Monday, September 15, 2014

Harvest Monday 15 September 2014

This was my only full mixed harvest basket of the week. I had to pick the kohlrabis as they were getting too big. I think I have one more that is desperate that I'll get to this week. I figured they might have woody spots and I was right. But they were small and easy to cut around. The Chinese cabbage wasn't so great and I only added in half the weight as I had to cut so much out.

This may be the last year of growing Napa in my garden. It never keeps and has all sorts of trouble from insects to disease to growth problems. The Michihili is almost always good. I had one in my fridge for about two months over the summer as I ate a leaf or two at a time (the leaves of Michihili are just huge). The only flaw with that kind of cabbage is that it is really tall and I can't keep it in my regular plastic storage containers. I need to use two plastic shopping bags, one on either end, to contain it in the fridge. Next year I might be trying more varieties of Michihili if I can find them. Napa is easy to find but the taller cabbage, not so much.

My zucchinis are finally in the swing of things, just in time for the weather to cool down. I hope they keep pumping out a few every week like they have been though. Then I can eat two and freeze one or visa versa.

Though the summer beans are gone, the fall beans are producing well. These are Kentucky Wonder. It is another variety that I think I won't grow again. Golden Gate was so much healthier.

Remember the spring carrots I picked and put in separate containers so I could eat them at the right rate before the fall carrots came in? Well it worked out perfectly. I had carrots to eat all summer long. And once they finished up I could go out and pick the first of the fall carrots. These are Mokums and one of them got 9" long. I've never had one longer than 8" before and usually they are shorter for me. One of the reasons these did so well is they were put after the spring brassicas. I have nematode problems in my garden. Whatever kind of nematodes I have don't like the brassicas. I know mustards actually fumigate the soil of them. Next spring I HAVE to put them after the mustards. These carrots show no sign of nematode damage at all. I'm a little worried about the storage carrots though. I grew them after the fava beans. I just hope they won't be too infected and not grow well.

As you can see the harvest has gone way down this week. I pretty much photographed everything and I only had four photos. The weights are back into the single digits. I will have some big harvests this fall as I harvest storage crops - sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots. But except for those weeks, the harvests will be steady (hopefully) but lighter.

  • Beans: 0.91 lbs
  • Carrot: 1.33 lbs
  • Greens: 3.17 lbs
  • Greens, Asian: 1.06 lbs
  • Herbs: 0.06 lbs
  • Squash, Summer: 1.97 lbs
  • Weekly Total: 8.49 lbs
  • Yearly Total: 456.66 lbs
  • Yearly Tally: $668.82

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Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Condo Work Day

I tried to find a before photo, but I haven't taken a lot of photos of the area recently. This was the best I could do. It is really a photo of the peach tree that died. About half the blueberries died too last winter. Even with them, the area was never very pretty. It is right in front of my door and what you see as you enter our yard. So when the blueberries died I decided I wanted a perennial garden in that spot. The blueberries that lived can stay. But the whole corner near our walk is empty. I ran the idea by my condo mates and they agreed, so the project was started.

I'll be planting in the spring, but I wanted to get the hardscaping done this fall. This consisted of a lot of cobblestones. To get it done we scheduled a work day. Which ended up being 10-12. We had trouble scheduling but got all six members of the condo to come. For those that don't know, our lot has a pair of townhouses on the land, two people are on our side and four on the other.

Above is the finished product from my front door. As you can see I put rings around the trees. I don't want any plants within four feet of my precious peach trees. I LOVE those peaches. It also denotes where my townhouse mates can weed. Anything green inside the circle can be taken out. Easy. I'll probably end up weeding the perennial bed in the spring. I know what is plant and what is weed and no one else in the condo can do that.

Here you get a good idea of the spots I have to work with in planning the perennials. These won't be edible - though you never know if one will slip in our not. The area down by the road still has living low bush blueberries - not that you can really see them - so I'll leave those alone. I also have one living blueberry by the end of the path in front of my door.

And we added a little extension from the drivable grass to our path. I've always wanted a path like this with a green river inside. So I'm going to see if I can grow mazus as a ground cover in between the cobblestones. I might pull it off. Maybe. Either that or it will escape its designated spot and take over the world. BTW the bush that you see there is one of my gooseberries. I have two next to it on either side, but I'm trying to grow them as standards and they really don't like me for it. They are growing very slowly and are still small.

