Category Archives: raised beds

Now we’re cooking

I can stop complaining about the lack of vegetables now:

Harvest on 8-14
Harvest on 8-14
Harvest on 8-17
Harvest on 8-17

This was a lot of stuff to come in all at once.  It looks very impressive, posted on Facebook.  I had several offers to, “….take some of that off your hands.”  So kind of those folks!  Where were they when I was on my hands & knees for four hours, weeding?

In the end, we put up 5 jars of pepperoncini peppers:

PepperoncinisI found a great recipe for pickling them on Food.com. Our first batch tasted a little mushy, probably from the length of time they sat in the canner until I was able to finish stuffing all the jars and bring it to a boil.  This time we stuffed the jars, filled the brine, removed the air and then put them all into the canner at once.  We’re hoping this makes them crisper.  The ones available commercially taste too bitter to me, so if they are just a little crunchier, they will be perfect.

We’ve got some beans coming, too:

Anellino di Trento and Royalty Purple bush beans
Anellino di Trento and Royalty Purple bush beans

We grilled these with a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice and dill and they were fantastic.  We’re enjoying the beans more than normal, given that just three weeks ago we thought they were a total loss.  Something was getting over our fence and eating the bushes.  We suspect a woodchuck, and so we set up the electric fence around the wire one.  Problem solved.

After picking all those tomatoes, we parboiled, peeled, seeded and diced them into 2-cup quantities and froze them.  We ended up with 2 bags of Krim, 3 bags of Kellogg, and a bag each of Brandywine and Roma.  But we didn’t freeze all of them:

2014-08-17 19.22.33That is a Tomato Stack Salad with Corn & Avocado.  It is delicious.  We used Krim, Kellogg and Brandywine, plus corn, fresh chive and basil from the garden in the dressing.  We have been waiting all season to make that stack of deliciousness.  It was worth the wait.

In a fit of optimism, I planted 191 Knight peas in the back 40 yesterday.  Average time to harvest?  56 days.  That puts us somewhere around October 12, give or take depending on how warm fall is.  I may have wasted $1.50 in seeds if we have an early frost.  This is my idea of living dangerously.

A banner year

So while we’ve had a few problems this year (see also: rabbit in fenced garden, bugs) it’s turning out to be an amazing year:

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We’ve lost a couple of squash plants – due to powdery mold, bugs or both, it’s not clear, but we’ve successfully harvested zucchini pretty consistently since the middle of July.  Of our 6 plants, 3 are producing – all zucchini – and we’re keeping up with consuming what we’re picking.  We’ll stick with the 6 plant plan for next year, because if everything does well we’ll have to give stuff away even at that low number.  We’ve come quite a way from the days of 6 of both types of plants.  Those were some dark times – for us, and the neighbors.

The tomatoes this year are amazing.  Our sungold plants are over 6 feet tall, and so heavy we’ve taken to leaning the cages against the fence and lashing them in place:

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Our peas this year have been somewhat anemic – Mr. Big Pea produced enough peas for a sandwich bag, and the sugar snap lagged further behind that.  Which is interesting, given that we rotated them to a different part of the garden and we used a soil inoculant to help the plants live longer.  Currently they start to die off just as the pods begin to form, so instead of being indeterminant, we get one harvest.  J yanked out all the Mr. Big Pea plants earlier this week and planted a second crop, something we’ve never done before.  We estimate about 7 to 8 weeks before we’re at a huge risk for frost, although the last 2 years we’ve had snow near Halloween, which is about twelve weeks away.  We had the seeds for planting, so we figured we’d give it a shot.  Also planted this weekend – the third crop of lettuce, and more parsley, cilantro and basil. I’ve picked pretty much what we have, so if I want stuff for the fall, I had to replant.  I’m also hoping for enough basil to do a little pesto this year, and freeze it.

We’ve had a lot of rain this summer, punctuated but spells of hot, sunny weather, which has been enormously helpful to the garden, and to our non-farmed yard.  It has never looked this nice this late in the summer since we moved in.  And as I write this, it’s raining again, after a week of sunny 80-something days:

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I’m sure in years to come we will look back on this season fondly.  Except for the peas.  And that rabbit.

Mid-July report

I am pleased to report we might actually be winning the war with bugs and weeds.  I know this was a pressing concern for all of you.

Turnips and radishes
Turnips and radishes

 

Beets and carrots
Beets and carrots

 

Onions
Onions

 

Potatoes
Potatoes
Strawberries & herbs
Strawberries & herbs
Brandywine tomatoes
Brandywine tomatoes
Cucumbers
Cucumbers

 

The back-40
The back-40

 

Beans & peas
Beans & peas

 

This past weekend I harvested an entire mixing bowl of banana peppers and cucumbers.  And promptly canned all of it, with the help of Old McDonald.  We have three jars of sweet banana peppers and three jars of bread & butter pickles.  There will be plenty more coming, as we are about to be buried in tomatoes. Our Roma plants are producing like nothing I’ve ever seen.  I see a lot of sauce in our future.  And everyone else’s.

Potato….Potahto…..

Today I planted the potatoes.  I love planting potatoes, it’s so easy:

Dig hole

Select potato

Deposit in hole

Today’s temperature reached 92 degrees, which for April is a record breaker.  It also makes us feel like we’re behind with our garden planting, even though we are not.  I also planted the parsnips:

I did not expect the seeds to look like that, but they are way easier to deal with than carrot seeds, which are so tiny and fussy I did not even bother to photograph them, I just threw them in the shallow trench 1″ apart and covered them up. 

In the end, our middle raised garden looked like this:

In other words, not much.  But we’re a month ahead of last year, at least.  And with 20 potatoes planted (to last year’s seven) we should see double the yield.  Maybe.

Denial – Not Just a River in Egypt

You should know that right now I have four beautiful strawberry plants, and that I’m enjoying fresh strawberries right now.

The plants are from Home Depot.
The strawberries are from the supermarket.

Over Easter my mother-in-law told me that I wouldn’t have strawberries this year.  She is obviously unaware that I am willing to think outside the box to achieve my goals.

Speaking of boxes, this past weekend was our big gardening weekend where we built the raised beds we needed to expand our garden. 

And by “we” I mean J, who built the beds, and the two of us filled them with the dirt I had delivered.  Three yards of it.  Which is a lot of dirt.  It was so much dirt, I swear it was multiplying as we pulled away from the pile with another load in the trailer.  Like the rototillers, but with less rust.  The rototiller worked great, by the way:

At one point, it tilled up a rock the size of a soccer ball, so we added it to the wall.  Way easier than digging it out of the ground by hand!  (Which we would have done, had we known it was there.)  While we were working on the main garden, it tilled up a brick.  Other than a really loud clanging noise, the tiller just kept going.  But if it hadn’t, hey, we have a spare!

There was so much dirt J built me a third raised bed, to be dedicated exclusively to growing herbs.  I was so excited I went out and bought more seeds.  And then started plotting the construction of a cold frame, something I have been intrigued by for years.  Don’t ask me why; it’s not like I can’t get fresh herbs at the store in November.  I suspect it’s because it feels like it’s pulling one over on Mother Nature who sometimes dings the gardens with a killing frost before the end of September and then hits us with warm sunny days for several weeks in October, as if to taunt us.

We were, of course, properly monitored all weekend:

He had no complaints about our work, except that it kept us from scratching his ears as much as he would have liked.