Thursday, December 16, 2010

Potatoes in December?

Yup...the freeze killed a couple of the plants that were planted in Sept. and when I went to pull them out yesterday, there were 4lbs. of potatoes in the ground....yay! Amazingly the younger plants (not yet up in this photo) weren't affected. More plant out of the ground made them more vulnerable?

I really didn't think that they were mature enough to get a harvest, so was pleased that our attempt to salvage sprouting potatoes hadn't been entirely in vain. Next year we may go ahead and plant more spuds early in the fall so that we can have home-grown tots for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


This is our first year growing everything from seed and though the plants are still small, we are optimistic that we will be doing more of the same in the future. In the past, all our brassicas were planted as transplants bought from the local nursery, with lettuce, spinach and peas planted as seeds.

In August, the 6-packs were set out with seeds of cauliflower, cabbage, and brocolli (and onion, but that's another post). We didn't direct seed because our garden was still in production and with weeks of heat left in the Valley, we could protect the trays of seedlings from the hotter afternoon sun.

Around the middle of September another flat of seeds was sown. I could say that it was to stagger the harvest, but actually it was an incident involving the cat and our precarious tray set-up...sigh.

Most of the work in our winter garden comes in October, pulling out the summer veggies (of which several still remain) amending soil, and planting the cool-season crops...

....and eventually we'll get to that bed of BERMUDA in the background....geez.

One of the neatest things about starting from seed is that you can pick out varieties that aren't available at the nursery. We chose4 kinds of cauliflower ~ Violet Queen, Graffiti, Charming and Snow Crown....3 kinds of Cabbage~ Early Jersey, Super Red and Ruby Perfection...and 2 kinds ofBroccoli ~ Waltham and Tendergreen. Can't wait to see what Graffiti Cauliflower looks like!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We are Here, We are Here!

...but probably we're the only ones that are:)

This is the mess that is our winter garden at the moment.....more pics to follow....soon!

Monday, August 16, 2010


We haven't grown watermelons in a very long time, for all kinds of reasons... mostly bug related. The aphids always seem to kill off the plant long before the fruit can ripen. This year was no exception to the aphid issue...we still got plenty and they have managed to limit the number of big melons....but several made it to the red stage and were edible. Not as sweet as they could have been but tasty nonetheless. Yeah for us!

This was the biggest at just over 10lbs. ...the others were 6, 8, and 8lbs.


Friday, July 30, 2010


...sort of.
I debated posting these photos as it might turn away anyone who thought I actually might know what I am doing here :(

The tomato harvest has been a bit of a disappointment this year....considering we planted 81 tomato plants in this yard alone (over 20 more in our home garden). I thought we would be able to make enough sauces, salsas and catsups to last thru the winter. Sadly, that is not to be the case and I will be heading to the Farmer's Market tomorrow to try to make up the difference....sigh.

Not sure what happened here but because the plants in our more shaded garden are doing fine I think it might have something to do with the unrelenting heat and possibly the fairly new soil. We will continue to amend with our own compost and try to add more manures this year to get the fertility up to snuff.

The plants mostly seem to be dying on the bottom half.

So we decided to try to protect the fruit with screens .

This is just pathetic....these are BellStar paste tomatoes, which are a small determinate tomato plant. Pretty sure they're not supposed to be this small.

This bed of Romas is probably the healthiest of the lot....they are shaded from about 3pm on.

Fortunately, most of the garden has been really productive this year. I'll post pics of our more successful plantings in the next week or so.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Looks like someone is going to be carving a big 'ole Jack-O-Lantern this Halloween!

Not sure how big these will end up but they are a good size right now and as long as we can fight off the squash bugs, we'll let them stay in the garden. If it looks like they will get damaged, we'll pick 'em and store them in the cellar. Pumpkins were a complete failure last year....and these are the same we are quite happy with our success.

And I spoke too soon on our onion failure. This box was planted about 2 weeks after the original sets (the ones that all went to seed) and these are doing wonderfully. I pick a few every day, some get used immediately, some get layed out in the shade to dry. Haven't bought onions in months!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


....finally! We have had amazingly poor results in the past with our carrot crops. The ones planted in the fall never seem to make much progress (last year 6 survived...mostly eaten by snails if they came up at all) and the ones in the summer wilt in the heat or bolt to seed before the carrots fully develop. We've tried planting under the shade of other plants, which works marginally, and planting later in the fall, which works not at all (no germination in the cold). This year we seem to have hit on the right combination of planting time and location. We planted around the first of a bed previously growing broccoli...and the germination rate was fantastic. Tho the plants grew slowly...they grew!!!

