Category Archives: Garden

Garden Plans 2017

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I’ve finally been able to get outside a little bit.  I have a LOT to do, but it’s been too wet to do it.  Over the past week, the weather has cooperated enough for me to do some yard work.  I have a lot of plans for this new place.  As bulbs and plants begin to emerge from their winter hibernation, I’m getting a sense of which ones I want to keep and which ones have to go.

This is going to be my herb garden.  It is a flowerbed next to the vegetable garden.  I’ve already removed a huge lemon balm plant.  There is a small one in the back that will stay.  I don’t use much lemon balm.  I want thyme, rosemary, sage, dill, cilantro and basil. I planted the parsley plant for a start, and I can see that there is a chive plant in the background. There are many little chive starts coming up.  I will only keep a few, and will either put stepping stones throughout the area, or move the chives forward.  I use them a lot in cooking and want them accessible.  I will leave the rhubarb.  It looks healthy and established.  I also unearthed a cold frame and will plant some things in there once I get a bag of dirt poured in there.  I’m not sure what, yet.

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Rob got part of the garden tilled.  There are still a lot of weeds, and he will be re-tilling the rest and finishing the parts he did not do over the next couple of weeks.  He double-tilled this area, so I could plant.  I planted Golden Acre cabbage and broccoli from starts I bought.  The broccoli is a spring mixture, which should stagger the harvest.  I planted Walla Walla onions from little plants (the bare-root bundle) and Benny red onions from a 6-pack.  I have not grown them before, but that’s what Wilco had.  Pasty planted most of them, which was very helpful.

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I planted seeds for Detroit beets, Nantes carrots,  spinich, pale green Swiss chard, Boc Choi Chinese mustard, Mixed radishes, Oregon Sugar Pod II snow Peas, Little White Snow Peas (the 30 day kind, it promises, we shall see), several lettuces–Buttercrunch and a mixed variety.  I planted a small quantity of many cool-weather seeds and plants and will succession plant those which I want more of.  I will plant the warmer-crop veggies later in the spring.  It’s way too cold and wet for them to grow, yet.

The blackberries we moved last fall are leafing out well.   I need to make sure they don’t grow back by the fence where we removed them from.  The raspberries there were here need attention.  They need new posts and wire, and to be pruned.  There are about 100 new starts growing and I need to move some over, and remove some.   The ones we moved here with us are starting to put out little tiny leaves, which is a relief, because that variety is the kind I love–so tasty. The blueberries are going to leaf out soon.   I hope they bloom well.   I got the strawberry bed into good shape, and the new plants are starting to grow a little bit.

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I’ve only just begun to clean out the flowerbeds.  There seem to be random groupings of bulbs coming up in the middle, sides, edges, etc. of the flowerbeds.  Sometimes, there is a tall group coming up in front of a shorter one in the back.  I need to get rid of some and move some, once I figure out what I have.

We planted some dahlia starts from my sister in several places.  The daffodils Patsy planted last fall are getting established and will bloom better next year.  She planted each little bulb far away from each other little bulb and only a few had the strength to bloom this year.  Next year, it should be awesome.  We moved some other daffodils from the flowerbeds into that bed, and I showed her how to plant in groups, with a few bulbs in a cluster or area.  There are a few tulips that are lovely right now.

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I emptied out some pots I brought from our old place and planted the primroses and pansies down into the edge of the flowerbeds in the back.  I had the girls plant some herb seeds in those pots and put them by the back deck.  If I get a lot that come up, I will transplant some of them into the herb bed and keep some in the pots for easy access from the kitchen.

I hope to do either wax begonias, or impatients along the edge of the front flowerbed in the front, plant zinnias along the house in front, and nasturtiums in the planter box by the front door.  Rob plans to put moss-killer on the grass, and keep mowing it.

During the night, the weather had the grace to drop a gentle rain onto all I planted yesterday.  Lovely.  I love spring.

