Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Pepper Harvest

Second to the last pepper harvest.

Bell peppers, Felicity sweet peppers, Serrano peppers and a pair of JalapeƱos.

Anaheims are still doing well, considering all things. .

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Planting the Garlic

I'm still looking for the best way to invest my time and energy in the garden. Everything we grow is yummy, but not everything gets eaten. So I'm looking to find things that are a) yummy and b)  going to get eaten and c) relatively productive without too much work.

Measured by these standards, garlic is a real winner. It's easy to grow. It's easy to harvest and store. And it's going to get eaten!

In years past, I have grown garlic just from the generic garlic that can be found in the grocery store. Growing it at home makes it quite a lot better, and larger heads, but I wanted to step it up a notch.

This year, I am not growing any grocery store garlic. I am growing three kinds of special garlic, and elephant garlic. In the first bed is Spanish Roja with Sicilian garlic. The back bed has inchilian on the South side comma and elephant garlic on the north side.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Garlic vs Pumpkins

You know it's being an interesting summer when the garlic grows as big as the pumpkins. This is the largest pumpkin (and the largest garlic).

Other interesting obstacles: 
  • The cherry tomatoes (Chocolate Cherry) have done wonderfully well. The other tomatoes have not. The slicers, in particular (Brandywine), have done poorly: only a few flowers fruit, despite a bees nest and  hand pollination.
  • The first lettuce bolted quickly (<2 weeks) and later plantings refused to germinate. 
  • The broccoli bolted quickly as well, but the chickens enjoyed it. 
  • Watermelon kept dying. It would be just growing fine, small melons growing on it, then bang, it died (both in greenhouse and in a hanging pot outdoors).
On the other hand:
  • Peas and beans did wonderfully. 
  • Kale grew more than I planted (some re-seeding from last year's plants)! All of it thrived. 
  • Peppers grown in the greenhouse thrived (though those in the garden languished). 
  • The rest of the herbs grew pretty well, particularly spearmint & lemon balm.
  • Nasturtium grew wonderfully wherever they were!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Garden Update, Early July

This year's garden is doing pretty well. The nasturtiums are taking over both the compost pile and the beehive next door.
I've harvested the regular size garlic already. 80 heads or so. I'll harvest the elephant garlic in a week or two. It's not ready yet.
Im drying the garlic on the back porch: garlic hanging everywhere. My bride thinks I'm warding off a legion of vampires. I now have the best smelling back porch on the planet.

Beets desperately need thinning, which is fine since beet greens are wonderful.


I'm wondering if it's normal for a pomegranite tree to have red and yellow leaves so early in the season. It seems healthy otherwise.

I have a sunflower in the middle of each bed. A few are beginning to flower.
I can't get enough of sunflowers.

In the greenhouse, I have some interesting things growing. This is a watermelon the size of a golf ball.

Hand pollenated, of course.


A friend gave me pepper starts. These are called Felicity.

These are my own bell pepper starts. I've gotta start the peppers earlier next year.

 I'm air-drying herbs now. This is pineapple sage.

And these are bay leaves.



Back outside, I'm letting the chickens help with the beans this year. I do like the look of them growing here. And they seem to grow well.

Peas are almost done. I'll pull them out shortly, and make more room for the squashes at their feet.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

June First Update

The Garden has been thriving this year. Warm days help that process.
We've been eating lettuce and Kale from this year's plantings for several weeks. I've already re-planted lettuce for a second crop.
Looks like broccoli and other brassicas (in the foreground) are doing real well too. All of this garden was started in the greenhouse and transplanted outside.
Big sunflower in the middle looks like it's strong, too.
And of course, the peas. Been eating them for a week. We put them on the front of the garden this year, to make grazing easier for guests.
Picked the first burpless cucumber today. Seems early, but I'm ok with that.
First lemon cucumber. These are the very definition of summer.
This year, we're growing three kind of tomatoes.
  • Chocolate cherry for the cherry tomatoes.
  • Brandywine for slicing tomatoes.
  • San Marzano for cooking.
The Chocolate cherries are the first to get ready. These will be ready to eat in a week, and I'm just now getting flowers on the others.
The Chocolate cherries are all in hanging pots. The others are all in the ground.
First zucchini. It's too small to pick today, but it'll be huge in a week. Hoping to pick it before that. 
 And I'm growing watermelons again. They're earlier this year than the cantaloupes. We'll see how they turn out.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mid May Garden Status

