Monday, July 14, 2008

They Took Over the Garden

This past Tuesday evening a few kids took over the garden. Isabelle introduced Ava to snacking on the pea pods and I showed Ava how to shell them, which she picked up on instantly. They did not seem to mind that the peas were starting to get old and starchy. Then, all the kids met at the carrot patch where we thinned the patch by pulling one small carrot each. I think they enjoyed seeing the immature, muddy, not-yet-orange carrots. Next, we headed for the kitchen where we washed them, scrubbed them and put them to the taste test. Who knows what the kids take away from these moments, but it could be important.
This weekend I did some major garden housecleaning and redecorating. Compared to a few weeks ago the small garden looks bare. I stripped the peas from the fence, took down the broccoli raab, harvested the last two cabbage heads (weighing 10 pounds each) and took down several volunteer dill. Since we've not replanted succession crops, we now have plenty of open space. In the back garden I culled a few of the cucumber vines by simply cutting them at the plant's base.
If you want a full or partial head of cabbage, please let us know.
Last year our tremendous onion harvest was followed by the almost equally tremendous onion rot. This year we have some different tactics. One of these is to bend all the tops to the ground when a few of them start to do this on their own. So most of the onions have been "rolled". They stay in this state for a couple weeks before we harvest them. Because of the unending rain, I removed all the mulch on the onions to help them dry out a bit.
A quick estimate indicates we have about 360 onions: red, yellow, white, Texas Sweet, Walla Walla, etc. We can and should start using these immediately. They are sweet and tasty, cooked or not.
All onion mulch and all the remaining mulch went around the tomatoes to suppress weeds.
I harvested our 1st cucumber today. A couple of Early Girl tomatoes are ready for harvest. The dill is up. We have parsley, cilantro, bush beans and just now are getting French green beans. The back herb garden is doing really well considering the moisture. The peppers are small but doing fine. All the tomatoes are fully recovered from their near drowning. Potatoes raising their young-in's.
Helping hands could plant more beets, some squash (we have not planted any), more bush beans, cilantro, okra?, or whatever. The tomato vines are starting to wander from their cages. They need to be either coached back into the cages or tied to them. Weeders will be needed at the end of the week.
Have a good week.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


To be honest, this has been a tough garden year. We've avoided some past mistakes, but the wet, cool weather caused new problems. Our garlic, radishes, lettuce, beets and spinach produced a fraction of last year's crop. And the constant moisture has assured a steady crop of weeds. The farmers at the market told Mickey they too have struggled this year.
On the other hand, some of our plantings are doing very well. We have a huge number of onions, the peas are great, but nothing compares to the cabbage - if size matters. They looked large in the garden, but in the kitchen they look abnormally, creepy big. They are nearly the size of a balloon and they seem to weigh about 15 pounds. Mickey made 32 cabbage rolls with one head.
Some of the peppers and tomatoes thought they were dying. So they put out a little fruit early in one last fling - then they recovered. Now we have a few plants with nearly mature fruit even though the plant in general is a bit behind schedule.
We are just now getting green beans. Their neighbors, the edamame soybeans, are looking pretty good but they've not flowered yet.
I've attached a map of the back garden.
Weeding was the primary job this weekend but we also:
- transplanted the struggling garlic from the large to the small garden
- tilled unused patches in the back garden to suppress weeds and prepare for squash
- continued the pea harvest
- cleared sections that contained spent lettuce, cabbage, spinach, radishes
- planted a 3rd planting of beets (3 small rows)
- planted some "heat tolerant" spinach (I will believe it when I see it)
- planted one small row of chard
- fertilized the tomatoes and peppers (we are trying to accelerate their maturing)
Remaining tasks:
- plant squash
- plant a 2nd planting of bush beans
- tie up the wandering tomato plants
- spread the remaining straw to suppress weeds
Regards, Kim

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th everyone!
Here's what's up in the garden this week.
We are getting peas, beets, cabbage, onions and radishes - I think that's it.
The cabbages are finally really mature and we have about 5 heads left. The peas are waning, but we are still picking them almost daily. We planted lots of onions and they are quickly maturing. We have so many that we can start using them immediately without abandon. And they are good! This year our beet and radish crops have been so-so, but there are a few out there. We'll have green beans within a couple of days.
There is no lettuce or spinach now, but I plan to plant some summer greens this weekend.
Tasks for this weekend include:
- weeding
- continue the pea harvest
- clear out spent lettuce
- plant summer squash
- till between rows in the back garden
- fertilize the tomatoes and peppers
- tie up the tomatoes
- plant the summer greens (chard, heat tolerant spinach and lettuce)
It will probably be wet on Friday, but Saturday is looking like a good work day.
Regards, Kim

Yesterday Mike, Stacy and Ellen Morgan stopped by and we tackled the big job of weeding the tomatoes, tomatilloes, and peppers. Then, we mulched them so that we won't have to repeat the exercise each week. We also tied up the peas (winds were starting to knock them down), harvested a large amount of them, harvested some lettuce, beets, a cabbage, etc. We are still getting strawberries, but not for long. The Morgans took some beets home to try to pickle them.
We lost only one tomato plant, which is a surprise. Mike and I fertilized them and the peppers to speed their maturation.
We stored some of the lettuce, beets and peas in the garage refrigerator. So please take some if you come by. The lettuce remaining in the garden is starting to bolt, so it's past its prime. But it is still usable until it gets bitter. The spinach is slowly recovering from its water boarding experience.
As the cabbages and lettuce exit the stage, areas in the small garden will open up. We can plant heat tolerant spinach and lettuce, chard, squash, another round of bush beans, etc. I don't think I can get to it before I leave for NY in a couple of days.
Watering the smaller plants might be the most urgent task while Mickey and I are both gone. It's amazing that we need to start watering so soon after the earlier overabundance. There shouldn't be much weeding to do the next week or so.
I also added more grass clippings to the compost bin. Each time we do, it heats up for about a week until the clippings are consumed.
I created a map of the tomatoes, peppers and tomatilloes. I'll keep it in the garage.


I just returned home, and Mickey just left for NY. For a while we were both in flight today but on different planes going in different directions.
I will be home through next Tuesday, June 24th. Then I'll go to NY. Mickey and I will return home on July 1st.
Since Mickey is taking a break from dutifully feeding her husband and because I am not much of a cook, there will be plenty of produce to harvest this week.
Please understand that harvesting is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy garden. If we don't continue removing mature vegetables, the old vegetables easily get confused with the newly maturing ones. We'd like to keep everything fresh. So, please do not be shy about using what becomes available. Otherwise it will be harvested and taken 50 feet to the compost pile.
I've not been out in the garden for several days, but I suspect we are getting peas, lettuce, green onions, beets, cabbage, broccoli raab, spinach, and strawberries.
Last weekend we quickly weeded and mulched the potatoes and green beans, tried to salvage a couple of the water logged tomato plants, planted more peppers, cleaned off the 1st spinach bed, etc. We need to plant some squash, tomatilloes, and cilantro soon and replant a few other things. Should be a good weekend for all this.