Posts Tagged ‘squash’

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 24, 2017

Garden Report for 170925

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

Harvested nothing. Maybe next weekend, after the warmup.

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

Texas Buttercup. All hat, no cattle

Pink Brandywine, the same.

And not the garden

All the squash that isn’t Summer.

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

Vegetable Count Weight
Total Total

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

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

Oh, well. There’s always next year.


Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 22, 2017

Garden Report for 170522

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

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

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

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

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 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.

Pre-Columbian Oatmeal

November 6, 2014

MJ came home sick from her trip — minimal bleeding from the eyeballs, so it’s not Ebola — and it was up to me to do dinner. Her last healthy act had been to bring home a couple of turkey thighs and a refill for my oatmeal. Unadorned thighs, not thigh-and-legs’s. That wasn’t enough to waste a chimney of charcoal on, so I just did them in the toaster-oven. Since Thanksgiving is only three weeks away, I decided to have a pre-Columbian Dinner, with only Native American food. So, we had turkey, tomatoes, and squash. In honor of any pre-Columbian trans-Pacific contacts that might have been, I made it a Kabocha squash, AKA Japanese pumpkin. The squash was cooked in the pressure cooker, a-la-last-week. The tomatoes were, of course, from our garden. Afterwards, I made broth, possibly the best broth I’ve made so far (even if it does look like your fish tank badly needs cleaning). Turkey bones, leftover turkey meat and skin, kabocha water, some more tomatoes (these were our watery superfans and some others that were going a little wonky), a few of our garden onions (too big for cocktail onions, too small to be worth cutting up for frying). Two fat pinches of salt (not enough) and two quarts of water. The next morning I used the broth for oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of pre-Columbian broth, more salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Needed salt.

Rating: *****

Oatmeal Squash

October 30, 2014

Since we had such a lousy squash season in the garden this year – 2 for 8 with the game called on account of mildew – we are reduced to buying squash at the super. MJ was out of town, judging dogs or something, so I brought home only part of a squash: a slab of Hubbard that looked like something that had spalled off of the Monitor. Not wanting to wait two hours for dinner, I popped it into the pressure cooker, with enough water to cover the bottom. Thirty minutes later, I had a pretty well decomposed Hubbard, with slabs of skin floating about in the water. The chunks of squash I fished out were very good, once they’d drained, The water that was left was very squashy, and so why not?

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of squash-infused water, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Very mild squash flavor, enhanced by the addition of cheese. Next squash we do, I’ll add extra water.

Rating: *****

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.

Vegetable Count Weight
Total Total
Tomato  24  69  2.9  184  33.0
Summer  2  24  12  3  2.0
8-Ball /
 1  18  18  1  1.2
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 3, 2014

Garden Report for 140804

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

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

White lung disease

White lung disease

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

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

No sprouts here

No sprouts here

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

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

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 7, 2013

Garden Report for 131007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 9, 2013

Garden Report for 130909

The weather this week started out showery, then rainy, with t-storms. Temps were in the low 80’s, but plunged to 65 by the end of the week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 19, 2013

Garden Report for 130819

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

Early spaghetti, unless they're pumpkins

Early spaghetti, unless they’re Delicata

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

We'll have at least one pumpkin for Samhain

We’ll have at least one pumpkin for Samhain

Now, which plant did this tomato come from?

Now, which plant did this tomato come from?

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

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

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

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

Not a lot of shade, but it’s a start

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 19, 2013

Garden Report for 130520

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

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

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

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

PS: Happy Eliza Dolittle Day.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 5, 2013

Garden Report for 130506

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

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

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

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

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

8-Ball Chicken

November 6, 2012

No, this isn’t the programmer joke that ends with “assume a spherical chicken”. This is a recipe I came up with for 8-Ball squash.

Now, your 8-Ball squash is just a spherical zucchini. It’s a little bigger than a softball, maybe 4″ in diameter. The shape makes it a perfect for stuffing — slice in half along the equator, scoop out the seeds, fill with…fillingstuff. The trouble is, that’s a fair amount of food on your plate. Maybe half a squash isn’t bigger than your head, but it’s still a little much for one person of sedentary habit.

We got an 8-ball squash from a friend (ours seem to have disappeared into the squash jungle), and have been trying various techniques for slicing them. Mostly, it’s been slice it in wedges along the meridian, like a green orange and then fry however many look good that night. More on that anon.

The other night, however, we tried slicing them in multiple slices along the various lines of latitude, as if we were preparing an example for a calculus text. Once we had cleaned out the innards, we had a bunch of 1/2″ thick green donuts. Donuts with a 3″ hole in the center. Our next step was to trim some boneless/skinless chicken breasts so they’d fit in the hole. Trimmings were saved to combine with an extra breast for stir fry.

Put the 8-Ball slice on the toaster oven broiler pan, plop the chicken breast in the middle. Spray with the petrochemical cooking oil of your choice. Sprinkle with the herbs of your choice — we used Italian herb mix. Cook in the toaster oven at some appropriate temperature for an appropriate amount of time. If you’re feeling particularly Iron-Cheflich, finish with a sprinkle of cheese and two minutes under the broiler. The end result looks a little like a big fried egg, maybe from a small dinosaur.

