Archive for the ‘Orchard’ Category

Weekly Garden Update: 4/10

April 10, 2011

Weekly Garden Update:  4/10

1-2-3-BOLT!

 

Bolting

 

It was the week of bolting.  The over-wintered cabbage and Brussels sprouts plants bolted along with the mizuna and mache.  The cabbage and brussels sprouts were disappointing because the plants looked so healthy.  We ended up just cutting the leaves, a nibble of which proved pretty tasty, so we’ll use them in Suan la Chow Show (a Chinese dumpling dish with cabbage and pork) later this week (N.B.:  If anyone has Mary Chung’s recipe for either the dumplings or her sauce, please please email us.  I can make some pretty good imitations, because I have a recipe imitation back from when it was made at Colleens, but I can’t match her).

 

Help meeee, I'm boltinggggg

1-2-3-Bolt!

 

Some internet research revealed that these two plants aren’t good candidates for over-wintering in our region as they tend to bolt once warm temperatures arrive if they’ve been exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for a length of time.  Live and learn.  Of course, when we planted them last Fall, we had hoped they would produce by the time really cold temps arrived.  But Fall 2010 was short – summer lasted forever and snow came in early December (somewhat early for us).  True Spring and Fall crops tend to be hit and miss around here.

 

Lettuce

And more....

And more harvest

 

We harvested the rest of the mizuna and mache and some more of the various lettuces this week.  We also harvested the rest of the over-wintered Lacinato kale, some of the over-wintered mustard, and some of the over-wintered Red Russian kale (which is also bolting some).  We have more of these plants growing, which we direct sowed in mid-February, but the seedlings probably need another month before they’re harvestable (if they don’t succumb to potentially too-high temps by then).

 

Taters

po-TAY-toes

The potatoes are leaping up to worship the sun god!  It’s amazing how much they’ve grown in the past week from little nubbins barely poking up to actual plants.

 

This weekend we also potted up some of the peppers and tomatoes growing in the basement.  We also started to harden off the celery which we intend to plant out next weekend.  We hope that low temperatures will be forecast to be high enough soon so we can transplant out the summer squash seedlings.  They are now at the size at which we intended to plant them out but there are still some lows forecast in the upper 40s this week so we want to wait until lows are always in the 50s.

 

Peas Peas!

Broccoli & Cauliflower

Garlic

Cabbages

 

Peas, garlic, and the other brassica are motoring along.

 

New Asparagus Bed with 31 Planted Crowns

 

Lastly, we finished the asparagus bed and planted the asparagus.  Hopefully we’ll be in asparagus for years to come!

 

Azaleas

Apple Trees

Blueberry Bells

 

How is your garden growing?

 

9/5 Weekly Garden Update

September 5, 2010

Green beans

We are now clearly into late season garden phases here.  No rain for at least the past couple weeks (Earl notwithstanding) and there is none forecast for the next 10 days either.

Garden 1

Garden 2

The cursed deer ate my 6 apples on the other apple tree that was producing this year.  I would curse them less had I had a chance to have eaten just one from it.  They also stripped the tips of several limbs of leaves.

Garden 3

Garden 4

We have begun ripping out a few tomato vines, all the blue lake bush beans, and we plan to continue as items stop producing.

Garden 5

However we’re still getting harvests of cucumbers, tomatoes, Dutch half-runner green beans, field peas, butter beans, and all kinds of peppers.  I have enough picked anchos now to dry, and they should make the base of a nice chili powder.

Anchos, etc.

Melons, etc.

Charentais

We got 2 charentais melons, and 1 moon & stars watermelon.  We have more ripening of both.  The butternut squash is now putting more of its efforts into making little squashes, if it continues at this rate and we are able to harvest all of them we might get as many as 20 to store in the basement and eat throughout the winter.

Field peas & Eggplant

We’re still putting up green beans.  The last time I canned them, I had a rare occurrence, i.e., a jar that didn’t seal.  We warmed them up in the microwave and they were really really good, clearly the next best thing ever to having them fresh from being picked.  They beat the dickens out of the blanched and frozen ones we did last year.

