Archive for the ‘garden’ Category

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 1, 2017

Garden Report for 171002

Warm for most of the week (mid-upper 70’s), with a cold front blowing through on Saturday. Now the forecast is for highs in the low 60’s and lows in the high 30’s. Of course that doesn’t matter, because this is the week I closed out the garden.

A few years ago we bought some wire shelves at a going-out-of business sale. We didn’t need them as shelving, but they made excellent anti-squirrel mats. I could plant seeds and keep them protected until they were big enough for a cloche. This year I tried using to protect some newly planted carrots. Of course, with this year’s lack of weeding and general neglect, a lot of other stuff grew up around them, but they seemed happy with their cover. On Wednesday, I thought I’d lift the shelving and let them grow a bit more. Surprise! They came up with the wiring! Part of the reason was they are a stubby variety, and didn’t have much of a hold on the dirt. (Click pix to embiggen)

I’ve invented a mechanical harvester

 

Week
Ending
17/09/18
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg
*includes 2.4kg of smalls tomato  55  4000  73 198 21.3*
cabbage 5 0.72
cucumber 9 1.9
summer
squash
 4 1400  350 14 4.2
zucchini 4 2.5
winter
squash
1 550  550 3 2.9
carrots 10 250 25 10 0.25
Final Grand Total 33.8

This time last year we had a grand total of 23kg. In 2015 it was 45kg, and in 2014 it was 47kg, and in 2013 the total was 38kg. So not the worst year, but not nearly the best, either.

I can remember when we had six boxen like this

Note that one of the summer squash (in with the tomatoes) is long and curved. One of my squash plants produced only this kind of fruit. It’s like a Tromboncino, except that wasn’t what it said on the tin.

I now have to start thinking about next year.

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Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 24, 2017

Garden Report for 170925

Official end of summer. A few days of rain broke our dry spell (Seattle set a record for dry summers)  and now we are in a cool day/cooler night pattern (mid 60s/mid 40s and they’re starting to report wind chills). Warming trend forecast.

Harvested nothing. Maybe next weekend, after the warmup.

Meanwhile, this looks to be the year that nothing grew, or grew without producing. Not container plants:

Texas Buttercup. All hat, no cattle

Pink Brandywine, the same.

And not the garden

All the squash that isn’t Summer.

Starting to close out the various bits of garden and the containers. I’ll get the dirt dumped on the dug-up plants in time for composting.

Week
Ending
17/09/25
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 143 14.7
cabbage 5 0.72
cucumber 9 1.9
summer
squash
10 2.8
zucchini 4 2.5
winter
squash
2 2.4
Grand Total 28

This is ahead of last year’s total at this time (~20kg) but nowhere near 2014’s 40kg.

Oh, well. There’s always next year.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 17, 2017

Garden Report for 170918

Summer enters the endgame. No rain for almost three months (we are scheduled early tonight, which would make it 83 days, and then more rain through the rest of the week). Highs in the upper 80’sF, cooling to the mid 60’s. Lows in the upper 40’s to low 50’sF.

Made a harvesting pass midweek, with another on Sunday. Ten Lemon Boy’s (1.0kg) and 21 others (1.5kg). Lots of greenies still on the vine. Harvested the second bush buttercup, to free up resources for the final one, and I see there’s two or three more making a dash for it.

Starting to close out the various bits of garden and the containers. I’ll get the dirt dumped on the dug-up plants in time for composting.

Week
Ending
17/09/18
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 31 2770 89 143 14.7
cabbage 5 0.72
cucumber 9 1.9
summer
squash
10 2.8
zucchini 4 2.5
winter
squash
1 980 980 2 2.4
Grand Total 28

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 10, 2017

Garden Report for 170918

Summer enters the endgame. No rain for almost three months (we are scheduled early tonight, which would make it 83 days, and then more rain through the rest of the week). Highs in the upper 80’sF, cooling to the mid 60’s. Lows in the upper 40’s to low 50’sF.

Made a harvesting pass midweek, with another on Sunday. Ten Lemon Boy’s (1.0kg) and 21 others (1.5kg). Lots of greenies still on the vine. Harvested the second bush buttercup, to free up resources for the final one, and I see there’s two or three more making a dash for it.

Starting to close out the various bits of garden and the containers. I’ll get the dirt dumped on the dug-up plants in time for composting.

Week
Ending
17/09/18
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 31 2770 89 143 14.7
cabbage 5 0.72
cucumber 9 1.9
summer
squash
10 2.8
zucchini 4 2.5
winter
squash
1 980 980 2 2.4
Grand Total 28

  

Garden Report for 170911

ただいま, as the Japanese would say — I’m home. Let’s see what’s happened in the garden.

Summer slowly drifts away. No rain for over two months. Highs in the lower 80’sF, lows in the lower 60’sF. Lots of smoke from the Gorge fires. Our AQI was over 180 last week, and only dropped to 80 (dangerous to beings with lungs) for my homecoming.

MJ handled what may well be the peak of the harvest season. Twenty decent sized tomatoes, totalling just over two kg, plus a basketful of smalls, at 900g. She took all the by-now-soggy tomatoes from my last harvest and pressure-cooked them.

In other news: two Zucchinis, one summer squash. The bush buttercup is trying to produce one final squash. It’s only about the size of a small lemon, right now. Don’t know if it will win the race with the frost.

Week
Ending
17/09/11
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 20 2133 106  112 12
cabbage  5 0.72
cucumber 9 1.9
summer
squash
1 800 800 10 2.8
zucchini  2  1670 835 4 2.5
winter
squash
1  1.4
Grand Total  21.3

Not a big harvest so far, but almost 10kg ahead of last year’s. Of course, the years before that ran to 60kg+ by this time.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 3, 2017

Garden Report for 170904

Somewhat reduced report, since I’m currently in Japan. This is what happened through Tuesday of last week.

Summer continues. No rain for going on two months. Highs in the lower 90’sF, lows in the lower 60’sF.

The tomato harvest continues, slowly. Twelve this week, totalling almost a kilo and a half (but that includes some that have just barely gone breakers, so that MJ won’t have to worry about harvesting until I get back). Still having BER problems.

In other news: One summer squash, not in good shape. I’m thinking there’s something in the soil in Section 4 of the KHG, or maybe it’s because there’s much less sun back there. None of the squash are doing very well.

Week
Ending
17/09/04
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 12 1400 117  92 9.8
cabbage  5 0.72
cucumber 9 1.9
summer
squash
1 370 370 9 2.0
zucchini 2 0.87
winter
squash
1  1.4
Grand Total  16.7

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 27, 2017

Garden Report for 170828

Summer continues. Trace of rain on Wednesday, otherwise, no rain for going on two months. Highs in the lower 90’sF, lows in the lower 60’sF.

The tomato harvest continues to slow. Eleven this week, totalling less than a kilo. Still having BER problems. Cut down the other Juliet, and the Patio, then moved the Purple Cherokee and the Rutgers up from the south side of the house onto the deck. I am off on a trip the end of next week, and this makes it easier for MJ to water. Besides, we don’t really like the Juliets (tough, acid), and the plants were dying.

In other news: Couple of summer squash, and a large, misshapen, Zucchini. Harvested the final cucumber, and took that down. One of the bush buttercups looked harvestable, so I did. The other one is coming along. Looks like the bush variety only produces one per plant.

Week
Ending
17/08/28
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 11 890 81  80 8.4
cabbage 3 470 157  5 0.72
cucumber  1 400  400 9 1.9
summer
squash
2 330  165 8 1.7
zucchini  1 720 720 2 0.87
winter
squash
 1 1366 1366 1  1.4
Grand Total  15

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 20, 2017

Garden Report for 170821

Summer continues. No rain for over a month and a half. Highs in the lower 90’sF, lows in the lower 60’sF. Next week we’ll have highs around 80F with lows around 55F. Possible rain, but not enough to keep down the blowing dust.

