Sunday, August 11, 2013

Summer Moves Along

One of the small zinnias - Profusion Red F1.

This is a mix of orange and yellow - great for a mass of color.

This is the squash bed were the cedar trees used to be - much more productive.

Roots will develop at leaf junctions on pumpkins and squash.

Encourage those roots to help your fruits grow bigger.

Keep the melons off the ground to discourage critters.

The beans a week ago.

The beans today - they finally took off.


Tomatoberry - who wouldn't like a cluster like this?

Lettuce and kale for fall harvest.

These okra just do not size - a heritage variety!?
Summer harvest is moving along and as of August 1st we have tomatoes.  The grape varieties were first with Sugary and Tomatoberry starting the harvest.  Sugary is just like its name - really sweet, and Tomatoberry is a firm, good tasting variety that is worth a spot in your tomato collection.  Tomatoberry is great for grilling or having with a full English breakfast as they really hold their shape when cooked.  I have full green fruit on the other vines but just nothing ripe yet.
The pole beans have finally taken off and are climbing the poles with a bit of help so hopefully in two weeks we will have flowers and beans.
Squashes and the pumpkins are setting fruits and the pictures remind you to encourage the stem roots that these plants will set.  Covering stems with soil will help the fruits to grow and also help protect  somewhat from squash vine borers that I have still seen flying around my plants.  On pumpkins, I usually monitor the distance that the plant sets fruits and usually have a good 3 - 4 feet between set fruit -that too will help the plant. Then, I don't allow more than two to three pumpkins per plant to grow to maturity - more if they are squash. Those people that grow the monster sized pumpkins only have one fruit per plant and they baby that one.
The third crop of lettuce is about to be harvested and so I planted another flat along with Napa cabbage and some kale varieties and cilantro as all these plant types will take the shortening day lengths that we are into and for us seemingly more cool weather.  I will plant lettuce again for the fall cold frames but not quite yet as the pumpkins are sort of in that space.
Flowers of summer are here - the zinnias are looking good and nasturtiums are doing well plus we even have a few calendulas still blooming both of the latter are good to eat along with the borage flowers that add a bit of blue to a salad or lemonade.
The okra is poor - does not get real large before the pod gets real seedy and the watermelons and cantaloupes have just started to set fruit - may be a push to get them ripe.  Note the cantaloupe picture as we have chipmunks and voles and I for one do not like to share.  Watch for vole nests in the lawn as they are prodigious breeders and any you get rid of now you will not be feeding all winter long.  I have found 4 nests so far this summer - each with 5 or more pups.  We still have bunny problems as the young ones get though the chain link fence so I will have to put a guard around the entire bottom of the fence to stop this.
Happy Gardening

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Harvest Has Begun and the Purslane Has Arrived!

Nice yellow daisy to signal full summer.

Amaranth will be used in salads - the young top leaves.

The second lettuce crop - and another is waiting in a seedling tray for planting.

Cucumbers on the trellis - lettuce under the trellis.

This greenhouse plant is producing nicely.

Garlic scapes - great in stir fry, stemming, and eggs...

These leeks were planted in a trench that is now filled.

Peppers in one EarthBox - there are two planted.

The tomatoes strung up on the twine and mulched.

This is the Quinoa seed head.

This is Lambs Quarter in the onions - looks the same!

This is my new nasty weed - Yellow Oxalis - everywhere with the purslane.

The pole beans replanted in cleaned peat pots and getting ready to set out.
This season is late for starting harvests but then planting was a bit late too.  We have been eating greenhouse cucumbers for the last week and the vine is still producing nicely - great!  The cucumbers in the garden have set fruit and we will be at that harvest soon.  Spinach is done and the second crop of lettuce is being harvested along with great dandelion greens and wild arugula (which I let grow anyplace the seed falls).  We also have a great crop of purslane that always appears after the hot weather sets in and we get some rain - all of which we have had recently.  We WILL be eating the stuff as purslane is a "gourmet" addition to some recipes and fun in salads and curry dishes. However, there is so much that most of it will become compost.

The alpine strawberries are producing nicely and the parsnips are almost at the final thinning.  The leek trench has been filled in and the plants are doing nicely along with the fennel that I had to replant because some bunny decide to snack on it.  He is no longer snacking on anything.

The quinoa has been a real lesson.  First -  one needs to read the whole seed packet - this stuff will get 6ft tall.  Second - it is planted too thick and too close to the tomatoes.  As the quinoa grew it looked amazingly like Lambs Quarters and guess what - same family of plants and the pictures show the amazing look alike.   As a new plant in the garden it seems to like the location and is growing well so later this fall we will see what we get for a harvest and if the birds stay out of it.

