Hello, blog


No, I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve just been sick. Still. This cold is brutal, but at least it’s not the stomach bug that’s going around T’s school. Speaing of cold, it was 35 degrees last night, according to our wildlife camera, and we had our first rain today. Not a lot, just a few showers. A total of .15 inches, according to the weather folks.

I finished transplanting my old seedlings and got some more yesterday. Today I put a sixpack of collards and half of one of broccoli into the ground. Picked 5 ears of corn on my way out! Zak picked a lot of peppers – the padrons, I think, and the habaneros, and is trying to dehydrate them. He moved the habaneros out of the kitchen because the smell reminded him too much of getting burned from peppers.

Z did some mowing (mostly our yard and along the driveway, but also next to the corn, which is good because the western neighbors entered from that side last week and it looked terrible!) with the pushmower this weekend, and did some chisel plowing this morning while it wasn’t windy and it seemed that the rain was able to catch most of the dust. I want to get cover crops into the ground! It’s a bit early, but not if we are having an early winter (?).

This morning I made a list of the fall/winter cover crop seed that I have in the house. I tried to organize all of the seeds that are in the 2 containers, but I was there too long with T and he disorganized them. (roots, summer crops, herbs, flowers, and maybe lettuce/greens is how I organize them, with tons of packs of peas lying around, too)


Behind on my blogging

I have some really cute photos from over the weekend of T in the garden. He has been going out there every day. “Anything new in the garden?” he asks.

Today at preschool he even spent extra time in the garden — voluntarily! Wow.

I haven’t been able to pick my strawberries every night and they are getting so much pest damage. As far as I can tell, it’s mostly a new generation of sow bugs (those pill bugs) and tiny slugs. There are some other newer pests and I think there still might be some stink bugs around.

Today I finished putting out compost, perhaps too thickly, along with oyster shell lime, for another pea bed. Z set up drip on that bed tonight! I also put the oyster shell out on what I hope will be a new greens bed. Z put more compost out there with the tractor this weekend. I didn’t realize that it still needs a lot of smoothing out — and perhaps more compost. I really need to water the piles of purchased compost- that stuff is SO dusty!

I tried raking the recently-mowed grass out of the old garlic and onion bed today to see what would be left. There is still 4 hours’ worth of hoeing to do. There are healthy dock plants every 8 inches – they should be dug out, but I believe the ground is way too hard for that.

Z did a lot of mowing over the weekend- he did most of the broccoli bed, leaving the flowers (he ran the mower up at least a foot in the air :/) and the stuff at the head of the bed, which we actually ate from last night :). he mowed the 1/3 of the south side that had our cover crops and most of our pigweed, as well as the 5th bed of pumpkins. There’s still the one healthiest-looking plant there, but it’s not getting water anymore. And he also mowed the bed next to the strawberries, but the weeds are growing back very quickly.

Here are some photos I took at the National Heirloom Exposition today. Hopefully I will be able to write a report tomorrow.

Book sale=saved tons!

I spent around $35 ordering 4 books from Chelsea Green Publishing because they are having a huge sale (I saved over $90 off of normal prices!). I feel bad not getting the books from a local bookstore, but on the other hand, those prices! And at least it’s not Amazon.

Last night, T hung out in the garden for quite a while. At first he was trying to walk off some miles while playing Pokemon Go, but he also got involved in some projects, such as trying to get water out of the hose, which was off. Whatever keeps you busy, kid. When he comes to the garden in the evening, he often asks me to show him what’s new 🙂 He loves to pick green tomatoes. Z found some really nice corn (see below). I didn’t get much done this week between the street getting paved and T staying home sick one morning. Last night I did turn the compost and pick 4 1/2 baskets of strawberries, and tonight I weeded and pulled bad leaves out of the tomatoes and peppers (east side of the bed). More pics below.

Z picking tomatillos; T picking tomatoes


need to look up these bug eggs
and we have blossom end rot on our peppers – need to put some oyster shell lime before we get any more problems (that’s why I weeded tonight)

The in-laws rock out again

Z’s parents working in the tomatoes. Photo taken from bathroom 🙂

Yay, my in-laws helped me tie the tomatoes so they are up off the ground a bit. We tied some of the branches to the tomato cages (for the plants that had them) and they strung a u-or-v-shape between t-posts to try to hold the lower branches off the ground. Now I can weed, fertilize, and pull out dead leaves -time permitting!

Bartlett pears that we picked
Pears from trees that are in our garden

Z’s dad also got out there and picked just about 2 buckets of pears from the 3 trees that are in the garden. Pear season is on! And then, guess what? They went inside and cut up pears (a website recommended 1/4 to 1/2 an inch, but these were much thinner) and added some lemon juice (I got a ton of it at costco even tho it’s not organic, because i use it for cleaning the toilet), and put them into the dehydrator! So I need a vacuum sealer. Can’t afford to pay for a new one unless I sell like $160 worth of produce 1st.