The garden seems to be doing pretty well now. We're eating the lettuce and kale, and the leeks from last fall. Peas are flowering.
It's pretty well "in" now. Tomatoes are looking so much better than before.
I've decided that even when it's a warm spring and it's possible to put in the tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers early, it's probably not a good idea to. They benefit from the additional time in the greenhouse, and prefer to go into the bed mid May.
Mixing things up more than usual. Planting cucumbers and tomatoes and the occasional pepper in among the garlic (and to a lesser extent, among the leeks and onions). Looking to see how that goes.
Planted the second crop of carrots and lettuce today. Don't want to run out.
Set out a watermelon this week. That ought to be fun. Have another in a hanging pot. Will be fun to compare.
Also put out what I believe is a cantaloupe, but may be an Armenian cucumber. Fairly optimistic on these.

Friday, May 6, 2016

First Flower

The first flower of the vegetable garden this year is on a cucumber still in the greenhouse! (The ones outside aren't doing this well!)
Note that the apple trees blossomed a couple of weeks ago, but they're not in the veggie garden.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Spring Planting (Mostly Done)

All of the tomatoes and pea beds were in the ground by 4/20 2016. Added a couple (brandywine) tomatoes to the herb garden 4/24.

Beet seeds went in weeks ago. Beet sprouts going strong. Some uneven spots, so I transplanted some starts into the gaps. 4/22.

Transplanted the Dill into the garden. 4/20. Next
to beets, next to garlic, between lettuce and carrots (which are actually starting to germinate!).
Lettuce and Kale starts went in the ground by 4/16 2016. As soon as the irrigation system was done. I'll add broccoli, kohlrabi and maybe some others later; sprouts aren't ready.
Transplanted cucumbers into the garlic beds 4/22. Looks like there might be room for daylight between the garlic.

Transplanted zucchini to the peas bed 4/10; Carnival squash and Hokkaido (German) pumpkins 4/22.

Replaced a sage plant with a Rosemary start 4/24. Going to be a fine shrub.
I may put some shallots out next weekend (seeds started indoors a month ago); I have 8 shallots from sets (expensive!).

I expect I'll wait another couple of weeks before putting basil in the Basil Box. Or I may make a cold frame for it. I have 3 kinds of starts (mammoth sweet, Thai, lemon), but I'll probably load the box with mostly one: mammoth sweet.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Hanging Planter of Salsa (and other goodies)

I've got a hanging planter of salsa.
On top: cilantro and onions.
Coming out the sides: tomatoes (chocolate cherry), more cilantro, and a bell pepper.
Might be fun.

Other hanging pots (all still in the greenhouse, but they'll all go outside later):
  • Lemon cucumbers (x3)
  • Cantaloupes (x2)
  • Watermelon
  • Cherry tomatoes (x3)
And there will be more to come.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Underground Irrigation

I added underground irrigation to several beds.
The technology is pretty simple: soaker hose, buried a few inches. The upstream end has a couple of feet of regular hose for connections, and the far end has a cap. The hose has a quick-connect for hookup.
The beds:
  • The Salad Bed (Brassicas, lettuce, etc)
  • The Tomato & Peppers Bed
  • The Peas & Squash
These three are on the perimeter: when I water with the overhead sprinkler, either I turn it up enough to water the neighbor's yard as well, but it gets all my garden, or I turn it down enough to focus on my garden, and the perimeter is a little under-covered.
We've theoretically solved that concern.
In addition, I'm also covering:
  • The Herb Garden
  • The Basil Box
  • Sue's Flower Bed
And just to keep it cool, the herbs & basil can also be sourced from one of the rain barrels. Cool.
I have one wet spot in the Tomato and Peppers bed. I think I need to patch a spot in the soaker hose. Or bury it a little deeper there. I'll get there.
For now, I think this is a good start.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

Asparagus Starts

I planted some asparagus seeds a couple of weeks ago. They didn’t germinate, so I ordered more seeds. Apparently you can't buy asparagus seeds locally. Who knew?

Today, I received confirmation that they've shipped my seeds.

So of course, today the starts poke through the dirt.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

New Flower Bed

We wanted to plant some shrubs in this space, to replace the pile of pots and hoses that has been there for years. 

