Sunday, October 31, 2010

2010 Numbers

We finally had a killing freeze a few days ago. I still have to go out to the garden to do the final clean-up, but I think I can safely add up the yields for the season now.

It wasn't the best year for several of my plants. The peas and beans and summer squash were all repeatedly chomped down as seedlings. I suspect pill bugs as they were the only bugs I ever saw real signs of on the plants, even when checking by flashlight at night. I finally got the zucchini go grow somewhere around July 4th, on the 3rd or 4th attempt. Most of my cucumbers suffered an early demise due to a little trellis accident. My neighbor removed his fence which was supporting my ladder trellis and I didn't have it secure enough before a strong windstorm came along a couple days later and ripped the plants right out of the ground. The few Tanja cucumbers I did get to eat were some of the best I think I've had. They are definitely on the repeat list.

Another for the repeat list is the Carmen Peppers. I'll also grow them in a pot again as the plant in the pot produced more ripe peppers which were larger and earlier than the ones in-ground. Both plantings were started indoors at the same time, so I think warmth of the black pot was a benefit for the peppers.

My big producer (again) was the Small Wonder Spaghetti Squash. I won't try planting them where they share space with any other squash though, the spaghetti took over and none of the others produced. I did get one little Small Sugar Pumpkin but I'm not sure at this point if it will ripen, it started so late.

Anyway, here are the numbers:

BUSH BEANS 14.25# (Pole beans did not fare well)
TOMATOES 5.69# (Mostly cherry tomatoes)
CARROTS .44# (I had terrible germination rates)
ZUCCHINI 10.69# (I was glad to have any, with the start they had)


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Please Excuse...

Please excuse Amy from her blog-posting this summer...

I feel a bit like I need one of those excuse notes my mother used to write when I missed school...

I'm sorry for the disappearance this summer. It's been a little difficult for me to keep up with the blog. Some of you may remember that my husband has been in Korea since May 2009. We thought he would be able to come back to Colorado but unfortunately, that is not the case. Turns out, even federal firefighting jobs are hard to come by this year. He was offered and accepted a position in the Tacoma, WA area. He finally has come back to the states and after a short visit here in Colorado, he left this morning to head to Tacoma.

While I have still been tending my garden (mostly), I have had to focus more on finishing projects around my house, preparing it for sale. It's been hard for me to write about it, as I am sad to have to leave. I have started to write this post several times over the past few weeks but I just wasn't ready to deal with it yet. I will post my end-of-season results once the cold finishes the growing season and I'll try to keep up with my online friends again soon, but I guess until I get my house sold and my new living situation figured out, I may be a little quiet here.

I will be back though- even if I can only garden in containers, I'm not giving it up.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Things Are Looking Up!

July has brought us some rain followed by warm temperatures and it's really starting to show out in the garden now. My zucchini are still alive (yay!!) and are starting to get a little bigger. It'll still be quite a while before I get any but the farm stand opened last weekend (I'm so glad they're back!) and they have good zucchini. I've gotten a few zuccs, cucumbers and sweet onions from them this week. I'm going to try out the corn later this week.

The pattypan is still small but has some baby squash starting on it now. The plants were pretty small last year but I thought it was due to being in partial shade. This one is in the sun and is still small. I'm thinking they're just much littler plants than zucchini.

Once again, I think the spaghetti squash is going to be the star of the garden. This bed actually has spaghetti squash, butternut squash, small sugar pumpkin and sugar baby watermelon. Most of what you see in this photo is spaghetti squash. The pumpkin and butternut are starting to put on some size but the spaghetti squash is going crazy. I think there are days that squash grows 6". I have to check it daily to keep it on its trellis and in the bed.

The bush beans have taken off too. I'll give you one guess which section has started to produce this week...

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Caterpillar Help?

I've got these caterpillars on one of my young trees in the back yard. Anybody know what they are? The biggest ones are about an inch and a half long.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thanks for listening...

Sorry about the whining in my last post. Thanks for "listening" and I appreciate your sympathies. I was having a moment that day...

I know I garden in a challenging environment. Probably why the neighbors looked at me funny when I built the garden (though I'm really glad I did!!). I came across this edition of our little town paper the other day (sadly, it's been hanging around in a pile of stuff since May. It's taken it's proper place in the recycle bin now.) Somehow, this headline gives me a feeling of validation...

