Posts Tagged ‘keyhole garden’

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.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 20, 2015

Garden Report for 150921

Weather similar to last week. Cool start (~62F), warm and windy end (~74F), cool forecast (~60F). Lows in the low 40’s.

Harvested one each pie pumpkin, spaghetti squash, and hanging bush buttercup. Another couple of lemon cukes, and not a lot of not very big tomatoes, and the remaining bell pepper from out front, and that was it.

The three summer squash still haven’t progressed much beyond fat finger size. Ditto for three Italian zucchini on the deck. Some of the tomatoes in Section 1 are starting to break color. Hoping for some ripe ones next week. Amaranth keep on keeping on. Meanwhile, we have the start of some Santa Maria beans. Harvest isn’t for another three weeks or so.

First Beans

First Beans

Closed out the golden cherry tomatoes on the deck. Not impressed. The hanging tomatoes will go next week.

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 9/21 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato 26 24  0.92  290 26
Bush Buttercup  1 13.2 13.2  5  5.0
Zucchini  17 19.5
Butternut  2  3.2
Cuke  2  3.2 1.6  28  5.7
Spaghetti  1 20  20  4  8.75
Pie Pumpkin  1  30  30  4  5.6
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
bell peppers 3  13.5  4.5  3  0.85

Grand Total: 79.6lb

This time last year we had 78.85lbs of produce, almost the same as this year, except by now we had twice the weight in tomatoes, but very few squash. In 2013, we only had about 51lbs, not counting the 20lb jack-o-lantern pumpkin.

MJ brought home some tomatoes from friends in the dog club. Their smallest were about the size of our largest. Their largest weren’t beefsteaks, but they were of a size suitable for slicing onto a hamburger bun. Not sure what our problem is. More sun? More fertilizer? More water?

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 13, 2015

Garden Report for 150914

Cool start (62F), warm and windy end (92F), cool forecast (62F). Lows in the low 40’s.

A rogue zucchini turned up in the jungle, right after I put three of its siblings in the dehydrator. Another handful of lemon cukes, and not a lot of not very big tomatoes, and that was it.

Meanwhile, there’s one each pie pumpkin, spaghetti squash, and hanging bush buttercup getting ready for next week or so. Three summer squash that haven’t progressed beyond fat finger size. Ditto for three Italian zucchini on the deck.

Trimmed a bunch of leaves off the non-flowering amaranth and stir fried them with garlic. Not bad, in a collard greens sort of way. As with the other greens, these cooked down to a tenth their volume. Another few weeks and some of them will be producing seeds.

Here’s the latest scoreboard, such as it is.

Week Ending 9/14 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato 17 24  1.4  264 24.5
Bush Buttercup  4  3.2
Zucchini  1 40  40  17 19.5
Butternut  2  3.2
Cuke  4  13 3.25  26  5.5
Spaghetti  3  7.5
Pie Pumpkin  3  3.7
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 72.1lb

This time last year we had 74lbs of produce, and in 2013, as near as I can figure out, we only had about 38lbs, due mostly to the lack of pumpkins.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 6, 2015

Garden Report for 150907

This week was positively autumnal, with starting highs in the 60’s and a cold, rainy end. Saturday saw 24hrs at 50F+/-1 and about a third of an inch of rain, followed by a low of 44. Next week is supposed to be back in the 80’s. Temperature one foot down in the KHG was 65F.

Amaranth photobombs beans

Amaranth photobombs beans

Another small harvest: handful of lemon cucumbers and a couple pounds of tomatoes. No zucchinis, but that’s OK because we still have three or four monsters in the fridge. Our summer squash finally looks like it will be producing. Should call it autumn squash. One of the tomatoes was a proper-looking 5oz yellow brandywine. Tons of green tomatoes still in the garden, so mid-September should see an avalanche.

The Santa Maria beans are doing OK, as you can see. No actual beans yet, but harvest isn’t due for another month.

Planted two kinds of peas. Both mature in about 70 days (mid-November). Sugar Snap Pole for pod eating, Wando for mature peas.

Here’s the latest scoreboard, such as it is.

