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Nothing to do?

  • Thursday, June 23, 2011
  • Now that the garden is fully mulched, all the spring crops are out and summer crops are all in, I truly feel like I don't have much to do!!!  Believe me, I am not complaining, but it just seems crazy to not feel behind the curve :)  I am going to enjoy this for the short time it lasts.   Once those tomatoes start coming in I will again feel behind!  Anyhow, it is nice to know all the preparation work I did, all the mulching, all the planning, is paying off through a gorgeous, happy, and healthy garden. 
    Last week I harvested my first cucumber and Broden said it was the MOST DELICIOUS cucumber EVER! Ha, ha.  A few updates:
    • I pulled ALL OF THE SQUASH PLANT voluteers that sprouted up in the garden.  I found like 20+ squash bugs breeding and that eeked me out enough to pull them all!
    • I have a few Delicata Squash plants under a row cover HOPING the bugs won't get to them. I am watching daily to see when the blossoms open.
    • I mulched the patio beds well to hopefully conserve some water.  Crazy how dry they get!
    • Picked and pitted 20 lbs of tart cherries.  Not the best, but at least I got something.
    • Bought a case of local raspberries and froze them for the winter.
    • Pulled the peas and am drying the pods that were left so I can use the seeds in the spring.
    So for now, garden bliss.  Just got the Territorial Winter Seed already dreaming/planning my fall garden!

    Problems, problems, problems

  • Saturday, June 11, 2011
  • Oh goodness, so early in the season and there are issues ... Just another chance to paruse through my books and determine the best course of action/attack!
    1. So usually I have an issue with flea beetles on my egglplant, but this year I planted them in tabletop beds and completely solved that problem!  So that is good, not a problem.
    2. My Red Norland potatoes leaves are twisted and disfigured at the top.  Their bottom leaves are healthy and green and gorgeous.  For some reason the top leaves seems twisted.  I don't think it is the leaf roll virus as it doesn't fit the description.  Anyhow this is the only bed that has it.  There are two other beds adjacent and they are fine!  I just spoke to my garden mentor and she thinks that the issue is the pH.......and I did lime this bed this I will try some blood meal and see if that helps.
    Ok- for now that are all the actual problems I have, unless you say that not having enough room for all of my potatoes and tomatoes is a PROBLEM!

    My tomato staking approach
     A few things to note for the season:
    • Tart cherries are just about ready to pick
    • Almost all tomatoes are staked (check out my new system)
    • Tabletop gardens are working GREAT except they need EXTRA watering
    • Just picked up Aunt Molly's ground cherries and the Pineapple ground cherries from Gails, this is gonna be fun!
    • Garlic scapes are done
    • Pole beans are coming up
    • Saw my first cucumber and squash- they should be on my plate anyday now!
    My tabletop eggplant
    My new rhubarb patch
    My been teepees!

      A run down on my potatoes

    1. Monday, May 23, 2011
      OK- this year I bought WAY TOO MANY potatoes...again.  I mean it is a curse I think.  I thought I got just what I needed, but now I have potatoes planted in every kind of bed you can imagine! I even converted my herb bed for potatoes!  Ok, so if I count, I have 5 actual beds of potatoes, and let me see.....5 potato bags ..... and 3 random containers with spuds AND I gave my mome a few of each!  Ok Linna, lesson for next year!

