Workshops… tempting…

I get so frustrated with all the questions I have and the lack of people to ask… I need mentors. In the meantime, I keep hearing about all these workshops that I wouldn’t really have time to go to, like locally at Singing Frogs Farm this fall and The Gardener’s Workshop (online) with the author of the book Cool Flowers. I just don’t know…

The garden looks pretty darn good, but I have no idea what to do with my gorgeous, big purple, pink, and white zinnias. Do I sell them one at a time? In bouquets of 4? And um who do I sell them to? I was thinking of selling thru a local buyers’ club but someone sold like a $20+ bouquet at $5 each (with like 5 focal flowers, smaller flowers, and foliage and other fillers) and I’m like… peace! I’m not about to way underprice my flowers just to bring in a couple of bucks. And yes, I am pretty sure that the other grower, like me, has a partner who has a pretty good-paying job. That doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve to cover the expenses and labor incurred in growing the flowers, though!

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Time to face my limitations

I’ve been seeing a therapist lately. This week I said something about how later in the season I will have to accept that I have limits to what I can do. (I have a lot of self-pity when I compare myself to others, believe me.) She said that this week I should “accept my limits” and focus on “quality, not quantity.” It’s hard to know how much quantity you’ll have with growing food and flowers. I tend to start two sixpacks of tomatoes, and I’ve been getting only 4-8 plants germinating. I have 3 of 12 cucumbers, which is actually a more manageable number for someone who has trouble getting around to harvesting. Then some get damping off or other problems. I realized yesterday that I had to stop using the little watering can that I use in my germinating greenhouse. At the base of the end sprayer (what’s that called? a rose? rosette? I forget), there’s some water that drips out in droplets that are much larger than what comes out of the end. So I’m watering one or two cells gently, while the one that I just watered is getting pounded with even more water! It’s been that way pretty much the whole season. Maybe this is why I’ve had such bad germination of zinnias and some of the small-seeded summer crops? Argh! I need to find another source of organic full-size zinnias. So I’m dragging the curly hose over from inside the garden gate, and it barely reaches, and I’m bumping into the greenhouse frame as I pull the hose tighter… It’s not good. I’m generally miserable and feeling like I need help brainstorming and implementing solutions. I guess I could try putting newly seeded trays into the “new” greenhouse, even if they’re on the low shelves, since it’s so much cooler and gets less direct sunlight. I’m just nervous that rodents would get in there and eat them the first night. As it is, I wonder if earwigs have eaten any seeds in the other greenhouse!

I’ve planted most of my broccoli and cabbage in the last 10ish days, and this week I started on the dino kale. The broccoli is getting DESTROYED by flea beetles 😦 I finally pulled my onion seedlings out of the fridge (why didn’t I at least put them in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel when they arrived was it Monday or Tuesday of this week?! busy. And there’s a packet of Petaluma Gold Rush (not technically organic, but I think I’ve looked and not found them organic elsewhere) seeds in a plastic bag inside that box which I’m like, maybe I’ll just leave it there until I’m ready. Petaluma Gold Rush bean info(accessed tonight): “Pole/Dry. Short Rounded seeded horticultural type from Peru. Introduced to San Francisco area about 1840-1841 by Adeline Azevedo Frye. Sold by Azevedo family as snap and dry bean to mining camps. The plants are vigorous, producing vines that grow up to 10 feet tall.” Petaluma is like 10 miles from here (Z and I rented a place there before we moved 3 cities to the north). So I guess that counts as a local heirloom crop. I never dealt with the seeds that I harvested last year. Limitations. Well, really I just need to set a date by or in the 2nd week in November for collecting and processing seeds.

So I started planting onions yesterday along with the Dino Kale. I’ve got about 20 of the kales into the ground, and around 35 of the onions. Last night’s handful of onion seedlings was much bigger than I’d anticipated and made me a half hour later coming in from the garden. Sigh). I also put some of the onions amongst the beleaguered broccoli. Gotta keep planting, but also need to prep more beds. The ground in the next section has a big dip and I’m not sure if I/we can fix it any time soon. We have a pile of soil that, if it is moistened, could be moved to that area if we have time. I’m tempted to switch over to the summer crop area since I need to get my okra and tomatillos into the ground! And I have a few cukes and melons to transplant, too. And the dahlias are really getting rootbound. Wish me luck getting stuff done on Sunday. Z has been so stressed that he’s getting really forgetful. He needs some time to himself, but he always gives in when T says he wants to be with him. So it’s kind of his problem, but really it’s ours as a couple and family.