The tomato harvest is slowing. Twenty this week, totalling a mere 1.5kg. None of them very big. Cut down one of the deck Juliets. Was starting to go yellow, and we don’t really like them anyway — too small for their tough skin. Maybe use them in broth.

In other news: Two medium summer squash. I’m going to leave the Buttercups for a while. Likewise the purple cabbages — they are producing tiny heads, with no signs of bolting.

Week
Ending
17/08/21
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 20 1464 73  69 7.5
cabbage  2 0.25
cucumber 8 1.5
summer
squash
2 374 187 6 1.35
zucchini 1 0.15
winter
squash
Grand Total  10.75

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 13, 2017

Garden Report for 170814

Summer continues. No rain for over a month. Highs in the upper 90’sF, lows in the lower 60’sF. Next week we’ll have highs around 80F with lows around 55F. Possible rain, but not enough to keep down the blowing dust.

The tomato harvest is starting. Thirty this week, totalling 4kg. Champion and Lemon Boy are producing some nice ~200g tomatoes, while First Lady and Arkansas Traveller have smaller ones. Cherokee Purple and Beefmaster still bothered by BER.

There’s more where that came from

In other news: Two more cucumbers. Two medium summer squash. One of the Buttercups will be ready to harvest soon.

Week
Ending
17/08/14
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 31 4030 130  49 6.0
cabbage  2 0.25
cucumber  2 240  120 8 1.5
summer
squash
 3 1000 333 6 1.35
zucchini 1 0.15
winter
squash
Grand Total  9.25

Last year at this time we had 5.5kg of non-cabbage produce. This year, roughly 9kg.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 6, 2017

Garden Report for 170807

Summer continues. No rain for over a month. Highs in the upper 90’sF, lows in the lower 60’sF. They were forecasting 100F, but we didn’t make it, thanks to a smoke blanket that made our air worse than Beijing’s.

Big Boy gave a couple of 150g’s, and the Beefmaster gave a 100g tomato (the first that wasn’t et up with BER), and there’s more buckets of cherry tomatoes of various types. Meanwhile, the Pink Brandywine by the house isn’t doing anything. Maybe the shock of almost drowning made it reluctant to reproduce. I note, though, that the one in the main garden is only now producing flowers, so it might just be a (puts on sunglasses) late bloomer.

Unproductive Pink

In other news: Two cucumbers, one big, one small.  The Bush Buttercup is trying to produce something, but it really needs to be in a bigger pot. Harvested two of the purple cabbages. Trimmed, they are fist sized, and about 125g each — and were very tough, even when shredded and cooked with Spam, peas, and carrots . There’s three left, and we’ll see what the heat does to them.

Still Life, With Cabbages

 

Week
Ending
17/08/07
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  5 600 120  18 1.9
cabbage  2 250  125  2 0.25
cucumber 2 420  210 6 1.3
summer
squash
3 0.34
zucchini 1 0.15
winter
squash
Grand Total  3.9

Last year at this time we had almost 4kg of non-cabbage produce. This year, just over 3kg.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 30, 2017

Garden Report for 170731

Summer continues. No rain for over a month. Highs around 90F, lows around 60F, limited watering restrictions continue. Next week the same yet again, except highs near 100F. Glad I’ve got the drip water timer.

Sub-Arctic gave three small tomatoes, as did the Siletz. Better Boy and Big Boy gave one each. Or rather, a third of a one each. Blossom end rot. Late breaking news: At the last minute, Big Boy came through with a 150g non-BER. Yay!

Sub-Arctic Plenty is a “determinate that gives hundreds of small tomatoes”. Mine gave three, and I don’t mean three hundred, and then pooped out. The container is on the south wall. Have never had any luck on that side. Maybe it’s too hot. Well, let’s try planting some heirloom Rutgers tomatoes. The ones sold today are derivatives of the original. Some are determinate, some are not. Mine are indeterminate (it says here). The packet says 10-12 weeks, which means end of October/early November. We’ll see if we can beat the frost.

In other news: two small summer squash and one small zucchini. Four warty cucumbers. Half a kg of cherry tomatoes of various types. They come in clusters, and some are still green, so it’s not worth tracking them. Handful of shell peas, and handful of pea pod peas, harvested just ahead of death-by-powdery-mildew. Not enough to track. Barely enough for a salad.

Week
Ending
17/07/31
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  7 550 78  13 1.3
cabbage
cucumber 4 870  217 4 0.87
summer
squash
2 240 120 3 0.34
zucchini  1  150  1 150 0.15
winter
squash
Grand Total  2.7

Last year at this time we had over 6kg of produce, but 4kg of that was cabbage, so the rest of our produce is on track. Our cabbages have not bolted, yet, but they look to be about tennis-ball sized. Since temps have been running 90F and up, I doubt we’ll get much out of them. We’ll see what they look like at the start of next week

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 23, 2017

Garden Report for 170724

Hot and dry, with a forecast of dry and hot.

Stuff is growing. Nothing new is ripe. No change from last week.

Got to work on the burdock. That’s one tough plant. Deep roots. Thick base stalk with lots of branches. Thistles that cling, even when green.

I’ve cleared out about half of the infestation, but left lots of stumps. Click the pix to embiggen.

The garden in June. All that waist-high stuff to the left of the bird feeder is burdock. It was head high by the time I started work.
And here’s what I’ve been able to do so far. Looks like pictures of pioneer clearings in the NW forests. Notice that the plants next to the fence have grown quite a bit.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 16, 2017

Garden Report for 170717

We are now in full summer mode. No rain for a month. Highs around 90F, lows around 60F, watering restrictions on due to city water pump casualty, fire alert for much of the weekend. Same for the coming week

First harvest of the season. Six tomatoes: Siletz and Sub-Arctic, ranging in size from 40 – 140g. One small summer squash. One puny purple pepper. Bag of about-to-bolt lettuce, bag of chard. The chard seems to be winning the fight against the leaf miners. The trick is immediate and unmerciful pruning. Your chard will thank you.

Week
Ending
07/17
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  6 600 100  6 0.6
cabbage
peas
summer
squash
 1 100 100 1 0.1
zucchini
Spaghetti
squash
Grand Total  0.7

This time last year and in 2015 we had a grand total of 3kg. Fewer tomatoes, more cabbage and squash. In 2014 we had enough heat, and I hadn’t installed the automatic waterizer, that we had nothing but lettuce.

For some reason it only just now occurred to me that the shoulder-high jungle in the SE corner of the yard is actually burdock. On the one hand, that will give me some roots to try cooking. On the other hand, their thistles are nasty. I’m buying a machete.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 25, 2017

Garden Report for 170626

Hot and dry, with highs in the lower 90’s and lows in the higher 60’s. More of the same in the coming week, perhaps broken by a thunderstorm.

Continuing the fight against leaf miners in the chard. Continuing intermittent weeding, despite the mosquitoes. I think I’ve managed to kill my Pink Brandywine by overwatering. Turns out the container I have it in (a large Rubbermaid storage box) was one I hadn’t cut drain holes in. My everyday watering, coupled with roof runoff from the last shower of the season, left standing water in the box, and a plant that was drooping, nay draped, over the cage support. I poked holes as best I could, dug out as much of the soil as I could without digging up the plant, and when that didn’t help, trimmed off the worst of the droopy part, roughly the top foot or so. We shall see.

The non-garden part of the yard is looking fairly bosky. I decided to let the ground cover grow as it may — no cutting it back down to mineral soil at the end of winter — and it really took off. I’m not sure what they are, but they are growing chest high.

