Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gooseberries

I have three gooseberry plants. Two are Hinnonmaki Red. They are the two small ones to the side. I'm trying to make standards of them and they are resisting. But I think next year I'll get a decent harvest. The huge one in the middle is Invicta. It is a nice tart green gooseberry. I'm picking them a bit late this year, but I just didn't have time before my camping trip. Invicta is best in pies or jams when picked a bit green. Right now they are a touch too ripe. So they will miss a bit of that really tart flavor they have. They are still good but not perfect. The Hinnonmaki are the opposite. For me they are best eaten out of hand and ripe so they are sweet enough to eat that way - at least to me.

To harvest I clip off the branch with the fruit. I do this for two reasons. The older branches won't produce fruit. Though they could produce side branches that will, but they get so crowded it is hard enough to find the fruit as it is. And the second is that the thorns are vicious. The fruit is hanging down on the underside of the branch and trying to pick under such nasty thorns is dangerous. I keep thinking that I need welding gloves for this bush. Even being as careful as I can, with a garden glove on one hand to pick up the branch, I still draw blood.

Thinned

Once the majority of the fruiting branches are out, I prune the rest of the bush back a lot. I take out any branch that is not going up as otherwise the gooseberries will set on the ground. And then I thin. I have one book that says to thin to six branches. I don't go that far. This is also an ornamental foundation planting by my front door. So I need some foliage left. Right now it looks pretty sad as an ornamental planting, but it won't take long for the bush to grow huge again.

Since this is an inground planting that isn't in my garden proper, it is owned by both townhouses, which means it isn't just mine. It is shared. Usually I'm too kind and pick all the gooseberries for my townhouse mates. After getting stabbed for the third time, I decided if they wanted to eat them they could pick them. I cut off three huge branches and put them in the shade by their steps. Even without those sprays of gooseberries, I picked over 5 pounds of them. I think I'll make some jam. Gooseberry jam is really good.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Harvest Monday, 6 July 2015

I had to pull up a couple of extra celery plants. I don't usually pull full heads at this time of the year, but these were extra plants that weren't in the celery block. And I needed the space for my amaranth. At this point they are pretty small, but they are so much nicer than in previous years at this time. I think it will be a banner celery year if this keeps up.

I picked some lettuce to make way for the next succession.

I harvested a lot of parsley to dry. I'm hoping to do this several times over the summer. I also want to freeze some fresh.

All the peas were pulled to make way for the amaranth. I probably could have gotten another flush of snowpeas from the plants, but it would have taken too long.

I pulled the first two cabbages. The round one is Golden Acre. The pointy one is Early Jersey.

My kale and chard are still doing well. I usually pick my chard without the stems as I take them out in the garden. This time it was about to pour, so I picked them fast and had to remove the stems indoors. I know a lot of people love chard stems, but I don't. So to me they are just compost.

I picked several pounds of carrots. I went camping from Thursday to Sunday and I needed the easy to eat vegetables. I also brought the chard, the last of the broccoli heads, and some pickled kohlrabi. BTW I really love the kohlrabi pickles (thanks Dave for the idea). I have a larger batch getting pickled right now.

Though I forgot the photos, I picked the last of the strawberries. There were just a few left. And some raspberries.

  • Carrots, 3.41 lbs
  • Greens, 9.29 lbs
  • Herbs, 0.56 lbs
  • Peas 1.48 lbs
  • Weekly total, 14.64
  • Yearly total, 182.78 lbs, $338.72

  • Fruits
  • Strawberries, 0.13 lbs
  • Raspberries, 0.35 lbs
  • Fruit Yearly total, 27.51 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, July 5, 2015

Garden Share Collective - July 2015

June has been a very variable month. We have had highs in the 50Fs and highs in the 90Fs. But at least we are getting rain again.

The spring cool weather crops are almost done. Most will be pulled out in a week or two. Some like the broccoli will produce all year long, so they get to stay. Our hot is not the hot of the south, so some years they produce very well over the summer.

The hot weather crops are starting to grow. The corn and squash are doing well. The cucumbers have started to climb. The sweet potatoes are taking over their bed. Sadly though the melons were eaten down by slugs. They were replanted, but they are being slow to restart. I hope it doesn't end up being a melon free year.