We have been pulling up carrots for about a month now and yesterday I was able to make juice with the 8 lbs. the we picked....yippee yahoo! And the nice thing, the bed is still FULL of carrots. Now the question remains as to how much longer they can handle the 100+ temps before going to seed. This area does get a bit of shade in the afternoon but as soon as the plants start to flower we will pull the entire bed!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Garden Progress

Hoping to sit down in the next few days and get some pics of the garden posted. We are picking LOTS of green beans, plenty of zucchini, and some onions (one bed planted later than the others managed to not go to seed, but are still not huge) . be cont.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big Ole Onion

This one escaped while I was planting the onion bed and grew where it landed. I started calling it our 'James and the Giant Peach' onion.....I thought it fit. The stalk finally fell over yesterday, so I picked it....weighing in at 1.5 lbs.....we're saving it for burgers!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

....and more Garlic

The garlic has been outside drying for over 2 weeks now and the cloves seem just about ready to dust off and store in mesh bags in the cellar. Our makeshift drying racks, which consist of an old wire shelf and several refrigerator shelves, pale in comparison to those created by Maybelline's hubby but they do the job. Maybe next year we'll have time to build our own (now that we have plans we can copy :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010


We're expecting temps of 90+degrees this weekend so the garlic needs to be pulled to make way for the final 1o tomato plants.

The heads will go onto drying racks (old refrigerator shelves:) and sit out for a week or so before storing in the cellar. I'll be back later today to post pics of the haul!

ps. The poppies were volunteers from the compost we added to the soil.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Transition Time in the Garden

Trying to get double duty out of some of the beds in the garden. Here is our tomato/lettuce seed-saving bed. We just tucked the tomatoes between the lettuce plants that we'll be collecting seeds from next month. They are just starting to flower and the process takes a good couple of weeks before we get viable seed. This bed was actually planted with seed saved from last winters crop. It's an easy one to save but because of the time involved I've learned to keep the plants that are going to seed on the outside of the bed (mostly :) so we can plant our summer crops while we're waiting.

ps. the onions on the left side of the bed will be replaced with jalapeno peppers next week.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

His Empire of Dirt

I found this by reading a magazine, which led me to a book, which I Googled on the web and found the New York Magazine article and this video. Maybe we should be more enterprising and get ourselves published in New York.

The article spells out more of the travails.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What's New and Happenin'

I don't write much about the garden. I tend to let Maureen because she does a better job and I like to think of myself as the brute strength of this operation, emphasis on brute. Here are some crude pictures of what is happening in the last few weeks.

This is one of the new wine bottle herb beds. The bottles are filled with sand and buried upside down to form a bed. They are at the end of the wooden formed beds and set off the garden. 'Tis also fun to create more empty bottles for more beds.

This is one of the older beds with a winter crop.

These are the new beds that have been created in the last two weekends. Besides tidying up the place a bit, we now have more places to grow.

More fun than a barrel of monkeys in store for us.

Monday, May 3, 2010


....sort of :(
This year we are once again seeing our multitude of onions go to seed and fail to grow into decent bulbs....eek!

As I found out last year Onions are very weather dependent and our fluctuating winter temperatures confuse them into thinking it has been 2 seasons so they flower in order to propagate.

The plants never develop a sizable bulb and most of that is an inedible core.

Tho this is actually a leek (also going to seed) the idea is the same. A very hard inner core with only a few usable outer layers. I used 20 white onions in a pot of spaghetti sauce just to get enough actual onion. ....sigh.

The only ones that seem to be avoiding this fate are the red onions (planted as transplants vs. the sets used in the other bed). Of course I didn't plant very many of those....sigh.

From the Plant Answers Website---
Most folks want to grow onion bulbs NOT onion flowers! What causes bulb onions to send up flower stalks? Flowering of onions can be caused by several things but usually the most prevalent is temperature fluctuation. An onion is classed as a biennial which means it normally takes 2 years to go from seed to seed. Temperature is the controlling or triggering factor in this process. If an onion plant is exposed to alternating cold and warm temperatures resulting in the onion plant going dormant, resuming growth, going dormant and then resuming growth again, the onion bulbs prematurely flower or bolt. The onion is deceived into believing it has completed two growth cycles or years of growth in its biennial life cycle so it finalizes the cycle by blooming. Flowering can be controlled by planting the right variety at the right time.

So for all of you who live in HOT summer areas, when do you plant your onions and what kinds do you have the most success with?