Things are looking better out there this week and I replanted beans and peas today. I should still have time for a good crop of bush beans though I hope I'm not too early on the peas. We'll soon see (it's OK if I am, I have more seed...).
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Third time isn't always a charm...

Year three with my garden is turning out to be a frustrating one. Spring was long and cold. May and June were very very dry. July is bringing some rain and hot days but with that also comes the risk of hail. Here's our little hailstorm July 4th... It came with over an inch of rain and we didn't get the big bad hail that some others nearby got, so I guess I won't complain.

These milk jugs didn't really appreciate that hailstorm though they were likely brittle from the sun exposure though. They are on season 2 of use.

This bed probably bothers me the most. This should be full of zucchini, pattypan and pole beans by now. The indoor started zucchini didn't survive a strong windstorm early on. The direct sown seeds either didn't sprout or were immediately eaten by the bugs. The indoor sprouted zucchini seeds were eaten. I just planted out some indoor starts yesterday. They were still there today so I guess there's hope. At least 2 of the new ones already have their first true leaves so hopefully they're big enough to survive. I've planted the pole beans I think 3 times. These should be Rattlesnake and Zi 28 Long beans. Today when I looked, I do see a few new sprouts so maybe...

Same story with the other pole beans (I think Kentucky Blue and Blue Lake maybe?). I tried to presprout some in the house like I've done with peas but it didn't work so well. I've replanted AGAIN and fairly heavily. Hopefully something will survive and be able to produce before frost.

Even the bush beans are having some trouble. This year, instead of my normal spacing of about 9/sf, I thought I'd try out wider spacing. I planted them about 6" apart or 4/sf this year. Unless the surviving plants produce like crazy, I think I'll go back to my previous method. At least that way, when a couple didn't make it, there wasn't a huge gaping hole where a plant should be. I'm going to replant the empty spaces sometime this week.

The tomatoes were doing well until something came along and chewed the stems. I lost 2 this way last week. The others seem to be doing well though a few of them are very small still. The Galinas Gold Cherry and I think the Thessaloniki are growing well at this point.

This half bed should be full of broccoli and cauliflower. Sadly, right after I gave away my extra starts, I started losing plants. I'm not expecting to see any broccoli though I may get cauliflower.

Finally, my carrots did not do well at all. With the dry windy weather, I guess I just didn't keep them wet enough to sprout. I have about 3 carrots from 4 squares that sprouted. So sad. I sprouted some indoors (wet coffee filters) and put them out today. Perhaps they'll survive...

I guess, on the plus side, the onions are doing well this year, much better than the past 2. Of course, I mainly use onions when I cook zucchini...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Slime Mold

When I went to the garden today, I found a very unpleasant-looking surprise. It looked as though something vomited in my squash bed. Strange thing is, I found the same thing last year.

This disgusting stuff was almost completely covering one poor little watermelon seedling (look closely in the center of the above photo). When I poked the stuff with a stick, it was soft & gooey and mustard-yellow in the center. Just gross.

I took these pictures planning to post a "what the heck" question but I decided to see if I could figure it out myself. Amazingly when I Googled "garden Colorado yellow slimy" I actually got useful results! After clicking a result titled "Yellow Goo in your Garden" from CSU's Extension office, I had a name to search. Slime Mold.

The next article from CSU (The Slime Molds) describes the mold as resembling dog vomit. I knew I had the right answer then! Actually, after reading the article, I'm almost wishing I hadn't poked it apart as much as I did (before I hosed it down pretty well to free the poor melon). It really is sort of interesting. I did have to laugh at the end of the article where it says "Like nature's other organisms, slime molds should be looked at for their beauty and enjoyed as one enjoys a mass planting of dianthus or snapdragons". I'm not so sure I'd go that far...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sprouts in my Squash

What happens when you keep spaghetti squash in the house for
8 months?

It starts to sprout!!

I ate it anyway!!
It was my last one...boy I hope they grow well again!!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Umbrella Trellis

Ever wonder what to do with a broken patio umbrella?? How about a bean trellis?

