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.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring/summer planting 2016

April 18: Planted onions (80) in the main garden; lettuce plants and tatsoi in the annex.

Rhubarb looks better then ever before, and garlic is spectacular (and numerous). Need to plant sugarsnap peas tomorrow.

May 13: seeded yellow squash, swiss chard, green beans, dill, nasturtiums

May 14: planted 6 grape tomatoes, 6 banana peppers, 12 New Ace peppers
Waiting until Memorial Day weekend to plant winter squash so it doesn't explode before the garlic and onions are close to ready for harvest.

May 29: seeded Connecticut field pumpkin (the whole packet, since it's 12 years old; not sure any will germinate, and only growing them because I didn't realize I was out of butternut seeds), about 20 kabocha (Sunshine) squash (in case the pumpkins don't germinate), and additional green beans and swiss chard to compensate for the poor germination during the recent mini-drought. Hoping for rain tonight/tomorrow. Asparagus season is over. Also pulled about 6 Russian garlic rounds that got in the way of weeding, since last year's garlic harvest is completely consumed.

June 10: Not surprisingly, the pumpkins didn't germinate. Only 7 kabocha (not 12 years old, but probably 4 or more) sprouted. Swiss chard continues to germinate poorly, again because the seeds are older than I realized originally. I think I may have two chard plants, max, from the second seeding, so last night I started about 36 seeds indoors to see if consistent moisture helps the germination rate. Scored a six-pack (with about 10 seedlings) of butternut squash today. Woohoo! I'd given up on butternuts and was a little anxious about only having 7 kabocha, since they don't produce as well as butternut generally. Second sowing of green beans is doing nicely.

Costs 2016

It's probably going to be a light gardening year, in both expenses and harvest.

Planted onions today (April 18), and an eight-pack of assorted lettuces (over in the annex). Used up the left-over manure from last year to line the onion planting trenches.
  • $6:   80 onions (half red, half "Candy" yellow)
  • $3:   8 lettuce plants
  • $13: Sage plant, 6 Sugary grape tomatoes, 6 banana peppers and 12 New Ace peppers
  • $28: 10 butternut plants (yay! I'd almost given up on finding them) and 4 huge bags of composted manure
TOTAL: $50

ETA: It's fortunate I didn't spend much, because I doubt I got $50 worth of produce out of the garden, thanks to the drought. Might have broken even, but only if I assign some of the manure's cost to next year's garlic crop. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Prognosis 2016

The garden may be reduced this year. I broke my arm last fall when doing some yard work (non-displaced fracture), and it isn't fully healed, so it hurts when I use the hoe with any significant enthusiasm. Which makes sense, since I broke the arm by hitting a rock with the hoe. I'm struggling, though, to accept the latest limitation.

I've cleared the asparagus bed a bit, and transplanted a few of the Russian garlic plants (rounds that grew from seed planted in the fall of 2014), and some errant strawberry plants.

There are, if I remember correctly, about 72 German garlic heads growing, 32 Russian (after starting three falls ago with just one head!) and another 42 of the Russian rounds that were seeded two years ago, grew into rounds last year and then were transplanted in the fall.

I'm planning to do the usual green beans, butternut squash and yellow squash. And onions, except from the local nursery, and probably fewer than in previous years. I'll skip the zukes, because I have some shredded in the freezer, enough for two big batches of zuke bread, and that's pretty much all I ever do with zukes. And I'll cut back on the tomatoes and peppers. Maybe just do cherry tomatoes, which produce better for me anyway. I hate to cut back on peppers, though, so maybe I'll manage my usual 30 or so (24 Ace and 6 banana). But I'll have to find a source for Ace, because the kind I got last year from the local nursery were disappointing.