Week Ending 9/07 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato 26 33  1.3  247 23
Bush Buttercup  4  3.2
Zucchini  16 17
Butternut  2  3.2
Cuke  4  11 2.75  22  4.7
Spaghetti  3  7.5
Pie Pumpkin  3  3.7
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 67.3lb

This time last year we had 59lbs of produce, and in 2013, as near as I can figure out, we only had about 20lbs, due mostly to the lack of pumpkins.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 30, 2015

Garden Report for 150831

Warm start (upper 80’s) but an autumnal end, with lows in the low 50’s, rain, and gusty winds that blew away the smoke from the burning WA.

Light harvest this week. I think it’s because all the blossoms that would have created the squash and tomatoes were killed off in the heat wave earlier. Things are still flowering, so I have hope for September. There is one young spaghetti squash coming along, about the size of a Nerf football. Sunday afternoon I found another pie pumpkin, still green, hiding in the jungle, but that’s a harvest for a latter day.

The lone amaranth is head-high and just starting to flower. The rest are still knee-high, in leaf harvest/stir fry mode.

One Big Amaranth

The big amaranth is protected by the beans and the shade trees, but the knee-highs on the deck are being beaten about by the winds. I can see where growing this stuff is a lot like growing corn — one good storm could wipe you out.

Amaranth Flower

Harvested three big zucchini and a handful of lemon cukes, plus one lone curved regular cucumber that I don’t remember planting.  A bunch of small tomatoes. Enough lettuce for salad every day. MJ has gone wild with her veggie noodleizer. It’s really a good way to do zucchini. I find if I slice them and cook them, the way my Zucchanite grandmother did, then the seedy interior gets overcooked and the outer bits are underdone. Or the outer bits are overcooked (easy to do), and the centers are way overcooked. The noodleizer pushes the unwanted center bits out the bottom, and the z-noodles are easy to get just right. We’ve been having them raw in salads, or fried with tomatoes (ours) and onions (boughten).

Here’s the latest scoreboard, such as it is.

Week Ending 8/31 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  27 33  1.2  201 21
Bush Buttercup  4  3.2
Zucchini 3 64 21  16 17
Butternut  2  3.2
Cuke  7  23  3.3  18  4.0
Spaghetti  3  7.5
Pie Pumpkin  3  3.7
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 64.6lb

This time last year we had 58lbs of produce, and in 2013, as near as I can figure out, we only had about 14lbs, due mostly to the lack of pumpkins.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 23, 2015

Garden Report for 150824

Warm start (upper 80’s), cool end (upper 70’s), Beijing levels of air pollution in between (AQI 287). Don’t know if it helps plants to get their carbon in the form of airborne ash from 100 miles away, but if it does, the rest of the year should be great.

Did a major harvest sweep today. The spaghetti squash and the buttercupnuts seem to have stopped growing, so I harvested them, plus all tomatoes with any color to them.

Rounding up the squash

Rounding up the squash

Once again, I neglected my long beans, and they’ve gone all dried-beany on me. Found another monster Zucchini, so MJ wants to make more Z-spagh.

Harvested a bunch of Amaranth leaves and stir-fried them with garlic. Very earthy taste, as in “it tastes like fried dirt”. I’ll make one more effort, adding a bunch of unintelligible Indian spices, and then we’ll wait for the popcorn-like seeds.

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 8/17 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  36 52  1.4  201 21
Bush Buttercup  4  51  12.7  4  3.2
Zuccini 3  44  15  13 13
Butternut  2  51  25.5  2  3.2
Cuke  5 21  4.2  11  2.5
Spaghetti  3  120  40  3  7.5
Pie Pumpkin  3  3.7
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 59.1lb

This time last year we had 28lbs of foodstuffs, about a third of which was cabbage, which didn’t do well in this year’s heat. In 2013, there was not enough to report on.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 16, 2015

Garden Report for 150817

Hot start but a cool end. Two days at 100F, and then the front passed, with 40kt winds, and Saturday peaked at 77F.

Big harvest this week. Picked 64 tomatoes, totaling over 6 pounds. Turns out I was wrong about last week’s mulimato. I got another one this week — 12oz — so I dug down into the jungle to check on what it was (I am of the age that if I want to remember something I have to forget something else, and what I planted where doesn’t make the cut). It’s a Yellow Brandywine, well known for large fruit. Except I’ve never had a Brandywine of any kind actually produce large fruit. I may be forgiven for last week’s mistake, because this one also looked like six small tomatoes fused into one. So far the flesh has been a little mealy and the flavor only so-so. The yellows on the deck are Lemon Boys. They are normal sized, and tart. No more Yellow Brandywines for me. Interestingly, the standard Brandywines, right next to the Yellows, are coming in at about 3oz each.

