Plant/harvest, repeat

I haven’t been harvesting the peas – it’s time to get them out of there before the bugs decide to migrate to the strawberries. Ok, they’ll do that either way. They’ve reached the stage where every pea is trying to be a seed.

T and I started some seeds tonight – things like tomatoes, etc that most people would have been planting almost 2 months ago. I’m just kind of on my own late timeline. Someday I need to write something up about our cheapo starter greenhouse, but not today. Let’s just say that I take the trays out and leave them on a table in the sun because it’s too hot in there in the daytime. Tonight when I was putting trays away, I broke the clothespin that was holding the bird netting over the door. Sigh! At least the heat wave is ending.

Today Z mowed the area where I want to put the summer crops. First I need to deal with the pea bed and the Chesnok Red garlic. I can’t tell if it’s ready to pull or not. Most people either pull theirs or use a pitchfork. My soil is so hard that I have to dig with a shovel. I dig all around the plant and still usually end up cutting the bulb. Need to develop a better technique. Need to improve the soil!

The strawberries need fertilizing. I didn’t mulch them because 1. I never had the time, and 2. I wanted to compare the sow bug presence when there’s no compost on the ground. It’s a lot better, but the berries are VERY thirsty. They got 1.5 hours of water (through drip tape) yesterday and were dry today. I’m trying to go back to every other day watering as we come out of this heat wave. Gotta let those roots spread.

The cabbage and broccoli (or whatever) that I transplanted this week have had all but one leaf eaten off of them. There’s a thick layer of compost on the ground in that bed.

I did a bit of mowing along the blackberry patch that borders our driveway to make access this summer a bit easier. And, of course, also to check if they’re ripening. They usually start in the first few days of July, but… I harvested and ate 3! I need to figure out a way to hang the harvest bucket around my neck so I can use both hands.

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These shorter days are driving me nuts!

I’ve had such a hard time keeping up with the strawberries that I’ve had to start picking in the morning. I think they’re better in the evening after all the water they soaked up has gotten processed (I could be wrong). Today I managed to pick the west side (about 3 baskets) in the evening and pass them over the fence. The neighbors were having a party. I can’t remember if they invited us in advance or not — I certainly didn’t put it on the calendar if they did! Yay for picking a whole side one one day (that’s around 60 plants, but I used to do both sides in 40 minutes). The pests are terrible.

Last night (Saturday) T and I planted about 30 row feet of snap peas. Yay! I need to plant more, but today we bought more greens seedlings and their new bed just needs a bit more water before I plant. On the subject of the greens, the bed I planted a few weeks ago has been dug in by the raccoons. Grr! We need to take the row cover off to see how many plants remain. I found one under there, a russian kale (those seem to really thrive here, which stinks since I don’t like them these days), that was really big and robust-looking!

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the raccoons dug along the drip tape 😦

We’ve been struggling to harvest stuff. Z got a bunch of things yesterday and made a salsa, a pasta sauce, a cucumber-dill-Sungold tomato-onion salad, and I don’t remember what else. Yum! I might try to make yellow crookneck squash chips since we have so many… baseball bats.

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“You don’t even eat much squash!”

Tonight I picked 2 baskets of purple pole beans 🙂 Sadly, they were mostly pretty big. I’m glad to be getting a good amount, since so few plants have survived.

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peppers, tomatoes, and Sungold cherry tomatoes from our garden

I literally have so little time for compost-making that we keep buying buckets. I’ve been trying out the idea of using weeds that I’ve pulled to cover up areas where gophers have dug. I like the idea of keeping the soil covered. I also like the idea of keeping organic matter in the garden. I’m not sure if it’s ok to provide potential habitat for pests such as voles.

The weather has been cool and foggy for much of the days – today I think the sun didn’t come out until around 1:30pm!

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pole beans and summer squash; old allium bed; Chandler strawberries; three beds of pumpkins/gourds; old greens; corn; pear trees; “mountain” and fog

 

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.