I wanted to stitch this into a panorama, but the geometry and the foliage was too much for my stitcher — it kept wanting to move the center frame to the left.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 17, 2017

Garden Report for 170619

Mid-month found us still in the grasp of June Gloom. Rainy, windy, and cold. Well, cool. Highs mostly in the 50’s, lows in the mid 40’s. The coming week we’ll have a proper June, with summer heat and everything. The nice part is, we’ll be in the dry, and that should kill off the skeeters.

MJ found a proper wire cloche, down in the basement. Planted some Grey Zucchini under it in Section 4. We’ll see how they do. Since the packet said they were a small, bush variety, I also planted one in a container on the deck. ProTip: you don’t need anti-squirrel cloches when planting in a mid-sized circular container, because an old Weber BBQ grill will fit nicely on top.

Everything is growing, including the weeds. The chard is coming along, but is heavily infested with leaf miners. That’s because the rain and the mosquitoes have kept me from doing a proper job in the garden. On Friday, it was windy enough to spend some time out there, so I did a major pruning — the only thing that will stop them (the miners, not the skeeters). Some of the early tomatoes already have fruit, but most have been setting, then losing, blossoms.

The aluminium cloches seem to work, as long as one pulls them apart when lifting. Of course, with this weather, the plastic bottles are working out better.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 5, 2017

Garden Report for 170605

Touched 90F at the beginning of the week, then June Gloom came through and cooled things off, for a bit. Looks like the coming week will be more of the same — warm, then cool.

Bought my last two tomato seedlings for the year — Cherokee Purple for the south side of the house (I moved the Patio tomatoes back up onto the…deck), and Pink Accordion to round out Section 1. Planted them Tuesday evening. Mosquitoes were fierce. The garden is like one of those yellow fever labs in Panama. Should have waited an hour for when a gust front came through. Also planted a Bush Buttercup squash in a deck container. We’ll see how big a bush it is.

I have always had problems with squirrels digging up my seedlings. They’re not after the plants, just looking for some fresh-turned earth to bury peanuts in, the way squirrels have done for thousands of years. I’ve tried making anti-squirrel cloches by cutting the bottom off of plastic water bottles, but the interior gets too hot, and when I pull them up they want to bring the plant with them. So I got the idea of using those wire gadgets that go in your downspouts and help stack up the leaves so they impede the flow. Unfortunately, all our local hardware store has are some newfangled cut-and-stretch aluminium mesh things that look like they’ll be as bad as water bottles when the time comes to lift them. I’ll try them anyway.

What I wanted

What I got

Put two of the gutter-cloches on some just-sprouted peas in Section 3, and two on newly planted Delicata and Bush Buttercup squash in Section 4.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 29, 2017

Garden Report for 170529

Warm, followed by hot. Highs in the mid-80s. Rain will bring us down into the mid 70s.

Not much garden action this week. Just for the heck of it I planted a pumpkin and a watermelon seedling. Bought a flat of mixed chard and lettuce and installed those. Green pepper in the container out front.

Cabbage hasn’t bolted yet. Mosquitoes are doing well. Another couple of weeks and we’ll be in the dry and they won’t be a problem.

Plan to plant some Delicata squash seeds and some carrots this week, if I can get my school work done.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 22, 2017

Garden Report for 170522

Cool and rainy during the week, warming to 75F over the weekend, with a couple days of 80’s in the forecast. Should have a good crop of mosquitos.

Planted some more stuff over the weekend. Two Juliet tomatoes on the deck, Lemon Boy and Siletz tomatoes in Section 1. Section 4 got two Acorn and three Zucchini squash, and one each of Yellowneck, and Butternut. The east side of the house got two cucumbers a Pink Brandywine and a Siberian tomato.

Having done all that, I moved the Sub-Arctic Plenty and Patio tomatoes from the deck to the south side of the house, next to the hops, and added a yellow cherry tomato to the deck.

Section 2 is reserved for greens and my ever-hopeful cabbage. Right now the weeds are doing well where the lettuces ought to be, and the cabbage will probably bolt by next weekend.

The local stores didn’t have anything in the way of peas or beans, so I’m going to have to plant them by seed, in Section 3.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 15, 2017

Garden Report for 170515

Cool, blustery, and showery. Highs in the upper 50’s, lows in the lower 30’s. Forecast is for, well, cool, blustery, and showery, with highs in the 60’s and lows in the 40’s.

Slowly getting things started. Planted some deck tomatoes: Sub-Arctic Plenty and Patio. Started on the house planters: one Burpee’s Big Boy and one Beefmaster. Also put one of each of those in Section one. The south end is essentially full now.

Our local hardware store has the same limited selection of tomatoes and other plants as always. I need to find another source of seedlings, but there’s nothing close by, and with all of I-90 through Spokane being dug up, it’s a pain. I didn’t get a chance to plant seeds this year, so it’s just what the locals have.

Green Thumb Up My Nose — The 2017 season really begins

May 8, 2017

To make sure we knew that winter was over, on Thursday we had a blast of moist 84F Hawaiian air. We were back to a more sane 60F on Saturday, and the soil temperature had climbed to 55F, with no indication of frost through mid-May. I made my first pass through the hardware store, and bought two each First Lady, Champion, and Arkansas Traveler — yes, only one ‘l’.  Plus a couple of basil seedlings. These all went into the South end of Section 1, digging up some of the greens (in two weeks they’d barely sprouted). Whitehouse o’ertop of them, soaker hose for half an hour, and we’ll see.

Still have greens and cabbage seeds in Section 2, without much action. Dug up Section 3 on the weekend. Plan to plant stuff there midweek.

Meanwhile, a couple of last year’s onions had stuck up stalks again, so I harvested them for use in my oatmeal. A nice Asia-poi touch.

Green Thumb Up My Nose — The 2017 season begins

April 24, 2017

Well, OK, it really began two weeks ago when I scattered some lettuce seeds in Section 1, but the NENW has had an unusually cold and wet winter/spring (current soil temperature is 50F), so our formal planting is starting off about a month later than I hoped.

The Plan

Despite that, the greens are starting to sprout.

However, it is now getting a little warmer, so on Saturday I cleaned all the spruce cones (thanks, spruce) and trimmings of spruce new growth (thanks, squirrels), weeds (thanks, weeds), and trash (thanks, me), laid down some anti-squirrel barriers, and planted a bunch of lettuce, and some cabbage and broccoli in Section 2. Now, I know I’ve said that brassicae don’t do well here (my last try bolted by mid-June), but it might just be cool enough…

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned and Plans for 2017

January 31, 2017

Lessons learned:
Not much new here. Don’t plant in the shade (yard shade and Section 4), and don’t plant short plants north of tall plants. The only brassicae worth trying are cabbages, and even then it’s a crapshoot. Beans are more trouble thant they are worth. Peas are OK. Burdock needs a lot of time to develop roots worth taking. Don’t expect your tomatoes to be more than tennis ball size.

Plans for 2017:
It’s a mild La Nina year, so we’re cooler and wetter. At the end of January there’s still eight inches of snow on the ground, including some from late November. I’m still going to plant early, but with less hope of useful results.

gardengantt2017

Continuing our medieval field rotation we have

Section 1
Tomatoes.

Section 2
Greens, lettuce, maybe cabbage. Yes, this violates the no shorts north of talls rule, but if I start the short stuff off early, it will be well developed before the tomatoes start to shade them

Section 3
Peas, cucumbers, carrots.

Section 4
Squash, melons, asparagus, maybe amaranth. Still looking for a purpose for Section 4.

Deck Containers
The usual tomatoes

House Containers
Tomatoes, cucumbers

Southside
Dig up the hops. Never gave that much shade, and I’m no longer interested in climbing around on the roof to mount/dismount the netting. Remove all the dirt (pesticides), and use it on the front lawn. Add new dirt, with lots of coffee grounds, and some blueberries.

Winter Garden

January 20, 2017

Our local hardware store just got their Spring seeds in.

