Friday, December 26, 2008
Transition Boulder is a sub-organization of a Ning social networking site called Transition Colorado and Transition United States. "Transition Initiatives" are a wordwide movement initiated by a Permaculturist in Ireland named Rob Hopkins. This is a response to the problems created by peak oil and climate change- essentially looking at ways in which communities can make themselves more self-reliant and reduce dependence on unsustainable practices such as shipment goods all over the planet. My garden is a large component of my personal involvement in reducing our carban footprint. Included in this a considerable change of diet and a great deal of learning about food storage and preparation. There is so much to learn!
Titles of posts since my most recent post here include:
Reluctant harvest and Local Quiche Recipe, Nov. 12, 2008
In my transition kitchen, Nov. 29, 2008
Under 10 hours a day- Greenhouse and Transition Kitchen report, Nov. 29, 2008
Trials and Tribulations of a Novice Greenhouse Keeper, Dec. 5, 2008
Greenhouse on Ice, Dec. 12, 2008
Birthday Tamales, Dec. 26, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I have not been running into any references to planting for greenhouses this time of year, so I feel very experimental putting seeds in the ground. So far (within the last few weeks) I've planted bunching onions, field peas, garlic cloves and corn salad. All have come up and are growing slowly but without issues. I have gone to the Farmer's Market once recently, and I've added walking onions to the garlic I get from Jay Hill every other week or so. Last weekend I bought 60 lb.s of apples from Ella Family Farms when Russ and I visited the harvest festival at Full Circle Farms. Apple sauce, apple juice, dried apples, apples in the root cellar and the fridge. This week I'll stock up on squashes from Munson as I do every year now. Squash is good in soup with the kale....
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Meanwhile, we've continued to harvest tomatoes. The pineapple tomatoes have continued unabated for weeks, as have the purple Cherokee. Now we're throwing in the San Marzano (a Roma variety) and the yellow pear tomatoes. So far we've harvested more than 40 lb.s of tomatoes. Meanwhile, Cure has been having a wonderful year for tomatoes and our weekly large share has included lots of cherry and heirloom tomatoes. In response, I give away tomatoes, encourage tomato-eating by family, and eat tomatoes (no kidding) at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have never in my life had the opportunity to eat all the heirloom tomatoes I could possibly want for weeks on end, and I admit this is tomato heaven. Realizing though that we still have too many tomatoes and that we are going to miss then very much when they're done, I started experimenting with drying them in the oven a few days ago. The resulting dried tomatoes taste amazing- very sweet and tasty. They were so good in fact, that we decided to spring for a food dehydrator yesterday and will be drying tomatoes as fast as we can for as long as it takes.
Other projects in brief (I have to keep up putting up food in the kitchen...)
-I'm building a greenhouse frame to go over raised beds #3 and #4. Am about 1/2 of the way done with this.
-Digging out a section in the greenhouse, into which I will sink a plastic trash can that will have inside it a metal trash can with burlap bags for insulation between it and the plastic can. The lids will have insulation between them. This is to be my little root cellar! This is very exciting except for the digging part (that's about 1/2 done too). By the way, we needed the plastic trash can to keep out the water so the metal trash can doesn't rust out. We needed the metal trash can to keep the voles out of the food. Having the cellar in the greenhouse helps keep the cellar from freezing.
-Harvesting of potatoes (5 lb.s today), celeriac this week.
-Ongoing (daily) harvest of dry beans (scarlet runner, "trail of tears") , onions, beets, chard, New Zealand spinach, kale (several types) and amaranth. I get hungry, I go out and look around....
-Feeding chickens and ducks at Cure two times a week. This is particularly nice right now as the flock has really started to lay and we now receive eggs in trade for our labor. We've discovered how lovely duck eggs are...
-I continue to come help out on Thursday mornings at Cure. This is another source of food as we receive a bag of what's available in thanks for our efforts. It's getting pretty muddy now and I've finally waxed up all my shoes so I don't get wet feet. How not to get wet pants is another problem.
-New cooking skills include the food drying as well as first experiments with lactic fermentation. Although the pickled vegi.s are salty and I have to avoid salt, I can have these as a condiment in small portions and that's the intended use anyway. I'm very interested in figuring out how to make yogurt in quantities the family can use as yogurt is easy to make. I'm also interested in learning some cheese-making as this family loves cheese and we have no control over the milk used in the cheese we buy and the price is also going up. These activities will have to take a back seat to the greenhouse for the moment!
