The Modern Victory Garden - Growing More Of Your Own On Today s Typical Homestead Site
http://www.modernvictorygarden.com/apps/blog/ - May 18, 2013 2:41:32 AM - Apr 16, 2011 8:16:37 AM
Last fetch attempt was insuccessful.
Reason: Timeout was reached
Posted on May 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM comments (2)
Despite the lack of blog updates, it really has been quite busy around here in my garden. Too busy when combined with work and travel commitments, which is why the blog has been rather quiet of late. I have managed to carve out time here and there to keep the garden tasks on track, but there has not been much time left over. We have been having some excellent spring weather this year and it has kick started the garden into high gear, at least to the extent that I have things planted up. The big pea patch is looking gorgeous and the snap peas that were planted later are up and growing well too. The broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbages, and brussel sprouts are all thriving and growing well. In fact, the kohlrabi is starting to fatten up it’s swollen stems and the broccoli is forming heads.
The potatoes I planted a few weeks ago started emerging over the past several days, so I hurried to get a deep layer of straw put on top of them today to encourage them to keep growing up through this next layer before really leafing out. I put a soaker hose down on the surface of the bed before I put the straw mulch on.
The lettuces have been really taking off this past week – both in the greenhouse and also in the outdoor bed. You can see the snap pea shoots growing behind the lettuces in this pic.
We are starting to enjoy regular fresh salads again. I have really missed lettuce salads. Their return to the menu is much appreciated.
I finally got around to getting the tomatoes planted. I took quite a few of the extra starts into work on Tuesday and did my annual tomato plant giveaway to my employees. I held out the best of each variety for my own garden – 20 plants in all. The remaining plants (there is 43 more of them still) will be going to the Giving Garden a week from this coming Saturday. I moved the tomato patch to the side garden area this year. I prepped the bed as per my usual routine (aerate it with a broad fork, add a layer of compost, lightly work in the compost and rake the bed smooth), but skipped putting down red plastic mulch this year because I was unable to find it and did not want to wait to plant the bed up. I know I have some in the shop but darned if I could find it when I needed it! I then marked out 2-foot by 2-foot grid squares in the bed using a 4-foot stick and placed the tomato starts where I planned to plant them. I alternate my placement of the plants so that they have better ventilation when they are mature and much bigger. I trimmed the lower branches and leaves off of the plants to ensure that after I plant them deeply they would not be touching soil with their leaves.
I dig a hole for each transplant and add to the bottom of the hole 2 tablespoons of all-purpose organic fertilizer, 1 tablespoon Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), and 1 tablespoon of crushed oyster shell (calcium). I mix the additions into the soil at the bottom of the hole and then plant the tomato start – placing it deep in the hole so it will develop more roots along the lower portion of its current stem. Once they were all in the ground, I laid out the soaker hoses and put the tomato ladders and cages in place. For the taller growing indeterminate varieties, I like to double up on the supports by using both a tomato ladder and a cage. The smaller determinate plants do just fine with a cage only. The last step was to turn on the soaker hose for the first time this year and give them all a deep drink.
Here’s a closer look at one of the Stupice (pronounced “stew peach ka”) plants. This potato leaf variety produces an abundance of small sized fruit (approx. 2 inchs) and is quite tolerant of our region’s cool growing season. They are a lanky grower but so reliable for my region that I make sure at least a few of them are in the lineup each year.
I planted the following varieties:
- Amish Paste (3)
- Legend (3)
- Siletz (5)
- Paisano (paste) (3)
- Cherokee Purple (3)
- Stupice (3)
The pepper plants are huge and almost hardened off now. They are starting to go in and out of the greenhouse to toughen up. Here is a picture of them enjoying a sunny afternoon next to the remaining tomato starts. If you look closely you will see quite a few peppers already formed on these plants. They really need to get into the ground soon!
Next up on the garden to do list:
- Hanging the trellis netting for the snap peas
- Planting the pole beans
- Planting the pepper plants
- Planting the corn patch
- Plant parsnips
Last week I started the cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini, and winter squashes - indoors under my grow lights. They should be ready to transplant out at the end of the month. Once the squash family plants are in, things will slow down for a while in the garden and the work will shift largely to just maintenance and light harvesting.
I hope things are growing well in your garden too!
Posted on April 28, 2013 at 11:50 AM comments (8)
As planned, I have a lot of commitments to keep this weekend so the garden is only getting minimal attention; watering of the container plants and peppers growing under the lights in the house; and moving the tomatoes in and out of the greenhouse in the morning and evenings so they can finish hardening off. Luckily, I knew this was going to be the case and having noted that the weather forecast was excellent for Tuesday and Wednesday, I took a few days off from work last week to enjoy the fine weather and do the work I would have ordinarily done on the weekend (were it not for all the other commitments).