Speaking of monsters, I found two monster Zucchini hiding in the jungle, almost two pounds each. I realize that isn’t monster as far as Zucchini go — gardeners in the UK are proud of growing ones you can live in, if you don’t have a lot of possessions — but it’s way bigger than I want. Sliced them up and stuck them on the dehydrator for my famous Z-dust oatmeal. A third one was more normal, and we’ll probably salad that one.

Also harvested several feet of long beans, some of which had already started to mature into their dry bean state. Looks like I’ll have to keep after them on a daily basis. On another note, we haven’t been eating our green beans fast enough, and some of them have gone off. The usual advice is to freeze them, but the freezer is so packed we’d have to freeze them individually and poke them into the crevices. Everybody’s out of town for pre-Labor Day vacations so I can’t even give them away.

Planted some more amaranth and greens in Section 3, plus a bunch of thyme in Section 4. I’ll use that as a cover crop into the winter.

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 8/17 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  64  132  2.1  165 17.8
Summer
Zuccini 3  86  29  10 10.3
Delicata
Cuke  6  1.22
Spaghetti
Pie Pumpkin  3  3.7
Beans  –  –  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  –  – 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total:30.5lb

This time last year we had 26lbs of foodstuffs, about a third of which was cabbage, which didn’t do well in this year’s heat. In 2013, there was not enough to report on.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 8, 2015

Garden Report for 150810

The weather was warm but not hot (83F +/-5), but high winds and low humidity kept us in a Red Flag warning for fire the first half of the week. Temperature 12″ down in Section 1 was 75F at the start of the month.

Long beans getting longer

Long beans getting longer

Finally cleared out the green beans, harvesting about two poundsworth. I’ll replant with peas, and maybe amaranth. The long beans are coming … along …. About ten inches now, 26″ or so to go. Zucchini are doing well, but still no sign of summer squash. Don’t know what happened to them. I’ve planted a couple in a new container, so we’ll see if we can’t get some late summers out of them.

Our banana pepper struggles valiantly on, producing one pepper per month. The yellow bells out front are still green.

Tomatoes are hitting their stride, both in the garden and the containers. I’m going to have to shore up the tomato cages in the garden, they are starting to tilt.

Multimato

Not A Multimato

What I thought was the yellow tomatoes in the garden having a fit of lycoperscian solidarity and all banding together in one 20oz fruit turns out to be one largish Yellow Brandywine. It still looks like six small ones. As for the rest, we’re averaging something under 2.0oz each, with six 3oz monsters harvested this week.

 

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 8/10 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  37  59.88 1.7  103 9.5
Summer
Zuccini 3  41  13.7  9 8.41
Delicata
Cuke  5  19.3  3.9  6  1.22
Spaghetti
Pie Pumpkin  3  3.7
Beans  –  23.6  –  –  4.0
Peas  –  – 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 27.8lb

This time last year we had 26lbs of foodstuffs, about a third of which was cabbage, which didn’t do well in this year’s heat. In 2013, there was not enough to report on.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 2, 2015

Garden Report for 150803

The weather this week started off pleasantly cool (72F), and showery, but ended up hot and dry with three days in the low 100’s. That’s good for the ripenings, but bad for setting more fruit.

Harvested almost a pound of green beans early in the week. Probably another poundsworth available by the end of next week, which I think will wrap up the beanfest. Pinquentos haven’t started producing yet, but those are dry beans, so I won’t have any results until October. Finally started harvesting tomatoes in the main garden, mostly Brandywines. Meanwhile, the main garden has produced two Buttercup squash, while the containers have produced four, all hanging from the tomato cages. Main garden also has one Delicata and two Spaghetti squash coming along. The Spaghettis are also hanging from the tomato cages. Don’t know what it is with squash and climbing things this year.

At least they won't get ground-rot

At least they won’t get ground-rot

Meanwhile, we’re experimenting with drying stuff. Our home dehydrator system will reduce a medium Zucchini to a cup of leathery chew-toys overnight, while dumping six hours of 125F air straight into the house. First attempt was matchstick size, what reduced down to hairlike threads. Second attempt was finger sized, and that reduced down to matchsticks. Final attempt was slices, done outside, overnight. Results were better, but were still just vegetable jerky. Probably save the dehydration option for if we become really overwhelmed with squash.* Otherwise, MJ will continue to use it to turn hot dogs into dog treats. UPDATE: I have found that it’s possible to soak them in water overnight and cut them up for a salad.

