Archive for the 'Garden' Category

Christmas Tree Burn

We has our annual summer solstice christmas tree burn yesterday. Noble firs are much less impressive than the other kinds of trees we’ve had. This one still had a bunch of green needles, and the stiff, widely spaced branches didn’t hold the needles quite close enough to have a good FOOOMM factor. It took several minutes for all the needles to burn, and even then, we had to push some of them down with poker sticks.

At least we had perfect weather, for a weekend that was supposed to be a washout, it was 70ish and sunny all afternoon, with no clouds as dusk fell and the stars started to come out. The kids finally got to bed by about 11ish, when it was nearly almost truly dark.

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Swarms of Hummingbirds

After seeing the birds flying around a few days ago, we’ve noticed that they swarm right around dusk. The last three nights it’s looked like a swarm of bugs overrunning the feeder with 10 or more birds all coming in for a last drink before night falls. They ever look somewhat cooperative, sometimes taking turns drinking from one flower without obvious contention.

I actually got some pictures this time, standing 3-5 feet away. They don’t really pay a whole lot of attention to me, though I’m not sure that they like the flashes.

5 Birds

4 Birds

1 Hummer


1 Hummer

Two, Different Plumage


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Tonight, after dinner as night fell, I was standing outside a few feet from the hummingbird feeder watching them fly around and occasionally have a drink. As I stood there, with the buzzing and flying, there was more and more buzzing, till I counted 7 hummers that I was tracking at once. I’ve never seen that many. And what’s more, there were 4 on the feeder drinking at the same time, with one waiting somewhat patiently.

I’ve never seen two share the feeder before, even though there are 4 places to drink. And to have 4 and a spare at once, just a couple feet away was stunning.

One of these days, I’ll get there with the camera and catch them in flight.

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A quick update, so that next year I have an idea of what went in the ground when.

The weather was warm through January and February, but cooled off through march to a more normal sort of temperatures. We actually had 5 minutes of snow and some nearly freezing weather. We’re expecting a pattern something like last year’s where the summer heat and dryness comes early, then rains come in early too.

* Spinach went in a long while ago, and has been under cover and thriving.
* Lettuces went in to the under cover area about a month ago, and they’re coming along.
* Beets and Carrots went in under cover about 3 weeks ago, and are up.
* 6 rows of Potatoes are in right around St Patrick’s Day, Territorial Yukon Golds and Russian Bananna. Two rows of russet like ones from Cenex, and two rows of rose fingerlings from Cenex. Still to go: blues and more youkon golds from cenex.
* Favas are up and looking perky. They’ve been in for a month or 6 weeks.
* The early planted peas are up and maybe an inch high, also a month to 6 weeks old.
* The peas planted a week later are a little slower.
* Kale’s up that’s been in the ground for 3-4 weeks.
* Chard isn’t doing much having been in the ground about 3 weeks.

* Need to plant more potatoes, and start a bunch of the summer seeds in the next week or two.

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Garden Wrapup

Mid october now, and the garden has had it’s first frost — this one killing off the remaining squashes. Garlic is in in the beds that had favas and corn earlier, and a few of the beds in the main part of the garden have been seeded with cover crop. There’s still a bit more cleanup to go, but there’s very little harvesting left to do.

A couple short months ago, we were at the tail end of a long, hot, dry spell, 3 months of above average heat and no rain. The yard wais crispy brown, and even the weeds were dead. Then the rains came back with cooler weather, stunting the tomatoes and starting a second spring around the garden. Trees that had trouble with the dry weather put out new sets of leaves, the blackberries plumped up, and the lawn turned green again.

As for next year. I think that the tomatoes could do with either being farther forward to catch later in the day sun, or of course, safely plopped in a greenhouse. Peppers really need the greenhouse. If we don’t do that, we should inprovise a plastic row cover of some sort. The tomatillo didn’t set any fruit. It’s the first time we’ve had one fail.

5 zucchini plants is really excessive, especially when you have a couple of weeks in August where they’re ignored and they have rain. 3 would do us in peak times. The pattypans did well enough, but they seemed to be incinsistent producers. 2 butternut squash plants produced 14 fruits, and that should do us for a good chunk of the winter. 5 pumpkins may be a bit much, but the two that came off the pucchini are worth all the effort. They’re long and thin as pumpkins go, or long and fat as zucchinis do.

The beans did well enough given the peak time was when we didn’t have the time to harvest.

The sunflowers were excellent. We had bunches of cut flowers anytime we went out for them and we barely dented what was out there. The big ones grew to 10 feet or so with foot plus heads, the little ones ranged from dandelion sized to a 9 footer. They shoudl probably move, but I’m not sure where to.