Time to get to work

Time to get to work

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 3, 2016

Garden Report for 161003

It’s been a month, and now it’s time to close out the garden. The KHG is remaining warm, with the interior temperature holding at 64F on 2 October, despite the air temps just brushing 32F that night. I plan to keep track thru the winter, and report the numbers next spring.

Not much in the way of production. Couple of intentionally miniature peppers. Couple of unintentionally miniature onions. Five more medium Zucchinis before they succumbed to late season mildew. One small spaghetti squash from a late planted vine.

Week
Ending
10/03
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 27 1.13
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.67
summer
squash
5 1.41
zucchini 5  1600 320 17 12.3
Spaghetti
squash
1  470 470 1 0.47
Grand Total 23.0*

This time last year we had a grand total of 45kg. In 2014 it was 47kg, and in 2013 the total was 38kg. So, at about half the average of the last three years, this was not a memorable year, but that’s understandable, since we were gone much of the time.

For post-gardening-season projects, I have some burdock that I’m going to leave in the ground for another couple of weeks before harvesting the roots, and I’m planting some cabbage and bush cucumber in a pot that I’ll bring indoors when it starts to get cold. Also, a sectionsworth of KHG planted to greens, inside the whitehouses. Unless something special happens, I won’t be reporting on these.

*Including 1.4kg of really small Zucchinis that I picked while digging up the squash.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 5, 2016

Garden Report for 160905

No report for three weeks, due to travel, and more travel. Weather, I am told, was pretty much NENW standard for August — hottish and dryish.

The deck sugar pod peas gave one final half cup — enough to mix with one salad. The deck tomatoes have pooped out, after delivering a few final handfuls of cherrys. The garden tomatoes never did much at all. The Big Beef tomato out front yielded its final 136gram monster. The summer squash were much damaged by blossom-end rot and gave us only one medium. The zucchinis did much better, turning out 8kg of the stuff, but it looks like they’ve come to the end of their rope, as well. Finally, the pie pumpkins did equally poorly, turning out three small things better suited to the production of tarts than pies.

Week
Ending
9/05
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 1  136 27 1.13
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.67
summer
squash
1 560 560 5 1.41
zucchini 8 8800 1100 12 10.7
pumpkin 3 609 203 3 0.61
Running Total 19.5
Little punks

Little punks

Week
Ending
8/15
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  4 216  54 27 0.99
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.67
summer
squash
1 486 486  4  .85
zucchini  1  1500  1500  4  1.90
Running Total 9.43

We’re getting to the end of the garden. I suspect there’s only one more weeks worth of news. Pretty depressing, given that most years the garden report runs into mid- or late-October.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 15, 2016

Garden Report for 160815

The weather this week was warm and dry. The deck tomatoes seem to be recovering. I got three smallish tomatoes out of Section 4, and one biggish one from the front container. The squashes are producing at just the right rate for us to keep up with them, if we eat a lot of squash soup.

Week
Ending
8/15
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  4 216  54 27 0.99
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.67
summer
squash
1 486 486  4  .85
zucchini  1  1500  1500  4  1.90
Running Total 9.43

 

Week
Ending
8/08
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 23 0.775
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.675
summer
squash
3 .36
zucchini 1 500 500 4 1.400
Running Total 8.93

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 8, 2016

Garden Report for 160808

The weather this week was reportedly clear, hot and sunny, with heavy rain at the end. I say reportedly, because we were off on a handbell cruise, of which more in a later posting.

We have the KHG plants on a water timer, so they got watered throughout the week. The deck plants didn’t do so well. We’ll see if they recover. The deck parsley managed to survive.

How dry I am

How dry I am

Only one zucchini was ready when we got home, but that was because our neighbors were encouraged to pick what they wanted. As you can see, the squash in Section 3 are all doing well, while the tomatoes (Section 4, in back) are really hurting. I think it’s lack of sunlight.

Some plants do well, others don't

Some plants do well, others don’t

Week
Ending
8/08
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 23 0.775
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.675
summer
squash
 3  .36
zucchini  1  500  500  4  1.400
Running Total 8.93

 

Week
Ending
8/01
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 3 358 120 23 0.775
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.675
summer
squash
2 240 120 3 .36
zucchini 1 200 200 3 .900
Running Total 7.73

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 1, 2016

Garden Report for 160801

The weather this week was clear and sunny, just brushing mid-90’s at midweek.

Harvested two Big Beef tomatoes from the front pot, a New Girl from Section 4, and some miniature peppers from Section 1 of the KHG (4 peppers, 64g total, not worth adding a row for). The BBs are supposed to come in at 400-500g, but these were both 110g. The New Girl was 140g, exactly as advertised.

The squash in Section 3 were badly hit by blossom-end rot, not sure why. Watering has been consistent. I hit them with some calcium mix and they seem to be doing OK now. Got one summer squash and a Zucchini.

Meanwhile, the rest of the KHG tomatoes continue to meander on, with few fruit and nothing ripe. The pie pumpkins outside the KHG are doing OK, but I only see one pump.

I am trying an experiment in the newly-cleared Section 1. Remember the big thistly plant from a couple weeks ago? Turns out it’s burdock, the roots of which are used in some Japanese cooking. First and second year growth is best. So I clipped some of the thistles off a few nearby plants, and planted them in the garden. Remember kids, the best way to get rid of pests is to turn them into gourmet food.

Week
Ending
8/04
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  3  358  120 23 0.775
cabbage 4 4.02
peas 1.675
summer
squash
 2  240  120  3  .36
zucchini  1  200  200  3  .900
Running Total 7.73

 

Week
Ending
7/25
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 20 0.418
cabbage 3 2750 917 4 4.02
peas 1300 1.675
summer
squash
 1  .120
zucchini  2  .700
Running Total 6.93

Interestingly, this time last year I was about even with this year’s harvest, and in 2014 it wasn’t until mid-August that it was even worth building a harvest table. That will change by the end of the month.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 26, 2016

Garden Report for 160725

The weather this week was clear and sunny, just brushing 90F at midweek.

This is turning out to be a very odd year. I harvested all the peas, because powdery mildew was attacking them, and because they were old enough that they were wondering if they should switch to being planters instead of eaters. I harvested all the cabbage, because they were pretty well mature (over 90 days since transplanting) and because it was getting hot enough that they’d soon be thinking of bolting. The result is that two of the four KHG sections are now essentially empty, and the other two are only half full (of squash and tomatoes). I had cut back on plantings because of all the trips I’ll be on, but closing out half the garden in mid-July is ridiculous.

Meanwhile, the KHG tomatoes continue to meander on, with few fruit and nothing ripe. The Big Boy in the pot out front (not much soil but lots of sun) finally produced two (almost ripe), and might produce two more.

Week
Ending
7/25
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 20 0.418
cabbage 3 2750 917 4 4.02
peas 1300 1.675
summer
squash
zucchini
Running Total 6.113

 

Week
Ending
7/18
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato 20 0.418
cabbage  2  1.270
peas  270  –  0.645
summer
squash
     1  120  120    1  0.120
zucchini    2   0.700
Running Total 3.16

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 17, 2016

Garden Report for 160718

The weather this week started cool and wet, and ended warm and thundry, with highs in the low 80’s.

Peas are ripening well, and it’s going to be a stretch to keep up with them, particularly since they seem to be having some sort of powdery mildew problem. Harvested another cabbage and made a nice soup with it and the leftover cabbage water from last week. So far, the only tomatoes that are producing are the Stupice’s, and we get a couple of sub-ping-pong-ball-sized ones every few days. The summer squash is languishing, just like the tomatoes, but I found two nice sized Zucchini, hidden away.

