Posts Tagged ‘keyhole garden’

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 13, 2014

Garden Report for 140314

The weather this week was best described as “brisk”, and I don’t mean like a cup of tea. Highs around 50, lows around 40, with, er…brisk… winds. The greenhouse stays nice and warm and humid during the day, but doesn’t seem to hold heat at night.

On Friday, I went slightly mad in the plants department of our local hardware store. In the tomato section, I bought one each of Early Girl, Best Boy, S-100, Napa Grape, 4th of July, plus one labeled “Rainbow Blend”. I can see that in a seed packet, but I’m not sure what that translates into for a single plant. Probably “your guess is as good as mine.” For the Brassicae, one six-pack each of Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, and Cauliflower. Plus a single spaghetti squash plant, because, reasons. And finally, three flats of Iceberg Lettuce, in honor of RMS Titanic, which went down with all heads on this date in 1912.

Most of it went into the gardens, but a third of the lettuce, some of the 4ths, the Napa, and the S-100 went up on the deck. I put the Napa in a small container, and an S-100 in one of the hanging baskets.

Then, on Sunday, the madness struck again — two Beefsteak, two Super Fantastic, one each of Glacier, and Northern Exposure. The BS and SF will be split between garden and containers, the Glacier is going into a hanging pot, and the NX is in a smaller pot on the deck.

So, of course, we’re scheduled for 29F tonight. Last time they forecast 29F, it turned out to be 34F. But still, everything is covered up. All the small pots, of things that I’ve seeded, are out in my PRC greenhouse, with a seed-tray warmer inside. I figure that’s all the heat they need.

Here’s what the hops looked like on their second Sunday:

Doing quite well

Doing quite well

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 7, 2014

Garden Report for 140307

The weather this week was typical NENW springlike — cold, blustery, rainy. Not weather for gardening at all. The coming week will be warmer, with highs brushing 70, before hitting 32F the next night. I have a small PRC-built greenhouse for the back deck, but of course it’s open at the bottom, as is the deck.

Nothing much to report. All the squash and tomato seeds sprouted indoors. The lettuce sprouted in the garden. The hops sprouted on the south side of the house. There’s a total of four plants like this:

The First Hops of Spring

The First Hops of Spring

I’ve moved my container of lettuce up from the basement grow-op to the deck. It never gave us more than a sprinkle of home-grown leaves down there. We’ll see how it does with proper sunlight.

I plan to spend the coming week repotting the new squash and tomatoes. Next weekend I’ll seed the second tranche of lettuce into Section 1.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

March 31, 2014

Garden Report for 140331

Starting my garden preps. Planted assorted lettucoi in the warmest part of Section 1. Put covers over sections 1 and 2. I’m going to scratch in some dolomite limestone, to see if I can get more calcium available to the tomatoes, et al.

Started two racks of seeds. First one is mostly tomatoes: Crimson Cushion, Marglobe, and Red Cherry, with one row of Sugar Pumpkin. Second one is old squash seeds from last year: 8-ball, Delicata, and Buttercup, most of which aren’t in at the seedlers yet. If they don’t sprout by the time the tomatoes do, maybe this years will be available. Also started one of the shallow windowsill style containers with radishes for MJ.

Moved the containers into position, and started filling them with the remnants of the Municipal Compost. I’ll be topping them off with potting soil, but there’s no rush. I won’t be putting anything out for another month. Also moving all the downed leaves that I haven’t done anything with over to the SE corner, where I’ll cover them with the soil I dumped out of last year’s containers. I’ll let that rest until Spring ’15 before I re-use it — 18 months should be a reasonable rest.

On the south side, the hops are already showing their heads. Each place I planted one, now has six or eight new stalks. I might not have to buy any this year.

THE PLAN, if you remember from last year, is:

Section 1: Lettuce and spinach and chard (oh, my). Plus some early peas. I”m dividing it into four or six sections and will plant one section every month.

Section 2: Tomatoes and squash. Going for bigger tomatoes, since mine have historically been smaller than advertised. Maybe it’s the NW weather

Section 3: Brassicae. No kale. Maybe leeks. Maybe beans. Maybe Santa Maria beans.

Section 4: Permanently in strawberries and asparagus. I’m taking out the blueberries. They want acid soil, and the rest don’t. There’s some asparagus at the N end of Section 1, which I may try to dig up in the Fall and transplant here. Or not.

Containers: Tomatoes. Maybe some Asian beans.

Ground Cover: The not-officially-a-garden area that has some ornamental something or others. Last year I put pumpkins there, and got a couple of big ones. This year I’m going for smaller pumpkins, as well as buttercup squash.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

November 11, 2013

Garden Report for 131111

This may be the last GTUMN of the agricultural year. Most of this year’s harvest is gone. There’s some tomatoes left, a Delicata, and the two pumpkins. Since it’s a long weekend, we may work on some pumpkin soup.

There was a bit of a disaster in the container lettuce this week — a plague of caterpillar. I have two containers (the 30″x6″x6″ kind) one of which has a mix of fairly mature greens, and the other filled with immature Iceberg lettuce. For some reason, Iceberg is hard to get to head in the home garden, and I don’t even try because it makes for excellent green leafies, like Buttercrunch. Both containers have been outside in the nature until the weather got frosty. The other night I brought them inside and stacked them side by side. Next morning, the iceberg had been ravaged. Nothing left but stems and pieces. This made me quite cross, so I waited until dark and crept back into the sun-room with a large knife, to find a three-inch long caterpillar crawling around the devastation, looking for another snack. Evidently, he’d hidden in the older foliage and came out at night to cross over and eat the young stuff.

Needless to say, after a certain amount of shrieking and stabbing (think Hitchcock and Psycho, only with more dirt and less water), the various ‘pillar parts were deposited in various corners of the yard. I don’t think the remnants of the lettuce are salvageable, but a packet of mustard seeds just arrived (thanks Deb) and I have faith they’ll be worth putting under grow lamps.

There’s about 40 smallish tomatoes left, all ripe and some getting over-ripe. What I’ve decided is that pretty much any tomato, no matter how green, will ripen up if left in a warm place. The warmest place near the kitchen is our living room floor, because it’s directly over the gas furnace in the basement. We keep the house at 66-70F most of the winter, but a newspaper-covered box on the floor stays at 72-74F. Using that approach, all of our tomato harvest has ripened, and we didn’t lose any tomatoes that went from green to rot.

I spent the tail end of the weekend moving the last of the municipal soil into the two large cavities left in the no-longer-Keyhole Gardens. The hole part is there, just not the key part. This will make it easier to move crops around as part of my Medieval three field rotation. The plan for next year is:  Section 1: greens and chard ; Section 2: tomatoes and squash; Section 3: Brassica.

Speaking of chard, on a whim, on Sunday, I went out and planted a packet of last season’s chard. I’ll be buying a new one in the Spring, so this is a good way to use it up. We’re forecast for reasonably warm weather (and possibly a mild winter), and I’ll cover the area with plastic until they germinate, and we’ll just see what happens. Last year’s crop had remnant chard poking up through the snow in March. So, maybe this isn’t the last GTUMN until Spring.

Happy Armistice Day. Go hug a Tommie.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

November 3, 2013

Garden Report for 131104

The traditional Sunday night windstorm came on Saturday night. Seattle got hit hard, but we only had gusts to 40kts and didn’t lose power.

I’m doing some rework on the garden. I found the traditional keyhole notch doesn’t help me very much on these larger beds, it takes away a surprising amount of space, and it gets in the way of my drip hoses.

Traditional keyhole takes up too much room

Traditional keyhole takes up too much room

I decided the best thing to do was pull all the decorative blocks and make it a straight shot across. To my surprise, I found I had seven decorative blocks, plus a buried two-hole cinderblock, plus two half-blocks in the wall to help create the space. I replaced those with two new cinderblocks, and re-used the old one. One drawback was the 18″ step up to get onto the garden wall, so I used three of the decorative blocks as an external step. Think of it as an Inverted KeyHole Garden (IKHG, pronounced just the way it’s spelled).

Suitable step, plus lots of new room

Suitable step, plus lots of new room

I made an interesting discovery when looking at the post-block-void. All those phone books had indeed turned to soil.

How will I check the Yellow Pages now?

How will I check the Yellow Pages now?

We call this side of the house Hop End

We call this side of the house Hop End

I’ve done two of the KHG sections (I know, but I’m a traditionalist), and will probably do two more next week, or next Spring. Right now, I have to work on getting the decorative blocks laid over on the South side of the house, to extend my hops garden.

A final note. Here’s what MJ did with the buttercup squash. Squash soup from our garden with decorative lettuce from our garden, with more decorative sour cream and bacon from our fridge.

Hot soup for a cold day

Hot soup for a cold day

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 28, 2013

Garden Report for 131028

The weather this week was beautiful. Highs in the low 60′s, lows in the low-but-not-freezing 30′s. Cloudy/foggy mornings. Sunny afternoons. West of the mountains they’re under a monster high pressure inversion layer, and that’s driving our weather. Too bad I’m in class or meetings or conferences or workshops or interviews or luncheons.

Forgot about the carrots. They were at the north end of Section 4, under the blueberries. I figured I’d best dig them now, before they freeze to the ground.  Got 15 of them. Five were 2oz monsters (bigger than my thumb!) and the rest were small. I’ll probably let that area go into blueberries or strawberries or asparagus next year.

Otherwise, just fiddling with the winter preps: cleaning up the residue, digging over the garden, hanging up the covers, trimming back the hops (and disposing of them so the dogs don’t get poisoned).  I’m waiting for the asparagus to brown out before cutting them back and mulching with the leaves that haven’t fallen yet.

UPDATE: Did I say hadn’t fallen? Our traditional Sunday night windstorm (sustained 40kt, gusts to 60), just brought everything down. Fortunately, I spent part of Sunday afternoon clearing off the deck.