June Completed

  • June 3, planted second half of lettuce succession, planted corn and Sweet Potato squash 2W (third succession)
  • June 7th, resowed failed turnips, seeded corn (fourth succession) and butternut squash in bed 2E, resowed 4 bean seeds (all I had) after the groundhog ate the others
  • June 7th, planted melons
  • June 14th, reseeded melons after being eaten down by slugs
  • June 15th, seeded turnip succession
  • June 16th, started transplants under lights for broccoli, basil
  • June 17th, seeded squash bed 6W, reseeded more melons
  • June 19th, planted corn seed 6W (5th succession), planted lettuce succession
  • June 19th, ripped out sage plant in herb circle and replaced with rosemary
  • June 27th, started transplants under lights for fall cabbages, kohlrabi, and amaranth
  • June 29thth, seeded amaranth at ends of bed 7W and 8E
  • June 29th, planted Broccoli, lettuce succession, basil
  • June 29th, redid part of strawberry bed
  • Netted peach and apple trees

Harvests

Harvests started out with greens, greens, and more greens. But by mid June the greens avalanche was over. I still am picking greens, but at a much more sedate pace.

Now my harvests are more varied. This month I've picked bunching onions, a few head of garlic, garlic scapes, broccoli, carrots, Michihili cabbage, bok choy, mizuna, tatsoi, cabbage, celery, chard, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, snowpeas, pea shoots, and turnips. I've also picked a lot of herbs - chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, mint, oregano, parsley, rose petals, sage, and tarragon. All in all it was over a 100 pounds of veggies.

For fruits I've picked 16.9 pounds of strawberries, 2 pounds of raspberries, and 3.5 pounds of currants.

Frozen packet with 6 cups of spinach

Preserving

I've been busy drying herbs. I like to replace them every year. Most have been done already, though I can always use more of some things like parsley. I could use a truckload of that if I have the production and time to dry it all. I froze a good quantity of the strawberries and a few of the raspberries. I'll eat them up in my breakfast smoothies over the next few months. They won't last until winter. It would be nice to grow that much, but I just don't. I froze the currants as I'll make jam from them later this year when I get a chance. Most of my preservation though has been the frozen vegetables that I store for the winter. June, especially early June, is my biggest preserving month for greens.

Tally of what is in storage from the garden

Freezer

  • Brococli - 13.5 cups
  • Chard - 14 cups
  • Mizuna - 23 cups
  • Kale - 30 cups
  • Spinach - 61 cups
  • Chinese cabbage - 4 cups
  • Turnips - 5 cups

I need about 180 cups of greens to get me through the winter without skimping. Right now I have 145. I need 35 more cups. I didn't think I'd get anywhere near my goal, but I'm making very good progress. Well as long as I don't have to eat any of those greens during the slim times during the summer. I have planted amaranth, but it should have been planted weeks ago. I hope it serves to fill in the gaps.

July To Do

  • Seed transplants for fall kale
  • Harvest and dry garlic
  • Replant garlic section with mustard or more greens
  • Weed and water
  • Prune currants and gooseberries after harvest
  • Plant two carrot beds
  • Plant cabbage and kohlrabi bed
  • Keep lettuce and turnip successions going
  • Seed more cilantro

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

Saturday, July 4, 2015

This and That

I had to get my lettuce seedlings planted. My wonderful successions are starting to fall apart. Some lettuces take longer than others. To plant these I took out four plants. One that just wasn't growing. A Deertongue which I know gets bitter in the summer heat, so I didn't want to leave it in very long. A romaine that sort of headed up. And a nice pretty red oakleaf. And two of the lettuces I planted in the spot the basil used to be in.

So now I have a patchwork quilt of lettuces. I'm finding that two week successions is too short and three is too long. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot for my space. Though the pretty crisphead that is growing well and sizing up nicely, is taking a long time to grow. I think these kinds of successions work better if you know what you are growing. When one lettuce takes a month longer to size up than another, it just doesn't work well. It either leaves holes, or you are pulling plants prematurely, or just not planting all of the seedlings.

I also planted out the next attempt at basil. If you will remember my first set all died from downy mildew even though I planted them in random spots in the yard. This one was planted in the herb circle. I hope it survives for a couple of months.

The last succession of corn needed thinning out. I plant three seeds. Most of them come up, but some are stronger than others. I also thinned out the squash at the end of the bed.

I was checking on the first four successions. Three and four have caught up to one another. I always plant toward the fence first. That bed is more shaded. And it gives the squash a chance to get going faster. But it does bring the beds together in timing a bit.

I usually don't let my rhubarb bloom like this. I like to keep it cut back better since it is in front of my air conditioner. I finally got around to it. Now it is much more under control.

The sweet potatoes have started to vine. Whoot! This meant I could take out most of the bamboo poles I put around them. I like to cover the ground enough to keep the cats from digging. We have a horde of cats living in the neighborhood. But they leave the soil alone once the plants grow big enough.

