Posts Tagged ‘keyhole garden’

Green Thumb Up My Nose

November 2, 2014

Garden Report for 141103

This is the next to last report for the 2014 gardening year, unless something untoward happens. The last report will be a “lessons learned”, in a week or so. Meanwhile, the gardens are well and truly closed out (except for the remaining greens). I will be ripping up the irrigation hose and stacking the tomato cages as time goes by. One container of iceberg is still producing, and one container of cabbage is hanging in there and may sometime do something useful.

It’s the third of November and we have yet to see a frost this gardening year (UPDATE: we’re forecasting a low of 13F on Veterans Day). The composting thermometer says it’s a toasty 55F, eighteen inches down.

I’m trying something new in the compost line. Back along the south fenceline I have a bare spot that’s shielded from esthetically offendable eyes. When I shut down the garden, I dumped the greenstuff there, raked a bunch of leaves over it, and covered the leaves with dirt from the containers. Come Spring of ’16 it should be suitably compostized, and ready for gardening uses. Meanwhile, the container dirt from last year is still settling in, next to this year’s.

The tomatoes I harvested at the end of the season filled four 10×20″ boxes, mostly green. Now, we’re down to two boxes of green tomatoes, and one box of ripes (UPDATE: a week later, everything is ripe, and we’re making soup). There’s a number of largish ones, Brandywine Pinks, that I’ve sampled. Not impressive. They are the ones that were so soggy when first picked. A month of ripening of the green BPs has allowed most of the water to evaporate, leaving us with a mass of dense, pink, flavorless, flesh.

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting item on nitrogen in gardening.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 18, 2014

Garden Report for 141020

Final Score: 97lb of Tomatoes, 125lb Total

The weather this week was about like last week’s. No frost (in fact, unseasonably warm lows), but not suitable weather for tomatoes, either, even if it’s great on the coast. Their unseasonably warm lows are 50-55F, our unseasonably warm lows are 38-45F. I decided that as long as it was unexpectedly nice I’d close out the tomato part of the garden. I wouldn’t expect to get more than a couple of cold weeks out of the end of October anyway, El Nino or no El Nino, and this way I can do it on my own time. Beets and greens will be left to their own devices.

The deck containers yielded six pounds of tomatoes, but four poundsworth were green. None of them were big enough to bother weighing, and some were positively tiny. MJ wants to experiment with chopped green tomato recipes. I mean the tomatoes are chopped and green, not the recipes. I have one container with four cabbage plants in it, that I hope will produce something before the snow falls.

The yard containers produced nine pounds of tomatoes, seven of which were green. The five ounce “Beefsteaks” were finally starting to turn. I’ve left the two lemon cukes to hang out for a while, and see if they get any growth.

In the KHG itself, I got 15lb of tomatoes total, including 2.5lb of ripe ones, and a handful worth measuring. The heaviest was a 6.5oz Marglobe. The Beefsteaks didn’t make the cut. Also harvested were just over half a pound of unshucked lima beans. I’ll let you know how that works out next week. Unlike last year, I didn’t find any errant squashes while doing my tomato-whacking.

Total tomatoes this week: thirty pounds, only six pounds of which were ripe…ish.

I haven’t emptied the containers yet. My plan is to dump the greenery into a back corner of the yard, add leaves, once they are done falling, and cover with container dirt. Meanwhile, last year’s container dirt is composting nearby.

 

Week Ending 10/20 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Season Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  many  240  336  97
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball / Zucchini  2  1.9
Delicata / Buttercup  2  1.5
Cuke  3  0.5
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  9.5  -  -  0.75
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Carrots  8  1.5
Radishes  7  0.45
Onions  ~50  1.3

So, we round out the year with 125lb of veg, including 97lb of tomatoes. That’s two-thirds more than last year, and probably about the same as in 2012. Of course, if the cabbage and the beets come through, there will be a little bit more.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 12, 2014

Garden Report for 141013

The weather turned Autumnal this week, but in a good way. Off and on cloudy and breezy, with spotty rain. Eighty F at the beginning of the week, and 62F at the end. Still no frost in the forecast, but cold and rainy.

Some of my bigger (6oz) tomatoes are ripe, so that’s nice. Harvested those, some smaller ones, and a pound and a half of some big cherry-sized. Beefsteaks are just beginning to show color, so we’ll have those to harvest in a week or so, plus a bunch of green ones, pre-frost. Harvested my ten bean plants, and got about 4.0oz of pinto beans out of it. We soaked them overnight and MJ did them in the pressure cooker. We had them with Santa Maria BBQ, and they were superb.

Container peas still haven’t sprouted yet, so I expect there’s something about using a former tomato pot that they don’t like. Neither has my last planting of lettuce. Not sure what the problem is.