Bucket o' Harvest

One day's pickins'

Voles are seeking to make inroads.  I keep trying to poison them as fast as they show new tunnels.  Sammie Squirrels are stealing tomatoes and running off to the woods with them, little orang- red blobs in their mouths.  Deer are starting to nibble on our green bean vines.  I seriously contemplate building a deer blind on my porch so that I can have some nice venison tenderloins, squirrel stew & barbecued squirrel.

Peppers

Sage

Mustard and kale seedlings are doing well!  Cabbages, broccoli and other brassicas are coming along.  The lettuce and carrots could not stand the heat and the desiccation we are currently having and will have to be replanted.

Seedlings

Seedlings 2

We put up another cover on a box.  This morning it was 67 degrees outside, fall is peeking over the horizon of Labor Day.

Irrepressible Basil

Squash & Melon plants

Parsley

Lettuce in a Box

Well that’s all for now!

Weekly Garden Update: August 22

August 22, 2010

Well we’ve had an eventful week.

The dog discovered 3 small rabbits living in amongst the butter beans.  She got one, thankfully killed it quickly.  One ran across the yard into the woods, and one hid successfully (except from us) in the box.  Three days later I was mowing by a large oak stump, and one of the two remaining small rabbits leaped out from under an oak sucker and then froze in a patch of tall grass.  I picked it up, and carried out into the woods past the invisible fence, and let it go in the brushpile hedgerow I’ve been building since we moved in, telling it “This is where you can live, if you are smart.  Learn to avoid the dog, and don’t dig in my boxes and you’ll be just fine.”

Squash!

BIG squash

Lettuce, broccoli raab, broccoli, cauliflower, the kale, brussels sprouts, mustards, swiss chard, and beets are all coming up and doing well.  We’ve decided we want to cover at least 2 more boxes for the fall / winter.

The tomatoes have begun the “losing leaves” process a bit more stringently.  We’re still getting a decent harvest, but it is clear now that the peak has come and gone.

Volunteers

Box 1

Box 2

Box 3

The melons and the butternut continue their mad plan to “cover the earth”.  I’ve named them Pinky and Brain.

Melons & Butternut

We had a delicious eggplant this week, and we have another one to harvest tomorrow or the next day for another meal, and yet another one that will be ready the next week.  We’ve decided that one eggplant a week production is ideal.

Harvest!

More Harvest!

We have harvested green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, 1/2 a melon, field peas, butter beans, and all sorts of peppers.

Pimientos, Anchos, Cucumber, Serranos

Peas and a few Butter Beans

Did ya see how I slipped in that “1/2 a melon”?  Yeah, that’s right.  We came down the morning we were going to harvest the charentais melon, and some critter had removed it from the vine, moved it, and carefully carefully eaten one-half of it, leaving a nice little pile of seeds next to it.  I just have to figure it was a raccoon.  I took pictures of in “in-situ”, brought it in and washed it, cleaned out the seeds and pulp, and got 5 nice little slices out of it.  I can only imagine the joy of the critter that got to eat the other half.

Half a charentais

In canning news, I pickled oodles of Jalapenos this week, as well as tomato sauce, and green beans.

And last, but not least THE APPLE

The Apple

This is the first apple ever from this particular tree.  Being so, it occupies a unique position in my wee brain, rather like having the first sip of water from a well.  I put it on some porcelain and took pictures of it, and we plan to eat it with great ceremony.   Ok, fine, so I’m a romantic.

Marconi 1

Another Marconi

Oregano

Russets

Yukons

Bells

Basil

Cayenne & Serrano

Cayenne, Serrano, Jalapeno

Ancho

Little House on the Piedmont

June 27, 2010

On the vine

We’re feeling like we live in Little House on the Prairie this week, as we bought canning supplies, wide-mouth canning jars, and a small (16-qt) Presto Pressure Canner.

New Canner

Canned Green Beans!

Our first experiment today was 3 pints of haricot vert, and we’re surprisingly excited.  We are already developing a list of things to can, and gathering treasured recipes (like Peach Pickles!) from family.  Watermelon rind pickles, cucumber pickles, radish pickles, HOT pepper jelly, etc.  Next thing you know I’m going to seriously need a pickling crock and grape leaves.

