Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pictures June, 28, 2011

Finally decided to retake the pictures i lost in the computer fiasco.  Please excuse the weeds... between rain and my limited time its been hard to keep up again this year- even with my scuffle hoe.

 Remove the bug and it will look delicious!

 Potatoes--  i think i should take pics of the garden from this side more often.  Our patio might be littered with toddler toys but its a better backdrop than our neighbors' melted siding and bare clapboard! lol
 Tomato, cucumber and 49r summer squash.  I'm really disappointed by the cucumbers.  They are going very slowly. I've learned for next year to not direct sow anything! lol
 One tricky thing about raised beds is how quickly weeds grow up the slopes. 

49r summer squash....  Not sure if that silvery color along the veins is normal for this variety.  I had wanted to plant Golden Zebra, but 49r came as the substitute.

Tomatoes are starting to bloom!

Front end of the tomatoes
 Potatoes again
 Kossack kohlrabi and then cabbages.  There are some volunteer tomatoes in that row where the kohlrabi are. I'm planning on leaving them there so when i harvest the kohlrabi, i can have some extra tomatoes growing. I'm guessing they are from the yellow pear tomatoes i had last year.
 Onions. They always look so bare and forsaken.  The herbs are at the far end with the marigolds.  I have parsley, oregano, dill, basil, rosemary, cilantro and sage.

 Mostly full shot.  The empty spot near the clump of marigolds is where i planted the second round of green beans.
 Some houseplants vacationing outside. Mostly hoyas,  some citrus, cloves and a jade plant.   I need to bring my cardamom plant and bay laurel outside too.

My potted fig

My Nova elderberry might be thinking about setting a bloom. It would be a nice treat to see that in its first year. 

My unnamed elderberry from last year died to the ground, so its no closer to blooming right now than it was in fall of last year.

Stanley simply looks awesome.
Blueberries, starting to get blue

Comfrey, Bocking 14

It needed water, but the big leaves are almost the length of my arm from wrist to elbow.  This is the infertile type, propagation is by crowns i guess--- not sure if cuttings can be taken from this plant with its growth habit.  I'm hoping to be able to share these out because they are not cheap or easy to find.

So i got to take a little stroll around the house with no purpose but to enjoy it. I just let myself look at things for how they are right now, not how they will look once i can get this or that done- or how they will look if they survive the winter or how i have to prune in a year...  It was nice to be able to let go of some of my self-inflicted anxiety for once.
The air was fresh and warm, little breeze making the leaves float a little on the branches...  birds were chirping. The sun was getting ready to set.  It was really nice to just be in my little yard with all the things growing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I picked a small head of broccoli today. IT WAS DELICIOUS!    I also planted another round of green beans and weeded. I took pictures but i fell victim to a malicious script which caused me to have to do a full system restore on my computer so i lost the images i had saved to desktop.
Other than that today was simply a day of weeding and peering at how things were going and things are looking good!

Raintree Plant Order

On Thursday of last week, i hinted to my hubby that another $100 in plants would pretty much complete my berry collection and finalize the yardscaping goal.  He said OK willingly and on payday he reminded me to go ahead.

So i submitted my order to Raintree on Friday.  They have unusual plants and a decent reputation.

SKU Product Item price Quantity Total
D743 Titan Seabuckthorn(fem)-Gal Pot) $22.50   1 $22.50
C315 Prunus maritima 'Beach Plum' sdlg $4.50   4 $18.00
H2024 Goji Berry Phoenix Tears-4 Inch Pot $9.50   2 $19.00
E031 Goldbeere Elderberry-Gal Pot $16.50   1 $16.50
E015 Caerulea Blue Elderberry $14.50   1 $14.50
D746 Sea Buckthorn(male) $19.95   1 $19.95
Subtotal: $110.45
Shipping cost: $26.95

Now i'm not sure if they are still shipping, Starks is not, but since i ordered Friday afternoon nobody will get my order until Monday and if there is a problem i will be contacted soon.
I did notice something about plant availability on their website but i didn't see a cutoff date- so i'm guessing that if i don't get some or all my plants this year i can get them next Spring. That will be fine by me as long as all of the varieties are available still.