While out walking the dogs one afternoon a while back, I came across an apparently unwanted patio umbrella that just looked like it needed a second chance at life, so I brought it home. I took the fabric cover off and removed the crank handle. It's been on my porch for a while waiting for me to figure out how to do the rest of what I wanted to do. I wanted to use it to grow pole beans in one of the "rings" so I needed to reign in the size a little bit. I tried bending/pulling the ends in and holding them in place with a strip of plumbing strap but I couldn't get that whole scenario to work out for me. I was telling a friend about it the other day and he asked why I didn't just cut it. Today, I thought, hmmm, why DON'T I just cut it?? So I did.

It would have been much quicker if I had some bolt cutters but I don't (and neither does the neighbor). I cut the first one with a hacksaw but that was going to take forever. I decided to be bold and pull out the reciprocating saw. I cut about halfway through with the saw (and I still have all my fingers and toes) then I snapped the ends off.

I had some shelf caps (that cover the cut ends of white wire closet shelving) that I glued onto the ends so I didn't end up hurting myself. Since the locking mechanism that keeps the umbrella up didn't work anymore, I put a screw into an existing hole to keep the top in place. It works well since I wanted a smaller diameter trellis anyway.

I took my new UFO-looking trellis to the garden. I dug down until the ground got hard and set the lower pole. It's wedged in there with some leftover concrete block and brick pieces. I added the upper portion and tied it to the nearby t-post to keep it in place. I then ran string from the ends to the ground holding them in place with some makeshift pins I made by bending some of the "call-before-you-dig" flags I had hanging around. I planted some beans and now I hope they'll actually grow well this year and get to the top!

It's a good thing the neighbors like me :-)
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Hail Danger

Ok, so I took these pictures a few days ago (6/11) and it's taken me this long to ACTUALLY get them posted here but I guess better late than never? It's still pretty accurate anyway.

We had a little shift in the weather this weekend. We went from hot and dry to cold and damp with the cold being ushered in by some wicked thunderstorms. Before the front arrived, I tried to cover the garden as best I could, just in case. I've got my usual sheer curtains and it doesn't show in the photo but I've also added some old window screening to some of the smaller spots. I'll need to take that back off soon as I think it shades the plants more than the sheers do. I also quickly re-assembled the tomato trellis-structure. Over the top I have a double layer of chicken wire, slightly offset. Once the tomatoes get taller, I won't be able to use my hoops. I hope if big hail comes along the wire might save the plants. Of course, it can still come in the sides- I have some more sheer fabric I can wrap around the whole bed.

Sometimes I wonder if all this covering is pointless since if big nasty hail comes along, it will shred that fabric tout de suite, but I do think it's worth a try at least. I do think it helps the plants avoid the battering from the more likely pea-sized hail.

We were fortunate again in this last round of storms, we got some much-needed rain and we only saw very small hail. Some other areas of Colorado were much less fortunate. There was talk of golf and tennis ball sized hail in other areas.

The Red Pontiacs in the potato bin are showing good growth lately. I did add some more mulch the other day but I don't think the bin is going to end up very tall this year. The potatoes are showing flower buds this week and I suspect once flowering begins, top growth will likely end. I did get them into the ground somewhat late this year.

I'm not having much summer squash success so far. First, I started the seeds indoors WAY too early. When I planted them out, the zucchini didn't make it (I suspect high wind brought their demise). I planted seeds which should have sprouted by now I think but there's no sign of them. I'm pre-sprouting a few more just to check the seed which is new this year- I just opened the package to direct sow more. The originals were 2008 seed. The cucumbers seem stagnant too and seeds are slow to sprout there as well. I replanted those the other day.

This poor squash is the saddest story of them all. While watering the non-sprouting seeds the other day I noticed one of my pretty pattypans looked wilted. I hadn't watered them for a couple days and thought perhaps that one was dry. I gave it a drink & left the garden. The next day, it looked sadder still. When I looked closely at the stem, it was a bad scene.

Yep, those little white strings are all that's left of it's stem. I'm not sure of the culprit but when I pulled back the mulch I saw several of my little roly-poly pillbug "friends". I am hesitant to blame them since by the time I looked closely, the plant was dying but I've read stories from those who think they do eat live plants too. Something has also been snacking on the bean cotyledons. I haven't spied that culprit yet.

