Friday, October 26, 2012


Hey, Universe, where are the science adventure stories for girls? And while you're at it, please give well-meaning strangers a different line to use with the kiddo than, "Why aren't you in school?"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The garden in August

Hm. Looks more like a jungle than a garden. It will be interesting to see how the squashes do next year, when they'll have this size area all to themselves. I'm told one vining squash can happily take over 25 square meters. We don't have that much space for them, but they'll have more than they've got just now.

Otherwise...tomatoes are finally starting to think about getting ripe, some of them. The Spawn ate the first ripe cherry tomato from one of our container grown tomatoes, but I'm looking forward to the big 'uns out there in the garden. Peppers are maybe thinking about turning colour too. A couple of 'em actually look kind of sad--may have gotten some sort of mold, I suppose. We grow that really well.

The Spawn's got lots of flowers blooming in her row. Her jack-o-lantern pumpkin plant has finally set a fruit too, so she may get to do a jack-o-lantern on her very own pumpkin this year. I'm not letting her grow so many nasturtiums next year though. I'm not letting ME grow so many either. They're all over!

The herbs are...puttering along. The basil isn't doing too badly, but the dill is just barely doing anything. There are a couple of decent sized tobacco plants though. Just planted some coriander and parsley for fall harvest. Yum! I also just planted some kale in the herb row, since that's where there was space. Or rather, where there was space not being taken over by squashes!

Next row, green onions are finally harvestable. The Spawn has decided they're like giant chives and she's been pulling them and eating the tops. The Better Half gets the bottom part. They both seem reasonably happy with that arrangement. Beets are doing well. I planted to give us a steady supply (I hope) until it gets too cold. Seems to be working so far. The cauliflower and cabbages are nice and leafy, but otherwise not doing much.

Chard is good. Lots and lots of the stuff. I tried two new to me varieties this year, Perpetual Spinach, which all bolted and Verde di Taglio, which is also now bolting. I think I'll stick with Bright Lights, which makes leaves as big as my body and never bolts. And for spinach, phooey on Galilee, which has bolted as soon as it get four leaves every single time I've planted it, spring, summer and autumn. Bordeaux did a bit better, but it bolted pretty quickly. Olympia is good though. It gets some respectable growth before bolting. The purslane is doing very well, as is the vegetable mallow. I planted a bunch of leaf amaranth, which should be ready to start harvesting soon. Pretty stuff and tasty too.

Should start getting some cucumbers soon. The zucchini is going into summer overdrive, which means I need to start dehydrating. And, of course, the other cucurbits are enthusiastic, as I said. I'm seeing some decent sized stuff in amongst the leaves already, so starting them indoors may actually give us truly ripe squashes this year! Keeping my fingers crossed.

We've just started harvesting from the broccoli. So very, very tasty! I need to work on getting a good succession of broccoli next year. But I do hope to be able to freeze at least a bit this year for winter eating. Or we might just eat it all. Even the Spawn likes it!

Um...more greens, right. Spinach and chard. This is the...third and second round respectively, so just starting to harvest and eat them. Harvest and freeze, in the case of much of the chard. I suspect I'm going to get tired of frozen chard and beet greens.

Lettuce is doing well, though we're not eating as much of it as the Better Half would like. Some has gotten swallowed by the squashes. Some has gotten swallowed by a small rabbit that we've been seeing the garden. Some has been for us though and is darned tasty. Got one head starting to bolt though, so it'd better be for dinner tomorrow.

Bush beans are doing fairly well. They're meant to all be for dry beans, but the Better Half was impatient for green beans and forgot. The corn has just started silking. It looks so small, doesn't it? It's a dwarf variety and never does get any bigger. Still makes sweet corn though, which is all that really matters to the corn enthusiasts of the household.

The pole beans are nicely strung up on nylon netting. We've gotten a few of the Scarlet Emperor runner beans already, but the others are either just starting to bloom or not even thinking about it yet. Laggards! Oh, the picture is just illustrative of the netting. It's from a couple of weeks ago and doesn't reflect the current state of bean growth.

Potatoes are all blooming. Some are almost done blooming, so we'll start restricting their water soon. Our heat wave will be over by then, I'm sure. Maybe I should say our three or four days of summer will be over by then....

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The joys of illness

Last week the Spawn got sick. She spent a whole day doing basically nothing, though I had the opportunity to read aloud for hours and hours and hours. She's still got the snot, but has otherwise recovered.

Maybe because she'd just been sick, she was most sympathetic about my go at the virus. She advised me to get lots of rest. She said that because she liked looking at pictures when she was sick, she would paint pictures for me to look at. She painted several like the one below of our garden. She also gave me a small cardboard tube which she'd painted silver. I guess I know what to give her next time she's sick....

