spanish Lavender. 

I had big hopes for a small plant that wouldn't spread, but would attract bees like nobody's business to complete the bluberry triangle for proper cross pollination.  Unfortunately it's too late in the season for proper transplanting and this plant is too old to transplant well.  After hearing both those things from my Aunt the flower queen, I didn't feel so bad about killing it.  However, I do plan on buying a new one next  year. I love the space it gives me in the blueberry bed.  Heck, I'd have room for another blueberry plant, though I think I want to plant strawberries in that bed in front of the blueberries.  It would cut down on weeds and I could make a nice patch next to this lavender plant.

Lastly, I had to clean up some errant bumble bees.  They have found their way into our laundry room that's right under their nest. 

So far I've found three huge ones, two of which I've successfully transplanted outside.  My dad says as a kid they would catch them in their bare hands and wouldn't be stung as long as the bees couldn't see light. I'm not that brave, hehe, so I used a gallon mayonase jar, hehe.  Anyway, I say for their sake because if they are coming in through the holes in the ceiling for the pipes, that means they're in the attic and have got to go.  I really want them to have come in through the open back door and made their way to the laundry room (unlikely) trying to get back to their nest.  I am still holding out hope that I can keep this nest until they abandon it in the fall.  They did great on the blueberries and fruit trees, but I've got tomatoes and melons for them to pollinate for me soon.  Grrrr.

Hope you've had a chance to do some spring cleaning (the garage is another matter all-together, hehe). Enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

June 16, 2009

Well, the weather was much cooler today, though muggy. I think we're finally in for some rain tonight.  Of course that didn't stop us from having a great 3-mile walk sans youngin's tonight when we got home from work.  It was great.  The heart rate wasn't racing quite as much as pushing an old jogging stroller with 45 pounds of 5 year old, but it did allow us to spend a relaxing dinner at Subway mid-walk.  Splitting a foot-long ham and cheese loaded with veggies. Ah, the life. hehe

What does that have to do with a gardening blog you ask?  Well, it isn't really a stretch to say that part of the reason I started my garden was to eat better and live healthier so I can play with my grand kids some day.  Besides, the other reason I started the garden was for a stress reliever, and I can tell you I feel nice and relaxed after that evening.  Lastly, it's my blog and I'll ramble if I want to, hehe.

Now on to the garden.  After my walk today, I took the opportunity when we got home to wander around the garden and water.  I can tell you more broccoli is coming on strong all of a sudden, so I should really figure out how to encorporate it into more meals.  That or resign myself to the fact that I'll need to preserve it or give it away.  I'm sure I could give it away, but having freshish broccoli in the heat of the summer or dead of winter sounds pretty good (yeah, there's a good chance I'll have broccoli to harvest mid-winter, but you get my meaning). 

While I was watering, I decided to take a few snapshots of the other side of the garden for a change.  First is Judy's Minnesota Midget cantaloupe.

Why do you ask are all the plants bunched into the corner of a big 31 gallon Self Watering Container (SWC)?  Well, the third seed didn't germinate but the fourth that I just threw in did.  Anyone want to tell me if the little guy will transplant a foot away?  I don't want to kill it but it does look kinda runtish next to those big guys.  Anyway, I need to figure out a trellis for this area.  Now that I think the big tomato cages are doing fine to contain the tomatoes I really don't need to waste my big trellis on it, but it does need to be sturdy.  Maybe I'll build one of the sturdy conduit ones that Mel pushes and KitsapFG uses so well.  Who knows, I've got another month or so before these need a trellis.

Speaking of tomatoes, I think I mentioned that I took an idea from EG who pinches his suckers (the stems that grow from the middle of a V on a tomato plant) when they're decent size and plants them for succession or back-up plants.  Well, I decided to experiment myself with a decent sized one that I must have missed.  I planted it in the back of my blueberry bed where I had a ton of room in the corner of two fences.  Well, it seemed to take, but silly me, I forgot to water it well during that 90 degree heat we had last week.  I guess I'm spoiled by my SWCs, hehe.  It died of course, but I decided to water it regularly to see if I could revive it.  Sure enough, it looks like it may just pull through.  Wouldn't that be a resilient tomato plant?

Sorry for the poor quality picture, I didn't want to climb into the bed so I zoomed in.  However, you can clearly see new growth on top of the old dead leaves.  I'll keep checking back with this guy to see if it produces anything.