On a happier note, the lettuce are finally growing big enough to harvest some leaves. I harvested the mustard greens after my last post as the plants were sending up flower buds. I flicked off 5 or 6 caterpillars and found a couple more when I was washing them, but I'm quite sure I got them all off. After I took this photo, I snipped off all the leaves that were big enough to eat. I normally would have let them grow a little bit bigger but I decided to harvest them, just in case the hail really did come this time. At least this way, I got to eat some!

After a cool few days (highs in the 50's), we should be closer to 80 tomorrow (technically, that's today, it's a little late tonight). Hopefully I'll get the perennials & herbs on my front porch planted this week. I hoped to do it today but another thunderstorm rolled through shortly after I went outside. While I'm sure my mild fear of lightening comes from an early childhood incident , I've heard enough stories of local people being struck by lightening in the past couple years, I don't stay outside much when the thunder starts. Like the weatherman says - "When thunder roars -get indoors"!!

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Transplanting Tomatoes & Peppers

Today was a beautiful day! Earlier in the week, the forecast temperature for today was 93 degrees which I was somewhat dreading. My house does not have central air and it's early in the summer for that kind of heat, I'm just not used to it. Thankfully, the forecast changed. Today was in the mid-80s and a little cloudy most of the day with just a little wind. It was hot in the garden when the sun came out and I did end up with a bit of a sunburn, but I finally got some more planting done.

I transplanted the peppers into their designated area (I call this ring #3- though it's really more of a rectangle, it's named for the way it was built). I added the jugs of colored water and a couple dark rocks to absorb heat and there's plastic 3/4 of the way around the outside to add some warmth and cut the wind. I tied some row cover fabric over the top as well- sort of a pepper-incubator if you will. I add the extra heat steps because our nighttime temps dip pretty low all summer long- in part because of the altitude (we're at 7000'). I am just now planting them out because I think I put them out too early last year and the peppers were stunted until late in the season. I'm hoping I get some peppers before October this year. In this ring I have planted two Banana peppers, two Pimiento peppers and two Carmen peppers. I also have a third Carmen that I planted in a pot. I'm especially looking forward to the Carmen peppers, they sound like they'll be really good. The Carmens are the big plants in the foreground.

I also planted the tomatoes. Some of the little guys are still so very small. Hopefully they'll grow now that they're outdoors. The photo shows about half of a 4x10' bed. In that half, I've got 12 tomato plants. I suspect some won't make it or will remain small this year. The big ones you might actually be able to see in the picture are Galinas Gold Cherry (2) and Thessaloniki (2). I've also got a Jubilee Yellow, a Kelloggs Breakfast, two Black Cherry, three Rutgers and one Roma. Since it doesn't look like hubby is likely to be around this summer either, I'm not terribly concerned about tomato production. I'm not a big tomato eater (though I do sort of like the flavor of the gold and black cherries). At this point, I'm starting to think of growing tomatoes as sort of a challenge. Except for the cherries, we have not had great success yet.

When watering yesterday, I noticed there were a lot of ants on my larger Catnip plant. When I flipped over the leaves I found masses of aphids. I hosed them off last night but as you can see, I didn't get them all.

The lettuce & salad greens are growing pretty well now. The cabbage worms have discovered the Savanna Mustard though. I'll have to remember to look carefully when I pick them - I'll pass on the extra protein if I can at all help it. It's not a major infestation at this point, hopefully hand-picking will keep them at bay.

The poor started-too-early spaghetti squash transplants are still looking pretty sickly though there's actually a female bloom starting on one of them!. I planted some seeds just in case and I noticed one direct-sown sprout today. I wish I could remember how many seeds I planted though, the pumpkins don't look like they're going to make it and I hope I tucked in a few seeds.

I lost all the zucchini transplants (I think the wind beat them up too much) but the pattypan squash transplants are looking quite healthy.

I also planted two more varieties of beans today, Top Notch (yellow bush) and Burpee's Tenderpod (green bush). The Tendergreen Improved (bush green) and Cherokee Wax (bush yellow) I planted earlier are starting to sprout now. I'm still waiting on the Zi 28-2 Long beans and the Rattlesnake beans to sprout. They should be popping up soon.

Now, we just need a little rain... (just a little with no hail please) :-)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Finally, some gardening weather!!