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned 2013

October 20, 2013

General
1. Think about the fertilization schedule. I may have done too much too late, and promoted too much foliage growth at the expense of vegetables
2. Better date tracking. Put harvest dates in as well as planting dates. Too much stuff was lost because I didn’t pay attention
3. Get more Ca into the soil, everybody needed it

Yard Crops
1. Happy with the hops. Get six more to fill in and extend. Buy early and bring along in an indoor container for a month before planting out

2. Make better use of the ground cover zone for squash. This year I did squash in containers, and they didn’t do well, due to crimping of the vine going over the edge. The ones planted directly in the soil did better. Have to cut way back on the ground cover, and remember to move the planting spots around each year.

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

2. Happy with the miniature cucumbers. Nothing else worked out

3. Look for a bigger cherry tomato for the hanging containers. S-100s are OK but we’d like something more substantive

4. Better labeling. This year the labels were buried by the supplemental potting soil. Write on the container. By the time it’s covered with writing it will be time to dump it

Keyhole Garden
1. Take out the KHG kneeholes. Don’t really need them, and it makes watering awkward — too much stuff runs down the steps. Plus, I lose some planting real estate

2. Better slug control. I didn’t find any at night, but I would early in the morning. Diatomaceous earth only works on dry soil. Consider some form of slugbane.

3. Redesign the covers. They work, but they’re heavy

Review of Last Year’s Plans (keyed to original numbers)
1. squash numbers about right, but production was poor
2. Squash/tomato pairing worked
3. Planted lots instead of fewer. Production was poor
4. Early start helped, but I think the weather didn’t cooperate. Try again even earlier
5. Still getting blossom-end rot
6. No fix so far. Even big tomatoes were in the 2oz range
7. Still need a more formal watering plan

8. MJ doesn’t like the wrinkly heirlooms ’cause they’re so hard to cut
9. labeling still needs work
10. giving up on corn
11. greenhouse covers worked well
12. no change

This Year’s Plan
Section 1
Peas and beans and greens

Section 2
Tomatoes and Squash. Plant bigger varietals of tomatoes. Plant mostly summer squash and 8-ball squash. Maybe a Delicata. Rest of the winter squash go in the yard

Section 3
Brassicae. Plant lots earlier.

The Schedule

Move everything up about two weeks
mid Feb – Start seeds indoors
mid April (60 days later) – Transplant
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 14, 2013

Garden Report for 131013

I left the container tomatoes wrapped up for a week, and uncovered them Sunday afternoon. No change. Tomatoes that were orangish going in, were orangish coming out. I suspect it’s just been too cool for them.

We have a bunch of cold clear nights coming up, with minimums down to 33F, which is reallyreally close to 32F, with highs that are all below 60F. So in between crashing on projects on the computer, I harvested everything. I know I’m supposed to pull up the whole plant and hang it somewhere warm, but when I got into the master bathroom MJ said she didn’t really want that, for some reason. What’s the harm? I mean, she hangs her underthings there.

So I have about half a basket of almost entirely green tomatoes. 12 pounds, total. I left the big-cherry-sized ones go, so all of them are over an ounce, but none of them are over about five. Average size for the season is just over two ounces. Total tomato take was just under 50lb, compared with last years’ just over 100lb. Counting the pumpkins (which is still kindof cheating), we got 117lbs of foodstuffs. I don’t think I’ve spent as much as $120 on the garden this year, but I’m sure it was over $60.

Here’s the final tally:

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
10/14
This Week
Tomato 100+ 192 ~2 333 47
Summer 10 2.0
8-Ball 4 7.6
Crown 2 5.5
Cuke 5 3.0
Beets 22 1.4
Delicata 3 6.0
Corn 18 3.3
Pumpkin 2 (41)
Final Total 76lb

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 7, 2013

Garden Report for 131007

As has become traditional, the publication of last Monday’s report was immediately followed by two days of wild weather, with sustained winds of 40mph gusting to 50. When it wasn’t winding it was raining, about half an inch worth.

Despite the lack of frost, the long beans didn’t survive. By Monday afternoon they were all wilted, and the beans were still only 3″ long. The lemon cucumbers didn’t survive. There was only one worth picking. As a precaution, I harvested the KHG tomatoes and squash. Less than half a basket. I also harvested the just-breaking pumpkin, and found it quite orange on the ground side (22lb).

The projected lows were in the lower 30′s with one night of light frost, so I harvested any tomatoes with color from the container plants, and then watered them and wrapped them all in plastic. I don’t plan to open it up for a week or more. I don’t expect to get more than 5lb of tomatoes there, bringing the total to maybe 40lb or so. This time last year I had close to 100lb.

I harvested the KHG corn, 10 ears of corn, 30oz worth (when husked, but not stripped from the cob), two were six inch long monsters. It tasted much better than the deck-grown, but I still think it’s too much trouble.

In KHG Section 2, where I planted lots of lettuce two weeks ago, almost nothing has come up. Well, a mass of seedlings came up in one corner, then disappeared. I suspect slugs. On Sunday, our last really warm day for a while, I replanted, and then liberally dusted with diatomaceous earth. I used that heavily earlier in the year, and am down to my last 40lb.

Cooked up one of the Delicatas. They’re a lot like Acorn squash, with a slightly sweeter flavor and a slightly different texture. We will do them again next year. Note that they were nothing like the picture on the packet. The packet squash are long things, like pie pumpkins. Our Delicatas were the same size and shape as an Acorn squash, but the packet-depicted Delicata coloring.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
9/23
Last Week
Tomato 80 288 3.6 188 29.5
Summer 0 0 0 3 1.2
8-Ball 1 39 39 3 7.0
Crown 0 0 0 1 2.0
Cuke 0 0 0 4 2.7
Beets 0 0 0 22 1.4
Delicata 2 64 32 3 6.0
Corn 8 22 2.75 8 1.4
Pumpkin 1 19lb - 1 (19)
Running Total 51lb
10/7
This Week
Tomato 43 93 2 233 35.3
Summer 7 13 2 10 2.0
8-Ball 1 10 10 4 7.6
Crown 1 57 57 2 5.5
Cuke 1 2 2 5 3.0
Beets 0 0 0 22 1.4
Delicata 0 0 0 3 6.0
Corn 10 30 3 18 3.3
Pumpkin 1 22lb 20.5lb 2 (41)
Running Total 64lb

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 30, 2013

Garden Report for 130930

Nothing to report. The weather this week was cold and rainy and windy, with next week being more of the same. Nothing got ripe. Nothing was harvested.

I’ll probably close out the garden this week.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 22, 2013

Garden Report for 130923

And just like that, we’re autumnal and I’m doing some shutting-down-the-garden things. The weather this week was cool and intermittently rainy. Highs in the mid-60′s (with a couple in the 70′s) and lows in the mid 40′s. The forecast is for a continuation of the trend — lows around 40, highs around 60, with intermittent rain.

We’ve got some men coming round next week to cut the excess bits off our trees, the ones the pumpkins are growing under. Harvested the ripe pumpkin (19lb), and moved a crown squash vine with one adolescent squash out-of-the-way of the boots. I’m not going to count the pumpkins in the weekly weight totals, that would be like piling on.

Great Pumpkin

Great Pumpkin

Harvested the deck corn. 16 plants => 8 ears in the 4″-6″ range. 22oz total trimmed ear weight. I suspect I didn’t grow enough plants for them to pollinate properly. 15-20 plants left, over in the KHG, but they went in later.  Given all the problems I’ve had, for such little gain (the flavor was good, but it was tough, and stuck to my teeth), I’ll probably not plant corn again.

All that work for this?

All that work for this?

Originally we were forecast to hit 34F next Friday night (now the predicted low for the week is 39F), so I trimmed the tomato plants way back, to try to get some ripenizing in before then. On Saturday I harvested everything that had any color. I’m hoping the real frosts hold off, because much of my garden production last year was at the end of September and beginning of October. A little disappointed with the KHG tomatoes. 14lbs of ripe or ripening or green-but-my-shears-slipped. Almost all under 2oz, or less. Almost all Early Girls. The two biggest were 6oz. Some didn’t produce at all –they were long leggy things that were just now starting to flower. Another two months of warm weather — say, into mid-December — and I’d have a bumper crop. Also picked the two Delicatas that I’d been letting grow. Except that they didn’t. They came in at 2lb each, about the size and shape of an Acorn squash, only yellow. There’s half a dozen summer squash that I decided to hold off on, plus maybe a dozen KHG tomatoes. So far, the container tomatoes have outproduced the KHG, but I think that’s because they got a lot more sun.

Also made a first pass through the deck containers. About 30 ripe, etc, totalling 4lb.

My foot long beans are now up to three inches. I doubt they make it.  My lemon cucumber (container) produced a myriad of blossoms, and no fruit – it was planted late, as a cabbage replacement. My dwarf watermelon produced one grape-sized melon that I doubt will have a chance to get to be plum sized.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
9/16 Last Week
Tomato 44 75 1.7 108 11.5
Summer 0 0 0 3 1.2
8-Ball 0 0 0 2 4.5
Crown 0 0 0 1 2.0
Cuke 1 9 9 4 2.7
 Beets  22  22  1  22 1.4
Delicata 1 33 33 1 2.0
Running Total 38lb
9/23
This Week
Tomato 80 288 3.6 188 29.5
Summer 0 0 0 3 1.2
8-Ball 1 39 39 3 7.0
Crown 0 0 0 1 2.0
Cuke 0 0 0 4 2.7
Beets 0 0 0 22 1.4
Delicata 2 64 32 3 6.0
Corn 8 22 2.75 8 1.4
Pumpkin 1 19lb - 1 (19)
Grand Total 51lb

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 15, 2013

Garden Report for 130916

UPDATE: As is becoming an unwanted tradition around here, a few hours after I posted this a pretty fierce batch of thunderstorms came through, heralded by some pretty fierce winds and blowing dust. The deck corn is down again, and I ain’t going out in the briefly-illuminated dark to see what else is happening. NWS is saying things like “get inside a strong house and away from the windows”. They obviously have no idea of the current standard of US house construction.