Sunday, August 31, 2008
As the garden-avoidance approach has been the frequent choice, I found the first ripe pineapple tomato when it was past it's prime on the 26th of this month. I found two Purple Cherokee and two pineapple tomatoes (total weight of 3 lb.s 14 oz.!) that were ready to go on this date and I make a point of this because we have never had tomatoes ripen before October before. We've also never had tomatoes this large or this healthy. My thinking is that we got a jump on the season planting under plastic the way we did. This is also the first week that Cure has had any significant numbers of the heirloom tomatoes for the CSA, so I'm not far behind them.
We harvested our first fingerling potatoes (maybe a pound) this week and they were delicious! These were our first potatoes and the seed potatoes came from Cure Farm.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
So the work schedule dropped off quite considerably, and as the time was coming to plant the fall garden, and as we needed the bed for the fall garden, we decided to put in a big push and get it done, and we pulled out the last big rock at about 6:30 pm on 8-8-08, picked up a yard and a half of "planter's mix" from a local garden supply, shoveled it out and wheel-barrowed it into the back yard and mixed it into the existing soil remaining in the bed minus the many rocks and gravel we'd removed. At about 10 pm, John and I were planting up most of the bed with seedlings we'd grown; watering, mulching with straw, putting in hoops and row cover for shade and hoping for the best, as we were leaving town for a week and would be leaving the garden in the hands of the boys. We finished up at about 11:30 pm and made our flight without difficulty the next day.
I talked with the boys daily while away, and Russ was watering every day with a little help from Brian. Nearly every seedling survived, although Russ did say that "Some things died..." the day before our return, and as I had no other information than that, I was a little nervous until I had a chance to go see for myself. I had taken the precaution of saving some seedlings in their seedling flats in the shade of the garden beds under the mature plants, and this was a good idea although I didn't have to re-plant more than two or three. The only other problem we've had since involved a rise in our local water table, flooding out the basement of a neighbor and causing the garden beds to stay saturated after a good two-day rain storm that dropped about 2 1/2 inches in two days. I had to go out periodically and dump out the water flooding the seedling flats, and although the established plants looked fine, the seedlings all looked a little oxygen starved for a couple of days. It's drying out gradually now, warm and dry again, and seedlings are perking up today.
Fall garden seedlings planted so far include:
Pac Choy, beets, 3 or 4 types of kale, chard (different types), orach, broccoli (2 types), and collard greens. More to follow as I can make room for them.
I'm presently watching the angle of the sun shift fairly rapidly, and planning the design for my green house. Soon I should pull out the remaining plants (except for Brussels sprouts) in former hoop house #1 and #2 and plant cover crops. I'm impressed with the rate of speed with which the garden changes in character as the season progresses.
Meanwhile, I am regularly harvesting:
-Amaranth (one amaranth plant produces lots of greens, even by my standards!)
-Beets (I'm harvesting beets up to 2 inches in diameter with generally lovely tops although not without insect damage now and then)
-Swiss chard (another reliable producer of greens)
-New Zealand spinach (this took a long time and some good hot weather to get going- now it's producing regularly)
-Broccoli (the sprouting broccoli keeps sending up broccoli heads- I've had lots of these from the four plants I planted in the spring)
-Zucchini (almost daily- one good sized zucchini from one plant being marginalized by enormous tomato plants)
-Celeriac tops (We have lots and lots of celeriac. The tops, although fibrous, can be sliced up across the grain and added to add wonderful celery ambiance to salads, casseroles, soups, lasagna, etc.) Later I hope the roots will store well for fall or winter eating.
-Basil, chives, peppermint
-Tomatoes: San Marzano, Pineapple, Purple Cherokee, yellow pear. The largest tomatoes look to be about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. All green so far. One spare cherry tomato plant in back bed is ripening tomatoes now.
-Pumpkins: Russ' white pumpkin plant has two good-sized pumpkins and possibly a third coming along.
-Watermelons: Russ has two hanging from a trellis and they might be ready..
-Corn: Russ will determine what he wants to do with his ears of corn. Most stalks are producing two ears.
-Peppers: Not many, but big. Three on one small plant that never seemed very vigorous. The peppers are turning from green to red now.
