Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Summer is definitely winding down in some parts of the garden while other parts keep plugging along.

This weekend about 1/2 the back garden was put to bed for the season. I took down the tomatillos and green beans and tilled everything but the tomato and pepper plots. I burned the remnants of the squash plants in part out of spite and in part to kill any remaining squash bug eggs that might overwinter.

Taking down the green beans was telling. First, I mowed them, then remowed them with the blade lowered, then tilled the bed. The beans were so tough that they survived all that. For sure, we'll plant a different variety next year. We'll try some other types of tomatoes, too. We planted too many plants altogether and too many Romas in particular.

The peppers plants continue to impress everyone. The maturing peppers are redder and more mild than the firstfruits. We've harvested untold numbers and some plants are still laden with fruit. The peppers are highly valued, so they are all going to waist instead of to waste.

Another round of beets is forthcoming. We can start harvesting the new turnips now. We could have had lots of greens, but we did not replant enough. We've have some nice lettuce now and we'll get spinach shortly. The Chinese cabbage is mature and has a better texture than what we were getting earlier. We have a few nice beans that Rebecca planted late in the year. We didn't plant enough, but we now know a late planting is quite worthwhile.

Save your fall leaves. Bring them over and we'll till them under to amend the soil for next spring.


Warm regards,

Kim

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Very interesting about the worm saga! I didn’t know that garden tid bit of info about the ice age. This is what co-op gardening is all about.

-Stan
The frequency of my emails should signal a slowing of the garden activity.

I was sad to find that disease took our pumpkins and the squash in the small garden. We need to research how to manage the squash bugs that spread the disease.

Peppers are in vogue now. I suspect we picked about 50 tonight and we could have picked more. The bells seem to be producing fewer peppers than the rest of the plants. We will try to dry some poblanos (for ancho) and pimientos (for paprika). We are getting a rainbow of colors.

We still have tomatoes. They aren't beautiful like the firstfruits, but you can find some that are still better than store bought. Mickey put up about 40 quarts of tomato sauce.

The fall garden is plugging along. We should have some lettuce shortly. The replanted spinach is emerging; the turnips are up.

Jason harvested the first fennel bulb. Should be interesting to see what he did with it.

And what's the big hole in the back garde? It's just a big hole for the kids to dig in - what else? While we were creating the hole, Isabelle and I saw that the worm holes go straight down at least two feet below the surface. We also saw the clear delineation between the topsoil and the subsoil at a little more than 1 foot. The worms retreat to the subsoil during the hot summer months. I had read this was true, but seeing that they do gives a greater appreciation. I am not sure how they penetrate the heavy clay subsoil. In doing so, their vertical tunnels provide a path for moisture and air, and plants can use the holes as a route for taproots. But did you know that our worms are not native to the US? The NA worms perished during the ICE age. For good or ill, ours came from Europe.

Regards, Kim

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hi, everyone.

Last Saturday we had a wonderful time harvesting potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, etc. Having the children here made our day. They were actually very helpful and they obviously enjoyed themselves. Jason photographed the whole affair and some of the bounty. And, we planted spinach, radishes, lettuce, mustard spinach (we'll see what that is) and beets. We still have more room in the small garden, so if you want to try something else, go ahead.

Hot weather inhibits bloom formation, which soon thereafter results in fewer fruit. That's why we haven't had lots of cucumbers and bush beans. With the rain and the return of 80 degree weather, the blooms are back.

BTW, we got 4" of rain in less than 24 hours. It's amazing that it did not wash away all the newly planted seeds.

It's clearly tomato season now. Mickey is constantly in one of the steps to make tomato sauce. If you would like to learn to do this, she would be glad to show you. I think "the girls" are planning an event on Wednesday or Thursday.


Here's this week's status:
New! yellow summer squash** try the plant in the small garden
Cucumbers ** I think they will be back
Bush beans **
Tomatoes *****
Beets **** 2nd planting is nice.
Hot banana peppers ***** These are marked with a red string on the cages
Other peppers **** Green, red and purple bell peppers, pablano, relleno, pimento, jalapeño, & mild banana.
Chard **** (2nd planting, very good greens.)
Onions * (all harvested and drying)
Radishes just replanted
zucchini ** try the plant in the small garden
scaloppini squash *** harvest when about 3 or 4 inches across
tomatillos **** we've enjoyed some verde salsa! they sweeten as they ripen. I like them raw.
potatoes *** About 2/3 have been harvested. They are really nice.

