Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Garlic planting for 2015

I'm late with the garlic planting this year by about a week, but the weather was so mild until recently, I was afraid the plants would grow too much and get killed off when winter arrived. Looks like that won't be an issue from this weekend on out.

Anyway, here's the count:

German Extra Hardy: 60+ cloves planted

Red Russian: 40+ (probably closer to 50, because I didn't count the little cloves between the larger ones)

Early variety (I think -- they're "rounds" rather than cloves): 15

Plus, too many to count of the bulbils from the Red Russian variety, in a strip that's pretty much solid manure (composted).

I still need to cover everything up with mulch, but I'll wait until the ground starts to freeze.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Harvest 2014

As expected, the onion crop, while numerous (around 350), consisted of small onions. Still over 300!

The cucumbers died off after producing only 4 or 5 fruits. Zucchini wasn't much better. All but one of the summer squash plants were puny, probably too much in the shade. The remaining one produced about 8 squash.

I froze about two gallons of green beans, and ate a good amount more.

The tomato crop was the best I've ever had. The cherry tomatoes, a variety known as "Sugary" and looking like grapes, not cherries, were prolific and flavorful. One of my neighbors, who generally doesn't like uncooked tomatoes, liked them. The Jetstars also did great (I lost count, at least 60), since we had a dry summer and no blight.

The kabocha produced 7 squash, only 1 or two per plant. I'm not sure how many butternut plants sprouted, but they produced 38 good-sized fruits, some of them HUGE.

I planted peas later than I'd intended, and there wasn't any rain and I was lazy and didn't water them, so only about 7 plants sprouted, and then I never harvested the half-dozen pods.

The pepper crop was pitiful. A combination of the dry summer, less than ideal location (not enough sun) and I'm not sure what else. Quite a few of the New Ace variety just upped and died. I couldn't see any reason for it, just a failure-to-thrive sort of thing. The yellow peppers had good flavor, but weren't particularly prolific, and tended to rot before they ripened fully. We just don't have a long enough, hot enough summer for the varieties that need to go past green. Got about a dozen yellow bells, 40 Ace and 42 bananas.

The swiss chard, at least until now (late October) was puny. Not sure why, except maybe the dry summer.

We had a few strawberries, and the plants sent out a lot of runners, so we should have more next year. They're filling in the herb bed, around the rhubarb.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Harvest underway

The last of the garlic was harvested today. Haven't counted it up yet. Lots. I do know that I harvested more Red Russian than we planted, with two of the cloves splitting to form two heads each, one larger and one smaller. So we started with 6 cloves and ended up with 8 heads! Originally, I thought one of the cloves hadn't survived the winter, but all 6 did survive and thrive.

The 400 onions are going to be on the small side, thanks to a two-week drought right as they were maturing, plus the too-tight planting and some lapses in weeding toward the end. Also, just in the last couple days, it appears that bunnies have been nibbling on the onion greens. I harvested about 40 onions today (mostly to get them out of the way of the encroaching squash vines), and about 15 were medium-sized, and 25 were small. The ratio will improve with more medium-sized ones overall, but there won't be more than one or two large ones. Still: 400 onions!

The green beans are peaking now, and I just harvested a colander full of them. The plan is to blanch and freeze them, since I won't  have time to eat them all before I leave town for a week. I like this variety. Plants are just the right size and reasonably e asy to harvest, not too close to the ground. I have them supported slightly by abandoned political signs' stakes. The metal kind, sort of H shaped.

The butternut and kabocha squashes are going berserk, thanks to the drenching rain we had a couple days ago. At least a couple kabocha fruits have set, while the butternuts are still intent on growing the vines. The timing for the plants in the garlic bed was perfect, with the last of the garlic coming out today, but perhaps a week or two too soon for the onions, which could use another week or two in the ground or drying on top of the ground, without being covered by the vines. Yellow squash is slow this year, so we're just now seeing some flowers and no set fruit. Two yellow zucchini, though, to be made into zucchini bread on Monday. I want to make bread & butter pickles with later-season zucchini.

The cucumber vines are also doing nicely. Some small fruits are set. They're growing up tomato cages. I'm hoping that will help them avoid the wilting virus that usually ends the season too soon.

Cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen. Good number of green tomatoes on the JetStar plants. Unless we have a late first frost, the pepper harvest may not be particularly good. I've had some small peppers, mostly to encourage additional fruits to set, but the drought set them back too. A couple plants died, although it appeared to be for reasons other than the drought. Not sure what, but they were just sickly. The banana peppers are producing nicely, though. Probably have quite a few when I return from vacation.

Swiss chard is still small, but promising much bigger harvests in the fall. I've had about half a dozen leaves so far. Someone suggested eating the stalks raw, sort of like celery. I tried it, and was not enthusiastic about it. I'll stick to the leaves. It's not like I'm wasting the stems. They get composted.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Planting all the things

It's Memorial Day weekend, a bit earlier than usual, but the weather forecast looks reasonable, so I went ahead and planted all the things.

