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.



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

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!

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.

“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.

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!

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.


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

A bird is eating my fava and bell bean seed!

Today I was working in the Chandlers and I heard a repeated loud rustling sound. It was scrub jay eating seeds out of fava bean pods! Grr. That explains why we have so few bell bean seeds left on the bell bean plants 😦 They’ll have to be mowed this weekend. Quail eating seeds in the garden (dill seed?) one day, a scrub jay the next. The cat got something in her eye yesterday and hasn’t been around that much. She’s sleeping in our cleaning rags right now.

Quail running through the garden near where I planted dill seed a few days ago
Quail running through the chard, near where I planted dill seed and maybe zinnias a few days ago

I managed to plant the remaining 3 seedlings – Armenian cucumbers – tonight. I also weeded half of one side of the sunflowers and picked the Seascapes. Less than a basket of delicious berries. This morning I picked 2 baskets of Chandlers. It’s time to focus on removing Seascape runners and weeds, rather than spending hours each week doing that for the Chandlers.

The sow bugs are still terrible. Need to fertilize, and water less. I am not the one who turns the water on and off in the morning, tho…

Production seems to be picking up

I didn’t make it to the garden this morning because we bought our (first?) farm truck! It’s a used Ford F150 with room for the carseat in the back seat. My buddy Chris advised against getting one because they need a lot of what he calls “wrenching” all the time. He told me about his friend who has a graveyard of Ford parts from trucks he’s had over the years.

I got out there tonight, turned on the water, and realized that the pressure we’ve been running it at was too low. There wasn’t any water coming out of the drip tape in the 5 beds we’re trying to water at the moment (3 strawberry, one alliums and weeds, and the new corn/bean bed). I turned it up and left it on for longer than I meant to- about 75 minutes.

I got to take a leisurely walk around the garden. I found our first ripe Chandler. I am mostly still picking buds off of the smaller plants, but I need to stop doing that. I had intentionally let this one form a berry, though. It was pretty good but could have used more water.


Then I went out to the strawberries and picked 2 baskets! I can’t believe how much old debris still needs to be taken out of there. I take so many fistfuls out every day! I even accidentally pulled out at least 2 strawberry plants!

The Seascapes that I planted the other day look terrible. Maybe I should just compost the rest. It’s either that, or plant them! I’m concerned that they’d be more vulnerable to diseases and pests because they’ve been in the fridge for so long.

We’ll see what can get done this weekend. It might be a good time for flailing, except that I think the mower still needs to be lubed and have its belts checked (Z burned them up last year). I heard that Sunday won’t be as windy. I can only hope. It’s time to get that chisel plow and landscape rake out and put them to work!


Future project – plantings near walnut trees

I just found this page on Peaceful Valley Farm Supply’s site that lists

This is good, because at the front, or south end of the garden, there are some huge, old walnut trees above the ditch. Who knows how long they’ll last, but I bet their roots will have a longlasting impact. The south end of the garden is pretty dark in winter, but it’ll be nice to have some appropriate stuff growing in that area!

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.

Slowly drying out…

We are still drying out after last week’s 7-8 inches of rain. Today I found standing water on the other side of the plot, so I brought 7 or 8 wagonloads of woodchips out. I covered most of the rest of the path through the middle of the garden, out to the wet spots. I didn’t manage to cover them fully as the sun was going down and it was dinner time. Hopefully tomorrow.

The strawberries are really getting there- nearly all of the recently planted crowns are doing fine. The wettest area of the bed is so nearly-dry that you can finally see the trenches that we dug (!).

there is still water pooled in the trenches we dug

Meanwhile, the Chandlers are still there but the grass around them is growing faster than I can keep up with. The Chandlers themselves are not growing much.

The garlic is still there, too, at least in part. I found this bug that needs looking up (if I’ve photographed enough details of it). Hoping it is a beneficial predator.

'What is this bug?
Who are you?

Slugs and grass


January 28th, 2016, around sunset

Tonight I went out to collect slugs to experiment with dehydrating them with oyster shell lime. I knocked/picked as many as I could off of the greens (everything except dino and what I believe is curly kale is pretty much finished (flowering) and should be pulled out 😦 ). I think I had too many for the size of the container and the amount of lime. I should have added the lime in layers as I added more slugs. I dumped them into a hole that some wildlife had dug, and when I walked past later, there were a number of slugs crawling through the nearby grass. The project was probably also a failure due to the fact that it started sprinkling, and then raining lightly, while I was out there!

I forgot that the other day I hadn’t really weeded the west row of the Chandler strawberries, and started pulling the grass back on the east side. DOH! That other part of the bed is going to be a mess – already I’ve pulled off a lot of blossoms (keep growing, plants!!) and some leaves that were rotting on the wet soil. It is supposed to rain for the foreseeable future 😦

I seriously can only get this much weeding done

I definitely should not have had the mower on its highest setting the other day, as I pretty much need to mow again!! When one is out in the field, one can see the difference in where I mowed, though.

Lastly, I turned the compost and thought about ducks and/or weeder geese and how it would be cool to have them eating the slugs and pulling the unwanted grasses.

Most of the time I was out there, I was berating myself for having swept the house instead of gardening yesterday when my inlaws were over. I really did need to do some cleaning and organizing, and having done those things made me feel a lot better about the day.