We are holding some things in the house or garage. So if ask if you would like something that you do not see.


This year Mickey and I have been thinking about our food culture. I know we are way over the top with what we are doing this year, but in a historical sense its not unusual at all. We are odd only by today's standards - by today's US standards. In any other time or place this would not be so unusual. The main difference is that others have gardened out of necessity; we can do it for leisure.

It's also clear that having a garden is of no use unless you know what to do with the produce. And, there seems to be a gulf between those that know and do not know. I'm not so gifted. Thankfully, Mickey is. But I bet that anyone can learn the basics. Then, once you master the first steps, who knows, you may find you have more of the knack that you thought.

I don't eat out much, but I have a couple of times this past week. The salad I got both times was so representative of problems with our food culture. Between green and pure white, the lettuce was far to the wrong end of the spectrum. Too bad, because the nutritional content is associated with deep colors of green - or orange (carrots), blue (blueberries) or red (beets). White is just water. If iceberg lettuce is inexpensive, what we are accustomed to, and can be slathered with dressing, it's what we may settle for if we don't think about our choices.

I've also been watching the prices of vegetables in the supermarkets. They are out of reach of many. Why is this?


Regards,

Kim

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Yesterday was clean-up day. Stan and I removed much of the old to make room for the new. We cleared much of the small garden and put the debris in the compost pile.

We'll start fall plantings as soon as the weather breaks. If anyone wishes to start some seedlings for transplanting, let me know.

We have plenty of certain vegetables like peppers, beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes. The potatoes are really fun to dig and they are beautiful. They need to be dug before they rot.

The battle with the hornet turned out to be the entire war. No sightings this weekend.

Come by.


Kim

Friday, August 10, 2007

ZIPLOC OMELET





With all the fresh veggies in our gardens at this time of the year, this would make a hit for a breakfast or brunch get together. It is easy and fun to prepare and you can experiment with numerous kinds of fresh vegetable.
Pat Pratte
Missouri


ZIPLOC OMELET

This is really great when you have to work.....

This works great !!! Good for when all your family is together.
The best part is that no one has to wait for their special omelet !!!

Have guests write their name on a quart-size Ziploc freezer bag with
permanent marker.

Crack 2 eggs (large or extra-large) into the bag (not more than 2)
shake to combine them. Put out a variety of ingredients such as: cheeses,
ham, onion, green pepper, tomato, hash browns, salsa, etc. Each guest adds
prepared ingredients of choice to their bag and shake. Make sure to get
the air out of the bag and zip it up.

Place the bags into rolling, boiling water for exactly 13 minutes. You
can usually cook 6-8 omelets in a large pot. For more, make another pot of
boiling water.

Open the bags and the omelet will roll out easily. Be prepared for
everyone to be amazed.


Nice to serve with fresh fruit and coffee cake; everyone gets involved
in the process and a great conversation piece.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A few days ago I witnessed violence in our garden. One very large flying insect carrying another very large insect landed beneath one of the pepper plants. In almost no time it pulled its prey into a nickel sized hole in the ground and vanished. The incident happened so fast and unexpectedly that I was somewhat unsure of what I really saw and I could not identify either insect.

The next day I saw the hornet. It was as fearsome as an insect gets. Some of the larger bees are scary looking, but they ignore you and don't pose any threat. This hornet perceived that I was on its territory and was not happy about it.

Now I had a problem. I wanted to protect those that wandered in that part of the garden, but I did not want to spray its nest. So, I built a trap. And it worked. And I learned that hornets drown very quickly.

Unfortunately, later I saw a second one, which I also trapped. But it escaped before I could enjoy its demise. So, beware when you are in the middle of the peppers. You will know one's around by its noise and the shadow its casts as it passes overhead.

BTW, I mounted the first victim. Even when its dead, the hornet is unnerving.

After the 1.75" rainfall we noticed a much larger hole near the site of the first hornet nest. I am hoping it is from a mole hole and not a larger hornet.

This week the squash vine borers took a large toll. These flying insects lay eggs at the base of the vine. The larva hatch and bore into the plant where they feed on and damage the main stem, which ultimately rots the plant at its base. The Red Kuri, acorn and zucchini all suffered. The bug doesn't bother other similar vining plants like the pumpkins and scaloppini squash.