Week
Ending
7/18
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

tomato  14  268  19 20 0.418
cabbage  1 650  650  2 1.27
peas  –  270  –  0.645
summer
squash
     1  120  120    1  0.120
zucchini  2  700  350  2  0.700
Running Total 3.16

 

Week
Ending
7/11
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

 tomato 6 150 25 6 0.150
 cabbage  1 625   625 1 0.625
 peas  –  375  –  –  0.375
 summer
squash
 zucchini
Running Total  1.15

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 11, 2016

Garden Report for 160711

The weather this week was cool and wet, with highs in the lower 70’s. Good for cabbage and peas, not so good for tomatoes. Also good for lettuce. Too bad none of the stuff I planted before my trip actually sprouted. The upcoming week will be cooler than normal, maybe hitting 80 toward the end.

 

Week
Ending
7/11
Vegetable Count Weight
g
Unit
Weight
g
Total Total
Weight
kg

 tomato 6 150 25 150 0.150
 cabbage  1 625   625 625 0.625
 peas  –  375  –  –  0.375
 summer
squash
 zucchini
Running Total  1.15

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 4, 2016

Garden Report for 160704

No reports for a while on account of as how I was out of the country. While I was gone we moved into our standard summer weather pattern — hot and dry, and sometimes windy. We had a couple days in the upper 80’s, and no rain, and the temperature one foot down in the KHG was 70F on July 1. Fortunately, I had a timer on the soaker hose for the garden, and MJ got the deck plants. Unfortunately, the wet spring and the long absence meant that the weeds have kindof taken over.

The weedy back yard. There are five tomato cages hidden in there somewhere

The weedy back yard. There are five seven tomato cages hidden in there somewhere

The KHG is in much the same shape:

The weedy garden. Cabbages in front, tomatoes at the rear

The weedy garden. Cabbages in front, tomatoes at the rear

And this is The Weed.

The weed. This guy produces lots of horrible thistly seed pods.

This guy produces lots of horrible thistly seed pods.

If your dogs get into this one, come Fall, you’ll be picking burrs out of their fur for a week.

Next week will be a little cooler, and better maintained.

It’s not quite time to start the scoreboard, but I probably will next week. We harvested a handful of deck snow peas for salads, and a couple of deck tomatoes about the size of a bocce ball pallino. About time to harvest some of the garden peas. The lettuce I planted before the trip didn’t come up. I think it was too far away from the soaker hose.

The cabbages are doing surprisingly well. I guess the situation is more complex than I had been led to believe. Previously, hot weather would cause them to bolt. Right now, I seem to have four good cabbages, perhaps softball sized. That’s probably because we had cool wet weather at a critical point.

The KHG tomatoes, in Section 4, are looking surprisingly puny. Possibly because Section 4 gets less sunlight than any of the others. I may have to modify my rotation scheme. The big pumpkins didn’t get any water, and so are stunted and bug-bit. The small pumpkins got some water, and more sun, and so are doing reasonably well. The squashes are doing well, but the one zucchini that was starting off when I left decided to die before dropping its flower instead.

Replanted the deck snow peas. Planted more lettuce.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 20, 2016

Garden Report for 160620

Lots of shade by the 4th

Lots of shade by the 4th


So it’s been almost a month since my last garden report, and there’s still not a lot to report. Weather was mostly of the June Gloom sort, with a frost warning just last week. But now it looks like we’re headed into the 80’s.

Things continue to slog along. The cool weather means that most plants haven’t grown very much, but it also means that the cabbages have not yet bolted. I’m pleased with the growth of the hops. They’ve filled in a lot since last month.

We have a couple of early deck tomatoes just starting to break, and a small finger of a zucchini coming along. Harvested two volunteer butterball lettuce, and had some of our snow pea pods in the resulting salad.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 22, 2016

Garden Report for 160523

So, now that it’s almost June, we have the weather data for April, and it confirms what gardeners already knew — it was warm. In fact it was the warmest on record. And if you look closely at the map, you see it was particularly warm in the NENW. And, even though this Summer will see normal rainfall, we’re still expected to be warmer than normal.

Meanwhile, this week was cool – er. Still ahead of seasonal averages, but cool. Also breezy. And showery. In fact, a lot like last week. I closed up the whitehouses on Thursday, since our highs were not predicted to get out of the mid-60’s through the weekend, with lows in the 40s. Sunday didn’t beat 60F, with 23mph winds, gusting to 30. What you’d call a blustery day.

Here’s the hops. I took four 10ft runs of corner trim and tied a 14x14ft anti-bird net to them. By the end of June, they’ll be up to the roof and we’ll have shade on the south side of the house all Summer. Assuming it all holds together.

Stalled at the 4ft mark

Stalled at the 4ft mark

And assuming that it does hold together, come Fall I’ll just cut them down, fold the whole thing up and dispose of it. We could do something more permanent and let it grow from year to year, but hops “berries” (more like little pine cones) are poisonous to dogs, so we want to get them out of the way.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 15, 2016

Garden Report for 160516

Weather this week started out chilly, moved to warm, and is now back to cool, and breezy. And showery. Forecast is for more cool and showery. But even this cooling trend is still two weeks ahead of our average.

In general, how far ahead are we this Spring? My May 15 gardening calendar says that the upcoming week is a good week to start cucumber and pumpkin seedlings, and lay down plastic mulch for the tomatoes, squash, and peppers. It also suggests that next Friday might be a good day for early planting. The reality is, of course, that my early planting was done two weeks ago.

As far as the garden itself, right now there’s nothing much going on. Planted some onions in Section 1, under the assumption that the cabbages would bolt. Scattered the last of last year’s amaranth seeds in front of the hops, and they are starting to show themselves. The hops* themselves put in a four-foot spurt of growth, but now are just marking time. I installed a timer-controller on the garden hose, so the soakers run for an hour every other day. Otherwise, things are just kindof, you know, growing.

*Last week I promised a photo of the hops, but because of the cool weather they are still marking time, and because of the rain, I’m not planning on any outdoor activities.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 3, 2016

Garden Report for 1600502

And here it is, May already. Steady warming trend, from a high of around 60 on Sunday, to a high of around 70…on Sunday.  Lows hit 33F on Sunday night, but the plants seem to have weathered it, even the ones not in the whitehouses. Forecast is for even more warming, into the 80’s, which I suspect will finally bolt my cabbages, and it’s not even June yet. Cliff Mass, the NWWx guy, says we should consider 1 May to be 1 June for gardening purposes this year. Temperature a foot down in the garden is already 60F.

Planted some more squash in Section 3 over the weekend — spaghetti, butternut, summer squash. Put some asparagus roots in to Section 4.

The hops are doing well. Tried a new way of providing them with growth support. Pix next week.

Planted two new tomatoes in deck containers — Christmas Grapes (I hope that’s not a indicator of when it ripens) and Stupice. That one was in a planting bag. I’m thinking it might be better than the decaying plastic containers I’m currently using.

Hillbilly Hydroponics

Hillbilly Hydroponics

And of course, no sooner had I written about the joys of hydroponics last week than my lettuce started to wilt. I think all the moving around to take the pictures may have broken the threadlike root or something. So I drilled a hole in the shoulder of the bottle, big enough for a small funnel, and added a few cups of water, just enough to bring it an inch or so up the side of the sock. Back to firm and crisp-looking. So it’s not a fire and forget, it’s more like plant it and set your calendar.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 24, 2016

Garden Report for 160425

The two week wrapup is just like the one week wrapup preceeding: cool, followed by warm, followed by stinking hot, followed by cool again. Outdoor thermometer (12ft up the North side of the house) peaked at 84F. Today it peaked at 64F. Next week will be cool again.

Cabbage seedlings seem to be doing OK. I took the whitehouses off, figuring that their shade wouldn’t make up for the increased heat load. Couldn’t think of any other brassicae worth planting in Section 1 this late in the spring, so I stuck in a couple of pepper plants — Bell and Banana.

