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
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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”

Getting ready for rain

I realized yesterday that my biggest priority in getting ready for this week’s rains was to cover the ground between the strawberry and tomato beds. There’s room enough for a whole bed there, although it’s nice to have a nice, wide path in which to throw bad fruit and not have to step on it while I’m picking other fruit. There were a lot of spots where the ground was bare and hard because the gophers had left mounds that had dried out in the sun. I am trying to limit opportunities for rain-caused erosion. Today I finished picking up the rest of the fruit and leaves off the ground there and put out 10 wagonloads of compost. It might be a bit heavy, but when the tomato plants are gone, I might be able to spread some of it at the edge of the bed where I apparently did a really good job of hoeing the weeds out.

Brown leaves visible on the ground
Behind these zinnias is the space between the tomatoes and the strawberries. Brown leaves are visible in this photo. They have all been picked up and composted.

The other thing that I did today was start a new compost pile. I had a big pile of corn stalks, leaves, husks, and bad ears from when I pulled out about half of the corn plants the other day, plus some other weeds and some 13 buckets (5 of them had bad strawberries and some tomatoes in them, and there were a lot of corn cobs and husks in the buckets from the house, lol). The compost pile is still like half the size it needs to be to compost properly. #goals While I was building the pile, T did some walking around the garden all by himself (with pokemon go on his dad’s phone, of course). Yay for exercise and his sense of accomplishment! Boo for screen time.

The amount of rain we’re expected to get in this week’s storms has been decreased, thankfully. I’m still trying to figure out how the fava bed can be prepared so I can plant into it- it was chisel plowed but not raked, iirc.

Z is putting a lot of pressure on me to get the pumpkins sold. I guess we need a marketing person, lol. People are really not willing to pay very much for pumpkins. And the stores charge WAY too little for them!

view from northwest corner of garden includes grass on the road around it!
Grass is visible on road around the garden (far right) after last week’s rains

 

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!

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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.

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“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.

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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!

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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