The squash borer arrives every year in my garden. This year we are trying a backup plan. We planted additional zucchini and crook-necked squash in the small garden several weeks after the 1st planting. The idea is that the insects lay the eggs early in the year before the second planting is up. So, the 2nd planting may not be infected. We'll see.


It has not been all mayhem this week.

We cleared off areas in the small garden that had 1st plantings of beets and chard, onions, and radishes. Rebecca planted more Chinese cabbage, and when the weather breaks we'll start more fall plantings.


OK, where are all the 'slicing' tomatoes - the regular, round, fat, juicy tomatoes for everyday use? We planted at least 8 plants labeled "Rutgers", which is a good field tomato. Something's wrong. Most of our tomatoes are Roma, which are good for sauces and drying. I do not know what happened. In spite of this, we're not in bad shape. We still have lots of Early Girl's that are a good replacement for the Rutgers.


Here's this week's status:
Cucumbers *** (2nd planting is producing a darker, more traditional looking cucumber. The Chinese cucumbers are best at about 1 foot long.)
Bush beans ** (First planting is fading, 2nd planting of one row is starting. Pick at about 1/8 inch in diameter.)
Tomatoes **** yes, for cherry, Roma, a few yellow, Early Girl (slicing)
Beets **** 2nd planting is nice. Some are the 'Cylindria' variety. Unlike the 'Detroit Red', they stick up out of the soil. We enjoyed these tonight.
Dill done
Hot banana peppers ***** (yes, yes, these are marked with a red string on the cages. There are some cute round red ones, too.)
Other peppers ****
Bell, Pablano (Ancho when dried), relleno (for stuffing), pimento (wait until red?), jalapeño (a little early, I think), & mild banana.
Chard ***** (2nd planting, very good greens.)
Onions ** (all harvested and drying)
Carrots done
Radishes none
zucchini ** try the plant in the small garden
scalopinni squash ***** (harvest when about 3 or 4 inches across, the large ones make fine weapons)
acorn squash * (wiped out. we have a few in storage if you want some.)
tomatillos **** we've enjoyed some verde salsa! they sweeten as they ripen. I like them raw.
potatoes ***** Harvest as needed! They are really nice.

Here is an updated map of the (green, red and purple bell) peppers. The plants at the bottom of the list are closer to the house.
gr. bell gr. bell pablano
gr. bell gr. bell pablano
p. bell ? bell pablano
p. bell jalapeño pablano
p. bell jalapeño pablano
red bell jalapeño pablano
red bell jalapeño pablano
red bell relleno pimiento
sw banana relleno pimiento
sw banana relleno pimiento
sw banana relleno pimiento
sw banana relleno pimiento
Hot red cherry relleno pimiento
hot banana relleno pimiento
hot banana relleno pimiento


Warm regards,


Kim

Friday, August 3, 2007

CHILI RELLENOS EN CROUTE WITH TOMATO CILANTRO SAUCE

Hello! Terra and I wanted to share a recipe for the Relleno and Poblano peppers from the garden. It was great, at least we thought. We couldn’t find “whole wheat filo pastry” therefore; we used the typical filo from the freezer section. We used both relleno and poblano, the poblano are a medium heat pepper, and the relleno are mild. My tastes are very much toward the hot side. We thought together the peppers made a great combination. I roasted a few jalapenos on the grill to kick it up a bit. We did not even come close to using that much butter!!!! Ugh! We melted only one stick and that was plenty. Go lightly when you paint the filo pastry with the butter. Working with filo can be a challenge if you haven’t before. If you haven’t, one would want the thaw it out and use one piece at a time keep the rest covered up with a moist towel. This stuff dries out within seconds and becomes a “crumbly mess”. Those who have worked with it know what I’m talking about. When you cook the recipe, the butter in addition to the cheese may create fair amount of residual oil. I think I coated the filo on the heavy side. Possibly, the quality of the cheese added to this. Next time we would change up the sauce. This recipe made it taste very Italian. I guess that’s what they were trying to do hence the goat cheese. I would add some Mexican spices such and cumin or chili powder. I would also add salsa verde, made from the tomatillos in our garden, to finish off the dish. Hope this helps with some ideas on what to do with all the peppers we have at the garden. Enjoy! I’m about to stuff some jalapenos with cheese, wrapping them in bacon (slightly precooked) and place them on the grill.

