Started planting the greens!

I’m running about a week behind last year, but hopefully these plants will do ok. I put in a 6-pack of Tuscan kale and a 6-pack of Red Russian kale today.


I found this interesting bug – a Harlequin bug – in the old broccoli today. Apparently it is yet another kind of stink bug: onions, potatoes, and corn that were harvested on 8/27 I have quite a few different kinds, mostly in the strawberries. Good thing I’m using row cover (so far) to keep the raccoons (and stink bugs?) out of the new greens bed.

orange and black bug with a distinctive orange cross marking on its back and weird black spots in the orange areas
Harlequin cabbage bug (a stink bug)
unidentified stink bug. note 2 sets of 2 spots towards its back

Now I’m getting all depressed about all the bugs I’ve got. The garden looks nice, though, doesn’t it? Weeds, dill, calendula, (zinnias?), broccoli flowers, and all. You can see light purple cosmos in back 🙂20160825_112014.jpg

I took a bunch of other photos this week. I guess some are on flickr, which I believe shows in one of the side columns on this page.

Tonight I harvested nearly 3 baskets of strawberries; one basket of mostly San Marzanos (and a few other sauce tomatoes), a basket of Sungold cherry tomatoes, and I helped harvest nearly a gallon of tomatillos. The inlaws, Z, and T harvested potatoes, corn, and onions (from in the broccoli bed) while I took a nap!

onions, potatoes, and corn that were harvested on 8/27 sitting on a table outside our house with laundry visible hanging on the line. Harold, T, and me


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)

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.

Yay for green beans! And purple and yellow

I lost my whole text due to a typo 😦

I harvested about 3 baskets’ worth of beans tonight! Should have edited the photo before uploading, sorry


The winter squash are sprouting. Here’s a bottle gourd:

bottle gourd seedlings

and a kakai pumpkin (hoping for edible seeds):

kakai pumpkin seedling

Yesterday I did some mowing of the grass next to the beds. Stirred up lots of dust :(. In the evening I got the marigolds and the mostly too-wilted basils into the ground. I’ve been noticing that some of the older tomatoes and peppers are dropping leaves. Apparently this is due to too much or too little water. I tried putting out some extra water this morning, and this evening the area felt damp. I wonder if the problem is that we water every day, and should water for longer every other day… I think the logistics of that are mostly beyond us. Z is lucky to get out there to turn the water off and on, nevermind adjusting different things or turning off a bed before the others are finished.

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


Productive Friday!

On Thursday evening I planted more corn and green, yellow, and purple green beans. I snuck a few more Blacktail Mountain watermelon seeds in, too. I don’t have a lot of luck with this method. I also tried to fill in some of the spots where I had poor germination (eaten seed?) in the last planting. That was 2 weeks ago, oops.

This morning (Friday, a day that peaked around 93 or 94 degrees) I tried to smooth out the west-most beds. The soil is so sandy there! There is still a lot of grass, which I wish weren’t a problem. Then I prepped some more ground for potatoes. I only went about 12 feet because there’s no drip tape past where we’ve already planted, so the soil is really dry in the top several inches. Then I forget if I did something else (maybe checked the Chandlers?) but I went and picked some old strawberries. I put Camarosas in one basket and Seascapes in the other, but I don’t quite know which is which.

This evening T and I planted sunflower seeds! I had a big bag of mixed sunflowers, and a packet of old Mammoth sunflowers (packed for 2014) and another packet of a big sunflower. I tried to put the big ones in the middle of the bed just in case they can block some light from hitting the house, which is on the other side of the garden. I want to cover that bed with compost but I am a bit concerned that we only have 4 or 5 yards left. There are way different bugs in that bed than I’ve seen anywhere else in the garden. We’ll see if they just eat the seeds, or what. I also worry that I could have planted the seeds too deep.

To do: hoe the greens, add all those buckets of stuff I’ve got to the existing compost pile – it will be much bigger that way, pick strawberries, plant dry beans, plant flowers, plant cover crops (Z needs to prepare a lot of beds for this), plant pole beans, plant the other sunflower bed, go to herb fair and get some perennials to plant…where?

Z has pretty much mowed the whole back area with the tractor. He moved the tractor and mower back under cover tonight because he’s noticing new rust. A few mornings ago the fog was down to the ground, so I’m guessing that that’s why. That was the day I had all this weird wilting on the Chandlers (did I write about that?).

A trip to the farm supply store

This morning, Z and T planted some potatoes while I worked on the old strawberries. I picked a basket and also pulled out half of a 5-gallon bucket of junk. So now I have 5 buckets of old leaves and strawberries, and 1 or 2 buckets of kitchen scraps (including lots more strawberries and their cuttings that came off so I could freeze them) to add to the compost pile. I’ll consider it a new start. The compost pile I started 10 days ago is still warmer than my hands, so that’s good, but it’s pretty small! There’s also a problem with the inconsistent particle size (things like squash rinds, broccoli stems, etc can really mess up the cohesion that’s needed to maintain the heat of the whole pile).

We went to the farm supply store today (tho it really is more of a garden-scale store) and got more seedlings, more seeds, 5 or 6 tomato cages, some more fertilizers, those arm-protectors that will be helpful with the blackberries that are coming in a month or so, and another hat, since we have to buy the XL ones when we find them. All three of us have huge heads. I need to look at my receipt, because that doesn’t sound like $200 worth of stuff.

