Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Cedar Waxwing

I looked out my kitchen window this morning to find a whole flock of these birds in the bird garden.  I managed to snap this shot before they all flew away.  The bird wasn't listed in my bird guide, but I was able to find it pretty quickly.  A Cedar Waxwing.  Absolutely beautiful!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 1st Garden Update

June 1st and the garden is rolling.  Zucchini in the foreground and butternut squash on the other side.  This bed didn't do well last year, and as a result, I didn't get much squash.  I'm hoping that my winter clean-out and a pile of fresh new veggie mix soil has fixed the problem!

I'm growing half the pole beans I've grown in the past.  It's not that I can't find a home for them all, it's that they are very time consuming to pick.  With plans to do craft shows this summer, I don't have time to spend hours picking pole beans every three days.  So I'm hoping this 4' long trellis of beans will spark the right balance between having yummy beans without devoting my life to the cause.

I'm also growing fewer tomatoes.  Only 6 plants this year.  I usually grow twice that, though I have to preface that comment.  Every year for one reason or another, I've lost about 4 of my plants.  So gambling that all 6 will do well this year (and early signs are positive), I will only be a couple plants short of what I've grown in the past.  Again, trying to free up some of the time I spend harvesting in the summer.

I was smart this year and put netting over my pepper plants the minute they went in the ground.  Last year, birds demolished most of them.  I just took the netting off, as they are mature enough that the birds should leave them alone.  I've already got a couple of them flowering.  I'm growing the standard bells, and Lipstick, a small-sized sweet pepper.

Had good broccoli and cabbage this year.  Though the main crowns have been harvested, I've got a few plants that are still producing side shoots.  I'll leave them growing until the bugs take them over and the heat ruins them.  I'm thinking I should have another 4 weeks with these.  Then I'll have to find something to plant in this bed mid-summer.  Still pondering that one!  I might put a snow pea teepee here and go for late summer peas.

The shallots I planted in November are about 4 weeks from harvest.

Man, I have never had a clematis grow this big. It must be in a happy place.

This plant is from one nasturtium seed. Last year, I planted an entire packet in this spot. It was like a bad 50's horror movie, "Attack of the 50ft Nasturtium!" Shows how deceiving those tiny little seeds can be. I am smarter now. I let one orange and one yellow grow this year. Even these will probably consume my path before the summer is over.

I did not have tomatoes this early last year. I think it's going to be another good tomato season! We deserve it after all those cold summers.

These wine barrels have been three years of trial and failure.  Tomatoes did not do well here.  Neither did herbs.  I think I've hit the jackpot with sunflowers.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Garden Update

Started my tomato and pepper seeds about a month ago. They bolted before I could get them under lights and I had to restart, setting me back a couple weeks. But I've learned not to sweat the calendar too much. In a good 30-45 days, they should all be ready to plant outdoors.

I planted bok choi in one of my barrels and it's doing really well. I'll be overrun in another 2-3 weeks. Best thing about the barrels, the slugs keep out!

And my spring broccoli and cabbage that I started from seed 1/1 then transplanted about a month ago is really taking off. I brought in all new dirt in the garden this year and they are responding well. I will get a good crop that will last me through June.

We had good rain last night, so I planted some dwarf sunflower seeds in my other two wine barrels.  I haven't had much luck in the barrels other than bok choi in the spring.  We'll see how the sunflowers do.  They are another plant that gets devastated by slugs no matter how hard I try to fight them.  It will be a win/win if I can get the flowers to do well in the barrels where the slugs can't get to them.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Spring Preparation

Broccoli and cabbage seeds are incubating in my workshop. They are a couple weeks old and my plan is to plant them 3/1 providing we aren't expecting any serious freezes.

Spring seedlings means I have to start thinking about prepping the garden for planting. Today I spent the day excavating this bed. It's my "sick bed". The one that has never done as well as the other two. I theorized the problem was that the layer of gravel under these beds--here from when the space had been lawn--was thicker under this bed than the others. A small amount of gravel, good for drainage. Too much gravel, you're trying to grow over a parking lot.

So, today was spent excavating down to the native soil underneath. I'll haul in fresh veggie mix soil from my favorite supplier later. Crossing my fingers all the back breaking I did today was worth it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall Garden Update

Fall solstice isn't a bad time to check in on how the garden grows. The carrots and pole beans are gone, but the tomatoes and peppers are in full swing.