Remnants of a once proud Zucchini

Remnants of a once proud Zucchini

Here’s the latest scoreboard.

Week Ending 8/03 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  21  54.4  2.6  66 5.8
Summer
Zuccini  1  12 12  6 5.85
Delicata
Cuke  1  3.5  3.5  1  0.22
Spaghetti
Pie
Pumpkin
1  15  15  2  2.1
Beans  –  12  –  –  2.5
Peas  –  – 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 17.5lb

——————–

*Normally, MJ would take them in for our friends at church, but they’ve started locking their car doors during the service.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 26, 2015

Garden Report for 150727

The weather this week was warm (around 80F) and dry and windy, and next week is scheduled for very warm and dry (approaching 90F).

Harvested most of the beans, almost two poundsworth, which looks to be three dinners for two. This, from about half a section of the KHG. Picked a bunch of tomatoes, just short of ripe. I figure that will encourage the others. The Red Zebras averaged about an ounce each, while the two Patio tomatoes from the garden came in at 5oz and 3oz. The pie pumpkin was totally orange, so I picked that – maybe we’ll get another one, and in any event I plan to let it ripen some more inside.

The container squash are going wild. It says on the tin that they are “bush buttercup”, but that’s not what it looks like from here. I planted two, side by side in the two white containers you see below.  As you can see, the left hand one has leaped clear over two containers and is encroaching on the Asian beans. The right hand one has grown across three containers and is producing flowers in the vine maple next the dog run. The focus is pretty bad on this shot, but it’s too dark now to get another. I’ll update in a week or two.

Tomorrow, the World

Tomorrow, the World

This makes for some interesting squash fruit. Here’s two of them, hanging four feet off the ground.

Two Buttercups

Two Buttercups

Here’s the latest scoreboard. I note that in 2013 and 2014 it was almost mid-August before I had enough harvested to start posting to the scoreboard.

Week Ending 7/27 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  25  42  1.7  45 5.1
Summer
Zuccini  2  36 18  5 5.1
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pie
Pumpkin
 1  26  26  1  1.6
Beans  –  30  –  –  1.8
Peas  –  16 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 14.5lb

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 19, 2015

Garden Report for 150720

The weather this week was warm and dry (around 80F), and next week is scheduled for very warm and dry (approaching 90F).

This is the boring part of Summer. Stuff is growing. Grow stuff grow. I water stuff. Water, water water. The brief surge of unseasonably early ripenings,  probably due to unseasonably early warmth, has been choked off by the unmentionably high temperatures earlier this month. A few leftover early tomatoes are ripening. The ever-fruitful Zucchini is fruiting (or whatever you call a fruitfulizing vegetable). Our one pie pumpkin is starting to turn. The bush buttercup squash I planted in the containers is now 12ft long, causing me to reconsider my concept of what a “bush” is.

A perfect time to hide inside and recover from my cataract operations. Next week this might be a review of farming anime, instead of a garden blog.

Week Ending 7/20 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  10  16  1.6  30 3.6
Summer
Zuccini  1  9  9  3 2.5
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin
Beans
Peas  –  16 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 7.1lb

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 12, 2015

Garden Report for 150713

The weather this week was mixed: mid 90’s the first half of the week (hit 100F one day), and low 80’s with one day of light steady rain in the second half.

The first Zucchini of the year is always a big one (23oz in this case), because I don’t think to look for them until they become obvious. The yellow tomato finally ripened, and came in at 8oz. Also harvested 10 or so Champions, at about 2oz each, and another 8 Celebrities at 1.5oz each. Since almost 50% of each had to be discarded due to BER, the reported weights are a little misleading.

Planted some radishes in Section 2. Iceicle (long and thin) and Watermelon (red centers). 28 days for both. Afterwards, I’ll plant true daikon for harvest in late Fall.

I guess it’s time to start the scoreboard again.

Week
Ending
7/13
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  19  41  2.1  20 2.6
Summer
Zuccini  2  33  16  2 2.0
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin
Beans
Peas  –  16 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 5.6lb

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 5, 2015

Garden Report for 150706

More blistering heat, with three days over 100F.  Next week is lower 90’s. Watering limits still in effect, so if it weren’t for the weeds my lawns would be totally dead. I’m reminded of a drought they had back when we were living in the UK — much talk about playing cricket on the old village yellow. Sunday was quite a bit cooler than forecast. I think it was the smoke from the British Columbia fires, drifting over eastern Washington.

