Sunday, August 28, 2011

End of Summer

A post full of pictures as we look towards fall and winter. Since we've had a couple weeks of 80 and 90 degree temperatures each day and no rain, I am ready for snow.

The garden is doing pretty good! Mostly we've had lots of success this year. A couple challenges, but we've got good ideas for next year to prevent the same problems.

This picture shows two issues: crowded unruly tomatoes and a cabbage patch that we gave up on due to moths (note the chicken tractor in the background). Our solution for next year is to plant our row of cabbages down the middle of a bed and then a perimeter of tomato plants spaced a bit further apart (2.5-3 feet). The tomatoes should deter some bugs and the cabbage won't need to be touched until fall. This way it should be easier to keep the tomatoes pruned and orderly.

Another issue, we got powdery mildew on our winter squash pretty badly this year. I think that the powdery mildew happened due to us watering at night (we knew better than this but neither one of us likes waking up at 5 am to garden) and crowding the squash. Next year spacing will be 3 feet apart and we'll trellis cucumbers to save space in the cucurbit bed. We'll try harder with the morning watering, but until we decide to invest the money in an irrigation system we won't be perfect. Fortunately, I think the winter squash will be OK. It is ripening in the greenhouse right now.

We've harvested half of the potatoes and decided to let the other potatoes get a bit bigger. We also harvested our spring planted carrots. I would estimate that we got 30-40 pounds or more. We have an equal amount of carrots still growing in the garden for harvesting this fall.

Despite a very slow start, the shade bed is hanging in there and filling in just a little bit more each day. I would eventually love for this bed to be chock full of gorgeous plants and looking lush.

We have been so focused on improving our outdoor gardening techniques this year that the greenhouse has fallen a bit by the wayside. Again, we will eventually invest in an irrigation system out here which should make things easier. I tried to start some seeds in here during the middle of summer. Temperatures got too hot during the day so that even when I watered in the morning, the seedlings had died by the afternoon.

A comparison picture to show what our front planted bed looked like 2.5 months ago and what it looks like today. I miss the spring green grass! We've let our lawn go dormant this summer. It's too much effort moving sprinklers around just for grass.

Annuals are helping fill things in this year. Next spring I will be adding more lavender, some rosemary and more mums. I've got clippings going right now inside the house that I plan on tending to all winter.

Always looking towards the future, here is the plan for the berry patch. We amended and tilled the soil, adding nitrogen and sulfur to optimize fertility for the plants and pH. In the next few weeks we'll get the fence up! As soon as the ground thaws in the spring, we'll plant everything out.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mid-Summer Day Dream

Ta-dah! So much bigger and better than last year. We just got our soil test back from our local extension office. The results were: very high nutrients, excellent pH - do nothing!

We just got back from vacation and have some catching up to do with harvesting. It's amazing how much everything grew.

The flowers are going crazy. Lots of bouquets inside the house.

We're harvesting plenty of carrots and beginning to regularly get ripe outdoor cherry tomatoes. We spaced the tomatoes too close together so harvest is a bit hard. Next year we'll do 2 tomatoes across each bed and stagger the cage placement. We also need to be a lot more aggressive about pruning early on in the season. We love our scarlet nantes carrots the best but also enjoy purple haze. The purple haze carrots ripen pretty quickly and have a lovely color gradient from purple to orange and then yellow.

The fennel is ready to harvest. The celery is doing well as are the brassicas. We're just about done harvesting kohlrabi and ready to try for a second planting.

Our first crop of ever-bearing strawberries has slowed down considerably. Hopefully we've got enough season left to get one more crop. We enjoyed eating fresh strawberries so much that we didn't freeze and preserve any. Behind the strawberries, our rhubarb is growing very well and the garlic is just about ready to all be harvested.

Some of the lettuce is starting to go to the seed. At that point it becomes chicken food. Behind this is a relatively new planting of carrots. Even further back are the peas. They are covered in snow peas and sugar snap peas.

The shade garden is growing slowly but steadily. I imagine that next year or the year after this spot might look quite lush.

The elephant garlic is about ready to harvest. The black currants are in and ripe! These are pretty good for fresh eating, but we're looking forward to using them to make wine. We're getting a couple raspberries as well. These beds are looking pretty wild because we're moving everything out of them next spring when we plant the berry patch.

We're going to be up to our eyeballs in potatoes!! It's time for us to start acquiring bins, sand and burlap bags for storing our potatoes. Growing these is the easy part, now we've got to learn how to store them properly so that we get potatoes all winter.

The cucurbit bed is amazing! Last year we had some difficulty with squash not getting pollinated (I'm not sure how that happened given that we raise bees on our property) and/or blossom end rot. This year we're getting bunches of patty pan, yellow crook-neck and zucchini squash. We've also got butternut squash and sugar pumpkins that are doing well. The cucumbers are growing more slowly but starting to fruit. Note to self - next year we should plant the squash at the same spacing (i.e., 2 ft apart) but the cucumbers need to be a lot tighter (i.e., 1 ft apart).

The corn is starting to tassel. Maybe we'll get a couple ears of corn... not sure what is going wrong here. We have excellent soil fertility for corn, is it just too cold at night?

Our beautiful harvest from last night. We had meatloaf (locally raised beef) with shredded carrots and zucchini, sauteed patty-pan with onions and fennel, mashed potatoes and rhubarb crisp. Delicious!