Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Garden Report: April 9, 2011 (Picture heavy!)

It has been a very busy few weeks out there in the garden! Lots of digging and trenching and moving and planting! And this morning, I got up ridiculously early – a combination of the husband’s Blackberry whistling and alerting and carrying on due to production job load failures (awesome) and our alarm inexcusably going off (does it not know that this is Saturday?!), and I found myself wandering around my kitchen at the crack of dawn looking for something to do that was, you know, quiet.

And then I thought, Taking pictures of your garden and blogging about it is quiet!

So here it is…my kingdom!


(I really need to remember to take before pictures. You could barely see the play equipment for the weeds a few weeks ago.)

The first little bed is spinach; it was just planted a little over a week ago, and is starting to send up the first sprouts.


This is why I don’t let anybody else weed in this bed right now – this SO looks like grass / a weed, doesn’t it?!

Right next door are some Blue Lake bush beans. They were planted right around the same time, but are much happier – I suspect they don’t mind the boomeranging temperatures we’ve had over the last ten days (50 one day, 70 the next, 50 again, 80, mid-40s…).


Behind them, all along the fence, are the omnipresent (at least, when the weather is on the cooler side) peas.


We love us the fresh peas around here.

This is a big old bed of broccoli.


And their neighbors, the carrots…


I spent some extra time getting the carrot bed ready this year; I dug down a good 12” (oooooh, mah achin’ back!), broke things up and churned them around, then built up those extra-high hills of extremely loose, sifted dirt. Using this extremely high tech device:


What I’m hoping for is longer, straighter carrots. Hahahahahahaha! Yeah, right. But, last year we got a lot of carrots that were beautiful and straight for about 3-4”, and then got all stunted and weird and twisted, because they hit the cement clay. So, we’ll see if I actually get anything for all that extra work.

And at the end of this row, the not-dead artichokes.


Now with actual artichokes!


Now, if you turn around, you’ve got the Bonus Bean Towers we found in the shed last weekend. There are Kentucky pole beans planted all around their bases; we’ll see how they work out. We’ve got what should be about a 30’ row planted in this itty-bitty bed…if it works, this is an awesome space saver. (If it doesn’t, well, we’ll always wish it had, right?)


Next door, we have a couple rows of hot peppers…


…and back toward the patio, three (3) crummy hills of summer squash. (Yeah. “Only” three. Which will probably produce about 3,000 pounds of squash.)


Now, if we turn left, we see AAAAAAAH, HOLY CRAP, WHAT *IS* ALL THAT?!?!


Oh. It’s the brush pile. Heh heh. Yeah. Weeeeeeeeeeee…need to deal with this. At some point.

This is my new compost “system,” which is (obviously) a project in progress for the husband.


Eventually, it’ll go like this: Stuff from the worm composter, yard waste and all that groovy jazz will go into the tumble-composter for a couple weeks for a “fast-hot start.” Then it gets dumped at the far end of the compost bed. The movement goes down the line, with the “finished” stuff taken out at the far end, and Everything Else turned toward said far end as we go.

What’s going on here is a whole lot of staging areas; eventually, that bit at the end will have a built in sifter, just high enough that the wheelbarrow can get under it, but not so high that I have to lift a shovel, you know, up over my head or anything crazy like that.

Anything that doesn’t sift out goes back to the beginning of the ride for a repeat; the good stuff goes on out to wherever it’s wanted.

Oh. And meanwhile, we’ve got some ‘bonus’ potatoes growing in there.


SURPRISE!!! We had planted white potatoes in that bed – which failed miserably, by the way – last year. Then we said, “Meh, nothing ever seems to do well in this bed, it must be too shady or whatever, HEY, I KNOW! Let’s make it the compost bed!!

…and then the white potatoes went, Hey, waitasecond, I KNOW WHAT WE FORGOT TO DO LAST YEAR!

There were a lot more of them, but guess what? Cutworms + Earwigs + Borers, oh my! We have an infestation that is bordering on Biblical in proportions, actually; you night notice some white powdery stuff sprinkled all over the place in these pictures – it’s diatomaceous earth. Hopefully, it will give my poor plants a chance to survive.

We also have some ‘surprise’ Blue Nile potatoes. Again, our yields last year were extremely “meh” on those…but by golly, I missed a couple.


I’m very curious to see how these do, yield-wise. The ones I missed had to be pretty darned small, and generally you want to use your “best” ones for seed potatoes.

Sticking with potatoes, we’ll jump inside for a second so I can show you The Potato Posse:


These are Pontiac red and Russet potatoes, two of each. Aren’t they awesome?! They all started out like this one…


…which is apparently a slow-bloomer or something, and I’ve been building up their dirt as they’ve grown. When the weather has become more stable, I’ll go ahead and (gently) move these out along the front walkway to greet people…they make beautiful houseplants, though, don’t they?!

Meanwhile, back in the back-back-back, the blackberries are actually starting to resemble the beginnings of a bramble.


The bing cherry is going to town, baby!


…unfortunately, it’s pollinating side-kick the Ranier…isn’t as happy.


Looks like half of the grafting didn’t take; it had blossoms on the “live” side, but not a whole-whole lot of them. I went out one night and did some by-hand pollinating – running my hands over the Ranier blossoms and then over the Bing – hoping to increase the chances of getting actual cherries this year. We’ll see.