For once the longer term weather forecast was spot on correct. Tuesday and Wednesday were simply stunning spring days around here and it was a pleasure to have work to do in the garden to be out and about in it. I have been carting all the tomato plants out of the greenhouse in the morning and leaving them outside to get direct sun and exposure to breezes etc as they finish hardening off. They really enjoyed the high 60’s/low 70’s degree weather too. Here are some of them enjoying “Sunshine Camp for Seedlings”!
The work plan for the current week was to get the back bed that was really weedy attended to; weed the strawberry and cranberry patches; and to plant up carrots, some cabbage, and the potatoes. I started out by doing the berry patch weeding and then moved to the back garden area and tackled those beds. This is what they looked like before I got started. The front section of the top bed has the broccoli, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, and some onions in it. The center bed is one of two garden beds that seemed to get exceptionally weed filled over the winter. I already cleaned up the other one, but this one really needed some attention.
I started the job by doing an initial hand weeding of the larger items in the beds. The idea is to clear out the worst of the weeds before getting in there and doing the bed cultivation. Some weeds spread by rhizomes and chopping them up with a hoe while cultivating just creates a mess of tiny pieces that will produce even more weeds in the bed in the future. This task actually took most of my time on Tuesday, as I was trying to extract whole roots where possible. Here’s the beds after I did that hand weeding. I think it already looks MUCH improved.
I then added a layer of compost and aerated the top bed using my broad fork. The next prep action was to broadcast some organic all-purpose fertilizer (3-3-3 NPK) on the bed and use the hoe to cultivate the top few inches. The final step is to rake it so that the bed is ready to be planted.
I planted about 2/3rds of this bed in carrots (Ya Ya and Mokum) using my 3-inch planting jig to mark the seed spacing. The other 1/3rd was planted with a few direct seeded Ruby Ball cabbages. They take up a huge amount of room so there is not that many of them planted there, as I was leaving them plenty of room to grow into. Here’s the bed after it was planted up.
All that work was accomplished on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I focused in on the second bed in the back section. It was prepped in exactly the same manner that I did the upper bed on Tuesday. This particular bed is going to hold the potato patch and also will be where the cucumbers will grow. I went ahead and put up the slanted cucumber trellis on the first 8 foot by 4 foot section so it would be ready when the time came to plant them, but for now nothing is growing there. The remaining 16 feet by 4 foot section was then planted up with the potatoes. I am doing a hybrid experiment this year with my potato patch. I am using a deep initial planting depth for the seed pieces (7 to 9 inches down from the surface of the soil) and spacing the seed pieces using the John Jeavon’s method (9 inches apart in all directions) using my planting board to note the location to plant. I am not following the full John jeavon’s method though in that I did not do a double dig of the bed and plant as I went. Instead I prepped it as noted and then used a narrow hand trowel to plant the seed pieces by drilling a deep hole at each planting spot and dropping the seed piece in. It is a very similar process to planting flower bulbs. My intention is to use a thick mulch of straw on the potato patch this year to give the tubers more room to develop spuds, since I did not double dig. This back section of the garden is the newer area and the soil is not nearly as nice as the side section of the garden. The beds are quite full though and it is difficult to add very much organic matter at any one time because the amended soil tops over the bed edging and is in jeopardy of soil erosion during heavy rains or irrigation as a result. I thought using the deep layer of straw mulch would help with that because the lower portion will decompose and add good organics to the bed in addition to protecting the potatoes from sun exposure. Using natural mulches in my garden is always a risk though. It provides a lovely home for slugs which are abundant in my maritime northwest garden. I think the benefits will outweigh that negative though in this instance. So that is my plan. Here is the potato patch after being planted up. You can see the cucumber trellis in the foreground.
I planted a few new potatoes this year (Rose Finn Apple, French Fingerling) as well as some old standbys (Yukon Gold, Kennebec). The area I planted in potatoes (16’x4’) is exactly half of what I have been planting for the past many years. I am trying to adjust to our family’s smaller size now. When I had a hungry teenager at home we needed the larger potato patch, but the past several years, I have not used nearly as much of our stored potatoes with only the two of us now at home, and so I need to recognize that and back down on the amount I was planting. I think half is going to be just about right, but I may have to fine tune it over the next several seasons.
The back garden area is quite tidy now and largely planted up. The lowest bed is open at the moment, but will be planted in the corn patch a little later this spring. I also have the cucumbers to plant yet too. The artichoke bed in the corner area is really coming to life with the warmer weather. No sign of buds developing yet, but I don’t think it will be too long. The vertical bed at the bottom has snap peas (Cascadia), lettuces (mix), and spinach all planted up. I do need to get the trellis netting hung, but since the snap peas have not emerged yet, it can wait until the next weekend when I will have more time at my disposal. Here is how the back garden area is looking after the work I did on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Next up on my “to do” list, is planting out the tomatoes; starting the squash family plants (indoors under lights); and starting the hardening off of the peppers. Things are coming along quite well actually, and the garden is starting to look productive and tidier once again. Did you have a good week in your garden?