      Here is a rundown of what I have:
      • Red Norland- Productive and early redskin.One of the best summer varieties for early digging, and it stores well! Great baked, boiled, or roasted. The oblong potatoes have smooth red skin, white flesh, and size rapidly. Introduced in 1957 from North Dakota, Norland has been the standard of early red potatoes for many years. This Dark Red strain is a new selection for richer red skin color. The medium-large, purple-flowered plants resist scab, leaf roll and potato viruses A and Y. TIP: For a higher percentage of small red potatoes, plant at 6-8" apart; for larger potatoes, sow about 12" apart.
      • Purple Viking- Unique taste and smooth texture make this variety a favorite for many. Slightly sweet flavor gets sweeter with longer storage. Snow white flesh is perfect for mashing, but is also excellent for any preparation. Beautiful purple skin with red-pink marbling. Average tubers are 3½-4" in diameter, with potential for larger tubers. Excellent storage qualities. 80-100 days.
      • German Butterball- First place winner in Rodale’s Organic Gardening “Taste Off.” A good choice for roasting, frying, and especially for mashed potatoes. Russeted skin and buttery yellow flesh. Always one of our favorite all-purpose potatoes. Excellent for long-term storage. Very good yields. 100-120 days.
      • Katahdin- Buff skin, white flesh. The choice winter potato for northeastern growers.  Released in 1932 by USDA adn Maine, it is the standard by which all storage potatoes are compared.  Very well suited to a Maine growing season, spreading plants can produced some clunkers.  The tubers tend toward the soil's surface, so hill well.  Resistant to mild mosaic, but not spindle tuber or leaf roll.  Medium to large spreading plant with many large light purple flowers.
      • Green Mountain-Famous for its marvelous flavor and exceptional baking qualities. An heirloom released in 1885, bred in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Produces a high yield of light tan-skinned, white-fleshed tubers that store exceedingly well. Resistant to verticillium, blackleg, and fusarium storage rot, but susceptible to scab and viruses. Large spreading plant with big, white flowers. VERY LIMITED both organic and conventional seed.
      • Red Pontiac- 90 to 100 days. For rich, full flavor and a big crop in a wide range of soil conditions, this red-skinned potato can't be beat! Red Pontiac is an improved sport of Pontiac with deeper red skin color, higher yields, and better adaptability to clay soil. A mid-season variety, it offers sweet, solid white flesh with a flavor you just have to try to believe! The large, round tubers hold their shape and color during cooking, making them a great all-around choice for boiling, baking, frying, and mashing. If you just can't wait until harvest time for a potato fix, pluck these new red potatoes earlier for a simple, tasty treat - boiled, lightly seasoned, and straight to your plate! These plants grow up to 3 feet tall but spread 2 to 3 feet wide, and each 2-pound bag will sow 20 to 25 feet of row and yield 25 pounds of potatoes or more.
      • Russet Burbank- Most people throughout the United States and the World identify Idaho as "The Potato State" because of this single potato variety. This potato variety was developed in the late 1800's by a Massachusetts man named Luther Burbank and didn't find its way to Idaho until the early 1900's.  The Russet Burbank is a much slower maturing potato than the Dark Red Norland and Yukon Gold potatoes. However, they have much higher yields in comparison. The Russet Burbank's elongated shape and thick skin make it a very versatile potato. The most common uses for the Russet Burbank potato are BAKING, MASHING, and FRENCH FRYING.
      Oh yes, and that bag of organic red potatoes left in my cupboard, they went into the garden too!

      Scapes are up!

    3. Sunday, May 22, 2011
    4. This year instead of  buying seed garlic, I just bought the garlic from the PVF farm stand. They had a great variety of hard-neck garlic, so I said WHY NOT!  It came up beautifully in November, and really shot up after the winter.  Yesterday I noticed my first scape, wow!  Get ready for scape pesto!

      Start of my garden journaling routine for 2011!

    5. So 1.5 months has past since I posted last, and MY how things have changed.  Honestly I spend so much effort in the spring to get the garden ready, that I almost feel like I want winter to come ... NOT!  Ok- but I have been super busy this year. I think the difference is that I taught ALOT of classes this season to try to inspire and ignite the home food gardening passion :) in people.  More on that later- back to my garden!  I also added 16 new beds to my garden, soo.....that probably has added the exhaustion I feel.  I think the reason I love keeping this garden journal is so I know how much gardening I am capable of!  I have to remind myself that I work full time, have Broden age 5, Skyla age 1.5, a house, a husband, and friends to spend time with.  So listen, if you are reading this, if I can do it, ANYONE CAN!

