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

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

 

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

Started planting the greens!

I’m running about a week behind last year, but hopefully these plants will do ok. I put in a 6-pack of Tuscan kale and a 6-pack of Red Russian kale today.

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I found this interesting bug – a Harlequin bug – in the old broccoli today. Apparently it is yet another kind of stink bug: onions, potatoes, and corn that were harvested on 8/27 I have quite a few different kinds, mostly in the strawberries. Good thing I’m using row cover (so far) to keep the raccoons (and stink bugs?) out of the new greens bed.

orange and black bug with a distinctive orange cross marking on its back and weird black spots in the orange areas
Harlequin cabbage bug (a stink bug)
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unidentified stink bug. note 2 sets of 2 spots towards its back

Now I’m getting all depressed about all the bugs I’ve got. The garden looks nice, though, doesn’t it? Weeds, dill, calendula, (zinnias?), broccoli flowers, and all. You can see light purple cosmos in back 🙂20160825_112014.jpg

I took a bunch of other photos this week. I guess some are on flickr, which I believe shows in one of the side columns on this page.

Tonight I harvested nearly 3 baskets of strawberries; one basket of mostly San Marzanos (and a few other sauce tomatoes), a basket of Sungold cherry tomatoes, and I helped harvest nearly a gallon of tomatillos. The inlaws, Z, and T harvested potatoes, corn, and onions (from in the broccoli bed) while I took a nap!

onions, potatoes, and corn that were harvested on 8/27 sitting on a table outside our house with laundry visible hanging on the line. Harold, T, and me

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)

Pumpkins are growing!

Tonight I planted the first peas of the season. Yay!

Please tell me that this is a Cinderella pumpkin! I think that’s what it should be.

a small pumpkin that's growing in our garden
hopefully a young Cinderella pumpkin
Kakai pumpkin
I sure hope there isn’t any cross-breeding with 2nd generation hybrids that are across the driveway!
these might be orange tomatoes
tomatoes!

The in-laws rock out again

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

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 unless 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.

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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!

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 😦 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.

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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.

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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).

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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??

 

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.