The season that wasn’t

Oy, I’m so far behind. We got some rain in the last 2 weeks, so grass and weeds are happy.  Check out this canary grass that was in the garden.

canary grass. seems to be a species that indicates the presence of water. It was next to a spigot. This stuff can get to be like 7′ tall. 


It’s not the first and others have dropped seed :(. I cut the seedheads off of this one and brought it and a bunch of weeds from the fenceline that we share with the neighbors to the municipal compost bin last night. I spent a couple of hours mowing during mid-day, and I finished right when my neighborhood’s temperature peaked at 101. It hardly ever gets quite that hot here. The garden has been doing pretty okay with this heat wave, partly because I’ve been handwatering recent seedings and transplants.


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!

I need help! and more time.

I’ve been spending 1-2 hours in the garden each day, usually in the evening, which puts a lot of domestic pressure on my husband. It’s so weird that I call him my husband now, because I fully intended to always call him my partner. Things are a bit more conservative here in Sonoma County, as compared to where we got married – in Oakland. Anyhow, he doesn’t really have any time or energy for the garden these days. This is frustrating, since taking down last fall’s pea trellis has been a lengthy process for me (sickled and cut grass back from the trellis a week or two ago, and today I pulled the stakes out, but the trellis is twist-tied on at the base, and some of the trellis past the last stake is really stuck in the grass). I need this trellis for this spring’s peas!!!

Crappy photo taken at sunset of the part of the strawberry bed where I’ve been pulling dead leaves, runners, and fruit off and killing whatever slugs I can. Note red strawberry on plant on left. Some of them have cold damage, which I think is because I’ve pulled the weeds back a few inches from the strawberry plants and made room for cold air to enter and hang out in the bed.


Over the last 3-4 days I have spent (at least) 5.5 hours on pulling off dead/dying leaves and fruit and killing slugs and other bugs in the Seascape/Sweet Ann (2016) strawberry bed. I’m almost halfway down the bed. I really did not clean up the bed at the end of last year.

Also, I mowed 1.5 hours yesterday (around most strawberry beds, where new greens should be, around field edges, and a bit more of the mound that goes along the neighbors’ fence, which I spent about 2 hours on on Thurs or Fri). Mowing the mound last week was slow going because the plants were so tall and the bunch grasses were so thick and damp at their bases that the mower kept stalling. I want to plant perennials for foliage and filler up there. It’s over 200 feet (probably more like 280) and is over 6′ wide in some spots. The previous owner reportedly tried to plant bushes there, but they didn’t do well. The grass is always very happy there, and the curly dock, too.

Seedlings in greenhouse are doing well (no sign of lemon balm, only  1 onion germinated, not sure about the larkspur or the lavender or rosemary). The greens are ready to transplant. I guess I need to get some 4″ pots or something :/ 

Some rain is predicted for Monday and Tuesday. We have already received 60.05 inches of rain since October 1st. Our average annual rainfall is 36.28, so this is pretty catastrophic. Be glad you can’t smell my neighbors’ septic system, the vapors from which get blown into my garden. I have multiple chemical sensitivity, so the combination of their personal, laundry, and dish products (along with poop) really kicks my butt.

Meanwhile, there’s a gathering of an agricultural organization that I’ve paid to be a member of on Monday. It starts before my husband should be home from work (hopefully he can leave early), and my child, who I was hoping to bring with me, has a cough.

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.


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)
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

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.


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??


Lots of weird bugs

Today I think I found a mystery mint family plant next to the summer strawberry bed. Hoping it’s lemon balm. I didn’t try smelling or tasting it. It’s probably from sometime when T and I were out planting seeds in the summer strawberry bed. Sometimes he prefers to plant outside of the bed. There’s a lot of bindweed and purslane. I haven’t been spending much time over there, as you can tell.

probably lemon balm
lemon balm?

I keep finding weird bugs everywhere, so I have started a photo album of pests in our garden. Today I think I found a lygus bug in the Chandlers. DOH!

lygus bug?

I guess I need to figure out what plants the damsel bug likes! Apparently it shows up later in the season.

tomatillo plant- lots of things have been eating leaves, including what looks like leafminers

Check out these gorgeous summer strawberries! I think they are sweet anns. there are a lot of big ones coming along!

beautiful summer strawberries

Tonight I picked 2 baskets of Chandlers. I weeded a lot and pulled off all the runners I could find. That plus a tour of most of the garden took an hour and a half! I didn’t get to pick old berries because we were trying to get T to bed

a busy week!

I had to check what I wrote in my last post, since it’s been a while!

I did a bit of digging and probably doubled the length of Z’s potato bed, but never got around to putting in a longer line of drip tape and planting. I was going to work on digging this morning, but then Z pointed out that mowing would be a good idea. I think I cut more than half of the grass in the garden bed area. While I was out there, I realized that the winter greens could go in the northwest 1/8th of the garden. So we should get cover crops in there soon. I also mowed where we want to put tomatoes, and alongside the newer strawberry beds 🙂

Z did some chisel plowing this afternoon. Even after 2 or 3 passes, the beds still need a lot of work. Like rototilling work. There are humongous clods and there’s no actual bed to plant in :(. I wish we could leave it this way. Maybe for some cover crops, but not for flowers or veggies! Hopefully we can get the potato situation dealt with and get water onto some of these beds so we can plant stuff. This is a holiday weekend, so by Sunday or Monday there probably won’t be many good seedlings left at the stores. Maybe this gives me a few days to get things ready before buying more plants (?). I also don’t have a potassium-rich fertilizer for pre-planting (for the tomatoes and ‘taters).

a garden bed that has been chisel plowed. Note the huge clods of dirt. I think maybe this bed could be for pole beans

On Friday I did some fertilizing (with Biomin Booster 153). The older corn and beans had been looking pretty stressed. I guess I put kind of a lot on the strawberries (though I ran out about 80% of the way thru the old strawberries, oops). The summer berries had been looking stressed.