Since this is my last nice weekend, I decided to start closing out the garden. Section 4 onions had all fallen over, a sign they weren’t going to get any bigger, and the white radishes in Section 2 were a week past their harvest date. So I pulled up all of those, plus some carrots that wandered by. I still have the red radishes, the beets, and whatever greens decide to keep growing. Also pulled down the hops. I wanted to get them down while they were still green, and before the berries started falling off (hops berries are poisonous to dogs). I’d put up some plastic bird netting for them to climb on, so it was just a matter of unhooking the net at the roofline, then cutting everything off at the groundline, rolling up the net, and putting it in the trash (can’t compost nylon).

Week Ending 10/13 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Season Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  8  33.0  4.0  336  67.5
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball / Zucchini  2  1.9
Delicata / Buttercup  2  1.5
Cuke  3  0.5
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  4.0  -  -  0.25
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Carrots  4  8.0  2.0  8  1.5
Radishes  7  7.24  1  7  0.45
Onions  ~50  21  0.42  ~50  1.3

This time last year we were fully done, with frost on the way and all the tomatoes cut down for indoor ripening. Total harvest was 47lb of tomatoes, and 76lb of veg overall, not counting the 40lb of jack-o-lanterns. I don’t have an overall total for 2012, but we closed out the tomatoes this week, for a total of around 100lb. So far in 2014 we have 67lb of tomatoes and 28lb of otherstuff, for a total of 95lb. Shows you what kind of uncertainty farmers live with.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 5, 2014

Garden Report for 141006

Native American Summer continues, and the forecast is for more of the same through the week. In fact, NWS is predicting above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation through the end of the year.

Here’s an explanation of why the tomatoes are doing so well — nightly minimums have been higher than average.

The tomatoes are still producing, but slowly. I picked about a pound and a half of bigger-than-walnut-but-smaller-than-plums. Plus two lemon cucumbers totaling just under 4oz, and one lone buttercup squash that is just over a pound. There’s half a dozen possible SuperFantastics that are orangish and need another week, plus a dozen or so so-called beefsteaks that are showing no color at all. The nice thing about having the tomatoes come in like this is that we are managing to keep up with the eating of them.

Last week’s squash turned out to be an 8-ball, but, alas, it was so far gone that only a 8mm strip of flesh remained around the outside. The rest of the interior was seeds.

Week Ending 10/06 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Season Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  28  < 2.0  328  60.5
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball / Zucchini  1  11  1  2  1.9
Delicata / Buttercup  1  17  1  2 1.5
Cuke  2  4  2  3  0.5
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Carrots  4  16  4.0  4  1.0

Container peas haven’t sprouted yet.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 28, 2014

Garden Report for 140929

The weather certainly has been paying attention to the calendar. Sunday it was 86F. Monday was the Equinox, and by Friday it was 68F. Next week it will be near 60F, with lows just below 40, but things will improve for the weekend and into mid-October.

Did another sweep of anything red in the tomato line. Two over 5oz, 25 (54oz) big enough to count, plus another 47oz of ones that were bigger than cherries, but not much bigger than walnuts. Also dug up four carrots: a 9oz monster, reminiscent of a Mousterian hand ax, a couple of 2.5oz, and a double that still didn’t go much past 2.0. Finally, an 11oz yellow softball I found in amongst the tomatoes, next to the tag saying 8-Ball. It’s not solid enough to be a pumpkin, so I think it really is a really ripe 8-Ball. When MJ gets home from her trip, I’ll try it on her.

Possible 8-BallPossible Pumpkin

Possible 8-Ball
Possible Pumpkin

 

Week
Ending
09/14
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Season
Total
Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  27  64  2.4  328  59.0
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  11  1  2  1.9
Delicata  1  0.4
Cuke  1  3  3  1  0.2
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Carrots  4  16  4.0  4  1.0

Tore out the last of the summer greens and planted some more. Of the 12 peas I planted in a container two weeks ago, only one has sprouted, so I repeated the application. I may have buried the first ones too deep. Now, they’re due in early December.

So far, we total 87lbs of produce for the season. That well exceeds last years, and is beginning to challenge last-years-plus-jack-o-latntern.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 21, 2014

Garden Report for 140921

The weather this week was warm, but not hot. Highs were 80F +/- 3. Lows were mid 50s. Cloudy, with no rain to speak of, but some pretty brisk winds. Warmer at the weekend. The NW weather guy says this summer is much like what the average summers will be like in 2050, so I guess we’ve go that to look forward to.

Harvested a few tomatoes, but nothing else. Radishes due any day now. Original lettuce from Section 1SW is still hanging in there. New lettuce in 1SE is just starting to show. Beans in Section 4 are starting to brown off, six weeks early. Not sure if it was last week’s near-frost or if it’s the browned-off disease. One of the container snow peas has finally sprouted (planted Saturday a week now), so we should have some nice salads come December.

