Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

How Should the Garden Grow?

Today’s title is a play on words. I have been thinking a lot about whether to expand our vegetable garden or not, and how best to deal with what is left of our little lawn.

I could expand the vegetable growing area to replace what is left of the lawn. I hesitate to do so however because it would mean much more work for far more vegetables than we could eat. Unless I want to spend all my time canning and garden-tending I am not sure expanding the vegetable garden makes sense.

Sometimes I get this bug in my head about it, thinking how great it would be to have more veggies growing. Then I think about the work involved and how it would prevent me from doing other things I’d like to do and the idea dies.

If I gardened the space I have more intensely I could increase yields as much as we could reasonably use. That then will be my goal for 2018 – to garden more intensely. I will use the space better and add a fall garden in the same space, or at least part of it.

It will be ultimately necessary to create an automated watering system to cover days when I cannot be here. That will allow us to travel a bit more without worry that all the veggies are drying up and dying.

Then what to do with the lawn, or what is left of it? We could create a few more flower beds but leave much of the lawn in its current form. That is feeling like the best plan at present.

I want to enjoy gardening and not have it turn into a chore. Achieving that balance is the challenge. It is a challenge I welcome. My problem is that I want to do too many things perhaps. I want to do more woodworking. I want to start making Shaker inspired furniture. I want to travel a bit more. Choices must be made.

I reflect that my parents had no difficulty tending a large garden because they rarely went anywhere. There were home all the time because they could not afford to travel much. I have spoken to avid gardeners who have large vegetable and flower gardens and they admit it demands a lot of time and attention daily from spring through fall. So the question I must answer is how much time do I want to devote to gardening?

Fortunately, I need not make that decision today. It will be something to think on over the next year.

Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy

The Garden in June

The weather has turned hot very quickly since summer has officially begun. We are seeing highs in the 90sF.

The past week has been a busy time for planting in the garden. I’ve added herbs to the herb garden area and to some containers. The green house is now empty for the first time since early spring. It is too hot in there now for things to do well.

The large garden box (D) is empty except for some marigolds planted around the edge. That box will remain fallow this year. It has never been fallow so needs a season of rest.

The law looks better than it ever has. I have learned that despite advice from the water conservation interests in this heat one must water the lawn at least every other day to keep it green and lush. It is a small lawn so I do not feel so badly about the water usage.

I hand water the vegetables, containers and herbs. I usually water containers daily in this heat and vegetables can usually do fine with water every other day or every third day.

Everything is doing well. The latest basil plants from the green house are a bit pale but are already deepening in color with more direct sun in the box.

We have been eating the Boston lettuce, it is still tender and very flavorful. You just cannot get that flavor from store bought produce.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Spring Makeover

I’ve been short on writing and long on work in the garden of later. In the past week I replaced the old weather-beaten cedar fence on the east side of the vegetable garden. You will notice that fence in the background of the photos here is all new cedar fencing.

Next I replaced all the garden boxes as the old ones were over ten years’ old and rotting away. The new ones are made of treated lumber and should last more than a decade. I also added new soil and compost to top them off. For compost I used an old rotted bail of Canadian moss. Finally, I dressed it all with organic fertilizer.

I then got some starts and you can see them planted: in Box A four tomato plants; in Box B some marigolds, lettuce and pepper plants along with one sunflower; in Box C just two marigolds as yet and Box D is yet empty.

I should mention that I tore the asparagus out of Box C. We just were not getting enough out of that little plot to justify the usage of that space and we were not eating much asparagus anyway. Now it is available for other things. (hover over photo for box letter.)

The starts in the greenhouse are still there and will need to be transplanted soon into these boxes.

Another garden season off and running. Because of weather it is starting a bit late this year but if the weather holds reasonably well the plants should catch up soon.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

The Cycle Begins Anew

For me the gardening cycle begins every year when the first seed catalogue arrives. This is when I give the first serious thoughts to what the garden will look like next summer.

Happily I opened my mail box last Friday to find the Territorial Seed Co. seed catalogue. As I turn the pages dozens of ideas come to mind. I could plant that this year… that would look great in the corner of the yard… I have not grown those for some time, etc.

Of course I have to reign it in. I do not have room for everything I’d like to plant. This is, remember, My Little Organic Garden. Not counting the blueberry patch, the herb garden and the dedicated asparagus box I have 128 square feet of vegetable space divided into three raised boxes. The space is rather ideal for me though some of the area does not get enough sun.

We removed a large pampas grass plant from the SE corner of our yard last fall and that has opened an area of just under 100 square feet that we could add to vegetable gardening. It gets more sun than most of my existing area. I would be ideal for tomatoes, peppers and other heat lovers. Planning that area has occupied my mind for months now.

But what to plant? That is the question. It must be things we will eat. I know I want to plant at least one zucchini plant this year. They take a lot of space but I am making soups these days and zucchini is a staple for them. I will keep the staples we use often: beans, peas, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce and spinach. I’d like to again plant beets and carrots. I will also bring back some kale.