The weather this week was back to dry, with hot days (high 80′s) and coolish nights (low 60′s). In the Spokane area, the average date of the first frost is September 15. This year, the 15th was sunny, with a high of 92F and a low of 61F. I don’t feel cold at all. I feel fine. I think I’ll go plant some more stuff.

Cute little long beans

Cute little long beans

The long beans (Dow Gauk / Vigna unguiculata sesquipedalis), have started to produce. Well, produce is too strong a term. I had two sets of two flowers each on Monday, and Friday they fell off to reveal the cutest little beanlets you’ve ever seen.

Long beans are tall

Long beans are tall

The vine has been growing for weeks, is well over two tomato-cages high (yes, it’s over the light fixture in the pic), and might not produce much more, because they are not frost-hardy, and, you know, the 15th.

Meanwhile, I harvested the beets. Only two months overdue, but I don’t think that matters much in beets. They didn’t do well, probably because I didn’t thin enough. About half were in a long container, and the others were in the KHG. Detroit Dark Reds are supposed to be 3″ diameter, but the biggest ours got was 2″, and most were 1″. The container-grown were easy to harvest — dump it into the wheelbarrow and paw through the dirt. I trimmed the tops and the roots outside and washed the dirt off with the garden hose. Then I brought them inside and washed the garden hose carcinogens off with tap water. Small beets are really hard to peel.

All of Section 2 was empty, because none of my second lettuce plantings had come up, and I had harvested the beets. So, on Sunday, I dug it over and planted one side in spinach, and the other side 50/50 chard and lettucen.

Week Ending Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
9/9 Last Week
Tomato 26 56 2.5 53 6.7
Summer 1 7 7 4 1.2
8-Ball 0 0 0 2 4.5
Crown 0 0 0 1 2.0
Cuke 0 0 0 3 1.6
Delicata 1 33 33 1 2.0
9/16 This Week
Tomato 44 75 1.7 108 11.5
Summer 0 0 0 3 1.2
8-Ball 0 0 0 2 4.5
Crown 0 0 0 1 2.0
Cuke 1 9 9 4 2.7
 Beets  22  22  1  22 1.4
Delicata 1 33 33 1 2.0
Grand Total 38lb

It turns out that MJ isn’t a fan of beets, so we shan’t be planting them again.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 9, 2013

Garden Report for 130909

The weather this week started out showery, then rainy, with t-storms. Temps were in the low 80′s, but plunged to 65 by the end of the week.

Here come the tomatoes. Harvested 13 early in the week, with an average weight of 1.7oz. That’s a little misleading, because there were four that ran close to 4oz each, with the rest being cherry-sized, despite not being cherrys. Later in the week I got another 13 tomatoes, totalling 33oz, including a giant 5.5oz one.

Harvested one of the Delicata’s, possibly too soon. It was about two pounds, and the grooves were just turning green. I guess you’re supposed to treat them like pumpkins and let them grow until first frost.

Speaking of pumpkins, I just found a second, bucket-sized one, hidden in the ornamental weeds along the fence. It’s still green all over, but the original one is just starting to turn. I guess it will be ready by Samhain.

For some reason, none, as in zero, of my lettuce replants have come up, as haven’t any of the container beans. Did I plant too greedily and too deep, or did I just not water enough, or too much? One bean came up in my container replant, so I’ve re-sown. Harvest date should be around the first of November.

I think the squash are winning the perennial battle with the tomatoes. They’re spilling out on both sides of the KHG, and on the South end. Over on the North end, one adventuresome vine looks to have grown a couple of feet in a couple of days, headed for Section 4 and the strawberry patch.

The squash were planted on the other side of the tomato bed

The squash were planted on the other side of the tomato bed

The corn is hanging in there, despite having one of the containers tipped over by the t-storms, again. My red pepper spray seems to be helping against the squirrels. I peeked into one ear, and there’s still an inch or so of kernel development needed. Maybe the middle of the month.

The hops are coming along nicely. I figure they’re covering about 15% of the area I want shaded. I have started fertilizing them with the remains of my making of dashi from scratch — a 2×2″ square of seaweed and a quarter cup of shaved bonito (with all the taste gone) per batch. The seaweed gives lots of minerals, and the bonito is a slow release fish fertilizer.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
9/2
Last Week
Tomato 10 20 2 27 3.4
Summer 0 0 0 3 0.8
8-Ball 0 0 0 2 4.5
Crown 0 0 0 1 2.0
Cuke 2 20 10 3 1.6
9/9
This Week
Tomato 26 56 2.5 53 6.7
Summer 1 7 7 4 1.2
8-Ball 0 0 0 2 4.5
Crown 0 0 0 1 2.0
Cuke 0 0 0 3 1.6
Delicata 1 33 33 1 2.0

If my addition is correct, we’ve gotten almost 20lb of harvest so far. I don’t think that’s as much as last year, but it’s more than I thought we’d done. And I’m not even counting the pumpkins.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 1, 2013

Garden Report for 130902

The weather this week was very warm (upper 80′s) and dry. Typical for late August. Now we are at the beginning of September, and we start our race between late ripening tomatoes and early killing frost.

Harvested a handful of tomatoes, mostly Early Girls, but a couple of the yellow Husky Golds. Still running about 2oz each. Some of them seem a little watery, so I’m cutting back on my watering schedule. I’ll do the KHG plants once a week. The container plants will still get watered daily, but at half the amount. If they droop in the afternoon, I’ll give them the other half of their ration.

I also harvested a couple of cucumbers, the two shown in this photo taken from the top of a step ladder:

Maybe he won't find us if we hide back here

Maybe he won’t find us if we hide back here

I sliced up the small one for miso-cucumber salad.

Meanwhile, the hot pepper spray seems to be keeping the squirrels off the corn. We’ll see what it does to the taste.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
oz
8/26
Tomato 13 26 2.0 17 34
Summer 2 8 4 3 12.5
8-Ball 1 40 40 2 72
Crown 1 32 32 1 32
Cuke 1 6 6 1 6
9/2
Tomato 10 20 2 27 54
Summer 0 0 0 3 12.5
8-Ball 0 0 0 2 72
Crown 0 0 0 1 32
Cuke 2 20 10 3 26

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 26, 2013

Garden Report for 130826

The weather this week was the usual. Highs near 90, lows near 60. A smidgen of rain on the edge of a passing thunderstorm. Not enough to wet the ground under the trees.

UPDATE Monday 2AM: Well, that was fun. Line of severe thunderstorms came through just as we were starting Episode 10 in our marathon rewatch of Girls und Panzer. A one minute microburst blew stuff all over the deck, including the container corn. Power out for hours and just came back on. I’ll update again before I post this, but right now, there’s still two episodes to go.

UPDATE Monday 6AM: Damage confined to the deck. A couple tubs blown over. One blown off its stand. None of the corn actually broken. The same overhanging trees and fence that protect the KHG from exposure to sunlight protected it against the wind, so no damage there.

UPDATE Monday 9AM: One of the corstalks, back in the corner, was snapped off like it was a sugarcane. I’ve staked most of the remaining corn.

UPDATE Monday 9PM: Evidently, we doged a pretty big bullet. The really nasty storms cam through north and south of of us, snapping big trees and tearing up trailers and cutting off power for thousands in Spokane and the general environs.

Storm Damage

Storm Damage

Prior to 10PM Sunday night, this was our situation:

Squirrels got into the Section 2 corn, the most mature, and pretty well trashed it. I salvaged about five immature ears, got half a cup of kernels. I’m spraying the deck corn and the Section 1 corn  with hot pepper solution every day. We’ll see.

The red tide is a’coming. Just not yet. Harvested eight smallish tomatoes (20 oz total). Probably ten more ready by next week. Another 50 or 60 sitting there, green.

Otherwise, got two summer squash (12oz), one 2.5lb 8-Ball that I harvested later than I should have, and one 2.0lb crown squash that I thought was an 8-ball (and I probably harvested too early). Tomorrow I’ll post a recipe for 8-Ball squash.

There are about six or eight Delicata/Spaghetti squash coming along. I slash the names ’cause I’m not sure. They don’t have green striping like the Delicata are supposed to, but they have longitudinal groves, which the Spaghetti are not. Hide and watch.

Planted more Brassicae in Section 1, under the corn and next to the peas. Brussels sprouts and Broccoli on one side, Cabbages and Cauliflower on the other. Should be easy to keep straight. Cabbage should be ready mid-November, and the rest at the end of the month. Not sure if they’ll die of frost, or if they’ll cross-pollinate and produce monsters, but once again, we’ll see. Saturday I dug over the Section 2 cornfield and planted spinach and lettuces. Never had much luck with spinach.

The hops are doing well. Much of the browned leaf areas are sprouting again (piling on the compost and giving them more water did the trick), and the tops have bushed out something fierce.

Almost ready for beer-making

Almost ready for beer-making

To bad this is one of the areas we sprayed for carpenter ants — I wouldn’t want to eat anything out of here for another couple of years. I planted the hops as ornamentals, and to give shade in the late Summer. I have high hopes for next year.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
oz
8/19
Tomato 4 8 2 4 8
Summer 1 4.5 4.5 1 4.5
8-Ball 1 32 32 1 72
Cuke 1 6 6 1 6
8/26
Tomato 13 26 2.0 17 34
Summer 2 8 4 3 12.5
8-Ball 1 40 40 2 52
Crown 1 32 32 1 32
Cuke 1 6 6 1 6

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 19, 2013

Garden Report for 130819

The weather this week was typical for mid-August in the NENW — highs in the mid-80′s and lows in the mid-50′s. No rain, and it probably won’t rain until mid-September.