I planted 12 tomatoes this year in 6 different varieties.  My Juliets and Cherokee Purple did the best, but that's because they're in the bed to the far right.  Clearly, I've got strange nutrient problems going on in my garden.  You can see the difference between the tomatoes growing in the three beds.  The left are thriving and outgrowing their 7' stakes.  The ones in the middle, not quite so much.  The ones to the right are downright pathetic.  So, despite my efforts to "throw everything at" my soil, like leaves and steer manure and purchased compost, I've got nutrient deficiencies I'm going to have to deal with come spring and hopefully revive my beds.

Nothing in this bed to the far right is performing like it should.  The plants are showing signs of nitrogen deficiency, and my effort at weekly doses of fish emulsion haven't helped.  I am going to have to bring in a good veggie mix from Wheeler Zamaroni to get this one back performing again.

Aside from that, my other beds are doing pretty darned good.  I'll have these cucumbers producing through Halloween if the weather holds up.  And this year, I didn't get one bitter one to speak of.  The new brand I bought, Corinto, from Johnny's Seeds was way better than what I had last year.  It's a good variety if you're looking for a plain old cucumber.

Despite getting attacked badly by birds in the spring, these bell peppers have been producing great.  I grew standard Ace bells, then a sweet smaller pepper called Lipstick.  Love them both, so much so that they'll be a staple in all future gardens.  They don't come out as large as what you find in the store, but the flavor is much more intense.  (And nice to eat a bell pepper that didn't come coated in that waxy crap).

What you can barely see here is my attempt at a fall planting of carrots.  I lost a number of seedlings because I don't think my water was getting to all of them.  I also find fall is a harder time to get carrots than spring.  I try anyway, because it always seems like a waste to leave a space empty when the weather is still warm.

I didn't plant broccoli seeds early enough to start my own, but I did find some starts at Friedman's.  I've just got 4 plants, which will be enough for a quick fall harvest--if I can keep the bugs off them.  The downside of fall plantings are the bugs are in full swing, much more so than in the late winter when everything's too chilly.

And in my "sick" bed, I am still managing to get some butternut squash.  They're small, which is actually perfect, since I'm the only one in the house that will eat it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My "Other" Home Office

A new friend asked me to share pictures of my workshop.  Giddy me, ran out with my camera because you all know how much I love photographing my world, LOL.

The workshop, tucked among the jungle that is my August veggie garden.

This canopy is new--another $80 purchase I probably shouldn't have made.  But I love it!  I've now got a shady outdoor space where I can work on those 100 degree days when the shop is too hot.  It's also a great space to do the concrete and grouting, which can be messy.

The employee break room.

I keep my tiles in these recycled Louis Rich Deli Turkey containers.  Here in earthquake country, keeping my tiles in glass jars isn't an option, though I think if the big one hits I'll still end up with a giant mess on my hands.

The back wall.

The work bench that started it all.

Sadly, I did have to devote one wall to gardening equipment.

The view from my workbench.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Garden Update

I'm trying to figure out what the problem is with this bed. It's strange to me that I can build three beds in a row, from the same ground, using the same materials. They get the same sunlight and exposure, same amendments, and I've rotated my crops around equally. Yet this one most definitely has nutrient deficiencies.

The squash and tomatoes are both showing signs of nitrogen and mineral deficiency.  And though my zucchini appears fine, it's not producing as much fruit as it should be.

I've been blasting this bed with weekly douses of fish emulsion and it seems to be helping.  Hope I can salvage what's growing here this year.

Everywhere else, I've got lively productive plants.  Tomatoes are in abundance, and I've got the first few turning red.  Moskvich and Juliets are the first to ripen.

Lots of cucumbers on their way.  Looking forward to that as I'm eating lots of salads and still buying them from the store.

I've discovered it is possible to overplant nasturtium.  I have literally been pulling this stuff out because it's gotten huge and is taking over everything near it.  This patch is the only one I"m now letting go.

Carrots are getting close to harvest time. I'll be planting more where I pulled out late spring broccoli later in August.

Pole beans are doing their usual climb to infinity.  Even though they've got a taller trellis this year, they're still outgrowing it.  I'm just now getting flowers and hope to have beans soon.  I was harvesting last year at this time.  It seems everything in the garden except for tomatoes is running a little later than last year.

Looks like I'm going to have plenty of peppers this year, hopefully.  My pepper plants got decimated by birds early on.  So much so that I had to go out and buy pepper plants to replace some of the ones lost.

If I ever needed a reminder to keep growing my own plants, this would be it.  Here are the pepper plants I purchased from Home Depot.  They aren't dead, but they certainly aren't as vibrant as the plants I grow on my own.

These are the pepper plants that survived the bird attack.  Even though they have been stunted from the pinching off of branches, they are much more healthy and vibrant than the store bought.  Looks like I won't be abandoning my practice of seed starting any time soon.