Week
Ending
09/14
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Season
Total
Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  20  70  3.5  301  52.0
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  1.2
Delicata  1  0.4
Cuke  1  3  3  1  0.2
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Finally tried the zucchini I harvested a week or so ago. Bitter, just like the summer squash. I tried some web-based amelioration (use only the blossom end, cut up, salt, and rinse) and it tasted like a lump of salty fat, with, if you paid attention, a very slight echo of a bitter after-taste in the distance. Obviously, the powdery mildew had left its mark. So I tore out both the summer squash and the zucchini, and the non-productive eight-ball. Not using them in the compost.

This time last year, we had ten times the number of squash, and they were all edible. On the other hand, with 52lb of tomatoes, we are ahead of the 51lb total harvest from 2013 (not counting the big jack-o-lantern pumpkins). Same same in 2012, but with only “a few” tomatoes ripe.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 14, 2014

Garden Report for 140914

The weather this week was about like last week. Highs averaged about 70F, with one day peaking at 63F. Three nights in the low thirtys. Cloudy, with no rain to speak of, but some pretty brisk winds. Warmer at the weekend.

Because one of the nights was supposed to touch 32F, I went out and harvested any tomatoes with any kind of color, ten pounds worth (plus another couple pounds of big-cherry-sized that I don’t bother to count in the stats). Also harvested a small Delicata, and a couple of small spaghetti squash. Lots of green tomatoes left, and one small Buttercup squash.

Week
Ending
09/14
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Season
Total
Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  64  171  2.7  281  48.0
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  1.2
Delicata  1  7  7  1  0.4
Cuke
Spaghetti  2  12  6 3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

 
On Saturday, I cut down the hanging tomatoes and the containerized Napa Grape. Funny to think that I’m closing out parts of the garden when some of the tomatoes have not yet produced a single ripe fruit. Dug up the soil in the NG pot and planted a bunch of Snow Peas. They should be ready by the end of November. Also planted some more greens in Section 1 (and put down a grid to discourage squirrels). Another end-of-November crop. If the forecasts of a warm winter hold, it should be OK.

This time last year we still only had 11 pounds of tomatoes, and eight pounds of various squash. The year before was even worse. I guess the question is, will this year be able to go the distance, and keep up with last year’s late-but-big harvest?

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 7, 2014

Garden Report for 140907

The weather this week was colder than expected. Highs averaged about 70F, with one day peaking at 63F. Cloudy, with no rain to speak of.

Tomatoes are the only thing producing right now. Interestingly, we had one tenth this amount of tomatoes by the first week of September last year, and one tomato the year before. Other produce was about the same — six squash, of all kinds, and three cukes in 2013, and five squash/two cukes in ’12.

A quick check of the Garden Gantt shows nothing new to come in until October, so all I have to look forward to for the next three weeks is more squash and more tomatoes. I don’t think there’ll be a lot of squash.

Week
Ending
09/07
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  33  70  2.1  184  33.0
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  1.2
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti  1  1.8
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Did a taste comparison on the various tomato varietals. Not much to report. They all were pretty good. The smaller ones tasted more tomato-y (not just more intense, more like a tomato). The Super Fantastics were watery, both those from the garden and those in the container. Interesting, considering they were on the same watering regime as the others. Another interesting item: the Brandywines are much afflicted by blossom-end rot. This, despite them being, again, on the same watering schedule (and they’re producing fruit in the 2-3oz range, so it’s not like they need more).

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 31, 2014

Garden Report for 140831

The weather this week was, well, weatherlike. High high was 84. Lowest high is 68, forecast for today. Breezy and overcast. Cliff Mass says it’s a typical pre-Fall incursion. Next week is shaping up to be 73F +/- 5. This week, the lows were in the 50′s. Next week, the 40′s.

Other parts of the garden are starting to produce. Got a handful of peas from my second pea-planting. Two summer squash and one zucchini. The powdery mildew finally killed one of the spaghetti squash plants, so I harvested the one squash on it. Cut a wide swath through the lettuce, leaving just the shortest behind. The containerized cukes are blooming like mad, but no fruit yet. Harvested a bunch of 4th of July, Early Girl, Marglobe, and Super Fantastics from the garden side. Just over 4lb total, and nothing over 6oz. While I was digging around in the jungle, I found one Delicata squash. If it was a Zucchini, I’d say “harvest it now, before it gets too big”, but the Deli’s can go until the plant dies.

Week
Ending
8/31
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  24  69  2.9  184  33.0
Summer  2  24  12  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  18  18  1  1.2
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti  1  30  30  1  1.8
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  2.5  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Checking the intertubes for information on powdery mildew, I find some good advice here, and some possible resistant varieties. This seems to be the summer for PM. A number of non-crop plants have it as well.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 24, 2014

Garden Report for 140824

The weather this week was variable, with highs running from the low 90′s to the low 70′s, and thunderstorms (mostly) in the distance.