Already doing well are 400+  onions, a couple hundred garlic plants (not counting the thousands of volunteers, but including the 6 Russian Red that seem to be thriving), the asparagus, a few snap peas that the bunnies  haven't found, and the previous years' rhubarb plants. The jury's still out on whether the new variety's last plant standing is going to survive. Next door, the tatsoi plants are hitting their stride.

This weekend, I got and planted:

  • 24 New Ace peppers (a little anxious that "New" Ace won't be as good as plain old Ace, but I'm trusting my local nursery for now)
  • 6 yellow bell peppers (just in case the New Ace aren't as good as the plain old Ace, and also because they looked good and I can never have too many peppers)
  • 6 JetStar (Except I think there were only 5 in the pack, which is okay)
  • 6 grape tomatoes (not sure of the variety, 4 of them planted in containers)
  • 6 broccoli
  • 6 marigolds

The seeds that were planted include:

  • Butternut squash (throughout the allium bed)
  • yellow zucchini (leftover seeds from last year)
  • Scarlet Kabocha winter squash (var: Sunshine), because they looked interesting
  • Bush beans (var: Provider)
  • Swiss chard (Northern Lights)

I'm still waiting to see if the yellow squash (basic crookneck) will germinate. The weather was colder than I'd expected this past week. I may need to re-plant them.

There's a small colony of feral cats living somewhere near my house, and I spot them in my garden frequently. They seem to be doing a good job of scaring away the bunnies. Far less nibbling on greens, at least so far.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Costs 2014

Breakdown of this year's expenses for the garden:

Johnny's seeds (seeds, onion plants): $56.40

Territorial Seeds (rhubarb plants): $28.50

2 bales of straw: $20.00

Plants from local nursery:  $24.00
Note: cherry tomatoes were the variety "Sugary"

Total: $128.90

Expenses yet to be incurred:

Composted manure:

(updated May 25, 2014)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Crimson Red Rhubarb

I've had the worst time growing rhubarb. I have two different varieties: one plant that I think is Victoria, and two plants that are Chipman's Canada Red.

The Victoria produces nothing but seed stalks and a very few really puny edible stalks. The Chipman's Canada Red was only planted a couple years ago, and so far, it's been pretty puny, but at least it survived some challenging growing seasons.

Last fall, I did some research to see what other varieties were out there. There's a repository in Palmer, Alaska that has well over a hundred varieties, but less than a dozen are available commercially, and really the number is probably about half that, in terms of varieties that are reasonably available. Locally, all I can get is Victoria, which as noted, hasn't done well for me.

A few suppliers offer Crimson Red, including Territorial Seed, where I've bought other products, and had a good experience. I ordered two plants, and was a little miffed, because the shipping was supposed to be mid-to-late-March, and I received them a little bit before March 15th, which would be fair, except that the whole country has had an extremely tough winter, so I would have thought they'd wait a little bit, closer to the end of March. At the time I received the plants (which were supposed to be planted ASAP), the garden was covered with six inches of snow, and the ground was frozen solid.

It wasn't until March 29th that I could dig more than an inch below the surface, and plant the rhubarb. Given all my bad luck with rhubarb plants, I worried the whole time that the plants would die before the ground thawed. But finally, I could dig holes (three, as it turned out, since one of the plants had a chunk of root that had separated from the rest, and seemed to be viable), just in time for some rain in the forecast, so they'd get well watered in. Of course, the rain turned out to be torrential, so then I fretted that my new plants would drown (since rhubarb doesn't do well without good drainage).

At least so far, all is well. A couple of the leaves that had sprouted and were most advanced at the time of planting did die, probably from dehydration during the two weeks of sitting on the kitchen counter until I could plant them. But the rest of the emerging stalks look promising.

ETA: As of May 10th, only the plant above survived, of the three Crimson Red roots I started with.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring? Please?

After a brutal winter (that isn't over yet), I'm starting to think that maybe, just maybe there will in fact be a planting season this year. Just got a notice from a plant supplier that rhubarb roots are on the way, even though the ground is too frozen to dig a hole and likely will be for another ten days to two weeks.

The one encouraging note: the new variety of garlic (Red Russian) that I planted this past fall has sprouted (5 plants, out of what I thought I recalled as 6 cloves, but I may have remembered wrong, and even if we lost one, it's hardly surprising given the intense winter) and they're a good 3" tall. In contrast, our regular variety, German Extra Hardy, hasn't sprouted yet.

ETA: I just found my planting notes: 68 German Extra Hardy from full-sized heads, 86 German Extra Hardy from 2-clove heads (wild plants) and 6 Red Russian.