Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tomatoes - Finally!

Thank goodness the fall days have been warmish despite the lack of sunshine and our beefsteak tomatoes are finally ripening on the vine!

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Now that's a carrot!

A super-sized carrot from the garden:

More later, busy canning veggies from the garden.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Drive-By Garden Update

We harvested our potatoes last weekend. The potato bed was then turned and given a little snack of mushroom compost to prepare it for the fall brussels sprouts and peas.

I cleaned out the bolted bok choi and then planted some new radishes, green onions and basil transplants.
ETA: and cabbage - forgot about those! I planted some red and green cabbage that will hopefully have enough time to mature before the weather gets too cold.

Vegetables 'Now Showing' in our kitchen include: broccoli, beets, onions, garlic, lettuce and two tiny cherry tomatoes (which disappeared so fast it was like they'd never even been there!).
ETA: and also kale, green onions, parsley, dill and potatoes

I have more things that need to be planted but those will have to wait as I'm a bit busy right now playing nurse to Garden Guy following his surgery.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

D is for


Deer tracks through the peppers
(I am thankful that at least they didn't step on the plants this time)

Deer Nosh: topped tomatoes

There is quite a deer problem in our neighborhood, and consequently in our garden, which is kind of funny since we live in town only 1.5 miles from the state capitol.

We used to live quite rurally (or as our oldest son used to refer to it "Deliverance Country"), technically in Buckley but actually closer to Wilkeson and Carbonado, where our 2.5 acres were a good mile or so down a private gravel road and bordered on Plum Creek Timber property. We had quite a large garden and never once did we have a deer come in for a nosh or to inadvertently trample freshly planted beds. Now here we are in the middle of town with our little side-yard garden and we get hit by deer several times per season.

Last year we deployed a water-fueled Scarecrow, which was pretty effective when one remembered to turn it on at night. Unfortunately, deer are very good at detecting when the stupid humans go to bed without turning on the water supply. Leaving it on all the time was not an option because it is also quite good at detecting human movement in the garden and deploying the startling jet blast of cold water at the unsuspecting person coming out to weed the garden or take out the trash.

This year I think I may have inadvertently discovered another option for deer deterrent, baler twine

cedar stakes

Stand back! Protected by baler twine!

I say inadvertent because this setup was initially to encourage roaming neighborhood dogs and our own dogs (who, it must be said, are not so bright about keeping to the pathways when out in the garden with us) to stay out of the freshly planted garden beds earlier in the season. The stakes also do dual duty as hose guides when I'm out doing hand watering for freshly seeded areas.

I didn't think it would really do much for deer since they can easily jump even 6 foot fences, but it seems to have been a deterrent for this latest deer visit.

Because, the only nibbles were on the tomatoes and the peppers,

look ma, no twine!

where we had unfortunately run out of cedar stakes. A visit to Lowe's should take care of that today.

Garden Guy surmises that the deer (much like the crows and string) don't like to get their feet tangled in the string, which is not as predictable as a single tall fence to jump, so they avoid the stringed up areas. I hope this is true! We'll see how this theory holds up over the course of the season.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And suddenly, it was July

In the words of Inigo Montoya: Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

In summary? June was a craptastic month for gardening in Washington. If you live here you already know that, if you don't? The sixth month of the calendar year, known elsewhere either specifically as "June" or more generally as 'the beginning of Summer, was being referred to here as "June-u-ary" due to the fact that the weather was more like January than June.

Cold, grey, wet. Did I mention cold? That pretty much sums it up. I would add dismal and depressing as well simply because it felt like summer would never come. And also because the garden just wasn't making any progress.

The weather finally seems back on track but our garden is very behind this year. It's hard to say whether all the plantings will have time to be successful or not. If we're lucky and get a summery September and late fall frost we might just be able to turn this one around.

To start with, we were late planting this year. The trip to WA DC (along with all the pre-trip planning and shopping) set us back quite a bit from our usual schedule.. Throw in the exceptionally bad weather with seeds literally rotting in the ground from the cold wet, a bit of vandalism* that required replacing all of our pepper plants and crow damage to contend with (involving the loss of 3 beds of newly planted green beans) and you have what is probably our least successful garden to-date.

Speaking of crow damage, here's our latest attempt the thwart their annoying sprout pulling behavior:

The crow pentagram
(not really, but it does look like some kind of attempt at garden magic, yes?)

We've found that the crows seem to avoid activities that involve getting near or under the string so we set this up to try to protect the lone remaining winter squash seedling.

When is early corn really late? When it's not planted until July 1. It's a good thing we're growing a short season corn (Quickie - 64 days) , we may have just barely enough time to actually get some corn this year.

really late early corn

The tomatoes seem to coming right along now that the warm weather has hit. Our tomatoes are all short season varieties from Territorial Seed Company so we should manage a decent crop before fall. The Beaverlodge plant already has some tomatoes set:

baby tomato

Here's a better picture of the onions:

And finally, a couple of full views of the garden:

From the East (near the tomatoes)

From the West, near the driveway
(yep, still haven't managed to get rid of that last patch of sod)

*an added incentive to get that fence up as soon as time and finances allow! I like the open aspect of our current garden plan but a fence would keep the random dogs out (footprints in freshly planted beds are quite annoying) and discourage acts of opportunistic vandalism by bored teens/young adults.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The onions are really doing great this year (due in part, I'm sure, to the fact that they were one of the few things planted on time).