I spent so much time this week pulling strawberry runners! I swear that you can pull a couple off a plant and then 2 plants later you can look back and the 1st plant has more runners. The summer plants look like they are slowing down their runner production. I kept too many of them, but I guess I can thin later. Those are probably famous last words that led me last year to have a bed that looks like this:

Old strawberry bed. The green grass in the background has already dried out and was mowed on Saturday

I think my newer plantings of strawberries’ roots are too shallow. It’s pretty easy to pull a whole (what do you call it?) section of a plant off when I’m just trying to break a runner off near the plant. I should be using one of those little pairs of scissors that people use for trimming herb, shouldn’t I? I actually do have such a pair, but it’s in a hard-to-get-to place in the house.

The latest planting of beans and corn has emerged. It’s past time to plant more!

corn and beans seedlings. Note end of grey kitty’s tail in front left

It’s amazing how much the weeds can differ from one bed to another. There is so much pigweed around the corn and beans. Thankfully I haven’t seen much in the strawberries. Bindweed is terrible everywhere.  There is some bermudagrass at the end of the bean bed. I have been pulling it out and putting it on a gopher mound to make it visible so I could put it into the green waste bin. I think I forgot to do that and mowed it this morning. D’oh!

Most of the greens that I planted last week are still there, but haven’t grown much – except for the Fordhook Giant chard! I think Z ran over some greens with the tractor tires – we’ve been trying to get the potato bed to go in-between the greens.

It’s hard to explain just how dry the soil is out there. After I mowed today, I went out with a rake and tried to cover a lot of the bare soil (from old and new gopher activity) with some of the cut grass.

We’re getting a new neighbor!

While I was hoeing alongside the Chandlers this morning I talked with the… uncle? of the couple next door who have kids around T’s age. He was mowing the field next to ours because his son has bought the place, had the front house fixed up (I noticed this winter that a dude was there fixing it up all the time and the family had moved into a single-wide trailer), and will be moving in. They have a kid T’s age, and one who’s around 3 years older. He seemed to dismiss the possibility of T and the kid playing together cuz she’s a girl. We’ll see. Though I don’t know about him playing on the roundup-ed swingset, which was installed months ago. Well, I haven’t seen anyone spraying around it in months.

He asked if I wanted him to spray the blackberries that are along the chainlink fence between our 2 properies. I told him that we’ll dig them out. He’s all, “I hate these things.” It doesn’t matter – it’s not your property. I told him that for organic (certification) I’d have to not include anything grown within 50 feet of the fence. I’m sure he doesn’t care and if we don’t deal with it first thing in the morning we’ll have a problem. I should have dealt with it today, but I didn’t get that much time outside tonight and I wanted to work on my hoeing some more. I noticed that the mattock is in the well house with the tools that I use most frequently, so that’s convenient.

After dinner, I got outside to the old strawberries and managed to pick about a half a basket. The sun had pretty much set, so we’ll see what they look like in the morning. I’m not going to deal with them now. I haven’t been eating any all week because Z tends to bring in berries that are mushy. 😦

The beans are emerging nicely. I should find the edamame seeds and pop them in. The raccoons discovered that bed last night:

evidence of digging, most likely by raccoons

If you look closely, you’ll see a lot of bindweed, some cheeseweed mallow, some grass, and maybe a wild radish. I have been waiting to weed until I am more sure if any of the flowers or herbs we planted are going to come up. I have a real problem with recognizing them in the seedling stage, though!

In other beds I’ve also got lots of (curly?) dock, redroot pigweed, still some lambsquarters, that thing that could be wild chamomile, purslaine, that thing that gets really long and woody (no idea what it is), more grass, and maybe some chickweed still. Also a few bristly oxtongue, some prickly lettuce, and another broadleaf weed whose name I always forget.

Another thing I did today was pull at some of the 5-foot-plus grass that’s starting to lean from the garlic bed into the Chandlers. I always get a cut on my hand when I do that, and I’ve got little bits of something embedded in my skin.

More strawberry weeding

I’ve spent the last few days’ garden time hoeing and weeding (mostly) the new strawberries. Work on removing old leaves continues in the old strawberries. For some reason I took this picture before I removed a bunch of grass at the edge of them:


We’ve been getting about a basket per day. The ones that I picked on Friday (?) were so delicious when we ate them on Saturday. Tonight we drank some frozen ones that Zak blended.

You can see that I overfertilized the summer strawberries:


After the .7 inches of rain we got on Friday I was hesitant to do much other work on the bedprep, and the last 2 days have been very windy…

Soil too wet again! Rotting berries

Well, I got out there tonight and pulled flowers off of the newer berries. i tried to pull some weeds but the soil is so hard that i can’t get all the ones that are close to the plants.

Although the soil in the old bed is so wet that berries are rotting:

last year’s seascape strawberries. not as good/edible as they look at the moment

The soil in the newer berries is cracking. We had a bit of rain last night and today.