Three baskets like this. And you thought the "Crimson Tide" was a football team

Three baskets like this.
And you thought the “Crimson Tide” was a football team

Harvested twenty pounds of tomatoes, about half from the containers, the other half from the KHG. The KHG tomatoes, where I can tell (it’s a jungle out there!), were mostly Early Girl and 4th of July, with a couple of deeply buried Super Fantastics.

Here’s how the containers are doing:
Containers, Deck:
4th of July– Mix of medium and small. Pretty much tasteless, and nowhere near ready on the 4th…even of August.
Marglobe — n/r
Northern Exposure — n/r
Husky Red — One medium, the rest small. Good taste, sweet.

Containers, House:
Brandywine Red – All are small. Taste is good.
Super Fantastic — The only really large ones. Excellent taste
Early Girl/Best Boy (2 pots, not sure which is which)  — n/r
Beefsteak — Appears to be a bush version, or maybe mislabeled (it’s the store label). Small fruit. Good taste.
Red Cherry — Big, for cherries. Good flavor. Maybe use these in the hanging bags next year
Crimson Cushion — n/r

Hangers, or ought to be:
S-100 — Lots. Small. Taste OK. Mostly skin.
Napa Grape — Not a lot, but this is the plant that was blown off the deck. Taste OK. Skin.
Glacier — Determinate, so it’s done for the year. Not a lot, but good tasting.

So far, only about 20% are what I call supermarket size — 5oz or bigger — and less than half of those are of the big, slicing size. The skin on all the tomatoes so far has been very thick. As in, chew up a tomato quarter and spit out the skin thick.

I decided to not include a Last Week this week. Fiddling with the HTML was just too tiresome. So last week was the last Last Week as well as being the first Last Week. This week there’s just a This Week, and next week will also be just a This Week.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/24
Tomato 93  330 3.5  160 28.7
Summer  1  0.5
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Looks like we will have an El Nino Winter this year*, which means warmer and dryer (all our water is going to California). That said, I think I’ll take a chance on some late plantings. A couple weeks ago, I ripped all the non-performing (i.e. all) brassicae out of Section 3, and replanted some cabbage and Brussels sprouts. That left a lot of bare ground, and KHG farmers hate bare ground. So, on Friday, I planted a bunch of lettuce, some beets, radishes, and carrots. Not much of a risk there** — they are all about 60 days to harvest, so only pushed the last harvest into mid-November. I also reconnected the drip hose that had come off. This is the fourth time I’ve had to fix a blown connector. Next year, new hose all around!

*And of course, no sooner do I act on this, than they downgrade the probability from 80% to 65%. If we do get a visit from The Kid, it could move the date of the first frost from mid-September to mid-October.
**Except that the squirrels went mad digging in the fresh dirt. I could drag out the chicken wire covers, but I think I’ll just let the plants take their chances. The cabbage, et al., are each in their own water-bottle cloches, so they should be OK.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 17, 2014

Garden Report for 140817

The weather this week was variable, with a high of 98F on Monday trending down to 73F during Friday’s T-storms (which didn’t get close enough to give us any rain).

Not much produced this week. Harvested the last of the string beans — 8oz, one serving each — and ripped out the plants. The beans have been hard to cook properly, and they are tough. Probably won’t do them again. Planted half my remaining peas (64 days), short cabbage (60 days), long cabbage (105 days) and Brussels sprouts (85 days) in Section 3. I figure by the time the brassicae are big enough for the temperature to matter, it will be cool autumn. Tomatoes have paused, and given us a chance to eat what we harvested so far. Looks like 30-40 getting ready to be ripe in the next week or so, and half a dozen of those are supermarket size. The rest are plum or smaller. Not counting cherries.

The lettuce I planted last week hasn’t sprouted yet, which is a little worrisome. I may not have watered it enough. The container cabbage and iceberg lettuce are sprouting.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/17
This Week
Tomato 4  25 6.3  67  8
Summer  1  8.5  8.6  1  0.5
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  - 8 -  2.0
Peas  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/10
Last Week
Tomato 10  68 6.8  35  5.3
Summer
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  116  19.3  6  7.25
Beans  - 24 - -  1.5
Peas  - -  3.0
Cabbage  24  5  7.5

This time last year, we still didn’t have any tomatoes or summer squash, and in 2012, I was getting a good bean harvest.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 11, 2014

Garden Report for 140810

The weather this week was dry, mid-90′s to start, mid-80′s in the middle, climbing back to the 90′s at the end.