All in all the work went pretty quickly. Though I did lay a few cobblestones, mostly I fixed errors in laying. When I told them 4' from the middle of the trunk, I really did mean 4' and not 4' 3" or 3' 10". I don't even need a tape measure to see those errors. When the curves are off it just looks bad.

We did hit one snag along the road. When we moved in the landscapers cut the curve to our driveway and out in the road. Well that section wasn't cut all the way through. Mostly it was fine, as it was far enough down and the cobblestones don't go far into the soil. But in sections it was too high up and we couldn't break it off. So there is a slight change in the curve. It will probably bother me for the rest of my life. I'm not terribly obsessive compulsive, but the artist in me objects to the curves not being correct. `

Kale in the afternoon shade - My garden is shady in the fall

In vegetable garden news it has been pretty slow. I finally got out this week and sprayed the kale and broccoli with a soap spray. I'll have to do it again this week. If I don't, I'll lose my fall harvest of these plants. The kale would still live over the winter and provide food in the spring, but I could use more kale in the freezer. Other than that nothing is happening. It has been a very slow week in the vegetable garden.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Harvest Monday 8 September 2014

The beginning of the week had the same old same old. Beans and cukes. But then I pulled my beans and cukes. So of course the fall beans started to produce in a big way. But I swear there will be no more cukes anymore. All of them are out of the garden.

I did however get more zucchini since the zucchini plants have more sun now. Not a lot. They are shaded in the morning and midday. But at least they get the late afternoon sun and a brief peak earlier. This is pretty typical for the garden in fall, but they are in probably the shadiest spot. I'm glad they are producing even without too much sun as I have plans for my zucchini this winter so I need to be able to preserve some.

And it was a good greens week. Not only did I water the garden, but mother nature did too. And the greens really responded. Especially the chard. Of course the chard was also happy to have the beans ripped out. The beans really shaded them and stole their moisture. But now they are gone and the chard is in heaven. Last week when I picked chard I was thinking it was getting tough and not tasting as good. But this week it was tender and delicious again. I'm glad those beans are gone.

Alvaro

Halona

And then there are the melons. It was a good melon week in a good melon year. And sadly the last melon week as the plants are pulled and I planted some spinach in their spot. And now that all the numbers are in I can do a little evaluation. I grew three varieties of melon - three plants of Halona (22.41 lbs, 7.5 lbs/plant), three plants of Sensation (17.97 lbs, 6 lbs/plant), and two Alvaro (10.43 lbs, 5.2 lbs/plant). Halona was the clear winner in taste and production. Sensation was nice for its difference and also tasted pretty good. Alvaro was the bottom in all categories.

The one thing that was nice about Alvaro was its late production. If all my melons got harvested in the same week I'd never be able to eat them. I did give 2.5 melons away over time, but most of them I ate (or will eat this week). Melons are a major treat from the garden and I don't like missing them. I give them away if I have more than two melons at a time in the fridge. I tend to eat half a melon a day. So that works out pretty well. Though Alvaro was OK. It certainly was very sweet. I obviously don't like the charentais melon taste as much as the cantaloupe taste. I just need to plant a later cantaloupe I think. Or try a different kind of melon that is later.

With the melons being pulled it marks the transition from the summer crops into the fall crops. Though I've picked small bits of fall crops over the last few weeks, next week I'll be picking Asian greens again. I've noticed a large Napa that needs picking soon. But I will really miss the summer fruit. The only fruit I'll get is little handfuls of raspberries this fall. I got them this week, and I'm sure I'll continue all through fall.

  • Beans: 2.14 lbs
  • Broccoli: 0.94 lbs
  • Cucumbers 3.09 lbs
  • Greens: 2.33 lbs
  • Melons: 15.89 lbs
  • Squash, Summer: 1.85 lbs
  • Weekly Total: 26.24 lbs
  • Yearly Total: 448.17 lbs
  • Yearly Tally: $649.02

  • Fruit
  • Raspberries: 0.38 lbs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cooler Weather

Last night the heat and humidity broke with an intense storm. Since most of the tall things were out of the garden there wasn't a lot of damage. This sunflower bit the dust. It isn't just tipped over. The two inch thick stem is broken off.

