Sunday, August 30, 2015

Garden Share Collective - August Redux

The GSC has changed this month. It is now on the last Monday of the month instead of the first, so I've got my title as August again. Also it now has themes every month. This month is Size. For me I'll talk about the size of my garden. For me size of the garden is limited by the size of the yard.

Our shared backyard looking over the fence of the vegetable garden

I live in a fairly urban area in a townhouse that shares a yard. Officially our shared yard is 9000sqft (835sqm). It is landscaped with a mix of ornamentals and fruit. One apple tree is tiny as it just doesn't want to grow, but the other (on the far right) gave us about 30 pounds of apples this year. On the left are the raspberries which are grazed upon whenever anyone is out eating at the patio table.

Front yard in front of my door

The front yard has my two peach trees and just out of the photo are my three gooseberries, a juneberry, and a border of alpine strawberries. All except the juneberry and the one new peach tree has produced well over the years.

Since all of these are on our shared property, we share the harvests and upkeep too. Though in reality I tend to do more work than anyone else. No one else in the two townhouses is a gardener. Though they mow, edge, and weed, the reality is they don't always know what a weed or plant is. Occasionally things get left in that are weeds and things get pulled that aren't. Sometimes it just doesn't get done unless I do the work anyway. The perennial garden I wouldn't let them touch as it was just put in the spring and I didn't want them weeding out things I grew from seed.

What looks like a driveway across from the perennial garden is really a private road which dead ends here. Technically we don't own it, but those that live on private roads are responsible for the upkeep. Which means I get to upkeep the wall on the other side of the road. And when I say, "I get to", it means I have an agreement that the wall garden is all mine. I do all the work. I pay for anything I put in. But I reap all the benefits. In a way I like that a lot better, as I don't have to ask to change anything. I grow fruit trees there, with a front border of strawberries. I'm not sure how many feet it is, maybe 60 linear feet (18m) of useable space for my trees. It is about 2.5' wide. Though I've gotten plenty of strawberries over the years, all the trees are too young to bear yet. Maybe next year.

Though we technically share the yard, by agreement, the veggie garden is mine. Most of the vegetable garden is in the side yard. Much of it used to be paved, but we had the pavement removed to make more room. I have about 565 sqft (52 sqm) of raised bed. In the side yard there are eight raised beds, each 4' wide and 16' long.

Since the yard isn't that big, I made the paths between the beds very small. Just 19" (.5m). Sometimes the paths get so overgrown it is hard to walk down them. Especially when the squash grows big. There are a few small patches that aren't in the raised bed area. A small spot by the driveway fence has two of my currants and some cilantro and zinnia. On the left of the brick path are some mint pots (hiding the gas meters) and a plum tree. Also scattered in the corners are herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, and tarragon.

August is all about cucumbers, zucchini, onions, melons, and corn in the garden. I have harvested other things like broccoli, chard, amaranth, and herbs. I know in most gardens solanums and beans are huge in late summer, but I can't eat those, so my harvests are more limited in scope.

Around the corner in the back yard by my back door is the circle garden. So named for the herb circle in the middle. I grow my heat lovers here. The sweet potatoes and the melons. The sweet potatoes won't get harvested until late September, but the melons are in full production right now. This space is counted in the 565 sqft of raised bed. On the left and out of the photo is my compost area. I have a four bin pallet composter. And two smaller black plastic composters that we use for composting kitchen scraps (the covers keep the pests out) and holding finished compost. A whole four foot deep section all along the back fence (maybe 30' long) is reserved for that and general storage and the very small garden shed. The compost gets the largest area as that is the most important. Compost keeps the garden growing.

August has seen a renewal on the preserving front. I've frozen about 11 cups of zucchini. I've cured, braided and hung the yellow onions and shallots. The red onions will follow soon. And I've frozen some cut up fruit for my morning smoothies - 2 gallons of peaches and 2 1/2 gallons of melon. Right now my favorite smoothie is a blueberry melon smoothie. I'll be sad when all the melons are gone. My biggest problem on the preserving front is about size. I really should have bought a larger freezer. I'm quickly filling up the available space. For some things size really does matter.


This post is part of the Garden Share Collective hosted by Lizzie at Strayed From the Table.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Harvest Monday, 24 August 2015

Though my peaches have all been picked, fruit still takes the starring role this week. My first melons were picked. Usually I get an intense two weeks of melons and then they are gone. I tried to time it so they would be ripe when my mom and MIL were here, and they are showing up today, so I succeeded.

I also picked corn several times. I wanted my corn to be late enough for the parents too. And I could have planted them even a week earlier. Corn is easier to time though as I have a month long window of picking.

I picked and froze a lot of basil.

And I'm still picking zucchini and cucumbers. I got one baseball bat of a zucchini this week as I missed picking a day. They grow so fast if you let them. I usually let them grow one day after they have pollinated and closed up. Two days is too long. I took the seeds out and grated it for bread in the winter. In addition I got another picking of the amaranth. It is struggling next to the zucchini. I try to keep the zucchini leaves off of it, but it is a hopeless cause.

