Saturday, June 19, 2010

State of the Garden Address: June 19

Current Plantings:
  • Potatoes: Starting to set some pretty little buds which tells me two wonderful, wonderful things: first the plants are healthy and second it is almost time to harvest some new potatoes. Can. not. hardly. wait.
  • Peas: twisting and twining their way up the garden fence. I've never grown peas before, so this a new experience and I don't really know what to expect.
  • Lettuce: the Black seeded simpson is giving us leaves. Its really not enough to make a salad with, but I've been putting them with our regular lettuce and pretending nonetheless. I'm not sure when the lettuce will end, but I kind of expected it to have ended already. Weird. I will most certainly grow lettuce again. I'm a little shocked at how easy it is and shocked that I've never considered trying before this year.
  • Carrots: Whelp... I was staggering the plantings so that we wouldn't have them all ready at once. Like I said yesterday we're going to have a few less carrots, thanks to Aayla. She just got the first two rows that would have been ready first. (oh my poor, poor, big, healthy, green, leafy, little buggers. oh well. 'tis life.) We are going to have a month (or a little less now) of carrots coming up a few at a time but I finished planting the rest of the area with a million and a half carrots to cut up for the freezer. I might experiment with storing them in sand... but we'll see. I know I can freeze them at least.
  • Bush Beans: getting bushier and bushier and holy cow there is a lot of them. I kept thinking they weren't growing but I realized a couple days ago that they have a lot more than just their seedling leaves, so I was just being crazy. I think next year I'll plant a few then plant a few more in the weeks to come. I can already tell its going to be a big deal getting them all off and frozen before they go bad. We lost two plants in the wind storm. Two out of roughly 30 (I can't remember how many we have) is not too shabby. I didn't take them down because they are still green despite being bent and seemingly broken. Will they still come through? We will see, my friends.
  • Pole Beans: They have begun to ascend up the garden fence that is our makeshift trellis. I'm so antsy for some fresh green beans.
  • Cucumbers: My goodness these are taking off. I was really worried because the seedling leaves started to turn brown/dry and I thought since I hadn't hardened them off before I planted them that it was sunburn. I'm starting to think that maybe that's just what they do. The plant otherwise looks pretty healthy and is starting to climb up the trellis.
  • Tomatoes: We've got green little tomatoes on the vine. I've been pruning them, now that I know how, and I think its doing the plant a lot of good. There is so much air flowing around in there and I would like to believe (although, its probably just my imagination) that for every green branch I take off, one fruit branch appears and sets those blessed yellow flowers. I am still surprised every single time I prune it how much the "branches" smell like fresh, ripe tomatoes. Its so tantalizing. I have a feeling we're going to have a great tomato harvest this year.
  • Watermelon: booo. Booooo for the watermelon. If it doesn't get any bigger soon, I'm going to rip it out. Its just sitting there lookin' like I just started it yesterday. The seeds are up, but I feel like it's been a two leaf seedling for about three weeks. This is what not having a camera is like; you have to rely on your fallible memory. I don't think we'll get any watermelon this year. Next year, I start it from seed under the lights because this is ridiculous.
  • Raspberries: I reluctantly trimmed and prunned them down (like I probably should have done a while ago) and realized it was the best thing I could have done. The big, strong canes that had been lost amidst the short, new suckers have set a bunch of flowers that are already starting to turn to berries. I say "already" like its a miracle, but really, the season is almost upon us. I just expected that if I hacked out over half of our growth that we'd get a small harvest. Won't make that mistake again. So far, I have not seen any of those dang Japanese beetles that basically destroyed the plants last year. I'm not sure when they come out, but I'm ready for 'em.
  • Asparagus: Feathery and large. I had thought that each crown would sent up just one shoot this year (since I know nothing about growing asparagus). However, once that initial one popped through the soil and started to fern, we have asparagus popping up all over the place. I think we're going to be gifting asparagus once it all comes in and we're allowed to harvest for the whole season (in two years).