      So here we are, end of May, and I have been eating and gardening for a few months now!  Hot weather veggies went in around May 10th or so .... and today I shoved in the last few tomatoes that volunteered themselves, and I don't have the heart to compost them!  So here is the round up of what I have done UNTIL THIS POINT:

      In the kitchen garden (KG) I current have the following growing:
      • Bok choi
      • 2 beds of Egyptian walking onions
      • Okra
      • purple kale
      • golden beets
      • red beets
      • cilantro
      • parsley
      • cutting celery (a variety Gale is sweet)
      • asparagus
      • 3 types of eggplant
      • rattlesnake pole beans
      • cabbage
      • 4 types of lettuce
      • swiss chard
      • Suyo long cucumber
      • Mici cucumber
      • strawberries
      • dills
      • 2 types of peas (estancia and xxx)
      • New Zealand spinach
      • Curly blue kale
      • Calendula, marigolds, petunias
      • Assorted potatoes (in grow bags)
      • Artichokes
      • sunflowers
      • bush beans
      • lots of onions!
      • spinach
      So until the spring stuff starts bolting, things are abit full!

      In the pumpkin patch area, I am growing: (note the stink bugs loved the pumpkins so much I am not planting them this year.....)
      • Purple Viking figerling potatoes
      • Red russet potatoes
      • Rainbow tomato
      • Egg Yolk cherry tomato
      • Chocolate mint (from Julie's house!)
      In the 'main garden' I decided to plant things that I don't need to check on that often.  I find with little kids I just don't have time to go down to the garden (it isn't that far .... but every second counts!) So I growing:
      • (3) beds of potatoes, red norlands and a bunch of classic keepers ( German butterball, Katahdin, Green Mountain, Red Pontiac, Russet Burbank)
      • (3) beds of tomatoes: Juliets,  Mexico, Japanese Black Trifele, Kosovo, Opalka, Black Russian, Striped Roman, Green Zebra, Black Cherokee, Virginia Sweets, Black Icicle, Mr. Stripey, Black Sea Man, and a few others I will remember later!)
      • Drying beans- both pole and bush
      • (1) bed of garlic
      • (2) beds of Asparaugs.  Planted this year, 3- year roots
      • (1) large Rhubard bed (2 types)
      • (1) bed for bush delicata
      • Peppers - Thai Hot and Serrano
      • Strawberries
      • and some TBD squash

      Overall I am VERY happywith my main garden because last fall I composted all my healthy dead vegetation on all the beds, so to start teh winter they were all 3-4 ft high.  Then over the winter they fell abit, I added 6 inches of composted horse manure, laid down soaker hoses, AND covered with landscape fabric!  All this means, NO WEEDS, HAPPY PLANTS, and little maintenance for me :)  I also mulched all the aisles with straw and I just love the soft look of my garden.

      So can I say, that is it!  ha! 

      Other things of note:
      • New Zealand spinach reseeded itself, sweeet!
      • Heirloom petunias reseeded themselves, I then planted with tomatoes, in hanging baskets, and by the stairs to the house
      • Bought too many tomatoes at Gale's....
      • Not growing sweet potatoes unless I grow them from my sweets. I honestly don't eat the potatoes much, but LOVE the leaves!
      People who made this garden possible:
      • My dad, for building me the best kitchen garden EVER! And for reinforcing my deer fencing!  And for finding straw on teh side of the road for my paths!
      • A friend name Julie was wonderful to give me 7 bales of straw (albeit moldy) but perfect for my paths!
      • George, for providing me a massive amount of 'black gold' and dropping it off with his dumper truck, WHAT A LIFE SAVER!
      • My mom for planting flowers around the pond, great for pollinators, and for people who say I only grow vegetables!
      • Gale, for growing the best tomatoes and veggie transplants EVER!
      Ok, next post will have actual garden updates on a ROUTINE basis!

      For the record....

