“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).

The harvest continues

I harvested 4 baskets of strawberries today. Got about 15 pears (low-hanging) from trees in garden. They are still ~75% ripe. It feels like they are ripening very slowly this year. And of course about a pound of green, yellow, and purple green beans.

Got my 40 yards of compost delivered this week. They didn’t call in advance (I hadn’t even paid yet, and they hadn’t confirmed!!!), so I didn’t get to move the old compost out of the way before it got buried.

The second, larger batch of green, yellow, and purple (Trilogy) beans is starting up…  hoping that folks we know will come over and pick some (pears, too). I planted another round of them today. Maybe I’ll get to one more before I stop planting them. There’s always that fantasy of having fresh green beans for thanksgiving, lol.

I have some flower and dill seedlings to get into the ground really soon. Those are for fall. I am missing my chance to plan and plant for the spring. Missing the chance to get cover crops in. It’s really a terrible month for planting because the raccoons do so much digging at this time of year :(. I have to pot up my broccoli seedlings in a few days, and start many other kinds of greens. The aphids are destroying my red russian kale and have moved on to the dino kale. i need to clean that bed up (deadhead and harvest and sell flowers, as well as getting rid of old kale leaves) and just cannot find the time. I started a compost pile last week and never managed to turn it. I did add water to it once or twice. Z even got me a new hose for it.

Have been thinking about how I need a farm partner or three.

Better get ready for bed. Phone having trouble posting photo but i think one may have gotten thru to my flickr page…

It’s July already!

I checked my notes yesterday and yep, I did plant a bunch of things this week last year. It was way too late for longbeans (I wonder if it might not be hot enough for them here). So it’s a good thing that I am trying to prep some beds. This involves hoeing like 12′ long beds, putting compost out as a mulch, and then moving on to the next ones. (I am going to need to sneak a large purchase of compost in in the next few weeks. Good thing I have my own bank account ;)). The heads of these beds have gotten really messed up from when Z has plowed with the chisel plow in past years. When you first start to drive the tractor, it can dig into the ground before it starts moving. I bought some soil conditioner to try to help soften up that soil so it can be repaired at some point. I’m thinking 2 cucurbit beds, 1 of tomatoes, and a bunch of beans, sunflowers, etc.

My inlaws helped me pull out the peas at the end of July. Z ran over them with the flail mower and I started a new compost pile, including them and the mowed grass that they landed in, as well as the previous pile and the buckets of stuff (house compost, greens, and strawberry waste). When I finally got around to turning the pile some 3-4 days later, there was no “green” (nitrogenous) stuff left. Oy. Anyhow, that bed had a lot of borage and some volunteer tomatoes in it, so I’ve left it alone for now. When I tried to plant into it this spring, the soil was rock-hard. I think I should put a cover crop there. I need to get a new kind of sprinkler that can cover a single bed so I can water individual cover crop plantings. More $ (not gonna get around to researching, and not gonna spend it).

I’ve been trying to tuck in plantings of flowers here and there, and I even finally planted some sunflowers 2 weeks ago. I have yet to plant corn (maize) but I finally got some sweet corn seed this week. And overgrown summer crop seedlings. I just cannot resist planting tomatoes, even though T and I don’t eat many of them. I started some seeds last week- tomatoes, tomatillos, cayenne pepper (I know, it’s too late. I’m getting emergence after 10 days, though), basil, melons… the evenings are going to be too cool to get much, but I have to try.

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the view from the southwesternmost bed that is in use (flowers on left, bush green, yellow, and purple beans out of picture on right)

I need to make time to do fall crop planning. Especially for flowers to overwinter.

There appear to be 3-4 gophers per bed right now. They are turning the newest strawberry bed into a raised bed. It’s ridiculous. I have been very lucky to have lost so few plants so far.

Coming along… slowly

I think it was a bit less windy today, but around 8:15am it was still 43.5 degrees F outside. The strawberries are not liking this cold weather, which means that I’m having to throw out a whole lot of bad and/or soft berries :(. And the work has gotten ahead of me. I started working on the Chandler bed on Friday and I made it about 5 feet in an hour. The soil is so hard that it is nearly impossible and very painful to pull out all that mature grass :(.

I’m realizing that I’ve been really overwatering the small seedlings. The flowers have hardly any roots. 😦 On the flipside of that, past the area where I noticed a big leak in the Seascape/Sweet Ann bed the other night, we realized today that 1/4 of that bed (half of that row) is not receiving water because the gophers chewed all the way through the drip tape. Sad, small plants and sad, dry berries. I need to get out there with a watering can. And fertilizer. 😦 And another line of drip tape.

I have been trying to transplant my flowers, but I don’t know if any of the poppies (too late for them, anyhow) or Shasta daisies will survive. We shall see… I haven’t transplanted my dill yet, but I think it looks better after spending the weekend out of the direct sun on the bottom shelf in the greenhouse.

Today was Mother’s Day so I didn’t get as much done as I might have on a regular Sunday. T spent some time hanging out in the garden with me. Today he was really into eating pea leaves. I am struggling to teach him to hold the plant with one hand and pull the leaf off with the other! We went to the farm supply store to try to find a hose sprayer for the greenhouse. I also got an extra kneeling pad or two, and a kids’ garden rake for T. And more seedling trays!