-Potatoes: Not least of which include bonus potato plants that volunteered in my garden compost bin. These were potatoes that had sprouted in the vegetable bin in the fridge and subsequently composted, and I wouldn't have decided to let them go once I observed the characteristic foliage coming out of vents in the side of the bin, except that I realised that these were from potatoes grown in Colorado that I had gotten in the winter at Whole Foods and were likely locally adapted. Not so Idaho potatoes.... Anyway, the plants are vigorous and lurking inside the compost bin should be some lovely potatoes come harvest time...
-Beans: We have several varieties of beans planted in every location I could tuck them in and most have beans on them. We are planning on letting them dry on the vine and then cook with them in the winter. Cure provides us with more than enough fresh beans this time of year so we have no trouble leaving ours alone to mature and dry. As we've found that the "fresh" dry beans we've grown in our garden and those we've obtained at the farmer's market from Abbondonza have been much better than those we've gotten from Whole Foods given identical treatment (we pressure cook ours), and as the local supply is inadequate, I decided that this would be a protein-rich crop I could focus on producing. Next year I want to put up more trellis for beans and increase my production.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Here is my progress on a rock pathway between our second and third raised beds. I am only using rocks we have pulled from the ground in preparing the soil for the beds. My plan is to continue the pathway around the third bed and to build an inexpensive greenhouse around the bed and pathway. As many of the rocks in the pathway are quite large and heavy and largely buried with their tops just at the surface, this is a big job but my hope is that the thermal mass they provide will serve to passively increase the overall temperature and temperature stability within the greenhouse.
I pulled out the peas this week and turned under the cover crop behind them. Peas in dinners and lunches all week.
Russ proudly standing in front of his garden bed. He chooses to spend quite a bit of time out in the garden, searching for edible "volunteer" plants, bugs we consider pests (such as cabbage white caterpillars who do damage to our brassicas), observing his plants, winding bean vines and morning glories up his trellis and preparing soil (a.k.a. pickaxing rocks out of the dirt) for our latest bed project.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Last week, while volunteering at Cure I found myself thinning seedlings for their fall crops. I hadn't been planning on planting for a couple weeks at least, but decided that it was time. Ann Cure's comment was "It's not too late!" So this week I:
-Purchased more fluorescent fixtures and seedling trays and moved my seedling starting area down into the basement to improve odds that my cool season seeds will germinate and grow well (much cooler downstairs as we run the air conditioner rarely and it gets quite warm in other parts of the house).
-Planted in 72-cell seedling flats under lights down in the basement:
kohlrabi (more to start next week), Swiss chard (4 kinds), kale (6 kinds- 2 ornamental), broccoli (3 kinds), corn salad, spinach (2 kinds), claytonia (miner's lettuce), collard greens, fennel, wild arugula, lovage (it may be late, but I want to establish this as a perennial in my yard for the celery flavored stalks and potential medicianal uses), onions, cabbage (small, savoy), pak choi, endive, garlic chives (another plant to establish in the yard and in this case to provide a garlic flavored green early in the spring before the garlic scapes are up), beets (a mixture of types), orach and turnip greens.
-Harvested: beets, sweet onions (with tops), broccoli, cauliflower, chard, amaranth, orach. Next year I really should plant more broccoli and cauliflower as both are wonderful. The broccoli plants produce big side shoots if left in the ground after the first stalk is harvested.
-Prepped: Continued to read The Omnivore's Dilemma.
-Worked on local food systems: Volunteered twice at Cure Farm with youngest son. This week we harvested cherry tomatoes briefly and then spent hours weeding the tomatoes. This required less hoeing and more close work around plants and drip tape. I identified thistles, mallow, bind weed, purslane, lamb's quarters and grasses. Volunteer vetch at the farm is blooming.
-Tried and cooked something new: Tasted lamb's quarters and purslane in my garden. Hunted down and ate all the lamb's quarters in my yard as they are very tasty. Tried braising some amaranth as it's too bitter tasting for me raw. Once cooked a little the amaranth is very tasty so I hope my seedlings in the garden grow well. Re-learned the art of corn-tortilla making using a tortilla press and cast-iron griddle. Found a recipe for chapati on the Internet, using just whole wheat flour (that I can get from Weld county- Wheatland Farms), a little salt and oil. Very easy using the bread machine to do the kneading and simple to roll out with a rolling pin. Also very tasty!
