Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Garden Updates

Today started off with thunderstorm that hit right at 8:45 with light rain till after 11. Wouldn't have known it was coming except I saw TN send out a severe weather alert on their pager system.

Days are to maturity, Dates are assuming 7 days to germinate.

First time I've used sticks & strings to keep my rows straight :)

Sweet Corn:
Hrmmm...I have 9 days between maturity for Silver Queen & Incredible, it's recommended you have 14 days to avoid cross pollination (which does affect taste in corn), but I'll try minimizing issues by planting Early Choice in between.

14" wide double row, 1' between seeds. Row lengths below.

Silver Queen: 92 Days, 9/6, 12'
Early Choice: 67 Days, 8/12, 16'
Incredible: 83 Days, 8/28, 12'

Second double row of corn, same spacing as above.

This is more "row" and less "block" then I'd like, but the big heapin' pile of manure in the middle mostly covered with mulch kind of precluded an ideal spacing. I'll have to watch the pollination.

Speaking of mulch...

Scored this at the dump -- I think it was residential grass, but it might as well have been hay. Maybe weedier then straw, but's cheap :)

Did the straw potatoes with it. Also got two more loads -- one leaves, one grass clippings. After hilling the leaf mulch taters with some, the rest went to cover the manure pile.

Still need another truck load of mulch to finish covering the manure.

This should be the last year I have a load put right onto the garden. I shouldn't have an pressing needs next spring, so I'll have that load put on the lawn and I'll haul mulch to cover it and turn into compost in place. I figure if I mulch it once in the spring, then rake the good stuff off and mulch the rest again in fall it'll all pretty well be ready by the following spring.

Turnips & Tomatoes. Bit nervous seeing how big the turnip tops are getting, but they should be ready to harvest in a couple, three weeks.

The mounds will be summer squash.

I'm going to trying making a row cover for them -- I have floating row cover, want to use some scrap black plastic pipe and sticks to make a simple frame to hold it off the plants. I'm aiming to plant maybe 3rd week of June, keep them under cover till mid-July to reduce Squash Bug & Squash Vine Borer pressure.

Rhubarb did really poorly this year. Not sure if I hadn't given them enough manure / compost in the past, too much weed competition, or as I worried about last June -- they wore themselves out. Last June wasn't that hot and we had a lot of rain and the Rhubarbs kept producing until real late in the season (early July?) Normally they wilt long before they did last year. Well manured and mulched now :)

Planning to haul in more manure and mulch to make a really nice bed to expand the Asparagus next year -- I figure I can fit at least 12 more plants by filling out the area between the daylillies and rhubarb, plus a small area behind them.

Planted along the trellis' outside left are dry bush beans:
Jacob's Cattle [OSV seeds]: 85 Days, 8/23; "Harvest when 90% of leaves have fallen and pods are dry; pull entire plant and hang under cover to finish"
Soldier's Bush [OSV seeds]: Not specified; "Harvest when 90% of leaves have fallen and pods are dry; pull entire plant and hang under cover to finish"

I plan to put some kidney beans on the outside left, just ran out of energy today (oh hell, I'll be lucky to able to move tomorrow when I wake up!)

Not in frame, to the right along the fence went the string(less) beans:
Golden Butterwax (Yellow bush): 56 Days, 8/2
Long Tendergreen (Green bush): 52 Days, 7/29

Also planted at each upright (alternating) of the trellis were gourds:
Birdhouse: 120 Days, 10/7 (Local co-op sells these with a hole cut in the side for birdhouses @ $15!)
Ornamentals: "Gather before frost"

On the outside of the fence went summer squash:
Black Beauty Zucchini: 50 Days, 7/26
Early Summer Crookneck: 45 Days, 7/21
Golden Girl: 40 Days, 7/16

Mounds go Crookneck -- Zuke -- Golden Girl -- Z -- C -- Z -- G -- C
(There's also three more mounds not pictured by the asparagus bed).

I think the onions are doing well. Some mulched with leaves, some with straw. Used some straw to mulch the lettuce.

Spinach is doing well. Definitely need to plant that earlier next year.

No good pictures of them, also planted:
Winter Squash:
Waltham Butternut: 95 Days, 9/10
Table Queen Acorn: 85 Days, 9/3
Planted around the potato patch, we'll see it works running their vines by the tater tops.

Connecticut Field Pumpkin: 120 Days, 10/7 (Adjacent to manure pile; these are for decoration so I'm not worried about contamination.)

I also planted between the summer squash mounds Blue Hubbard seeds -- they're a great trap crop for Squash Bugs. In a couple weeks I'll plant another round by the corn rows, again to hopefully attract Squash Bugs, SVBs, and Cucumber Beetles away from their normal meals.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday Lunch

Taking a break between rounds in the garden today (it's in the low 80s!)