Cleaned up sections 3 and 4 and did some early seedlings. Section 3 got a whitehouse and two zucchini seedlings. Section 4 got a whitehouse and a bunch of tomatoes — I figured I’d take a chance and plant them out six weeks early. The usual: Early Girl, Better Boy, Beefsteak. If the NENW reverts to type and we get a killer frost in May, there’s still time to replant.

Read an interesting article on a fire and forget hydroponic setup. A half-gallon jug filled with special hydroponic solution, into which you stick a special plant-retaining-sleeve  filled with special hydroponic soil and some small plant, like lettuce.You set it up in a sunny window and leave it. The water slowly evaporates through the plant, and the plant slowly fills up the soil with roots. When the water drops below the level of the plant-retaining-sleeve, the roots will keep growing, down into the water.

Not being a hydroponicist, I took the hillbilly approach and used an old sock, potting soil, and a half gallon of water with a half-teaspoon of plant food dissolved in it. The picture shows the result, six weeks or so in:

Hillbilly Hydroponics

Hillbilly Hydroponics

I couldn’t get a good shot of the bottom, because my phonecam kept focusing on the plastic bottle, but there is indeed a thin thread of root hanging down half an inch into the water. The lettuce looks like it will be ready for harvest in another couple of weeks. I may just trim a couple of leaves at a time, because a good lettuce like that, you don’t want to eat all at once.

This was a proof of concept experiment. It says that next winter we can have fresh greens from November to May, assuming we get the timing right, and don’t mind having a sun room full of bottles. And going barefoot.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 10, 2016

Garden Report for 160411

Cool, followed by warm, followed by stinking hot. Outdoor thermometer (12ft up the North side of the house) said 80F. Thermometer in the Little White House said 100F+. Next week will show a return to normal, with highs in the mid-50’s and lows in the mid 30’s, with some rain.

Just the thing to keep your seedlings warm

Just the thing to keep your seedlings warm

Perfect weather for putting in new seedlings, except that last week’s cabbages may have been stunted by the heat. I put up the Second White House and installed all the peas I’d been seedlingizing. Then I laid down a batch of the wire shelving and direct seeded more peas, and some Asian long beans. To fill in the gaps, I sprinkled some of last year’s lettuce seeds around.

That filled out Section 2. I’ve got half of Section 1 to deal with yet. That’s scheduled for brassicae, but I’m not sure what kind or where. More wire shelving.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 4, 2016

Garden Report for 160404

Cold start to the week followed by warming into the upper 60’s. Forecast is for a …. cold start to the week followed by warming into the lower 70’s.

For the last couple of years I’ve been filling my containers with potting soil at the start of the season, then dumping the soil in a corner of the yard to lie fallow before being used on top of the KHG. So this week I’ve been moving barrows of soil from the corner to the KHG. Enough to add three inches or so to two sections. I figure between that and my four-section crop rotation I should be able to keep my soil pest free.

It hasn’t been the coldest of winters — thanks El Nino — but we did have two weeks with the highs below freezing at the end of December. I measured the soil temperature 12″ down in the garden at the start of every month, and it never dropped below 40F. So I guess I’ve got some good microbiome stuff going on down there.

Started a bunch of cabbages and peas indoors. Will move them outside Real Soon Now. Bought six cabbage seedlings and planted them out under my new mini-greenhouse. We’ll see if we can get a crop before everything bolts.

Not really a cloche

The Little GreenHouse (yes I know it’s white).

UPDATE: We had a nice windstorm today, gusts in the 30’s. But my weighting and clamping seems to have worked, and the LGH is still there

Green Tumb Up My Nose: The 2016 Season Begins

March 20, 2016

Oh, I had so many plans, and here we are at the end of March with none of them in motion. My intent was to have lots of seedlings started already, have moved some to the portable greenhouse, and be well on my way to transplanting the cabbages and bok choy. Well, I’m batting 0.000.

To be fair, the weather hasn’t cooperated. A warmer El Nino year doesn’t mean warm. Regardless of the status of any seedlings, it’s still too cold, even in the greenhouse. Last week it was highs in the middle 40’s, with lows dancing along the frost line. This weekend will be warm and wet, and then we go back to highs near 50, and frost-dancing lows. Currently, the temperature one foot down in Section 1 is 45F.

I do have some lettuces started, but those might be better off if raised indoors. We shall see. Meanwhile:

1. clean up garden
2. start the cabbages and bok choy for an early May plant out
3. start the peas for a mid-may plant out
4. see how much room I have in the seedling corner for additional starts.
5. move the greenhouse up onto the deck

Given that the usual date for outdoor gardening around here is the first of June, this is probably as aggressive a schedule as one could hope for.

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Winter Solstice

December 21, 2015

We are at the Winter Solstice. The Northern Hemisphere has tilted as far from the Sun as it planned to, and has now started back. Days are getting longer, and Spring is on the way. I went out at the last moment of Autumn and measured the soil temperature of the KHG. After ten days in the low thirties (with one clear night touching 13F), and with a six-inch blanket of new fallen snow (it’s still coming down), the temperature   one foot down at 8:48PST was 40F. A minute later, when Winter was well and truly started, the temperature was still 40F, so I can confidently say that the arrival of Winter had no effect on the deep soil temperature of the KHG.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

December 6, 2015

Garden Report for 151207

This is more of a clean-up entry than anything. We are using up the last of the tomatoes this week. They were all green when picked, but as long as one can avoid them rotting they seem to ripen …. eventually. They do tend to dehydrate a little, and thus get wrinkly with age, but don’t we all.

Probably should do something with our Jack-O-Lantern this week as well. It’s almost ripe, but some parts look like they want to go bad. This is the one that was grown in the shade, and thus didn’t do very well. UPDATE: about half a cup of watery squoosh.

Shows you what lack of sun can do

Shows you what lack of sun can do

UPDATE: It’s warmed into the 50’s and I realized I hadn’t harvested the carrots. Got a pound and a half of nice-looking stubbies. There’s a patch of smaller ones that I’m going to leave for a bit.

Finally, on the 3rd of December, after a week of frosts as low as 18F, followed by a couple days of rain, the temperature 12″ down in the KHG was a toasty 40F. We’ll see what it’s like come February.

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Plans for 2016

November 25, 2015

We are in an El Nino cycle, probably a strong one. That means the NENW will likely be warmer than usual (precip probabilities are split between less and more). And that means we can try planting out even earlier. Like early to mid April. In keeping with earlier approach, I’m rotating the fields again. This time, Section 4 is in the main rotation.

Crops to be grown
Tall crops (including climbers)
Peas
Green Beans (small planting)
Lima Beans
Tomatoes
Amaranth

Short crops
Greens, of course
Asparagus
Carrots
Squash (winter, summer, pumpkin)
Cucumbers (Lemon)

Containers
Tomatoes
Lemon cucumbers
Peppers (not-chiles)

New Ideas
Melons
Cucumbers (European)

Section 1
Brassicae. Yes, I know. Trying some clever timing tricks.
See the Gantt Chart
Carrots. Maybe the amaranth goes here

Section 2
Peas and beans. Maybe cucumbers.

Section 3
Squash. Maybe melons

Section 4
Tomatoes.* Asparagus.

The Schedule

early Feb – Start seeds indoors
early April (60 days later) – move to greenhouse
mid March — transplant cabbage and bok choy
early May — transplant other things
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen

 

Garden Gantt 2016

Garden Gantt 2016

*We did a tomato tasting this evening, before the last of the tomatoes goes off. Conclusions were:

The red tomatoes were OK, and mostly indistinguishable — Brandywine, Celebrity, Champion, and Early Girl. The only small red tomato, the Zebras, were tart and very thick skinned. The small yellow Lemons were not as tart as the bigger yellow Cougars. The yellow Brandywines were Brandywine-sized and knobbly, and didn’t taste that much different from the run of the mill reds. Note — although it said Red Brandywine on the tin, I expect the labels got switched, because they were nowhere near as big as the yellows, and were shaped nothing like them. I’ll have to think on this when Spring comes.