Result: Very Good, in a primordial chicken sort of way. MJ was sick and had no appetite, and so didn’t lick her plate afterwards.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 21, 2012

Garden Report for 121022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just like a lasagne

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 15, 2012

Garden Report for 121015

The weather was mild the first part of the week, turning colder, and windy, with rain.  Looks like that will be the case all this coming week as well. Good news is that if it’s raining, it’s not frosting.

Not much doing in the garden. Corn keeps falling over. Not sure if something’s eating the roots or if it’s the slope of the KHG, or if the cats are at play. From the looks of the carrot tops, there’s at least one cat who likes sleeping there. Perhaps ten tomatoes in the pots are ripe. One in the KHG has turned.  The chard is big. The buttercup and spaghetti squash are racing the winter snows to see if they can throw off a couple more fruits. There’s even a few summer squash struggling along.

Pulled the two bush melon pots inside during the Great Frost Scare. I put them both out at the start of the week, but the watermelon didn’t fare well – the leaves had been turning ash grey prior to that, and they continued to do so. One softball sized melon. I harvested it, but it turns out that it was too soon. The interior was still white, with a little pink, that tasted green. The other problem was, it had the same number and size of seeds as a real watermelon, only in a smaller package, so there wasn’t nearly enough actual melonflesh to make it worthwhile. I might try one more time, and see if it’s enough for a pair of small desserts. Meanwhile, the cantaloupe is still hanging in there, and we’ll keep it on deck as long as we can.

Indoors, MJ took a few pounds of the smaller tomatoes and made sauce with them. Meanwhile, six of the twenty pounds of green tomatoes have ripened to good eating stage. Not six tomatoes, six pounds. I’m doing my best to cope, by eating a plateful of tomatoes for lunch every day. All these vegetables are giving me the digestive system of a horse.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 7, 2012

Garden Report for 121008

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

So Tuesday was harvest day.

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

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

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

Counter-Frost Ops

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

Faint hope

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

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

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

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

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 27, 2012

Garden Report for 120827

And just like that, Summer is over. We were in the mid-90’s in mid-August. On Tuesday, a cold front blew through, with some rain and minor thunderstorms. After that we were in the mid to upper 70’s, with lows in the 40’s. Sunday touched 85, but the forecast is for continued cooling.

Harvested the last of the beans in the KHG. Got less than a pound, so the total take from the 3×3 patch was just under two pounds. Don’t know if that’s good or not. I could have left them go longer, to see if some of the small ones would bulk up, but lots of leaves were turning yellow, others had holes in them, and something was eating the ends off the baby beans. Time to tear them out.

The spaghetti squash is going great guns. Looks like there will be eight or ten. Nothing new on the crown squash, and I haven’t seen any eight-balls. Summer prolific is still prolificizing. Looks like there’s one delicata.

Some of the tomato plants are six fee tall. Lots of tomatoes, but only the cherry tomatoes, mostly S-100’s, are ripening. None of the tomatoes are very big. The biggest are plum-sized, on a plant meant to produce “up to” one pounders. I guess that’s like my ISP’s “up to” speeds.

Corn isn’t growing much, and that experiment may be a failure (I started way too late). Most of it is a foot to 18″ tall. The t-storms made them slant, but didn’t knock them down. I planted about twenty peas early in the week. One pea next to each cornstalk. I figure it was a cheap climbing post. Peas are cold-hardy, so they should be OK by harvest time in late October. Carrots at the north end of Section 4 are doing well.

The one bush tomato that I’m growing indoors has put out some flowers, so we’ll see. This is a test. If we get decent tomatoes, I’ll try putting up a small greenhouse in the basement, next to the gas heater, with lots of grow lamps and see if we can grow something over the winter.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 13, 2012

Garden Report for 120813

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

The Keyhole Garden

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

My experimental cornfield

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

The Other Gardens

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

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 5, 2012

Garden Report for 120806

Last Wednesday’s full moon, or maybe the new moon on the 17th (we’re not sure), marks the start of Anglo-Saxon Weodmonað, or Weed Month. They certainly knew what they were talking about. Now that the garden is in and growing, I can devote time to cutting back the jungle out there.


Section 1: Speaking of jungle, the squash is taking over the world. It’s spilled off the east side and is trying to climb the fence. One strand of 8-ball squash has run ten feet along the fence to the south. On the south side, a silent battle is being fought between the squash and the tomatoes, while the Unkillable Rhubarb watches.

Rhubarb-Tomato Jungle
With Squash (all pix click to enlarge)

On the north end of the southern section, the asparagus is fighting to keep its head above….squash. (more…)

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 21, 2012

Garden Report for 120521

The weather was nice most of the week, cooling slightly towards the end.  This week is forecast cool and rainy — like a nice April week should be. Too bad it’s the end of May. Surprisingly, it looks like it’s actually been warmer than usual. I did a visual scan of the weather curves at WeatherSpark, and it looks like over the past two months we’ve been well above average 30% of the time, and our minima have rarely been below the average. My calendar for yesterday said it was ‘early outdoor planting’ day, for things like tomatoes.