Hehe, continuing the unintentional segways, speaking of blueberries, the plant right next to this tomato is going to be my best producer by far.  Look at all those berries froming...

They almost look ready don't they?  Maybe this is one of my early producers?  It's a Blueray, which matures in July and August, so maybe... Yum!

The next pic is for my good buddy EG who already has corn growing.  I think I told you that I hit these with a shot of fish emulsion yesterday to help them along, hehe.

Notice that some of those stalks are growing side stems at a 45 degree angle?  I'm not sure what to make of that.  I mean last year the stalks did that but not until they were nearly 6 feet tall and the Vs were 3 feet up the stalk.  I wonder if this means I'll grow short corn stalks with multiple ears... wouldn't that be interesting?  I haven't grown this variety before.

Lastly, I wanted to share a pic of my lone watermelon from EG that germinated in a scrap SWC.  It seems to be doing pretty well, but I'm kind of curious about it.  It doesn't look at all like a cantaloupe or other melon plant.  In fact, it looks a LOT like a tomato plant...

I swear the seeds looked like black watermelon seeds, which matches the name, Blacktail Mountain Watermelon or something like that.  EG, you growing them?  At least I think it was EG that gave them to me, maybe Judy... hmm?  That reminds me that I should really lable the envelopes with who gave them to me, to thank them when I get a great crop or something... hehe.

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15, 2009

Wow, I know, it's been a while since I had something to say two days in a row.  Funny to think not long ago it was odd for me to go a day without posting.  I promise to try to get busy in the garden. 

It's actually easier now not only because I have more time, but because so much is happening in the garden.  Not only are cool weather crops maturing all over the place, but summer crops are growing like mad in this warm weather we've been having. 

I know my son will be pleased that his favorite carrots are pretty much ready to be harvested.

No, I haven't done the finger test by digging around the base of the stem to tell the diameter of the carrot, but with stems like that they've got to be close.  Of course, I've determined that that little triangular area is prime growing real estate.  It's all about sun exposure.  No place in my garden gets more sun than that little 5 SF area.  Not only does it get the morning sun, but as soon as the sun passes by the trees it shines on that spot and others as well, but no other spot gets more looks from the sun.  Does that make sense?  The carrots seem to like it.  For that matter, that bed seems to do pretty well even though the back end of the bed gets no late afternoon or evening sun.  Look at the rest of that bed.

Not only are the yukon gold stems growing a foot and a half tall, but they're starting to flower.

Not sure if you've seen this or not with potatoes (especially yukon golds), but after they flower, sometimes they grow little green tomato looking things.  Not only are they poisonous, but they are where the potato seed comes from.  Potatoes are actually just overgrown roots, hehe.  Note that planting the seeds rarely produces true offspring.  Though I've read that that's how Mr. Burbank created his famous variety.  A little tid-bit of triva for you tonight.

I see folks liked my broccoli pic from yesterday, well there's more where that came from.  Look at these beauties that aren't far behind the one I harvested...

I just hope I can make it through the one I harvested befor these start flowering.  I really don't want to freeze these (I've not had good experience with par boiled and frozen veggies), but I will if I can't get through them.

I guess I'll end with another project I tackled this weekend in my few hours of pure garden bliss, hehe.  I finally broke out my screw gun and a 1/8th drill bit and poked holes at the apex of the arch of my hoop covers and also in the cross bars.  Then at my local hardware store I looked into getting long bolts and wing nuts to solidify the hoop covers for the winter storms that are so prevalent in the PNW.  They didn't have tiny diameter two and a half inch bolts.  The longest they had was 2 inches and that just isn't long enough to fit through the bigger diameter PVC pipes I used on some of the hoop covers. I knew I should have not been so cheap as to save a buck or two with the bigger diameter PVC.  Ah well, it just means I saved $10 on the hardware now.  Instead I just used twist ties.

I only installed one because it took a bit of time to get the flimsy twist ties to line up with the second hole and it's too late in the season to need hoop covers (unless I had shade material to extend my cool-weather crops).  Hmm, I have 4 feet wide landscape fabric... Maybe I could sew it together, hehe.  We'll see.  Anyway, here's what the small bed looked like.  Very sturdy!