Stan



CHILI RELLENOS EN CROUTE WITH TOMATO CILANTRO SAUCE

Printed from COOKS.COM

4 poblano chili peppers
1 box whole wheat filo pastry
8 oz. goat cheese
12 oz. Jack cheese
2 sticks melted butter

SAUCE:

16 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 lg. Spanish onion, diced
4 bunches cilantro
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt to taste

Roast peppers and remove skin and seed. Fill each pepper with 1/4 of the cheese mixture, set aside. Remove filo from box and lay out flat on work surface. With melted butter and pastry brush, take one sheet of the filo at a time, paint with the butter. Fold in half, place chili in corner and roll up brushing all unbuttered surfaces with butter. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

SAUCE: Saute onion in olive oil until clear, then add tomatoes and cook another 5-10 minutes until liquid evaporated. Add salt and chopped cilantro. To serve, place sauce on plate and add chili rellenos. Serve with rice.
My thoughts keep returning to how fast the garden continues to change. Since my previous update Caleb and Maria have come, gone, come and gone and their baby keeps growing. Caleb got a promotion, I think. Alaina registred for fall classes at IUPUI, a new school for her. Her best friend decided on a career. Two of my co-workers left our small office (one you should know). I was offered two new jobs and took on one new responsibility. Jason and Chrissy are preparing to move. Isabelle is getting ready for 1st grade. The parallels are pretty obvious.

Thanks to Penny's straw, we've been spared much drudgery. But, there are several tasks for those of us that manage to get ambitious in the near term. First, the rebellious tomatoes need to be supported somehow. Your technique is as good as mine. Some need to the tied to the stakes that are already there. Some of the cages need to be anchored. And, the tomatoes should be fed, which is an easy job. We can also prune them to manage their size.

Next, we need to start digging potatoes. Doing this late in the evenings wouldn't be too bad. I still suggest digging what you intend to use for the next couple weeks only.

For watering, the sprinkler has been running in the back garden for about 4 hours now. Watering plants late in the evening promotes fungal diseases and is discouraged, but when else can you put down sufficient water before it evaporates? I'm watering the least sensitive plants tonight and will get to the others tomorrow.

Rebecca, I hope your seedlings are growing. Maybe we should wait for a break in the hot weather before we plant them, though.

And, we need mid-week harvesters.

We had a garden visitor, too. By the looks of the carnage, this mole wandered through our garden looking for something it misplaced. It doesn't do too much damage to the vegetables, but I hope there are no kids around if I manage to corner it.

Here's this week's status:

Cucumbers *** (2nd planting is just starting to produce. The Chinese cucumbers are best at about 1 foot long.)

Bush beans *** (First planting is fading, 2nd planting of one row is starting. Pick at about 1/8 inch in diameter.)

Tomatoes *** yes, for cherry, Roma, a few yellow, some Early Girl (slicing)

Turnips done

Beets **** 2nd planting is ready. Some are the 'Cylindria' variety. Unlike the 'Detroit Red', they stick up out of the soil.

Dill ** waning quickly

Peas - one!

Lettuce - we are readying ourselves for fall planting

Hot banana peppers *** (yes, yes, these are marked with a red string on the cages. There are some cute round red ones, too.)

Other peppers ****

Bell, Pablano (Ancho when dried), relleno (for stuffing), pimento (wait until red?), jalapeño (a little early, I think), & mild banana.

Chard ***** (2nd planting, very good greens.)

Onions **** (all harvested and drying)

Carrots nearly done

Eggplant (Japanese) - RIP!

Radishes **** we found a patch!

zucchini *****

scaloppini squash ***** (harvest when about 3 or 4 inches across, the large ones make fine weapons)

acorn squash **** (we've baked this and it's easy and great, serve with butter & nutmeg.)

tomatillos ** we've enjoyed some verde salsa!

potatoes ***** We picked all four kinds last week. They are beautiful together. There are purple, Yukon Gold, red and fingerlings.