The voles have been absent – no losses on our part, no vole sign or dead voles in traps.  Is this just a cease-fire, or have we won ….until next time?

Tomatoes 1

Tomatoes 3

Tomatoes 6

We are harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers and haricot vert and yellow summer squash daily.  I just haven’t been able to get myself worked up about weighing any of it so far, though I think about it sometimes.  There are really only two of us, and we measure our success more by what we end up buying (or the lack of) than what we are producing, since she keeps excellent records on what we buy as part of the budget process.

Ready to Eat

Little onions

Squash

New Potatoes

From now on we can harvest celery whenever we please, until we run out or the frost comes.

Celery box

Eggplants are blossoming, as are the Blue Lake green beans.  Dutch half-runners and butter beans are putting out tendrils.

Eggplant blossom

Blue Lakes

The sage, tarragon, and rosemary have completely restored themselves since the last harvesting, and the dill is out-growing my efforts to use it.  Basil is setting up nicely, and we have 2 different mints that I just mow back whenever we have to mow.

Sage

Basil

Potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers are still growing.  I am topping and suckering each tomato plant as it reaches 8’.  We got some new potatoes this week, and plan to harvest the rest of the box most affected by the voles, then replant organic russets, like we already replanted the organic Yukon golds, which are growing nicely.

Potatoes

Potatoes

Recent Yukon Golds

We have some really large cayenne peppers growing, as well as pimento, Serrano, anaheims (harvested 2 more this week), anchos, jalapenos (harvested 3 for another round of the muffins)…well we have a lot of peppers.

Peppers

The Japanese beetle season is here, and it is open season on them.  We have beetle bag traps up, and they’re filling nicely.  No significant damage from them yet except for a few apple trees leaves, so far.

Happy Cucumber

We had to pull up a box of cucumbers and zucchini, which is always frustrating and disappointing.  We replanted in another open box, and the plants are already leaping up.  We’re not sure, but we *think* they were hit hard by an unidentified (so far) brown bug that were all over them.  We squished them, and have been squishing any signs of them, and no replication of the problem yet.  If anyone had a clue about this vague problem, we’d be pleased to consider any theories.

Flower

Weekly Garden Update: 6/13

June 13, 2010

Our first actual squash rotted at the end, oh what a disappointment.  We have several more on the way, but another smaller one rotted as well.  Current theory is that it rotted because it was in contact with the ground, but we aren’t sure that it isn’t something else.   We only lost 1 celery plant to voles since the last vole war update.  Are we winning?  Who could say…

Squash

We harvested tomatoes this week (see the previous post, sonnet to the tomato).  The bloody butchers, which were listed as 60 day tomatoes, were the first to come off the vine.  We put them in the ground 3 days before the last frost date, only a slight gamble due to the weather report at the time, so these are really on the ball.

Maters!

We have tomatillos firming up, I can’t wait until I can make some hot tomatillos sauce and carnitas.

Haricot Vert, i.e., Snap Beans

Haricot vert!  Harvested this morning!  We eagerly embrace these green beans:  frozen ones from last year are fine, but they do not retain the fresh snappy green goodness of vine to table in less than 24 hours.

Haricot Vert on the Vine

The field peas (cow peas) we planted last Saturday all came up on Wednesday.  And now the lima beans and the dutch half-runners are as well – both came bursting up out of the ground on Thursday and Friday as though they were late for an appointment with the sun.

Apple

Here is a photo of apples on one of the trees, and we have figs on the Brown turkey.  The black mission fig and the black jack fig are growing very well this year, but I don’t expect to see figs on them until next year or the even the next.  People have told me that they won’t grow here, but I have grown them before and when I lived in my grandmother’s house I planted a black mission fig that is now over 24 feet high and provides enough figs for multiple families.

Black Jack & Black Mission

Flowers are food for the spirit:

Day Lily

Coneflower

Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus)

Day Lily

And here are some good photos of the garden as a whole:

"New Row"

"New Row"

"Middle Row"

"First Row"

Overall

Side View

Side Boxes

Wormfarm & Boxes

From the top, "First Row"

From the top, "Middle row"

From the top, "New Row"

Weekly Garden Update 5/9

May 9, 2010

Attack of the Varmints:

One day this past week we saw:  rabbits, hummingbirds, deer, bluejays, a hawk, squirrels, and cardinals all in the space of about 15 minutes.  That was a lot of fun.