Early spaghetti, unless they're pumpkins

Early spaghetti, unless they’re Delicata

My efforts to curb the blossom-end rot seem to have worked, and the summer squash is starting to come in. I suspect we’ll be eating one per day before too long. No more 8-ball yet. There’s a couple that are coming along. The spaghetti squash is just starting to produce little thumb-sized yellow fruits (unless it’s the Delicata). Also found one biggish pumpkin in a back corner of the yard.

We'll have at least one pumpkin for Samhain

We’ll have at least one pumpkin for Samhain

Now, which plant did this tomato come from?

Now, which plant did this tomato come from?

tomatoes also starting to ripen — I found four Early Girls (I think) buried under the foliage at one corned of Section 3. I say I think, because even though I recorded where I planted each plant, they’ve kindof grown together.

Harvested the last of the lettuce and I think I’ll let the soil rest for a bit before I put in the winter chard. The Corn I planted in Section 2 is producing heads, and should be ready by early September. The corn I planted in Section 1 (to replace the cabbages) is doing well, and so is the corn I planted in containers on the deck. Maybe late September for them. Speaking of containers, the miniature cucumbers have climbed out of their pot and are now hanging out off the end of the deck.

And finally, the hops are doing well. All bushy at the top and starting to leaf out along the stems. Of course, the worst heat of the year is over, but they’ll still provide a bit of shade, and I have hopes for next year.

Not a lot of shade, but it's a start

Not a lot of shade, but it’s a start

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 12, 2013

Garden Report for 130812

Weather was warm and dry, except when the T-storms came through. Twenty minutes of moderate rain, about a quarter inch.

Corn. Meal.

Corn. Meal.

So the first increment of the KHG corn is all taselled up and producing ears, and you know what that means — critters! Squirrels have been into that crop, and into the stuff I just planted in Section 1, and torn down almost a third of the stalks in one day. They very considerately left a half-eaten mini-cob on top of a support post so that I’d know it wasn’t just the wind. Meanwhile, the slugs are making a comeback. I found a 3″ one on one of the downed corn ears. If I have to put my gardens inside a 6ft chicken wire box and spray them with slugbane, they won’t be as much fun…. (more…)

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 5, 2013

Garden Report for 130805

The weather this week was surprisingly wet. Rained steadily for a day and a half. We got about an inch, so it wasn’t a downpour. Good, as they say, for the crops. Also the mosquitos. Next week, back to the heat.

Growing stuff continues to grow.

Lots of tomatoes, nothing ripe except some S-100s. Harvested the first 8-Ball squash. They are just round Zucchinis, but you can do interesting things with them.  Deck corn is up to my armpit. KHG section 1 corn is 8″ or so high. Harvested the last of the container peas and pulled up the plants — they were pretty heavily mildewed. I had started some lemon cucumbers with the thought of putting them in an hanging bag, like the S-100s, but realized I didn’t have any place to hang it, so I planted them in the container peas container.  Hops 1, 2, and 3 are all doing reasonably well, and are spreading out, now that they’re at the roof. The only trouble is, the area they are shading is already shaded by the roof overhang. This is obviously a multiyear project.

Not-growing stuff continues to not grow.

The peas I planted last week haven’t come up yet. May have planted too deep. Hop plant #4 is still stuck even with the deck. Doesn’t look particularly sickly, just stunted. Carrots at the N end of section 4 aren’t doing much, either.

I got a bunch of pea gravel for the dog run, way more than I needed, so my project this week is moving the excess to the  KHG to make paths around the perimeter.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 29, 2013

Garden Report for 130729

The weather this week was same-o, same-o: highs in the 90′s, lows in the upper 50′s. Rinse and repeat, except there’s no rinse.

My neeps are doing well. Two of the hops are doing well (I added a lot of compost to the bed and watered it in). The other two remained stalled. One EarlyGirl tomatoe is almost ripe. Most of the rest have fruit, but none of it is red, or even breaking. Looks like I will have one or two young summer squash by the time the tomato is ripe. I lost a bunch to blossom-end rot, but have been seriously supplementing their Ca input since.

My three sisters planting plan hit phase 2 this weekend. I planted peas next to each of my cornstalks, about 40 plants. Based on my earlier harvests, I can get a scant quarter cup of shelled peas in one pass from four container plants. That means 10 plants will give a comfortable half-cup, or one serving. So I need 20 plants to feed two people. We’ll see how that math works out.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 22, 2013

Garden Report for 130722

The weather this week was, like always, hot and dry. Next week, well, you know the drill.

Lettucoi are thinking about bolting. Harvested enough for a week, and it will be a race between eating that and having the stuff not harvested start to bolt. About time to plant some more. Corn is coming up. Lots of small green shoots, much bepestered by slugs. I’ve put down some diatomaceous earth, to help them slice their little bellies open. If that doesn’t work, then slugbane. Tomatoes are starting to appear. Nothing much bigger than a golf ball yet, and all still very green. Daw Gauk beans are getting a good start. Maybe 6″ high.

The hops are feeling poorly. Leaves turning brown and crumbly. Not sure why.

Feeling poorly

Feeling poorly

Growth is slowing also. Effect is most noticeable on the RH side of the bed. Hop #3, the biggest and fastest growing at first, has stopped short of the roofline, while #1 and #2 are already up their, banging their little vegetative heads against the soffit. #4 Hasn’t even cleared the deckline.

Growth has slowed

Growth has slowed

No sign of bugs. No sign of disease. Maybe too much water. Maybe not enough. Maybe needs food. Maybe overfertilized. Who knows?

Nothing much scheduled for the coming week. Letting the garden grow. Watering every third day or so. If the corn does well, I’ll plant beans or peas next to them.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 15, 2013

Garden Report for 130715

The weather this week was hot and dry, then cool and windy, then just cool — cool for July anyway.

As Terry Pratchett said “Remember – that which does not kill us can only make us stronger. And that which does kill us leaves us dead.” This week I learned another important lesson: RTFM!

Back in the cold depths of winter, I planned my garden times using the guidance of a website down in Walla^2. When talking about the difficulties of growing brassicae in the NENW, they said things like “growth slows above 68 degrees, and stops, possibly with damage, at 85 degrees“, and

planting out in mid-March for an anticipated harvest around the start of June is the best we can figure. It’s a little cool in middle March, so we need to provide as much help as we can–Walls o’ Water or water-filled plastic jugs among the seedlings; but in late May it’s only–as always, on average–about 73 at the daily high, so even if they’re a little slow, we should be OK. And a March 15th transplant date means a February 1st indoors sowing date.”

So I did. Except that black thumb disease struck all my seedlings this year, and nothing worked. Come late April (six weeks past the plant date), I happened upon a bunch of brassicae bedding plants– cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage — at the local hardware store, and promptly forgot everything I’d read. That’s what I planted in section 1 of the KHG, and that’s what bolted all to hell this week. I showed the broccoli and bok choy last week. Here’s the cauliflower and Brussels sprouts: (more…)

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 8, 2013

Garden Report for 130708

The weather this week was, as it will be through August, hot and dry.

My hops are already 12ft high. Pics next time.

I have hit on a method of watering my hanging tomatoes (the S-100 and the Husky Gold). I poked five or eight thumbtack holes in the bottom of an empty butter tub and put it in the top of the hanging basket. Not a self-watering setup because it drains too fast, but it does give the water time to spread out, so less runs out the bottom.

Nothing much doing in the garden. I don’t know if it’s the heat, or just my luck, but some of my brassicae seem to have gone from seedling to bolted in the space of two months. For example, I planted broccoli seedlings (home-started) in section 1 of the KHG. This is what they turned into:

Dude! Where's my florets?

Dude! Where’s my florets?

Also, in mid-march, I bought some bok choy seedlings (’cause mine had died), and planted them in a container. They were little 1/10 scale models of the bok choy you get in the supermarket. Here’s what they look like now.

I wonder if it's still edible

I wonder if it’s still edible

Finally, we have one (I counted) S-100 tomato, grape sized, that’s started to turn red. Should be ready to give to my niece-in-law to eat on the plane. Assuming that TSA doesn’t confiscate it for being of the nightshade family and therefore poisonous.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 1, 2013

Garden Report for 130701

The weather this week made the transition from coastal Spring to desert Summer. We started in the upper 50′s and wet, and ended in the upper 80′s and dry.

The garden keeps growing apace, not surprising, considering that it rained seven days and seven nights last week. Here’s a photo (click to embiggen):

The Garden at the End of June

The Garden at the End of June

In the right front are the brassicae of Section 1, doing well. Section 2 is lettuce, with most of it growing on the right hand side. Section 3 is tomatoes and squash, and the barely-visible-if-you-know-what-you’re-looking-at Section 4 has the startup blueberries, strawberries, and asparagus. You can see the 2×4 that’s holding down the anti-bird net. In the right front corner and not officially part of the KHG is one leaf of the pumpkin, currently losing a battle with the Unkillable Rhubarb. Yes, there’s lots of weeds about, but it was raining until the morning of the pic, and there’s essentially no weeds in the garden.

One of the nice things about a KHG is that they are low maintenance. I clean it off in the Spring, plant the plants, and stand back. I’ve put in a drip watering system, and if it’s dry, I’ll run it for half an hour or so, every second or third day. Every couple of weeks I’ll give it some plant food. The biggest maintenance headache is keeping the weeds off the path around it.

I have a couple of container plants that were not doing well. Not dying, but not growing, either. On Wednesday, after the rain stopped, I found standing water on two of them. Turns out, these were new containers this year, and I didn’t notice that they didn’t have holes in the bottom. So I pulled out the plants, dumped the soil into a spare container, drilled some holes, and dumped the soil back in. Water poured out. The plants are already looking better.

