Updated board

Took the old corkboard and gave it an update. 

Now to get the board repopulated and get our 2018 garden plans moving along!!

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2017 Garden Year In Review

Not a terrible year, at least early on.

The good and the bad…

  • Potatoes. I think we had about 400 lbs total. Still eating on them now. So the harvest was better than years past.
  • Sweet Corn. Bodacious did better than expected but the Silver Queen was a flop. I suspect it was the heat and lack of rain later in the summer that made for lousy tasting Silver Queen
  • Sweet Potatoes. I don’t know how many we harvested. It was a lot! Georgia Jets had major scurf problems. The best were the Diane sweet potatoes. The tubers and leaves were beautiful and little or no scurf. Hernandez were o.k. and easy to harvest. Purple Japanese were more mealy and not as well liked. The big win was the pig feed we got! Cows did not care for the vines but the pigs did! 
  • Flowers. It was nice to have zinnias, sunflowers, and calendulas. Marigold germination was spotty and flowering slow. Marigolds did better in late Summer.
  • Parsley. We had lots. Yum!
  • Early zucchini and summer squash did great. Later, not so much. Only got 2 sowings in. Really need to use floating row cover and white icicle radishes with these to extend harvest.
  • Green beans. Didn’t harvest the bush beans enough but what we did manage to freeze was delicious. I should forget pole beans.
  • Tomatoes were almost a total lost thanks to blight. Need to grow these in ground cover to stop splashing. No wonder the commercial grower do tomatoes under plastic with drip irrigation!
  • Peppers. Doe Hills were phenomenal! But others had blossom end rot, particularly the Korean peppers. I believe this is an irrigation issue.
  • Winter squashes. Neck pumpkins are the favorites for texture and ease of use. Cushaws did terribly. The Tan Cheese pumpkins did fairly well too.
  • Melons and watermelons. The latter did well and we ended up with a lot of large watermelons! Even a 50 pounder! Melons did o.k.
  • Okra did well, as usual. We just didn’t pick them enough.
  • Garlic was terrible due to weeds and disease.
  • Dent corn was not bad. We have replenished our stash and had whole cobs to feed the pigs for treats.
  • Fall winter crops were a loss due to heat and, mostly lack of rain.
  • Got cover crops in late and not everywhere.

It became obvious that we need irrigation. And we need to add more weed free organic matter. Here’s the list:

  1. Add purchased, weed free compost each year.
  2. Use stale seed bed/ground cover to better control weeds.
  3. Add real irrigation when we can.
  4. Straighten beds so they are square to make it easier to use tarps for weed control.
  5. Add walkways between beds. This will mean shorter rows and fewer beds per square but should make maneuvering easier.
  6. Use ground cover and wood chips in walkways to control weeds.

Now to work on the 2018 garden plans….

Fall seed starting

I am behind the eight ball on seed starting, as usual. It was so hot the latter two weeks of July though, too hot for even cabbages.

Today I cleaned up my seed trays. I also wetted more seed starting mix.

Here are the seeds I seeded today.

2017 Leek and onion seeds

The Tadorna and Mechelen Blue leeks are supposed to be very cold tolerant. Same with the Kincho Scallions and Evergreen Hardy Bunching onions. I want plenty of these for Kimchi and general fall and winter eating.

The Early Texas Granos are short day bulbing onions I hope to overwinter for next year.

According to Johnny’s Seed Catalog, the ideal temperature for germinating seeds in the onion family is 77 degrees. So I set the containers in the shade behind the tower. I will probably bring them in the house though as they do get sun in the late afternoon.

Allium seed starting

All of these containers are 4-6″ deep for strong root development. Onion family seedlings can take some rough handling so pulling them apart to plant is no big issue. I planted these containers with 120-200 seeds each. As soon as they are up, I will start feeding them with fish and kelp emulsion.

Not sure how I will handle the bulb onions. I need the seedlings to stay smaller than a pencil in diameter or they will bolt next Spring. It may be better to plant them later.

I also have the Welsh Onions to plant for winter green onions. These are very reliable and hardy. I have a few of these in the greenhouse…already 6″ high! They only take 3 weeks or so to get that big.