Posted on April 21, 2013 at 9:25 PM comments (9)
The past week a real transformation has been occurring in my part of the world. Birds and frogs are singing with enthusiasm in the early morning hours. Trees and vines are leafing out and blooming. And when we are fortunate enough to have the sun emerge from our numerous days of wet and cloudy coastal Pacific Northwest weather, it actually feels quite warm on the skin. To put it simply, spring appears to be well and truly here. Our property has many beautiful specimen-sized tree rhododendrons and spring time brings a cascade of successive bloomers such that there is something dramatic to look at well into early June. Two of our many (I think there is well over 100 of them over the entire property) have launched the 2013 bloom season. The first to go was a wild red one in the front section of our property. It is still showing beautiful dark red but the blooms are starting to look a little shop worn. The second one is at the very back edge of our property, almost lost to the woods it sits at the edge of. It is approximately 12 feet tall and covered in beautiful pale pink blooms. The pink blossoms look almost luminous set against the dark of the adjoining forest.
We have red, white, yellow, peach, purple, and multi-hued rhodies that surround the property and give us a stunning show each year. What is even better about them, is that they are almost nothing to care for. I do a pruning of the front trees about once a year to keep them from taking over the adjoining flower beds or walkways, and I give all of them a light sprinkle of fertilizer after they are done blooming for the season and that is it. Unfortunately, not all my flower beds are so fuss free. I do try to keep them simple and naturalized to the greatest extent possible in order to avoid a lot of landscaping work. We have a lot of perennials that are happy growers in this kind of climate, which makes my landscaping relatively low maintenance. Columbine, Hardy Fuschia, Astilbe, Daphne, and Bleeding Heart all seem to do well here and require very little work on my part to keep them healthy and happy. It’s a good thing as I tend to devote all my garden efforts to the vegetable garden and ignore the landscaping areas for the most part. The columbine plants are getting ready to flower soon, and the bleeding heart is a riot of flowers at the moment.
While all my front flower beds are planted with low maintenance perennials, I do use annuals every year to plant up containers in the front entry area of the house. I have several planters and a very large shepherds hook (made for me by one of my very talented brothers-in-law) which holds four good sized hanging baskets. Now that spring has arrived and settled in, it was time to plant those up for the year. I used impatiens predominantly in the front containers with sweet potato vine and other foliage plants to give it height and color contrasts. I planted them up Sunday morning. When they fill out a bit they should look really nice. I used similar colors and plants last year and really loved how it looked and how well the colors displayed for the entire summer season.
The hanging baskets were planted with super petunias - a showy trailing variety - in rich dark purples, red, salmon, and light pink colors. It will be a while before they begin blooming, but I am hoping to get a nice splash of color in this corner area that is right next to the front gate going into my vegetable garden.
While I was at my favorite local nursery picking up the annuals to plant in the containers, I grabbed a couple of packs of lettuce starts. I have been intending to get another round of lettuce seedlings going and have just not gotten around to it. On Sunday, I prepared the back vertical grow bed by aerating it with the broad fork; adding a layer of compost and a sprinkle of organic all-purpose fertilizer; and then cultivating the top few inches with a hoe and raking it smooth. I planted the back length with snap peas (Cascadia), and in the front portion I planted the lettuce transplants and direct seeded spinach (Bloomsdale Savoy) using my 4-inch planting jig for the spinach. I still need to hang the netting for the peas, but it won’t take me but a moment to get that taken care of.
I added the final layer of soil to the new asparagus patch Sunday as well. I have lots of shoots emerging so it looks like this bed might be a success. The peas I planted two weeks ago (Dakota) are all up and growing strongly. In fact, everything planted out so far is looking good and thriving. Unfortunately, in the greenhouse I have something eating my napa cabbage as fast it puts out growth. I may have to actively intervene and do some pest management in the coming week. On the seedling front, I am moving the tomato plants out of the greenhouse on a daily basis now to get exposed to direct sun and wind etc and then putting them back in at night. They will be ready to plant out very soon. Once they are out of the greenhouse, I will move the peppers in to do the same slow process with them as well. I need to start the squash family plants soon and I need the peppers out from under the grow lights to make room for more seed starting.
The forecast is for gorgeous weather this coming week. I am planning to take a day off from work just to enjoy it and get some more planting done. The potatoes need to go in and it is time to get the first of the carrots planted. A day spent in the garden soaking up sun and puttering around sounds pretty heavenly to me.