-Built: trellis for raised bed #3. Used damaged wool to spin a compostable garden twine for the beans to grow on and used stakes cut from the stalks holding plumes of an ornamental tall grass plant in our garden last fall. We continue to prep. the soil and remove rocks from raised bed #4, although Russell is doing most of this work on his own, propelled by the fact that he earns video time by doing this. We have generally slowed down because of the heat...
Saturday, July 5, 2008
This week I volunteered at Cure Farm (the CSA we're members of) on Thursday morning as usual. We had a crew of about 12 volunteers who planted melons and weeded chard and tomatoes. It was quite hot.
At home I:
-Transplanted beet and chard seedlings into new bed #3, weeded, put away most row covers, washed plastic for one hoop house, turned over the spring planted cover crop (vetch, field peas, oats), hand watered as needed, tied up tomatoes, added a couple of feet of walkway between new beds #2 and #3, considered where to put Greek amaranth seedlings. I also pulled out Seven-top turnip green plants. I have a couple Siberian kale plants still growing. One has gone to seed (little yellow flowers on tall stalks). Tons of bees on flowering milkweed in the garden and in the meadow beyond. Based on what I'm learning at Cure, I now recognize two more edible "weeds" in my garden- purslane and lamb's quarter. The lamb's quarter is really very tasty actually.
My greatest garden impression this week is of those plants that are growing rapidly to maturity right now, and which need to be planted either now or on an ongoing basis. As the weather is quite warm and the soil with it, I'm putting in beans everywhere I can. They germinate and emerge in about 3 days in most cases. My established amaranth seedlings, although slow to start, are now growing rapidly, so those I had as transplants needed to go into the ground as quickly as possible. Beets are amazing right now. Beets at both Cure and the farmer's market are just beautiful and so tasty. We've started harvesting our own and they're about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. The leaves have a little damage in places by and unidentified and very tiny bug, but they're tasty anyway (as are the stalks). As Cure will be harvesting beets in August, I decided that even though they are a cool season crop, I'll continue to plant them and find out how it goes...
Well, summer has definitely arrived. 99 degrees today by about noon when I got back from the farmer's market on my bike. As my commute to the market is on the Boulder Creek Path, I was impressed with the volume and swiftness of the water coming down the creek. Many people were out with dreams of drifting down the creek but I think many had also not considered the relative safety of the idea....
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
-Planted: lettuces (two kinds), beans and kyona mizuna, transplanted beets, amaranth and onions, weeded all beds as necessary and tied up pea vines.
-Harvested: broccoli, beets, Swiss chard, orach, turnip greens, kale. Pulled out now out-of-season kale, broccoli rabe and turnips to make way for above planting. Thinned carrots. Hand watered a great deal.
-Transplanted: sod into shady area to clear soil for 4th raised garden bed. Also started boys working soil and removing rocks from soil for 4th raised garden bed.
-Built: part of a walkway out of native rock between two raised beds (in a section that will be in my solar greenhouse once that's put together).
-Preserved: onions, dill and baby beets by experimentally drying them on window screen lined with parchment in our old Suburban parked on our West facing driveway.
-Prepped: Bought books such as The Omnivore's Dilemma. Purchased as used books via Amazon.com and spent extra to obtain books from closer locations (e.g. Nebraska instead of New York or Florida). Began studying up on solar drying- consulted with local permaculturist Sandy Cruz. Considered fruit options such as rhubarb. Ordered Egyptian walking onions to try to establish in our yard to increase our options in early spring (I hope..)
-Worked on local food systems: Volunteered twice at Cure Farm with youngest son. Weeded in their herb garden and weeded parsnips, fed 200 chickens and ducks once. Took my mom to the Farmer's Market and bought food to supplement the CSA this week.
-Stored/Managed reserves: Experimenting with storage options for dried foods (in sealed glass jar in basement under stairs).
-Cooked something new: Found rhubarb pie recipe (mom made a pie), used peels for rhubarb juice and rhubarb green tea.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Never transplant in the morning if you have any choice. Plant in the late afternoon when everything is done with the sun for the day. This gives some night time recovery time.
Always provide shade of some sort so as to reduce direct sun exposure the first few days (at least) after transplanting. Shade from above with ventilation from the sides is best I think. Hoops with shade cloth over the top do work well.
Mulch (especially a light colored straw) may be helpful in reducing or moderating soil temperatures and improve chances of recovery.