Milady decided that it needed some bricks, to match the flower garden on the other side of the yard. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A New Basil Box

My Basil Box died.
For 20 years, it's held up under the weather, and under the weight of many crops of glorious flavor. But finally, it's given up the ghost.
It was a sad day at the Red Door Green House.
But not to worry. We have a new Basil Box.
It's deeper, slightly longer, about the same width, and built stronger.
I lined it with 10 mil plastic to slow the rotting of the box itself.
Then I finished it in boiled linseed oil, as an attempt to slow down the weather's impact.
It took all the soil from the previous box, plus a very full wheelbarrow more of mature compost.
It currently has a screen arched over the top as an attempt to dissuade chickens from getting used to digging here.
As before, the tarragon is holding down the east end of the box.
But there will be basil! There will be much basil.
From the left:
  • Mammoth Basil (2013 seeds)
  • Thai Basil (2015 seeds)
  • Aromatto (purple) basil (2014 seeds)
  • Lemon Basil (2013 seeds)
The Basil Box will mostly hold the Mammoth Basil. The others are destined for pots or for friends.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Starts in the Sunshine.

Over the past several days, I've gotten most of my starts into pots.
Tomatoes are an inch tall. Peppers are just sprouting. Peas and beans and cucumbers are just peeking their noses out. Lettuce and kale are approaching 2" tall, and love the sun. Dill is 1/2".
Basil and sage and a dozen other seeds haven't even broken ground yet. And some of them may not: the seeds are fairly old. I've been consulting a seed viability chart a lot recently.
Schizanthus is a trailing flower: lots of colorful little fireworks. They only germinate in total dark, but they're well past that now: that's them in the foreground.
I added some shelves along the front edge of the greenhouse: seedlings can get all the sun they can handle. (It got up to 80 degrees in the greenhouse on Saturday. Oh my.)
 Note: of all the seeds that I planted in the soil of the garden, only the lettuce seems to be germinating.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

This Weekend's Planting

Sugar peas, bush
Blue Lake pole beans
Red onions
Hokkaido German pumpkins
Radishes, red & white
Zucchini squash
Pattypan squash
Carnival squash
Lemon cucumber,
Burpless cucumber,
Armenian cucumber,
Carnival squash,
cat grass.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Journal: First Weekend in March

This has been an early and an interesting spring. For example, out of the last week, it was spring two days, I think, and winter the other five. Today it was spring for a few hours, and fairly wintery the rest of the day.
I may be in danger of losing some of the crops, but I'm planting things outdoors already. I guess if the worst that happens is I buy seeds again, I can probably handle that.
This is probably the biggest risk: carrots (behind the stakes) and lettuce (mix, forward of the sticks) in the bed outside, sharing with the garlic.
And this may be the other risk. I had a lot of garlic that was sprouting. (Note to self: find out how to keep stored home-grown garlic from sprouting over winter.) I planted a bunch of them. Not sure what to do with the rest.
Some things that I'm starting.
Top3: Tomatillas from last year, and a hazel nut tree.
Row2: Oregano and another hazel nut.
Row3: Catnip and a short kind of dill.
Row4: Oregano and another hazel nut.
Herbs and such. From the top:
Six starts of a rosemary that grows up instead of growing out. From my folks.
Thyme, from last year's seed.
Cilantro from last year's seed.
Cumin from last year's seed.
Lettuce & Kale starts. From two weeks ago.
I like growing kale from starts, but I now question the value of starting lettuce indoors, seeing as I planted (the same) lettuce in the garden today. We'll compare the two and learn stuff! Yaay!
Tomatoes and peppers, planted this weekend. They're on a heated starting mat.
Left: cooking tomatoes: San Marzano: flavorful, heirloom, not determinate, which means they keep growing and keep producing all summer.
I wonder if heirloom tomatoes may all be non-determinate?
The peppers are all bell peppers, but from a (Ed Hume) pack of multi-colored pepper plants. I've observed that the only peppers we eat here are bell peppers, and everybody likes different colors, so let's see what this turns out like.
These tomatoes are a week old. I've been starting them on a heating mat until today. They look like they're germinating just fine.
Left: slicing tomatoes: Brandywine: incredibly flavorful, heirloom, non-determinate. I've grown them before and got a big one: 1.6 pounds. Good, not great, producers.
Right: cherry tomatoes: Chocolate Cherry: very flavorful, heirloom, purplish-brown tomatoes. These are a little large for cherry tomatoes, maybe as large as a ping pong ball. Fairly prolific.
I suspect I'm going to wish I had a bee hive going this year. Not sure right now whether that'll work out; they're not my bees. They're just my friends.