Wednesday, June 24, 2015

War drums...

Oh, yeah.  The woodchuck is definitely back. Ate the rest of the soybeans and went for the daikon radishes. I'm not seeing damage on anything further.  I have today and tomorrow off and its beautiful out except for the wind.  Normally on nice days like this we spend pretty much the whole day outside.  This will discourage raids on the garden.  This evening when we go in i will reapply the hot pepper spray. Sunny skies expected tomorrow as well so there should be nothing to wash away the deterring flavor. Havahart trap is baited with green beans and a few broccoli florets.

It makes me wish i had a troupe of flying monkeys to unleash.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Woodchuck, part 33 1/3

Saw a woodchuck in the left side neighbor's backyard this morning before i headed off to work. It is a big one. I went and checked the garden. It ate all but 2 of my soybeans and nipped off 3 of my sunflowers.  I got out the habanero pepper spray i made last summer and gave everything a light spritz.
Arrived home after work this evening (after a few additional errands) and saw it (him? based on the large size) on the right side of the garden- where the soybeans 'were'...  it exited under the fence.

Another quick inspection. Seems nothing further was damaged. (Well i did see some munches taken off the Jerusalem Artichokes,  but it would take a cow to do any significant damage to that.)  He was in full line of sight of our Basset Hound, who likely barked incessantly at him,  hopefully making him uncomfortable enough to not relax and feed.  I set the Havahart humane trap with an ear of sweetcorn.  Its supposed to rain tomorrow.  Woodchucks don't stop eating for rain and i don't know if the pepper spray sticks well. I have work tomorrow. Time will tell.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Getting there

I got the leeks in yesterday.  I'm not sure it was the best place to put them,  right in front of the potatoes...
in the 18 inches behind the potatoes i planted some striped maize.  Japonica striped maize to be specific.  However i was being watched closely by a perky, gray Catbird and i'm not sure if she's going to undo my work.

Lack of room seems to be this year's gardening theme.

When i run the rows North to South instead of East to West i lose a few feet on each row so i have less room. But i do it to enforce a fairly consistent crop rotation thing.  This year, as usual, i overbooked my space. Turns out that the almost complete failure of the root crop row has freed up some space for some of that overbooking.  I put in a whole row of sunflowers there.  In between the sunflowers,  i tucked in the broccoli.  The sunflowers look good,  but the broccoli are pathetic. Barely 3 inches high and a malnourished color.  Most of my seedlings spent too much time languishing in the seed flats with either too much water or too little and fertilizing attempts were somewhat wasted when the trays overflowed with rainwater and roots suffered further when they didn't properly drain.

I got the rest of the squashes in and most of the herbs.  There's a couple flat-leaved parsley, a few lettuce-leafed basil and some pathetic looking Red Russian kale.

This is what i am doing to try and contain some of the overflow.

SOme herbs, some chinese cabbage, assorted salad greens seedlings, flowers and a few pots of herbs i just seeded. I realized with annoyance yesterday that i have no more cilantro seeds.

The tomatoes are looking great. They need pruning and i have to get them staked and twined.  That is planned for today.

Eggplants and peppers.... The peppers already have blooms and little fruit started.

Freshly planted ornamental sunflowers:

A couple broccoli plants tucked in among them.   I didn't want to put the broccoli on plastic. They are heat stressed enough and i don't think broccoli likes the extra heat from the plastic later in the season.

The beans are looking good.  Wish i had allowed room for another row of them.  I might be able to sneak some in on the other side of the cuke/melon row....  early enough so they won't get shaded out?

I have seeds for Yard Long beans.  I read a lot that vining beans are room savers,  but the trellising and staking seems to be beyond my ability to plan for,  so it never happens.  Instead of bush beans i just might sneak in a few yard-long seeds behind the melons....

a little while later....

Tomatoes,  Pruned, staked and weaved.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Another delayed entry....  i started this 2 weeks ago.


Last week, i finally got the rows dug (5/27), the plastic laid out and over 50 new bricks to hold it down.  Then planted the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  The day before,  i got the potatoes planted in the back row. I also installed a 15' soaker hose under the strawberry bed.  Last Sunday i direct sowed the carrots, parsnip, beets, turnip and daikon radish in just before 3 whole days of steady soaking rain.

I don't remember what day (maybe 3 days prior), but i did start seeds of melons, squash, cukes, sunflowers,  kale, chard and broccoli.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ______________________________________                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So,  to continue...

I finally got those cukes, melons and squash planted Saturday 6/13.  Well,  except for the two winter squash types- butternut and Red Kuri squash. Those are going in the row next to the potatoes,  but i didn't have time for it.  I just finished a 6 days stretch of work and have my first day off today and it is raining.

I've gotten things in pretty late but at the same time,  we have had such cool weather it wouldn't have done much good to get things in much earlier.  It only just started to get warm enough for melons.  Of course,  while planting the cukes and melons i realised that i had never started seeds for summer squash and zucchini.  The zucchini i wasn't really suprised by because i remember noticing that i thought i had ordered a packet of seeds for a type called Greyzini but actually hadn't. It looks like it never made it on my online order form somehow.... though a type of tomato i don't remember being particularly interested in was there.  I think i simply got interrupted somewhere during order selection and placement and mixed it up.  

Anyhow,  i started "49'r" yellow summer squash seeds yesterday.  It shouldn't be too late for a prolific and heat loving plant that gets buggy and overgrown before August.

