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....