I finally got a chance to make some progress in the garden this week. We've had some beautiful warm (actually, hot) weather. I missed the chance to work outdoors Thursday since the house was getting a new roof and it wasn't safe to be out working near the house (and there were 6 guys on my roof)- I just stayed inside for the most part. Friday, I made some progress. I got more seeds and starts planted, pulled a few weeds, added some more mulch, tweaked the trellises and generally cleaned up the mess I had going out in the garden.

I planted the started-too-early squash and zucchini a few days ago. Some have fared better than others. Both zucchini starts seem to have succumbed to the strong winds we've had and the pumpkins aren't looking so good. I think the spaghetti squash, butternut, watermelons & pattypan are going to make it. I direct-sowed a few seeds just in case. I also planted out the cucumber starts along with a few seeds. I planted seeds of Rattlesnake beans, the Zi Long Beans and I replanted the peas since they've not done much of anything and they've been out there a few weeks. I've had just a few that have broken ground. It is possible the bunnies discovered them and chomped them before I ever saw them since I actually planted them outside the raised bed. Oops..

It seems pretty much impossible to get an overview photo of the garden but this one gets pretty close. I've just caught the corner of a couple beds, but you can get a general idea of the plot. I'll try to catch the same angle later in the season when there's actually something growing out there to give it some dimension. I think if you click the photo, you'll get a bigger view.

So, here's one of my less successful beds- the asparagus I planted last year didn't do so well. I'm not sure if you can see but there are 4 spears in this bed. I planted 10 roots. Several didn't come up at all last year and I think these are from two roots. I ordered replacements but they won't come until next spring. The strawberries didn't fare much better. I've only got about 4 plants total out there from 25. I'm not sure what happened to them. Last year, they started out great then turned yellowish. I'm sure that was a fertilizer deficit but it seemed strange since all the new beds last year were filled pretty much the same and the other plants did fine. I lost most over the winter though. I have replacements coming soon.

The raspberry patch is filling in well. I planted 9 plants last year, one didn't sprout. There are lots more now. Hopefully I'll get some berries this year. Last year, my fall-bearers froze before they ripened.

The pots at the top of the retaining wall are a visual aid for planning the herb garden. It was supposed to go in last year but I never got that far. Right now, the only thing planted up there are the walking onions. Hopefully that will work out alright, those onions might not stay where I put them. They should be fine for a year or two I think, then they'll need some supervision or a dedicated bed of their own.

This is the salad bed. I've got Summer Crisp, Baby Romaine, Black-Seeded Simpson, Savanna Mustard & Teton Spinach in there. I started the seeds in milk jugs on the porch (wintersowing-style) and transplanted them a few days before I left for Montana. I'm finally seeing some growth. Hopefully I'll get some lettuce before it bolts. I also have a few Swiss Chard, Broccoli & Cauliflower in the other half of the bed. Of course, since I gave away my extra broccoli starts at the swap, 2 of the 3 have since died (presumably the wind, possibly hail). It's ok though, broccoli isn't my favorite anyway. I tossed in a couple more seeds for gee whiz yesterday.

This bed may become an interesting experiment in squash growing. I've got spaghetti, butternut, pumpkin (Small Sugar) and watermelon (Sugar Baby) in there. I debated which way to place the trellis and though it looks funny backwards, I think that will be more effective. I added string to it to give a little more climbing area. I need to find a couple more 2x2s and add them to the backside to make it more like a stepladder. It has at least stayed put with the winds we've had so far, unlike the actual ladder which I had to secure a little better. The jugs of water and rocks in the bed are to absorb heat to help keep the little plants warm at night. I need to work on a cover for this one though, my previous attempts have all blown off. Hail is bound to come along and I've got to try and protect the plants. There have been some devastating hailstorms around Denver and Pueblo this week. We got a little taste the other day but it stopped before it got too bad. Denver had 6" of hail on the ground and had to bring out snowplows to clear it.

The Red Pontiacs potatoes in the bin are starting to show some growth. The other potato patches are showing some green now as well. Once again, I've got potatoes scattered all around. I seem to have some self-control issues when it comes to buying seed potatoes. I was pretty good this year, I bought Red Pontiac, Purple Majesty & Majestic Purple (which may end up being the same as the Majesty, I'm not sure). I also planted the pantry-sprouted spuds from last year's harvest.

That's all I've got for today. It's been a slow spring but things are looking up! Soon, the tomatoes & peppers will be headed out the door.

Well, there is one more thing... this one can't wait for the veggies to get going!

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