Tentative plan now is to put other crops where the squash were this year, move them to some combination of the main garden bed and the tomato bed. Move the tomatoes to the interstitial area where the squash was this year, transplant the strawberries that are invading the sprawly bed into the ex-garlic bed, and put potatoes in the sprawly bed. That opens up a bunch of the main beds for something else. We’ll see how well that plan holds up.

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Gardening at the end of July

Things are looking good for most of the garden, with the possible exception of the potatoes which don’t seem to be real happy right now.

– We may get our first ripe tomato before August. It looks mostly ripe now, but I’m willing to wait till it’s really good and ready. And then, the flood.
– Blackberries are trickling in, we got the first on on 7/22, and there’s now a couple every time we look.
– The raspberries are fading fast.
– Zucchinis have crossed a line. A week ago, we were gathering 5 baby squash for a meal. This past weekend, we got one that we had missed the previous day, and that was enough for the meal. Now I’ve picked 10 largish squashes in the last 24 hours. We’re now looking at the neighbors and wondering if they like squash.
– Patty pan squashes are just coming on.
– We’ve gotten a couple of nice handfuls of strawberries the last few days from the everbearing ones, and a lot more blossoms on them, even some fruit on new plants started from runners.
– We’ll probably be eating green peppers here soon, as there are some good bell peppers coming on.
– The giant fair zucchinis are growing well.
– We’ve got 7 or 8 good sized pumpkins on the vines.
– Sunflowers should be blooming soon. The biggest are well taller than me, and the smaller ones are well taller than the kids. They can hide in the sunflower rows.
– Favas are done and pulled up, we got one last meal of them. Some of them looked like they were sending up new growth from the old roots. I think that we could get nearly perpetual fava plants in this climate.
– The sweet onions are pulled up, and we should have done it sooner. Some of the onions used up the bulb to send up a flower stalk.

All the hot weather things seem a good couple weeks earlier than they were last year, some of it is getting bigger plants in the ground, and some is the crazy weather.

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Garden, finally

It seems like the garden is finally coming into it’s own. After a disappointing spring, we’ve now had veggies from the garden for a week straight, while giving away three batches of favas and one of zucchinis.

The biggest sunflower is taller than me, and most of them are taller than the kids. There’s one pumpkin vine that’s taking over its corner of the world (saved seed) and another from the same pumpkin that’s growing a nice pucchini. I guess squash don’t breed true.

The peas are now totally done, I’m going to pull up the rest of the vines soon.

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Last night, 7/13, we got the first 5 zucchini for supper. And there’s more out there today. Including a zucchini that’s growing from a vine from a saved pumpkin seed from last year. We’ll see about that one, and probably enter it in the county fair’s largest zucchini contest. I’m impressed by the zucchini, since it’s a good week before we got our first flowers last year.

And tonight, we picked, shelled and froze 4 lbs of peas (that’s frozen weight) and another 2 1/2 lbs of snap peas.

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There is nothing half as worth doing as simply grazing in a patch of ripe raspberries.

And now a quick dump from the garden-

– Strawberries are petering out.
– Raspberries are in. Lots of them. A cup and a half made it in to the house tonight.
– Green stuff is going nuts in the sprawly bed, squash, sunflowers, peas.
– One good harvest of favas so far, and more to come. Really tasty.
– Chard and beets are looking good.
– Early potatoes are dissappointing. We dug some tonight and they were few and far between.
– 2 of the 6 sections of climbing beans are doing well. The bush beans look good.
– Half the garlic is harvested, waiting on the other half.
– The peppers and tomatoes are growing well. There’s a good bunch of fruit set on the tomatoes and a few on the peppers.
– It’s been real dry, so watering has been key.
– All the brassicas are looking good, kale, brussle sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage.
– Looks like we really underwatered one of the blueberries, and it’s leaves aren’t looking good. The rest look ok.
– The wild trailing blackberries are coming on now. Salmonberries are tapped out, and the himalayan blackberries are fruiting now. Huckleberries should hit soon.
– We’ve lost the cherries from the Rainier, maybe from water/heat. There are still some on the Montmorency. There’s still a couple Williams Pride and Jonagold apples, and a couple peaches.
– Some of the corn is knee height, some has been nibbled by bunnies.
– There are a few older carrots, and a bunch of recently seeded.
– The parsnips look good.
– Leeks and green onions look small and good, the tops of the walla wallas are dying off, so we should probably collect them and eat them.

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Yesterday’s haul

Yesterday's haul

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