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned – 2015

November 22, 2015

Looks like the garden is done for the year. I don’t think the peas will survive 18hrs of frost, dipping to 18F, three days after the 18th.  Here’s a commentary on this year’s plans:

General
1. Hit hard by powdery mildew this summer. Garden plants, ground cover plants, and plants in the front yard were infected. Go for mildew resistant strains of everything.

PM wasn’t a problem this year. Maybe it was drier. I put up a shield so my neighbor’s sprinkler wouldn’t dampen the squash, and that helped.

2. The small greenhouse worked well to get the plants through a variable Spring. Was positively humid inside, which attracted mosquitoes. Try hanging flypaper.

Didn’t need the greenhouse much, and never got to try the flypaper.

Yard Crops
1. Can’t do much with the area that’s in deep shade. Avoid next year (although part of that might have been the mildew).

I didn’t avoid, and it didn’t go well. Just don’t, OK?

2. Hops netting worked well, but was too narrow at the top. Need to reposition the hooks, or add new ones.

Added hooks, but it hourglassed in the middle. Gonna hafta build a full sized frame

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

Long beans tended to go from freshripe to dry and crumbly in a couple of days. Had more lemon cukes than we could eat.

2. Try more miniatures

Couldn’t find any

3. Work even harder on getting the labeling right

Yeah, right

4. Daikon are not container plants, not even in big containers.

Or, as far as I can tell, not even in KHG’s. Give up.

Keyhole Garden
1. Abandon Section 4 as a berry farm. Too much work for too little return. Plant to peas and beans this year.

Got one good crop of beans, but the second planting didn’t make it

2. First pick of one pea plant last Summer 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. Six lima bean plants made two small servings.

Peas do not do well in deep shade, which is what we had behind the Santa Maria beans. Keep that in mind for next year. Beans and peas and tomatoes should go on the north end, and lower plants should go on the south end of each KHG section. In other news, we like limas better than green beans.

3. Replace all the covers with the redesigned versions.

Didn’t need them

4. Re-do all of the irrigation hose. Set it so each section can be watered individually.

Done, except the individually part

5. In early Spring, rebuild the SW corner of Section 1. Consider re-coring the center basket as well.

Done.

6. Plastic bottle cloche covers worked well.

Didn’t need them.

What didn’t work:
Pumpkins in the shade.
Amaranth. Planted too late, wrong varietal.
Brassicae. Any kind. Any where.
Santa Maria beans (pinquitos).

What did work:
Peppers out front.
Lemon cukes.
Hanging Zebras.
Wire shelving as an anti-squirrel measure.
Last minute summer-squash-inna-box.

Next week: next year

Green Thumb Up My Nose

November 8, 2015

Garden Report for 151109

We are in full autumnal mode here, with ten hours of frost on Tuesday night and twelve hours on Thursday night. Wednesday was originally forecast the same, but clouds moved in and gave us twelve hours at 33F. Next week is more of the same (except when it rains), and by mid-month we will hit the point at which every night will see frost.

Scarfed up a handful of late zucchini and summer squash, plus one baby butternut and a pie-pumpkin-sized jack-o-lantern. About the only thing left in the garden is the peas and carrots and chard (oh,my).

Harvested the Santa Maria Beans (pinquitos). Got half a basket from half a section of the KHG. Spent a happy hour standing in the cold wind separating the beans from the non-beans. Harder than it looks. Beans don’t want to be picked. It’s like paper towels — the seam is stronger than the towel. I figure I lost about 20% of the pods, because they were too small, too well hidden, too attached, or too far out of reach. My half-basket included a lot of attached non-bean stuff, and the total weight was ~5lb.

Beans and non-beans

Beans and non-beans

I’m not sure the SMB experiment was a success. A couple accounts I’ve read said they just left the beans in the garden until they dried on the vine. Twenty weeks in, only a quarter of the picked beans looked mature enough to have beans inside them, and none of them looked to be drying out. I might run them through the dehydrator and see if that helps. Meanwhile, the 75% that are young and tender might be cookable like regular old green beans.

It may be that pinquitos are just not suited for the NENW. I may have to give up and order packages of the dried beans from Amazon, the way our forebears did. We’ll see. I’ll report.

Here’s the final scoreboard.

Week Ending 11/09 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  573 68
Bush Buttercup  5  5
Zucchini  1 3  3  23 31
Summer Squash  7 7 1 9 2
Butternut 1  11  11  5  4
Cuke  39  8
Spaghetti  7  14
Pumpkin 1  38 38  5  7
Beans  –  –  5lb  –  9
Peas  –  –  – 1
Bell peppers 4  1

Grand Total 150 pounds. Maybe not the largest harvest ever, but it’s among the top two. Next week, Lessons Learned.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

November 1, 2015

Garden Report for 151102

Forecast frost forestalled by rain. Lots of rain. Half an inch in 24hrs on Friday, and another half inch on Saturday and a quarter inch on Sunday. The forecast for next week, once the clouds clear, shows lows of 37F, 29F, 24F … Do we see a trend here?

Meanwhile, I dashed out in between showers to bring in the crops. Twenty pounds of tomatoes from the main KHG. Lots were small, but a dozen were the big yellow Brandywines, running 8oz. each. The regular Brandywines, grown right next to them, are a quarter that. Our total for the year is 68lb, well down from our first KHG season (2012), which saw near a 100lb of tomatoes. A couple of medium-sized spaghetti squash. Half a dozen white radishes.

In 2012 there were five boxes like this

In 2012 there were five boxes like this

I don’t think the amaranth will make it. There’s still no seeds, and Thursday night is forecast to be 24F. But there’s still the Santa Maria beans to bring in, plus whatever peas make it. This may not be a record year, but it’s among the top two.

Here’s the semifinal scoreboard.

Week Ending 11/02 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  135 344  2.5  573 68
Bush Buttercup  5  5.0
Zucchini  1 10  10  22 30.8
Summer Squash  1 15  15 2 1.65
Butternut  4  3.7
Cuke  39  7.65
Spaghetti  2  28  14  7  14
Pie Pumpkin  4  5.6
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
Bell peppers 4  1.13

Grand Total 143lb, not counting the late stuff.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 25, 2015

Garden Report for 151026

Did it or didn’t it frost this week? Depends on where you ask. For example, the weather boffins predicted it for 32F on early Friday morning, out in the Turnbull, and 35F at KGEG. WeatherSpark had 32F. What was the actual? WeatherSpark says 36F, Turnbull said 36F, KGEG said 38F. My house thermometer said 35F (and Nest said 27F, not sure what planet they’re on), but the meat thermometer (hey, it’s digital, it’s portable) said 35F at the KHG, and 32F ten feet up on the deck. A similar story was told Saturday night. So far, nothing has turned black. Forecast for next week says we’ll take another run at it on Tuesday. Here’s Cliff Mass, the NWWx guy talking about the two week forecast.

Nevertheless, I’m starting to get serious about shutting down the garden.  I figure that even if we get another week or two with no frost, the chance of getting any new squash or tomatoes is essentially zero.

Pulled all the tomatoes off the 32F deck, just over five poundsworth. I was going to harvest the last of the squash from the KHG and pull them up, but there’s a few that might grow some more. Trimmed back the KHG tomatoes, and we’ll see about when to harvest them. I’m leaving them for now, in hopes they do something besides hang greenly from their stalks. Harvested a bunch of chard, before it got too big. We’re overstocked on greens, so likely will lose some. MJ is away and I have this tendency to just eat big chunks of meat, standing up at the sink.