If I can make room in the new space I would like to add some raspberries and maybe some Marion berries or Logan berries. I would also like to add at least two dwarf fruit trees. Already I’ve exceeded my space.

For January I will plan away. I will draw out the planting schemes and plan for succession planting more actively than last year. Should I add new raised boxes in the new space or just garden in the ground? I am thinking I may just garden in the ground in that space in beds only slightly raised. Drainage there is good and as I mentioned it gets lots of sun so boxes are not needed.

I also want to make changes in the herb garden. I will pull out some old herbs that are out of control and plant new ones. I’d like to have at least four or five basil plants this year. I will keep the existing rosemary and thyme but add new oregano and others.

So much to ponder and plan. Second to harvesting and eating my favorite part of gardening is the planning.

Happy New Year to all and looking forward to a great garden in 2017.

Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy

Vegetable Yields for 2016

Yesterday I cleaned up the vegetable garden. Here is the report on growth and yields. P = date planted. Beans, beets, spinach and lettuce all planted as seed. Everything else as starts.

I removed everything except the tomatoes, carrots and beets yesterday. Off the to the compost pile. I will see if I can ripen a few more tomatoes on the vine before pulling them out. Hard to say as the last half of September has been cooler than last year. October came in with cool temperatures and rain. The beets should be fine for another couple months at least. The carrots are an over wintering variety, may have those through Christmas and beyond.

I decided not to plant a cover crop this year. I will cover the beds with leaves when they begin to fall.

A1- Blue Lake Bush Beans P5/22- slow starting; flowers; few beans; foliage meager- UD
A2- Beets- Boro – UD – P5/21- did well
A3- Spinach: Corventa hybrid – 5/22 – very slow starting; some died; very low yield.
A4- Lettuce: Buttercrunch – 5/22; 5/28 – first crop did very well, harvested 6/30; second planting stunted

B1- Burpee long keeper tomato/ UD / P5/21/ slow growth; foliage moderate; yield moderate; thick skinned; some blossom end rot.
B2- Miracle Sweet Tomato/ UD/ P5/21 / slow growth; foliage moderate; yield moderate; thick skinned;
B3- Snow Crown Cauliflower/ UD/ P5/29/ plant did well; crowns very slow coming; stunted growth

B4- Broccoli – De Cisco UD/ P5/29/ plant did well; slow development of heads; yield low

B5- Boro Beets / P6/11/ did well
B6- Lettuce: Buttercrunch / P6/5; 6/11/ first planting came up very well, tender. Second crop stilted and grew slowly.

D1- Beans: Kentucky Wonder Pole / P5/21/ moderate growth; poor yield. Some blooms; no pods.

D2- Tomato: Brandywine / P5/21/ moderate growth; average yield. Thick skinned.

D3- Cauliflower: Snow Crown / P5/29/ good growth; crowns very small.

D4- Broccoli: De Cisco /P5/29/ good growth; low yield.

D5 -Pepper: sweet Banana/ P5/21 / small plant; high yield; different colors and shapes; good flavor

D6-Pepper: sweet Red Knight/ P5/21/ small plant; good yield; small fruit.

D7- Carrots: Merida hybrid; over winter; looking good.

Over all lettuce and beets did the best. Spinach was a failure this year. Peppers did better than I’ve ever experienced. Tomato plants had less foliage than past years, yield was moderate with tougher skins than usual. Beans were a total bust, plants came up, flowered but did not set many pods. In total got about a cup of beans off of 9 plants.

I spoke with a farmer at the Farmer’s Market yesterday. She said her first planting of beans did not do well at all so they planted again. I should have done so perhaps.

Over all I am not happy with the results. I still have questions about the soil in the boxes and will be testing it more next spring. Every year is different though, the unique mix of temperature and water has its effects. I tried to water consistently. Maybe not consistently enough?

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Vegetable Update

The vegetable garden is in full growth now. I harvested a dozen small tomatoes today along with a beet. I will be cutting broccoli later today. We have enough for one dinner at least.

A few of the tomatoes have blossom end rot and I tossed those. Everything else is coming along though some things are much slower than usual.

The photos here show the garden boxes with their full growth. I still see very few beans. Someone suggested I may be watering too much but I doubt that. I get blossoms on the beans but no bean. I’ve never encountered that before.

IMG_0123This is the last big month for the veggies. I will be harvesting several times a week now. Cauliflower is coming along well, I have a head on each plant. They do remain small though.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Beets

I love to eat beets but have had mixed success with them. Like all root crops they need loose soil dug to a good depth to develop – it is difficult to get much beet growth in clay like soil.

This year I planted beets in mid-May and again in early June. They are growing though not as robustly as I’d hoped. I plan to plant them one more time at least in hopes of a fall crop.

Check out the video below for good tips on growing beets–

 

Happy Gardening,
Dan Murphy