Planting Strawberries

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Last Friday, my strawberry plants arrived from Territorial.  They had promised to ship them “when the time was right.”  I guess it was time by the calendar, but, it has been so wet that I was worried that I would not get them in the ground before they suffered.  We had high hopes that Rob would be able to get the topsoil on Saturday and I would be able to clear the area.  We woke to a deluge!  All of our plans had to be postponed.

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This is where I wanted to plant them.  The previous owner had some strawberries planted in there, but the bed was quite overgrown with grass and weeds.  I had no idea how old the berries were, and they usually only last about 3 years before needing to be re-done.  I chose Seascape this time because my mom had given me some gorgeous Seascape plants that were just starting to fruit beautifully when we moved.  The few I tasted were delicious, so I wanted more:)  I’ve had good luck with Tri-star and Quinalt in the past.  I did notice that Quinalt did not make very many runners, though.  They did produce well, as did Tri-star.

After an extremely rainy Saturday, Sunday dawned clear and gorgeous.   I had slightly over 1 hour of free time during the middle of the afternoon.  It was still very wet and soggy, but I tackled the job anyway because, well, there was that package of strawberry plants sitting on the counter.  I dug up the sod and weeds,  separated and moved some of the old plants, sprinkled coffee grounds from McDonald’s on the entire bed and finally, in desperation, stuffed the bunch of strawberry roots into a flowerpot with some potting soil until I could get back to the job.

One day after work, Rob grabbed 4 bags of topsoil from Walmart for around $2 per bag.   He poured the dirt on the bed. I had removed a lot of dirt along with the grass, and the bed had sunk over time.  I slipped out this morning while the girls were typing up their language arts assignment and planted the plants properly.  I have all the new ones down on the far end, and the old ones on the other end.  If the old ones don’t produce, look diseased, die, etc. I plan to ruthlessly pull them and throw them away.  I then hope to fill in the blanks with runners from the new plants.  I had also planned to add some bone meal as well, but the store was out so I will have to stir it in later.

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Then, it rained and watered them in.  I’m one happy camper.  It took almost a week, but they are planted!  The new ones don’t look like much, but they will take off now that they are in the dirt.  I can look forward to strawberries all summer and fall once they get going. The first year, a new bed produces lightly.  With everbearing strawberries,  I usually get a fairly good crop by the end of the summer and into the fall, but much more berries the second year.   The bed should be good for 3 years, then I will move it and renew it.  In the past, I have started a new bed the 3rd year so I always have lots of berries.

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I am very pleased to have begun the transformation of my new yard.  I have many more plans in mind.

 

How to Tie Up Blackberries

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When we moved into this new house, we were delighted to find berry bushes growing in the garden.  They are a blackberry of some sort, probably Marion berries, according to the old owner’s daughter.  They were growing up against the fence, and clearly had not been trimmed for a while.  Since there were quite a few chopped off pieces on the ground on the neighbor’s side of the fence, we concluded that he probably did not care to have them growing through to his side.  Also, we could not access the back side of the berries.  So, we decided to move them a couple of feet out away from the fence.

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We started by digging up clumps of new, fresh vines.  They were a nice bright green color, and we left the old, gray-brown ones to be taken away.  We tried to make sure there was a nice clump of roots on each one we kept, and some even had a new bud growing.  Rob, Lovana and myself all had plenty of turns digging.  Once a good start was dug up, we planted it in the dirt and laid the vines out away from where we were working.  What we did not want or need, we put in the yard debris can.  We anticipate that the roots of the old vines will send out new shoots and we will need to kill them, but it sure looks great now.

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A week or two passed, with plenty of rain to keep them alive.  Rob went up to my sister’s farm and grabbed a few fence posts we had stored there, and got some wire.  Today was nice and he pounded those fence posts into the ground and strung the wire between the posts.  He put several posts in the row, about 5 feet apart, and strung a low wire and a higher one.

