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!

wp-1473656829685.jpg
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.

wp-1473627011415.jpg
“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.

wp-1473626995116.jpg
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!

wp-1473657246189.jpg
pole beans and summer squash; old allium bed; Chandler strawberries; three beds of pumpkins/gourds; old greens; corn; pear trees; “mountain” and fog

 

Behind on my blogging

I have some really cute photos from over the weekend of T in the garden. He has been going out there every day. “Anything new in the garden?” he asks.

Today at preschool he even spent extra time in the garden — voluntarily! Wow.

I haven’t been able to pick my strawberries every night and they are getting so much pest damage. As far as I can tell, it’s mostly a new generation of sow bugs (those pill bugs) and tiny slugs. There are some other newer pests and I think there still might be some stink bugs around.

Today I finished putting out compost, perhaps too thickly, along with oyster shell lime, for another pea bed. Z set up drip on that bed tonight! I also put the oyster shell out on what I hope will be a new greens bed. Z put more compost out there with the tractor this weekend. I didn’t realize that it still needs a lot of smoothing out — and perhaps more compost. I really need to water the piles of purchased compost- that stuff is SO dusty!

I tried raking the recently-mowed grass out of the old garlic and onion bed today to see what would be left. There is still 4 hours’ worth of hoeing to do. There are healthy dock plants every 8 inches – they should be dug out, but I believe the ground is way too hard for that.

Z did a lot of mowing over the weekend- he did most of the broccoli bed, leaving the flowers (he ran the mower up at least a foot in the air :/) and the stuff at the head of the bed, which we actually ate from last night :). he mowed the 1/3 of the south side that had our cover crops and most of our pigweed, as well as the 5th bed of pumpkins. There’s still the one healthiest-looking plant there, but it’s not getting water anymore. And he also mowed the bed next to the strawberries, but the weeds are growing back very quickly.

Here are some photos I took at the National Heirloom Exposition today. Hopefully I will be able to write a report tomorrow.

Beautiful weather!

Yesterday I got a longer garden day than usual because my kid started going to an all-day preschool (he’ll go there 2 days per week). I fertilized! And then I removed bad weeds from the garden and put them in the green bin.

A tall weed that has big leaves and yellow flowers
What was this weed?

Today I didn’t get out there until after 5. I picked 3 baskets of strawberries from the west side, which is usually less productive than the other side. Note that I did not pick on Friday.

Then T came out with me and we planted some dill, bunching onion, and zinnia seeds (can zinnia grow this late in the season? September tends to be a hot month) in the greens bed. There are a lot of missing plants under that row cover. Maybe we can sow some seeds for those.

A buyers’ club that I belong to is downsizing and getting rid of fridges since she’s not going to do as much produce and things that need to be kept cold. Here’s one of them. We’re hoping to get another that is reportedly better. Is there any hope of that one being Energy Star rated (an appliance that uses minimal electricity)?

Z putting a fridge onto a dolly/handtruck
Z not letting me help with the new fridge

The in-laws rock out again

wp-image-1019106172jpg.jpeg
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.

20160810_111259.jpg
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!

Blackberry harvest has begun!

20160702_114240.jpg
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.

Birthday party a success!

We had my kid’s birthday party at our place today. It was a beautiful 69 degree (F) day. There were about 8 kids present, and we pretty much had our version of a smashing success :). Two brothers played in our yard (I had mowed the grass really short on Thursday) most of the time – Grey Kitty loved the attention that they gave her. I loved seeing the yard get used. I need to get more outdoor toys for my kid “fer sure.”

I eventually showed people around the garden. It’s pretty sad right now – everything except the kales is bolting in the greens beds (this means that there are flowers to see, I guess), the strawberries are nearly invisible in the weeds, and there was hardly any sign that we are actually growing garlic and onions. I heard a mom exclaiming to her daughter when she spotted a ladybug. That kind of thing makes me want to have people over all the time! I did get out there later and weed the onions a bit and kill a bunch of slugs :). I hate how so much of my work in the garden involves killing. There are so many slugs out there. So. Many.

The ground is still so wet that I am having trouble envisioning planting anything. I feel so bad to be disturbing it by pulling out weeds, and I feel bad to be leaving the ground bare- hopefully that’s helping it to dry out.

20160206_124949.jpg
one of the kids at the party enjoying running around