Finally started planting!

part of one planted row of spring crops in the garden
6 broccoli plants along with dill, onions, and one zinnia

We are expecting one to three inches of rain in the next week. Our rainy season is usually pretty much over by now, but the weather is changing…

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

“Catch up” time

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view of new greenhouse as of 5/3/18. There’s room on the shelves for about 4 more trays.

Ha! There is no catching up! I’ve been starting seeds, mostly when the Gardening by the Moon calendar recommends, and today I did some potting up (potting-on for you Brits and um Canadians?) of most of my dahlias (started from seed) and some red cabbages and broccoli. I am torn between using 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch pots. The plants are small, but their roots do fill the sixpacks. This means that the 3.5 inche(r)s are better. I think I got a whole case of them! I do have small-seeded things that I started in 128 and 200ish cell trays last week that I need to pot up, so I guess I should save the rest of the 2.5 inch ones for those (and order a case). I have a lot of kales to pot up, too :/. Almost everything looks stunted (I could just start new dino kale, broccoli and cabbage, I guess, but I’m a bit concerned about space.) I think I will get some short metal shelving units for the wooden greenhouse. I am a bit concerned about getting mice in there, which is why I use the old plastic greenhouse for most germination.

I was hoping to have seedlings for a benefit auction/sale that benefits my kid’s preschool later this month, but my tomatoes haven’t even emerged! I could probably have some nice tomatillos and thumbelina zinnias, and even orange marigolds… I guess it’d be worth potting up a few for that… Despite what the lunar calendar/astrology says, I’m going to need to reseed tomatoes (plus now I have more varieties of seeds!), California Giants zinnias, the bell peppers I was unable to locate last time I started seeds, etc. The nights have been in the 40’s and even the low 50’s a few times. Anything that’s above 39 is good by me (strawberry fruit gets very unhappy below 41 or so). On the subject of strawberries: OMG what am I going to do? I’ve had whole days go by on which I didn’t work on them. I’m trying to get the old debris and fruit mummies cleared out so there’s less habitat for pests. Speaking of pests, from time to time I read that Shasta daisies host pests, but in my project for the IPM class I took at the junior college, I learned that they help repel Lygus bugs. I find a few of those bugs each year, and it would be nice to have one less source of catfacing on my berries (and weird marks on peas). It’s a mess under those daisies – dead leaves and buried strawberry plants lol. I had no idea that those plants would be so big – why did I plant so many so close together? The berries that I  planted this spring have to be constantly monitored so I can pull the flowers off to promote growth of the plant. I hoed the bed today- we had lots of pigweed, lambsquarters, bindweed, and purslane. I need to hoe that grass that’s to the right of the bed that I planted last year (see green grass below). I guess it really liked all that compost that I put down last summer (and this winter?).

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view of the garden from the edge near the center of the southeast strawberry bed. Z mowed the yellow areas with the tractor this week.

Oh, on to the subject of space – we put a silage tarp on an area where I could put 3 or 4 beds of greens (well, the left-most one actually had a mustard cover crop and flea beetles, so that could be a bad idea). The rightmost bed had greens in winter 2015-16, and I am wondering if it’s too soon. I could probably put some kind of flowers there… I need space for kale, hopefully collards, and chard (gotta pot those ones up asap), as well as for the shorter-season crops like the pak choy that T and I started, cabbage, and broccoli.

As you can see from my writing, I am having a lot of trouble organizing my thoughts. Planning where crops will go is mostly beyond my capability these days. I need to go see an ADD doctor (I was treated for it in the past).

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

Some rain’s in the forecast

We’ve had 51% of normal rainfall for this point in the season. Last year at this point we’d gotten 203%. We started watering this week.

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Thursday

“A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 10am. Some of the storms could produce small hail. Sunny, with a high near 55. Breezy, with a northwest wind 14 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 29 mph. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.”
In other news, next week’s predicted rain seems to have devolved into showers 😦
It is taking me weeks to get any beds ready to plant. I wanted to try phacelia and mustard – the latter is for the old strawberry bed. It had a big, angry yellowjacket nest last year. Hope they don’t come back to the same area this year. By the way, I saw my first butterfly, cucmber beetle, and yellowjacket of the year last week.
I need to figure out a better way to get the grass off so I can plant. Z suggested using the tractor’s loader, but that takes too much topsoil off.
I’m getting ready to order more compost and/or wood chips. It’s a big financial commitment. Our green waste, by the way, apparently goes to Vacaville, on the other side of those mountains (and delivery of compost from there would cost $600. that’s before the cost of the compost!). Too bad that we can’t get our local organic back into our soil. My friends in the Central Valley buy (or bought) their compost from that site.
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Today we used our new soil thermometer. It said that the soil ranges from 54 to 70 degrees. 54 was in a grass-covered, wetter area in the center of the south side. It was 68 about 12 feet away from there in an area that had compost on the surface.

Had a big windstorm earlier this week

Seeking plans for (12-foot) hoophouse made with EMT (electrical conduit = metal pipe)

Z has/had been trying to resurrect our little greenhouse from last year – the one that blew over end to end a few times in the first night of the North Bay Fires. Well, it was really windy whichever night that was this week (Monday?). Z woke me up and said there were high winds and that the greenhouse had blown over. I told him he was dreaming and to go back to sleep. He had opened the door and felt warm air swirling around from all directions. We’ve been having low-to-mid 30’s temperatures at night, which makes this unpredicted windstorm extra weird! Ok, extra-extra weird when you consider that not everyone got this windstorm- out of Z’s coworkers, only one, who lives like 8 miles away from us, had had it!

So we need to build a very wind-proof greenhouse. We have no time or energy, so this is a real challenge. I have been thinking it would be a hoophouse. Most of the plans that I see are for PVC, but we don’t think plastic pipes would be strong enough. Z is tempted to buy a poly pre-built greenhouse used online. I dunno about that…

Finally got to work in the garden again

I hate the holidays and am so glad that they are over. It was nice having my sisters-in-law and their kids around, and we went for a nice hike with my in-laws, but I personally have a hard time. I did go to the garden to show people what little there is to show on Saturday (and I pulled a few weeds and noted that the gophers seem to have stolen some of my garlic plants already), but other than that, I went 3 days without doing any work out there. Tonight I managed to put 4 wagonloads of compost out, so that makes me feel a bit better. On the way back to the compost I’d grab a bucket or two of wood chips and put them in low or bare spots on the path, so I felt like I was getting some work done on that project. We’re due to get a bit of rain this week. Like really not much. We are having a very dry winter so far.

Z’s relatives actually found edible strawberries in the garden this weekend. Those Seascapes are amazing. I’m sure that I wouldn’t have found them very good, but I am spoiled from living in California (and getting to choose which ones I eat vs compost as I harvest them).

We had a live christmas tree this year, so we spent some time today figuring out where to plant it and then putting it in the wrong place, anyhow. Check out (below) what a gorgeous day it was! It was interesting to see how my way of planning and carrying out movements was more efficient than Z’s. I actually spend a lot of time worrying about my inefficiencies when I’m working in the garden. Tonight I finished reading the excellent book Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables. It gave me a lot of food for thought. I even learned something (I think it was in this book) that I’d suspected about needing a different potting mix when I’m potting things up into larger pots.

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