The broccoli above and the kale are a bit tipped. I fixed the broccoli this morning. I saw one head forming down in the tip. I really hope we get a good broccoli harvest this fall.

While I was under I decided the other side needed cleaning out too. I cut out a lot of side shoots to eat and left only a few to keep going. The aphids have started to invade and I wanted to get the worst of them out. One broccoli plant was removed a while ago and I removed another one today. So now I just have the three old broccoli that have been giving me food all summer long. And of course the five new ones that I hope give big heads in a month. I think I left it clean of aphids, but I'll have to spray with soap (along with the kale) sometime soon or I'll lose the forming broccoli heads. This is a big problem here with broccoli in the fall. The kale is almost as bad. Last fall I quit eating it because it was just too hard to get the mass of aphids off. Blech!

Next up was my melon patch. I picked the last two melons yesterday before the rain hit as I didn't want them to split. There were actually two little melons that would take a couple of weeks to ripen, but I wasn't sure it was worth it to leave them there. Fall ripened melons just aren't the same as summer ripened melons. I tried to untangle the mass enough to save at least one while still cleaning up the rest of the bed. I had succeeded and had just the one line of vine left. Then as I moved it back I put too much pressure on the branch and it broke off. Oh well. I did try.

But I needed the space to get my spinach in finally. I hope to get some harvest this year, but the odds are slim as the sun gets lower in the sky. I sow spinach seeds in rows 6" apart and put the seeds about 2" apart. Last year I put in Winter Giant, but it didn't perform well. So instead I sowed my trusty Space spinach until I ran out of seed. Then I filled the last spot with Winter Giant in the northern corner. If it doesn't do well this winter, I won't grow it again. Space is such a nice spinach for me that I don't mind just the one variety.

I had a bit of a problem with the row cover. The leaf miners will still be active for at least a month or a month and a half. But I couldn't find a used row cover that was large enough to cover the whole thing. So I cobbled two of them together. I hope it will hold for a while. The white one really needs some patching as it was from last year. The netting is so nice as it lets in the rain, but it is fragile. It isn't quite as bad as the really thin agribon, but still it gets holes fairly easily.

And this is my compost before all the additions. You can barely tell it is a compost pile at this point with all the morning glories climbing all over it. But they will have to be pulled soon so I can get to the compost to put on the soil for next year. I probably should have put some on the spinach bed before sowing, but didn't even think about it. I guess it will get its layer next spring when the spinach is pulled.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gleaning

Though I don't often write about it, I have been out gleaning this summer. Today I had to share because it was the most beautiful farm. We were at Hutchins Farm. We had a huge crew with us to glean beets, radishes, and turnips. The assistant farm manager gave us a little spiel about the farm. It was started in 1973, though the land had been farmed previously by the same family. When it was started it was started as an organic farm and remains that way today.

I get to intimately see a lot of farms in the area when I glean. This one is more sweeping and beautiful than most. Many are little tiny tracts of land patch worked together to make the farm. I wish I had taken more photos, but I didn't bring my camera. I took the photos with my phone and I wasn't willing to bring it out once my hands got muddy.

Often when we glean we can take a handful of the produce back. Which is good since now you know what the radishes were like. My first photo of them was without my hand and you couldn't grasp the size from the photo. But with my hand in there you can see they are huge. We were wondering if they were any good this big as in my garden they get punky and gross past a certain size. These were crunchy and sweet with a little spicy kick at the end. Matt, the gleaning coordinator, took out his knife and cut one up so we could try it in the field. Yummy. Now if I could just figure out how they do it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cleaning Up and Seeding

A little over two weeks ago I showed you my window that I made through the bean and cucumber walls. Well today the walls came down.

Now it looks like this. The beans had finished up and had no flowers left on them. They were pretty diseased by this point so it wasn't worth waiting for another flush. And the cucumbers were half dead due to wilt. I could have left them in longer, but the hope is that zucchini in the back will get more light and might produce a few more. I can hope. I have very little zucchini frozen this year. And I'm really loving the zucchini fritters.

In the bean's old spot I seeded in a row and a half of tatsoi. There used to be two row covers. One for the chard and one for the bok choy with the beans in the middle. Now I just have one that goes over the whole bed. I hope I haven't planted the tatsoi too late. Anything after September 1st is iffy in my garden. There is a lot of shade in the fall so things grow really slowly.