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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)
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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

The in-laws rock out again

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

Finally passed some food over the fence!

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5 cabbages harvested on July  25th

I texted my neighbor (on the garden side) the other day to tell him we have veggies to share, and didn’t hear back. I persisted because the fridge was so full- tonight I said “and strawberries.” That got him out to the fence! I gave him the half-basket I’d picked, the oldest one from the fridge, 2 cabbages, and a half a bag of green, yellow, and purple beans. T helped carry one of the cabbages, and the neighbor’s kid carried that one to their residence.

I also called the neighbors on the other side of us and they said they are drowning in green beans and cabbages, but would try to help out by taking some stuff and bringing lemon cucumbers. I think lemon cucumbers in northern California are a bit like zucchini everywhere- once they come on, there are too many. Speaking of which, I didn’t pick green beans last night and there were a lot that were too big. I put most of them into the compost.

I made a call about delivery of compost from the company that I and many other local sustainable growers am/are loyal to, and found that I could save $40 on delivery of 20 yards, or spend $60 less to get 40 yards from the other company I’ve been looking at. When I put it that way, I guess I should just get 20 yards delivered! For some reason, both are located in Marin County (atm) and neither is in Sonoma County. But it’s from farther away (as they lost their site last year, muy complicado), and they are only CDFA organic rather than OMRI-approved (they are on a new site this year). It’s not clear to me if this “organic” designation actually means anything.

 

Blackberry harvest has begun!

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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.

Friends came to visit!

Yay, some friends stopped by on their way from Oakland to Oregon. We had lots of delicious strawberries available in the “old” patch, and they loved them!!!

I hoed the sunflowers some more today, and hoed near the pole bean bed (planted a packet last night). I think there’s a new gopher mound right next to the drip tape in the area I planted :(.

Red Noodle pole beans, iirc
how many of my seeds did the gophers dig up?
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Broccoli

Today was not a good newer-strawberry harvest day. It’s been hot lately, and the summer berries have been focused on putting out runners for far too long. The Sweet Anns aren’t very tasty. Hoping to fertilize soon.

Tonight I transplanted some of the tray of organic Walla Walla onions that I got from a local seed/seedling company last weekend into the greens beds. The dill looks great! There are some zinnias coming up here and there.

I picked a basket of green/purple/yellow (“Trilogy”) green beans tonight. I focused on picking the biggest ones- I haven’t done a thorough picking since the night I got the big bag of them. I think they are starting to slow down after only a week of production.

I haven’t been keeping track of Days to Maturity of various varieties of things that I’m planting from seed in multiple areas (corn, beans, sunflowers). Hope that doesn’t bite me in the butt come harvest time with a bunch of weird hybrids.

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

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

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bottle gourd seedlings

and a kakai pumpkin (hoping for edible seeds):

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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.

Lots of weird bugs

Today I think I found a mystery mint family plant next to the summer strawberry bed. Hoping it’s lemon balm. I didn’t try smelling or tasting it. It’s probably from sometime when T and I were out planting seeds in the summer strawberry bed. Sometimes he prefers to plant outside of the bed. There’s a lot of bindweed and purslane. I haven’t been spending much time over there, as you can tell.

probably lemon balm
lemon balm?

I keep finding weird bugs everywhere, so I have started a photo album of pests in our garden. Today I think I found a lygus bug in the Chandlers. DOH!

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lygus bug?

I guess I need to figure out what plants the damsel bug likes! Apparently it shows up later in the season.

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tomatillo plant- lots of things have been eating leaves, including what looks like leafminers

Check out these gorgeous summer strawberries! I think they are sweet anns. there are a lot of big ones coming along!

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beautiful summer strawberries

Tonight I picked 2 baskets of Chandlers. I weeded a lot and pulled off all the runners I could find. That plus a tour of most of the garden took an hour and a half! I didn’t get to pick old berries because we were trying to get T to bed