Don’t give up on what may look hopeless. Wait and see. Especially if you are transplanting plants with reasonable root systems.
Garden changes: Radishes have bolted. I discovered that even when bolting, parts of radishes continue to be tasty. When the radish plants had sent up stalks, the edible parts became stalks and flowers (which taste like radish). Spinach plants are bolting but still good to eat. To stall for time I’m cutting out the flower stalks with leaves and eating them. The Siberian kale is becoming bitter and starting to bolt.. My mom still likes it, but I find it too bitter. The same goes for the turnips and turnip greens. This is with temperatures moving into the mid to upper 80’s and 50’s at night and comes as no surprise. Arugula flowers. I have maturing cauliflower, broccoli and broccoli rabe. Although I have a hard time catching the rabe before the stalks flower, they’re tasty with flowers anyway. Savoy cabbages are starting to form cabbages. Cabbage White butterfly caterpillars are the culprits who have been chewing big holes in the leaves of the Brussels sprout and cabbage plants. Although I want to limit my use of salt in the garden, salt on the leaves is one treatment I can try, so I’ll try making a salt-water spray for the Brassicas being damaged. Potatoes started coming up about 1 ½ weeks ago and although they were initially attacked by flea beetles (I did put a little charcoal ash on the potato plants even though I want to limit ash because it increases alkalinity in the soil and we don’t need more of that here!) Peas are producing for almost a week now and daily Russell goes out and snacks on peas. Not many left for adults so because these are tasty and successful, I think next year we have to find a way to plant more! Chard is producing reasonably well although some leaves have bad patches that I have yet to diagnose. Working on that. The chard is very good though. So is the Red Russian kale which still has excellent flavor without bitterness. I keep harvesting outer leaves of what are now mature plants, when the leaves are no more than 12 inches long. Some of my beets and onions are about 1 ½ inches in diameter.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Wash the beets greens and stalks. Hold the stalks together and snip them up with the scissors. You can alternatively use a knife to slice them up. I suggest slicing or sniping them into about 1/2 inch pieces. Keep snipping or slicing when you get to the greens. Throw these in the pot as well.
Turn on the heat, bring to a low simmer (or almost to a simmer) while stirring to just wilt the greens. Don't cook long at all as greens are easily over-cooked. Remove from heat. Serve in bowls with oil and vinegar of choice. Fresh ground pepper is a nice touch. If you aren't low-sodium you might want a little salt. In my opinion the fresh vegetables provide all the flavor necessary.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Our important discoveries of the week:
Mizuna has a mild mustard flavor.
Field pea plants taste like peas.
Chive blossoms taste like very mild chives.
Everything I'm growing tastes wonderful in salads and soups.
Now that my husband and mom have discovered how good the vegi.s are, the greens disapear fast.
At last I have enough to share, and this week I gave away modest samples of my harvest to two neighbors and a friend.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Backup plan number 2, involving rebar stakes, when safely executed, requires just as much hole digging in reality. When unsafely executed, purchase of an abundance of not-locally produced bandaids becomes necessary (plus the rebar and plastic caps for the rebar to prevent further industrial accidents suffered by unsuspecting individuals strolling out in the garden on some distant date after which the garden will be more a garden and less a construction zone).
Backup 3 involves lag screws purchased from the hardware store. Also some bolts, nuts and washers scavenged from our fairly well stocked garage. Using these with select power and hand tools, I was able to quickly knock together a sturdy box for my third raised bed. I’m so delighted by this that I must admit that I couldn't give a flying fig for where the lag screws came from. This is bad attitude I know, but whatever.
Next I get to dig out all the soil that sits under the box and get rocks out of it so that anything will grow in it.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Garden bed with "Freezonian" peas (from the Victory Seed Co.)in back and sprouting broccoli in front. I've transplanted some of the broccoli since the picture was taken. Thus far Freezonian hasn't performed very impressively overall. Growing very, very slowly. Of course it may be comforting for us all to note that we've just had a very cold winter without much snow and that Spring has been awfully dodgy too. Given another Spring with less challenging conditions, or perhaps planted in a less windy location, Freezonian might perform better...
Further peas (Wando and Alaska) with mizuma and arugula.