I had planned to try growing Goji from seed,  but last year's attempt didn't pan out. The seeds sprouted readily enough, but growth was maddeningly slow.  I did find this article How to Grow Goji From Seed and i think the problem was the depth of the growing container- i guess Goji stop growing once their roots hit bottom. The bottom comes fast when the seedlings are growing in a styrofoam mushroom box that is only 3 inches deep.

I have seeds for Seabuckthorn--- but Seabuckthorns come in male and female. I'd have to grow twice as many seeds to be assured at least one male and then it would be 3 years before the plants could be sexed.  If i buy one male i could grow more seeds, knowing i have a fertilizing male already. Not wanting to wait too long, i got a female known for being particularly prolific as well.

My beach plums from Oikos died over winter. I think the buckets got too dry before freezes came. Raintree's beach plums are cheap enough to try out.  They are salt resistant and should do well next to the roadway where their salt resistance (winter road salt) will come in very handy.

I'm getting a good collection of Elderberries now that they are no longer restricted up here, Yay!  I'm hoping Currants will come off the list soon as well.  I have never eaten either...  
Anyway, two more types will give me a collection of 5,  three black, one golden and one powdery blue.

So i can't wait to learn if i can expect things this year or next.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Looking back and playing around

Looking back to this time last year....

It was interesting. Around now we were using the air conditioning almost daily. The tomato plants were large,  two weeks from this time last year i was picking green beans.

I mean we had temps in the 80's.  We've been 60's and 70's lately and a good deal of rain, which is good and bad.  With so many overcast days it seems that things are lagging a bit.  This cool weather is probably great for the brassicas because they aren't battling high summer heat.  But what a difference between years.  This weather sure is horrible for getting weeding done.  I think i may get behind badly like i did last year.

On the positive side of weeds taking over is more organic material for the dirt when all gets plowed under in the fall.

I've been surfing around and i found a few cool things.
I have used a sourdough starter a number of times and i liked how i didn't have to buy yeast for a loaf.  The packets are convenient and all and really not that expensive honestly.  But there have been many times that i have wanted to bake a loaf of bread and found that i am out of yeast packets.

So, learning that i can dry sourdough starter at home and it can store indefinitely in the freezer (and i assume also in vacuum packs) makes me happy.  So i plan to try it myself soon. Just need to whip up a batch of starter and let it age a bit, then i'll probably dry the starter on the lowest setting in the Excalibur .


Another thing i found on the crocheting front....  A great tutorial on  African Daisy granny hexagons.  These are some of the prettiest color combination patterns i have ever seen.  I have started my first one and thanks to the fab tutorial its going great.


I even printed it off just in case i need a portable version of the pattern until i have it memorized.  I want to do a multicolored, random mix of colors and then i'd love to do one with a daisy mix.  Maybe some black-eyed-susans. I'll use Simply Soft by Caron.

Well i think that is about it for today.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just thinking

I tried getting some more radishes, but i guess i'm expecting them to be ready too soon..?  Its a mix of types but all i pulled seem to be about the size of my thumb nail or not much larger.  Its been warm, i thought radishes just got hotter, not slower. I seem to forget every year. lol

When the rainy weather ends, i'll plant the next round of green beans. Hopefully i'm inundated gradually this year.

My summer squashes seem to be recovering nicely since being dusted.  I'm just sevining everything before it blooms.  The bugs are wicked this year.  The number of toes-up striped cucumber beetles that appear under the plants the day after dusting has been astounding! I hate to use it, but i think the garden would be a total failure this year without it.

I haven't seen many cabbage butterflies so far,  though i saw a number of them earlier in spring. I haven't been dusting the coles so i don't think its that.