Lettuce is doing well. Gave a big bag away. Didn’t make a dent. Hops are now 9ft tall. Summer squash starting to produce, but the first one has blossom-end rot. Need to get some calcium spray.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 24, 2013

Garden Report for 130624

The weather this solstice-crossing week reminded me of April in Portland. Cool*, wet, breezy, finally warming on the weekend. Looks like next week will be similar.**

The lettuce is growing so fast I had to start giving some away. The hops, lacking a strong sun-signal to track, languished at the six foot level. The corn seedlings are big enough to transplant, but there’s no place to put them. Everything is packed, or grown big enough to shade them. I’ll try a container. At least they’ll be close enough to cross-pollinate.

We harvested the peas from the potted plants that MJ bought. Oregon Sugar Snaps, so we blanched them and had them in salad. Got two meals out of them, which means they weren’t really worth the expense. Good, though. In fact, that was our first meal where all the greens were from our garden. Too bad the lettuce matures two months before the tomatoes.

*When I say ‘cool’ I mean record setting cold. No frost, but we sat at 45F all day Thursday, so that our high matched the all time lowest high for that date.

**When I say ‘similar’ I mean cool to start, with warming on the weekend. In our case, the warming is forecast to be in the top 10% for highs on the last four days of the week.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 17, 2013

Garden Report for 130617

The weather this week started out around 80, and ended around 80, but in between was in the upper 60s. Next week, more of the same.

The garden keeps on keeping on. Getting to the end of last year’s chard. This years lettuce is just starting to produce. The S-100 has three pea-sized tomatoes. I seem to remember this from last year — it will throw out some scouts, but the main body won’t arrive for another month. The potted peas on the deck are about ready to harvest.

The squash I planted in the new containers is not doing well. One of the three has died, and the other two haven’t moved from the two-leaf stage. On Sunday, I replaced the dead squash with a couple of yellow tomatoes that I bought from the remainder bin at Jarms. The hops are doing well, climbing up their ropes, and the assorted wildflowers at their base are growing, but not yet flowering.

We have the wrought-iron equivalent of a window box bolted to the deck railing. It came with a shaped coconut fibre planter, long since gone. I got the idea of lining it with a black plastic bag, and filling that with dirt. Now, I just have to decide what to put in it — full sun and no depth.

I’ve got another 16 corn seedlings that will be ready to transplant in another week, plus half a dozen kale. The book says you only need one, which is fine, if you can get that one to live.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 10, 2013

Garden Report for 130610

The weather this week was sunny, with a fresh breeze* from the southwest, and highs around 80. The coming week should see more of the same, except cooler until the weekend.

The garden continues. Squirrels got in and dug up half my corn. My storebought squash is doing well. My homegrown squash in pots is still puny (they may not be draining well, or at all), my homegrown squash in the KHG is larger, but distorted, and one of them has grown white fur on one leaf. Brassicae are taking off, and dwarfing the peas. The potted peas that MJ got are doing well, but turning yellow at their base. Since it’s about eight plants in one small pot I’m not surprised. It’s a race between harvest (soon), and collapse. I planted three dow gauk bean seedlings this year. Two died (one in the KHG, the other in a pot) after not getting watered for about two days. I’ll try again.

Those hops what survived being transplanted six weeks ago are doing well, and the big one is all the way up to the top of the concrete.

HopsTall09Jun_1

Heres two pix, taken not quite 48hrs apart.

9AM on the 8th. Not quite to the cableway 8AM on the 10th. Two inches in two days
Two inches of growth in two days. The two leaves under the rope are where the growth tip was on the first photo

*Fresh enough to knock a 3ft long half filled planter off the deck and down next the sliding door, where the dogs went mad defending us from this intruder.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 3, 2013

Garden Report for 130603

The weather this week was cool and rainy. Good for the lawn, OK for the garden. We are forecast to be in the 80′s by midweek, so I guess Summer is upon us.

The garden continues apace. Bought some bok choy for the cabbage patch. Planted my asparagus rizhomes. Planted lots of corn, some of which the squirrels have dug up. Lettuce is starting to come in, and last year’s chard is still producing. Deb Tolman says it will bolt this year, so I need to plant a new batch. Hops are growing. Today or tomorrow I’ll have to get up on the roof and put in some hooks and wires for them to grow on. The KHG is doing a good job of keeping itself weed-free, but my main job these days is to keep down the weeds in the rest of the yard.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 28, 2013

Garden Report for 130528

The weather this week started out warm, then plunged, dropping 20F in six hours. The last five days had highs near 50 and lows below 40. I was worried about frost, but it never dropped below 37F, and all my tomatoes seem to have kept their flowers.

The garden is looking pretty good right now.

In, rooted, and ready to go.

In, rooted, and ready to go.

Everything is in (well, some corn to plant, and some strawberry rizhomes to bury), so it’s a matter of standing back while it grows.

I have multiple tomatoes in the containers along the house.

Mostly tomatoes

Mostly tomatoes

The hops have finally taken off. Four of the seven have made it. The last week I had protected them with plastic collars made from old water bottles.

Left plant has the collar on, right has it off

Left plant has the collar on, right has it off

Partly in case of frost, but mostly to stabilize them from the wind, and give them a chance to attach to their grow sticks.

No shade yet

No shade yet

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 19, 2013

Garden Report for 130520

Ah, this is more like it. The weather this week was cool, lows in the mid 40s, highs in the mid 60s, and rainy. After all, it is only May.

The seeds I started weeks ago have finally sprouted. The miniatures I have planted in containers on the deck. The corn I transplanted to Section 2 — and the squirrels promptly started digging them up. I need some help from James Bond’s old nemesis, SMERSHQ (Smert Shquirrlem). Tomatoes are settling in nicely, as tomatoes always do, bar frost, and the squash is mostly doing OK. My first tranch (trench, get it?) was looking good, but now seems a little peaked. The store bought plants are doing fine. My second tranch of homegrown has survived.

I’ve got a few more squash coming up in the seedlingizer. I’m thinking of clearing some …. clearings … in the ground cover, and planting them there. I also have another 25 corn seeds what I just started inside. I’m bound and determined (did you know that doubling of statements like that comes from when England had just been occupied by the French, and the two languages were jostling side-by-side, as in cease and desist?), bound and determined I say, to bring in at least one crop of corn this Summer.

The hops are keeping on keeping on. No real change. I put some rougher sticks up for them to climb, and stuck a couple of plastic water bottles, trimmed top and bottom, over them, to help them hang on to their climbing stix and not be knocked around by the wind. Pix next week.

PS: Happy Eliza Dolittle Day.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 12, 2013

Garden Report for 130513

The weather this week was hot and dry. Highs in the mid to upper 80′s (coming within a biscuit-toss of 90F on Saturday). Forecast is for cloudy/60s/showery for the coming week.

The garden as she looks today

The garden as she looks today

The garden is pretty well set for the summer. Here’s what it looks like right now. Foreground is Section 1, which is all brassicae, except for I’ve direct seeded corn and some peas. Section 2 is chard and lettuces — most of which haven’t come up yet. I also planted some beets there, on Sunday, and I’ll be planting corn seedlings there, as soon as I have any). Beyond the watering can is Section 3, tomatoes and squash, then Section 4, blueberries, strawberries, asparagus. Section 4 has chickenwire over it. The chickenwire and plastic frost covers are hanging on the fence at the far end.

Planted one of the Husky Gold cherry tomatoes into a hanging basket. Was going to plant a Hillbilly in the other one, until I looked it up and found the fruit ranged to a pound or more. The hardware store got a new shipment of squash in, so I have two yellow squash and two acorn squash planted in Section 3 of the KHG. I thought I was picking up zucchini, but I grabbed two pumpkins, instead. I put one in the ground next the Unkillable Rhubarb, and one in a pot under the sakura.

MJ was out on a shopping sweep of the Airway Heights area, and came back with a bunch of peas in a pot, plus an S-100 cherry tomato for my other hanging basket, a Celebrity (Beefsteak size, determinate), and a strawberry hanging planter. Put the S-100 in the hanger, the Celebrity in a pot, and started on the strawberries. The box had a cheap green plastic bag with holes, and a bag of dirt. Inside the dirt was a rubberbanded clump of strawberry roots. Instructions were to fill the bag with dirt, plant the strawberries with the roots buried and the heads showing, lay it on its side, and keep it wet for two weeks. The heads were small and kept breaking off. The dirt didn’t begin to fill the bag. We shall see.

Meanwhile, the hops are pretty much unchanged. One has grown a couple inches. One may have grown. One hasn’t grown and is having trouble hanging to the stake. Two are an inch tall and look healthy. Two have fallen over and look brown at the dirtline. I covered those two over, hoping they’d put down new roots.

My attempts to start my own seeds are having mediocre success. Admittedly, half the seed is last years.

Old seed: 16 corn, 4 sprouted. 20 squash, none sprouted. 10 peas, none sprouted. 7 miniatures (2 squash, watermelon, pumpkin, 2 cucumbers), 2 just sprouted.

New seed: 20 corn, 20 squash, 5 peas. Too soon to tell. Also direct seeded about 20 corn in Section 1. About half of them companion planted with Dow Gauk seed from last year.

Now that the danger of frost is past, I’m having to store those 4x8ft plastic and chickenwire covers. I’ve draped them over the back fence. My neighbor on that side never goes into the yard, except to cut back the weeds every couple of weeks.

I survived the Winter of 2012

I survived the Winter of 2012

Speaking of frost, last winter we had highs below freezing for much of December and January, and in mid-January we had a week where the lows averaged about 10F. Fortunately, we had a heavy snow-pack as well, and a surprising amount of chard survived the winter and are now ready for eating.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 5, 2013

Garden Report for 130506

The weather this week was finally warm enough to take the frost covers off. The forecast for the coming week is highs in the upper 70′s low 80′s, lows around 50. A surprising amount of chard survived the winter, and we are starting to have some of that in our salads.