From left to right, that's a pumpkin, a delicata squash, the squash leaf, a chard leaf, the leaves of a beet, and a tomato plant.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The garden in July

Okay, almost a month later and things are looking a bit more active. We recently installed drip tape in the hopes of managing better with our low water pressure. We shall see. It's rained fairly regularly since we got it hooked up, so there's been no real test yet. Summer appears set to start tomorrow though. Tomatoes are big enough to be out of their cloche. They're actually in need of better staking at this point. The previous stakes had been cut to fit under the cloche. We have a few tiny peppers on the pepper plants. Those will probably remain cloched for the whole summer. I don't trust it to be warm enough for long enough to ripen peppers otherwise. The Spawn has some nice flowers coming along in her row. Her watermelon is pretty sad looking. I'm never buying starts from that person again. They've all done poorly. Other purchased starts have done all right in varying degrees, but not those. I may throw some more watermelon seeds in the ground just on a lark. Couldn't hurt and maybe the people who are saying we're in for a long hot summer will be right. The herb row isn't doing so well. A lot of them got toasted on one of our unexpectedly hot days. We've had so much cool, rainy weather that when the sun DOES shine all of the sudden, the plants get sunburned. Even the WEEDS got sunburned. The next row has the green onions, which are bigger than chives, at least. The beets are doing reasonably well. The first round has golf-ball sized beets, which may be all the bigger I let them get. I really like the greens better than the beets. The cabbage and cauliflower is limping along. Some never sprouted and I may replant. Not sure if it's worth it though. The carrots are doing pretty well. I'm getting better at seeding them so I don't have to thin as much. Yay for that! I'll probably do one more round of carrots to finish off the row. I haven't decided if I'll let the volunteer nasturtium stay in the row or not. I do like to have pretty stuff in the garden too. It's especially nice when it's pretty AND edible. The greens are doing reasonably well. One of the chard varieties bolted--called Perpetual Spinach, ironically enough. The rest of the chard is going gangbusters. I'm about to start harvesting and freezing some of it. Vegetable mallow is almost big enough to start harvesting from. Sorrel is coming along, but not harvestable yet. Luckily there's a ton of volunteer sorrel, which is weird since I didn't PLANT sorrel last year. I'm not complaining though. Olympia spinach is ready to harvest now. I had to take out all the Bordeaux spinach since it bolted very quickly. Grr. The various cucurbits are coming along well. The cucumbers got sunburned pretty badly and I've replanted them. If the replants surpass the originals, I'll yank the first round. We've had a couple of blooms on one of the winter squashes already--male flowers, but ya gotta start somewhere. It's getting difficult to keep that area weeded. The next row is an "empty" row, but it's getting radishes planted in it until the squashes take it over. The first round of radishes is all eaten, in fact. I never knew I like radish greens until we had this garden. I still don't like radishes, they're all for the Better Half, but the greens are nice sauteed in a bit of bacon fat. Most of the broccoli is doing well. Our favourite variety, Thompson, seems to be doing the best. We had poor germination with the Veronica, so I ended up moving some other seedlings around. They did survive their move, but only time will tell if they'll thrive in their new locations. Not a whole lot visible in the second row of greens. Quite a few seedlings, but still pretty small. More chard and spinach, some purslane, I think, and leaf amaranth. The lettuce row is finally getting to the eating stage. If we can keep 'em watered, we should be good for quite some time to come. There's more purslane and a Strawberry Spinach there too, since they're good in salads. Bush beans are pretty sad, mostly. They got badly burned and some never recovered. The ones planted in the north section of the garden did better, for some reason. They do get shade earlier in the day. The pole beans are all over the board. The Withner's White didn't germinate worth beans, if you'll pardon the pun. I 'spect it was too cold and wet for them. The yard-long beans are really just poking along, but at least they are growing. The others are doing quite well and need to be strung up soon, soon, soon. The corn back in the SE corner is...annoying. Replanted starts and had covers over them. When I took the covers off, half the corn plants got eaten AGAIN. We're thinking crows now, since we spotted one casing the joint the other day. Luckily I still had more starts and we RE-replanted. They'll stay covered until they don't fit any more. If they're not big enough then, I give up on corn for this year. Not visible are three very happy rows of potatoes. They're doing SO much better than last year. They were really in too shady a spot. I note though that a few volunteers came up in that plot and they're all doing much better than they did last year too. I guess they like all the rain we've been having. I think that covers the garden. We've also acquired seven turkeys (lost two to, we think, a marten) and twenty-one ducklings. Our Anconas all went broody and hatched at least seven ducklings. Only one of those survived and that because the Better Half rescued it. The duck barn isn't as tight as we'd like. The ducks are fine, but something had some tender young duckling for a midnight snack. Anyhow, the ducklings are more Anconas, to fill out our flock, which got rather pruned by a coyote last year. Wish we could have a dog or two!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Garden in June

