Thursday, May 29, 2014

End of May: State of Some Starts

This is coriander (and therefore cilantro) from Germany.
The first of the infamous Black Krim.

(Sounds like an associate of the Dread Pirate Robert!)
 First strawberries. Yumm!
Honey Rock melons. I think they're small cantaloupe. 
Lemon cucumbers. These moved outside later in the day.
The first Ostrich fern! This makes milady happy! 
Georgia Jets. I kept one tendril from last year's sweet potatoes, expecting it to die. It never did.

Let's see how this does!
This is a cherry tomato dangling from the bottom of its pot. We have maters!

It's dangling under the patio.

I'm trying corn for the first time in maybe twenty years.

So far, so good.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Red Onion Starts

I've always bought starter sets for onions, partly because I never knew how to handle the timing of planting onion seeds for onion starts.

I planted these seeds on Feb 1. They're ready to set out into the garden on June 1: that sounds like 4 months to me.

Maybe next year, I'll start the seeds about New Years.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Basil: From Starts or From Seed?

I love good, fresh basil. So I usually try to rush the season. The first live basil available is usually from the grocery stores. Trader Joe's offer's a big pot for $3 or $4, and Fred Meyer had a hydroponically grown batch for $5.

But they don't thrive. This is part of Joe's basil (Fred's barely survived). It's grown some, but the leaves are not real healthy looking: they're wrinkled and off color.
This is basil that I planted from seed. It's very happy, and this is after I've cut some and used it.

And it doesn't need to be in a hanging basket; I might have to use that basket for something else. We'll see.

I don't usually plant basil into the herb bed until June is well under way, but these are doing well.

These are all from seed. 

Conclusion: grow your basil from seed.

An Adventure with Ladybugs

Milady saw some aphids sucking the life out of a tomatilla in the greenhouse and felt the need to Do Something.

We've always liked the idea of using nice bugs to kill icky bugs; we've tried repeatedly to hatch praying mantises in the greenhouse, with no success.

So we got ladybugs. Ladybugs love to eat aphids, so we gave them a bit of a feast.

For one day, we had ladybugs everywhere, and from their activities as soon as they were released, we may have baby ladybugs awfully soon as well.

The second day, there were a few ladybugs still around, but almost no aphids, too.

Too early to say if it worked, but it was fun!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chips in the Garden

When we put in the raised beds a couple of years ago, we put in cedar chips between the beds, but we left the stretch between the garden and the greenhouse. It kept trying to creep into the garden, both the beds and the chips in between. So we got rid of it.

A neighbor was doing some landscaping and had rented a sod cutter. He brought it over, and made two passes for me. The grass was all dead already from the cardboard on it for the past 6 months. So it went into the compost.

So I cleaned it up, put down some landscape cloth, and brought in a yard of cedar chips and spread them around.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Peas & Tomatoes

The thought here is that the tomatoes won't need the space until the peas are pretty well done with it.

In fact, I've planted the first and last ones close enough that they can use the peas' trellis after they're done.

We'll see if this works out in the real world half as well as it does in my mind.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Purple Broccoli

I'm going to grow some purple broccoli this year. Or I think I am.

The broccoli flowers are supposed to be purple, instead of green, but then turn green when cooked.

What I've discovered so far is that they're not real strong plants. These have been in the greenhouse much longer than the normal broccoli I put out two weeks ago. It looks pretty pathetic. Let's see if it survives.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More Space by Hanging Things

There's only so much space.

There's only so much space in the garden, only so much space in the greenhouse, only so much space on the patio.

So I hang some things.

These are slicing cucumbers. I've not done these in a hanging pot before. They didn't look strong enough for putting out in the garden (but I hadn't thought about the cold frame yet).

This is the first of the hanging tomatoes this year.

I realized that a weak point is where the stalks are dangling over the side of the pots, rubbing on the top of the pot.

So I opened the drainage holes in some hanging pots, and stuck the tomatoes in those holes. We'll see how this does.

I grow some shallow-root herbs above. In this case, cilantro and sage.

This is how we do that.

These are lemon cucumbers. We do these in hanging pots every year. They do tremendously well in pots.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cold Frame for Tomatoes and Cucumbers

My neighbor is enclosing part of his raised beds for his tomatoes and cucumbers. I realized that yes, these do grow better if they're in the greenhouse than if they're out in the cold and weather.

I decided to try the same. First I put up a couple of sticks (I used zip ties) on top of the trellis to make a very rough frame for the cold frame.
Then I bought a roll of 10' wide 3.5 mil "clear" plastic. (It doesn't look all that clear to me!)

I cut off about 12' of the roll, draped it over the trellis, down past the raised beds to protect the plants.
The ends are partly open: I'm not trying to make a complete greenhouse.

We'll see how this turns out!

I observe that NOAA is forecasting a 42 degree night tonight. This will probably help them tonight.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dill is Transplanted

I've only figured out recently that Dill can start early, before the last frost. I've been starting it indoors and transplanting out around Mother's Day, and I did again this year.