Went down and bought a bunch of tomato plants — 8″ high Better Bush (2), Beefsteak (2), and Early Girl (2); flats of 3″ high Hillbilly and Husky Gold. Put most of them into Section 3, with a few held out for deck plants. On deck I also planted one each of the Abe Lincoln and the Oregon Spring. There was only one of each that looked like they’d live. Also planted three summer squash seedlings that looked survivable, into Section 3. They are expecting a new shipment of squash on Monday, so I’ll likely buy some more then.

I started 20 of last year’s corn seeds, but only four sprouted. Started 16 pea seeds, but none have sprouted yet. This year is turning out to be a bad one for home-seeded plants. Trying again with leftover seed from last year’s miniature plants: dwarf watermelon, melon, squash, and cucumber. I’ve got space for 25 new seedlings, but I’m not sure what I want to plant. Four each of six things, I guess.

Counter-squirrel ops seem to have worked. Last week I planted ten strawberry plants, and the next day one had been dug up and one had been chewed off at the dirtline. I draped two of the frost panels over them, and covered the ends with wire fence (2×4″mesh). The fencing probably won’t keep out a determined rodent, but it seems to have discouraged them for now. I’m working on some straight chicken-wire panels to use in place of the frost covers. Same design.

The hops are surviving but not thriving. One has started to grow. The other six look OK, but are no bigger than they were last week.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 28, 2013

Garden Report for 130429

The weather this week finally warmed up, with no frost predicted. So I went mad in the garden.

On Thursday (which is a break day for me, after night class), I went out and spent a chunk of money on plants: three blueberry bushes, ten strawberry plants, seven asparagus plants (oops, I already had six dried rhizomes at home. oh well). Spent the morning getting them into Section 4 of the KHG. That’s the one I’m reserving for perennials. Also planted my hops plants along the south wall. One was a foot high. The others were about four inches. If reports are correct, they’ll be over the roof, this time next week.

Asparagus and berries (say the bells of St Merrie's)

Asparagus and berries (say the bells of St Merrie’s)

Friday, the madness continued. After dinner I ran down to our local hardware store and bought a bunch of plants — white cabbage, red cabbage, cauliflower. The stuff I’ve started isn’t doing anything to indicate it has a well-developed will to live.  Spent the remaining hours of daylight planting them in Section 1, which is brassicaville this year.

Cauliflower and cabbage (say the bells of St Babbage)

Cauliflower and cabbage (say the bells of St Babbage)

As of Sunday, everything is in, and most things are under cover — Section 4 excepted. High winds Sunday night, higher winds for Monday, at which point we get one night more of wind and two nights of frost. My plan is to put up the cover for Section 3 as soon as the wind allows, maybe Thursday, and then try some early tomatoes. That gets them in a month early, and if I use store-bought plants, it gives them an additional eight weeks. None of my home-sprouted seedlings are worth bothering with. Will also plant some squash. That’s the plan.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 22, 2013

Garden Report for 130422

The weather this week has been nice, in an autumnal, great-weather-for-football kind of way. Next week will be the same. Unfortunately, that’s meant lots of mild frosts. Midweek it is due to warm up, and that’s when I start planting in earnest.

The coldframe covers are helping, but not a lot. Soil temps seem to be running around 50F, against air temps that haven’t topped 45 or 47 all week (and that have bounced around freezing at night). Nothing that I’ve set out has died, but not a lot has come up. I think I’ll be buying a bunch of plants this year.

Got one more section hosed this weekend. Used up the last of my 1/2″ drip hose and have moved on to the 5/8″ stuff. Had to use a hose clamp to fit the bigger hose on the littler adapter. Tuesday is when I build a frame on Section 3 and start prepping for the tomatoes and squash. Speaking of which, the tomato seedlings are still only about an inch high. The squash is closer to three inches, with four true leaves each, but on a couple of them the bottom two real leaves have turned yellow. No idea.

I dug up my hops the day after I planted them in their temporary containers, and replanted them with just the tip of the green part showing. Previously, they’d been covered. Seems to have worked. The big one is a foot high, and the six little ones are about three inches each. Wednesday is the first unfrozen night, but I”m in night class, so I’ll plant them out on Thursday. I’m wondering how they’d grow on the deck itself, in containers (one each) to provide shade to the south.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 15, 2013

Garden Report for 130415

Weather’s been cold and rainy and snowish and windy. Highs in the 50′s. Lows have bounced along the freezing line. Next week is more of the same. I guess we’ll find out how well my cold frame works. So far it’s doing OK. It survived gusts to 35mph, and Saturday I stuck a meat thermometer in the soil (don’t worry, I washed off the BBQ sauce first) and it measured right around 60F.

Cut up a bunch of soaker hose to make a customized installation. I found that the various fixtures designed for home-built in-ground sprinkler systems work as connecters and such.

Designed to fit over the central basket

Designed to fit over the central basket

The squash I started inside is doing well. Maybe too well. I don’t plan to put it out for another two weeks. The tomatoes, not so well. I’ll repot them and put them out in early May, but I might have to go the store-bought plant option again.

Planted a bunch of letteces, lettecoi, …. greens.

Picked up another six hops plants. Last years rotted in their bed. This time I have them in containers inside, and won’t put them out until early/mid May. Picked up another six asparagus plants. They’ll go into Section 4 once the weather warms up.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 1, 2013

Garden Report for 130401

Running a little late on this, just like with all my other gardening chores. The weather this week was cool to cold. I spent the weekend setting up a cold frame around two of the KHG sections, and seeing if I could kill my seedlings by failing to water them.

My first attempt at a cold frame ended in failure, as I reported last week. This week’s experiment went much better, given that we haven’t had any wind yet to test it. My cunning plan was to build a simple 2×4 ridgepole over each section of the KHG, and drape the plastic/chicken wire over that. The object of the exercise is to keep in heat, and keep out squirrels. I decided to do this by making a sandwich. Then I got to work on the cold frame.

Fortunately, a four foot wide swatch of chickenwire will stretch from the top of my lo-rider ridgepole down to the cinderblocks. That means I didn’t have to do too much cutting — just clip off enough to run the length of the KHG section. It was the same with the plastic. The package I have is 10×50, so if I cut it in half I have enough to drape down over the cinderblock and act as a rodent deterrent. So the first layer of chickenwire supports the plastic. The second layer blocks the rodents, and keeps the plastic from shredding into the wind. Here’s the process:

Lay out the chickenwire, and two boards, long enough to run the length of the KHG (remember, mine is rectangular).

Boards and chickenwire

Boards and chickenwire

Staple the chickenwire to the boards

Alignment is easy if you use the hexes

Alignment is easy if you use the hexes

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Green Thumb Up My Nose

March 18, 2013

Garden Report for 130318

The weather this week was threatening rain and unseasonably warm (50s), what the local weather mavens call a pineapple express, followed by very windy and cold. I broadcast many of last year’s seeds into an area of ground cover that I dug over. We’ll see what grows.

Midweek the soil temperatures were in the 40′s. The one KHG section that had clear plastic over it was up to 47. I have found that a 10ft length of thin walled PVC tubing will arc nicely from one side of the KHG to the other. The problem is, I need to have a ridgepole for it, because I need to drape things. Tried cutting the tubing in half and sticking in a + shaped connecter. Glued it good, let it dry overnight. Did four of them. Three of them broke when I tried to curve them. I guess the problem is that the connecter is sitting at the point of max curvature. Another problem was that the base of the PVC wants to push the cinder block out from the wall. I am rethinking my approach.

Currently, I’m favoring a simple set of T posts with a ridgepole across them. The chicken wire/plastic sheet would be tacked to two boards and simply draped over the ridgepole. Like a pup-tent. Still thinking about it.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

March 4, 2013

Garden Report for 130304

Spring, such as it is, has come to the NENW. The weather was in the 50′s this weekend, and the last most of last Thanksgiving’s snow has melted. The ground has thawed to a depth of perhaps two inches (at least, that’s how far the pick goes in before it bounces). Still not transplant conditions.

Using my Gantt chart as a guide, I started my early brassicae indoors a couple weeks ago. The seedlings are approaching 2″ now.  If I can find time, I’ll start some more seeds on the warm tray this evening.

I’ve started the spring cleanup around the garden. It’s amazing how much trash the snow hides. Also started repairs on my compost cage. Plastic cable ties are not quite the thing for making it through a cold winter, so it’s trying to disassemble itself.  As I roll it over I’m replacing the plastic with steel hose clamps. The ends are also coming out, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do about those. One lesson I’ve learned is that you don’t want to fill a 6x4x4 container full. I can roll it over, but I feel it the next day.

I’m working on a cold-frame/mini-greenhouse for the KHG. A ten foot length of 3/4″ thin walled PVC will nicely arc from one side to the other, with length to spare for stuffing into the cinderblock. I plan to drape chickenwire over the top, and then plastic sheeting on top of that. Or something.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

December 24, 2012

Garden Report for 12/12/24

This will be the last Garden Report for 2012. It’s more of a tidying-up, because the garden has been pretty well frozen since the beginning of the month.

Winter Garden

Winter Garden

On the 5th of December, we ate the last of the homegrown tomatoes. These were ones that were harvested green and left to ripen on the living room floor. We had probably five pounds left, but not all were salad-worthy. A few were beyond help, most were destined for the tomatosauce pan that day, and the ones that were not too soft or wrinkled went into the chard and lettuce salad  .