Here is a map of the peppers. The plants at the bottom of the list are closer to the house.

bell bell pablano

bell bell pablano

p. bell bell pablano

p. bell jalapeño pablano

bell jalapeño pablano

bell jalapeño pablano

bell jalapeño pablano

bell relleno pimiento

sw banana relleno pimiento

sw banana relleno pimiento

sw banana relleno pimiento

sw banana relleno pimiento

Hot red cherry relleno pimiento

hot banana relleno pimiento

hot banana relleno pimiento



Mickey is warming to the idea of providing cooking sessions to learn how to use some of our bounty. If you are interested or want to have fun, let her know.


Don't change too much,

Kim


PS - When you drop by, you may want to take a look at my repair handiwork and a Noblesville landmark, the most cursed door in Indiana.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The garden's constant and rapid change amazes me. It looks nothing like the garden of a few weeks ago. Virtually all the small garden has come and gone, and soon will come and go again at unreasonable speed. The back garden is thick with green, narrowing some paths to extinction. I had to trim one of the tomatoe plants back to about 6 foot high.

We enjoy something from the garden almost every lunch and dinner. Mickey is adept at using whatever happens to be available each day. And since the garden furiously renews the "vegetable of the day", we've yet to tire of anything.

I estimate that we harvested about a bushel of produce this week, not counting the baseball bat sized zuchinni. Most of this is taken during the weekend. The garden hasn't caught on to our usage pattern, so we need to catch on to its production pattern. Some vegatables are best when picked within a one or two day window. We need mid-week harvesters! Mickey's without a car this week so come by, say hello and unburden some of the vines, bushes, etc.

Several spots have opened up in the small garden, and I've filled a couple with some yellow crooked neck squash, zucchini, beats, Chinese cabbage and fennel. In the remaining ample room we will put in some fall greens. Anyone with preferences/suggestions should let Rebecca know (you will meet her, Brian and kids sometime soon, I hope).

Here's this week's status:

Cucumbers *** (Don't let the regular cucumbers get too big; they get bitter. The Chinese cucumbers are best at about 1 foot long.)
Bush beans ***** (These need to be harvested when small, about 1/8 inch in diameter.)
Tomatos *** yes, for cherry; some Roma, a few yellow, some Early Girl (slicing)
Turnips done
Beets done, 2nd planting in a couple weeks
Dill *** waning quickly
Peas - one!
Lettuce - forget it
Hot banana peppers *** (these are marked with a red string on the cages)
Other peppers ***
Bell, Pablano (Ancho when dried), relleno (for stuffing), pimento (wait until red?), jalapeño (a little early, I think), & mild banana.
Chard ***** (2nd planting, very good green.)
Onions ***** (all harvested and drying)
Carrots nearly done
Eggplant (Japanese) - RIP
Radishs **** we found a patch!
zucchini *****
scaloppinni squash *****
acorn squash **** (we've baked this and it's easy and great, serve with butter & nutmeg.)
tomatilloes - close
potatos - We should harvest as the tops die. Also, we can dig "early" potatoes. The fingerlings wither within a few days, so gather them only for use within the next few days.

Kim

PS - I made 8? spelling errors above. Spelling these vejutabuls is tufff.

Friday, July 20, 2007

For the next few weeks we will have lots of produce. Please, please come by!

In some aspects the garden is going so well it looks as if everything is working. But we've had some setbacks this week. Some of the onions were in the ground too long and began to rot. We've been hit with lots of cucumber beetles. These suck the plant's juices and in the process spread a bacteria that clogs the plants vascular system. This may take a toll on some of the squash and cucumbers. We could spray for the beetle, but Seven also kills bees. Some of the radishes planted late are hard as golf balls and very strong. And we found that the bush beans and regular cucumbers need to be harvested when young. Otherwise, we've done VERY well.

Here's this week's status:







Cucumbers **** (Don't let the regular cucumbers get too big; they get bitter. The Chinese cucumbers are best at about 1 foot long.)
Bush beans ***** (These need to be harvested when small, about 1/8 inch in diameter.)
Tomatoes - yes, for cherry; some Roma, a few yellow, some Early Girl (slicing)
Turnips *
Beets * (2nd planting is on its way)
Dill *****
Peas - they're done
Lettuce - forget it
Hot banana peppers ****
Other peppers *****
Chard ***** (2nd planting, very good green. Mickey put them in scrabbled eggs, as you would spinach.)
Onions ***** (all harvested and drying)
Carrots ** mainly for kids to dig
Eggplant (Japanese) - succumbed to bugs
Radishes - only for the brave right now, we'll plant more when the weather starts to cool.
zucchini *****
scaloppini squash ****
acorn squash **** (we've baked this and it's great)
tomatillos - close
potatoes - close; we should plan a party for the kids

Stan planted pumpkins last weekend - timed for fall harvest.

