Saturday, March 28, 2009

More seeds started

Started some more cool and hot weather vegetables today. I'm trying to grow a wider range of crops this year, so I'll be trying things I've not grown before. I'm trying to work in collards, kale, beans, melons, squash, zucchini, and maybe potatoes. A lot of these can be grown like their cousins (collards like broccoli/cabbage, melons/squash like other tropical hot weather veggies) and do just fine, but I've still got some studying up to do to make sure I get the best shot at success for some of these.

- one 4" pot Red Russian Kale
- one 4" pot Summertime Crisphead head lettuce

Hot: (all in 2" pots)
- Orange Fogo Thai chile
- Red Demon Thai chile
- Golden Star Hybrid yellow sweet pepper
- California Wonder 300 sweet pepper
- Miniature Chocolate Bell sweet pepper
- Hansel hybrid eggplant
- Fairy Tale hybrid eggplant

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fruit trees

The new property came with 14 fruit trees and 4 nut trees, all of which were in need of some serious pruning. I read up on pruning techniques for all kinds of fruit trees, and decided the best option was to treat these as old fruit trees in need of renovation, which means pruning for shape and for ease of future fruiting, and not think about this years' harvest.

Found this nailed to a beam in the shop.

Here are the fruits:
Stella cherry (red, sweet)
Rainier cherry
Montmorency cherry (sour cherry - for pie!)
Bartlett Pear
Fuji apple
Gala apple
Jonagold apple
Red Gravenstein apple
Peach 'Frost' (small, sometimes won't ripen in a cold summer, but very hardy)
2 Italian plum
Santa Rosa plum (oriental)
Satsuma Japanese plum (oriental)
Yellow Egg (European) plum

Apples, cherries, pear, and peach along the driveway out front. Plum trees are behind the house.

The Montmorency cherry is 75% dead, and the Gala apple and Frost Peach both have bad canker infections on most of the main scaffold branches which might require some pretty severe pruning (like, to the ground...). I'll see how they do this year and may replace them.

Most of them looked like this; tons of water shoots, hanging and dead branches, and way too many branches shading out he center of the tree.

Much better when pruned back to shape.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Seeds are up!

This winter I stored my seeds in a big glass storage jar, covered with a tight lid, with 3 or 4 desiccant packets in the bottom. It seemed to work well, as all my seeds are germinating well so far. Most vegetable seed will remain viable for 3+ years, some much longer. Others, like corn or some peas, are advertised as good for only one year. The seed company is likely assuming poor storage conditions and a minimum germination standard of less than 60 or 70% as unacceptable. Simply storing seeds in a cool and dry place, where temperatures remain fairly stable, will get you a few more years of seed life. When in doubt, I seed heavily and often, and buy more only when seed failure is evident.

Snap and snow peas came right up. There's something funky going on with the Mega Snap peas, on the right. The leaves are all crinkled. We'll see if they make it, but I'll be sowing new seed when I transplant these outside.

All the brassicas were up in 4 days; cabbage, broccoli, and kohlrabi.

Sowed tomatoes today too. This year I'm growing plants for my Mom and myself, so I have lots of pots of tomatoes. I'm trying 7 varieties this year - we really like tomatoes. All started in 2 1/4" pots (they'll be up-potted a couple times before they get to the garden).

Chocolate Cherry (heirloom cherry tomato)
Cherokee Purple (heirloom)
Sun Gold (sweet, orange cherry)
Stupice (early slicing, always does well)
Costoluto Genovese (heirloom)
Super Marzano hybrid (Italian Roma-style)
Black Krim (Russian heirloom)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

First seeds

Got a start this weekend. Cooler spring weather vegetables can start to be planted out mid-april, so 4 weeks prior is a good time to get seeds going.

2 - 4" pots Mega Snap Pea
2 - 4" pots Oregon Sugar Pod snow pea
2 - 4" pots Fall Blend Broccoli
2 - 4" pots Danish Ballhead (120 days) cabbage
1 - 4" pot Derby Day (58 days) cabbage
1 - 4" pot Butterhead lettuce
1 - 4" pot The Redder the Better lettuce mix
2 - 4" pots Walla Walla sweet onion
4 - 2" pots Chives

It's a pain to drag out all the pots, flats, covers, seed mat, timers, and lights...but that "greenhouse smell", the scent of humid air and moist soil, that escapes when you peek under the plastic dome, makes it worth it after a long winter.

Friday, March 13, 2009

2009 News

I feel bad for not really finishing up last year's season. I meant to keep up on and finish my summer veggie reviews, keep track of the fall/winter crops I planted in late summer, and do an end of the season "what I learned" kind of summation. Oh well! It's a new year, and things have changed!

The blog has a new name: Our Ferndale Garden, as we'll be moving to Ferndale in the next few months. That will probably change soon too, maybe to "Our Ferndale Farm", or "Mini-farming in Ferndale". That's right - we bought a house on 4.82 acres in rural Ferndale Washington! Ferndale is a small town about 10 miles north of Bellingham, where we currently live. It is close to the city but feels quite apart.

A good sized piece of land was a very important consideration in our home search. This property is very good, about 2/3 pasture and 1/3 wooded, with full southern exposure and a gentle southern slope. The soil is good, well-drained silt loam, about as good as one can find in Whatcom County, which is known for heavy clay soils. The land is classified as "Prime farmland" and zoned for farming and agricultural use. At this point is a blank slate, and we can't wait to get started!

Here's the house from the outside.

A little clearing in the woods.

From the back side, looking over the future vegetable garden!

From the furthest corner of the field towards the house - the "pasture", for now...

There's the quick tour. The blog this year will be different - still following the progress of the vegetable garden, but now including 15 fruit trees, blueberries, raspberries, and other things that come with the new house. Plus whatever else happens as we settle in this summer and get to work!