    6. Monday, March 21, 2011
      • Tulips and Daffodils are blooming now.....
      • Days still cold, but around mid 40 on up.....
      • Heard spring peepers for the first time on Friday night
      • Planting peas today!
      • Garlic is greening up....
      • Uncovered strawberries
      • Cabbage from fall looks AWESOME!

      Winter Doldrums cured by catalog shopping

    7. I actually wrote this in the winter, but never posted.  Since this is my garden journal, I am posting now....just to have it documented!

      Here is a rough view of my garden orders:
      • Wigwam clips- 20
      • Territorial Seed "Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry; Bingo Bean; Etna Bean; Harvesting Bag; Piccolo Squash; Pineapple Ground Cherry;Organic; Yin Yang Bean;
      • Fedco Moose Tubers "7090 - Classic Keepers ( 12.5#) 1 x $19.00 = $19.00; 7130 - LaRatte ( 1.0#) 1 x $6.00 = $6.00; 7190 - Dark Red Norland ( 5#) 1 x $12.50 = $12.50; 7300 - Purple Viking ( 2.5#) 1 x $6.25 = $6.25"
      • Henry Fields weed barrier, rhubarb (crimson)
      • Guerny's: 25 asparagus crowns (Jersey King Hybrid)
      • Peaceful Valley speedling trays

      Winter silence is over - welcome GARDEN 2011!

    8. If I had pennies for every time I thought about writing, I would be rich!  Today I am finally on to kick off the 'spring wave' and start to garden 2011!  If this season will be like the rest of the world events (democracy demonstrations around world, earthquake and tsunami in Japan.....) then this is sure to be a challenge.Wow, it is going to be an amazing year.  I have 16 new beds just built, a new asparagus patch, and big plans!  I also know that the stink bugs, extreme heat and other evivonmental variables have plans for me too :)

      Here are some recent developments:
      • Placed all seed orders by mid January
      • Planted first seeds in cold frame on 2/20
      • got a heater for my cold frame in February
      • Early March my dad built 16 new beds, including a new kitchen garden!
      • Daffodils are up!  I just saw tulips come up too!
      • Very successful season teaching.  Featured on 11pm news, spoke at Master Gardener's meeting, featured in Loudoun Magazine, workshops sold out at Chicama Run, and presenting at the Loudoun Earth Day festival!
      • JUST uncovered my garlic so I can grow! Many were yellow and crumpled under the straw
      Things I need to do:
      • get manure
      • find straw source for paths
      • figure out how to fend animals from the kitchen garden
      I have more to write, but need to just get this posted :)


    9. So yesterday, March 20th, I planted 25 crowns of Asparagus!  What a feeling of achievement!  I actually needed more room that I had allotted, so I had to move my perennial onions that I planted in the fall into my new 'kitchen garden'.  One of the beds is a huge new 'lasagna' bed.   Essentially 3 feet of organic stuff from last season covered with 6 inches of soil.  The other bed, was a similar 'heap of stuff' last year, and is now the most magical dirt ever! It is FILLED with worms...Every handful had healthy worms working the soil, what magic....  Anyhow I used the 'lasagna gardening' method to plant them and it worked very well.  So only time will tell. I got these crowns about 3 weeks ago and had them in the fridge, so I hope they are still 'alive'.  I also saw my rhubard punching through, what fun this season is going to be.

      As the first day of spring, I do need to mention how magical it is to be in the garden in the spring.  With no bugs, warm breezes, and no weeds to content with- it is pure joy!  I often forget how magical it is - wonder mingled with gardne dreaming....ahh.....

      Anyhow- my seedings are doing well.  I had to replant some spinach, and beets...other than that the rest did well.  I also started some tomas, cukes and other things.  Yes I am risking it being too early, but I have water wells and small solar bells- so I am going to gamble this year!  Pictures to come...

      Oh ... I also pruned the fruit trees and 2 weeks ago the berry patch was trimmed up!