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!

the raccoons dug along the drip tape ­čśŽ

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.

“You don’t even eat much squash!”

Tonight I picked 2 baskets of purple pole beans ­čÖé Sadly, they were mostly pretty big. I’m glad to be getting a good amount, since so few plants have survived.

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!

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

The in-laws rock out again

Z’s parents working in the tomatoes. Photo taken from bathroom ­čÖé

Yay, my in-laws helped me tie the tomatoes so they are up off the ground a bit. We tied some of the branches to the tomato cages (for the plants that had them) and they strung a u-or-v-shape between t-posts to try to hold the lower branches off the ground. Now I can weed, fertilize, and pull out dead leaves -time permitting!

Bartlett pears that we picked
Pears from trees that are in our garden

Z’s dad also got out there and picked just about 2 buckets of pears from the 3 trees that are in the garden. Pear season is on! And then, guess what? They went inside and cut up pears (a website recommended 1/4 to 1/2 an inch, but these were much thinner) and added some lemon juice (I got a ton of it at costco even tho it’s not organic, because i use it for cleaning the toilet), and put them into the dehydrator! So I need a vacuum sealer. Can’t afford to pay for a new one┬áunless I sell like $160 worth of produce 1st.

I got out a bit later and finished making the compost pile. T helped for a while – he loves to spray out the buckets. He made some rainbows in the air, too. It’s still a bit less than 2/3 the size that it needs to be, but it might be the biggest one I’ve ever made. I need to get some compost bins for storing it once it’s cooled down. That would keep the compost out of the sun and moist.

sunflowers- amazing height variations (probably different varieties as this was a mix)
Collard greens in a bed that has corn, beans, and calendula
Our beautiful collard plant

The (1st?) pea bed now has water lines (I straightened them this morning). I noticed that the line for the pea plants has to be on the same side as where the trellis netting meets the t-post so the plants are closer to the netting. That’s not the case this time.

I picked over a half a gallon of strawberries last night, and a huge Armenian cucumber, and some basil and dill. Today my father-in-law picked almost a half-gallon of ageing blackberries!

Yay for our garden!

some of the dino kale and dwarf green kale that I picked today

Today I harvested 3 cabbages, 3 kinds of kale kale (the kale is starting to bolt), dill, 3 kinds of basil, broccoli (including the kind of tight heads that one finds at the store) and broccoli greens, nearly 4 baskets of strawberries, a handful of Sungold cherry tomatoes, and a handful of onion greens. I picked 3 carrots to see what they were like- tiny and without roots. One was rotten halfway up the carrot. Too much water and too many gophers? Soil disease? Time will (or may) tell.

For dinner Z made pasta with sausages and pesto with our basil and a salad with cabbage, the neighbors’ lemon cucumbers, our dill, onion, garbanzo beans (gotta have ’em), and lemon juice.

My father-in-law picked a basket or two of blackberries, and my mother-in-law picked like 4 baskets of the old strawberries (how did she find that many?).

I ordered 40 yards of compost.


Can’t wait for Monday!

On Monday my kid’s school starts back up after a vacation. Hopefully I can get back into my morning-in-the-garden ritual and even turn it into 2 hours in the garden. (The trick is to eat breakfast and clean up before the kid goes to school).

My sister-in-law picked tons of strawberries and blackberries this week! Our freezer is even more stuffed full of berries than it was before! I checked today or yesterday and noticed that there are very, very few flowers. Am I going to keep watering those berries in hopes of a future harvest? Last year it was great to have berries the week of Thanksgiving. Do these plants produce like that in their 2nd year, as well as their first?

Last night (?) and tonight I planted more pumpkins- this time, in the middle of the south side. I’m noticing that a lot of the soybeans I planted are lying on the surface, like the soil pushed them out ­čśŽ A good amount of soil got scraped off by the tractor and it’s in a big pile that, from a distance, looks like it is only straw. There were 10 gopher mounds in one of the beds were I put pumpkins. And that’s before I even started planting!