  • Corn: Well, my neighbor is slightly jealous. He's on his 3rd set of corn starts and they aren't performing. He keeps looking at our corn that is just below our knees and shaking his head. I feel bad for him because that is how I felt about ALL of his vegetables last year. I think he's going to get some corn on his doorstep this season just because they are awesome neighbors.
  • Strawberries: These things are sending out runners like crazy. Its easier to pull off all the flowers (to keep it from making fruit) now that I've gone strawberry picking. Next year we can let it flower and start harvesting it. I don't think its going to be too crazy to assume that the entire patch will be covered completely with strawberries.
  • Herbs: (Cilantro & Basil) We lost the oregano at some point. I think the ground was too cold... and I didn't water them like I should have. Oops. The Cilantro is coming up like crazy. The Basil is still really, really small but its there; we haven't killed it yet. We'll see if it grows.
  • Peppers: the peppers seem to like being right up by the deck. Our garden doesn't get a lot of morning sun, but the deck planter boxes do. We've got a few little fruits that look like they are starting to form. We have planted peppers for three years and have yet to harvest even a single one. This will be the year, I can already tell.
Next to Start:
  • It is time to start some broccoli under the lights for fall plantings. I'm going to buy a light timer so that those poor babies aren't relying on my memory or availability to drink some light.Also going to try the "put in a shallow saucer of water" method for the constant watering wicking.
Ideas 
  • Converting the garden to the (slightly modified) square foot gardening method. I rented the book from the library, loved it, bought it, and have been mulling over it for a couple weeks now. I can't believe how genius it is.
  •  Trellis melons and tomatoes like the SFG method suggests. It looks crazy, but not so crazy that it won't work. Reading is dangerous.
Other "Homesteady" things:
  • Put up some strawberry jam. The first two batches worked perfectly. The third and fourth failed to set. Alissa wanted me to make some for her too, so I did two pots at the same time but seperatly because I'd read that the pectin won't set if you make a big batch. The pectin didn't set when I made two seperatly either, darn it. I'm going to open them up and re cook them to try and save them. Canning is a whole heck of a lot easier than I expected it to be. I've taken to heart the piece of advice that says not to try and do all the canning all at one time. Instead it suggested to take quick shots at it as the produce is ready so that you don't get burnt out. So far, so good. Obviously you have to can when things are ready, so I think step one is planting so that enough for one batch is ready at a time (of course thats WHEN POSSIBLE. I know sometimes its unavoidable.)
  • The chickens stopped laying eggs for about a week. Every egg that they did lay they cracked open and pecked apart. I think its their way of protesting the fact that they don't have access to the garden anymore and can only run about when we let them out. (We have to do that until we make a chicken tractor now that the neighbor has a dog). I started letting them out more and gave them new straw for their nest (they refuse to lay in the nest box). The very next day we had two beautiful, brown, large eggs just waiting to come inside. Btw... most other countries don't refrigerate their eggs. I was at first appalled but then felt freed by this information. I'm a little less creeped out by an egg I find at the end of the hot day.
  • Spent a few hours last night researching grass-fed beef. I was reminded again that I really, really want to buy a share in a dairy cow for some raw milk. I set my email lines and had one bite this morning on the grass fed beef. we'd have to drive about 3 hours to get it, but its prime vacation area up there anyway, so why not make a fun day out of it. Most of the places apparently fill up their orders in March. Who knew? Next year I'll jump a little quicker. I'm not completely decided on whether we'll get a quarter split of beef this year. My dad has a (handicap and therefore allowed to shoot out of season) friend that has a license to shoot as many deer as he can on a farmers property. I'm totally against their plan of shooting the deer and letting them stack up. It just seems wasteful. I asked if we could have some and they said come and get 'em and that we'd just have to pay for processing. So, maybe we'll just do venison this year and get the cow next year. Still debating. Nothing like a good beef steak.
Pictures, pictures I know would make this post a whole lot better. We're still waiting for our tax refund (we were refunded half but since they didn't accept Ameira's soc number they still owe us over $1000. grrr. How is that fair?) and then I will go buy a camera. Patience, Nancy, patience.

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