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Then Patsy and I tied them up with baling twine.  We tied each group of berries up to the lower and higher wire, and whenever the vines were long, tied them into a circle, using the wires to support them.  Next spring, they will fill out and make a nice barrier between us and the neighbor, be where we want them, and easy to pick.img_3455

It looks amazing!  As we were doing that, Rob was over on the left pounding in a few more posts for some raspberry plants I dug up at my old house.  My aunt kindly kept them all summer under her automatic sprinklers.  I got 6 good root “clumps” from my pot.

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He strung wires for them, too, and I planted them.  They are really small after a summer crammed into a pot, but we will see how they do.  I have high hopes.

We both felt really good about getting these jobs done.   I don’t think I’ll harvest much next summer, but in a couple of years………YUM!  (The berries in the background are a project for another day–they are everbearing raspberries that were here–I need to trim and tie them up, and Rob needs to put in a better wire and maybe some more posts.  They don’t have as much flavor as my old berries, so I am super happy some of mine survived.)  It was great to get a nice day on a day we did not need to work.

 

 

Garden Update–Aug. 6, 2016

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One of the strawflowers Patsy planted from the 25c seed packet from the dollar store.  A bargain for something so lovely, in my opinion.

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The one Tromboncini Zucchini plant that came up is producing.  Not bad for old seed!

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The garden is just bursting with color and produce.  Almost every day, I am privileged to spend a little time out there, either weeding or picking produce.  Ja’Ana has been weeding like crazy, as she desires to go to to quite a few youth events–Win-Win!  Rob did some tilling, too.  Already, you can see a large patch in the picture above where we have harvested all of the green beans that were there, and re-planted a few fall crops.  I seeded in lettuce, spinach, cilantro, basil, boc choi, Swiss chard, snow peas, and Patsy planted a LOT of radishes.  We don’t use many radishes, but she wanted to plant them badly, and we have the room, so…….Some of our seed is very old, and I am using things up, so we planted thickly and will thin if anything comes up.  If they don’t….well I can live without radishes and I’m sure some will emerge.

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One of my favorite things is the fact that the tomatoes are really starting to ripen now.  We have been eating them like crazy.  There’s just nothing like a home-grown tomato:)

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While cleaning out the seed box, I found several sunflower packets from years gone by.  We planted them all, and these are the Mammoth Sunflowers.  That seems to be what most of them turned out to be, and for sure, are the ones that are growing excellently.  They’ve just started to bloom.

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We’ve been getting peppers, cucumbers, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and more.  As you can see, the corn is tasseling, but we have not gotten any of that yet.  So, there is still much promise left in our garden and much good eating still to come!

 

 

Garden Update

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I came back from a few days at Champoeg State Park and found numerous goodies had ripened up in the garden!  I’m especially excited about the green beans and the little yellow cherry tomatoes.  Those are the first I have been able to pick, although my sister got started on them earlier in the week while I was gone.

I made green beans and garlic tonight for dinner, along with coleslaw from part of the cabbage.  I think I will make some fish tacos with some more of it, and make a grill basket with the round zucchini.  There are also some onions you cannot see, as well as some snow peas.   I will add some of them to the grill basket as well.

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Patsy’s flowers are blooming!  They are lovely and will just get brighter and more beautiful as time passes.  The squash on the left is delicata and has several forming.  On the right in the back in a tronboncini squash, a kind of zucchini that grows to look like a musical instrument–I hope we get one.  It isn’t even blooming yet.  There is an acorn squash bush as well as mixed summer squash on the right.  We were using up seeds, so have a little of several things.  In the far center is regular, plain, green zucchini.

