Search This Blog

Thursday, March 31, 2016

You can plant a lot of veggies in only three to six hours of sun.

Having a vegetable garden with varying levels of sunlight is a bit of a challenge, but I'm learning how to deal with it. I was happy to find a pretty long list of vegetables than can do well in 3 to 6 hrs of sun a day. Kale, collards, spinach, arugula, radicchio, swiss chard, beets, beans are just a few that will do well. You can get a complete list by checking it out on google.

I've been up since 3:30 this morning, by 5am, I was checking the seeds that I have on damp hand towel paper in zip lock bags. A couple of the different version Brandywine tomato seeds sprouted and I got them in a couple of peat pots, and got a few more pots ready for more of those and the Big Zac and Gigantica San Marzano tomato, and Oriental eggplants that I'm waiting to sprout.

As soon as it warms up a bit some of my other tender veggie starts have to be put out on the back porch for the day. With this warm spell those plants are going to be well hardened off by the time they're ready to go in the garden.

The past few nights I've been leaving my artichoke seedlings on the porch, but just covering them with a box around 7 pm.

Yesterday I filled the last of the 3 window boxes for herbs on the back porch and planted it with a French thyme and dill and will plant the rest of it with some basil when it's warm enough. I also planted a Nelly Moser clematis which was a chore since half the hole was filled with large gravel sized rocks, dug up what seems like a totally dead clematis that had a bad fungus right after I planted it last year, and  re-potted it and set it aside to make sure. Then I replanted that spot with a climbing rose, set up my new compost bin, dug up and replanted an artichoke that I had in a temporary spot, moved some planters and hand watered.

With this warm weather it looks like I need to turn on the automatic watering later today. I have too many newly planted things that are needing hand watering now. There's also a new section as well as new raised beds that need to have the drip system added or redone and hand watering is taking too much time at the moment.

Time to get my protein and banana drink breakfast and check if it's warm enough to put some of those veggies out on the black porch for the day.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Morel hunting

Today's morel hunting was cancelled due to rain; but here's a small group that were found last weekend at my son and daughter-in-laws new ranch land here in the Rogue Valley in S.Oregon.

Since it's raining, I doubt if I'll get garden time today and it's just as well since I'm tired and sore after a couple of day of digging out rocks and tree roots, making some new beds and planting.

The past couple of days I've planted potatoes, onions, leeks, fava beans, carrots, beets, some annuals and perennials. I also dug up some herbs and transplanted those in the Secret vegetable garden so I'd have more room for flowers in the flower bed behind the house. Shallots that were temporarily in one of my earth boxes had to get moved to another spot. I still have a few more of those to move and plant and garlic that is temporarily housed in another earth box has to get moved as well.  

I do companion planting and many of those herbs work well to keep the bugs away from the vegetable and fruit plants,  I've planted thyme near the cabbage family plants and will plant the oregano near the two new grapes I planted this season. The garlic does well near the lettuce and is supposed to ward off black spot when planted near roses. It also wards off aphids on the roses.

The past month I've planted six new roses, so I'll plant some of those garlic transplants around those. The garlic is also good planted near peas, and cucumbers.

My first peas are up about six or more inches and a later group is up about three inches, I have the earlier ones in a couple of window boxes and they'll be replaced with heat loving flowers or peppers  once our S.Oregon summer high temperatures slows them down.

Building a new gardens over meager, old, neglected ones is a lot of hard work, but I do see some light at the end of the tunnel, The raised beds are done and I'm just waiting for the newly planted asparagus to show some signs of life and growth so I can fill in the channels with all the soil that is blocking me from prepping the last area for planting tomatoes in another month,

Tomatoes benefit from being planting near the asparagus which helps prevent nematode damage to the roots of tomatoes.

If anyone is interested in learning more about companion planting there's a wonderful little paperback book titled "Carrots Love Tomatoes", by Louise Riotte.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Last blueberry planted

The weather forecast was for rain all day and thunder storms in the afternoon, so I had no expectation of getting into the garden, and was ready for a lazy Sunday doing paperwork and making a small batch of pizza dough in the afternoon. But miracle of miracles, no thunder came, and the pizza dough was made and covered to rest for an hour, just as the sun came out!

So, not wasting a minute, I rushed to the garden in my lounging PJ's and planted the last blueberry, a few red calendulas, transplanted another oregano, and pulled a few weeds. And miracle of miracles I didn't even get dirty!

I finished just in time to get the rested pizza dough in the fridge for it's two or three day cold rise.

With rain in the forecast Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday will be the next day I can get in the garden. Meantime I'll just keep an eye out for  the seeds I've planted in the house the past few days.

Time for my beans and cornbread dinner, and maybe figure ot where I'm going to plant the rest of the veggies!