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

Made my first sale

I’ve been keeping busy out there in the garden. I’m still working hard on the painstaking removal of old plant matter (and weeds and slugs) from last summer’s strawberry bed. Meanwhile, there are strawberries to pick and eat every time I go out there. I’ve done over 7 hours of work (over the last week or so, I think) and I have only made it about halfway down the bed. I don’t have time for this! I need to get my June-bearing bed cleaned up, and today I noticed that there are strawberries rotting in the 2016 summer strawberry bed.

Meanwhile, my seedlings are begging to be planted or potted up. I sold 2 sixpacks of Broccoli (Waltham 29 iirc) today! A woman drove over and took them home for her raised beds. In addition to my not having time, the beds that I wanted to use for greens. I have cabbage, dino kale – 4 sixpacks – and way-too-leggy red russian kale, plus some dill and a few zinnias for those beds. I also have marigolds and poppies. I need to get those poppies into the pea bed asap. I’ll have to hand-water first, though! I tried planting some sweet peas for flowers this spring and got zero plants. I need to just start them in the greenhouse.

Speaking of peas, we got our longest section of trellis moved from one of last fall’s pea beds this week. I set up the trellis this morning and tried to train the plants to the netting. By about 11 or 11:30, the plants were shutting down and stopped reaching. This evening it looked to me like the casual observer might think that I had, in fact, trained them. 🙂 There are still a lot of weeds, including volunteer tomatoes. Hopefully next winter will be a bit less rainy and I can remove my debris in a timely fashion.

I’ve been doing a lot of mowing and weedwhacking. I have uncovered most of the path that goes down the middle of the garden. Unfortunately there is a row’s worth of drip tubing stuck in some really tall grass on the west end. 😦 Tonight I realized that my planned new greens beds were immediately next to last summer’s greens beds, which I had only just mowed. I tried to pull the chopped up brassicas out and take them to the compost pile. Didn’t quite get to finish since it was getting very late…

We need to water soon, even though we had a few rainy days earlier this week. The ground has crusted over wherever it’s bare. Hoping to start more seeds real soon.

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Photo taken by my partner Z this evening. It shows me at the north end of the garden with the mower, which had likely stalled due to trying to eat too much grass at a time

Went to an entrenpreneurship workshop

The Farmers Guild put on a workshop for beginning farmers about the business aspects of starting a farm. Speakers covered: inspirational farming story, why you should keep careful records, and what kind; business plans; sales; marketing; farm financing options (I mostly spent today reading articles about the fire in Oakland; I know quite a few people whose friends died); and crop planning. We also did a small group exercise in which we did a quick and dirty business plan for an example property. My group’s property had issues: seasonal ditch water on one end of the property, flooding on the other end, and a goodly amount of uneven ground.

There weren’t many opportunities for networking. It was worse in my case, since an old friend had convinced me to go, and we sat next to each other ;). I did talk to a woman who is a Master Gardener in another county. She recommended that I mulch strawberries with rough straw nearly up to the top of the plant, and water way deeper (so that the water goes a foot down). This year we only watered for 15 minutes a day (more on the hottest days or if there were small plants in the ground), but we did do it every day. Last year we watered for an hour every day. We need to set up more zones and water them that way. Another thing to consider in crop planning.

I may have been won over to the growing microgreens camp. I need some high-value crops to grow. But I still need that wash station. We don’t have the money for it, so I think I need to design it and just start, like, buying something every week. I also need add up the costs of different licenses and certifications and start making those happen. And figure out what I will grow in 2017.

No photo today, as I never made it to the garden while the sun was still out. I got home after 5:00. 😦

So much rain!

the garden between rain showers. The pumpkins will be going away in the next few days.
the garden between rain showers. The pumpkins will be going away in the next few days.

It’s really getting ridiculous- we’ve gotten almost 6 inches this month! So… okay, I’ll just clean the house and peel roma tomatoes (that part really didn’t take long except that I chose to vacuum instead of actually making a sauce so the tomatoes could go bad in the fridge).

I got out to the garden for 15 minutes that turned into a half hour. It’s wet. I picked leaves that were touching the ground off of several kale plants and pretty much got a bucket’s worth. I may have gone a bit too heavy on the fertilizer. We already knew that, based on what the raccoons did to that bed and others. I also picked a handful of peas :).

I went out on Thursday to pick strawberries. I did half of the east row and did not get a single edible/blemish-free berry.  I filled up the rest of the compost bucket with the stuff from the ground in that area and called it a day.

I went to water aerobics twice this week (and went swimming with T today). It’s so great to be back in the water and moving around. During the last 2 winters, I lifted weights 2-3 times and did water aerobics 2-3 times a week, which made me a fixture at the gym. I just don’t feel like I can stay out past 7 anymore and Z often doesn’t finish work much before 5, so it’s going to be hard to get there without bringing T to the totally germ-infested childcare room.

Fog has covered the top of the mountain that's visible from the garden
Can’t see the top of the local “mountain”