The seedlings were the “end of the long weekend” leftovers. Some were pretty rootbound. I watered my plants before I brought them into the store to pay for them, since several (especially the Sweetwater ones in the round pots) were pretty dry. Tonight I planted 7 tomatoes, 2 tomatillos, and about 5 teeny tiny basils. The tomatoes I transplanted yesterday, especially my Sungold cherry tomatoes, look so yellow! (they are at the top right in the bed in this picture). I am worried that my tomatoes might be too close to my Sweet Ann and Seascape strawberries. Only time will tell. The strawberries don’t look so great- lots of tiny red spots on the leaves. I will have to look that up sometime, huh?

2016 tomato bed (#1?). Photo taken before I put some tiny basil seedlings in-between some of the tomatoes

Is it bad that I am planning on putting the peppers that I bought into the tomato bed? I sure hope not.

Got a few tomatoes in

Z – far left- putting out a line of drip tape

The garden is really, really coming along now! Z did some more plowing and raking. The tomato bed looks almost perfect. Several other beds are as ready as they are going to get (sunflowers, possible pole beans, or some cover crops), and I was trying to straighten out the potato bed this morning. We put in irrigation for the other beds this morning and afternoon. It was rough since there was a toddler in the garden who only wanted to breastfeed. I think he wasn’t feeling well today. I was reminded of why I am always happy to do just about everything except irrigation- putting some of that stuff together really hurts my hands! And I hate how things tend to pop off. But anyhow, we’ve got some drip and, for now, some sprinklers.

me and T in the garden. You can see that my shirt is pulled up a bit from breastfeeding.

This evening I planted our 6 tomato plants (2 cherry, 4 others- gotta have those Sungolds!). I’m hoping to get more plants on Monday. It’ll be a holiday, but the farm supply store is open for 5 hours – I checked! I’d like to get the potatoes in, too, but we didn’t prep them for planting at all (didn’t cut them and let them dry). I’d also like to get some smaller-seeded crops planted to keep the greens, potatoes, and tomatoes company. Dill, basil, carrots – that sort of thing.

grey kitty catches some shade under our wagon. T’s feet are visible nearby, and it’s clear that she’s looking up at him. Moments later he grabbed her roughly.

I didn’t get around to picking strawberries. I did pull a couple of perfect-looking ones out at the end of the night and they were squishy. 😦 I’ve got to go cut some up for freezing before bed!

One of my more productive days

On Thursday morning I weeded one side of the Chandler strawberry bed, picked a basket of strawberries, and fertilized the old strawberry bed (kelp/fish). In the afternoon, T and I spread some green onion seeds out in the summer strawberries. That evening, T and I planted a packet of Dragon Tongue (Territorial, seeds from last year) and Painted Mountain Corn (Johnny’s). T is really good at using the jab planter that I still can’t quite get to work for me. If I can get him to plant in a line near the drip tape someday, I’ll be happy. If I can get that thing working for me, I’ll also be happy.

I then picked 2 more baskets of strawberries and pulled a bunch of old leaves and stems, rotting berries, and a few growing plants – oops – out of the bed. After that I turned the compost since I hadn’t done that in like a week. It smells so much better than a few weeks ago!

Z used the chisel plow on the 2 new beds yesterday


and he raked them Thursday. I have a lot of work to do by hand, though. He put in a loader load of compost but I’d like to have more in there. We’ll see.

Took pictures of a few bugs that were in the Chandlers:

unidentified larva on a strawberry leaf

that not a ladybug, is it? nah. something else.

unidentified caterpillar on a strawberry leaf. webbing is present. (i think it was wrapped up in the webbing when I found it)

I think I’m finally going to get a copy of Whitney Crenshaw’s book Garden Bugs of North America

Soil is drying out

Well, I still can’t quite plant anything because the soil is so wet. T found a moisture gauge today and kept sticking it into the soil. It was either extremely wet or off the end of the thingie. He and Z spread some wildflower seeds around because he was desperate to plant things. Aww!

I weeded the strawberries and put compost around the Chandlers because the soil is starting to crack. Gotta get more organic matter mixed into that sandy clay loam. The gophers are out there in the Seascapes again 😦 (we do not have time to trap them and Z doesn’t want them to be set in case T is in the garden and curious about them). I started weeding the north end of that bed so I can maybe plant a few strawberries at that end.

T and I did a bit of organizing our seeds today. They were stored up high but he got to them. I have moved them to a place where they are out of the sun, but I need them to be on a bigger shelf. I also need to order seeds!!!

I am wondering what other folks store their seeds in- I had plastic shoeboxes inside of a clear plastic tub, but the lids were moved around the house and there have been moths and other bugs in there 😦 The bugs may have gotten in from open packets of seeds that I left out after planting sessions (like, if I knew I was going to plant more the next day). Sigh.

Oh, I found a weird egg sac. I wasn’t sure what it was so I picked it up and smushed it. It was white, around the size of a marble, and the eggs inside were pink. I threw it out of the bed and I feel bad that I did that since I don’t know what kind of creature it was from.