I finished up all of my sweet onions, so now I've started bringing in the red onions when I need them. They are almost done curing outside.

  • Alliums, 1.09 lbs
  • Corn, 3.53 lbs
  • Cucumbers, 4.09 lbs
  • Greens, 0.75 lbs
  • Herbs, 1.29 lbs
  • Melons, 9.80 lbs
  • Summer Squash, 5.39 lbs
  • Weekly total, 25.94
  • Yearly total, 360.36 lbs, $768.70

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Harvest Monday, 16 August 2015

First picking

Half of second picking

Fruit takes the staring roll this week. I had to pick the rest of the tree as some of the peaches were starting to fall. In addition I started to pick our Ginger Gold apple tree. Not many. I'll let most of them ripen up more. And the fall raspberries have started, though very slowly. If you notice on my side bar I tally my fruit differently than my vegetables. Vegetables for the most part are grown as annuals and each year is potentially just as good as the year before. But fruit is on mostly on bushes and trees and takes time to start producing. So there is a huge outlay of money at the start and it takes years before the trees pay off. I'm no where near that. But every year my fruit production has gone up. This week I topped last year's record. So far everything has been higher in production except the peach tree. The peaches were very small this year. I've still got most of the apple tree left to harvest too and I expect the harvest to be pretty good. I'm wondering if I'll be able to top 100 pounds this year. It is going to be very close.

One of many corn harvests

Corn continues to be the biggest producer. Though I think I'm way behind last year's production. I'm getting some really small ears and no second ears like last year. Some started to form - even some third ears, but the squash overtook the plants too much and the corn couldn't support them well enough. Also the squash leaves were so tall they blocked the pollination on some of the ears.

One of many cuke and zuke harvests

The zucchini finally picked up some this week. It still isn't super productive, but at least it isn't too bad. I'm not sure why they aren't producing like crazy. This year they missed the squash vine borers. The cucumbers are fading fast. Wilt has taken half the plants down. I'm sure the rest won't be long. But I'm enjoying them immensely while they are still around.

One of two onion baskets

I brought in the last of the sweet onions. I've almost finished eating them too. Yum. I don't think the Walla Wallas are as sweet as the Ailsa Craigs that I grew in previous years. But I like the taste better. I might switch over to them permanently. None of them ever got particularly huge, but they sized up well considering the tiny seedlings.

I should sing odes to my chard. It is so reliable. When I need greens it is always there for me.

And last but not least is one truckload of broccoli side shoots. I eat the leaves and peel the stems and eat those too, so it all comes inside. Broccoli is one of my favorite greens.

  • Alliums, 6.23 lbs
  • Broccoli, 6.27 lbs
  • Corn, 6.63 lbs
  • Cucumbers, 3.34 lbs
  • Greens, 2.00 lbs
  • Herbs, 0.13 lbs
  • Summer Squash, 3.20 lbs
  • Weekly total, 27.78
  • Yearly total, 334.41 lbs, $703.88

  • Apples, 2.98 lbs
  • Peaches, 21.86 lbs
  • Raspberries, 0.03 lbs
  • Fruit Yearly total, 71.22 lbs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Training My Fruit Trees

This year I planted three fruit trees in my Rock Wall garden. The plum above is a 2-in-1 tree with one side being Shiro and one being Redheart. The tree will get about 12'-15' tall. Which is about 6' taller than what I really want. So I'm trying to train it smaller. Since the tree is in the rock wall garden next to the fence and driveway, I have to keep the tree fairly linear so it doesn't interfere with the cars. I kept the best two branches and let them grow. They really wanted to grow straight up. So a week ago I started to train them to come down a bit. I want a bigger V than I have right now, but I'll be working on it over the next month. I want to encourage the tree to grow sideways and not up as much as it wants. I'll see if I can make it do what I want.

The other tree I'm training the same way is my Ichi persimmon. It only gets about 8'-10' tall. so I think it will be easier to train to being shorter. It arrived much smaller than the plum tree and has grown pretty slowly. I cut the top off a while ago to get two opposing branches. Today I figured they were big enough to start training.

I don't tie the string directly around the branches as it would scrape off the bark. I use whatever is available. For the plum tree I used my favorite, which is some old hose that has been cut up. I put the string through the hose and it keeps the bark spotless. I didn't have any more of that old hose, so for the persimmon I used some old Agribon row cover that I cut up. I think it will be gentle enough on the branches.

I had an issue with the plum tree after I started training it. We had a wind storm and the string snapped. I just use jute. But the jute I have is old. I bought a HUGE spool of it about 4 years ago. It is almost gone, and I left it out in the rain this summer. I tried to dry it out but it is just not the same. Jute rots with the moisture and it is hard to dry the string out in the middle of the spool. I can use it for things like my cucumbers that just need a little help, but I needed a new spool for things that had stress on them.