What is not so fun is the very large rabbit who has decided that he wants to be clever.  He has patiently nibbled his way through the plastic green fencing in at least 2 boxes so that he can just hop through into them.  After we thwarted this effort, we saw him this morning jump over the 2 foot fence into a box with carrots, not realizing that we had a thin black plastic chickenwire netting on the top.  It freaked him out a bit, but not enough, and by the time I got downstairs and out the door he was sitting happily amongst the carrot greens.  I yelled, “get outta here, you pernicious thieving little sneak!” and he ran away, but only to the edge of the yard, where he sat arrogantly.  When the dog ran outside, he went further, but I suspect we are going to have to take more severe action against him.  Maybe I can do a post on my braised rabbit dish.

The real problem however is the voles.  They have just ruined one 4’ section of beets, and are starting to steal our celery plants, like eating one every other day or so.  Now they are attacking our sugar snap pea roots as well.  We are trying some organic repellants that don’t seem to be working, and have placed some mouse traps out that they aren’t going for.  We knew that putting mulch around the boxes had the potential to be a two-edged sword, but the pros seemed to outweigh the cons.  Something has to be done, and advice is welcome.

The two most recommended things to do are things we probably can’t:  get rid of the mulch, and buy a cat.  Our dog doesn’t play nice with cats, alas.  There are a lot of products out there that claim to help take care of the problem, from high-pitched rodent sound repellers to in-ground traps to poisons, etc.  I hesitate to leap from one idea to another unless I know that someone else has actually had success.  We don’t really want to put down poison unless we can find one that doesn’t have significant risk of secondary poisonings for pets and hawks, and we have no idea if the sound things work or if they would drive the dog crazy as well as the voles.

Other things in the garden are going well, though we had the driest April on record (120 years of record).

In the orchard parts, we have blueberries on the bush and apples in the tree.

Apples

Blueberries

The potatoes are growing so tall I’m starting to worry about their ability to support themselves; two blew over in the wind the other day.

Potato Box

Potatoes 2

We planted our eggplants under a hoop cover.  I made the hoops out of pex piping, held them to the box by using nail-on pex clips, and secured the cover with the same clips.  We have 8 eggplants and 2 thai peppers under the cover.  Flea beetles are death on eggplants in this area, all but one of ours was eaten last year they were so bad.  So this year we’re growing them under cover, hoping the additional heat will also help their growth.  We’ll be doing more of these covers over time, particularly for wintering various species that need just a bit more warmth.

New Hoop Cover

End View

We planted charentais melons and moon & stars watermelons.  They have germinated and are growing nicely, almost ready to put out.

Happy pepper

Broccoli

Haricot Verts

Snow Pea Blossoms

A tomato

Box 'o Tomatoes

Celery

Even more potatoes

It’s May! It’s May!

May 1, 2010

Tra la! It’s May!

The lusty month of May!

Chives

That lovely month when ev’ryone goes

Blissfully astray.

(end singing now)

Lettuce in Harvest Basket

Och Aye, It’s May.  Today we shopped at Carrboro Farmer’s Market and the South Estes Farmer’s Market, buying beets and carrots and biodynamic strawberries that taste like Vanessa Redgrave’s voice sounds.

Radishes

This afternoon we spent in the Garden.  We harvested green garlic, which makes great garlic bread, and oodles of radishes and enough lettuces to satisfy the entire Efrafa warren.  We harvested young spinach, and the last of the wintered cauliflower.

Trellised Peppers

Then we transplanted peppers to a box, only 21 of the ones we have ready to go.  We harvested lettuces and thinned the rest out by transplanting them so they had more room.

Pepper Seedlings

We have Sugar Snap Peas!  Not many, but enough have come in for a dish.  And we have blueberries growing!

Blueberries

And lit-tle ty-ny apples.  We have half a dozen tomato plants blossoming, plus both our tomatillos.  The snow peas have lovely purple and pink blossoms.