The good news:

there are still a few Chandler (spring) strawberries, and they are really yummy! I managed to pick a combined basket of them and summer berries this evening. I got out later and picked 1/4 of a gallon of blackberries.


The next crop of Trilogy green bush beans is coming on. I’ve seen some rather large yellow ones. The Scarlet Runner beans have sprouted (is it too late in the season for them?).

There are broccoli and cabbages to pick.

Some not-so-good news:

To research: some branches came off of one of my tomato plants. This one was still sort of hanging on when I found it on Wednesday.

dried out and cracked tomato branch.

The raccoons continue to wreak havoc all over the garden – digging up beans, pumpkin seeds, and more. They are probably knocking over the corn plants, too.

I lost 2 more broccoli plants on Wednesday! I’ve noticed that a bunch of the old green bean plants have gone missing. I should probably pull the rest of them out. Z wants to save seed from them (I am imagining that they are hybrids, though).

signs of gopher (and snake?) activity very close to a bare patch where there used to be bush bean plants

There are so many weeds out there. Some of the beds are literally carpeted in lambsquarter, pigweed, and purslane. I need to be putting compost out to cover that soil! And I need to hoe!!! When can I??


Friends came to visit!

Yay, some friends stopped by on their way from Oakland to Oregon. We had lots of delicious strawberries available in the “old” patch, and they loved them!!!

I hoed the sunflowers some more today, and hoed near the pole bean bed (planted a packet last night). I think there’s a new gopher mound right next to the drip tape in the area I planted :(.

Red Noodle pole beans, iirc
how many of my seeds did the gophers dig up?

Today was not a good newer-strawberry harvest day. It’s been hot lately, and the summer berries have been focused on putting out runners for far too long. The Sweet Anns aren’t very tasty. Hoping to fertilize soon.

Tonight I transplanted some of the tray of organic Walla Walla onions that I got from a local seed/seedling company last weekend into the greens beds. The dill looks great! There are some zinnias coming up here and there.

I picked┬áa basket of green/purple/yellow (“Trilogy”) green beans tonight. I focused on picking the biggest ones- I haven’t done a thorough picking since the night I got the big bag of them. I think they are starting to slow down after only a week of production.

I haven’t been keeping track of Days to Maturity of various varieties of things that I’m planting from seed in multiple areas (corn, beans, sunflowers). Hope that doesn’t bite me in the butt come harvest time with a bunch of weird hybrids.

Sick kid=less garden time

I’ve been keeping up with picking the Chandler and summer strawberries and some compost turnings, but little else this week. My little sweetie pie missed 3 days of preschool due to being sick. And he’s been clingy!

Today he and his dad went to the park and grocery shopping, and I got out to the garden. I picked a quick basket of berries, then fertilized: the  corn and beans, the new strawberries, the tomatoes, the greens, the potatoes, and the old strawberries. Yay! Then I hoed the mostly unplanted new sunflower bed and part of the one I planted some 10 days ago. I was on the phone with my friend who was complaining that it was 82 in San Francisco (she was driving with air conditioning on). It got up to at least 87 here while I was out there, and was 80 inside until around 9pm.

The broccoli raab bolted really fast and I need to pull it out. The dino kale and the one collard plant that’s left from the winter look like they are about to bolt :(. One of the tomatillos is really huge! The chandlers are, I think, starting to slow down. We have missed a lot of really good berries in the old patch. At the end of the evening I got to plant 10 or 15 feet of sunflowers with T (I think he put about 15 seeds into a deep hole he dug, lol) and I tucked in a few melon seeds, too. I shouldn’t have stayed out until 8 because that did not help him to get to bed. I think I’ve reached peak evening garden time (and thus garden quantity time) and have to start coming in earlier to try to help get him to bed earlier. I’d really prefer to always be outside at sunset. ­čśŽ

Today Z finished prepping for 3 rows of winter squash/pumpkins. He was working on chisel plowing a bed or two on the south side when he sheared a bolt on the chisel plow and bent the top link on the tractor! Photos are all his. He thinks that he can probably still use the landscape rake, lol. It’s probably not a good idea! File that under #ridiculousthingsthathappen