Also on the 5th, I pulled up the last of the carrots (we finished those yesterday), the last few frost-blasted chard leaves, and the green onions. These were interesting. They were not intended to be ‘green’ onions. In fact, some of them were leeks. But I had planted them late (they were in Section 3 of the KHG), and the dull weather kept them from developing properly. So I had about a pound of mixed scallions (including a nice purple Italian variety). We’re still using them. They’re a little hot because of their size, but still good.

I have a whole box of unused seeds. One website says that if you have seeds that have gone past their plant-by date, just clear a patch of disused ground the next Spring and throw them all in and see what comes up. I might try that with the herbs and the greens, but not with the squash and corn.

We had 4″ of snow overnight, and it looks like we’ll be bouncing along right at freezing for the rest of the year (which means there’s a reasonable chance that this snow will still be here on President’s Day), so I don’t expect any garden activity until February, when the seed-ordering takes place.

In the meantime:Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and for Setsubun: !鬼は外! 福は内!

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned 2012

November 18, 2012

So this was my first summer with a keyhole garden. Mistakes were made and lessons learned. Herewith some lessons, and a concept plan for next year:

SQUASH
1. Don’t oversquash. I had half of each of two sections in squash, and then I had two whole sections in squash, and then I had part of my backyard in squash. The only thing that could compete was the tomatoes.
2. Don’t plant anything but tomatoes alongside squash. The greens were overwhelmed, the onions stagnated, the blueberries died, the dill died. The beans barely survived.

TOMATOES
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Green Thumb Up My Nose

November 12, 2012

Garden Report for 121112

The gardening season is winding down, and this will be the last regular report of the season. I’ll wrap it up with a lessons learned later in the week.

If the forecast holds, we will have had 84 consecutive hours of temperatures at or below freezing since last Thursday afternoon, with a low of 20F. The light dusting of snow that came with the temperature drop stayed on the ground, and even on some of the trees, until it was covered up by 3″ 5″of snow Sunday night and Monday. It’s going to warm up in the coming week, but only to the point that the freezingness only comes at night.

I’ve covered the peas with clear plastic, but the carrots and onions and chard (oh, my), are not protected. The chard we brought in last night was crunchy. We are working our way through the tomatoes, but have lost a little ground. I’ve made two batches of tomato sauce, and have been eating about a pound a day for lunch. We’re down to two flats of ripeners, and three decorative kitchen wire baskets of ripes. We’re going to have to step up the giving-away part.

Right before the big frost hit I mounded some of the extra Cheney Civic Compost onto sections 1 and 2. The squirrels immediately dug in, and now it looks like a WWI battlefield. I’d like to think they did it in honor of Armistice Day.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

November 4, 2012

Garden Report for 121105

The weather this week was pleasantly mild. Highs that touched 60F on each end, with nothing below 43F for the lows. Rain, off and on. Like Springtime in Portland. Forecast is for more of the same, at least into Wednesday, at which point the snow starts.

Not much in the gardening news. Dug up Sections 1 and 2 of the KHG, and added enough spare compost to get the volcanoes into shape. There’s still a patch of asparagus in Section 2, but I won’t be digging that up to move it to Section 4 until the peas get harvested there. The warm weather is helping them, as it is the carrots, and the chard and onions in Section 3. The carrots in the deck planters are finger sized. The ones in the KHG are still rootlets and need some more time. I think we’ve got another week or so of growing weather left, albeit with some light frosts of an evening. I’ll post pix once I get the KHG in shape for Winter.

I’ve been working on various tomato sauce recipes, as the Red Tide ripens. I am too lazy (and most of the tomatoes are too small) to peel them before cooking, but I don’t want to lose any associated veggies by straining everything. What I’ve decided to do is cook down 4 or 5 pounds of tomatoes in the crock pot, then hit them with the stir stick, and strain the results to remove the seeds and remaining chunks of skin. Then, I’ll stick them back in the crock pot, and add the garlic and onions and basil and so forth. I had originally tried just cooking and sticking everything. That made an OK sauce (great sauce for pasta — in this case organic, free-range ramen — when cooked down some more), but it did tend to leave flecks of red clinging to your teeth. We are down to four flats of tomatoes, from the original six.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 28, 2012

Garden Report for 121029

The weather this week was frosty when it wasn’t rainy. No actual snow, but the rain was falling very slowly at times. Frost on the windshield in the morning. Good thing I walk to work.

Intermittent cleaning out of the keyhole garden, and filling up of the compost frame. So far, it’s compressed six inches or so every couple of days. Looks like it will hold all of my garden detritus, plus much of the leaf litter. As I get toward the unsealed end I’ve been using a lot of cornstalks for support of the leaves and stuff inside. I briefly tipped it onto its side and added some more ties on the bottom, then was barely able to get it back upright (90lbs empty, remember). Next time I lay it down it will be down until late spring.

Over the weekend I made a start at adding more compost to the KHG. There’s been some settling, and I didn’t mound it high enough on the central baskets to begin with. While most of the garden cuttings have into the frame, there’s a lot of detritus that should just rot in place.

Harvested the beets on Friday. Not sure what it means when you have more biomass in greens than you do in your crop. Half a dozen thumb-size to big-thumb-size actual beets, along with lots of inedible rootlets. They were in Section 3, and I may have started them too late. Roasted the beets (it smelled like we were cooking dirt), and ate them unpeeled. About a third of the greens went into the fry pan with some stewmeat and the remaining tomato salsa. A very peasant meal. For dessert, we ate our lone mini-canteloupe. Not bad. Almost too ripe. Not sure the result was worth the deck space.

We have about a pound of greens left. Might try mixing them with chard in a gratin, or is it a granita? Speaking of which, the chard still looks good, despite light frosts every night. The peas were probably shaded too much by the corn, and aren’t doing anything. Not dead, just unenthusiastic, like a worker who is training his overseas replacement.

Meanwhile, indoors, another four pounds of tomatoes have ripened. I figure we have about 48 hours to eat them before the next tranche comes along. Speaking of which, I tried some leftover tomato salsa in oatmeal (an upcoming Oataku Chronicles post), but I think I put it in too early — it cooked down too much. Next time, I’ll add it right before the potatoes.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 21, 2012

Garden Report for 121022

Ferocious weather this week. Winds gusting to 50, highs never hit 60, and the lows bounced around near freezing.Rain at the start. Rain at the end. Snow in the forecast.

Tuesday night was to be another freezing night, maybe, but the winds were high enough that any cover would likely blow off. I decided this would be the really truly last harvest but one.  On the pot tomatoes, I harvested anything that wasn’t green: about 2lbs. In the KHG, I harvested anything I could see. I figured if I couldn’t see it, it might be covered enough to survive a light frost. That netted me 12lbs of green tomatoes, plus a couple light orange ones. No KHG tomato has fully ripened as yet. So, those 12lbs go in the living room, and I brought back from there another 2lbs of an earlier pick that had ripened.

You have two weeks to eat this before it spoils. Go!

Friday was more cold and gusty winds, with rain and snow in the forecast, highs in the lower 40′s, lows bouncing along freezing. Time for another harvest. Nothing much on the pot tomatoes. Maybe a dozen. Filled up a cubic foot gardening bag with stuff off the KHG. Some orange-red, most green, and a handful of ones that looked like they’d been raised by Morlocks – pale pinkish white. Maybe ’cause they got no sun (although there were nicely orange ones next to them). First bag, 25lbs. Second bag, 12lbs. I could have gotten more, but I didn’t want to risk the squash vines that are still feeding the spaghetti and buttercup squash. I also didn’t bother with any that were less than plum sized. I didn’t throw them out if they were on a bunch, but I didn’t pick them if they were alone. I didn’t like that, and I thought about all the starving children in Omak as I crunched the discarded tomatoes underfoot, but triage is a harsh mistress.

So far, counting today, I have harvested 90-100lb of tomatoes, of which, about 50lb are still green.

Leaves are mostly down from the trees, and I’ve been sticking a layer of leaves and a layer of green in the KHG baskets. The green is mostly tomato trimmings, because the hanging baskets and the deck pots have stopped producing, so I’m cutting them back. I’m trying to figure out the best way to compost this stuff. There’s far too much for the KHG baskets.

I also picked the last sizable summer squash. The few remaining are cocktail-sized. I am leaving the other squash out to see how they do. Meanwhile, the chard is growing like mad (my aggressive countermining ops helped), but the wind has brought down most of the corn, perhaps helped by the critters.

The local Ben Franklin store – what my old mother (godrestersoul) would call a five and dime – is going out of business after twenty years. More on that in another post. We went down to see what we could scavenge, and came back with a bunch of unpeat pots for next years plantings. We also came back with a stack of steel rod shelving. Four big shelves (3x5ft), four half that size, and a couple of in-betweeners, all for $15. This is solid stuff — the big ones weigh in at 18lb each. Why do I mention it? Because I’m using them to build a composting cage.

One man’s junk is another man’s compost cage

Something I can fill up with the rest of the cuttings, and tumble about, rather than having to dig over. I tied the four big ones together with zip ties, then used bolt-cutters to trim the half-sizers so they can be zip-tied to the ends. The whole thing ended up weighing about 90lbs, empty. I filled it with layers of leaves, then tomato clippings, then more leaves, then cornstalks, etc

Just like a lasagne

I plan to lay it on its side, once full, and roll it from one long side to the other, like a bored Victorique de Blois. And yes, I know that when I lay it over, the layers turn into vertical strata. This is still in beta-test mode.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 7, 2012

Garden Report for 121008

Well, here in the NENW it’s always a race between having your crops produce and having your crops die of frostbite. Tuesday morning, the forecast lows for Tuesday-Sunday was 34/29/30/29/32/35. Given how hard it will be to cover up the KHG squash and tomatoes, having to do it for a full week seemed somewhat futile. If it was one night of frost, I’d try it, but I’m not set up to do it every night for a week.

So Tuesday was harvest day.

A whole cornucopia. Too bad most of them are green.