Gallic scape's are all gone but they sure were good.  Our first onions from sets are ready to pull and be used.  The tomatoes are all strung up, mulched, and the suckers have been snapped twice now so the plants are heading up the twine - Check out June 26,2011 for info on this and to see an example of snapping the top out of your plant - only did this to one plant this season and the replacement sucker has already taken over.  Luckily, all is not lost on that plant.  I can not stress too much the importance of mulching your tomato plants - they will be so much happier and more productive if you go to the work of mulching them.

The pole beans had to be planted twice as the first planting just rotted in the pots.  I dumped all the soil in the compost bin, cleaned the peat pots with some bleach water and planted again.  Pole beans will be late this year as they are just up and will be planted out in the garden sometime soon - I want at least two sets of true leaves before I set them out.  They will probably get out just in time for the Japanese beetles to arrive - what fun - morning bug picking.

Apple bagging is done and the fruit set this year was poor.  I may have bagged only 250 - 300 apples and with the summer drop we might not have apples to last all winter this year. Look back to June 28, 2010 for more info on apple bagging and a short video on technique. The currents are really doing nicely and I know that we will have a harvest next year.  The blueberries are still an experiment and I will see how they winter and fruit next season.  The peppers in the EarthBox are doing great and have already set fruit.  Instead of flowers in the pot at the front of the house by the sidewalk I have a half  barrel planted with an assortment of herbs and they are getting to the point where one can pass your hand through them and get a great mix of herb smells.

Sorry about the small script on the last posting of pictures - I have to manually reset the size and guess what - I forgot.
Happy Gardening

Friday, June 21, 2013

Garden Work Continues

My hand-carved good luck Pike pin.

Night time of -

-the IKEA lanterns in the oak tree - fun

The Alpine strawberry border by the front walk.

The blueberry Earthbox plant.

The quinoa looks just like a weed - will see what the results are.

Cucumbers on the trellis and lettuce underneath.

The greenhouse cucumber soon should have fruit.

The lettuce inter planted with the parsnips after thinning to a few seedlings

My sliver maple bonsai is looking good this year.

Two events have made it difficult to get a new entry done - I went to Canada fishing for 10 days and that gave seedling care to Susan who did a wonderful job; and we tore up one bathroom  and put new flooring in the entire house!  This has made getting caught up challenging but we are finally there - I think.
The blueberries are doing fair - one has died but the others are growing nicely in the Earthboxes.  I have peppers planted in another Earthbox and I have enough plants to plant another container.  The spinach in the cold frames did not do too well this season but we are eating it anyways.  I have built two new frames and will have almost the same sq ft space that I had in the old hoop house and the cold frames are so much easier to manage.
The parsnips are up and I did the first thinning of them. The lettuce that was inter planted in the garlic and onions is now ready along with the lettuce that was planted in the with the parsnips.  I planted leeks in trenches and got a nice seeding of red stemmed dandelions ( endive) that the bunnies are really attracted to.  Cayenne pepper dusting's will keep them away until those pesky rabbits get too big to get through the fence.  I started to install a 7 in piece of plastic fencing to protect the bottom of the fence and try to discourage the young bunnies from getting into the yard - we will see how effective this measure.
Apple bagging is in full swing and I have done over 200 bags to date.  The trees did not seem to have many flowers this year - especially my 7 on one tree.  I pruned this spring correctly and that tree should have had flowers but it really does not have much fruit set - so who knows what's going on.  I do have some insect damage but I have bagged that fruit anyway.  I think I will have at least another 200 bags and then I will have the trees done.
The tomatoes were strung up today and I have not planted as many as in the past.  I have four rows and about 8-10 plants per row.  Cucumbers are on the trellis and I have one plant in the green house that will have fruit in less than 2 weeks. I have some squash planted and I hope to get the beans started soon and then the garden will almost be done. I do not direct seed beans but plant them in peat pots so I can position the bean poles and then plant the beans. The flower beds have mostly been planted and last years strawberry border in the font of the house is really nice this year - I really like those Alpine strawberry plants - now lets hope the robins leave them alone...
Happy Gardening

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Garden Season Finally Gets Going.

Watch these tulips the next picture will be when they turn yellow.

Tomatoes from seedling tray to 2in pots.

Transplanted pepper that will be in an EarthBox planter.

Cucumbers and squash seedlings - guess the pumpkin?

Lettuce, beets, and the quinoa.

Watercress grows in an aquarium in about 3 in of water.

Trench for the leek seedlings.

Leeks in clumps that I will thin later.

These cucumbers will be transplanted into this pot.

