It’s July already!

I checked my notes yesterday and yep, I did plant a bunch of things this week last year. It was way too late for longbeans (I wonder if it might not be hot enough for them here). So it’s a good thing that I am trying to prep some beds. This involves hoeing like 12′ long beds, putting compost out as a mulch, and then moving on to the next ones. (I am going to need to sneak a large purchase of compost in in the next few weeks. Good thing I have my own bank account ;)). The heads of these beds have gotten really messed up from when Z has plowed with the chisel plow in past years. When you first start to drive the tractor, it can dig into the ground before it starts moving. I bought some soil conditioner to try to help soften up that soil so it can be repaired at some point. I’m thinking 2 cucurbit beds, 1 of tomatoes, and a bunch of beans, sunflowers, etc.

My inlaws helped me pull out the peas at the end of July. Z ran over them with the flail mower and I started a new compost pile, including them and the mowed grass that they landed in, as well as the previous pile and the buckets of stuff (house compost, greens, and strawberry waste). When I finally got around to turning the pile some 3-4 days later, there was no “green” (nitrogenous) stuff left. Oy. Anyhow, that bed had a lot of borage and some volunteer tomatoes in it, so I’ve left it alone for now. When I tried to plant into it this spring, the soil was rock-hard. I think I should put a cover crop there. I need to get a new kind of sprinkler that can cover a single bed so I can water individual cover crop plantings. More $ (not gonna get around to researching, and not gonna spend it).

I’ve been trying to tuck in plantings of flowers here and there, and I even finally planted some sunflowers 2 weeks ago. I have yet to plant corn (maize) but I finally got some sweet corn seed this week. And overgrown summer crop seedlings. I just cannot resist planting tomatoes, even though T and I don’t eat many of them. I started some seeds last week- tomatoes, tomatillos, cayenne pepper (I know, it’s too late. I’m getting emergence after 10 days, though), basil, melons… the evenings are going to be too cool to get much, but I have to try.

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the view from the southwesternmost bed that is in use (flowers on left, bush green, yellow, and purple beans out of picture on right)

I need to make time to do fall crop planning. Especially for flowers to overwinter.

There appear to be 3-4 gophers per bed right now. They are turning the newest strawberry bed into a raised bed. It’s ridiculous. I have been very lucky to have lost so few plants so far.

Bed prep… this no-till stuff will kill me

My main method of preparing a garden bed for planting is to hoe the grass and weeds off, put down compost and ground oyster shell, and then lay out the drip tape. This spring I am finding that the bigger weeds such as dock and the big clumps of grass have to be dug out with the shovel. This adds a lot of time and bending over to the job 😦 I spent 4 hours preparing the 2nd half of my greens bed today. Maybe I can get the rest of my kale seedlings in before they die! And plant some zinnia seeds. I transplanted my few zinnia seedlings and my many dills into the top part of the bed earlier this week.

We are having a heat wave but at least the wind wasn’t too bad while I was working this morning and early afternoon. It is 10:45pm and the house is still 77 degrees!

The greens bed in progress
Garden bed with lighter, older compost on the ground and plants growing along the lines of drip tape in the foreground and darker compost that I put out today in the background

 

Coming along… slowly

I think it was a bit less windy today, but around 8:15am it was still 43.5 degrees F outside. The strawberries are not liking this cold weather, which means that I’m having to throw out a whole lot of bad and/or soft berries :(. And the work has gotten ahead of me. I started working on the Chandler bed on Friday and I made it about 5 feet in an hour. The soil is so hard that it is nearly impossible and very painful to pull out all that mature grass :(.

I’m realizing that I’ve been really overwatering the small seedlings. The flowers have hardly any roots. 😦 On the flipside of that, past the area where I noticed a big leak in the Seascape/Sweet Ann bed the other night, we realized today that 1/4 of that bed (half of that row) is not receiving water because the gophers chewed all the way through the drip tape. Sad, small plants and sad, dry berries. I need to get out there with a watering can. And fertilizer. 😦 And another line of drip tape.

I have been trying to transplant my flowers, but I don’t know if any of the poppies (too late for them, anyhow) or Shasta daisies will survive. We shall see… I haven’t transplanted my dill yet, but I think it looks better after spending the weekend out of the direct sun on the bottom shelf in the greenhouse.

Today was Mother’s Day so I didn’t get as much done as I might have on a regular Sunday. T spent some time hanging out in the garden with me. Today he was really into eating pea leaves. I am struggling to teach him to hold the plant with one hand and pull the leaf off with the other! We went to the farm supply store to try to find a hose sprayer for the greenhouse. I also got an extra kneeling pad or two, and a kids’ garden rake for T. And more seedling trays!