This is the summer/fall garden area--the winter/spring area is...a mess. I decided to skip most of the winter garden for this upcoming winter so the potatoes and some of the beans are planted there. About half the garden is hoed in this shot, but luckily most of the weeds are small enough to not show too much at this resolution. Actually some aren't weeds but volunteers. A ton of borage, most of which is getting chopped, strawberry spinach, purslane, some vegetable mallow, and, oddly enough tomatoes. I didn't think anything got ripe enough last year to volunteer. From left to right: First row is tomatoes and peppers, which will be under the cloches until they won't fit any more. We need all the help we can get to harvest any in this climate. Next row is Diana's row--nothing much visible there. Next is herbs, most of which just got moved outside. I'll direct seed a few more things, but wanted a head start on basil, etc. Next row has green onions and, just visible I think, beets. There some cabbage down at the far end, but it's still tiny, tiny. Next row is carrots and I need to plant another round in a few more days. Still pretty small, but doing well. Next row is greens--visible is a bunch of chard, which we love and it freezes well. Then an empty row. Then two rows of cucurbits--cucumbers, watermelon (a girl can dream, can't she?), zucchini, and lots and lots of winter squash. We like squash and it stores well, if the voles don't get to it. Then another empty row, though I've got a couple of rounds of radishes there. They'll get harvested before the space is taken over by squashes. Then broccoli, I think. A whole row, interplanted with flowers. Another thing we like that freezes well. Then more greens. Then summer lettuces--yay for salads! Last two rows are beans, one bush beans for dry beans and one runner and pole beans, some for green and some for drying. The plastic cups with holes punched in them are to keep the bluejays off until the plants get large enough to be less attractive to birds. I was an idiot and didn't do that for the corn, which I am now restarting indoors. Grr. It'll go in a block in the far right corner.

Monday, June 4, 2012

From the Fridge

Okay, not really from the fridge, nor yet from the hallway gallery. The Spawn drew these today and decided they should be in HER room. For which I can't really blame her in the least. I think they're pretty cool. Not sure I'd have had the patience to do all those pine needles when I was five.

This is several fairies with ivy leaf houses under a pine tree. She used a stencil for the ivy leaves, which is think is wonderful. That's why we have a big box of stencils.

In this picture it's raining. There are several fairies in the tall grass, which hides them from predators. Unfortunately, two of the fairies have had their wings bitten off! I suspect this last explanation of being after the fact when she realized she'd forgotten their wings. But maybe not. We've lost a couple of ducklings to predators lately, even though our grass is MUCH taller than what she's drawn here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Too many seeds!

Ye gods, but I am turning into quite the seed hoarder! I do try to keep track of stuff so we plant everything that's about to expire, but I've still got five boxes of seeds in the fridge. Luckily it's the spare fridge and meant to be used for seeds, potatoes, the occasional batch of meat aging before going in the pot (or the freezer). If it was the main fridge, we'd have no room for food. Hmmm...I see we have a hundred and seventy some odd different varieties of potential yumminess. This may take a while.

Of random interest and so I can find my links easily, we have seeds from:

Adaptive Seeds (way too much interesting and unusual stuff)
Baker Creek (great heirloom seeds, if not necessarily the best for this region)
Botanical Interests (primarily flowers and herbs from them)
Fedco Seeds (not local, but decent stuff and excellent prices--their seed potatoes are pretty decent too and certified)
Fertile Valley Seeds (not much, but all good seed)
Horizon Herbs (fantastic medicinals)
Johnny's Selected Seeds (aimed toward the commercial grower, but good seeds and fantastic germination information on the packets)
Kitazawa Seed Company (Asian veggies, mainly)
Nichols Garden Nursery (lots of good heirlooms and OP seeds)
Sand Hill Preservation Center (more heirlooms and a good source for cover crop seed and sweet potato slips)
Seeds of Change (based out of NM, but had some stuff I needed at the time--they seem to be owned by Mars, Inc. now)
Siskiyou Seeds (fairly local, not a huge selection but all excellent for this region)
Territorial Seed Company (the biggest really local seed company--decent seed, but not my favourite any more for no particularly good reason)
Tomato Growers Supply (mostly solanums and I'm not happy with their seeds, not going to buy from them again, no matter how tempting the varieties)
Uprising Seeds (more local, organic, heirloom stuff)

Yikes! Maybe I should go plant some of those seeds now. Gonna start another round of super-early-season tomatoes (all less than 70 days) and maybe some more lettuce. Those a two things you can never have enough of. Maybe I'll go plant some more bee food too. The plan is to plant a pound of bee feed seed in patches all around the place. Should be pretty and useful at the same time. Some of 'em are even culinary/medicinal too!