Slowly, one or two things are sprouting from the 11 May planting in the seed sprouter — Better Boy tomatoes, lemon cucumber.

Outdoors, I did a second planting of lettuce and radishes, plus, I planted a small urn-shaped flowerpot with chives. Still waiting for the peas to produce. Still waiting for the hops to sprout. It’s been officially one month now, but we’ve had only about a week of warmth.

Both the hanging tomatoes are doing OK, probably not quite as well as the others, but they have less soil and no warmth. The real reason for planting them is decorativeness, and because I can use corners of the deck that I would not otherwise put stuff in.

The keyhole garden in Section 1 of the main garden is doing OK. By that I mean that nothing has died, but nothing has sprouted, either. In Section 2, the peas are only about 18″ high. I also planted some grass seed there. That all gets plowed under, come mid-June. Section 3 is spinach (barely visible), and transplanted head lettuce. I took off the covering from the lettuce.

Still have two large pottery pots to plant, plus about five other pots of various shapes. Plus the other two sections of the main garden. I have an embarrassment of coffee grounds right now. I haven’t used all that I got ten days ago, let alone the latest delivery. I’d like to put it in the fridge for the next three weeks, but MJ has the usual unreasonable housewifely objections. I guess I’ll dig it into the new plantings. LATER: I snuck the bag into the tiny downstairs bar fridge. I had a bit of a hangnail, and the bag tore. Kids, remember: good grooming is important.

If this all comes in on time, we’ll have real cornucopia on our hands. Starting in mid-August we’ll probably be able to feed ourselves solely from the gardens. Assuming one wants to live on salads and greens and squash, oh my.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 14, 2012

Garden Report for 120514

The weather is warming now, and the gardenizing is kicking into high gear.

The Wednesday night 31F prediction actually happened on Thursday night — I brought the four tomato pots inside, put plastic water bottles over the tomatoes and squash in the KHG, and covered that with a tarp. After watering for about 20min. Everything survived.

Friday, I put in some more squash, some walla walla sweet onions, bok choi, and daw gauk beans into the KHG. Put up another hanging basket with cherry tomatoes in it. Planted a 36x4x4 tray with a mixture of French greens, and another one with some buttercrunch and baby romain lettuce. Potted two more tomato plants. It’s hard to know when to stop. Last year we got the equivalent of one tomato for every seed I started.

Sunday I reserved for putting in some Swiss chard and some daikons, peas, and more lettuce. I also went out and bought a Sweet 100 at the local hardware store and planted it in a biggish container.

Now, there’s nothing to do but weed and water and wait for mid-June.

MJ harvested some of our Unkillable Rhubarb™ and cut it up and boiled and stir-sticked it to make a quick rhubarb BBQ dipping sauce. Very good. Was heavy on the brown sugar, with yellow mustard, so I guess it’s like a South Carolina sauce. The leaves went into the compost bin (the one I’m filling up to put into Section 2 of the KGH). I looked on the Interwebs and they said it was OK, despite the oxalic acid — they wouldn’t let them put it online if it wasn’t true, would they?

Green Thumb Up My Nose

May 7, 2012

Garden Report for 120507

The weather continued cold, windy, and mostly rainy all week. It actually tried to snow on the 2d of May, but only graupled. It did clear up on the weekend, so that the temps could plunge to freezing.

Friday was one of the two days each month that the city sells compost. We went down and bought two garbage cansfull, dumped them on the keyhole garden, and then went back and got two more.* The first section of the KHG is now complete.

The complete, but unplanted, Keyhole Garden (looking South).

My plan was to start planting on Saturday, but Friday night was forecast to be down to 33F (my thermometer said 35), and Saturday night to 32F (mine showed 33), which I thought a bit much, so the planting got delayed until Sunday. I planted on Sunday, despite the fact that a low of 39F was in the forecast, because otherwise I wouldn’t have a chance to put them out until next Thursday — I’ve been hardening them, so they should be OK.**

The planting went OK, except (more…)

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 30, 2012

Garden Report for 120430

Nothing much done on the garden this week. Weather was ugly the first part of the week, and I was out-of-town the second part (which didn’t keep the weather from continuing ugly). Did lay down a good infusion of coffee grounds, which seems to be working in keeping squirrels out. Not totally effective — it looks like there was a little bit of digging done while I was gone.  I probably jumped too soon with putting out seeds and plants. The weather has stayed in the rainy mid-30s /upper 40s all week, and it looks like we may have had a bit of air frost, because the tomato in my hanging basket is now…hanging.

I’ve started a compost can using a 20gal garbage can set up on the keyhole garden, with holes drilled in the bottom. That’s where our scraps will go until we get the next increment of compost (this coming Friday). Then we’ll spread the scraps and cover with compost.

Only about half of the seeds I planted in the seed sprouter actually sprouted, mostly the squash (of various denominations). I have reloaded those cells that didn’t sprout with a second round of seeds. In the empty cells, I’ve planted zucchini, yard-long beans, and a Brandywine tomato variant.

If I get a chance before Friday, I might plant out some asparagus and blueberries. They’ll go in kindof shallow, but then be covered up with the new load of compost.