Our current high-tech. watering system includes me running out with the hose. The kale in the picture below, has wilted and is about to be watered. As the weather has warmed, we have days that are too warm for the cool season crops and wilting happens (especially with the almost constant wind...) My solution in this case was to increase the height of the hoops and use floating row cover over them to act as a shade cloth and to cut the wind. This worked very well- no more wilting. Note also that I have a pretty healthy layer of straw to act as a mulch, cut down on water loss and prevent the soil from crusting. Weeds are easier to dislodge too. The burlap sacks serve the same function for bare earth between beds and other areas. Russ likes to go hunting for worms under the burlap sacks and is learning to put them back properly.
Just starting to lay out the third bed. Dogs investigating.
The bed pictured above is basically a nursery bed, acting as a safe holding zone for leeks, onions, shallots, celeriac, cabbage, some turnips, beets and chard. I still find we have days when the wind is just so annoying that although I don't have to put down the plastic cover, I think the plants grow more quickly and are more healthy because I do. We're starting to lay out the third bed now, although we have to finish prepping the soil (and adding a little more) to the second bed. One of our dogs found me digging in the bottom of the second bed the other day, and suddenly found herself in the mood to help. She jumped in and started digging. As it worked out, I was tired of digging and found that I could get her to dig where I wanted, needing only to hold up a burlap sack to keep the soil from flying out of the bed. She dug for quite a while and loosened up most of the Northwestern corner of the bed. Dogs can be helpful in the garden...
Monday, May 5, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
-Chicken from Wisdom Farm in Northern Colorado (Farmer's Market)
-Garlic sprouts from another Colorado farm (Farmer's Market)
-Ditto for the russet potatoes (Whole Foods)
-Mushrooms from Hazel Dell Mushrooms in Northern Colorado (Farmer's Market)
-“Micro-mix” from my family room
-Alfalfa sprouts and broccoli sprouts also from my family room
-US produced apple cider vinegar (Safeway)
I eat sprouts and some micro-mix with all my lunches and dinners these days. These in my view are a terrific backup for when the weather here becomes a gardener’s worse nightmare… In a few weeks I hope the shitake mushroom and oyster mushroom kits I have going, will actually produce mushrooms. I have to mist them several times a day (imagine the Olympic Rainforest and I’m the rain…) and this is a bit tedious- although I really love mushrooms so I think I should at least try….
Thank goodness for our lovely Farmer’s Market.
I have to register a Farmer’s Market compliant here now though. If one wants to get the best vegi’s at the Boulder Farmer’s Market (or in some cases, any vegi’s), one must arrive early. The folks that get to the Farmer’s Market early all live near to the market, or they drive their cars. If we want to both ride our bicycles and get there in time to beat some of the crowd to the vegi.s, we have to leave at the crack of dawn. Way too tempting to take the ol’ gas-guzzler. In fact, the opening day we rode our bicycles and got there too late to get any vegi.s. The folks from our CSA, Cure Farm, had sold out and left altogether by the time we arrived. The following week, Russ and I took the mini-van and got there early, were very lucky to find parking and got lots of vegi.s, etc. Wonder what we’ll want to do next Saturday?
The early bird gets the worm!
Our local newspaper after the opening day at the Market gave accurate, glowing descriptions of the farmers, and the crowds but failed to mention the large number of shoppers who had peddled to the market, and then even advertised the valet parking! Ack!
Happy Earth Day all!
We have now gotten the perforated pipe and irrigation pipes in part of the trench. Enough so that we have been able to laboriously collect the rocks that we had previously dumped in rock-collections at the margins of the lawn, and go dump the rocks back into the trench sans dirt. It seems as if it would be so easy to gather up the rocks that we had previously worked so hard to hack out of the ground. Actually, this gathering and dumping is energy consumptive and slow as well.
This last weekend I spent largely digging holes and setting posts for the first raised garden bed. It looks as if it’s constructed out of rather raw looking salvaged lumber (which it is), but once it has soil in it, other beds around it and plants growing in it, the effect will be more harmonious with the rest of the garden I think.. Also, as the holes for the wooden posts for the one bed took most of the weekend, I think I’ll try making the next bed with rebar for posts because technically the rebar can fracture the rocks and go through them rather than be stopped by them (this according to my husband John, who wields a mean sledge hammer).