That reminds me.  My good friend EG took some wide angle shots of his entire garden area. I should really do that. I know I've been looking for shots like that from last year and couldn't really find any. Not only that but they're good to see growth progress. I got home late tonight, but maybe tomorrow I'll take a couple.  Anyway, you can see the cole crops in the foreground are the broccoli I harvested and will harvest next, with some peas in the the back of the bed that really need a trellis (I hope the wasp nest is dead).  Then in the middle is a jungle of tomatoes.  I've never grown a variety that gets all jumbled like that. I wonder if those aren't determinates.  Not sure. I'll have to wait until they mature to see what the tomatoes look like. Lastly, to the left of the tomatoes are the cauliflower that I showed you yesterday, along with more succession cauliflower.  My wife will be happy with all the crowns we'll harvest this year.

That's about it for tonight.  I've got more for tomorrow. 

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

June 14, 2009

Well, another busy weekend in renovation land.  Thankfully we're getting close to being done so it should go on the market this month. YAY!

Big post day today. Yesterday I tried to write one but couldn't find the motivation or a topic even.  Today I have far more to talk about than I can get into a decent sized post.  That means check back tomorrow for part two, and maybe the next day and so-on.  I'm on a roll now.

Why the change you ask?  Well I'll tell you.  I WORKED IN THE GARDEN TODAY!  Yep, three hours in the garden made all the difference in the world.  I went from tired and miserable to energized and excited.  The power of a garden folks, it's undeniable!

So what did I do today to cause the change?  Well, nothing really, but a ton, if you know what I mean.  I guess to start I should tell you what I DIDN'T get done today.  My goal for this weekend was to install my trellis.  My tomatoes are well past needing it, and my peas are in desparate need of something to grab a hold of.  So yesterday I went into the shed and searched for the 2x4s for my trellis.  I found them in the rafters of the shed, really the only place to store them in there.  Unfortunately less than a foot away from the stack of wood was a tennis-ball sized paper wasp nest teeming over with little fly-like wasps.  Funny looking things. I would have mistook them for flies if I hadn't seen their nest.  Well, I couldn't get my wood down without disturbing them, so I didn't.  

This morning I killed them.  Yep, no debate there.  Bees are one thing, but wasps are another.  Sure they serve a purpose in nature, I get that, but not around me and my family.  So, when I woke up I threw on my heavy coat, a hood and heavy gloves, grabbed a can of raid and went to battle.  Tactically, I opened the shed door, crouched inside, took aim and shot!  Two seconds later one or more wasps came swooping down out of the nest in a dive formation.  Thinking fast, I slammed the shed door and beat a hasty retreat into the house. Hehe. Yep, I'm a coward when it comes to stings.

Then it was off to painting all day at my folk's place.  Mostly I painted the half-bath in the basement.  I had a 3 inch roller, a 9 inch foam roller, a regular roller and a brush.  I used them all painting that bathroom.  It looks good now but boy was it hard work.  I was glad when we cut off early and I could head home.  Thus the reason I got time in the garden.

Let's just say there was too many small projects to fit into one post, so I'll mention some of the things that didn't get pics attached and were just so-so.

I hit the one plant that's got a dozen tomatoes growing on it, with a nitrogen boost because it's my smallest plant.  All the energy's going into producing tomatoes and none to green growth.  I hope the nitrogen will help it grow some more vines.

I also turned the compost. It needed it.  I only added the kitchen compost, some shredded newspaper and water, but the aeration was appreciated.  I'm sure just mixing it up and adding a bit of stuff from the kitchen will heat it back up nicely.  Oh, and I threw some corn cobs in there. My wife had put them in the kitchen compost bin and I just left them there.  I know the cobs don't decompose well at all, but I can just pick them out next time I fluff it.

Ok, now for the perfect ending to this post.  Remember that broccoli that was nearly done?

Well I noticed some yellow on it, like flowers wanting to form, so it had to be harvested.

Isn't it gorgeous!  Well, we had 1/3 of it for dinner with some Costco Lasagna and garlic bread.  As good as the meal was, the broccoli stole the show. 

What's more is that my wife tried it and actually liked it!  She hates broccoli.  Well, chaulk another veggie up to "it's better when we grow it".  Cauliflower is like that as well.  She only eats it when it's ours. hehe.  Speaking of cauliflower, look at what I found this afternoon!

So now I've got four broccoli heads forming in various stages and two cauliflower.  This is my favorite time I think.  Sure the tomatoes will be great, but fresh broccoli and cauliflower are to die for!

I hope you had as much fun in your garden as I did in mine!