Harvested all the peas. One pound unshelled. Two servings shelled. Waited too long, so they were a little mealy, and a little underdone. Given that the peas were planted across about one third of a section, that means we could get three meals out of a KHG section planted totally to peas. Meanwhile, the Santa Maria beans are doing well.

Beans and the new plantings grill

Beans and the new plantings grill

The clean sweep I made of the lettuce in Section 2 cleared out all the kholrabi as well. I planted some more on Saturday. Theoretical harvest in mid-September. Also planted some chard, as well. Planted chard and lettuce in Section 3. I have two more open spots that I’ll put lettuce into mid-month or so.

Cucumbers continue to grow, every plant component but cucumbers. I had to extend the tomato cages they were on, by inverting a second cage on top of them. The trouble is, the heat keeps killing the flowers. Fifty feet of vine, no cucumbers. On Saturday morning, none of the tomatoes were ripe enough to pick. Sunday, five of them were, but four were badly BER’d.

Rickety cages.

Rickety cages.

I picked a couple and cut off the blossom ended end. They were a little short of ripe, but tasted good.

So, the current state of play is:
Section 1: Tomatoes and Squash. Doing well, but nothing near ripe yet
Section 2: Harvested everything. Planted kohlrabi and lettuce and chard (oh my). One panelsworth still open. Plan to plant lettuce there in a couple of weeks
Section 3: Bush beans. Doing well. Due mid-July (except I think the heat has retarded them). Santa Maria beans, doing well. Lettuce and chard.
Section 4: Cleared out. Asparagus in part, but no signs of life. Three panelsworth available now.
Note: a ‘panel’ is one of those shelf grids I use to keep the squirrels off.

Now, all I need to do is decide what to plant. Section 4 has already had peas in it, and they were looking a little diseased (or heat killed) at the end, so I don’t want to do peas or beans there again. I already have two panels of greens just planted, and another panel that I’m planning to plant later. That leaves essentially one small panel in Section 2, and two large and one small panels available in Section 4. Looking at my seed collection, and leaving out squash (Section 1 is full and the other sections are resting), peas/beans/and greens, my seed stock looks limited to various radishes, and some out of date carrots. And of course, our local stores are out of seeds for the season. I guess I’ll put the radishes in Section 2, with the Brassicae, and the carrots in Section 4.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 28, 2015

Garden Report for 150629

A warm week. A hot week, ere the sun rises. Plants shall be withered, records be splintered. 80’s to start and 100’s to end. Watering restrictions imposed for the first time this Century. How far above average was it? This week last year the highs were lower than our current lows.

Pulled the rest of the lettuce from Section 2. We are now grazing our way through three bags of the stuff. As usual, we’ll be done with the lettuce before the first of the tomatoes are ready for a salad. Will plant more, but not this week. Peas are almost ready in Section 4. Not sure what the heat will do to them.

Over in the containers, the cucumbers are trying to take over. Evidently, these weren’t a bush variety. The Asian long beans are just starting to climb. I have a number of Champion VNFT’s coming in, and all seem to have blossom-end rot. I’ll spray them this evening to see what I can salvage. Not sure what VNFT stands for. I think it’s their Myers-Briggs personality type.

The big pumpkins are in a sunny spot under the trees and are doing OK. The pie pumpkins are in a shady spot and are not. The other pumpkins, next the unkillable rhubarb, have already produced a nice, dark 4″ diameter globe.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 21, 2015

Garden Report for 150622

Warm and dry and windy. Highs around 80. Lows around 60. Dried out the plants such that I had to water the containers twice a day.

Lettuce is well on its way to bolting. Pulled up about half of it (and about half of that was edible). One small plastic bag’s worth (the kind the supermarket gives you to put wet veggies in). Will do the second half tomorrow. Harvested our initial bean crop. Blue Lake bush beans. Six plants gave us six beans per plant, except that not all the plants had beans, so figure four per plant. Looks like we need to plant lots more beans to get a proper crop. Next increment is peas, in about two weeks.

Theoretically, our Early Girl, Champion, and Sugarsweet tomatoes begin producing this week. Right now, it looks like the yellow tomatoes will ripen first. Everybody’s getting water stressed, with the heat and the wind — a number of them have lost their blooms.