This is turning into a very depressing season. Powdery mildew has killed the pumpkin plants — with only a couple of full grown pie pumpkins to show for it — and has kept the other squash from producing much at all. Second planting of container sugar peas didn’t do well. Strawberries were eaten by birds, despite the covers. Beans and snap peas both produced two meals each.Lettuce is doing OK — I think I’ve figured out the best way to thin it. Tore out the container beans and ate both pods. Replanted with 4 cabbage. Tore out the Chioggias — they were so small I thought they were radishes but my notes say they’re beets (I checked, after MJ complained that the salad had an ‘earthy taste’). Replanted with iceberg lettuce. It won’t head, but it’s nice and leafy.

Container tomatoes are starting to come in. The Super Fantastic (I think, the tag is lost) is producing like mad — three giant 8oz globes so far. The Beefsteaks aren’t doing as well, but some look to be as much as 6 or 7 oz. These are the ones on the sunny side of the house. The deck containers are still thinking about it, and the KHG tomatoes are still being green. A lot of walnut-sized/ 1oz stuff, that pulls down the unit weight.

I gave the pumpkin plants a chance to recover from the powdery mildew search and destroy, but they never did. Harvested the pumpkins. Only two were what I was expecting as a mature size.

Mouse to show scale

Mouse to show scale

So, now it’s time to start the scorecard. Since this is the first pitch edition, some of the data points summarize previous weeks. Also, for tomatoes, the weekly totals won’t match the running totals, because the running totals will include the count and weight of the “big cherries” (around an ounce each). The weekly totals are only for “supermarket size” tomatoes. Next Week there will be a Last Week.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/10
This Week
Tomato 10  68 6.8  35  5.3
Summer
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  116  19.3  6  7.25
Beans  - 24 - -  3.0
Peas  -  24  3.0
Cabbage  24  5  7.5

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. This time last year the corn had been destroyed by squirrels, the summer squash were struggling, and there were no tomatoes except cherries, while in 2012 we also had no tomatoes (at all) and were getting sick of summer squash.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 3, 2014

Garden Report for 140804

The weather remained warm hot, being consistently above 93F. That was nice for the garden, but two power outages didn’t help the gardener. Core temperature of the KHG on August 1st was 80F.

Winds blew a container off the deck — Napa Grape cherry tomatoes. Put it back up, and they’re still alive, but feeling hard done by.

White lung disease

White lung disease

Squashes are being hit hard by powdery mildew. I’ve tried baking soda, with no luck. Vinegar, with no luck. What seems to help the most is a brutal triage effort, cutting off the worst of the leaves (update: no, that didn’t help either). In any event, I’m working my way through all the usual remedies, except that I don’t really want to use any chloroflurocarbons. I guess I’ll just have to take my losses this year, and be more aggressive next year.

The lettuce finally bolted, and made its final contribution as compostfodder. I’m planning on starting another tranche of lettuce in the space, unless the squash from next door takes over first.

No sprouts here

No sprouts here

Meanwhile, over in Section 3, the Brussels Sprouts still haven’t done anything. I’m going to pull them next week, and plant 90 and 120 day cabbage. Hopefully, things will have cooled down by the time the plants start really growing.

Still no production elsewhere. Three spaghetti squash and four pumpkins are all the squash I see, and none of them will be ready for weeks — assuming they survive the mildews. No summer squash at all. Three Beefsteak tomatoes are starting to turn. Other than that, it’s only the cherries. Of course, when the tomatoes start coming in, we’ll be eating them day and night.

The irrigation system continues to fall apart. Two more breaks this week. Well, two more places where the hose separated from the t-junction and I had to put on some hose clamps. All that hose is at least ten years old and is probably stiff and brittle by now. Come winter, I’ll pull it all out and replace it, or at least hose clamp all of it. I’m thinking of using flat sprinkler hose as a replacement. The soaker hose is great for established plants, but the seedlings don’t have the roots for it.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 28, 2014

Garden Report for 140728

The weather this week trended cool, with a high of 68F on Thursday. Now it’s warm again, and Cliff Mass says it will be dry for the next week, and WeatherSpark says it will be 94F and up through the weekend.

Still waiting for the garden to be bountiful. Dug up the lettuce in the SE part of Section 1. I’ll get some new stuff in later this week.

In previous years, the end of July was equally barren. I had one Early Girl last year, and nothing the year before that. This year the summer squash and zucchinis are not producing. Might be the powdery mildew. The best antidote seems to be dry warmth. We’ll see. Two possible Delicata coming along, and three pie pumpkins. Lots of still-green tomatoes.

I’m about ready to do a third harvest on the peas, and second harvest on the beans. Peas are starting to turn brown, so they’re probably done. Went out this morning while it was still below 80F and thinned out the new lettuce. So tomorrow we’ll have peas and beans and salad (oh, my).

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 14, 2014

Garden Report for 140714

The weather this week was hot and dry, with highs above 90F the whole time, and peaking at 96F on the weekend.