My garden's spinach and scallion greens, with three medium eggs from a local backyard flock. Couple thin slices of Muenster cheese. Store bought tomatoes...should've skipped them. The rest was simply perfect. Oscar ended up getting half the 'maters and an english muffin out of this.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chicken, Rice, and Greens

First time cooking turnip greens, probably first time I've eaten them. The answer is: tastes like spinach!

Garden Asparagus & Turnip Greens, plus store bought Broccoli steamed. Asparagus was picked a week ago but has keeping excellent in a glass of water (think flower vase), a trick Mom showed me last week. Asparagus & Broccoli in the steamer for 3 minutes, then add the turnip greens (tear the leaves from the main stem) for five more (total of 8 minutes). Turned off the burner and left it in for a few minutes while I finished the chicken.

Store bought chicken, grilled on the George Foreman.

Texmati brand brown rice.

Bit of Sweet & Sour sauce. Thinking it would've been better with just a little bit of butter for the rice & veggies, with either a fresh squeeze of lemon or a teaspoon or two of lemon sauce for the chicken.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We're mulching

Not that much done this weekend -- had to work at the data center with three co-workers moving servers from 11pm to 2:30am, was 4am Sunday before I went to bed. So I didn't push myself Saturday and spent most of Sunday asleep!

Taters before:

Had some nice leaf litter at the dump today I picked up for mulch. Ended up with three loads of leaves and 1/2 load of grass clippings.

Also bought a bale of straw...$8.75 plus tax. I think the sales tax is new?

So I'm alternating "straw" and "leaf" mulched taters (I'll also shovel in the soil to mix it into the hills). Interested in seeing if one works better then the offer. Especially if free leaf mulch works better :D

I won't used the grass immediately next to my veggies since I don't know what chemicals may have been applied. But it's great for compost and/or creating compost or mulching un-planted areas in my garden.

Two loads of leaves on the Blueberries. Yeah, I gotta mow :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Few more pics

As usual, click to see larger versions.

Was able to go play in the garden for a bit this afternoon. Rainy week, but it was OK working conditions this afternoon. It was actually too dry to hoe Saturday!

Spinach coming up nicely.

Oscar inspecting things.

Volunteer bean from last year coming up in the onions.

Today's intern.

Onions were planted exactly one month ago -- April 17th! Wow.

Garlic is coming up.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Mother of All Garden Updates

I normally don't worry about planting till we're well into the May 20-somethings if not Memorial Day weekend. Besides frost, I don't think things like maters and eggplants really do anything till it gets warmer.

But I have to go into work next Saturday from 11pm to 3am (we're moving computer servers while no one is using them) that's going to shoot next weekend to heck.

Decided it's been a warm spring, rain predicted all week will keep the frost away, full moon next week, all signs say it's safe.

So up to Putnam's Farmer's Co-op where I get most of my stuff. Did stop at Hart's afterwards to pick up a few things -- esp. eggplant that the co-op didn't have. At the Co-op Charlie the manager was telling one of the customers (after stopping his kid from playing with scale they use to weigh seed) that the scale was there when he started in 1970. I wonder how many tons that hanging scale has measured over the years.

On the way home from Putnam I stopped to grocery shopping.

I see "Arvi" as a license plate on a car pulling into a spot, hey I know that one! It's my aunt Gert (her husband was Arvid, named after my grandfather...though everyone called him Donald day to day). Got to park right next to her.

They were the most into their garden / small farm of my aunts & uncles growing up, and my parents frequently went visiting there. (Plus they had a pool on hot summer days!)

They had a big garden, and many evenings I'd be reading through their Organic Gardening magazines in the late 70s while my mom & dad were in the other room visiting. Plus they had sheep and a cow (and a fridge full of raw milk) and Old English Sheepdogs, and a tractor and a diesel pickup truck and no sink in the upstairs bathroom (you used the faucet in the tub!) Such a cool place to visit. One of their daughters taught me about electric fences (as a five year old, you can keep yourself entertained for a *shockingly* long time hold a long, fresh of grass up to the fence...the cool thing is you see the grass jump faster then your nerves can carry the sensation of shocking to your brain!)

Got to chit chat with her a bit as we walked in and started shopping. Also found out she likes to make tomato wine -- something I had never heard about before, but so fits. I remember one time as a kid going over when her and the daughters were trying to clean up from the disastrous experiment of making maple syrup on the stove...maple syrup was fine, but the condensing steam had left a tacky layer of sugar all over the kitchen, into the cabinets, etc! That took them weeks to get everything clean again.

Neat timing for a gardening day to run into one of the folks who, while they probably don't realize it, had a big influence on how I view how a home should be.

