Sunday, April 10, 2011

Getting started...

We've got seedlings started. I finally got outside last night(by force, when my bareroot rhubarb and horseradish came in the mail...). I have been loathe to step out and get things going. My beds are all overgrown with grass. After getting my hands dirty planting the rhubarb and horseradish, I set to work cleaning out the beds--carcasses of calendula flowers, iris leaves, some leeks left to be frozen. I turned the soil in one bed in order to pull out grass and grass roots. This is not normal lovely lawn grass, but stuff that will force its way up from underneath the beds until it makes its way up two feet to daylight. I don't much like it.

Today, temps rose to near 80 degrees, and I turned another raised bed, planted 6 rows of purple haze carrots interplanted with radishes and crimson red bunching onions around the perimeter of the bed. The kids pulled out their swimsuits and played in the water.

I started on my biggest bed, not raised. It is quite overgrown with grass, and it is going to take me a good, long time to get it all turned. But it is started, and I feel a little more motivated to keep going than I did when I started, so this is good.

Oh, I also planted some French thyme in another bed that won't require turning this year. Thank goodness not all of them do!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reflections on 2011 Season

Before planning this year's garden, it is critical to review what went well and what did not last year.

We seem to have a lot of disease issues with tomatoes and cukes, so we intend to be quite careful about the tomato and cuke varieties we plant. Right now, I don't have cukes planned, but have chosen a few short season disease resistant tomato varieties. We will also be planting a few sunsugar (yellow cherry) tomato plants, as they are, quite possibly, the best cherry tomato ever.;)

We have very limited garden space for the, as I didn't plan very well for rotation last year. It's going to be best not to plant tomatoes, cukes, or melons anywhere where any of these were planted before (which pretty much accounts for all of our garden beds).

Also to be addressed: massive rodent problem (voles? ground squirrels? ground hog? All of the above or some combination thereof?) Two plantings of green beans, half a dozen runner bean plants, numerous cucumbers, most of our melons, every bit of lettuce planted[,] and even a few tomatoes[,] all shared with a well-fed rodent population in our backyard last summer (all without us even catching a glimpse of them for the most part).

Failed Attempts/Good stuff:
The potatoes in a barrel produced about half a dozen potatoes. The plants did not send out roots as I filled the barrel with soil and compost, just kept growing up. I don't know if I did something wrong.

Our tomatoes managed to produce fairly well, despite the blight. The end of the season was dry, so it didn't spread. We ran out of our stash of frozen tomatoes in early March.

Our lipstick strawberries appear to be spreading nicely out front.

We harvested some Jerusalem Artichokes last weekend and roasted them in olive oil. They were quite good.

The peonies I planted last spring never came up. I'm hoping by some miracle they'll show themselves this spring.

The astible I planted out front turned to dust by the end of the season, so I'm curious to see whether it will return.

The Mexican Gherkins were fun and resistant to whatever took hold of the cukes.

We had some major labeling issues, LOL. Things got shuffled about, and thereby, mislabeled, as seedlings. I thought our brandywine tomatoes were Chinese Lanterns. The brandywines grew nicely, as they were off in areas away from the rest of the tomatoes, but also not in the sunniest areas, so they didn't produce until the very, very end of the season. I also thought the Chinese lanterns were peppers. Peppers were mislabeled, as well, and, as a result, I still am not sure what was what. A couple of varieties did very well, and the rest did not. I didn't even get jalepenos in the ground, as they were the smallest of the seedlings, and what I thought were the strongest of the jalepeno seedlings were actually another variety. We will definitely be sure to avoid repeating this error as we start seeds this weekend.

Not much did very well in containers, except some peppers and basil. I presume this is due to soil quality.

Planning on another wheelbarrow of composted cow manure from the farm where we own a cow share (I am entitled to it as part of the cow's production) and composted/fresh rabbit manure from the neighbors' rabbits.

Considering another raised bed with fresh soil, probably digging up another small bed along the fence on the top of our hill, and possibly digging up some beds along the fence on the outside.

Add to our herb garden with a few medicinal and cooking herbs (perennials). Split and move some flowers (day lilies, daisies) from back yard to front. Encourage starts from lavender. Get ahold of a hardy rosemary, as my efforts to overwinter plants indoors have had limited success.

Garden 2011!

spread 32 gallon trash can filled with composted manure from cow share ;) (early March). Intended to do this in the fall, but never did.

