Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer schedule

I might be really jumping the gun, but it appears that summer may have arrived. Hopefully, this translates into less back-breaking preparatory labor and more relaxing tending and harvesting. Since the weather has warmed up and nice sunny days can generally be expected, I'll probably visit our plots twice a week. Most of the time this will include checking water, foliar feeding (once a week), quick weeding, pest insect check, harvesting whatever is ready or needed, and general upkeep.

Today I set up a few tripod bamboo pole trellises for my hops, which are already vining to 8 feet! I'm growing Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Willamette hops - all proven pacific northwest varieties (many who share names with northwest Washington locales). I transplanted some flowers, crocosmia and digitalis, as well.

Pepper and eggplant seedlings spent their first day outside today. I brought them back in for the night, as they are the most tender of the tropicals and could be shocked by nights below 55 degrees. They'll be outside in the ground in a few weeks.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A good harvest today

It's different to have garden plots across town than to have them right in your backyard. I would probably spend a little time each night checking on things were my plots close to home. Since they are not, I might go twice a week or, usually, just once. Therefore each time we go it means more than a few hours of weeding, planting, intensive watering, bed preparation, and harvesting. That's why I have lots to report on about once a week, rather than every day.

The Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rabe or Raab, Broccoletti, Broccoli di Rape, Cime di Rapa, Rappi, Friarielli , and Grelos) is ready. Although it shares name and outward appearance with broccoli, it is actually closest to the turnip. I let mine go a few days too long (a downside of my cross-town plot) and a few florets flowered. These are edible, however, along with the stems, toothed-leaves, and florets. They have a pungent, slightly bitter, broccoli-like taste. Best steamed or sauteed as you would any normal broccoli.

Radishes are about finished off. They hold for only 10-14 days after maturing, after which they begin to split open or are lost to chewing insects. A few of our biggest are beginning to split. I'll probably sow a small fall patch later on this summer.

Pollination attractors are blooming!

Tomatoes are setting fruit, butter-crunch lettuce can be picked next week, and peas are growing strong. Here's how the garden looks today.

The foremost bed will have pepper and eggplant transplants in a few weeks, with the bed behind soon holding carrots and salad mix. The bed far in the back will get direct seeded cucumber, squash, and ice-box melon maybe by next weekend, if the weather cooperates.

Sowed and transplanted today as well:

- 6 row feet Mesclun Blend salad greens
- transplanted 8 clumps of salad onions from 2" pots (Guardsman, Purplette, and Copra) (sown 03.16.08)
- transplanted about 12 pots annual dahlias (sown 3.06.08)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tomatoes in.

Spent a few hours Saturday and a few today at the garden plots getting some work done.

8 weeks after sowing, I finally got the tomatoes in (sown 03.16.08). 2 weeks ago, the tomato bed was deeply dug, rototilled, amended with fertilizer, lime, and compost, and covered with black plastic to heat up the soil. Saturday I built my tomato mini-greenhouse.

10' long 1/2" SCH20 PVC for the arches. I pounded 8" long, 1" diameter PVC pieces into the soil and slipped in either end of the 1/2" pipe.

Leftover scraps of 6 mil greenhouse plastic made a solid covering for my 8 transplants.

We also got our dahlias in, cut down the cover crop and covered the bed with more soil, and weeded everything. Starting to look pretty good.

Friday, May 16, 2008

After 2 weeks away!

After a nice vacation, I was looking forward to coming back and seeing the progress in the garden. I had a friend water and check on the garden few times for me while I was out of town. It is amazing how much growing can go on in a few short weeks.

Clockwise from upper left: Mesclun blend going great. Cut about 4" of a row and had a nice big salad. Slobolt Lettuce coming along as well. Radishes at bottom are bulbing up and big enough to start picking. These were sown about 40 days ago (sown 04.06.08).

Easter Egg radishes live up to their name.

Transplanted Buttercruch lettuce

The first row of early sown spinach is a few weeks off from cutting.

Transplanted cabbage (smaller plants) and broccoli raab are doing well. Checking under the leaves of these brassicas revealed tiny yellow and white spherical deposits. No doubt eggs of some sort of moth or white fly. Checking for and removing these eggs twice weekly from the upper and lower leaf surfaces of brassicas will help to control many chewing moth larvae from ever hatching. It's either close monitoring, covering with Remay, or letting it get bad enough to spray with a plant derived-insecticide as a last resort.

This weekend will be busy! Weeds are growing as fast as veggies, heat-loving tropicals need to be transplanted, seeds are waiting to be started, and my back already hurts.