No gardening took place today since Garden Guy and I were busy tearing out our kitchen countertops in preparation for new tile.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blogus Interruptus

Regularly scheduled garden blogging will resume this weekend.
(test post using my new Blogger iPhone app)

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Planting and more planting

The windbreaker was required for much of today's gardening.
Except during the much-too-infrequent-and brief sunbreaks,
which warmed things up enough to make even a light jacket uncomfortably warm!

I did some planting last Sunday but worked late in the yard and didn’t get around to making my weekly blog post. Here’s what got planted last week on 5/16/2010 (all seed from Territorial Seed Company):

(Bed #2)
  • Red Ace Hybrid - 55 days
  • Touchstone Gold - 53 days

Carrots (Bed #3)

  • Yaya
  • Bolero

Broccoli (Bed #4)

  • Packman - 66-75 days
  • Belstar - 70 days
  • Arcadia - 55 days
  • Southern Comet - 80 days

All beds (at each end):

  • Assorted Marigold (seed saved from last year’s plants)

Sweet Peas (planter pot)

  • Pink Cupid
  • Sugar n’ Spice

And here’s what I’ve planted so far today (5/23/2010):

Cabbage (Bed #4)

  • Parel (green) -2 50d
  • Gonzales (green) – 1 55-60d
  • Primero (red) – 2 72d

Chinese Cabbage (Bed #4)

  • Soloist (baby cabbage) - 40-50 days

Bok Choi (Bed #4)

  • Joi Choi - 45 days

There’s not much to show in the way of planting pictures since the just planted beds look pretty much like the unplanted beds and the few seeds from last week that are just now sprouting don’t really make for compelling blog photos.

I did finally get around to thinning the onion bed today.

It's painful to pull them up, but it's necessary for nice big onions later!

Some of the thinned plants came up with a respectable amount of root attached so I replanted the best of the bunch into one of the raised beds. If they survive we’ll eat them in salad as early onions. The rest of the thinnings will go into tonight’s salad along with some of the volunteer dill plants that found themselves in the way of progress.

Salvaged onions

Our tomato and pepper plants arrived from Territorial on 5/12/10. They always look alarmingly small in their tiny 2 inch pots!

Teeny-tiny tomatoes
(unfortunately, I didn't think to put something in for scale - trust me they're wee!)

Unfortunately, it’s not been warm enough to plant them out since the evening low temperature should be reliably around 50 (F) and the evenings are still unseasonably brisk (for instance, a few nights ago it was only 39 degrees!), not to mention stormy and windy. So the plants have been re-potted and are sheltering in the garage until Spring decides to finally take up residence here in the PNW.

Our moving dolly has been temporarily re-purposed into a Tomato Trolley to make it easier to move the plants in and out of the weather.

Tomatoes and Peppers soaking up the sun between showers today


After my brief blogging and tea break, I went back out to the garden and planted some more seeds in the new raised bed.

Greens (Raised bed #5)

  • Wild Garden Kale - 30 days
  • Wild Garden Mustards - 30 days
  • Valmaine Romain Lettuce
  • Flashy Trout's Back Romain/Cos Lettuce
  • Victoria Green Butterhead Lettuce
  • Red Iceburg Crisphead Lettuce
  • Bordeaux Red-veined Spinach
  • Tyee Spinach

A delicious dinner salad with dill and baby onions

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mid-week Garden Update

ETA: For some reason blogger is not emailing me comments on the blog even though it is configured to do that. So thank you for the comments! I didn't know I had any until I was checking a past post for an unrelated reason and saw them.

(I know that's a wonderfully creative title! But sometimes the title is the hardest part of the blog post, seriously, so rather than not post for lack of a witty title I'm just calling this one like it is)

It seems like it has just been one weekend thing after another since we got back from DC. Just to recap:
First weekend: Garden Guy's back was out and I managed a good fall in the hall so both of us were out of business as far as gardening was concerned.
Second weekend: We had house guests.
Third weekend: I enjoyed a not-so-lovely weekend of gastroenteritis.

There has been gardening, just not nearly as much as planned and my planting is now officially behind schedule. Also, obviously, the garden journal blogging did not take place last weekend. So, in order to be caught up for this coming weekend I thought a quick mid-week garden update was in order.

Here's a visual update on the onions and potatoes planted before we left:

Onions waiting to be thinned

Unlike the other plantings, the potatoes are undaunted by the cold spring weather
(the potatoes also secretly think the other plants are wimps)

The fall planted garlic is coming right along too

Italian Late Garlic from Territorial Seed Company

My salad mix is still looking fairly puny and not at all impressive:

Sad salad mix...

What is rather amusing about it is that the more pathetic section on the left was actually planted approximately 2 weeks earlier* than the patch on the right which was planted 4/23/2010. I think between the unseasonably cold weather and the @#$%^ neighborhood squirrels, it just gave up. The plan is to have a hoop/plastic setup over the bed next year to facilitate earlier (and more successful) planting of salad greens.