I don't like posting entries without pictures but its too wet and now its dark. :o)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First day of Summer

Its beautiful out. Blue sky, some thin, high clouds- not enough to cast shadows so its basically a clear day.  Temperatures are in the high 70's to low 80's,  dry and comfortable with a pleasant breeze. Just perfect.

Garden is doing well.  Needs much weeding of course.  The little one's wakefulness is making it hard to weed and get most things done. I have been bemoaning he condition of my grapes, they are growing like crazy and i wish i had understood pruning instructions this spring-  bu i didn't understand them at that time.  Now i do and i realize what i should have done.  Hubby bought me a nice set of pruners.  Not expensive ones, but for 5 grapes i don't need $75 pruners. Under $20 for a set of two is fair enough.  These actually look like good ones, drop forged and come apart for sharpening. One is a bypass and the other is a needle nose.  If i wanted to sound all pro, i could call them secateurs, but i think 'pruners' is a better suited word for my skill level. lol

The other task i have been bemoaning is setting up my netting for the cucumbers.  But then, they don't really need it right now. I got such a late start on them due to the low germination of many of my seeds. Three of the four types had to be reseeded at least one of each. 

I also need to spread some 10-10-10 in the sandier part of the garden. Its so sandy there is slow growth.  I also have some leaf yellowing going on with my squash.  Their large leaves have yellow along the edges and i'm sure its a fert issue.  The new part of the garden does not have much compost or manure from last year in it. Its very sandy and would be perfect for carrots if i wanted any this year.

Another thing is that the apple tree is due for another treatment of Bonide. I have to stay ahead of the bugs this year.  I missed one spraying last year and that was the end of it for the apples.
I need to also research what i may need to spray the pear tree for.  Its doing wonderfully so far. I actually don't know what bugs will bug a Stanley Prune Plum or any other plum for that matter.   I'll also spray the grapes for fungus and blight after they are pruned. Mainly a precaution- its been on the damp side this year.

Well someone has finally fallen asleep so....


I got the apple tree sprayed!

And the grapes pruned



Marechal Foch before:

Marechal Foch after:

It wasn't as intimidating as i expected it to be. With all that growth i understood what was going on. Books tell you that this or that branch will do something if you don't prune it and why,  but its different to actually see what that is.  So now i know what happens!  And now i'm ok with removing parts.

I noticed some browning on some leaves,  just one so far.  I think this was Frontenac  or Reliance:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

basic update

Not much to report. i expect more radishes as the days go by.  No woodchucks yet.  The beans are up, the corn is up...  i have weeded with the scuffle hoe. The potatoes have been located by the Colorado potato beetle, they and the striped cucumber beetles have been Sevin Dusted...

So far so good. Still holding my breath over the woodchucks though.  This will be   a perennial problem.  One year without them will not guarantee the next.

The Sub Arctic tomato seeds i am germ testing haven't done anything yet, but there is still time. One of my tomato plants croaked and another isn't looking so hot, so if the Sub Arctics do get going i have spaces for them to fill.

This is a difficult year for me as the youngest is big enough to get into trouble but not small enough to take long naps like last year.  Everything is done as quickly as possible.  Next year may be easier since she will be 3 and old enough to understand more about why mommy says no.  Big sister may also mature enough to want to help with a willing spirit.

But i'll do what i can as much as i have time for!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Weather post

Dreary weather this week so far. Supposed to be nice tomorrow and then back to the ugliness.  The weeds in the garden are almost as big as the plants.  I'll need to do my weeding with the collinear hoe tomorrow if i get the time.

I did get to pick 5 more radishes today, i would normally take pictures but they were eaten too quickly.  Its an enormous delight to begin eating the results of your work each Spring!

So far things are looking good, no woodchucks yet. Goodness, i hope it stays that way!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Woodchuck prevention program

I looked it up and last year  the first raid by woodchucks on my garden was June 21, 2010.  So if the vermin go by their calenders, i expect them to send a reconnaissance party after my cabbages within the next two weeks.  This means i have about 10 days to install  a few miles of razor wire, electric cabling and landmines.

