Monday, September 25, 2017

Recovery versus recovery

My garden suffered this year while I was recovering from some health issues (Lyme Disease, among other things; I became part of the statistics on the increase in incidence and wasn't at all inspired to go outside where I might get munched on again by a disease-bearing tick). It didn't help that we were in drought for much of the summer. Plus, there was more critter damage (wiped out the green beans and swiss chard), now that my garden cat is gone.

Here's the dreary harvest totals (and most of the harvest is from spring and early summer, before the Lyme and drought hit):

asparagus: 18 stalks
rhubarb: 2 1/4 pounds
Russian garlic (smaller heads due to drought): 61
German garlic (also smaller): 60
Shallots: 4
Grape tomatoes: 6 handfuls
black raspberries (plentiful, but I was too sick to harvest): 1 cup
yellow squash: 2
zucchini, pumpkin, butternut, swiss chard, beans: 0
paste tomatoes: less than a dozen
basil: 2 cups
dill: produced seeds, but not harvested due to being sick

Friday, May 26, 2017

Planting 2017

So far, we've got:

80 Russian garlic (planted in 2016)
60 German garlic (planted in 2016)
6 shallots (planted 10 in 2016)
the usual rhubarb and asparagus (perennials)
the usual perennial herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, chives)
bramble patch for black raspberries (perennial)
6 banana peppers
16 New Ace peppers
5 cherry tomatoes
6 Roma tomatoes
a row of green beans (not up yet)
a row of swiss chard (not up yet)
3 or 4 yellow squash (not up yet)
dill in a bucket (with nasturtiums)


I still need to plant a zucchini or two for zucchini bread and maybe bread & butter pickles.

The spring tatsoi went to seed due to some unusually hot weather.

I'm waiting another week or two before starting the butternut, so it won't get too big before the garlic it shares space with is harvested.

The garlic count above doesn't include some transplanted rounds of Russian, and there are quite a few of those.

I waited too long to plant snap peas due to variable weather. I'm considering planting a fall crop.

No onions this year. The local nursery has changed hands, and they only offered white onions, and I prefer growing the red ones.

Costs 2017

Local nursery $9
(6 each: banana peppers, cherry tomatoes, roma tomatoes)

Ventura Grain (composted manure) $19

Different local nursery $12
(16 New Ace peppers)

Seeds from Johnny's:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

We must cultivate our gardens

In recognition of the incompetent and dangerous forces that are in charge of the American government as of noon yesterday, the idea of a "recovery garden" has an extra layer of meaning for me now. I'll be cultivating my garden, both literally and figuratively in the coming years.

In addition to the reckoning I've given in the past for my literal cultivation, I'll be documenting my figurative cultivation.

In the last two months, I've donated to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, who will all have an increased burden in the coming years. I've been knitting brightly colored chemo caps as a contribution to the health care system, which will be under attack in the coming years.

Yesterday, at the time of the inauguration,  I was marking my opposition by donating to a food pantry, to help what I anticipate to be a growing need over the coming years as income inequality is exacerbated, and more people fall below the poverty level.

My main focus going forward will be on issues relating to access to health care. The health care system is broken in so many ways, and the first steps that were taken in the last eight years in order to fix it, the things that were finally coming to fruition and making a real difference in people's lives are now on the verge of being undone, sending the system into chaos and threatening many, many lives.

There are promises to create a better system for all, and I hope I'm wrong that the promises are lies, but in the meantime, I will be cultivating whatever seeds I can find to improve access to good health care.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fall planting for 2017

In a marathon of digging, compost-spreading and planting, I got the garlic into the ground (a little late, since I aim for the second half of October, but it's only 3 days after that). Still need to get all the garlic rows (and the 10 shallots I also planted today) mulched.

Tally: total of about 150, broken down between 80+ of Russian and 60+ of what was supposed to be German, but I mixed up the heads during the harvest, so I suspect that at least half of them are Russian. I'm not too worried, because we still have a ton of the German stock growing wild, so I could always transplant them into a new bed and let them grow to their potential. I also have a significant number of rounds of the Russian variety that were transplanted in the summer and have sprouted, some of them to about 3" high, although I didn't keep count.

Big change from last year, when only 30 or so were Russian and 75 were German.

One thing I noticed today that I hadn't before -- the papers on the Russian ones are a lot tougher than the German ones, making it harder to break the heads apart for planting. Probably not noticeable when breaking up a single head for cooking, but annoying when breaking up double digits' worth of heads.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Worst Garden Ever

This summer was absolutely, positively the worst gardening season I've ever experienced. Hot and dry. Everything withered. Truly pitiful harvest:


  • asparagus (before drought): 40 stalks
  • rhubarb (before drought): 1 pound
  • German garlic: about 60 (smaller than expected)
  • Russian garlic: about 30 from previously planted cloves, another 30 or more from rounds. Kinda' lost count. They were small enough that it was hard to tell which were Russian and which were German
  • Snap peas: a dozen or two
  • Green beans: 2 quarts (two separate plantings)
  • summer squash: 5
  • butternut squash (from volunteers; purchased plants died): 4
  • Kabocha squash: 0
  • banana peppers: half a dozen, puny
  • Ace peppers: half a dozen, puny (and the nursery where I got the variety has closed, so I don't know what I'll do for plants next year)
  • onions: 30 white (small to average), 20 red (small)
  • shallots: 9, but only good for replanting
  • Cherry tomatoes: best crop, but still far fewer than in a normal year
  • swiss chard: 3 plants. Puny.


Friday, June 10, 2016

The promise of June

So, I'm at the spot when I think t he garden is going to be fabulous, because everything's planted and thriving, except for the weeds. And not just because I keep forgetting to swap my reading/computer glasses for my distance glasses, so I can't really see the smallest weeds.

Also, my arm seems to  have finished healing in the last two or three weeks, so I'm able to use the hoe with abandon. Sort of.

Garlic has been forming scapes for the last week or so. I counted the Russian garlic today, and then went to see how many cloves I'd planted, and it's a perfect match: 33. Of course, it was an incredibly mild winter, but sometimes that can be harder on over-wintering crops. That number isn't including the rounds I transplanted last fall and this spring, which will be next year's crop. I also have maybe 4 to 6 Russian garlics that were somehow missed last year, so they're growing in the old spot for the second year and are looking fabulous, at least in terms of the stalk's size. I haven't counted the German variety, which looks puny compared to the Russian. I'll definitely be phasing out the German, or phasing down, because we do like the smaller size of the bulblets of that variety for eating raw, so we'll want at least some of that variety. The Russian bulblets are just a bit too much.

Had the first snap peas yesterday -- one for me and one for my co-gardener. Green beans are looking good. Tomatoes are starting to bulk up. Peppers are a bit puny, probably due to drought. Onions are a mixed bag -- some are bulking up, some are a bit small. Overall, though, the onions look better than any of the last few years' crops. Definitely fewer weeds. And I just got composted manure today to toss around everything, so that should perk up the runts.

The most recent rhubarb acquisition (Crimson Red) is doing great. I'm thinking of moving the others (Victoria and Chipman) and seeing if planting them in compost will give them enough of a boost to make it worth keeping them.