I have been succession planting things.  We are on our 3rd planting of lettuce, at least, with a couple more plantings coming up and growing nicely.  I have a new planting of spinach up nicely, too.  This week, I’d like to plant more lettuce, green onions and snow peas. Last summer I did not have to buy lettuce, except 1 or 2 times, and I’d like to repeat that.  None of the rows are long.  I just want fresh things to eat so they are not bitter from heat.  It’s turning out to be a great garden and is easily feeding my family, my sister’s family, and quite a few other friends and relatives.  It’s also working out very well to have more than one person working on the weeds and planting!  Sharing a garden is really a blessing for both my sister and I.  I’m glad.

Garden Update–June 29, 2016

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We got to cut our first 2 zucchini!  This year, my sister and I planted many packages and partial packets of old seeds so we could use them up.  These were from a summer squash mixture that was several years old.  I have grown the round kind before, and they are prolific!  So, I was glad to see that one of these turned out to be the round kind.

We have been picking and eating so much lettuce, we should be turning green any day!  Snow peas, beets, basil, cilantro, green onions, spinach, and carrots are all ripe, too.

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Patsy’s sweet peas started to bloom.  She had planted them at the old place and we moved these pots here with us.

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Of course, with all of the veggies growing, Rob needed to get out the tiller and get rid of the weeds.  We’ve also been weeding between the plants, and hoeing where things have grown together too much for Rob to safely till between them.

I spent some time thinning some lettuce.  I’ve been succession planting it, and so have some that is about 1 inch tall, some newly planted that is not up yet, and the rows we are using currently.  I’ve already taken out the first row we had.  There is also new baby cilantro and basil coming up.  I also spent a little time spacing out some baby head lettuce plants so that they can make heads.

I’m finding that working in the garden a little bit each day that I’m here, and having the help of several of us working on the garden is making a big difference in getting this garden to stay weed free.  There are several other vegetables coming close to getting ripe.  I’m looking forward to red tomatoes sometime soon, but for that, I’ll have to wait a while.  There are green ones, though, so there’s hope:)

I’m so happy I have the garden to work in. It gives me something to do that I love.  I always used to with I had more time to spend in the garden, so now I do, and I’m enjoying it immensely.

Garden Update–June 9, 2016

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The garden has taken off with leaps and bounds with the unseasonably warm weather we had this past week.  The cilantro is bolting, but the rest is just growing along nicely.

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The green beans are growing, the peppers and tomatoes are starting to bloom…

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The 4 big tomatoes that we put walls of water around when we started them are huge and have set fruit.

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Carrots, onions, cabbage and broccoli are getting big, as are many other veggies.

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At this time, I am harvesting lettuce, spinach, cilantro and basil.  I have snow peas forming and they will be the next item ready.  The rest is going to take more time, but I’m very pleased with how much it has grown in the past week.  This week is going to be cooler, so it will slow down, but the greens will like that better.

I’ve been busy helping with cherry season, so haven’t worked in the garden very much.  I did take the time to plant some more lettuce and cilantro.  I plant short rows often, so that even when the heat comes, I hope to always have a new crop coming along that we can eat.  Last summer, I only had about 2 weeks where there wasn’t good lettuce growing, but we will see if I can do as well this year.  Rob is going to till it this morning, and everyone is going to pitch in and get some weeds out, and then it will be just fine for a few more days.

Garden –June 1, 2016

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The garden is beginning to grow very well, and is giving us some delicious vegetables now. Before I left last Thursday for Ft. Stevens, I cut a lot of spinach, being careful to not take the entire plant.  I left the small center leaves intact and only took the outer leaves.  You can see from this picture that the part I cut has already grown a bunch more small leaves.  There are still plenty of the large ones on the farthest plants, and I cut some more today.  The weather has been very warm, so I expect the bushes will bolt soon, but we are enjoying it while it lasts.

I also have been enjoying lots of lettuce.  I cut and washed some more this morning.  It just seems to grow and grow.  I have several more batches planted for successive crops as soon as this first one gets bitter or bolts.