I wish.

Most likely all i will be able to do is lay out some chicken wire and top it with a strand of electric fence. I am hoping that i can scare them off a bit by depositing the dog's solid waste just on the other side of the fence.  We have been doing that all spring. Hopefully the 'chucks will notice it there and assume the dog can reach that spot and it will keep them away.  I may let the dog loose on one just to solidify the impression that dog doo + real dog = danger.

I planned to grow a lot of kale this year since it was the only thing that wasn't touched last year, but the poor germination in the direct seeded areas kind of kicked that plan.  I might start some seeds anyway.  I fully expect to lose half my cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower to the woodchucks this year. Might not be a bad idea to have something on hand to replace what will be lost.

So that is the plan for today during Little Miss Cute's naptime.

I'll also bait the Havahart trap and keep it baited, refreshing the bait every third day.  Hopefully i can trap them before they destroy my plants.

If i get raided real bad this year i will have to reconsider growing certain crops at all.  I just might have to give up on broccoli and cabbage.  Concentrating on tomatoes, radishes, kale, asparagus, cucumbers and maybe beans.  But woodchucks like them too,  i have seen them mow down rows of bean sprouts in my parents' garden.
One year a woodchuck did it to my parents twice.  They planted, the beans sprouted and got eaten by a woodchuck. They replanted and it happened again.  So they tried a third time and my dad spent the day lying in wait for the culprit.  They live rural and can use guns on their property.
When mom drove into the driveway that evening after errands, dad had the woodchuck laid out in the middle of the driveway for my mom to see.  My mom is also an animal lover, but i know she cheered about the demise of that one!

Good thing is that if i do have to quit some crops, cabbage is cheap....but broccoli and especially cauliflower is not. But i can weigh the odds on the rest of what i can grow.   Maybe i'll only grow the more expensive stuff and really guard it.

Meanwhile, i'll just keep praying the garden gets left alone this year.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pictures and old seeds.

Planted the Autumn Olive today.  Right between the rose of sharon and the big hydrangea. If it survives winter it will be about 3 years before i see berries. They are supposed to have a cranberry-like flavor. We'll see.

Took some pictures yesterday.

Onion row
Tomato row, cucumbers are too small to see and the summer squash are too far off

Kossack kholrabi

Red cabbage

Broccoli. Praying i don't get 'chucked again this year!
Peppers and eggplant
Small herb patch. More going in shortly
Edelweiss.  This is the one i had to relocate, so it is a bit behind
Marechal Foch , going like crazy as usual.  I need to prune it back.
Marechal Foch flower buds
Reliance flower buds
Edelweiss two
Edelweiss flower buds

York, Nova and unnamed edderberries
Stanley prune plum doing great
Some petunias

Might get a quart of berries if all these ripen

Purple smoke bush.  Its happy to see the silky dogwood gone.  I still need to train it to lean to the right

Herb seedlings. They need a bit more time to grow before going into the garden.  I was late starting them.

Now for something that i get a kick out of. Hubby accidentally threw out a collection of paper seedling trays that i was saving for seed starting next year. So he felt bad,  and then he was at the recycle station and found me a whole lot of assorted size plastic seedling pots, peat pots and paper trays in a box.  So i was digging through a box and i found a bunch of seed packets. They were all Johnny's Selected Seeds. The packets are quite old. The design has changed over the years.

I was happy to find a tomato packet among them. I looked it up and it is supposed to be a good variety for up here.
Very old seeds.  (And i have a 12 year old manicurist in case you were wondering.)
But Johnny's seeds are usually good well after their expiry date. So i'm going to do a germination test.  If the box of pots was stored someplace cool and dry i should have fair luck.
Moist paper towel
Dump out the seeds. Quite a few left. Maybe 40. I didn't count

Lined up neatly
Fold them up

Sealed up and off to a warm, dark spot.
I hope one or two are still alive. I'll definitely save some seeds from these if they germinate and if the fruit are any good.