Last years cotton hung for the birds.

We have a downy woodpecker that made a next hole in our old crab apple tree.

The season has started to move along and one of the cold frames if full of transplants.  Tomatoes and peppers were moved outside last week after being moved into larger pots. That gave room for a few more trays to be planted - cubits, nasturtiums, and lettuce.  I got most of the cucumbers and squash started and with the help of bottom heat they quickly germinated and they too have gone outside now that nice weather has seemingly arrived.  I used more compost to fill a pot to plant one one the greenhouse cucumbers that I am growing this year.  The seedlings will be transplanted into that 5 gallon bucket and the vine will be strung up in the greenhouse for early cucumbers. The trays of basil and zinnias are still in the greenhouse for another week to gain some size before they join the rest of the seedlings outside. 
The garden ground is still not ready for anything but cool season pants.  I will plant the tomatoes and peppers after I get back from a fishing trip and by them the ground will have warmed.  Planting tomatoes too early just has them sitting in the ground and not advancing.  My tomatoes will probably bear fruits just about the same time those plants put into the ground this week.
Cool ground is fine for onions and so I planted the leeks seedlings in a shallow trench this week and will thin them in a week after they have taken hold.  I will also pull the soil in around them to help make nice white roots.  The onion sets, the garlic that was re planted are doing nicely in this part of spring and the parsley seed planted weeks ago is sprouting nicely after we had a crop failure last spring.
Apple trees are blooming and I think the low flower set is due to the very hot weather we had last spring when the trees were setting blossom wood for this year.  I did my pruning the same this spring as always and am sadly noticing a small amount of flowers on the trees. 
The old crab apple tree in the front yard is now a home for a downy woodpecker. The pair worked diligently opening a nesting hole in a portion of the tree that has been dead for some time - yes, shame on me for having not removed the limb a long time ago but now it is a home for someone - so the stump will stay.  The ground below the limb is covered with bits of wood that the birds removed to make their nest cavity.
The first crop of bunnies is running around and squeezing through the fence so I will have to get busy and rectify this intolerable situation .  I have some plastic fencing that I want to install as a six inch barrier at the bottom of the fence and that should keep them out permanently.
Happy Gardening

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gardening Finally Begins in May!

I have pre painted the lumber for the second of two new cold frames.

I like to add handles on each side for easy movement for the frame.

I will try to add a screening compost video below...

Blueberries planted in EarthBox planter.

Time to forage for Ramps.

And then cook them - They are great eating.

After what has seemed like forever gardening weather has finally arrived.  The newest cold frame got a paint job and is in use with plants already.  I got the current and blueberries in the mail this week and so had to make the decision as to where to plant the currants.  The blueberries are going into the Earthboxes as way to ensure the soil can be amended to acidify the pH.
Luckily the compost was thawed so that I could screen enough to use that soil and peat moss to mix a soil to plant these small bush types in. I use a wire screen and do this to the compost bins in spring - putting the big stuff that needs some more time back into a new bin.  I mixed the compost and peat about half and half and added a 7/7/7 fertilizer mix and later I will add some ammonium sulfate around each of the plants.  The smallest variety - Northsky - I decided to get another plant to have a total of two in one planter.  The other planter has one Northcountry and one Northblue and I hope to find one of these varieties that does the best in this planter experiment.
The Rovada currants I decided to put in part of the old perennial bed just off the path leading into the garden for easy picking.  I really like red currant jelly – some of the easiest to make because red currents contain great pectin and jell almost by themselves.
The fig trees have been in the greenhouse for at least two weeks and have not sprouted yet - I think they are done for.  If I have to replace the Chicago turkey fig, I am going to carry the experiment with figs into the ground - literally planting them in the ground as close to the house as I can.  The cloning experiment did not yield a new plant as I had wished.  I think I tried to plant the clones too soon and they both sadly did not have enough roots to survive.  But it was a good learning event.
Seeds seem to be more difficult than normal to sprout this year - or maybe it could be the old gardener!   Parsley and lettuce seem changeling as well as some pelletized onion seed.  This year I did ship in some set of "Candy" onions which I got in the ground this week.  I also had some blanks in the garlic patch so I tried to replace them with some to last year’s garlic harvest that was sprouted and maybe will grow.  This week I should get to the flower seeds and herbs and maybe tomato transplanted.  The peppers need at least another week before they have true leaves - the marker that they are larger enough to be transplanted into a larger pot.  Remember don’t go too big with transplants keep the intervals small so that the little plants are not lost in a big pot.
With the weather continuing to get better we will try to use the rototiller and get the garden space on its way.
Happy Gardening