Nothing harvested, other than some lettuce. It’s all getting ready to bolt, but the last time I did a big harvest, it rotted in the fridge, so I’m just picking what I need. Here’s what the agro-complex looks like on Bastille Day:

Keyhole Garden, 14 July, 2014

Keyhole Garden, 14 July, 2014
(Click to embiggen)

Foreground: Pie pumpkin, with at least two softball-size pumps
Front: Maxed-out lettuce on the right, seedling lettuce on the left, under some wire shelving set on 2×4′s to discourage the squirrels
Mid: Tomatoes and squash in the front, with peas and beans and unseen-but-stressed Brussles sprouts in the back
Rear: Bean sprouts, Pea sprouts, onion shoots, strawberries. All pretty much invisible from here.

The hot dry weather is keeping the powdery mildew at bay, I think. We’ll see how things work out.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 6, 2014

Garden Report for 140707

I suspect that no-one in Known Space noticed that I missed a garden update last week. Just part of the OS Upgrade Saga – or is it Epic? There’s a difference, I know because I got yelled at on the Beowulf mailing list some decades ago. Or maybe Black Hanekawa stole a chapter.

The weather these weeks was mixed, with June gloom hanging on thru the end of the month, and Summer roaring back in the upper 80′s.

In any event, not much happened. My early lettuce is about ready to bolt. My later lettuce (planted last week) is just barely visible. The icebergs I planted from sets turned out very well. Let’s see if I can do the same with seeds.

Speaking of bolting, the two daikon I planted in a container have both bolted, so I dug them up. Waste of time. One was about two inches long and an inch in diameter. The other one was small.

Lessons Learned: Daikon are not container plants, not even in big containers.

A couple weeks ago I got a bunch of elderly onion sets from the hardware store on a ‘buy one, get three free’ basis. Stuck them in the ground where the carrots aren’t coming up, and many of them are doing well.

Harvested two of the remaining three cabbages — stripped of the big leaves they were about grapefruit size, and weighed in at 24oz each (I guess I’m going to have to start posting a scorecard again). At the suggestion of my barber, I had pinned a couple of the bigger leaves up over the cores to keep them from sunburning. It seems to have worked, as the outer leaves had blanched and the inners dint. Also harvested the shell peas. I planted eight, which wasn’t nearly enough. We ended up with about a serving and a half for our 4th of July cookout.

Lessons Learned: First pick of one pea plant gave about five pods, with four or five peas each — call it twenty peas per plant. One serving seems to be about 80-100 peas (I’ll confirm next dinner time), so we need 4 or 5 plants per person per meal. Which means I plant at least 20 plants next time.

All of the tomatoes are blossoming, many have nascent fruit, and one looks like they are turning. The only varietal not producing yet are the 4th of July’s. Not sure what the name means. “Don’t even look until this date”?

Did some late season seed-buying. Several packets of nonberg lettuce (bibb and buntercrunch mostly) for late planting, and an impulse buy of lima beans. Opened it up and there were 12 beans in the packet. I felt like I’d just traded my cow. Planted them (ready in early September), and planted some pintos (ready in mid-october).

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 22, 2014

Garden Report for 140623

The weather this week started out with two days of cold and windy rain, and ended with sunny skies and an 80F high. The early part was good for the cabbages, but the rain rotted the bottoms of a couple of the iceberg lettuce.

I harvested two of the four remaining cabbage. They had a leaf-spread of a couple of feet, but by the time I was done stripping it down, each one was the size of a softball. I am going to make broth in the pressure cooker, using the outer leaves. They are reportedly edible, but tough and fibrous and the goal will be to just extract the flavor. (<spoiler>it didn’t work</spoiler>) Speaking of tough and fibrous, some of our leaf lettuce is starting to bolt, and now that we’re coming on for high summer I suspect the rest will go quickly. More salads!

The squash are poised to take over everything but haven’t made their move yet. There’s a good five or six pie pumpkins developing on each pumpkin plant. Unfortunately, the squirrels seem to think they’re peanuts, until they’ve picked them. No sign of fruit on any of the others, but at least they retained their blossoms during the cold spell.

The tomatoes, likewise, kept their flowers, and the Napa Grape already has half a dozen small …um… grape-like … fruit.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 16, 2014

Garden Report for 140616

June gloom was a little late arriving this year, but last week made up for it, with gloomy, blustery, sometimes-rainy days. Highs haven’t been above 62F this week. Next week will start out the same, but should warm rapidly.

The garden keeps on. Over half the squash and tomatoes have blossoms, but I worry that the recent lows in the 40′s might re-set their clocks. Harvested a couple of the cabbages — by the time I’d stripped off the outer, unappetizing leaves I was down to a head smaller than my fist. Some of the icebergs have actually headed, but loosely. You wouldn’t buy them in the store, but they make good-looking salads, being a little greener than the store-bought heads.