I got out a bit later and finished making the compost pile. T helped for a while – he loves to spray out the buckets. He made some rainbows in the air, too. It’s still a bit less than 2/3 the size that it needs to be, but it might be the biggest one I’ve ever made. I need to get some compost bins for storing it once it’s cooled down. That would keep the compost out of the sun and moist.

sunflowers- amazing height variations (probably different varieties as this was a mix)
Collard greens in a bed that has corn, beans, and calendula
Our beautiful collard plant

The (1st?) pea bed now has water lines (I straightened them this morning). I noticed that the line for the pea plants has to be on the same side as where the trellis netting meets the t-post so the plants are closer to the netting. That’s not the case this time.

I picked over a half a gallon of strawberries last night, and a huge Armenian cucumber, and some basil and dill. Today my father-in-law picked almost a half-gallon of ageing blackberries!

Yay for our garden!

some of the dino kale and dwarf green kale that I picked today

Today I harvested 3 cabbages, 3 kinds of kale kale (the kale is starting to bolt), dill, 3 kinds of basil, broccoli (including the kind of tight heads that one finds at the store) and broccoli greens, nearly 4 baskets of strawberries, a handful of Sungold cherry tomatoes, and a handful of onion greens. I picked 3 carrots to see what they were like- tiny and without roots. One was rotten halfway up the carrot. Too much water and too many gophers? Soil disease? Time will (or may) tell.

For dinner Z made pasta with sausages and pesto with our basil and a salad with cabbage, the neighbors’ lemon cucumbers, our dill, onion, garbanzo beans (gotta have ’em), and lemon juice.

My father-in-law picked a basket or two of blackberries, and my mother-in-law picked like 4 baskets of the old strawberries (how did she find that many?).

I ordered 40 yards of compost.


Blackberry harvest has begun!

Himalayan blackberries

Today while we were walking past the Himalayan blackberries along the driveway (with a septic guy), I checked to see if there were ripe berries. Just in time, since there are tons of ripe berries! I went out and picked maybe a basket’s worth or so with T. He ate and ate and ate them! I hadn’t realized that they were that far along. They are delicious. My inlaws had made it sound like they’d only gotten a half a basket on Tuesday. Now there are a lot more than that, and the photo shows a small portion of the closest patch to the house.

Sad broccoli plants. Bad gophers!
Broccoli plants damaged by gophers.

The wildlife is really starting to impact the garden- 4 broccolis have been affected by gophers in the last 2 days. One or two are still holding on, if sideways. I put the others into the compost. To work on for the future: bigger heads.

Small hole where animals dug into the soil to eat pumpkin seeds, eat bugs, or find out what the fish smell was from (fertilizer)
Spot where raccoons or skunks dug up pumpkin seeds

The raccoons dug up approximately 5 of the 8 little “mounds” where I planted pumpkin seeds the other night. Boo. 😦 Fortunately I have another packet. Z thinks I should wait another few days to replant, since the animals tend to dig on more than one night. Possible reasons for the digging: use of fish/kelp meal right as I was planting (so it wasn’t watered in for a period of time before I planted), and use of compost on the surface. There’s another gopher mound along where I planted the pole beans the other night. May need to replant that section.

Z got so much done today! He chiseled 11 beds (8 pictured) and then after I took this picture he got them most of the way raked. I am not happy about the “dust” that was blowing around. He was working while it was too windy. And yes, the soil was too dry.

Today I harvested: blackberries, kale, broccoli, basil, purslane, strawberries (ate in the field), and beans (three huge handfuls). T was excited to carry two of those handfuls of beans into the house! They sure get big quickly.

Z has an interesting idea: we could grow a bunch of things that local plant breeder Luther Burbank grew. Maybe some spineless cactus, Shasta daisies (need those for the strawberries!!), etc.

Sick kid=less garden time

I’ve been keeping up with picking the Chandler and summer strawberries and some compost turnings, but little else this week. My little sweetie pie missed 3 days of preschool due to being sick. And he’s been clingy!

Today he and his dad went to the park and grocery shopping, and I got out to the garden. I picked a quick basket of berries, then fertilized: the  corn and beans, the new strawberries, the tomatoes, the greens, the potatoes, and the old strawberries. Yay! Then I hoed the mostly unplanted new sunflower bed and part of the one I planted some 10 days ago. I was on the phone with my friend who was complaining that it was 82 in San Francisco (she was driving with air conditioning on). It got up to at least 87 here while I was out there, and was 80 inside until around 9pm.

The broccoli raab bolted really fast and I need to pull it out. The dino kale and the one collard plant that’s left from the winter look like they are about to bolt :(. One of the tomatillos is really huge! The chandlers are, I think, starting to slow down. We have missed a lot of really good berries in the old patch. At the end of the evening I got to plant 10 or 15 feet of sunflowers with T (I think he put about 15 seeds into a deep hole he dug, lol) and I tucked in a few melon seeds, too. I shouldn’t have stayed out until 8 because that did not help him to get to bed. I think I’ve reached peak evening garden time (and thus garden quantity time) and have to start coming in earlier to try to help get him to bed earlier. I’d really prefer to always be outside at sunset. 😦

Today Z finished prepping for 3 rows of winter squash/pumpkins. He was working on chisel plowing a bed or two on the south side when he sheared a bolt on the chisel plow and bent the top link on the tractor! Photos are all his. He thinks that he can probably still use the landscape rake, lol. It’s probably not a good idea! File that under #ridiculousthingsthathappen


Birthday party a success!