I was checking some photos from last year. My sweet potatoes seem to be a little bigger than last year, but the melons are way behind. I might be picking my melons in September, which is sad as they won't be as sweet that way.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Broccoli, Cabbage, and Kale

The broccoli I seeded two weeks ago was doing well. I figured it was time for it to see the light of day. I didn't bother to harden them off. They were better off just going in the ground. Soil blocks don't need much hardening off and with even one sunny warm day the blocks can dry out if I forget about them. And I tend to. They were safer in the ground.

In the spring I plant 10 broccoli plants, 5 on each side of the bed. After I harvest the heads, one row gets pulled out.

Side shoots starting to form

The other side I leave for side shoots. That way I get the best of both worlds. I get some really nice heads, but I get a constant supply of broccoli over the summer too.

The huge leaves on the other side of the bed will die over time, or start to get mildewed. I tend to pull them off at the first sign of yellowing. The side shoots will put out more new leaves to feed the plant.

I also got under the kale cover to pick. I'll miss my kale harvests when it comes time to plant this bed up in carrots.

Golden Acre

Also under the same cover as the kale are my cabbages. This one had a leaf starting to crack. I was worried that it might bolt on me. I've never really gotten the hang of when you should pick cabbage. Someone mentioned when the head hardens up. But this head was tight pretty small. It would have been a tiny thing. It still isn't huge, but a couple of pounds is pretty good for cabbages in my garden. Some year I might learn how to grow them well.

Early Jersey

Despite my lack of cabbage expertise, this is turning out to be my best ever year for cabbage. Though I suppose that really isn't saying much. I might not get huge heads, but I love cabbage a lot and will enjoy eating them. Big or small.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Strawberries

Strawberries underneath the pear and apple trees

I picked the last of my strawberries. I only grow June bearers as keeping the squirrels out of the patch is so annoying I like to keep the picking season short. I do have alpines that are closer to the house, though the squirrels tend to leave those alone. Those also rarely make it into the house.

Every year I have to renew some of the beds. This spring I bought some and planted them. But it would be nice to renew them with runners of the established plants. That way I could plant them now and they would be big enough to pick next year. Nice in theory at any rate.

I ripped out a stretch of the plants. The bigger ones halfway up are the ones planted in the spring. The lower ones are planted with partly rooted runners. I'm not sure they are rooted enough to survive, but I'm sure I'll find out in a week if they live or die. Probably some of both. If I'm lucky enough the ones that have survived will start sending out their own runners to fill in the gaps. If not I might buy more plants next year. Or try again.

I did get around to trimming off most of the runners from all but one section of the plants. I don't know if I'll keep up with it. It is a never ending chore. It does help them from getting too crowded though. I grow Earliglow which sets a lot of runners. Usually by the end of July I've gotten so sick of the chore that I quit. I'll cut off the easy ones hanging down, and the ones trying to over take the trees planted in the back, but nothing more.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cucumbers, Peas, and Amaranth

I keep my cucumbers under a row cover when they are young. The cucumber beetles around here can be vicious. And wilt is common. So it gives the cucumbers a head start all safe and sound. Eventually the beetles will show up as will the wilt they carry, but for their early life they are protected. I took the covers off on Monday. Some of the cukes were starting to run. I like to grow mine up a trellis, so that had to be constructed.

In past years I've had a very vertical trellis, but this year I built it on a bit of a slant. I'm hoping it will be easier to find the cucumbers amid the foliage. I know it is a futile effort. I will miss picking some cukes. But it can't hurt.

The zukes behind the cukes were trying to burst out of their row cover, but it is still squash vine borer season, and I've seen several of them recently. So I rearranged them and added a separate row cover for the biggest one.

I had peas blooming in two spots, but since I can't eat peas and I want more greens, I've decided to rip them out. This spot mostly was done with its first flush. The harvests all went to my townhouse mates.

The other spot was near the parsley and celery. Since I had planted two extra celery plants and they were in the way, I harvested them. I'm surprised at how well they are doing now. I've never had such nice celery so early in the season. The beds were seeded with amaranth, both a green and red variety. I also started just a few upstairs under lights. The red ones have already sprouted, but not the green ones.

While I was near the parsley I noticed that the plants were getting huge. If I don't pick the leaves they turn yellow and die, so I picked the oldest ones and dehydrated them. I use a lot of dehydrated parsley over the winter. It isn't as good as fresh, but it isn't bad. I'll freeze some too later on.