This is late and short. Last week was Finals, and this week is The Assigning of the Grades and The Arguing With The Students. In between, we had commencement. Now I know why the 14th Century academics wore those long, heavy robes.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 8, 2014

Garden Report for 140609

The weather this week was the inverse of the week before. We started out hot and got cooler. Next week will be the same, they say.

Not much doing, gardenwise. I’m harvesting huge heads of icebergs, except that they’re not ‘headed’. About to plant a third tranche of lettuce, due out in August. Other things are also growing apace — half my tomatoes have blossoms, as do a couple of squash. I ripped a bunch of bolted brassicae out of Section 2. As an example of the impact of the heat, the broccoli florets developed already spaced out. Saturday, I found one head, slightly bigger than a cherry tomato, that hadn’t exploded yet. MJ and I split it.

My adventure for this week was fixing another hose break. Not an actual break, but the ageing hose slipped off one of the connectors. None of the hose clamps I had was big enough (I have both broad gauge and narrow gauge soaker hoses), so I bought a new one and went to put it on. Unfortunately, my injured shoulder (see last week’s entry) wasn’t up to the torque needed to hold the tab of the clamp in place while holding the hose solidly enough to use the screwdriver. I had to rest it on the netting support, where I could bring straighter pressure to bear, and in doing so, I messed up:

If you don't pay attention, things can get misaligned

If you don’t pay attention, things can get misaligned

Sorry, I’ll write that again:

Sorry. Here's what happens when you don't pay attention

Sorry. Here’s what happens when you don’t pay attention

I guess you could call it high-drip irrigation.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 1, 2014

Garden Report for 140602

And Bang! we go from spring to summer. Last Wednesday it was 57F. Sunday it was 77F.

Not as solid as it looked

Not as solid as it looked
(click to embiggen)

Nice soil, though

Nice soil, though

One learns a lot from a garden. Here’s what I learned on Saturday:

1. a pair of 2x4s can be heavy and cumbersome (left)

2. dry-laid cinder-block can be unstable when subjected to lateral overturning force (right)

3. KHG components like phone books really do decompose into soil (bottom).

4. Also, old shoulder injuries never really heal.

In addition to de-Hadrianizing my KHG, I’m pulling out all of the brassicae, except maybe the cabbage. That’s an experiment that doesn’t need to be repeated. Maybe put in the next increment of peas and/or beans. Problem was, the early stuff was due to be harvested in 40-70 days. At Day 40 there wasn’t anything remotely harvestable of the cauliflower and broccoli. At Day 60, they had bolted. It gets too hot too soon, here in the NENW.

The lettuce is going wild. I’m going to have to give some away. The iceberg has shown no interest in heading, but it’s still very good and very crispy, if you put it in the fridge for a while before serving.

As everyone says, there’s a rhythm to gardening. The greenhouse goes up early in the spring, and comes down a month later, when the plants go in the ground. The anti-squirrel mesh goes up when I do my initial planting, and comes down a month later, when the plants are big enough to fight off the squirrels. You know the mesh I’m talking about — a four-foot wide strip of chicken wire, stapled to two, eight-foot 2x4s. They’re heavy. And cumbersome.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 27, 2014

Garden Report for 140526

The weather this week was springlike, with four days well over 70F. This is probably bad for the broccoli and cabbage.

According to Growing Taste, a Walla Walla based gardener, cabbages and broccoli are hard to grow on the Columbia Plateau.

We want our cabbage in the ground as early as practicable, so we can get them out as early as we can: cabbage growth slows above 68 degrees, and stops, possibly with damage, at 85 degrees. … We should, therefore, probably target our planting-out for mid-March, looking to a harvest in mid-May.

I transplanted some biggish store-bought seedlings about two months ago, so they should be ready next week. The pictures show what they look like now:

I don't remember flowers

I don’t remember flowers

Is it head yet?

Is it head yet?

Growing Taste has similar things to say about cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. I am beginning to wonder if the Brassicae fall into the too hard to do category. I’m not writing the Great American Game Theory Novel here, about man vs nature games. I’m just trying for some moderately fresh sides and salads without too much work and agricolich angst.

Speaking of salads, one of the things they don’t tell you when you start your salad garden, is that the lettuce peaks a good three months before the tomatoes do. The first planting of leaf lettuce is 8″ high. The icebergs are leafing out nicely, with no indication they want to head.

Speaking of angst, the squirrels continue their destructive ways. They’re not trying to kill the plants. They’re just burying their nuts, and the fact that they’re killing roots and tipping over seedlings is just, you know, collateral damage.

