Thursday, July 5, 2012

First Radish and Lettuce Harvests of the Year!

We're behind on posting, but do have pictures from the spring planting and first harvests...  Time to catch up a bit!

Three types of radishes, from seeds, harvested June 19th.
Left: Cherry Bell; Center: French Breakfast; Right: Amethyst Hybrid.
French Breakfast were old seeds and most didn't grow.

We planted earlier this year, mid-April (rather than last year's late-May), which means we're already harvesting lettuces, radishes, spinach and kale, despite more rain and cooler temps than usual this spring.

Back-track to the end of April...

Lettuce starts, April 27th

We purchased lettuce starts (three types this year) from Brown's nursery in mid-April.We'll be feasting on fresh, home-grown lettuce all during May, June and into July.

The weather turned really nasty right after planting our starts this year, so Robin bought paper cups (waxed), cut the bottoms off, and squished them into the dirt like collars around each of the starts. Our hope was to protect the starts from the harsh spring winds and super cold night temps. Mixed reviews about the cup strategy... the starts might have done fine without them and getting them out of the dirt a month later was tricky, as the dirt stuck to the cups and disturbed the plant roots during the removal process. Plan for next year? Plant the starts a few weeks later and forget the cups.

Spinach, lettuce and beets, April 27th

We also planted spinach starts at the same time, and were eating baby spinach greens by early May. The spinach started to go to seed in June, needing to be removed by the end of June. We had a lot of tasty spinach from one little flat of starts for about $2.00!

Three types of lettuce, plus kale, harvested on June 19th

We started radishes, beets, kale and carrots from seed, all planted directly in the troughs at the end of April, except for the carrots, which weren't planted until the night temps were higher (early June). All are doing well. The lettuce & kale harvest above was on June 19th.

Zucchini and tomato starts in the garden shed.

Robin bought zucchini and tomato starts (from the grocery store) at the end of March. We kept them in our garden shed, re-potting them on May 4th as they got too big for the 3" pots. We planted them outside in the garden at the end of May.

Installing Lunnette's sign above the garden shed door.

Robin's friend, Lunnette, painted a beautiful sign for the garden shed, which as you can see, I promptly installed! Now the garden shed is complete.

Garden art!

Oh, one more thing, new this year! Anyone who knows me, will certainly peg me as a collector of rust. Some time I'll post pictures of a few of my favorites. This spring, my friend, Rick Waldron, unearthed a gloriously rusted farm implement on his property. Now it's my new "garden art!"

I'll write another post, later, about our potatoes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Potatoes Are Planted

Last year we planted potatoes in gunny sacks, to which we continued to add layers of dirt as the plants grew, about 24 inches of added dirt altogether. We expected to harvest potatoes at all levels. Didn't happen. They grew small and only at the bottom level.

So this year, on Feb. 15th (as I recall), we planted in tubs. We put rocks in the bottom of the tubs, covered with about 12 inches of dirt. We placed the spuds, sprouts facing upward, about 3 or 4 inches apart, and covered them with about 5 more inches of dirt.

We were advised to test the soil for phosphate levels, but didn't do it this year. It's a trial and error learning experience, eh?

Our remaining winter crops, broccoli and kale, are both doing well. We harvest the kale often, as Robin likes to put it in salads, stews, and soups.

The purple crown broccoli seems nearly ready to harvest. We're not sure why some of it has this yellowish color. Have to do some internet research on this one.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Amazing Survival Comparison

The snow is gone now, along with the below freezing temps. After nearly a week of all white, about 8 inches of it, and temps down to 15 degrees, we're ready for balmy 35 with wind and rain: typical Northwet. Time to check for damages with before and after pictures.

What survived the Arctic blast and what did not?


Yes! (not such a Pansy after all)


Yes! Kale and broccoli looking good.


Oh no! 3,000 gallons of next summer's water became
the new Cistern Creek in one mighty crack.

Ooops, two mighty cracks.
The other one, the little dripper, has to be replaced as well.

Hacksaw, new 2-inch, brass, gate valves, new PVC, iron pipe and a few hours of labor, and we can start the water collection process again. #1's system got fixed today and the remaining water in the #2 cistern transferred to #1.  Next: fix #2.  After that: figure out a way to prevent this from happening again!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Snow of 2012

Knowing winter was finally going to show it's white face, Robin got out in the garden earlier this week to harvest all the remaining lettuce, beets and chard. We have a goodly supply in the refrigerator. The chard was especially tasty, steamed (with slivered almonds and cranberries added at the last moment) and served generously buttered.

She also buffered the stems and roots of the broccoli and kale with loose straw. That may be a good thing, as we have a week or more of snow showers and temperatures below freezing in the forecast.