Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

Planting Time

The last two days have been planting days! I know I am a bit late this spring. Partly we had some very wet weather earlier that made planting difficult or impossible. (Well I guess it is never impossible). Partly I got busy with other things.

I usually get the main veggies in by late April or early May and the tomatoes in by Mother’s Day. This year the tomatoes went in on 5/19 and the rest today (5/20).

Because I am late with things they are all starts, no seeds as yet. Not sure if I will put any seeds in, perhaps for some spinach. The starts are more expensive but give one a bit of a head start. That is unless the cut worms get them. I am holding my breath.

Here is what went in the past two days:

Dill (one plant)
Blue Lake bush beans x2
Cauliflower x6
Sweet Bell Pepper – yes I am trying yet again – just one plant
Brussels Sprouts – my first try on these; 6 plants
Broccoli x 6
Beefsteak tomato – country taste
Tomato: Standard Champion
Brandywine beefsteak tomato
Yellow cherry tomato
Roma paste tomato
Juliet cherry tomato

All the starts are small this year so it may take some time to catch up. We are getting afternoon sun the past few days but cloudy morning. The tomatoes and the pepper will need much more sun to do well. I am not wishing too loud for sun as yet – the heat will set in soon enough. Right now the highs are in the high 60s F. and low 70s F though there are some forecast for a few days at 80 F. soon.

It is so fun to play in the dirty again, planting and fertilizing and watering in. I love this time of year for that.

I plan to intersperse some flowers in the next week or two to help draw pollinators.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy


Selecting Seeds

It is 44F outside though it feels at least ten degrees colder. The wind is blowing and it is raining steadily. It is a typical gray and dreary day in Western Oregon and I love it! Yesterday was sunny and I took a 4-mile hike and loved that too. But these cold, wet, dreary days are wonderful for cozying up to the fire, reading a good book, or even writing a blog entry!

It is also a good day to peruse the seed catalogues, both on paper and on line. I have  been looking through the Spring 2018 catalogue from Territorial Seed Company, one of my favorites. I still have a fair amount of seed left over from last year and I also want to get some at Nichols’ Nursery here in Albany so I will not be ordering a lot from Territorial this year but I could not resist a few of them.

Since my growing space is limited I will try Mascotte bush beans this year as they promise to grow very compactly.

Though I’ve not had great success with beats I shall try Early Wonder Tall Top this year just to see if it might do better. It says perfect for early spring planting so I may get those in by mid-March if Mother Nature cooperates.

Finally I will get some Lincoln (sometimes called Homesteader) shelling peas this year. I usually plant snow peas or sugar snaps but I thought I’d try some shelling peas for a change.

Everything else will either come from starts or seeds on hand as well as what I pick up at Nichols this year. As I mentioned in an earlier post I hope to plant more intensely this year and am even thinking of a limited fall/winter garden of cole crops, onions and garlic in the fall. We shall see how ambitious I feel in the fall.

Now I need to plan the garden and I do that on paper. In the next few weeks I will start some seeds in the green house. I had mixed success last year, let’s hope it is better this year.

Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy

Harvest Report

The vegetable garden is now almost totally put to bed. The only thing remaining are some marigolds and the potatoes. I have not had time to harvest the seeds off the Marigolds yet and am waiting for the tops of the potatoes to die back before digging them up.

Here are the vegetables I planted and how they did:


Sungold Cherry tomato – small orange fruit – we had an excellent yield and the fruit did not split or otherwise lose its structure. They were very sweet. I’d plant that again.

Brandywine beefstake tomato – very poor yield; maybe three or four fruit and the split or developed blossom end rot. I think this is my third run at these with poor luck; I will not plant these again.

Beefy Boy beefstake tomato – very poor yield

Early Girl tomato – poor yield; these have done well in the past but not this year.

Oregon Spring Tomato – plant was very small and only set a few fruit; flavor was OK.

Tomatoes did not do well this year over-all and the local farmers are having the same problems. Spring was too cold and too wet followed by a very hot summer with too little water. Tomatoes, despite being a semi-tropical plant, do not like a lot of heat.


Sweet Non Bell Pepper: v: “Fooled You” – a small non-bell pepper; the yield was very good this year. It was the best pepper growth I’ve ever had. The plant grew tall and vigorous with a lot of fruit. Flavor was good.

Sweet Bell Pepper –poor foliage with very poor yield; only one pepper reached maturity and it was too small.

Over all peppers do not seem to like my garden conditions and I will not plant them next year.

Other plantings:

Green Gold Broccoli – these may not have been hardened off well enough from my green house; they died within a week or two.

Butter Crunch lettuce – these did very well, excellent yield and flavor.

Genovese Basil – these did well with very nice flavor. They have been dried and saved in the kitchen.

Sunspot sunflower – this died within a couple weeks of planting the start; I suspect some kind of cut worm destroyed the stem.

Marigold Inca I – these did well, they are still growing.

I left most of my large box fallow this year; it has never been left fallow before and needed the rest. I only planted marigolds around the edge and they did well.

In the herb garden I added English Thyme, Italian Parsley and French Tarragon. The thyme is growing very slow.

Yesterday I threw out crimson clover throughout all the boxes for a cover crop. We are to get rain this week so if the soil stays warm enough it should sprout well.

Next year I will likely plant all four boxes and leave nothing fallow. I will try some succession planting as well. I’d like to plant some corn. We do not have room for much corn but I’d like to try it here.


Happy Gardening,

Dan Murphy


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