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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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.

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Z picking tomatillos; T picking tomatoes

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need to look up these bug eggs
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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!

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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.

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…

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

We’re getting a new neighbor!

While I was hoeing alongside the Chandlers this morning I talked with the… uncle? of the couple next door who have kids around T’s age. He was mowing the field next to ours because his son has bought the place, had the front house fixed up (I noticed this winter that a dude was there fixing it up all the time and the family had moved into a single-wide trailer), and will be moving in. They have a kid T’s age, and one who’s around 3 years older. He seemed to dismiss the possibility of T and the kid playing together cuz she’s a girl. We’ll see. Though I don’t know about him playing on the roundup-ed swingset, which was installed months ago. Well, I haven’t seen anyone spraying around it in months.

He asked if I wanted him to spray the blackberries that are along the chainlink fence between our 2 properies. I told him that we’ll dig them out. He’s all, “I hate these things.” It doesn’t matter – it’s not your property. I told him that for organic (certification) I’d have to not include anything grown within 50 feet of the fence. I’m sure he doesn’t care and if we don’t deal with it first thing in the morning we’ll have a problem. I should have dealt with it today, but I didn’t get that much time outside tonight and I wanted to work on my hoeing some more. I noticed that the mattock is in the well house with the tools that I use most frequently, so that’s convenient.

After dinner, I got outside to the old strawberries and managed to pick about a half a basket. The sun had pretty much set, so we’ll see what they look like in the morning. I’m not going to deal with them now. I haven’t been eating any all week because Z tends to bring in berries that are mushy. 😦

The beans are emerging nicely. I should find the edamame seeds and pop them in. The raccoons discovered that bed last night:

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evidence of digging, most likely by raccoons

If you look closely, you’ll see a lot of bindweed, some cheeseweed mallow, some grass, and maybe a wild radish. I have been waiting to weed until I am more sure if any of the flowers or herbs we planted are going to come up. I have a real problem with recognizing them in the seedling stage, though!

In other beds I’ve also got lots of (curly?) dock, redroot pigweed, still some lambsquarters, that thing that could be wild chamomile, purslaine, that thing that gets really long and woody (no idea what it is), more grass, and maybe some chickweed still. Also a few bristly oxtongue, some prickly lettuce, and another broadleaf weed whose name I always forget.

Another thing I did today was pull at some of the 5-foot-plus grass that’s starting to lean from the garlic bed into the Chandlers. I always get a cut on my hand when I do that, and I’ve got little bits of something embedded in my skin.

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

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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:

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unidentified larva on a strawberry leaf

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

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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

That bed’s been hoed!

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It took about 4 hours of work to get the weeds hoed out of this bed and 6 or 10 inches away from the plants!

Alrighty, the Chandlers have been hoed. The plants are so small and most of the buds have been so small that I think these may have to stick around until next spring. I guess I need to stop pulling the buds off, though. We (mostly Z) have been getting our irrigation going – the leak on the right was fixed! Now maybe I can fertilize (starting with a kelp/seaweed product). This reminds me that I need a new sprayer.

My hands are killing me from hoeing, but the bed needs a good going-over with the Cobra weeder (http://www.cobrahead.com/). No time. Last year’s berries need some maintenance, and I need to hoe alongside the summer berries I planted this spring and last fall. I also have more to plant. The water line doesn’t quite reach the end of that bed. I think that if I run out, I might just put the crowns (if they are still ok to use) at the end of the Chandlers…

One of the next beds I’d like to get going (because it has so little grass growing) is last year’s bean and pea row (it also had one cherry tomato plant). There are all these weird holes there- check oneout! Hopefully just from gophers, but why were so many holes not closed back up? The surface of the ground is scarily dry. 😦

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A rather large hole that has a crack coming off of it. The ground looks like a cross between Petaluma Adobe and cement

Strawberry planting halted by rain

We had about .20 inch of rain today. I got 15 strawberry crowns into the ground (by extending the bed to the drier north rather than continuing in the already-prepped south) today to bring the planting to a total of 70ish. The forecast as of a few days ago was for 6 inches of rain in 10 days. So that might be it for planting strawberries – we’ll see.

The planting I did this evening was in the tiny dark area at the top of the garden bed. In the other photo you can see that we’ve been doing some mowing.

I think I saw a millipede, a centipede, and a harlequin bug today. Plus countless slugs.

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.

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one of the kids at the party enjoying running around