Friday, March 18, 2016

Getting rid of garden pests

Here's a good source for dealing with garden insects, with pictures of the critters and ways to deal with them.

There was no time for the garden today. It was a day to meet with the account for taxes, then stops at the Farmers market and local garden center for more things to plant.

I was surprised to see some tomato plants at both places, and the selection was pretty good, although they didn't have a lot of heirloom tomatoes, so I only bought one Cherokee purple, one Brandywine, and a cherry tomato. Tomorrow I'll plant my own seeds of an Italian San Marzano heirloom that is larger than most San Marzanos, and a hybrid Beefsteak that I started from seeds a few years ago and have never found available as plants. It's the only Hybrid beefsteak I ever found that actually tastes like an heirloom.

It's too early to plant the tomatoes and a few other things so I will bringing them in every night and putting them out in the morning.

Tomorrow I need to plant some of the annuals and perennials I bought today, including another blueberry; and if I have time and energy, I'll prep some soil and have it ready for potato planting. My red seed potatoes are well sprouted and I cut them this afternoon. When the cut sides seal, they'll be ready to plant.

It felt so good to be at the Farmers market see flowers in bloom, smell the food cooking (I had a Thai chicken red curry that was delicious), and brought home a croissant for breakfast tomorrow. With today's 70 degrees and the same tomorrow, it feels like spring is already here. It will be rainy Sunday and cold next week, but I will relish today and not dwell on the more crazy March weather to come.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Morning seed starting and garden in the afternoon and resident skunk problem

Started planting some indoor seeds of basil, hollyhocks and some perennials for the endangered Monarch butterflies right after breakfast this morning. Those need 3 days in 60F temps, and then a month or more in the fridge. I've never started those from seeds, so it will be interesting to see how it goes. If it doesn't work, maybe the local farmers market will have some this season.

Then I got some pinto beans soaking for tomorrow night's bean and cornbread dinner,.

It's going to be 60F by two o'clock this afternoon, so I'll be in the garden by 1:30 to continue digging trenches to plant the remaining asparagus plants. There are also some pink lily bulbs and violas to plant today.

My raised beds need to get extended but I can't do that until I get my earth boxes moved, and before I can move them myself, I have to remove some of the soil and replace it with fresh potting soil after I move them.

Right now I have to call the Amazon seller who I bought a new compost bin from, because the package was missing the clips so I can set that up. I have two buckets of kitchen waste ready to go in there now! Actually, they were ready to go in there two days ago, but I've been holding back because of the skunk who's been hanging around the past couple of nights, and I don't want to put that stuff in my old compost pile where he can easily get to it and have a reason to hang around here even longer.

I read the other day that they don't like moth balls and will avoid areas with them, and since this is the time of year they're looking for places to have and raise their young, I'll be  buying a lot of moth balls tomorrow!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Seed starting chart

Link to seed starting chart from Dept of agriculture NC edu

This is a handy chart to use this time of year. I've already gotten most of my seeds sorted and just need to make my gardening calendar, as to when I need to plant them indoors.

My little artichokes are now about four inches tall, and I gave them their first meal of weak (1/4 strength), fish fertilizer this week.

Yesterday was a heavy gardening, moving soil and removing big roots day. I got my two blueberry plants dug up and re-planted, extended one of my strawberry raised beds a bit and planting a few more strawberries. I also finished planting most of the perennials I had on hand.

The job that caused the current stabbing pain in my back, was moving a lot of soil to lower and level the ground next to the entrance to my secret garden, so I could move on of the very large ceramic pots that flank both side of the entrance gate into the garden.

Digging and shoveling the soil was the easy part, cutting out large roots, some over 1 1/2 inches is what did in my back. Even a long soaking bath with epsom salts and sea salt didn't help, but the Tylenol extra strength seems to be helping a bit.

Moving the pot after I got the soil, roots and rocks removed probably contributed to my painful back today; but the job is done and this rainy day is giving me a day to rest it.

The only thing I harvested yesterday was some Italian parsley for my linguine with clam sauce dinner. I have some over wintered escarole that I should use this week to make my bean, sausage and escarole soup. These cool, rainy days are perfect for soup.

So today I'll do laundry, catch up with snail and email, and a couple of days of newspapers, and try to see if I can edit my soap making video. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

May get a bit of garden time

We've had so many cold, wet days, that I'm still trying to catch up with my planting and other garden work. Most of it would have been done now if it hadn't been for the weather; but we really need this rain, so I can't complain too much.

Fortunately, we've had enough days where there's been a lull in the rain in the afternoon, so I've been able to get out there and work for 3 to 4 hours at a time.

Yesterday I planted seven new perennials and dug up and re-planted several others. I also planted more snow pea seedlings. The ground is wet and heavy and I need to finish digging trenches and planting the rest of the asparagus. I'll try to do that this afternoon after I dig up and move a couple of young blueberry plants.