T was “helping” me transplant for a bit on Thursday (? or Friday?). He’d start to separate the roots a bit, and then he’d keep pulling at them. I’m like, “No. stop. Stop. STOP!” and he finally stopped. ARGH! Then he went into the house…

Haven’t harvested strawberries in around 5 days. No time. PS, calf still sore. Seeing a chiro/physiotherapist a friend recommended on Tuesday.

2nd area where we used silage tarp
2nd area where we used the silage tarp

Thinking about where to plant hops

Yeahhh, I probavly should have researched this in advance. But this guy said he sold hops as cut flowers last year and I was like, that’s cool and they seem like tall plants… how would i even trellis them? Would it be weird to put them along the property line with the neighbors? It’s kind of this raised area. It’d make more sense to put them there if I had put a silage tarp over the area already. Or what about the northeast-most bed, for maybe a bit of shade over/into the yard? Eh, probably would attract deer… and how would I trellis them? Hell, how will I plant them? It’s rained a couple of inches int eh last few days.

Meanwhile, T came down with strep Monday night and Tuesday I went and bought about 50 strawberry crowns. So I want to plant those first since there’s already a place for them that’s not full of bunchgrasses. And when will I do that? Z is taking most of the day off on Thursday, so maybe I can start?

Also: yay, we’re up to 62% of normal rainfall for this point in the rain year. #drought

Last day of flower class!

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Part of the garden at Shone Farm

Today (April 1st) was the 3rd and final session of the cut flower production class that I took through the Community Education program at our local junior college. The first two sessions were on the main campus, but this one was in the lab. Most of the class today was about seed starting. We did a little exercise of planting a tray of seeds. The woman I was paired with thought that I worked very quickly (!). I actually heard one of the instructors say something later (during the presentation about harvest and packaging) about how you have to work quickly so you can get more done. 😉

After my inactive morning, I was excited to start prepping my strawberry bed by hoeing the grass off. The soil is still too wet! It was smearing. Our soil is a “sandy clay loam,” and it seems to me that it is a lot heavier than the name implies. I am concerned about my strawberry crowns (bare root plants) since the fridge they are in is only running at 55ish degrees. That should be fine for storing cut flowers overnight, lol. In class, one instructor asked me if I had a cooler. I don’t remember the school farm having had one out in the field, but we were looking at the one that’s there. My answer was: “Ha!” I wish we could invest $10k or $15k into the garden this year. We’d really be able to do a lot.

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Grey Kitty “helping” me to start seeds

I tried starting some seeds today. I planted Dino kale (4 sixpacks, iirc), Red Russian kale (last summer I had White Russian- is that more of a summer crop, I wonder)? – this reminds me that I need another green curly kale), cabbage, broccoli (though it is a fall variety but I can’t resist a broccoli that’s named after the town where I grew up and went to college), some poppies (perhaps too late?), zinnias, lavender, rosemary (mine didn’t make it through the winter. iirc i want to companion plant this with my greens), scallions, and I forget what else. T “helped” and only spilled 90% of the contents of one seed packet on the table. It’s lavender- I would like to be able to try to broadcast it under the pear trees in the garden… Wish me luck with my seedlings, please! I couldn’t get our little cheapo greenhouse’s door to zip closed, and that means that the raccoons could just knock the buckets blocking the door out of the way and check out my trays. Z thinks he got it fixed. I hope so! It would be so cool to grow my own seedlings.

I went to school at the JC fulltime from 2010 until 2012, when I got my Associate’s Degree in Sustainable Agriculture. I took a bunch of Animal Science classes, too, but when I got pregnant I stopped taking classes. It’s interesting to see the changes that have taken place in the garden over the years – things like occultation and the use of broadforks are brand-new from the last year, I think. I also saw some red plastic out there! I wonder if the strawberries are in a new spot…