We had my kid’s birthday party at our place today. It was a beautiful 69 degree (F) day. There were about 8 kids present, and we pretty much had our version of a smashing success :). Two brothers played in our yard (I had mowed the grass really short on Thursday) most of the time – Grey Kitty loved the attention that they gave her. I loved seeing the yard get used. I need to get more outdoor toys for my kid “fer sure.”

I eventually showed people around the garden. It’s pretty sad right now – everything except the kales is bolting in the greens beds (this means that there are flowers to see, I guess), the strawberries are nearly invisible in the weeds, and there was hardly any sign that we are actually growing garlic and onions. I heard a mom exclaiming to her daughter when she spotted a ladybug. That kind of thing makes me want to have people over all the time! I did get out there later and weed the onions a bit and kill a bunch of slugs :). I hate how so much of my work in the garden involves killing. There are so many slugs out there. So. Many.

The ground is still so wet that I am having trouble envisioning planting anything. I feel so bad to be disturbing it by pulling out weeds, and I feel bad to be leaving the ground bare- hopefully that’s helping it to dry out.

one of the kids at the party enjoying running around

Worked in the garden more than went to the gym!

I worked in the garden more days than I went to the gym this week (4 days vs. 3! on one day I didn’t do either because we took our kid to the doctor)! This was partly due to not wanting to waste time driving while I have a sick kid at home/staying close in case I was really, really needed. I need to see someone to get a weights workout that’s tailored to preventing some of my aches and pains. I also need to do more stretching- I used to do a long stretch/PT every night. These days I usually only do my arms and feet, I only do my situp-type abs at the gym, and I only do water aerobics 2-3 times a week…

Tonight I weeded the strawberries. This involves an increasing amount of pulling off flower buds because the plants need to grow some more and we need to get past the threat of frost before they start producing fruit. It was a bit too wet to be walking out there today- we got about 3/4 of an inch yesterday.

Tomorrow I hope to do the poor onions. I accidentally mowed some of them the other day because I couldn’t tell where the row started. I do have the plants inside of the drip tape, but I couldn’t always see the drip tape to know to avoid it. I need to pull out a row of sprinklers before they get overgrown by the grass, too.

I’m feeling frustrated that I can’t find my companion planting notes- I thought they were on the first page in my notebook. Perhaps that page got torn out by little hands. Anyhow, note to self: marigold to deter cucumber beetles. Also: figure out how to view things on the blog based on tags.

Speaking of little hands, Z and T picked some greens while I was weeding. 🙂 Z’s dad showed me the pruning that he did the other day- mostly just cutting back dozens of watersprouts from under the three pear trees that are in the garden. The poor trees are so sick, and the watersprouts don’t look much better. Now we need to figure out how to get that wood plus the walnut (?) limb that fell this fall out of the garden. I am thinking we have a truck bring it out to another pile of wood near the driveway and chip it all.

We planted some cover crops!!

Well, I still haven’t planted a whole bed of fava beans (there are some growing with our greens). I pulled out some cover crop and grain seeds today. T was excited about the wheat seed, so we planted that in the nicely tilled bed that I was going to put favas in (and hurt my knee trying to hoe yesterday). The things we do to avoid huge tantrums (successfully).

I also planted Territorial’s “Wintermax” which should have been planted in September. It has tillage radish (I really want to grow that!), hairy vetch (iirc we grew purple vetch last year), and rye. I put this in 4 beds, plus maybe the end of the wheat bed. I added bell beans (some were beans that we grew, and some were from the 50 pound bag of bell bean seed that we bought. I put those seeds in the 4 (or 6, depending how you look at it) west-most beds. They need a lot of work, so hopefully some of these seeds will grow. It’s supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow night.


(not sure why Z raked the end of the south beds- maybe to pull out all the excess grass and dirt.)

I would have gotten a lot more done (maybe), but an old friend who is visiting from out of town came by for a visit with her 3 kids and hubby. It was awesome to watch the kids explore the garden together. They picked strawberries (wow, there were some to pick! i hadn’t picked in something like a week) – there were actually some undamaged big Albions. They hung out on the pile of compost. The little girl covered up some of the seeds that were on the surface (we didn’t get around to raking them in). It was so sweet. Then we came inside and they played with what seemed like every one of his toys. It was so much fun!

Z’s family comes to town tomorrow. We’ll have some kids who are currently sick staying with us, so I should really head towards bed…

I read today that nasturtiums can help repel cucumber beetles. I’ve tended to avoid them because in my experience they harbor slugs. Something to research- maybe they can grow on a fence at the edge of the garden.