I've now got 7 raised beds and they're all planted with strawberries, perennial herbs, and  cool weather veggies. I also planted several raspberries and a thornless boysenberry in there, and one lone, rhubarb.

I have a couple of earth boxes that I'll use for tomatoes and a couple of peppers. Right now, one of them is temporarily housing some shallots which I'll have to transplant once I get these beds enlarged a bit. There shorter than they need to be because those earth boxes and other planters are taking up space in the walkway, but once they get moved, which I hope the gardener can do for me today, I can enlarge the beds enough and still have a wide enough path for my wheel barrel.

Now that I cut down a huge, diseased evergreen, and my neighbor has cut down the huge deciduous tree that was blocking so much sun from my Secret Garden, aka the vegetable garden, I've been able to get another area with enough sun for some veggies and fruit. I built and planted a small 4x4 raised bed with ten June bearing strawberries. They, along with the 25 everbearers I planted this season should give me a nice amount of strawberries for one person, even with the birds helping themselves to some.

The back yard area that houses my flower beds is now 99% deer proofed. The gardeners just have to put up a wire and raise one small section of fence by the back gate. Hopefully they can do that today.

This week I've just about filled up the flower bed that I extended with perennials. There are some herbs I want to move elsewhere to make room for a couple more perennials that need to go in there, and that will complete that bed other than spaces I've left for some annuals like cosmos, bachelor buttons, cherry pink zinnias and other bedding annuals.

It's been a lot of hard work digging out rocks and roots to get these back gardens planted, but I am feel encouraged that down the line I will have a lovely garden. Now I just have to get rid of all that moss in the lawn and other areas. I have a large container of moss removing concentrate and I just need the time and better weather to get it sprayed, or have my lawn person do it for me. It's a very sad looking lawn at the moment!

Well, this is as warm as this day is going to get, so time to dig up and move those blueberries,

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hoping to beat the rain

Looks like we have rain predicted every day for the next two weeks, so I need to take advantage of the warmer afternoons like today, where the rain isn't expected till later in the day. This is about the norm for Southern Oregon weather this time of year.

I've gotten a lot planted already. My Secret Garden, which is my veggie garden, has been my main focus till now. I had to build or add on to several raised beds and most are planted already with cool weather crops. I planted 35 everbearing strawberries a couple of weeks ago, and this week I planted five raspberries and one thornless boysenberry, and planted a six pack of beets, broccoli and lettuce.

Earlier I planted spinach, beets, arugula, kale, brussel sprouts, escarole, garlic, one rhubarb and shallots. My peas should be up soon. I check them a couple of days ago and they have started to sprout.

There are June strawberries and asparagus on order and I was hoping they'd arrive before now. At this point I'm worrying if I have enough room for everything I want to plant. I need to save room for potatoes, squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions and beans. I'll probably put some peppers in one of the earth boxes and put a couple of tomatoes in the other earth box.

My plan is to leave one small section without raised beds for the bean pole, squash, potatoes and more tomatoes. Since it's only myself I'm growing veggies for, I'll use part of the beanpole for cucumbers. I'm hoping I'll have a tiny section for a 4x4 foot section for corn that the squash can meander through.

This week I cleaned and planted a couple of my large window box planters for my back porch which about second floor level. I got tired of going up and down steps for my herbs, so I've planted those two boxes with perennials and annual herbs. There's room for one more planter which I'll use for basil when it's warm enough to plant.

One of the things I've already started from seed is artichokes, because the plants available at my local garden centers, only provide medium size artichokes, so I found a variety that should work here with larger fruits. I love to stuff them and the larger ones work best for that. Now I have to find room for the 5 that have come up. I already have one plant I bought last year that over wintered with a good layer of mulch, and a second one I just bought, which is an Italian heirloom that I'm hoping will have large heads. Since I don't think I'll have room for all of them, I'll probably find a home for 3 or 4 of these new ones.

Well time to get into my garden clothes for the day. Today I'm focusing on planting perennials in the back yard now that I've deer proofed that fence. Last summer I already put a separate deer fence up around the secret garden.

I also have a bunch more primroses to plant in the primrose bed in the more shaded side of the yard, and two roses if time and energy permits. My plan for the back yard is to create a cottage garden. There was almost nothing much in the way of perennials there when I moved in last spring, and at that time I focused on building my secret veggie garden. I've already planted fresh lavender plants after getting the very old, overgrown ones out of there, Asian lilies, and a lot more perennials. So by next season, if all goes well, I'll have the beginnings of a cottage garden to go with this 100 year old craftsman's cottage.

It's going to take me years to get this property in shape and at 76, I hope I live long enough and have the energy to make a lovely space for those who follow me.