And the angst-speaking continues: my ten-year-old soaker hose is slowly rotting. I fixed one biggish leak with tape a couple of weeks ago. This week I had another, bigger one, at the south end of Section 1. I mean spraying water over the rhubarb big, and that’s not a plant that needs encouragement. I didn’t have the material to fix this one — my only splicing tube was a three-way, and the hardware store was closed. So I cut the hose at the break, put the three-way on, scrounged up a short length of soaker left over from an earlier leak, and added a small rotary sprinkler to the mix. It’s starting to look a bit Heath Robinson, but I think it will get me through the summer.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 18, 2014

Garden Report for 140519

The weather seems to be falling into a pattern: cool and wet on the weekends, above average warmth in midweek. Same is forecast for next week.

Finished building the garden this week — two weeks ahead of the recommended date. Let’s see if that was successful derring-do, or brash adventurism.

Section 1 is coming along fine. The early lettuce is overcrowded and tall. The late lettuce is still recovering from the squirrel predations (I say predations like they were after the lettuce. They were actually putting craters in the garden for their own purposes, like Predators). The icebergs are big and green and not at all iceberglich.

Section 2 is fully planted. I had one tomato die of, I think, cold. I’d tell you what it was, but it was the one from the Rainbow Blend, AKA I don’t know, either. Maybe it died of confusion. I replaced it with a Marglobe.

In Section 3, the Brassicae are doing well, I think. Theoretically, I should be harvesting some cabbage and broccoli in two weeks time. We’ll see. The peas and beans I planted earlier have settled in. I had three daikon that sprouted indoors OK, and I planted them out.

Section 4 is mostly asparagus and strawberries, neither of which seem inclined to do anything. The carrots I seeded at the north end might be sprouting.

In what can best be called the ground cover portion of the yard, I’ve marked out some circles and planted two eating pumpkins and a Delicata.

The containers are all doing OK. I’ve planted out the remaining seedlings — lemon cucumbers, beets, and radishes. There was one empty container, and I swung by the hardware store and bought another tomato for there — Brandywine Red. There being no seedlings left, I moved the coffin greenhouse to a sheltered spot under the stairs. I’ll load it up with all the gardening impedimenta I won’t need until next spring.

I haven’t had a chance to fix the hops yet. Maybe this coming week.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 11, 2014

Garden Report for 140512

The weather this week was much like last week’s — cold, windy, with a spot of rain.

Despite the weather, which was only good for the lettuccoi, I planted some more plantings — carrots in the north end of Section 4, some beet seedlings in the bigger of the small long containers, some daikon seedlings in Section 3, a zucchini in Section 2, lemon cucumbers and a Husky Red tomato on the deck. Tuesday starts a warming trend, so I’ll get more out then. With luck, I’ll be done with my coffin-sized, PRC-built greenhouse.

I’ve strung some bird netting for the hops to grow on, but I’m not happy with how it went up. Next week, I’ll fix that, before they get totally out of control. Look for a photo then.

Finally, I got myself a new toy — a 20″ soil thermometer. I couldn’t find the recommended model, either on Amazon or at the hardware store, so I settled for a cheap mechanical model. Right now, the temperature in the gardens, at a depth of about 16″, is 65F. The containers on deck are closer to 60F.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 4, 2014

Garden Report for 140505

The weather the last couple of weeks was nothing to write about, and so I didn’t. My gardening activity was limited to just letting stuff grow under plastic. This week we had a warm spell, and hit 80F two days running. Then came the weekend and the cool/rainy weather was back.

Not sure if it was the previous cold (couple of 34F nights) or the subsequent heat, but the spaghetti squash died, as did one of the Better Boy tomatoes and one of the 4th of Julys (and the other three are looking peaked). Those were all purchased plants, under plastic, in the garden (Section 2). The ones I started early are still seedling size and in my coffin-sized greenhouse. I transpotted one of each (Crimson Cushion, Marglobe, and Red Cherry), along with one each of the squashes (8-ball, Delicata, and Buttercup). I replaced the dead 4th with a seedling Marglobe. The Mars are determinates, so I’m thinking that I can string out the repottings and get a certain amount of spread on ripening.

In Section 3, the brassicae survived the cold due to my greentunnel. I had transplanted the peas and beans there also, and covered them individually with the top half of bottled water bottles. Section 1 is lettuces, and as soon as I took the plastic off the squirrels got in and dug holes. If I get a chance I’ll build another non-plastic cover.

Hops at week five

Hops at week five

On Saturday, as part of the transition from unseasonably hot to seasonably miserable, we had a pretty brisk wind, with gusts to 30mph. Blew the long lettuce container off the railing and onto the deck, bouncing it off two of the tomato pots. I eased the dirt and plants back in and gave it a good drink. The lettuce is still perky this morning, so apparently no harm done.

The hops are going mad. Some tendrils are already at the top of the 4ft wide plastic trellis. Sometime this week I have to put in the support netting.

I wanted to plant carrots in the north end of Section 4 this weekend, but it was so windy that I’d be seeding most of Airway Heights, so that’s been put off for a while.

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.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.