Planted accacia and chard last week. So far, nothing’s sprouted. Planted a mix of accacia and radishes in one of the long deck containers. Planted some shiso in the bell pepper container out front.

A little constrained in what I can do in the garden because of my cataract operation. Next week the shields come down, and I’ll be able to go back to bench pressing 30lb again.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 15, 2015

Garden Report for 150613

Weather continued its three-days-cold, four-days-warm cycle. Mid 90’s at the start of the week, mid 70’s at the end. Mid 80’s in the forecast.

Pulled up most of the cabbages in Section 2. Tried the leaves in a salad. Not impressed. Planted a batch of amaranth and the last of one packet of chard.

Pulled most of the lettuce from Section 3, before it could bolt. Planted some amaranth here, as well. This batch we’ll leave for the seeds. People say you can cook them like popcorn. Since they are about the size of a mustard seed, it better be a really short movie. Meanwhile, the green beans are about ready to harvest. And speaking of beans, the pinquito beans I planted last week have started to come up. Still planning on a late October harvest.

Our containerized banana pepper plant has produced one small pepper. Very good. Went back to the hardware store for more, but they were out. Got a yellow bell instead. Put it in a big pottery pot out on the driveway.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 7, 2015

Garden Report for 150608

Two weeks of not much going on. Wx cycled between 60F and 80F on a three-days-cold, four-days-warm basis. Due to hit the mid-90’s this week.

The heat will definitely bolt all the remaining cabbage and lettuce. Harvesting bags of the stuff. MJ got in very late from a dog show over in Seattle on Saturday, and so didn’t go to church on Sunday. That means we didn’t have a chance to run around tying bags to people’s door handles in the parking lot.

Stopped at Huckleberry’s and got some seed. It seems late in the season to be planting seed, but we’re really only a week past official last frost. Put melons in on Friday, also one banana pepper plant. Back ordered some amaranth. Should have it by Wednesday.

I ordered some pinquito beans last week. Got them in on Saturday. Planted them Sunday. In the Santa Maria Valley, they plant in May and harvest in early October. I guess I’ll harvest in late October.

 

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 25, 2015

Garden Report for 150525

Last week was a warming trend, peaking at 80F before plunging to 70F today. Next week will be a warming trend, peaking at 84F on Sunday.

Plants are going somewhat wild. The Lemon Boy yellow tomato has produced a couple of 1/2″ tomatoes already, and several others have blossoms. The lettuces are growing like mad, and may bolt on me, right after the rest of the cabbages do. BTW, we tried last week’s bolted cabbage leaves in a salad. Blanched, chilled in icewater and dropped in whole. Didn’t taste particularly cabbagy.

KHG tomatoes are big enough that I had to take off the ASW (Anti Squirrel Webbing) gear and put up the cages. Regular peas, snow peas, long beans and regular beans have sprouted. Cucumbers have suddenly spead to cover the whole pot.

Harvesting lettuce like mad, but it doesn’t taste as good as it did last year. Growing too fast? Too much water?

Surprisingly, this isn’t too far off what last year was like, and in fact, last year’s cabbages were bigger than the current ones at the end of May.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 17, 2015

Garden Report for 150518

Warm last week, cool and rainy this week, warm and partly cloudy next week.

Made another couple of passes through the hardware store. Butternut squash, Zucchini, lemon cucumbers, pumpkins, herbs. Beans, yellow tomatoes, white carrot-shaped radishes (they were out of daikon seed). The lettuce I bought last report took a while to set up. The Purplestuff is doing OK, but about half the buttercrunch  just laid there for a week before perking up. Fortunately, the lettuce I loose planted earlier this year has started to come up, and I think we’ll have a good harvest there before the current crop runs out. I have lots of seed and will plant more every few weeks.

All the bedding plants are now in, and the greenhouse is down for the season. Planted some seeds in sections 3 and 4. Section 3 got bush peas and spinach, and Section 4 got bush beans and chard. Snow peas in a deck container. I have enough greens seeds for succession planting, but I need to get back to the hardware store for some more peas for Fall. If I don’t buy it now, they’ll have shipped it back. On Friday, I planted some seeds for zucchini and summer squash and spaghetti squash and acorn squash.

Two weeks old and already it's trying to reproduce.

Two weeks old and already it’s trying to reproduce.