I'm also proud to report that we have finally vanquished Hog Fuel Mountain, rototilled the front bed and generally restored some sense of order to the garden.

Garden Guy gets busy with the rototiller Saturday 5/1/2010

The garden as of Sunday 5/2/2010

The garden as I left for work Monday morning 5/10/10
Only one last patch of sod to eliminate!

And here's the updated view of the raised beds

Garden beds 5/9/2010

As you can see, we've added a new bed on the far end.

Okay, that's it for now. I'll planting some seeds this weekend and my tomato plants should be delivered in a couple of days - I just got a notice from Territorial that they'd been shipped.

*I don't have the date because someone, and again I suspect the neighborhood squirrel gang or the naughty blue jays are behind this (and for good reason I might add), removed my carefully notated planting marker.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Excused Absence

The lack of posting doesn't indicate that I've already failed to follow through on my intent to blog about the garden regularly!

There was no new gardening news from home to report because Charlie and I were away in Washington DC from 4/15 to 4/20 for his 30 year Marine Corps TBS reunion. We had a great time and after the two nights of festive events we had two days to see the sights in DC.

The weather was fantastic while we were there and a nice break from the PNW Spring chill. We toured the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, and the National Museum of American History (with an extended stay at the Julia Child exhibit!). We also visited another Smithsonian art museum but apparently I neglected to note the name (it was the last stop on the second day and I was tired and pretty much museumed-out at that point).

On our way to a much needed coffee break at the Starbucks at 6th & C Street, we discovered a great little community garden plot:

We walked around the garden but didn't see any informational signs anywhere, but didn't walk over to the parking lot area (back of picture one) so it may have been there. There was also a little fitness setup at one corner of the garden area that looked to be popular, there was a very fit young military man using it while we were there.

Bonus vacation exercise

Later we headed over to look at the White House and while all the other tourists were trying to get photos of themselves with the White House in the background, we were trying to get a better look at the kitchen garden on the White House lawn. Too bad I only had my little Canon PowerShot with me as these were the best shots I was able to get:

The garden is not located very convenient to the fence from the front (for security reasons I'm sure) and where it's closer to the fence along the side there are heavy shrubberies and plantings blocking the view.

I was so busy trying to see the garden that I almost didn't notice something right in front of me: a beehive!

For some reason, a beehive on the White House lawn pleased me to no end

We had a great trip but by the end we were ready to come home and get back to our own garden.

We both had big plans to use our first weekend back to catch up in the garden, but as luck would have it Charlie seriously wrenched his back right off on Friday. He soldiered on through his self-appointed Friday chores but he was in quite a lot of pain for the whole weekend and basically barely able to walk Saturday and Sunday.

Then Sunday morning I had the brilliant idea to finish painting the hallway as we had guests coming over the following weekend. So I took up the hallway runner to get ready and noted that the floor was extremely slippery underneath. I warned Charlie to be very careful if he had to walk down the hallway and headed out to walk the dog before beginning to paint.

Do you see where this is going?

I returned from walking the dog, took off my shoes and, completely forgetting my own warning given not 30 minutes prior, headed down the hallway in my stocking feet. My feet flew out from underneath me and up over my head and I came down hard on my tailbone while simultaneously slamming my head on the wall.

Needless to say, the rest of my day was somewhat unproductive.

Coming up: Actual garden progress

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Off to a slow start

Raised garden beds - awaiting tidying and planting

newly mulched pathways

Lately it seems our free weekends have coincided rather unhandily with weather that doesn't exactly inspire thoughts of working outdoors. The weekends with unseasonably warm, sunny weather? Well those weekends managed to be the week in February when I was too sick to get off the sofa and the weekend in March that we were committed to working at a fundraiser.

This weekend showed up with no rain on the schedule and quite a bit of sun (if rather breezy and chilly at times) - so outside Garden Guy and I went to clear out the embarrassing growth of weeds in the front flower beds and the side garden.

We filled up two 92 gallon organics containers and probably could have done another if a) we had one and b) we had more weekend.

Garden Guy planted his potatoes:
- German Butterball
- Sangre
- Russian Banana fingerling

and I planted onions:
- Red Bull (red storage)
- Copra (white storage)
- Tropeana Lunga (red storage)
- Candy (white sweet Spanish)

(seeds and potatoes from Territorial Seed Company)

And together we managed to put a dent in Hog Fuel mountain mulching the aisleways. There's still a bit more to spread as we try to eliminate the remaining amounts of sod in the back of the garden and along the sides.

Hog Fuel Mountain - 10 yards of mulch delivered a few months ago

Over the next few weeks we'll clean up the trellises (trelli?) and touch up the paint. We have plenty of time since it won't be time to plant beans until late May or early June.

Trellis parts awaiting maintenance
Mason bee house on the post to the right (more on that in another post)

Hopefully this year will hold more regular garden updates and a real garden journal instead of last year's sporadic posts. Should be easier this year seeing as how we don't have a concurrent major house renovation and a child's wedding on the calendar!