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Last night and this morning, I planted more lettuce (leaf and head both), another small patch of spinach, a pepper to replace a dead one, some basil, cilantro and dill seeds to replace some that did not come up, some more zucchini seeds to replace the bushes when they get the powdery mildew, a hill of lemon cucumbers and one of slicing cucumbers, and some red potatoes.  I also did a couple of cartons of red onion plants.  Both the onions and potatoes were on sale at Wilco, because they had passed their prime.  I’m sure they will grow, though.

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I watered everything in very well, as it has been quite hot for our part of Oregon.

Rob tilled it all this morning, and I’ve done some weeding, as has my sister.  So, we are good for a few days, other than watering.

I like to plant small patches of things frequently and keep the fresh vegetables going as long as possible.  I know that some things will not get used by me, but I like to have as many vegetables as possible all summer long.  Usually, I can and freeze large quantities of my excess produce.  This year, I won’t do much of that, so I want as much fresh produce as possible.  I’m really quite excited at how great the garden looks for June 1.  I can’t wait for that first ripe tomato, but it’s a ways off:)

Garden Tomatoes in December

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I was very excited to have a garden tomato on my sandwich today for lunch!  This year, we tried (as we have before) to get some tomatoes to ripen in the garage for us to eat during the fall.  We are very excited, because, this year–it worked!

Here, where I live in Oregon, our garden has already succumbed to killing frost.  There is a little Swiss Chard still alive down there, but very little else.  A few herbs have survived in my herb planter box.

In late October, before the killing frost, I picked as many green tomatoes as I could.  I only saved the ones that did not have a bad spot, a bit of blight starting, or any other thing that might make them go bad quickly.

Rob and I tried 2 different methods.  The first method was to wrap each nice green tomato in a white napkin and place them single layer in a box.  We got several good tomatoes from that box over the last few weeks.

The second method was easier.  We simply placed a bunch of green and ripening tomatoes in a cardboard box.  They were mostly Romas and we grabbed the ones that were turning red out of the box as they turned or rotted.  Some were also placed on cookie sheets because we had so many.

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By now, on December 10, they are looking pretty sad.  All of the ones that are wrapped, and on cookie sheets are either eaten or rotten.  The quality of the tomatoes is going down.  I have to cut out little spots of the “good” ones, and the texture is a little mushier than when truly fresh.  Clearly, I need to clean out this box as well.  I will get the ones that still look good out of there and either compost the rest of feed them to the pigs.  If you look closely, there are still a few good ones in there as well.  I don’t think that the green ones in there are going to ripen, but I’ll give them a few more days.

In our opinion, our experiment was a huge success.  We have had tomatoes for tacos, sandwiches and salads galore, for about 6-8 weeks after  our garden was finished.  I noticed that the Romas are better keepers and that it didn’t seem to make a difference if we wrapped them or not.  This was a good garden year, and there wasn’t much disease on the tomatoes, which helped, I’m sure.  I know this experiment is pretty well finished, but I sure enjoyed my sandwich today, knowing that the tomato I was eating was from my own garden, and that I haven’t had to buy tomatoes for quite a few weeks into the fall.  It was definitely worth the effort.  Success, any way I look at it!

Garden Clean-Up

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The garden is winding down.  Yesterday afternoon and evening, Lovana helped me begin the clean-up job.  She pulled out the tomato cages.  I picked the last remaining vegetables off of dying bushes.  There is much more to do, but we got a good start before it became so dark we could not see any more.

I have several large raised beds.  I have a large portion of the garden that is able to be tilled.  About 1/3 of the fenced area is in berries, which are permanent.  I was able to get a start on cleaning out the raised beds last evening.  After I clean out the old plants, I will put compost on the emptied beds.  In one bed, I have some leeks, spinach, peas and chard, which I will leave in for the winter.  There are also 2-3 plants of overwintering broccoli.

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I was able to get butternut squash, a few zucchini, peppers, and cucumbers.  More tomatoes are ripening daily and there are many squashes that will be good for many months.  It was an extra-long growing season this year and I feel very blessed for all the wonderful produce we have harvested.