Result:
Squash: 1 buttercup, 1 acorn, 1 summer and 3 spaghetti, for a total of six pounds
Tomatoes: many, totalling 21lbs

Then I said “it’s a million to one chance, but it just might work”, so I covered the pots by the back of the house

Counter-Frost Ops

and I made an attempt to cover the jungle. There’s probably another ten pounds of tomatoes and a Mayan civilization still in there.

Faint hope

I made the assumption that it would be worse on the plants to tug them around four days in a row, so I just left the covers on until things warmed up.

Part of the problem is, the weather mavens predictions have been exceptionally bad this week:

Weds night Forecast 27 Actual 36
Thurs night Forecast 27 Actual 35
Fri night Forecast 27 Actual 32
Sat night Forecast 31 Actual 35
Sun night Forecast 32 Actual 38

Part of the problem is that they have changed their reporting station on me. They had been using the weather out at Spokane International Airport (KGEG), and now they are using some place called TWRW1, which turns out to be a ranger station in the middle of the Turnbull Wilderness Area. The TWA is a blasted slab of basalt from the Channeled Scablands, that was made into a Wilderness Area because no-one wanted it. The porous basalt heats up fast during the day, and chills way down at night. Correcting for features like this is exactly the problem one has when trying to model Global Warming. KGEG is currently forecasting 34 and 37F as minimums.

Took the covers off on Sunday. I figured that if we were going to have more than a week of frost, that the growing season was officially over, and a week in darkness was as bad as a light frost. Things looked surprisingly good, and some of the squash has continued to grow. Watered everything down Sunday night.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 30, 2012

Garden Report for 121001

Pleasant weather all week — now that we’re back to school.
Highs in the mid-upper 70s, lows around 50F.

The hard work is paying off

Tuesday: 1 medium and 40 small tomatoes, totalling 5lb, or 2 oz per pound.

Saturday: 1 medium and 38 small tomatoes, totalling 4.3lb. One lemon cucumber. Armload of chard, which will probably cook down to half a cup.

Sunday: 5 medium and 47 small tomatoes, totalling 6lbs. More chard. These tomatoes are at the deep orange, rather than bright red stage.

So far, we’ve pulled in about 22lbs of tomatoes. When I start harvesting on Tuesday I’ll be getting tomatoes that are mostly green and some that are real pale orange.

Next week is going to be interesting — the Tuesday-Friday forecast is for lows of 32/30/33/34F, with winds gusting to 30mph at the start. I’ll wait and see what the final forecast is before deciding what to harvest and what to try to cover up.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 24, 2012

Garden Report for 120924

Warm all week, with hazy smoke that kept the nightime temps in the mid 40′s

The Red Tide is starting, sortof. Forty-two tomatoes totalling five and a half pounds (i.e. two ounces each, on average). The S-100 pot on the deck is done for (I harvested the last 20 or so and cut it down Sunday evening), but for cherry tomatoes I still have the two hanging baskets, and the one S-100 I planted in a cinderblock in the KHG wall is actually doing well (but very few ripes).

In the KHG, the chard is doing well, now that I’ve triaged out the leaf-mined leaves, and the edible amaranth is suddenly growing. We had some of both in our salad. The edible amaranth leaves tasted like eating leaves. There appears to be six or so onions that survived the squash shading, and the asparagus is fighting back gamely.  The corn is hanging in there, and the diatomaceous earth seems to have warded off the cutworms — maybe — it’s hard to tell what’s old damage. Friday I forgot the soaker on sections 3 and 4, so the corn and chard got about four hours of rainfall. On Saturday, I did the same for sections 1 an 2. Honest forgetfulness. Squirrels have avoided my trap and have dug about ten holes in the corn and the chard.

On Friday night, the big summer squash plant died. Not sure why. I came out in the morning and all its leaves along its full ten foot length were hanging down in that boiled spinach look, not the usual dry droops. There didn’t seem to be any damage, like a broken stalk, that could have caused it, and we certainly didn’t have any frost. I cut it out in sections, trying not to disrupt anybody else. This will open up some light for the onions and spargle. If I have time on Monday I’ll cut it into chunks small enough to go in the mulch basket. There’s an unrelated summer squash vine over on the east side that’s still providing.

Monday: Harvested one big (i.e. big enough to sell in a supermarket) and fourteen small (walnut to plum sized) tomatoes, totalling just over a pound, all from the containers.
Wednesday: Four more tomatoes, under half a pound total.
Thursday: Two smallish spaghetti squash – 2lb and 1lb.
Friday: One big tomato and two small, totalling one pound
Saturday: 20 mid-sized tomatoes, totalling 3lb, and two more small spaghetti squash, 2.5lb total.
Sunday: One 2lb spaghetti sqash and one 1lb summer squash

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 17, 2012

Garden Report for 120917

Cool (OK, cold) start to the week, with nighttime temps hitting 34F, followed by warming to 80F on the weekend. Windy, then calm. Forecast for this week is highs near 80F with lows in the mid 40′s.

Harvest is starting to come in. So far, we’ve had three x 4lb spaghetti squash, two x 3lb buttercup squash, probably twenty summer squash, and a few tomatoes (plus lots of cherry tomatoes). There’s maybe eight more spaghetti and two more buttercups on the way, with some prolific number of summer squash. A good twenty tomatoes are in various stages of starting to turn.

The buttercup squash is now 45ft long, while the spaghetti squash has grown across the six foot width of the garden and up a tree.

My spaghetti tree

Speaking of the buttercup squash, I may have to rethink my decision to not plant it next year. MJ made a shepard’s pie by putting the usual ground lamb and veg inside a scooped out buttercup, and topped it with whipped squash instead of whipped potatoes. Exceedingly good.

Cutworms are in the corn. I went out at night with a headlamp and flashlight and searched until the dogs started barking and the neighbors lights came on — no joy.

It’s either cutworms, or a very small tank

MJ picked up some* diatoma-ceous earth today and we’ll see if that keeps them at bay.

The Brandywine Pink heirloom tomato has always been a little frail. The other potted plants do OK on one watering every day or so. The Pink wants at least two a day or it comes over all droopy. The recent cold nights have browned a bunch of its leaves.

—————————-
* I say some. Actually, they were out of the 5lb bags, so she had to pay twice as much and buy their only remaining 50lb bag. Since the whole surface of Section 4 was covered nicely by one biggish herb-shaker-full, it looks like we have enough to keep us through the rest of the century. Fortunately, the Wiki says we can use is as a soil additive because “it retains water and nutrients, while draining fast and freely, allowing high oxygen circulation within the growing medium.”

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 10, 2012

Garden Report for 120910

The weather was warm but not hot all week, brushing up against 90F over the weekend, with some clouds Satuday night that helped the night stay warm, which helped the tomatoes. Big wind scheduled for this week — started kicking up Sunday afternoon. I watered heavily this morning to counter the drying effects.

The scattering of chard I put into Section 3 is finally big enough to use, but it’s bepestered of leaf miners. I did a rough triage Saturday morning. Bad leaves to the compost, damaged leaves for trimming and salad, and big leaves to the salad. Corn isn’t growing fast enough to be ready before first frost, but the peas next to each stalk are getting big enough to start using them for support. My countercritter ops seem to be working, and I haven’t lost any more stalks.

On the squash front, there’s one more buttercup squash ready to harvest, and two or three smallish ones that I hope will develop. The delicata squash are finally starting to produce — three small (one inch) fruits. The summer squash are cranking along, producing one dinner-size squash every other day. Harvested one spaghetti squash, another is ready to harvest, two are getting there, and six or so more are in various stages of growth. The harvested one is a varietal I’m not familiar with, producing mild, slightly greenish strands. Went well with curried chicken on a bed of chard.

Outside of the KHG, the bush cucumber produced two fruit, at about a pound apiece. That’s as much cucumber as we can use all autumn. The bush melon has one three-incher. Cut all of the rhubarb stalks I could find. The tomatoes are encroaching there as well. I’ll give some away, and MJ is making various ‘lades, ‘nades, and elixers with the rest.

We ate our tomato harvest from last week. MJ had half a tomato, and I had the other half. Three of the container tomatoe plants are showing pink in various places, and I harvested two that I’m going to let finish off in the house. I thought there was nothing but green in the KHG, but on Sunday I found a 6oz and a 2oz that were almost ripe, buried in the jungle. The tomatoes seem to be winning the fight against the squash.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 20, 2012

Garden Report for 120820

The NENW summer continues

Keyhole Garden

Finally harvesting more than just summer squash. The 3×3 corner of Section 2 that I had devoted to beans is producing. The first pass, fighting squash vines all the way, yielded just under a pound. It looks like there’s not quite the same amount left on, that I can harvest next week. It ain’t a lot, but it wasn’t a very big plot, and all of my previous beanfields had died. Meanwhile, the spaghetti squash is starting to produce. Looks like six or eight come October.

Other Gardens
On Sunday, one of my carrot containers fell off the porch rail. It’s a 7″ container on a 6″ rail and it was mounted at a diagonal and weighted with two bricks. I suspect that a squirrel decided to plant some peanuts there. I guess that makes the container available for the next stretch of lettuce.

Meanwhile, the miniature cucumber, watermelon, and cantaloupe are all setting teenytiny fruit

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 13, 2012

Garden Report for 120813

The weather has settled in to the NENW summer standard — highs around 90, lows around 60, no rain.

The Keyhole Garden

Growth continues. Summer squash are hitting an eating size at the rate of about two a day. Tomatoes remain jungle-like but no ripening. Over in Section 4, the corn seems to be doing well.

My experimental cornfield

This is really just an experiment. Section 4 will be used for perennials — blueberries, asparagus — next year, and I thought I’d try to get a late crop of corn from it first. If it doesn’t work, well, c’est la guerre.

The Other Gardens

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, things continue apace. (more…)


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