Tomato Blossom

We transplanted winter squash that we set to germinate last week into a box, and the summer squash are starting to unfurl from beneath the top layer of dirt.  The haricot vert are germinating as well as the cucumbers.

Squash Seedlings

Below are photos of many of our herbs we have growing in railing boxes and by windows and in large containers outside scattered amongst the Garden.

We’ve been growing mung bean sprouts from beans purchased at our local Co-Op, and have gotten nicely efficient at having them on hand most of the time.  Mostly they go into the salads.

Sometimes I feel redundant; shooting what seems to me to be similar pictures over and over.  Then I remind myself that a year from now it will be nice to have a visual record of the weeks passing in the garden.

More cilantro

Basil

More tomatillo blossoms

Tomatillo blossom

Thyme

Tarragon

Sage

Rosemary

Parsley

Oregano

Tomato Blossom

Lemongrass

Dill

Cilantro

April Garden Update

April 27, 2010

Lettuce!

More Lettuce!

Spinach & Lettuce

We have harvestable baby spinach, along with the ubercrop of lettuce and radishes.  The potatoes have been mounded yet again, the boxes are all full (we started with a 4” deep soil base, and have been adding to them since).

Bed o' Taters

Celery

Our broccoli and cauliflower are doing much better than the ones we did last year.  The seed onions needed thinning, and the set onions are way ahead of them in size.  All the garlic now has 5-7 leaves, a few of the stalks are nearly 4’ high.

We planted 30 tomato plants this past weekend, including green zebra, bloody butcher, brandywine, beefsteak, early girl, better boy, and san marzanos.  We also planted 2 tomatillos, 1 box of haricot vert (2 rows each 12’), and 6 summer squash:  yellow and zucchini.  We planted 3 varieties of cucumbers.  Winter squash seeds were set to germinate inside, both acorn and butternut.

Peppers

Peas

The pepper seedlings are in their final stages of hardening off, and we hope to plant them either this coming weekend or the next at the latest.

In the flower parts of the lot, we have azaleas and irises in bloom now, the daffodils and the tulips have faded away for the spring.  We have dahlia, oriental lily, day lily, and calla lily bulbs that will be coming along.  The moonflower vine almost looks like it is biding its time, though its growth is thick near the ground.

Irises

Azaleas

The apple trees have what look to be tiny apple pods on them.  Given their young age, we are most pleased!  The figs and the blueberries are puttering right along, doing nicely.  My lime mint hasn’t come back up so far this year, not sure why.  If it doesn’t, I’ll try to plant it again in a different location.

We gave away celery and tomato seedlings that had prospered, but that we had no room for, we hope that they will do well in their new homes.

After we planted everything last weekend, we went back in and put up the trellising for the year.

Black Jack Fig

Boxes

Boxes View

New boxes

Po-tay-toes

Grow, my pretties, Grow!

April 17, 2010

We saw our first hummingbird of the year in the garden yesterday!  Last year we had one feeder up, and one hummingbird was a bit of a bully, trying to guard it as much as possible.  She received a Christmas present of another one this year.  We put up both earlier this week, and have been rewarded with their presence already.

Mounded potatoes

Mounded Potatoes

Celery Seedlings

We mounded the potatoes twice this week, that’s just how fast they are growing.  We transplanted 45 of our celery seedlings to the garden.  All the other seedlings we have needed to be repotted *again*, so we’ve been doing that.  We found a lot of seedling pots at the local recycling center, because we’d run out.

We’re busy researching how to cure garlic, including asking local farmers for tips.  And we’re researching how to keep our garlic the longest, because frankly it looks like our harvest is going to be more than we could eat in a year, which would be exciting.

Lettuces

Radish

Broccoli raab

We continue to harvest record quantities of lettuce with even more coming along, and also this week harvested radishes and broccoli raab, as well as some pea shoots.

Radishes

Radishes

In two weeks, we’ll be putting our tomato plants out, along with all our pepper plants.

Since we put out the castor oil granules, I haven’t seen any new vole digging in the boxes.  We’re crossing our fingers.  I gave some of my moonflower seeds to a couple we’re friends with, they had moved this winter and are restarting their farm all from scratch, and didn’t have a moonflower plant in the new location.