I'm hoping to get some more of this in the next month (still largely frozen here at the moment). Also plan to get my wheelbarrow over to the neighbor's house. They have pet rabbits and no garden. :)

Seed orders:
Pine Tree Seeds:
Royal Burgundy Beans
Cosmic Purple Carrots
Redbor Kale
Summertime lettuce
Red iceburg lettuce
super sugar snap pea
purple cayenne pepper
Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Watermelon Radish
Golden Girl Tomato
Sweet Million Tomato
Sun Sugar Tomato
Peach Blow Sutton Tomato
Tip Off Romanesco Cauliflower
BasilicoFinnissimo Verde A Pal Basil
Italian Pepperoncini
Soloist Cabbage
Evergreen Bunching onions
Bunching Crimson Forest onions
Early Jalepeno hot pepper
ancho hot pepper
Scarlet Runner Bean
Ophelia Eggplant
Red Skin Pepper
Mini-Colored Popcorn
Dukat Dill
French Thyme
Caribbean Cocktail Nasturtiums
Black Velvet Nasturtiums
Indian Summer Rudbeckia
German chamomile
Perser Mix Aster
Prime Time Mixture Petunias
Dolce Flambe Petunias
Purple Wave Petunias

Candy onion plants
Candy apple (red) onion plants

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blight 2010

So, the tomatoes are showing blight. I went out right away before we left to visit family for the 4th of July. We were gone from the 30th-5th. My neighbor kindly kept everything watered through an extremely warm spell.
tpray for organic gardening. I removed all diseased leaves and sprayed everything. I used the whole container, so I needed something more to treat them again this week. I picked up some copper sulfate from the hardware store, but when I read the label, realized I really didn't want to use it. The copper spray, though it doesn't say it kills bees like the powder, really didn't appear much better with regard to its safety around living things. So, after a little more research, I found The Dirt Doctor. There is a 24.95 a year subscription fee, but I've been searching the site, and it appears lots of good info is available for free!

According to his website, horticultural cornmeal is a good soil amendment to fight fungal disease, and it can also be made into a tea and sprayed on the plants. Tonight, feeling the need to get something on them again, I mixed up a baking soda and molasses mix (I had those items on hand) and sprayed the plants with it. I am hopeful. There are other sprays reccomended for --milk (!), compost tea, potassium bicarbonate (I guess this might be preferrable to the baking soda). I'm anxious to do more research and gather ingredients to give these things a try. I'm especially interested in the natural herbicide recipes since some dreaded Roundup has managed to make its way into our household.

What's going on?

Er, yeah, not so good this year with the blogging. The garden is growing well. We're beginning to have a cuke or two and a handful of cherry tomatoes every day. The cukes will likely overwhelm us soon. We've got some baby melons and baby pumpkins and some beautiful peppers growing. It appears that due to a labeling snafu, we largely managed only to get some variety hot peppers into the ground. No jalapenos. We have couple of mini-bells, several Thais, a couple of one plant hasn't bloomed yet, so I have no idea what it actually is. I don't think any of the Big Bertha bells actually came up w. hen we started plants. The peppers in the containers are doing well, the ones in the bed don't look very good. The best-looking ones are planted in a bed (of our own amended soil) up on the hill.

A massive rainstorm (about 7 inches in 24 hours) on Memorial Day washed out a bunch of flower seeds I planted, so some of our beds are pretty bare. I'm trying to do some mid-summer plantings in those spots. May as well put the space to use!

We harvested a lovely crop of carrots, around two pounds, which made me wish I had planted more. We were just getting some purple green beans(not their official name), when what was likely a vole came and ate every one of the plants to the ground over a period of about a week. He's now working his way through my runner beans, which really annoys me. The kale I planted up front has gone untouched by any critters.

Sadly, our tomatoes are showing blight. I am going to try to treat it organically, and will post about that separately.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First Harvest!

Tonight, I harvested 6 Easter Egg Radishes! Yum! I have picked another two, each at different times, but this was the first "big" bunch.

We received a UPS shipment from Raintree Nursery today. 1 Munstead Lavender, 1 Rosemary, 1 highbush cranberry, 1 rugosa rose, 2 hardy bamboo plants. Unfortunately, the horseradish we ordered was not available because of a mold problem. I guess even the professionals are faced with unfortunate mishaps along the way.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Most of the plants appear to be recovering. It will set them back, sadly, but they are doing OK. There are a few that will need to be replaced, and I have some extras I potted, so we won't have to buy plants to replace them.

I want to dig a new bed to plant popping sorghum this week.

Also planting the last of our flower seeds and will plant some more carrots and radishes and another flat of container salad greens