Saturday, May 25, 2013

May is Already Producing

We've harvested the rhubarb twice so far this spring. This is after the last harvest.
Already getting the first tomatoes.
From the left:
  • Spearmint. (Harvested once.)
  • Sage. (Harvested once.)
  • Lemon Balm.
  • Spearmint. Lots of spearmint.
  • Chives. 
  • Chocolate mint. 

 Lettuce is growing nicely.

Pattypan summer squash is starting to produce. It's growing in a hanging pot.

Salad greens (mesclun) in another pot.

 Peas are growing in the hanging pot.

And a few black irises are coming up.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Death of the Stump

A story in pictures...

Late May

Early June
Mid June
June 23

 June 30

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Parsley Trees Become Dried Parsley

Last year, I had an extra parsley plant; I didn't know where to plant it, but there was room next to the compost bin. "I wonder if it will like it here?" and I stuck it in the ground.

It liked it there.

This week, I harvested some Parsley trees; it was nearly four feet tall!
So we decided to dry it. Cut four stalks, and it filled (over-filled, really) seven trays in the dehydrator.
It only took about 24 hours to dry completely in the active dehydrator.

And all that, only produced about a cup of dried parsley flakes.

On the other hand, it didn't really take any work.

Notes: Also dried a load of sage, with similar results: several stalks filled five trays, but when ground to powder (I like sage as a powder), it produced less than a quarter cup of powder.

I also dried a bunch of spearmint. I wasn't impressed with dried spearmint, but then, I left it in the dehydrator too long; maybe that was part of the problem.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Busy with Spring

Got a number of things done today.

Got the basil planted in the herb garden bed. Mostly the traditional stuff. A little of the purple aramatto basil.
Got an additional 12' of trellis for the Evergreen Clematis. It's already half full.
The taters are thriving in their towers. It seems that when I add 4" of dirt, they grow 5" in the next couple of days. Not the worst problem I ever had.
Got some tomatoes and melons planted in the indoor garden (great big planting bags). Still need to add some peppers.
 Planted ("up-potted") several tomatoes into their destined pots. Particularly interested in the Monster (huge fruit) and Beefsteak tomatoes.
 We have actual strawberries! I'm amazed.
And the rhubarb is going completely nuts. Harvested some today. Need to harvest a lot more.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Girls Come Home to Roost

Recently, I posted about a chicken tractor I built, and then I introduced the three ladies who will live there.

Well, today they moved in.

All three are named for their nature:

Princess rules the roost. She gives real meaning to the idea "the top of the pecking order."

Clueless has some very special characteristics that gave her the very special name.

Lady Lazarus came back from the edge of death. She is, indeed, a lady in the classical, sexist sense: more reserved in her mannerisms, not as eager to discover strange new worlds or boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

They should start producing eggs by fall. They'll begin eating weeds and scraps, and producing compost, immediately.

I'm looking forward to this.

Discovering their new home.

And down for the night.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sweet Potatoes in Washington State

Early this spring, I planted red, yellow, white, purple and fingerling potatoes. I was getting into growing potatoes!

So I was looking for another kind of potatoes to plant. Aha! Sweet potatoes! We love sweet potatoes! I headed to my local nursery. "You can't grow sweet potatoes in Washington! No, we don't carry starts that you'll just kill!"

Challenge accepted!

Apparently sweet potatoes come from Central and South America, and are grown in the US mostly in North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi and California. Washington is too cold to grow sweet potatoes.

Folks that know me, know that the best way to get me to do something is to tell me it can't be done. I grew cantaloupes and watermelons in Bellingham (successfully) for no better reason than that. They were small, but they were also yummy.

So I ordered a dozen starts from George the Tatorman. One of the varieties is called Georgia Jets, and is suitable for growing in more northern climates (apparently, like Georgia). Georgia Jets are known for their "remarkable hardiness. Great for our northern neighbors. Has rose petal skin that truly stands out in the field. Light orange meat. Excellent baker. Matures in 80-90 days with normal rainfall."

Research suggests that the big thing for sweet potatoes is the soil temperature. I've got a couple of very large bins in the greenhouse that I'll be growing them in.

I have seven plants; here are the first four. I planted these in mid-May. These are pretty closely packed, as far as commercial sweet potato growers talk about. As a result, I'll get smaller sweet potatoes, "suitable for baking," rather than the huge ones in the grocery store.

Apparently, I've been contagious: I've got a couple of friends with greenhouses going on them as well.

More news as it breaks.


Here's how they're doing on the first of June. It looks to me like they're doing reasonably well. I wonder why some are doing better than others.
This weekend I gave them each a spoonful of 8-10-10 fertilizer.

And here we are the tenth of June. They're growing fast.

Me? Excited? What makes you think that?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Clueless, Princess and Lady Lazarus

These three ladies will be joining our household in a week or so.

They'll contribute a good number of breakfasts to our family.

Lady Lazarus has earned her name. Power went out in the place that they were living as baby chicks, and a good number of their peers died. Lazzie gave every appearance of being among them, but their gifted caregiver brought her back from the brink!

This Chicken Tractor will be their home shortly, and will become an egg-dispensing facility.

Looking forward to fresh eggs from the back yard.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Columbine in the Vine Maple

We have a curious paired planting in our garden. It happened first by accident, but we liked how it it turned out, and kept it paired.

This is a columbine growing up inside a vine maple. We think it's pretty.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coolest Part of the Flower Garden

We're experimenting with growing a few veggies in the flower garden. These are BZU's:
Broccolization units. (It's just our family's way of having fun with this highly favored veggie.)

Got a batch of awesome carrots around the corner, right next to the Irises.

Friday, May 10, 2013

First Blossoms! Really!

This is ridiculous. It's only the first week of May, and my tomatilla is already sporting its first blossom of the year. It wants to start fruiting! What?

Sure is pretty though, to see life working so hard like that. God did a good job when he invented life!

And then this tomato gets in on it, with three blossoms! Wow!

The curious thing: this tomato is doing better than any others. But this tomato is a weed! I didn't plant it; it just decided it wanted to grow where I was trying to sprout some lemon grass seed. I have no idea what kind of tomato it is, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's Early Girl.