I planted some Chinese cabbage in peat pots. I also planted some yellow summer squash in a pot. They will go into the garden this weekend.

I may plant more green beans in the small garden.

And, we got 1.25 inches of rain! What a relief!


Kim

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Does any one know what happened to the first 6 months of this year? One thing I know - Mickey and I reached the lofty age of 54. And another thing I know. People are still capable of change at that age, thank goodness. We've gravitated toward purchasing more locally grown foods, which fits in nicely with growing some of what we need right in our own backyard - with friends.

Mickey's taught me to appreciate food. She's known for her culinary creativity and good taste. I've learned to see in food and the culinary arts many of the most beautiful things: sharing, creativity, competency and accomplishment, seemingly endless variety, enjoyment, provision, experimentation and learning, culture and history, and the beauty of our and our plants' biology. Did our grandparents, who had to tend gardens out of necessity, think in these terms?

But back to weeds and the present state of our garden. Sidney's taken Stan and Terra to Missouri to see her grandparents. Mickey is out of town until Saturday to get a badly needed rest. And the garden's decided some things need harvesting. We'll start composting vegetables if they are not picked. Asterisks indicate relative availability.

Cucumbers **
Bush beans ***
Tomatoes - not yet, Penny
Turnips ***
Beets ***
Dill **
Peas - they're done
Lettuce - forget it
Hot banana peppers *
Other peppers - give it another week
Chard ****
Onions ***
Carrots ** - mainly for kids to dig
Eggplant (Japanese) **
Radishes - they're done for awhile
zucchini ***
scaloppini squash ***
acorn squash - maybe
tomatillos - not yet, but they look cool
potatoes - not yet, but we should plan a party for the kids

Other news: We just replanted some zucchini and more cucumbers (these are in case disease or bugs take out the existing plants). We tried more radishes, but they didn't like the warm weather. I planted more chard to have a larger source of summer greens. Edamame soybeans and fennel recently went in for fall harvest.

We've still not needed to use and chemicals. If (well, when) we do, we will indicate that with an orange or red flag in that row.

Needs:
Continued weeding. I keep the garden pretty weed free to the point that visitors don't see many. Don't be too fooled. They're out there, you just have to be as fastidious as me to get juiced about killing them. The problem with allowing them to get big is that eventually they'll have to be pulled anyway and uprooting large weeds often disturbs the plants you are tending. Penny's mulch is in place and has greatly reduced the weeding and watering chores.
Securing the straw mulch. This is a simple job. Distribute boards/stakes/whatever on top of the mulch so the wind does not blow it to Anderson.
Watering. If we don't get rain on the 4th, we are back to hand watering. The tomatoes and peppers need water about every 4th day. Seedlings and cucumbers need it daily. Use the (warm) water in the trash can for the cucumbers. They dislike 55 degree well water.
Label the peppers for easy identification.
Plant pumpkins.
Tie up some of the tomatoes that are not in cages.

I will be home all day July 4th. But I don't need to be here for you to take part.


Warm regards,

Kim

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hi, friends.

Up until now we've been hearing how good the weather has been - sunny, no rain, low humidity. But about a month ago I removed sod in part of our lawn and was amazed to see how dry it was well below the surface. There's been little rain in the interim. In spite of the dry weather, the garden is doing very well. We just have to water it constantly.

There is a bit of a lull in what is now available. The peas are coming in nicely. The beets are delicious. Some of the spinach is still good for cooking. Some of the lettuce was still quite good as of this past weekend. We've gotten a few turnips. I've seen some small squash. But the big show is ahead of us when the tomatoes and their pals ripen.

Help needed this week:
- spot weeding, the never ending job (to you novices, there's no excuse now for not knowing what's a weed and what a desired plant)
- watering
- spreading straw for mulch
- tomato staking

We've been doing the watering by hand in the back garden for 2 reasons. First, it's difficult to put sufficient water on 3000 sq ft. Second, watering everything encourages weeds. The idea is to apply the water only in the root zone of the desired plants. I've also not yet mulched most of the back garden. I wanted to get the temperatures up to get the tomatoes growing. Applying mulch cools the soil and the plant. It's time to apply the mulch to conserve water.