 

Speaking of bedding plants. Two weeks ago I bought some cabbage seedlings. Not large plants, but nicely developed. Not quite as far across as a beer coaster. Planted them. This Friday, I noticed that the purple cabbage was starting to bolt. Yes, bolt. Four days above 70F (just), three days below 60F (easily), six days in-between, and the suckers are a foot high and putting out yellow flowers. Deb Tolman says the leaves should still be good, even if we only get one salad out of it. We’ll see how the replacements go.

For some reason the squirrels aren’t digging as much as they usually do. There’s still scads of them about. I have ASW gear (anti-squirrel webbing) up over Sections 1 and 2, but haven’t done the others yet. Instead, I just laid the metal shelving from last years composter failure flat on the ground on top of where the seeds are planted. That will keep the critters from digging until I get the rest of the ASW gear up.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 3, 2015

Garden Report for 150504

May the 4th
( be with you)

This weekend marks the start of gardening season — a month early. Last frost isn’t supposed to be until 1 June, but this was a warm Spring.

Repaired and recored Section 1. Recored Section 2. Finished laying new irrigation hose on all four sections. Went mad at the garden section of the local hardware store. Put the anti-squirrel covers on Sections 1 and 2. Hung the netting for the hops.

Section 1 had a decided droop on the SW corner, an artifact of the original garden wall. I pulled off most of the cinderblocks from that end, and made an attempt to improve the lay. It sortof worked. The only way to get it right would be to tear down the whole wall. I found some interesting things during the repair work.

Droopy, weedy

Droopy, weedy

What, you were expecting Frank Lloyd Wright?

What, you were expecting Frank Lloyd Wright?

First of all, pretty much everything I had dumped into the KHG during the construction phase, three years ago, had rotted into nice, black soil. There were a few exceptions. First, while almost all of the phone books had rotted, the spines and clumps of pages of the thicker ones remained. So get a strong friend to tear those phone books in half before using them. Second, mettalic paper seemed to last — the sort they make teabag packets out of. Finally, I had dropped a couple of 18″ long quarter-rounds of pine into the mix, as a kind of makeshift hugelkultur. They were leftover from the wood for the fireplaces we never used. After three years in the soil, admittedly only one third the time needed for a tanner, they were as good as new, with no signs of rot. So much for Herr Hugel.

Second, there was a major difference between the Section 1 basket core and Section 2. Two was filled with lovely black soil, easy to dig out and mix into the main garden. Section 1 (with a smaller basket, closer to the tree, no liner) was full of roots and grass and detritus. As you can see from the pictures, I enlarged it, and added a liner, that will probably rot over the years.

Core 1 Roots and trash

Core 1 Roots and trash

Nice, clean, dirt

Core 2 Nice, clean, dirt

I wanted to look for some new sources for seedlings, but wasn’t successful. Google maps gave different results for a “plant nursery” search, depending on if I centered it on Spokane, or on nearby Cheney. This, despite the fact that the coverage areas overlapped. Second problem was, all the plant-nursery/greenhouse outfits I found were either a long ways away, wholesale/ornametals only, or out of business. So, I gave up and went back to our local hardware store.

As can happen when one is in a hurry — I go buying, not shopping — it’s easy to lose track of what went in the cart. So I came home with three Patio tomatoes, instead of two, plus two Brandywines, and a Zebra. Also four Bok Choy and eight Savoy cabbage. The cabbage into Section 2. The tomatoes went into Section 1, the deck, and the two hanging baskets (one Zebra and one Patio).

Went back to the hardware store on Sunday. Didn’t find any non-hot peppers, didn’t find any peas/beans. bought a flat of lettuce — buttercrunch and purplestuff. Put those in Sunday afternoon (divided more or less equally between, Section 2, Section 3, and a couple deck containers). Planted the squash seedlings what I grew earlier (two buttercup and two spaghetti) into Section 1. Also put the remaining patio tomato into a patio container and set it on the …. deck. There’s still space left for some other things, but that’s for next weekend.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 20, 2015

Garden Report for 150420

Other than two nights of frost and a day of high winds, the weather’s been nice.

Visited friends of MJ’s, who run a small truck farm on the edge of town. Got some pointers on starting seeds and when to plant and so forth. They said I shouldn’t put anything out until after Mother’s day, say three weeks from now. I didn’t tell them I’d already put out six tomatoes — three on the deck and three by the house. Early Girl, Sugarsweet, and a mildew-resistant hybrid.

