Started mulching paths, now that it’s winter

View from gate at center of garden. Shows light-colored straw that I put to cover the soil
Newly-mulched path down the center of our garden

I’m trying to get more active, since I gained like 10+ pounds back since I planted the tomatoes. When harvest uses up all the garden time, I get a lot less exercise. And then we had the fires (2 weeks where I avoided being outside except to harvest quickly) and a sick kid for a week in the last month. So yesterday I spent 2 hours putting compost out to mulch some paths, especially the ones around the strawberries that I planted this spring, and today I did the center path and most of the way to the compost (that I make) pile.

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“new” strawberry bed with compost next to it to cover the soil

The sky after some rain; produce study

The air quality is, at least on paper, getting better. It rained .2 inches on Thursday night! Note dark-colored soil due to the presence of moisture in the photo below. The air is definitely worse in other parts of town (like 6 blocks from the Coffey Park neighborhood on Friday, and when I visited Bennett Valley on Weds it was really bad). I got out to the garden on Friday morning and picked a basket of strawberries.  A lot of the “eat today” berries did not take well to being quintuple-washed. 😦

In the evening I started a new compost pile. I only used 4 or 5 buckets of stuff because I sprained my thumb (tho now it feels like the whole wrist) taking off my backpack the other day. SIGH! I’ve really overdone it the last few days, but, you know, vacuuming has to happen, especially after all the smoke in the last week and a half.

On Saturday I am planning on going to an orientation training thing to be part of a study about the effects of fire on produce! Yay! The woman was like, wow, you were really close to the fires. (3.1 miles by our count) I hope that some of the farmers who lost everything in the actual fires have gotten in touch with her!

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Starting to get fall crops in

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plants in the greenhouse this evening

Well, I have cabbage seedlings that are getting big, and broccoli seedlings that i’ve potted up (some have been rotting in their new pots 😦 ) and this stuff needs to get into the ground. Z prepped the area with the tractor, and today i put out enough oyster shell and compost to get me started (the right row is pretty much ready to receive seedlings).

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new greens beds. cabbage and broccoli scheduled for the right, and kale and broccoli in the left rows

I should have watermelons soon if they can handle the 48-degree nights.

Hm, the bad Inaturalist code at the right is worrisome; no time tonight.

PS, I planted some snow peas last week and they have emerged!

The harvest continues

I harvested 4 baskets of strawberries today. Got about 15 pears (low-hanging) from trees in garden. They are still ~75% ripe. It feels like they are ripening very slowly this year. And of course about a pound of green, yellow, and purple green beans.

Got my 40 yards of compost delivered this week. They didn’t call in advance (I hadn’t even paid yet, and they hadn’t confirmed!!!), so I didn’t get to move the old compost out of the way before it got buried.

The second, larger batch of green, yellow, and purple (Trilogy) beans is starting up…  hoping that folks we know will come over and pick some (pears, too). I planted another round of them today. Maybe I’ll get to one more before I stop planting them. There’s always that fantasy of having fresh green beans for thanksgiving, lol.

I have some flower and dill seedlings to get into the ground really soon. Those are for fall. I am missing my chance to plan and plant for the spring. Missing the chance to get cover crops in. It’s really a terrible month for planting because the raccoons do so much digging at this time of year :(. I have to pot up my broccoli seedlings in a few days, and start many other kinds of greens. The aphids are destroying my red russian kale and have moved on to the dino kale. i need to clean that bed up (deadhead and harvest and sell flowers, as well as getting rid of old kale leaves) and just cannot find the time. I started a compost pile last week and never managed to turn it. I did add water to it once or twice. Z even got me a new hose for it.

Have been thinking about how I need a farm partner or three.

Better get ready for bed. Phone having trouble posting photo but i think one may have gotten thru to my flickr page…

Still planting my summer garden

Well, I finally finished transplanting the watermelons I started and the tomatoes that I bought around 4th of July… things are coming along very slowly. I have come to a lot of realizations about how in order to really produce much, I need labor-saving devices. Or I would at least need clean, tilled, shaped beds. I don’t have all that equipment, so I did individual planting holes. Sometimes the area hasn’t received much water, so I have to do a lot of tiresome handwatering. After planting, I keep handwatering once or twice a day to make sure that the plants get a good start. It’s a lot of work!! Carrying the 2-gallon watering can all the time is really hurting my elbow. Not sure if that’s the bursitis, or something else. I’m getting ready to plant my 4th planting of green,  yellow, and purple beans. It’s been 2 weeks since the last one went in…

We’re still not getting very many strawberries. They taste very good, but the pests are starting to get going again. I’ve been lucky about the taste, considering it’s been quite some time since I last fertilized.

I still can’t get much done when T is there in the garden with me. I actually have to redo some things, like how he put about a dozen sunflower seeds in a few different spots. I transplanted a few of them to other spots in the bed the other day. I’m really working at garden-scale, and farm-scale (especially in terms of having space for trays of seedlings) seems very far off. That reminds me, I need to plant the sunflowers that are best for cut flowers really soon! The cucumber beetles will kick their butts, though. This morning I killed the most I’ve ever done in one visit to the garden (7ish). I could be misremembering, because we grew a lot of sorghum-sudangrass (it makes so much biomass!!!) two years ago, and the cucumber beetles just loved it.