Welsh Onions Curing in Shade

I need to get a garden update here soon. 

Potato stats

Mercy and I dug the last 2 rows of Red Pontiacs. We got 35 and 25 lbs respectively. So I think we got 140 lbs total of Red Pontiacs. Need to look for that info here.

So 5.6 lbs per lb planted. Not great. But better than last year. 

Just off a heat wave, btw, during which we did almost nothing in the garden.

Selma Suns

The second sunflowers, Selma Suns from Southern Exposure, are blooming. They seem to have stronger flowers than the Velvet Queen Sunflowers. All are beautiful.

Selma Suns with stripe

Selma Suns with faint stripe

I need to work on my sunflower bouquets. Still nice to have fresh flowers on my dresser.

Weeds and to do

It is that time of year when the weeds take over. The Summer square still needs weeding. But the scrab grasses are too big. Even the winter squash and melon patches have more pig weed sprouting. And we still need to

  • Get the potatoes dug (4 rows down, 6 more rows to go), 
  • Clean up the garlic, 
  • Plant the 3rd summer squash/cucumbers/beans,
  • Put up some sort of supports for the peppers, Done
  • Harvest the remaining Bodacious sweet corn  Done
  • Mow the spring square, Done 7/21
  • Mow all around the garden  Done 7/21
  • Mow Square 1  Done 7/22
  • Start fall seedlings
  • Till and plant cover crops in squares 1 and 8
  • Weed whack and mow the potato square once harvested
  • Tie up tomatoes
  • Spray kelp on everything!
  • And weed!! Working on it! 7/17-7/19

On an up note, the bush beans are doing wwell, the sweet potato patch is beautiful, the second sunflowers (Selma Suns) are blooming, and we have watermelons and melons coming along!

Bodacious!!

Sweet corn that is. Here’s at least the second bushel we have harvested so far. They are still good but won’t be much longer.

Mercy cooked up this much last night too. We ate a handful of ears and then she froze 14 pints.

Bushel of Bodacious!

This corn has been very good. And not very buggy.

First Green Beans

The bush beans, Provider from Southern Exposure, are starting to produce! Good thing Mercy thought to check.

These are destined for on of my favorite potato salads.

Provider beans, broken

Having them with hot smoked hams. Thanks Pop & Ashton!

Homegrown ham, hot off the Webber

The missing cracklings courtesy of Annamika.

July 2017 Greenhouse Notes

I was just watering some green onions in the greenhouse. Beds are mostly cleaned out now. It is time to start seedlings for fall but I am concerned it is too warm.

There is shade cloth on as well as the plastic, which is pulled up for cross ventilation. I need the plastic on as this is also my planting shed and storage for seed starting supplies. But it traps heat and keeps the beds dry, save around the edges.

North greenhouse beds. Green onions in background.

Maybe we can add another layer of shade cloth. Better to try that first than spend money on shadier cloth.

South greenhouse bed

Also need some drip irrigation. I have old soaker hoses to try. Need to test them out.

Shadecloth over plastic on greenhouse

These are my thoughts between painting and watering. 

Hide & Seek Garlic

Mercy and I dug what remains of the garlic out of the Spring Square. It is way past its prime but salvageable.

I think there are a few reasons it is so poor:

  1. It was planted late. December. Due to last year’s drought.
  2. The soil is poor and we did not amend it at all.
  3. There is some disease on the cloves.
  4. The weeds rapidly smothered the garlic plants in late Spring.

The worst part is getting the pig weed, Johnson grass, and summer grasses out of the way! long pants and boots are a must along with gloves. 

So from here, I plan to plant the seed heads that formed (never got all the scapes cut off) in the greenhouse to use for planting cloves next year.

Then clean, a much as possible, the garlic heads and cure them. Then, dry and powder and/or ferment the cloves to preserve them.

We’ll save any bulbs that are worth planting but there won’t be many. I will likely buy a few pounds of seed garlic for fall planting and rebuild our garlic stock. 

Last time I lost most of my garlic was after the 2007 drought.

Now to get the Welsh Onion dug…..