If I’ve got another three or four weeks, I might as well start repairing Section 1. Straighten up the NW corner, and recore the basket.

Started a new set of seeds: cucumber, zucchini, buttercup, spaghetti, summer squash

Decided to make another attempt at pinquito beans. Soaked a handful in water overnight and spread them on a wet paper towel. We’ll see.

Put new irrigation hose in Section 3. I’ll do a writeup with pictures next week.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 13, 2015

Garden Report for 150413

Welcome back. Coming up on the Ides of April, more to be feared than the Ides of March, and it’s time to git gardening.

Not quite warm enough for the planting yet. Garden soil is still at 50F, and we’ve got three nights below freezing in the next six. On the other hand, after Wednesday’s Thursday’s frost, it looks like we’ll start a warming trend, which means I can probably start planting the first or second week of May. Meanwhile, the weekend was a complete waste, with highs in the 40’s, and winds in the ….40’s.

Ripped out the old irrigation hose, what was springing leaks right and left, and prepared to replace it. Problem. Nobody local seems to carry 1/2″ soaker hose any more. It’s all 3/8″, which means my hardware won’t work. On the other hand, they do have 3/8″ irrigation kits with 100ft of hose, plus fittings, for $25. That will do two sections of KHG. The only problem is, on these, the hose goes into the fitting. Meaning there’s no way to fix it. On my 1/2″ rig, the hose went over the fitting, and could be secured with a hose clamp. Now, I’m at the mercy of friction.

Found my main hose was also leaking, right at the attach point. Looks like this will be the Spring of The Hose Replacement Project.

Planted a bunch of seeds in seed starters. They came up, and promptly died. Probably not enough water. I think I’ll give up on seeds and just buy seedlings. I say that every year, but This Time For Sure. Filled out a very complete but now useless garden gantt.

Found some good articles on cover crops, that will have to wait for Fall to try out.

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned – 2014

December 1, 2014

So this is really, truly, 本当に the last garden report of the year. Our first hard freeze hit on November 11th, and the second one this weekend. Temperature 18″ down in the KHG on a 28F December 1st noon, after a 10F weekend, was 42F. Used up the last of the lettuce last week, and will use up the last of the tomatoes this week. Last year we had a smaller harvest, but we still had tomatoes ripening indoors in mid-December.

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.

2. The small greenhouse worked well to get the plants through a variable Spring. Was positively humid inside, which attracted mosquitoes. Try hanging 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).
2. Hops netting worked well, but was too narrow at the top. Need to reposition the hooks, or add new ones.

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

2. Try more miniatures

3. Work even harder on getting the labeling right

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

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

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.

3. Replace all the covers with the redesigned versions.

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

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

6. Plastic bottle cloche covers worked well.

Review of Last Year’s Plans
1. Early fertilization helped. We don’t generate enough kitchen waste to support four KHGs. However, watch the nitrogen.
2. We did better on tracking dates, but not good enough.
3. Did not have as much of a blossom-end rot problem, but specific cultivars did poorly. More Ca.
4. Hops did well. Don’t think I’ll need any more plantings.
5. Planting squash in the ground cover zone didn’t work. Mildew was at least as much of a problem as location.
6. Didn’t plant long beans, and the lemon cucumbers got mildew.
7. The big cherries did well in the containers. Next year will try them in the hanging baskets. Also try some additional cherry varietals, to get a wide range of colors.
8. Removing the keyhole kneeholes worked, but one does need steps to get up on the dirt.
9. Labeling still needs work
10. Slugs not as much of a problem this year
11. Moving from 2×4 to 1×1 helped lighten the KHG covers. I think I need to separate the chickenwire from the plastic as well — second plantings need chickenwire.

Next Year’s Plan
Section 1
Tomatoes and squash. Try beefsteaks again, but with a different watering plan. Seriously look for mildew resistant varieties of everything.

Section 2
Brassicae. Cabbage, mostly. Make one last effort to grow daikon

Section 3
Peas and beans and greens (oh my). Plant lots earlier. Deb Tolman says to try amaranth, since some of those have a 30-day to harvest cycle.

Section 4
Not quite sure what to put in here. Maybe just a cover crop. Figure out the best way to fit it into the rotation.

The Schedule

Move everything up about a week
early Feb – Start seeds indoors
early April (60 days later) – move to greenhouse

early May — transplant
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen

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.


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