The apple tree, meanwhile, is just a happy little low-maintenance bloomer:


And this? This is probably going to be leaving this year.


The Denizens don’t play on it anymore, really; it’s designed for smaller children, so it’s hard for them to get onto it. And their tastes have moved on, really.

Plus they don’t do bugs. And there are a lot of bugs out there.

Once it is gone, the husband wants to put another shed back there for his woodworking tools and such; and of course, I’m planning to snatch up every remaining inch of ground for more gardening space. Because of course I am.

Out in the front, I was going to dig out and move the blueberries, because they just aren’t happy in that under-the-front-window spot; it’s too shady, I guess.


Yeah…pathetic. And right up front, too! But then, well, this happened.


We might actually get a handful of berries off these this year! So, I’m going to leave them alone for this season, and move them after they’ve finished bearing whatever they deign to produce.

The front boxes are 2/3 empty right now.


In the very front, I’ve got some bell peppers coming up:

Can you even see the sprouts? They’re tiny…

The middle one had beets, but the anti-cat-wire you can see standing up there was left on too long and I had to yank them all out. There a couple onions still manfully bulbing in it, but it’s mostly empty for now.

And the back one has yet more potatoes in it; one of them was apparently eaten to death and the other is not doing well either. I may have to redo the whole box.

Let’s see…who did I forget…oh! The mushroom forest!


…which doesn’t look like mushrooms, or a forest. These are logs which are (hopefully) being inoculated with mushroom plugs – lion’s mane, shiitake and oyster mushrooms. In Due Course, we should start have mushrooms sticking out all over these things. It’s a new thing for us, soooooooo…no idea if we’ve done it right or if it’s going to work.

The relocated cranberries are much happier in their new spot.


New growth! Yay!

And, here’s the final spot of dirt that is about to get planted…


This strip is notoriously difficult; it’s kind of the “oh yeah, and” spot, where we forget to watch whether enough water is happening and so forth. It gets moderate sun…enough for things that aren’t wicked demanding on that front, but not anything like “full-full.” So, right now I’m sprouting some yams and sweet potatoes, and I’ll plant one side with the one and the other with the other.

We had thumping MASSIVE yields from the sweet potatoes I planted last year, but they were also a major pain in the tush back there in the regular “field” area; you had to stay way on top of them, or they would take over the whole blasted yard!

I figure that back on these strips, hemmed in by concrete, they can go nuts all they like; I don’t think they’ll be able to hop the concrete and get into each other’s business, nor can they choke the lettuce to death. Their vines are an attractive ‘ground cover’ like deal while growing, too, which would be nice back here.

Is that everybody? I think it is.

And now, it’s getting noisy in here – I think I’m safe to start making with the day’s chores. Which hey, guess what?! Involve a fair amount of gardening! Go figure!!!

Spring has sprung; the earth is warming up, the birds are chirping, the bugs are invading, the sprouts are sprouting…and suddenly, I am again a busy little ant, scurrying and hurrying to get everything done before winter comes again.

Lord, how I’ve missed it!

…and, bets on how long before I’m griping about it…?


Anonymous said...

Oh woe is me ... I'm doing my taxes today while the sun is shining and the wind howling/blowing. Hopefully it'll be beautiful tomorrow. I think I have hubby convinced that I need raised beds (getting too old to garden on my knees anymore), but I think he wants me to build them. Hmmmm. Looking around for free building materials all over the ranch. I think I may use bricks, which will entail groundwire and cement. Who knows if it'll get done this season or not. Maybe I'll start with one wee bed and go from there. Isn't spring exciting and full of possibilities?
Nancy FP in Ferndale

Steph B said...

"Once again a busy little ant"? You're kidding me, right? You have got to be one of the busiest people on the planet! And again - any way I could talk you into moving to South Carolina and being my new best friend? Such a lovely long growing season down here....

Lydia S said...

I am super impressed! Every year I try to garden and I do a lot of digging and then...I just sort of forget about it. Sigh.

Louiz said...

So envious of your ground space. We're growing tomatoes in window boxes this year. And maybe the rocket will survive to be eaten too.

In my dreams I'm doing the same as you.

RobinH said...

I think your carrots have a good chance of getting longer and straighter. I remember getting the same stumpy mutant carrots growing up, but they got much longer and prettier as the topsoil got deeper over the clay in the garden.

Colleen Mole said...

I am so jealous! I wish I was a better crunchy person. I still haven't planted my seeds that we bought two weekends ago. Blah...

But your yard is lovely!!!

Nancy said...

We were lulled into the false sense that spring had finally arrived a week or so ago and then we woke up to SNOW on Sunday and all gardening ground to a halt. It's still too frosty here in Southern Ontario. At least the maple syrup producers are happy for the colder weather.

Holy artichoke plant! I don't think I have ever seen an actual plant before, and I had no idea that they get that big. How many artichokes do they usually produce?

Oh, the things you learn about how life works in other parts of the globe.

Science PhD Mom said...

It looks great! Good job. I need a Time Turner to keep up with my 2 part-time jobs, I feel your pain about keeping up with the garden. Only starting out for the year up here though, soil temps are just starting to warm up. Happy gardening!