Let's see...
6 pack of Celebrity Tomatoes
6 pack of Big Boy Tomatoes
6 pack of Early Girl
4 pack of Cucumbers (I've had a long standing problem with my cukes succumbing to insects before I get a decent harvest...this is the first time I've tried seedlings though. Maybe they'll mature before the bugs!)
6 pack of Black Beauty Eggplant (Hart's)
6 pack of Blue Hubbard Squash (it's a trap crop -- Squash Bugs *love* it and will head to that before anything else, so you can concentrate on destroying the bugs on those plants, and when it builds up pretty high just dispose of the plant and bugs and all) (Hart's Greenhouse)
1 4" Bush-style Cucumber (Hart's)
1 4" Early Girl Tomato
1 4" Mortgage Lifter Tomato

Oddly, neither Putnam nor Hart's had Beefsteak Tomatoes.

Also picked up Connecticut Field Pumpkin, Early Summer Crookneck Squash, Golden Girl Summer Squash, Waltham Butternet seeds, and Table Queen Acorn Squash seeds ... to be planted.

Oh, and a stirrup hoe! I used that hoe later in the day...I really liked it's action! They had two models, the heads were almost identical. The one for $24 was riveted to the handle, while the $28 used bolts -- I figured for the extra $4 it would be a lot easier to replace the handle if necessary in the future.

And Miracid for my blueberries. It's the only non-organic (or close to it) fertilizer I use, one box that size will last two or three years for my blueberries.

Mumsey's Mix is something revered at the organic gardening forum I hang out at.

The bowl, if you're curious, was a cookie tin (plastic?) from the supermarket store-brand cookies. Mix 2 parts Bone Meal, 2 parts Corn Meal, 1 part Epsom Salt, 1 part Powdered Milk. 1/2 cup in each hole when planting (stir it into the soil). Maybe a side dressing late in the June-ish. I was kind of grumbling that the ingredients added up to about $25 (the milk was $11!) but this is probably enough to cover my needs for two or three years...the milk probably five or six.

I'm running a side-by-side trial. For the six packs, I gave the "odds" (1,3,5) Mumsey's Mix. Plants 2, 4, 6 didn't get it.

That should make for a very good field trial with plants growing side-by-side in the same conditions except mix or not.

Pictures aren't the best since it was really cloudy and after 7pm by the time I took them.

The tater are on the left...the mounds aren't the hills, it's the dirt that will be hilled back onto them. I'm also planning on putting a layer of straw on top of them too.

I planted the Eggplants next to the taters.

The row with posts (with a one or two more posts still to put up) is the main tomato row.

Doesn't show up well in the pic, but I sowed turnips a few weeks ago and did the initial thinning today. I'll thin them again for greens later this week down to one turnip in each spot. I figure they'll be done before the 'maters are big enough to compete for resources.

I forget who it was at the organic gardening forum that I learned this way to stake tomatoes from. Put in the T and U posts, and run baling twine between them. I only put up one short length so far...the 4" pot Early Girl needed some support. And that's used twine I took down last year! Since I have a 4500' spool, that should be a lifetime supply for me (they sell 2 x 4500' for about $25 IIRC at Tractor Supply...gave the other roll to a friend for his kids to use as play string)

Again, not a great photo due to poor light.

Dropped the trellises for the peas, but I still need to stake and tie them down this week.

The onions were looking really flaccid so I asked on the organic garden board and they said they were just thirsty. I've never had onions looking this nice, this consistently, this early before so I didn't have a personal baseline to compare them to.

I hauled down two 5 gallon buckets of water to give the onions a drink on Friday and they did perk up a bit. We have a 60% chance of showers everyday till next Saturday, so I'm hoping to get away with not hauling down the hoses quite yet!

Garden is built on gravel fill (bad soil, great sunlight), which is why I have the local dairy farm deliver a spreader load of manure each year to help build it up.

I used some of the rocks to edge a raised bed. That's proved to be a fiasco -- difficult to weed, can't mow next to it, weedwhacking goes through tons of string (since the rocks were it down). So I'm in the process of tearing it down so I'll be able to mow / hoe / cultivate with the tiller right up to the edge of the bed.

Couple cucumber mounds in the foreground.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I officially now worship Community...

The folks at Community gave us a Sergio Leon tribute with Alison Brie playing a bad ass...I bow to them. Best comedy on TV now.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What a nice day

Just an absolutely blue sky perfect day here, not to hot, not to cold...just right.

It even started off with the perfect bowl of strawberries & banana slices with corn flakes, with just the cheeriest sunbeams falling across it:

Picked the first batch of Asparagus this year, which I brought to mom:

Farmer Fred showed up with my annual load of manure:

Some of last year's now well rotted manure:

Cleaned out my raspberries:

Put some rotted manure around the Rhubarb, and the left over on the raspberries...need to finish giving them a treat another day:

Extended the row of beets, and put in the Leek & Rhubard Chard seeds (finally! Both should've been in a month ago, but they should do OK now):