The weather has been overall been getting warmer. Last week we had a day that got up to 80, although the warmest days are generally around 75.We’ve been getting lots of wind combined with low humidity. It feels too much like drought. I hate droughts… It’s hard to keep spring plants happy with so much wind and warm this early. The floating row cover is very helpful for this. Now I have row covers for everything and keep it on all the time. Observing how quickly the soil dries now between waterings because of the low relative humidity, warmth and the dratted wind, I now add straw mulch as well as seedlings get big enough to get sun as they come up through it. Plants don’t dry out so quickly and don’t look so distressed by the end of a warm windy day if they have some cover, even if the row cover was rippled in the wind all afternoon. I want to take it off so I can see the early spring garden growing, but now I’m content just to keep everything covered and happy. Even with the cover, I must hand water everything daily. Plans for drip irrigation continue to jell.
In hoop house #1, I have continued to gradually thin out plants as they size up. The Siberian kale, Red Russian kale, onions and Bloomsdale spinach all are quite vigorous with the largest plants about a foot across. In hoop house #2, I have beets, chard, turnips, a little broccoli, claytonia and miniature savoy cabbage coming up. Most have gotten their first true set of leaves and look quite healthy and unstressed. I’m waiting for the New Zealand spinach to come up both in hoop house #2 and outside in the garden. All peas are germinating now, with some plants up to 1 ½ inches tall and with their first tendrils extended. In the front yard I have a couple small beds with two varieties of peas and particularly attractive varieties of kohlrabi, kale and chard planted as a nod to the neighbors who have a pretty rock garden nearby. All of the front yard vegetables are coming up too.
Monday, April 7, 2008
-The weather gets fairly cold (30's, low 40's- not that cold) and it snows some. Perhaps a little sleet or rain will fall as well. I stay indoors and move some plants into South facing windows, and plant/transplant things as needed. I also do laundry and other house-bound things.
-Next, it warms up some and we have a day or so of melting and drying out. On those days it tends to be in the upper 40's or so and Russ and I run errands and take field trips on our bicycles.
-Then it warms up and we put on our sun hats, sunscreen, gloves, sunglasses, etc. and dive out into the yard to air out the hoop houses and water inside them and to dig in The Trench or prepare garden beds for planting or to plant. As soon as it warms up it tends to get quite windy and this urges us to work harder outside because all that warm air moving through is of course in front of the next cold front.
This last week we had enough warm weather that I admit that I overdid it somewhat both with the bicycling and with the hauling and pick-axing and general garden effort, and looked forward to having a "down" period in which to catch my breath.
And so, for the current garden status report:
Hoop #1 continues to require thinning as the plants are starting to size up. Of particular note are the Siberian Kale, Orach, Yellow Chard and Bloomsdale Spinach. The Red Russian Kale is well represented, but seems less healthy than the others- I'll wait and see. Onions are coming in thickly and need thinning or transplanting.
Hoop #2 took a little vacation while I pulled myself together after the vole visits. Last week I planted New Zealand Spinach, Beets, Turnips, Broccoli. I noticed that 3 onions I'd planted weeks ago, had gone untouched by voles.
I have another mini-hoop+ plastic covered section in the garden in which I had transplanted Red Russian Kale and Yellow Chard from Hoop #1, and some good-sized Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Red Cabbage grown under lights and hardened off. These I transplanted about 2 weeks ago in my mini-hoop covered section, well mulched with straw and covered with floating row cover. These larger transplants have suffered! It freezes at night and they lose leaves to frostbite. If it warms up and I leave off the floating row cover, they desiccate in the wind. So far they have recovered, sending up new leaves and looking stronger given sufficient warmth, water and cover from the wind. I think overall, that it's best to seed the plants out in the hoop house rather than to transplant although my failures have been more related to hungry rodents than freezing nights and windy afternoons.
I've been preparing beds and planting out in the garden without cover and so far have planted 3 kinds of Peas ("Wando" started breaking soil yesterday), Turnip "7 top" and Purple Globe (both slowly coming up), Mizuna, Broccoli Rabe (coming up this week), Radishes, Chard, Beets and Carrots.
Indoors I have Onions, Leeks, a couple of Shallots, Celeric (looking a tad anemic), Tomatos, Fennel, Dill, Lavender, Sage and the last of the Cabbages, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts from the collection I keep sacrificing to the Hoop houses. I also through a bunch of old seeds mixed with other interesting options to make an indoor "micro-mix" in a seedling flat to see how it does. This is a mix of Chard, Mizuna, Corn Salad, Red Russian Kale, and Onions. Everything is coming up nicely.