Of course, any of this work should be done in the cool of the day.

We also need to replant some things. This entails removing the old greens (about a 30 second job). We can plant more squash, greens, whatever in their place.


Kim

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hi everybody!

Mickey and I are in Missouri and Illinois until Monday. Jason and Chrissy will be staying at the house.

Anyway, I recently read that "when lettuce season is over, it's OVER." When the temperature reaches about 85 consistently, the plants think they need to reproduce and start bolting. Part of that process is the creation of the milky substance you see in mature lettuce. Its bitterness puts and end to lettuce season. So, again, enjoy what we have while we still have it.

The spinach is nearing the same point, but it's still really good when cooked into soups, etc.

Penny delivered bales of straw Monday, and the potatoes are enjoying it. We can spread the rest as we need it. Waiting a couple more weeks might benefit the tomatoes because the mulch tends to keep the soil and the plant cool, whereas we are wanting HOT now.

Before I left, I did not check the need for watering. So, when you come over, please monitor that.

The bush beans are up and will soon need weeding. I hand weeded around the plants last weekend, but you will see we need more aggressive measures between rows.


Claire, have a great summer. We'll miss you.


Kim

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hi, everyone. Hope you are doing well

We are in the peak of the "greens" season, and we should enjoy it to the fullest while it lasts. Everyone is encouraged to harvest the lettuce and spinach now - as much as you think you can use. Take the entire head, as opposed to harvesting leaves. Find a head in a crowded spot and pull it up or cut it at its base. I have a knife in the garage. We are running out of plastic bags, so bring some if you think of it.

I am guessing that we have about 2 more weeks of these nice lettuces. Radishes have been a big hit, and they are the only thing we've been tight on.

We've caged all the peppers and most of the tomatoes with the cages Ed brought over. The Girls replanted the bush beans. Peas are starting to bloom. We are in our 2nd radish crop. The potatoes look great. We have chard, but we still don't know how to use it. Spinach is trying to bolt. The tomatillos and the eggplants have blooms. The squash is mostly up. We've not had to use any insecticides or herbicides or fungicides. The compost bin is doing its thing.

Weeds. This is where we need help. Because of the very dry weather, we've had a reprieve from the normal amount weeding. With the blessed return of rain, this has changed. Penny is looking for straw to help mulch everything. That will preserve moisture as well as suppress weeds. We need to get the mulch down before the weeds get started and the soil dries. Timing is everything. We'll lose the battle against established weeds.

We also need to consider what we plant to replace the greens. I have some ideas, but yours are needed.

We will be home most of today and tomorrow. So drop by; say hi.


Kim


*Penny, it would be great if you and Pat could drop ~3-4 bales in the back yard anytime. If you need Mickey's help, let her know.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The garden's constant and rapid change amazes me. It looks nothing like the garden of a few weeks ago. Virtually all the small garden has come and gone, and soon will come and go again at unreasonable speed. The back garden is thick with green, narrowing some paths to extinction. I had to trim one of the tomatoe plants back to about 6 foot high.

We enjoy something from the garden almost every lunch and dinner. Mickey is adept at using whatever happens to be available each day. And since the garden furiously renews the "vegetable of the day", we've yet to tire of anything.

I estimate that we harvested about a bushel of produce this week, not counting the baseball bat sized zuchinni. Most of this is taken during the weekend. The garden hasn't caught on to our usage pattern, so we need to catch on to its production pattern. Some vegatables are best when picked within a one or two day window. We need mid-week harvesters! Mickey's without a car this week so come by, say hello and unburden some of the vines, bushes, etc.

Several spots have opened up in the small garden, and I've filled a couple with some yellow crooked neck squash, zucchini, beats, Chinese cabbage and fennel. In the remaining ample room we will put in some fall greens. Anyone with preferences/suggestions should let Rebecca know (you will meet her, Brian and kids sometime soon, I hope).