So I bought my second HUGE spool of string. Since I don't make as many trellises as I used to since I barely grow pole beans anymore I'm guessing this should last me about ten years. But I'd better not bring it outside to forget about it and get it wet. I'll make smaller balls out of it and bring those out. "Oooh shiney" is a big problem for me in the garden. I get distracted way too easily.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Kale, Turnips, and Cilantro

I finally got around to pulling up the onions before the storm yesterday. I was hoping for a couple of inches of rain as we sorely need it, but we ended up with just 2/3rds. I think other places have gotten a lot more over the last couple of weeks, but the rain seems to just miss us. The rain left us with a whopping 1.5 inches of rain over the last month which isn't nearly enough. Even though I water, the soil knows it isn't rain.

The onions were in the fall kale bed and I wish they could have been pulled earlier. But I filled in the kale gaps. Hopefully the kale will have time to mature. I now have no little seedlings upstairs under lights.

I noticed the turnips under the fleece row cover were up and up way too thickly. I'm really bad at sowing tiny black seeds evenly. Carrots are easier as you can see them on the ground. Not with turnip seeds. I thinned anywhere between 3"-6" apart (the rows are 6" apart). These aren't the small salad turnips and are best picked at 3". I also thinned to really vigorous seedlings. I'm pushing our season here to plant them so late. Timing is everything in the garden. I try to keep things on schedule, but they can slip for all sorts of reasons. The good news is that they seem to be growing well. No signs of flea beetles at all.

I also got out and sowed some cilantro. I sowed a couple of weeks ago and the plants are yellowed and stressed from the heat and lack of rain. I'd like to do a couple more sowings over the next few weeks. The heat could come back and sort of has to a degree, but if I keep sowing, maybe I'll get a really nice patch of cilantro going. The spring cilantro is setting seed now and I've been picking it off as it dries. Ditto with the dill. The fennel is in bloom, but no ripe seeds yet. I think I need to grow less fennel. I didn't use nearly any of the seed I saved and I'm OK with eating fennel bulbs, but I'm not in love with them.

And in great news - the fall raspberries have just started. These three made it into my morning bowl of oatmeal. Oh raspberries, how I've missed you.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Giving the Squash Some Light

Yesterday I finally got in to clean up some of the corn stalks on one side of the bed. Once we take off the ear, we hardly need the corn stalk to stay up. So I take it down and give the squash more light. I've been complaining about the Upper Ground Sweet Potato Squash, but I was wrong.

The nasty invasive aggressive squash is the Thai Rai Kaw Tok. I messed it up before even though it is written down in my journal which plant went where. But since a squash finally set it made me look it up again as I knew I was wrong. I may never grow it again. As you can see it is heading out of its bed and going behind the upside down garbage can and beyond. That isn't all that unusual, but I have about four vines going there and I've been trying to keep them back. I've had to go into my neighbor's yard and cut it back. At least it has set a squash though so I can taste it. I do tend to like the oriental squashes. And a squash that I don't have to peel is always a bonus. Maybe it will set lots and make me contemplate growing it again.

The stalks were taken over to the compost pile.

And they got a bit chopped up to compost better. I know a lot of people would shred them before putting them in, but I don't have any power tools for the garden. Well except the electric lawn mower. Even our trimmer is a hand trimmer.

And having absolutely nothing to do with my corn, I give you a gratuitous peach photo. Yum. They are starting to take over my kitchen. Not that I'm complaining. Lots of peaches is a great thing.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Harvest Monday, 10 August 2015

Ah summer. It really has some of the most wonderful harvests. The largest harvest this week was the peaches. They are really small this year, but still delicious. I probably should have thinned them better to get bigger peaches. The peaches are a condo harvest which means the trees are owned by both townhouses - for those that don't know I have a shared city yard. The veggie garden proper is mine and the wall garden, but all the landscape trees and bushes are shared which means half that fruit goes over to them.

The second biggest harvest is the corn. I have more than in the photos, but those were the biggest. As you can see not all of them are fully pollinated. Sometimes the edge ones don't do as well. But they are all tasty.

And of course lots of cukes and not nearly enough zukes. I have enough zukes to eat fresh, but not enough to freeze yet. They seem pretty steady at 1.5 pounds or half a pound per plant per week, which is pretty dang bad. I need to try another variety next year, though I love Costata Romanesca for its taste.

And I got a few greens too. I harvested some amaranth and broccoli side shoots. I don't take off the leaves of the broccoli as I eat them too.

The turnips didn't go into the tally. Last time I had turnips I had to cut a lot of bad parts out. I'm guessing these are just as bad. Together they make one picking, but not by themselves.

And last but not least the alliums. Green onions (not leeks even though that is what they look like), sweet onions, and storage onions all braided up and ready for the basement.

Needless to say it was a really good harvest week.

  • Alliums, 20.71 lbs
  • Beans, 0.19 lbs
  • Broccoli, 1.31 lbs
  • Corn, 6.28 lbs
  • Cucumbers, 3.87 lbs
  • Greens, 1.17 lbs
  • Herbs, 0.17 lbs
  • Summer Squash, 1.66 lbs
  • Weekly total, 35.35
  • Yearly total, 306.63 lbs, $680.82
  • Peaches, 8.85 lbs
  • Fruit Yearly total, 46.36 lbs

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.