Cauliflower

Harvest

One of our cauliflowers is heading up!  Now it is a race for how big can it grow before we can’t stand it anymore and just take it to be eaten.  I’m favoring just simply steaming it, served with a bit of butter and some pepper.

Heat Wave

April 11, 2010

The heat wave is over, for now.  From March 31 until April 9, we had at least 10 days with highs in the low 90s, and one day that got to 98.  Evening lows were in the 60s.  Yesterday and today we have lows around 38.  Wow.

Parts of the garden therefore kicked into overdrive.  I had to mound potatoes yesterday for the first time, as we had a bunch that were in the 3-6 inch range.  The onions and garlic continue to grow at alarming rates.  The pretty redbud from Easter is now all leaves.

Potatoes

Snow Peas

Cauliflower and broccoli are growing like weeds, and the lettuces have reached that cute stage where they are large enough to actually *look like* lettuces, but so small they look unreal.

She thinks we have voles, and I am inclined to agree.  So yesterday we picked up some caster oil granules and strew them into the boxes.  I can never think of castor oil without thinking of cod liver oil.  My parents decided on advice (of who, I forget; perhaps a mean doctor or a meddling great-aunt) that at the age of five I needed dousing with the stuff.  I could tell right away that this was going to be awful, but they looked very serious so I opened up and let them feed me a big spoonful.  It was the worst thing.  I’m told I looked up at them like a beaten animal and said, “I wouldn’t feed that to a dog” then went outside and sat on the rear steps staring off into space.  They never had the heart to give me another dose.

We harvested lettuces this week,  enough for 2 weeks of regularly eating salads, and only got about 25% of the lettuces.  So we’ll be eating salads for at least a month, by which time, I expect the next planting will be ready.  We also harvested radishes and carrots, small but tasty.

The Kentucky colonel mint is coming up next to the compressor, but my lime mint hasn’t made an appearance yet, though I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  The blueberry bushes are busy generating little pods that will become blueberries.  The fig bushes have nice leaves now.

The snow peas are doing well.  The sugar snap peas look as though the heat has inspired them to say, “Well, we never germinated well this spring, what with the 20 degree February all month, so we just give up”.  Actually I trellised 2/3rds of a box of them, but that is far short of the 2 boxes we planted in them.

Radishes

Radishes

Broccoli Raab

Indoors, the seedlings are doing their best to make our efforts last year look laughable.  It is a veritable jungle in the basement, all our tomatoes are 8” high or more, and we had to raise the light over them 3 times in the past 10 days.  The celery is booming, and all the peppers are gamely and uniformly pluggin’ along.

Celery

Tomato Seedlings

When she saw the planting jig made by Laura at Modern Victory Garden, I knew by the look on her face that soon I’d be making one.  And I did.  The instructions for making one were easily followed, and the result is a prideful thing.  I used scrap plywood.  The first one is 20″  by 24″, and has 2” spacing.  The second one I’m making is pegged at 1” intervals and is only 4” wide but 48” long.  This will allow us to easily make long rows down one side of a box, so if we’re growing tomatoes or cucumbers or something else tall and trellised on one side, we can move to the other side and run a row of something.

2" planting jib

Jig with handles

4" by 4' jig

For the mathematically inclined, if you are planting something like radishes or carrots on the long narrow one, that is 192 plants per jig, or 576 plants in a 12′ row.  If you wanted to plant a whole 12′ box of them, it would be 2880 plants.  For anything on a 2″ or 3″ spacing, the results are 96 for the jig, or 288 plants in a row.  That’s a nice addition along side a row of 10 tomatoes in a box.

My father gave us 2 brandywine and 2 better boy seedlings he grew from seed, along with 4 water wall day-glo plant protectors.  I set them out in a box, set the water walls around each one this past Monday, and they’re looking fine.  With luck, these 4 plants will start producing tomatoes weeks ahead of the rest of ours.

Water walled tomatoes

These are moonflower pods.  In them were these seeds.

Moonflower

Moonflower Pods

Pod

Pod Close-up

Seeds

Moonflower Seeds

The last average frost date is this week.  That means that as of tax day we can start direct seeding, and putting many of the rest of our seedlings in the ground..