Here's this week's status:

Cucumbers *** (Don't let the regular cucumbers get too big; they get bitter. The Chinese cucumbers are best at about 1 foot long.)
Bush beans ***** (These need to be harvested when small, about 1/8 inch in diameter.)
Tomatos *** yes, for cherry; some Roma, a few yellow, some Early Girl (slicing)
Turnips done
Beets done, 2nd planting in a couple weeks
Dill *** waning quickly
Peas - one!
Lettuce - forget it
Hot banana peppers *** (these are marked with a red string on the cages)
Other peppers ***
Bell, Pablano (Ancho when dried), relleno (for stuffing), pimento (wait until red?), jalapeño (a little early, I think), & mild banana.
Chard ***** (2nd planting, very good green.)
Onions ***** (all harvested and drying)
Carrots nearly done
Eggplant (Japanese) - RIP
Radishs **** we found a patch!
zucchini *****
scaloppinni squash *****
acorn squash **** (we've baked this and it's easy and great, serve with butter & nutmeg.)
tomatilloes - close
potatos - We should harvest as the tops die. Also, we can dig "early" potatoes. The fingerlings wither within a few days, so gather them only for use within the next few days.

Kim

PS - I made 8? spelling errors above. Spelling these vejutabuls is tufff.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hi, everyone.

What a great time I had today. First, Sidney (and Stan) came over and we planted 4 tomato plants. That girl was in the zone as we worked. She was carefully inverting the potted plants, removing the plants from the plastic pot (with a little help), carefully cradling the fragile root ball while turning the plant upright, placing the plant in the hole, and gently packing only the "good" dirt around it. Both of us had a grand time.

Then Isabelle came by to help with watering. She patiently watered most of the garden, which takes much longer than you would imagine. As we watered, she noticed I was picking, washing (quickly rinsing) and snacking as we went. Kids don't have a good sense of what is "dirty" and what's not. It might be odd to them that you can eat something that is actually grown in dirt. Next, we got to really look at a spinach plant and saw its two clearly different types of leaves. We tasted each, looked at their thickness and noticed the first leaves were much smoother that the ones that follow. Isabelle preferred the taste of the bumpy surfaced ones.

The greens are vigorously growing to the point that we are getting behind in the harvest. The only thing we've managed to devour are the radishes. The greens feast will last only a few more weeks, so enjoy them while you can. We'll try for a fall crop in a few months.

All 42? pepper plants are in. We are close to planting all five rows of tomatoes. Summer squash and bush bean are planted. Most of the tomatillos are planted. Eggplants are in.

The next step is mulching, unless someone out there LIKES unending weeding and watering. And after that? Vacation! It's interesting that most people think that summer's the time for gardening work. Actually the Master Gardener's organization pauses over much of the summer. Early summer is the time to wait for the onslaught of tomatoes, beans, squash, etc. that comes a few weeks later.

Not that there is nothing to do.

We have to GET the mulch. I think the best way is to buy a few bales of straw. Then, we need to cage or stake about 100 plants - no kidding. Ed brought over some cages and stakes, but we are still short. So, if you have access to tomato cages, bring them over. We'll use them on our peppers - because the will get so big they will require tomato cages!

If you missed coming by the last couple of weeks, stop by. We've been having a good time. (from mid-Sunday afternoon on, no one will be home until late Monday)


Kim

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Well, can we have worse weather?

There's not much activity in our garden yet. A few things are doing OK - onions and garlic. And, there are sightings of some lettuce and spinach seedlings.

The radishes started to flourish right before the cold snap. Then they froze and the wind beat them to death! Sorry, Dave! I replanted them Tuesday. And I started tomatillos and roma tomato seedlings last weekend. They're coming up!

Most of the seedlings haven't emerged, and the earliest planting should have come up by now. But I'm not too discouraged. We started pretty early because of the unusually warm weather; but our gamble didn't pay off.

But soon it will get nice. For us, that means we need to be ready when we get an opening. So, if you have time when the weather warms, you may want to come over and reseed things that look as if they didn't make it. This could happen mid-week (~April 17th) or maybe even this Sunday afternoon.

We are putting off building the compost bin until we find sufficient material. We need 7 fork lift pallets or some more 2 by somethings or 1 by somethings.

The other major task is tilling the big garden. It's still too wet, and here again we'll need to be ready when we get an opening.


Regards, Kim


PS - Marcia, do you want me to use your home email address?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hi, folks.

You can see that planning time is here and planting time is coming fast. Mickey and I will host a lunch next weekend (March 24th or 25th) to get your feedback and start some planting and building of the trellis if the weather is OK.

Call us in the meantime if you have any thoughts.

I plan to order seeds today.

Regards, Kim and Mickey