I'm not seeing good results from my direct-seeded plots. I did Red Cored Chantenay and Cosmic Purple carrots, Hollow Crown Parsnip, Cylindra, Boltardy and Golden beets, Hinona Kabu and Shogoin Japanese turnips, the Minowase Daikon radish are the only ones doing well.
I don't think i'll bother trying to grow root vegetables again without making seed sheets (tape) out of them first. I think the 3 days of rain just washed them away or floated them into crevices. What does come come up is in clusters and is a waste from thinning and poor use of space.  Seed sheets at least hold the seeds down and they germinate in a predictable grid pattern which is easier to weed and thin properly.  Is pretty much a whole row of wasted seeds now. I'd try transplanting but i have seen it not work very well for others.

I'm trying melon again.  (Trying Minnesota Midget for the second year, last year they got eaten by a woodchuck shortly after planting).  A sweet melon called Sakatas. It has smallish fruit that can almost be eaten rind and all,  Tom Watson watermelon also.  I think i tried this my first year in the big garden- the year the birdhouse gourd tried to take over my hemisphere.  Tom Watson and all the other melons did not work out at all. I reconsidered watermelon one more time because of the success with black plastic and my sweet pepper yields.  Ogen melon is the next completely new try this year.  The description was so enticing i had to try it.   I have the seedlings pretty close together.  The seedlings may need warmer germinating temps because these smaller melons did not germinate well and look kinda pathetic.  Planting them close hopefully will let the remaining plants utilize space if half of them quit.

The seeds for the Mexican Sour Gherkin didn't come up well either.  I planted 6 cells with 2 seeds each and i think only 3 cells came up with only 4 total seeds germinating.   I may start some more of those seeds,  i really want to get plenty of these. One of my favorite summer beverages the last 2 years has been sliced cucumber and  sliced lemon steeped in water with some crushed mint.  It is incredibly refreshing.  These are described as tasting like a fava-beany cucumber with a lemon-lime hint.  (o-O)    They may make a nice drink when steeped in water.  They tell you to pick them when they are grape sized but they didn't say how prolific the plants are.  Even if they don't make a good fruit/veggie tea,  i still want to try them.

Uggh,  just remembered i forgot to start mint seeds.  lol

The cucumbers i planted are the pickling and slicing type.

For slicing i have Summer Dance and Diva. I planted more picklers since i prefer the flavor and actually don't mind the texture of the seeds and pulp at all.   Those are Boston Pickling, General Lee, and National Pickling.

I'm trying Black Futsu and Red Kuri winter squashes this year. The Red Kuri remind me of one of the first large winter squashes i ever grew called Red Eye.  Red Eye has been discontinued from my usual seed place for quite some time and no seeds remain. Not sure if they are related in any breeding aspect but if they have a similar flavor i want to have that again.   The black Futsu is supposed to have a rich flavor,  nutty like hazelnuts and has remarkable storage qualities.   I have no idea if these plants will take over my garden (i barely have the space for 3 "compact" butternut squash vines)but i'm giving them what extra space i can spare.  The Futsu is supposed to be very prolific and the Kuri on the prolific side but not as explosive sounding as Futsu.

I'm trying edamame soybeans again too. I had tried a type called Beer Friend a few years ago,  but i got the seeds late in the season and planted them the following year. None came up. These  are called Butterbeans and sprouted pretty quickly.  I will probably forget to sow a few every couple of weeks so we don't end up with one bunch and then that's it.

I finally managed to get ahold of some Schizandra plants, aka 5 flavor berry.  I tried growing them from seed a couple years ago and got nothing and then Oikos Treecrops didn't have any left and none available this spring,  but the blog i follow about Sea Buckthorn-- their company does sell schizaqndra pl;ants for a reasonable price,  so i got 3.  I think they came in on May 23 or so.  One looked great, one was so-so and i don't have much hope for the third one but i'll give it some time before i ask for a do-over or something.

This is the good one:

The one on the left is the ok one (there's a tiny green bud just above the farther rim of the pot) and the one on the right, i don't think is alive at all:

i also got these hazelnuts from Burpee this year,  they came along with the 5 Darrow blackberry plants i ordered.

They are Jefferson and Theta. ...and.... my 6-year-old for scale.  They were planted almost immediately May 21, 2014.

These are the Darrow blackberries:

Lots of potential plums on Stanley this year.  I'm using Surround for spray this year with a few other things.  Application scheduling is always a challenge due to weather, time and proper applicator availability. I might go into that more later.

Stanley still has galls despite my attempt to remove them as instructed,  they are extraordinarily numerous this year and i'm rather irked by that.  After pruning 4 feet off the top of it this spring and its still about 12-14 feet tall,  i'm doubting that i got a dwarf plant and really suspecting that i paid for a dwarf and got a slightly cheaper semi-dwarf.  I really need to find out what to do about the galls.  All Starks advised me was to remove them and disinfect between cuts,  which i did only to be rewarded with a bumper crop of fresh ones.

The blueberry plants are finally starting to pick up size.  This one has had the greatest increase.

Here's the bigger Carmine Jewel cherry tree with unripe cherries.  Hopefully some will ripen fully and we can have our first taste.

Yes!  I can finally see the beginning of sea buckthorn berries:

I got some Moonflower seeds for my oldest daughter to plant in her designated pot.  We planted these about a month ago now.  They came up then it got cold and they haven't moved much since.

There's 4 O'clocks in there too.

The garden this morning

And the seedlings waiting to be planted or given away

And a small project i'm working on.  Labeling all my perennial plants with some more permanent markers than my feeble memory. :0)  There's some botanical name info,  the date i got them and the suppliers' name.