I have been working on my garden lately. You may remember that I got tons of leaf mulch from my neighbor. Last fall I basically stripped the entire garden by hand and then buried the leaf compost. In April I rented a tiller and really worked the dirt and mulch together. I think it will be good for retaining moisture and loosening up the soil.
In early May I planted cool weather items: spinach, lettuce and Swiss Chard which failed to sprout. So today I replanted them. I started a new row of Asparagus with 20 root stocks. They are just beginning to come up. I put in potatoes which are doing very well so far. I planted 6 sweet peppers that Eric got for some reason. I started Brussels sprouts, broccoli and eggplant inside but they didn’t get very robust. I blame the Agway “potting soil” that I bought; it had a lot of bark and wood chips in it. At the end of their tenure inside, I started watering them with Miracle Grow and I got them outside in a cold frame for a week. Hopefully, now that they are outside, they will take hold. I had similar experience with my tomatoes, but they developed better root structures. Why did the tomato blush? Because he saw the salad dressing!
I was a little late starting my garden seeds this year, but withing the range of start dates from other years. I started 20 plants of three different types of tomatoes: Early Girl, Roma and a Heirloom Orange tomato. I also started 10 each of brussel sprouts, Broccoli and egg plant. All but the egg plant were sprouting 4 days later.
Today, October 26, I had the last tomato sandwich made from our garden tomatoes. This is about the latest I can remember ever having garden vegetables. This was a good year for the garden, despite the drought. We enjoyed tomatoes, green beans, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, egg plant and acorn squash. The peas, water melon and potatoes were disappointing.
I probably spent more time tending to the garden this year than in any year past – largely due to the ‘work from home’ that was imposed. So I had time to saunter outdoors and check on the garden. This year I planted Spinach which did fairly well in early summer, but bolted with mid-summer’s heat. I tried re-planting twice – hoping for a late season crop, but one planting came up sparse and the other not at all. Drought could have been a factor. I tried Swiss Chard for the 1st time, and it produced all season long. Other than limited use for salad greens, the Swiss Chard wasn’t a big hit with the family.
I planted lots of broccoli; some as plants started in doors and a 2nd row just planted in the dirt. Both came on about the same time and are still producing mid-September. I tried Eggplant again and was rewarded with 3-4 eggplants. I also planted watermelon for the 1st time and mid-September we have about a half dozen watermelons; completely round and about the size of a soccer ball.
When we went to get seed potatoes from Agway this past spring, they were sold out of everything except Adirondack Blue potatoes. They have yielded large purple colored potatoes roughly the size of a sweet potato. I also made miscellaneous plantings of pumpkin, and acorn squash.
This year I started a number of Roma tomatoes indoors and we have been drowning in Romas. I also planted a Heritage cherry tomato, a Heritage (Seaman) tomato and Early Girl tomatoes. The Roma tomatoes are good for sauces and Kathryn canned 50 jars of tomatoes – proclaiming “we won’t get scurvy”.
In addition to the 50+ cans of tomatoes, she canned 26 jars of pears, 44 cans of peaches, and 18 jars of cherries. We picked and froze strawberries and blue berries.
I started a lot of plants in doors; 4 varieties of tomatoes, broccoli, egg plant, watermelon, and artichoke. In the next week I will move the plants outdoors into a DIY green house to harden up before being planted in the garden. I began to prep the garden by hoeing the garden in phases. It took 3-4 sessions to turn it all over and get it ready for planting. Today I planted some cool weather items: spinach, Swiss Chard and peas. Eric has turned into a spinach eating machine so I am hopeful to get multiple plantings. The Swiss Chard was a gift from BillieJo – I never tried it before. The peas are left overs from previous years, so I am not confident of germination – last year Cullen ate all the peas as soon as they were ready.
This year I planted Brussel Sprouts, peas, tomatoes, broccoli, artichokes, pole beans, pumpkins, acorn squash and kale. New this year is the attempt to grow artichokes – I have never tried them before and use of hog panel fence for the pole beans. Cullen ate all the peas. The pole beans were old seeds and never sprouted. I had a minimal return on the acorn squash and kale. We had about 10 medium pumpkins and some cucumbers. I did, however, have a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes – mainly the heritage ones that BillieJo gave me. They were slightly larger than regular cherry tomatoes and had more flavor. We had lots of broccoli all year long. The artichokes grew healthy plants, but only yielded three small buds.
Friday Eric had the spoken portion of his French test and did quite well. The tutoring has really helped. Saturday we went to Matt’s house for a Hay/Muller picnic. We played 9 holes of disc golf – not very well. When we got home we watched a YouTube video on footwork and throwing technique which seemed to make an improvement.
Sunday I finished placing bird houses in the pasture and did some grading of the road side sand that built up over the winter. Kathryn and I cut firewood; particularly a large poplar that fell across the trails. Sunday night we were planning on cooking over the fire at cook-out corner, but we were interrupted by Cullen getting into a porcupine. Fortunately, he didn’t get any quills inside his mouth and Eric/Kathryn were able to remove all the quills. While restraining Cullen Eric picked up two ticks – one of which we didn’t discover until later in the evening. The tick was still burrowing and we did the best we could to extract him. The next morning K took Eric to urgent care to ensure all the tick was removed and to get an initial dose of antibiotics.
Monday I planted most of the garden starting with Brussel Sprouts, peas, tomatoes, broccoli, artichokes, pole beans, pumpkins, acorn squash and kale. New this year is the attempt to grow artichokes – I have never tried them before and use of hog panel fence for the pole beans. I still have more tomato and artichoke plants to transfer. We mowed the lawn and Kathryn used the self-propelled mower to mow most of the trails.
My neighbor, Rick, dumped 6 loaded of leaf mulch on my garden. I had plans to rent a tiller to mix them into the garden soil, but with the demise of my truck wasn’t possible. So I began a process of digging up the garden by shoveling and burying the leaves. I would dig a trench about 3 shovel widths, fill it with leaves and then dig another trench using the discarded soil to cover the leaves. I uncovered a small, fat hibernating toad and several worms. I managed to bury most of the leaves and dig up about 80% of the garden. The next day the garden was covered with1″ of snow.
My former boss, Nick Bottini, used to advise starting garden plants by St. Joseph Day, March 19. With a target date of trying to get plants in the garden by NLT the 3rd week of May that provides about 10 weeks for the seeds to germinate and sprout.
I started on that path this week. I moved a shelving rack in front of the south facing patio door in the changing room. I bought a couple seed starting kits, peat pots to transfer the plants, potting soil and seeds.
The seed starting kits have a water tray, a porous, permeable mat for transferring the moisture to the soil moisture, small rectangular pots, soil pellets and a cover to hold in the moisture. In the kit below some of the soil pellets have not yet expanded from the water.
The seed starting kits are made from thin plastic and one has a small leak, so I placed them in plastic tubs to prevent leaking and put them in the sun on the lower shelves of the racks.
My seed order is being shipped and contains peas, pole beans, brussels sprouts, cucumbers, pumpkins, acorn squash, and a couple varieties of tomatoes. I am trying lettuce and spinach again this year. Past years it has grown well, but Kathryn hated cleaning leaves for salad. New for me this year is artichokes, cabbage and eggplant.
I am planning on growing the pumpkins under the fruit trees, rather than in the garden because they took up so much space last year.