 

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.

The season that wasn’t

Oy, I’m so far behind. We got some rain in the last 2 weeks, so grass and weeds are happy.  Check out this canary grass that was in the garden.

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canary grass. seems to be a species that indicates the presence of water. It was next to a spigot. This stuff can get to be like 7′ tall. 

 

It’s not the first and others have dropped seed :(. I cut the seedheads off of this one and brought it and a bunch of weeds from the fenceline that we share with the neighbors to the municipal compost bin last night. I spent a couple of hours mowing during mid-day, and I finished right when my neighborhood’s temperature peaked at 101. It hardly ever gets quite that hot here. The garden has been doing pretty okay with this heat wave, partly because I’ve been handwatering recent seedings and transplants.

Longest garden day yet this season!

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cabbages and kales. the white area at the end of the bed is ready to receive some more plants!

This morning I was trying to extend the greens bed that I filled up last night (it was 25 or 30 feet long). I started hoeing and immediately got into this awful, thick grass that was along last summer’s drip tape line. Ask me how I know that the drip tape had been there. Well, it’s because I pulled it out of the dirt and grass this morning. Anyhow, I had to try both the shovel and my dull digging spade. It was hard work digging around those roots! I realized that I should try to put the grass roots (and dirt) where there’s a low spot on the path along the west side of the garden. Anyhow, the roots are happy to grow sideways — or even upwards! How ridiculous.

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clump of grass roots that I dug up when I was trying to transplant seedlings

So I was trying to hoe the “easy” stuff off of the bed and I found that 1. it was too windy, the soil was too dry, and the soil was powdering out into the air (wind erosion), and 2. a few feet to the north, the soil is too wet. So I put compost over the area that I finished, and this evening I added some oyster shell lime and extended the drip tape to include the new area. I watered with a watering can and hope to get more of my dino kales in tomorrow.

light-colored dry soil in foreground, darker wet soil in back on the left. dried grass stubble around those areas
light-colored dry soil in foreground, darker wet soil in back on the left. dried grass stubble.

One problem with having big seedlings like I do now: the Red Russian and Dino kales that I planted last night were not happy getting blown around the way they were. I should have hardened them off. So I put the remaining incomplete tray of dino kales out where they can get some wind, and I tried to hill more soil at the base of the plants that are in the ground.

I am thinking that I should try to prepare the bed next to this one, on the off-chance that the southern end of it is usable like the 1st bed is. That will put me up against last year’s Chandler strawberries. I really need to clean up that bed. We have been debating mowing a strip down the middle of that bed to improve acccess. T he problem is that our mower blows the stuff out the side, and the string trimmer doesn’t work anymore. Fortunately it has an overkill “brush blade,” but can you imagine the smashed berries blowing everywhere?”

summer strawberries in May! Cracked earth nearby is called reactive soil. It is a great place for slugs and bugs to hide out!
summer strawberries in May! Note cracked earth (reactive soil). A great place for slugs and bugs to hide out!

Today I also hacked weeds out of the purchased compost, did some seed inventorying, and pulled weeds in part of the snap pea bed. Wow, what a productive day!

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

Made my first sale

I’ve been keeping busy out there in the garden. I’m still working hard on the painstaking removal of old plant matter (and weeds and slugs) from last summer’s strawberry bed. Meanwhile, there are strawberries to pick and eat every time I go out there. I’ve done over 7 hours of work (over the last week or so, I think) and I have only made it about halfway down the bed. I don’t have time for this! I need to get my June-bearing bed cleaned up, and today I noticed that there are strawberries rotting in the 2016 summer strawberry bed.

Meanwhile, my seedlings are begging to be planted or potted up. I sold 2 sixpacks of Broccoli (Waltham 29 iirc) today! A woman drove over and took them home for her raised beds. In addition to my not having time, the beds that I wanted to use for greens. I have cabbage, dino kale – 4 sixpacks – and way-too-leggy red russian kale, plus some dill and a few zinnias for those beds. I also have marigolds and poppies. I need to get those poppies into the pea bed asap. I’ll have to hand-water first, though! I tried planting some sweet peas for flowers this spring and got zero plants. I need to just start them in the greenhouse.

Speaking of peas, we got our longest section of trellis moved from one of last fall’s pea beds this week. I set up the trellis this morning and tried to train the plants to the netting. By about 11 or 11:30, the plants were shutting down and stopped reaching. This evening it looked to me like the casual observer might think that I had, in fact, trained them. 🙂 There are still a lot of weeds, including volunteer tomatoes. Hopefully next winter will be a bit less rainy and I can remove my debris in a timely fashion.

I’ve been doing a lot of mowing and weedwhacking. I have uncovered most of the path that goes down the middle of the garden. Unfortunately there is a row’s worth of drip tubing stuck in some really tall grass on the west end. 😦 Tonight I realized that my planned new greens beds were immediately next to last summer’s greens beds, which I had only just mowed. I tried to pull the chopped up brassicas out and take them to the compost pile. Didn’t quite get to finish since it was getting very late…

We need to water soon, even though we had a few rainy days earlier this week. The ground has crusted over wherever it’s bare. Hoping to start more seeds real soon.

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Photo taken by my partner Z this evening. It shows me at the north end of the garden with the mower, which had likely stalled due to trying to eat too much grass at a time