Maybe I need to rethink things…

I’ve been trying to decide if I should order more strawberry crowns (bare-root plants). I keep forgetting how many of the ones I planted this spring survived. More than 30, maybe even closer to 40? That’s enough for one family… and I have some Shasta Daisy seedlings and can try to start more… so maybe I should focus on adding flowers to that bed, and consider putting more berries in there this fall/next spring, if I can. For the Integrated Pest Management class at the Junior College, I did a report about Lygus bugs, and learned that Shasta Daisies are supposed to help keep them away. I think I found one in last year’s Seascapes a couple of nights ago.

I’ve been saying that I want to focus on flowers (at  least as a first enterprise).  I have those shasta daisies and like 10 zinnias started. Also some poppies that are probably rootbound. I need to start more stuff! Meanwhile, last night’s entire garden time was spent potting up my greens seedlings. Not the best use of my time, is it? I did the cabbage (green), red russian kale, and some of the dino kales. The plants already look like they should be potted up further. I also divided up the shasta daisies into their own cells in new sixpacks. I hate using all this single-use plastic. I don’t really have the means to wash dirt out of pots and bleach them. Can’t put dirt down our drains and I don’t have a dedicated farm sink. I need to buy more 4-inch pots so I can do more of those greens, and I need to prep the bed(s) where the greens will go. And start more broccoli and cabbage.

I have a problem about my anticipated greens beds – it turns out that they are immediately next to last spring’s. I wasn’t able to get the old plants out this winter/spring, but I did get a bunch of them out last week. There are still a few that I need to pull/cut out. But the bugs that were in them could still be there. I had a few of the bad bugs, you might remember. Is there a way to search hashtags on a blog? I think that my posts about bugs are under #IPM.

This morning I did some mowing around strawberry and pea beds. The other night I took down the posts from the rest of last fall’s pea trellis. Have not had time to try to wrestle the trellis netting out of the grass. It’s going to be so much work. The plants that I tried to train to the trellis in the heat last week are shorter than all the rest. Hm. We did water a bit on Sunday, so that might be helping the other plants. Maybe I damaged the growing tips when I tried to move them…?

This evening it was back to the strawberries. The ground is now too wet to be able to pull individual huge grass plants out of the ground. Fortunately I had my Felcos with me (I hardly ever use them for some reason) and at least was able to cut 3′ high grass down to 4 inches or so… and I picked about 2/3 of a basket before I was summoned to the house to comfort my sick child. He’ll be home missing a long preschool day tomorrow. I feel bad that I had left a bunch of bad berries along the edge of the bed, intending to pick them up when I finished picking, and never got back to put them into a compost bucket. Sigh! #farmingmum

Last day of flower class!

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Part of the garden at Shone Farm

Today (April 1st) was the 3rd and final session of the cut flower production class that I took through the Community Education program at our local junior college. The first two sessions were on the main campus, but this one was in the lab. Most of the class today was about seed starting. We did a little exercise of planting a tray of seeds. The woman I was paired with thought that I worked very quickly (!). I actually heard one of the instructors say something later (during the presentation about harvest and packaging) about how you have to work quickly so you can get more done. 😉

After my inactive morning, I was excited to start prepping my strawberry bed by hoeing the grass off. The soil is still too wet! It was smearing. Our soil is a “sandy clay loam,” and it seems to me that it is a lot heavier than the name implies. I am concerned about my strawberry crowns (bare root plants) since the fridge they are in is only running at 55ish degrees. That should be fine for storing cut flowers overnight, lol. In class, one instructor asked me if I had a cooler. I don’t remember the school farm having had one out in the field, but we were looking at the one that’s there. My answer was: “Ha!” I wish we could invest $10k or $15k into the garden this year. We’d really be able to do a lot.

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Grey Kitty “helping” me to start seeds

I tried starting some seeds today. I planted Dino kale (4 sixpacks, iirc), Red Russian kale (last summer I had White Russian- is that more of a summer crop, I wonder)? – this reminds me that I need another green curly kale), cabbage, broccoli (though it is a fall variety but I can’t resist a broccoli that’s named after the town where I grew up and went to college), some poppies (perhaps too late?), zinnias, lavender, rosemary (mine didn’t make it through the winter. iirc i want to companion plant this with my greens), scallions, and I forget what else. T “helped” and only spilled 90% of the contents of one seed packet on the table. It’s lavender- I would like to be able to try to broadcast it under the pear trees in the garden… Wish me luck with my seedlings, please! I couldn’t get our little cheapo greenhouse’s door to zip closed, and that means that the raccoons could just knock the buckets blocking the door out of the way and check out my trays. Z thinks he got it fixed. I hope so! It would be so cool to grow my own seedlings.

I went to school at the JC fulltime from 2010 until 2012, when I got my Associate’s Degree in Sustainable Agriculture. I took a bunch of Animal Science classes, too, but when I got pregnant I stopped taking classes. It’s interesting to see the changes that have taken place in the garden over the years – things like occultation and the use of broadforks are brand-new from the last year, I think. I also saw some red plastic out there! I wonder if the strawberries are in a new spot…