This week's haul

This week’s haul

Meanwhile, the Portable Garden did pretty well, producing three banana-sized summer squash total (harvested one this week). This is more and bigger than the KHG squash did. I suspect the reason is that the garden squash was in the shade of the tomatoes. Something similar is going on in Section 3, where the peas, which by rights should be ready for picking this week, are still in the six-inch-high phase because of heavy shade from the Santa Maria beans. In systems terms, this is gardening under constraints.

Chasing the sunny spots

Chasing the sunny spots

The amaranth has all headed out, and has produced little white flowerlike things amongst the red  … flowers. Nothing that looks like seed. The big one headed first, and then fell over, just like the YouTubers say, but no seeds.

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 10/26 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  60 88  1.5  438 46.25
Bush Buttercup  5  5.0
Zucchini  1 10  10  22 30.8
Summer Squash  1 15  15 2 1.65
Butternut  4  3.7
Cuke  39  7.65
Spaghetti  5  12.75
Pie Pumpkin  4  5.6
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
Bell peppers 4  1.13

Grand Total 119.53lb, and we haven’t touched the KHG tomatoes yet. I think it’s a record year.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 18, 2015

Garden Report for 151019

Yet another Gorgeous Week, with highs around 70F and lows in the low 40’s. Why does this always happen right after school starts? And why does it go away so soon? Depending on which forecast station I look at, by the end of the week we’ll either be in the mid 30’s, or we’ll have frost. The 30’s forecast is for KGEG, which is further away, but equivalently urban. The frost forecast is for the Turnbull Wildlife Sanctuary Ranger Station, which is closer, but out in the basalt scablands. I’m hoping we can make it through the week frost-free so I can start closing down the garden next weekend.

Started shutting down the deck containers this weekend. Cut the plants off, dump them on the compost pile, then dump the dirt from the pot on top of them. The roots have so filled the pots that it’s like dropping a cast of the inside of the pot. The two plants (Patio and Celebrity) between them had about six small to medium tomatoes. OK small to really small. Got almost four pounds of tomatoes, total, including a pound of greenies. Another handfull of lemon cucumbers. Lots of chard, and a little lettuce.

Not much else coming along, despite the pleasant weather. I guess we’ll end up like we did a couple of years ago, with four or five flats of tomatoes ripening on the living room floor.

I’m not into monster vegetables, so I only get one if something escapes me. Like the 7lb zucchini that was hanging vertically into the shadows of Section 1. I cut it into sections and gave them away to friends at the libraries Oktoberfest party.*

Hard to fit into a salad

Hard to fit into a salad

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 10/19 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  22 60 2.7  378 40.75
Bush Buttercup  5  5.0
Zucchini 1 112  112  21 30.2
Summer Squash 1 0.65
Butternut  4  3.7
Cuke  6 12.8 2.1  39  7.65
Spaghetti  5  12.75
Pie Pumpkin  4  5.6
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
Bell peppers  1  4.5 4.5 4  1.13

Grand Total 112.6lb. That’s about 12lb behind last year at this time, but last year at this time I had just closed out the garden. In 2013 the garden had already been closed for a week, and we had 76lbs, not counting the 40lbs of jack-o-lanterns.

*Since it was a Hawaiian-themed party, I got to wear lederhosen with an aloha shirt. Nobody picked up on the Heinlein reference.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 11, 2015

Garden Report for 151012

Gorgeous week, with weather mostly around 70F, with strong winds Saturday night, followed by rain. We look to be set for a cooler version of the same, with highs around 65F, but a warming trend could put us into the mid-70’s by next weekend.

Harvested a four pound spaghetti squash and a bunch of Section 1 tomatoes. Several were in the 6oz range, which is where I’d like them.  Amaranth is heading like crazy, and the big one has fallen over from the weight, but no actual seeds. I tried cooking up some of the leaves anyway, and they were OK, if you put enough garlic and cumin on them. Santa Maria beans are chugging along. Hard to see them going dry before November. Our buttercrunch lettuce has bolted, but we have some baby romaine and such just coming in. No zucchinis and no summer squash, but a couple of summers are doing well on my transportable garden.

It looks lonely, but it gets a lot of sun.

It looks lonely, but it gets a lot of sun.

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 10/12 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato 17 65  3.8  356 37
Bush Buttercup  5  5.0
Zucchini 1 22  22  21 23.2
Summer Squash 1 0.65
Butternut  4  3.7
Cuke 3 13.7  4.6  33  6.85
Spaghetti  1  64  64  5  12.75
Pie Pumpkin  4  5.6
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
bell peppers 3  0.85

Grand Total 100.6lb

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 4, 2015

Garden Report for 151005

Gorgeous week, with weather mostly around 70F, with one peak at 80F. Lows in the low 40’s, with a spot of rain at the end. Forecast for more of the same, with peaks in the upper 70’s.

Not much harvested. Tiny banana peppers that I’m not even counting. Tiny summer squash. Tiny butternut squash. Couple of midsize zucchini.  The amaranth is heading, but nothing that looks like seeds yet. Main garden tomatoes are still thinking about turning, but so far have only managed a brownish pink. High hopes for next week.

Other than the camo-pattern, I can't tell Italian Zucchini from the kind that comes from Italy

Other than the camo-pattern, I can’t tell Italian Zucchini from the kind that comes from Italy

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 10/05 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato 13 22.5  1.7  339 33
Bush Buttercup  5  5.0
Zucchini 2 13.2  6.6  20 21.8
Summer Squash 1 2.5  2.5 1 0.65
Butternut 2 9 4.5  4  3.7
Cuke 1 2.25 2.25  30  6
Spaghetti  4  8.75
Pie Pumpkin  4  5.6
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
bell peppers 3  0.85

Grand Total 90.4lb

This time last year we had 95lbs of produce, including twice the weight in tomatoes. A revised look says 2013 gave us 76lb total, including a bunch of tomatoes that were ripening on the living room floor, but not including 40lb of jack-o-lanterns.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 28, 2015

Garden Report for 150928

Weather mostly around 70F, with one peak at 80F. Lows in the low 40’s.

The main garden tomatoes are starting to come in, as are the second wave zucchinis and the first of the summer squash (one good, two with BER). Blossom End Rot is rearing its head in a couple of places — some zucchinis have also succumbed, as have a couple of the deck Italian zucchinis (isn’t Italian zucchini a redundancy?). Pretty much all the amaranth is in blossom mode, but I might harvest a bunch of leaves anyway. Continuing closeouts. Took down the hops. Having them grow on a bird net worked out well. I didn’t even have to get up on a ladder. Just took the long branch-trimmer and slipped it off of the soffit hooks.

The main garden tomatoes are coming in larger than the container ones — 3-5oz each, instead of 2-3oz. I can see lots of green ones back in the jungle, so if the frosts hold off we shouldn’t have to hunt for a red October.

I think the high heat in mid-summer killed a lot of blossoms, and the more moderate temps of late August have re-started the process. Which is why BER is still a problem, and we have about six, thumb-sized, spaghetti squash developing.

Finally, the tomatoes.

Finally, the tomatoes.

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 9/28 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato 36 92 2.5  326 31.75
Bush Buttercup  5  5.0
Zucchini 1  22  22  18 21
Summer Squash 1 8 8 1 0.5
Butternut  2  3.2
Cuke 1  3.7  3.7  29  5.9
Spaghetti  4  8.75
Pie Pumpkin  4  5.6
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
bell peppers  3  0.85

Grand Total: 87.6lb

This time last year we also had 87lbs of produce, except by now we had twice the weight in tomatoes, but very few squash. In 2013, we peaked out at 51lbs in mid-September, not counting the 20lb jack-o-lantern pumpkin. Our current jack-o-lantern is starting to turn color, but it’s very small. As in, we’ll do better hollowing out a lemon cucumber.