And if you look toward the fence past the row cover in the above photo you will see my squash. It used to be a two sisters bed, but I took out the corn today. It was done. I chopped it up and put it in the compost.

The other corn patch was also taken down. But I kept a handful of the stalks whole to dry for decoration next month. Hopefully they won't mildew too much. I put them in a corner to keep the rain off of them, but there isn't anything over them so who knows if it will work. I'm not willing to bring them inside to dry because the earwigs loved the corn this year and I find them in the cracks where the leaves are. I don't want them in the house.

Last but not least I finally got around to putting something in the last foot of the bed by the path. I put carrots in the bed, but I can't put carrots in the first foot. The brick path has a foundation under there and the soil is only six inches deep. Mizuna won't mind though.

The garden still needs some love. There is crab grass and other weeds starting to go to seed. I need to get in there and pull it up before the seeds shatter. I'm hoping that Friday will be nice enough outside to work in the garden. I have been avoiding it for the most part because of the heat an humidity. The heat was bad enough that I couldn't make myself do the work necessary. But today was just gorgeous. So a lot got done.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Harvest Monday 1 September 2014

I did a really poor job of documenting my harvest this week. I do have four photos of the main harvest baskets, but just that. And once again the consistent harvests are always beans and cukes. That is about to stop though. The cukes are dying fast. I got a bitter cucumber and once that starts on all the vines I'll just rip them up. The beans are diseased and barely holding on. There are no more flowers on the plants, but they are ripening up the last harvest or two. I'll rip them out this week. That will give the choys and chards more sun.

Part of the reason is that I wasn't necessarily harvesting in the morning as normal. If I harvest right before dinner like this basket sometimes they get skipped when I'm busy cooking. We had the last of the corn this week. It was very sad, but it was a good four weeks. My husband never got tired of eating it. I didn't either, but that was because this year I told myself I would only eat one ear of corn if I wanted and not two just because it was in front of me. So if I didn't want it, Joel could eat it and I'd just pass. A lot of corn got frozen for the winter this year, which I'm very happy about.

And since the corn numbers are all in for the year I thought I'd see how well I did with this variety. This year I harvested 45.8 pounds. Last year I harvested 27.6 pounds. I have 25% more space this year, so to compare the numbers fairly I'll give last year 25% more, which is 34.5. I harvested about a third more this year than last year. And 20% more than the year before (2012) which was my previous record year. We didn't have nearly the corn growing weather that we did in 2012, but production was very high.

I attribute it all to the variety, Honey Select. Part of the reason was good germination. I had no gaps in my corn grid. All of the stalks produced, which is better than I can say for Ambrosia or Serendipity in my garden. Neither were great germinators in the cool wet soil we have in the spring. Now if I could find an early corn and a late corn that would not cross pollinate badly with Honey Select and produce as well I'd be all set. After one disastrous year when I thought I had two corns with all the right genes (if they have different genes that make them sweet and you cross them, the corn won't be sweet), but I was wrong. Since then I've stuck to just one variety and planted it successively. But it would be better for my squash if I didn't have to wait so long to plant. In a two sisters bed the squash will overtake and smother the corn if you plant it earlier. So it has to wait until the corn is in.

Can you believe I only took one photo of the melons and not one with them cut open? I harvested a lot of melon this week. I've been eating half a melon every day and giving away my excess. I still have one Halona in the garden. The Alvaros haven't even started yet. Three have set and are starting to ripen. I expect to pick today or tomorrow. I don't know why the last Halona is taking so long. I do have to get the melon out of the bed soon as September 1st is my fall spinach planting date. I'm not going to make it. The melons are more important anyway. The spinach will overwinter even if small and give an early spinach harvest, so all is not lost if I have to wait an extra week.

And last but not least. I pick a handful of raspberries every morning for my breakfast. Yum.

  • Beans: 1.83 lbs
  • Broccoli: 0.85 lbs
  • Corn: 8.18 lbs
  • Cucumbers 5.61 lbs
  • Greens: 2.13 lbs
  • Herbs: 0.30 lbs
  • Melons: 18.73 lbs
  • Squash, Summer: 0.98 lbs
  • Weekly Total: 38.60 lbs
  • Yearly Total: 421.93 lbs
  • Yearly Tally: $592.98

  • Fruit
  • Raspberries: 0.37 lbs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.