A couple of varieties. Standard stuff (is it called Goliath?), plus some called Dukat, supposed to be smaller and more delicately flavored. Also some mysterious stuff from a generic "herbs" seed pack.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Progress Inside the Greenhouse

We have some good progress inside the greenhouse as well.

I still have too many starts, especially tomato starts!
The beds inside the greenhouse (in the "dirtbags") are getting there: two of the three are planted.

That's melons in the back, to catch the most sun.

Second row: tomatilla on the left, "bench sweepings" peppers on the right: I don't know what kind; they're leftovers from one of my pepper-dehydrating projects.

Third row has a beefsteak tomato on the left, and four peppers from a "variety pack" package of seeds. So I don't know what these are either.

These are pretty much the largest of the peppers. We'll see how they do. I'm thinking I need to start the peppers earlier next year, and in heated beds.

Corn Planted

I got the corn planted this weekend.

It wasn't as I had hoped. My seed of the month membership had provided some "Non-GMO" corn seeds. I'd started those indoors, but very few of them sprouted.

So I planted some regular Ed Hume seeds in rows here. And I transplanted two of the starts that did come up.

Haven't grown corn for a very long time. We'll see how this does this year.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Rock Wall (Slave Day 2014)

Milady has trained our offspring that "Mothers Day" is also known as "Slave Day." Mostly, that means the kids, who have homes of their own now, come hang out at our house for a day. But it also means that we work on some sort of Gardeny project together.

This is the 2014 project. We got the brick wall started, and we used up all the bricks we had, but it's a good start. We'll use the sod from the wall's foundation, and from the steps next door, to fill in behind the bricks.

It's kind of fun to watch it grow.

By golly, it's all growed up!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Birdhouse

Put up a ceramic (stoneware) birdhouse.

We'll see if the birds like it. The hole might be a little big for sparrows and swallows.

Friday, May 9, 2014


I haven't planted beans for a few years. I guess I was focusing on other things.

So I planted beans this year: Scarlet Runner pole beans. They're yummy to eat, but in the flowering stage, their red flowers on the green leaves are really pretty!

The poles are six feet tall, which puts the bases about 30" apart. So I planted some sunflowers with them.

We'll see how this does. And whether I should plant something in the middle of the circle of tall things.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

State of the Fish Experiment

Six weeks ago, I started an experiment with six tiny fish.

I was warned that the "feeder fish" that I was using for my experiment were not guaranteed to be healthy, and that's why they were "feeder fish": they were going to die soon anyway. Might as well feed somebody's bigger fish.

So half of them have died, and the other half are apparently thriving. They've been playing around the surface of the water. I use a lot of their water, probably replacing half of their water daily.

The plants are happy. The fish are happy.

Maybe this will be a good thing?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Second Year of the Gutter Experiment

This is the second year of the Gutter Experiment. I like this year's results better.

First of all, I'm watering more consistently this year! That's a BIG difference.

Radishes grew bigger and faster in the gutter than did the same variety of radishes planted the same day in the ground.

Mustard greens are sprouting between the radishes.

Still not a conclusion about the gutter, but more hopeful this year.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Second Try with Carrots

My first batch of carrots came up real sparsely.

So I planted some more.

Planted a rainbow batch of seeds.

This could be interesting. After sampling the varieties, I want to save seeds from the purple ones and maybe the red ones. Just for fun!

I have some plain old orange carrot seeds. Might get some more of those, too.

Lessons From Early Planting

Two weeks ago, in mid-April, I put out some early starts.  They have survived, but they have not thrived. 

Here's a direct comparison between German pumpkin plants. The one on the left was one of the plants I put out two weeks ago. The one on the right, I put out on May 1.

Quite a difference. Not a winning proposition.

On a related issue, here's a lesson learned from zucchini: these were zuke starts that I thinned in the greenhouse. I was hesitant to throw them away, so I planted them. They didn't die, but they didn't grow during the next week of sunshine. (I watered them daily.)

I decided that I didn't need to save zucchini sprouts! I have some zuke starts inside. So I replaced the non-growing sprouts with some actual starts.

Might still be kind of early, but they're already way ahead.

Monday, May 5, 2014


I like dill. I don't make pickles, but I like dill when I'm grilling fish.

So we have some dill going in. Several varieties.

The onion will be giving me seeds within the next month, and then it will be going away.

Apple Trees!

I've been growing some apple trees from seed.

It takes an incredibly long time to grow apple trees from seed.

So we bought a couple of trees. The eastern tree is 5 varieties. The western tree is yellow transparent.
Here are the five varieties of the first tree:
  • Akane
  • Chehalis
  • Honeycrisp
  • Gravenstine
  • Liberty
We did it this way so that we could accomplish two goals:

  1. Get apples that can pollinate each other.  This is trickier than you'd think.
  2. Get Gravenstine apples.
We'll see how this turns out.