Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Glad Day and A Sad Day

Today is my birthday, and for my birthday I thought it would be nice to get started prepping the blog for the new garden season. 

I have been running behind all Spring due to other commitments, and just checked in on the blog today and then went to see how all my favorite bloggers are doing.  The first thing I saw was a Goodbye Granny post...  apparently I missede out on a lot this Spring.  Granny has been battling cancer and passed away yesterday.  I am broken-hearted.  It's a strange thing how the internet can be the sole connection between two people yet a strong enough connection for affection, respect, and even love to travel over it.  Despite not knowing someone's name, phone number, age, or background... internet friendships are proof that love is blind.  I never met Granny, never saw her smile or heard her laugh or watched her plant a single seed, but I still loved her for all the things about her that she shared in her blog.  Her love of her garden, her family, and cooking up delicious homemade food was obvious in her writing; her sense of humor, strength of character, and brilliant mind were also obvious.  These were the things that led me and so many others to love her dearly and we will miss her every time we see hollyhocks as tall as trees, and walla walla sweet onions as big as cantaloupes; and we will think of her every year when we pick our first tomato in June or July and laugh to ourselves about how Granny's tomatoes somehow, almost magically, were always first ready in May! 

The downside to losing someone who was just an online friend is the knowledge that once they are gone, the tie is severed.  You won't be at the service, can't send a card or flowers to their family, and to the people you know IRL you are greiving an invisible friend.  How can you grieve the loss of someone you never met?  It's surreal to feel this way and realize it's like watching a beloved character die in a movie, except you can't just restart the movie, you just feel sad.  Granny is the second online friend I have lost to cancer.  She probably won't be the last; I still grieve for Ell, I will probably grieve for Granny for a long time too.  Just because I and the other people like me didn't know their faces doesn't mean we don't have every right to grieve their loss.  Remember that.

My blog may be sporadic but I will try to post on occasion and keep updating the progress of the garden.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Drowning in Cucumbers

I'm not sure what happened, last year the cucumbers produced plenty for fresh eating but the lemon and pickling cukes were only enough for a batch of relish and 4 pints of bread and butter pickles.  This year something must have agreed with them because I have 17 quarts of whole dills and 8 pints of bread and butter slices, a gallon bag of cucumbers that I have run out of dill to pickle them in, and plenty for fresh eating and giving away to friends.  The lemon cucumber is literally crawling up the side of my house like ivy and has taken up every spare inch of space in the whiskey barrel that it can.  I'm picking at least four lemon cucumbers a day, and one to four slicers or small pickling cukes daily too.

I'm so tired of pickling!

Not sure when they'll finally stop, or why they did so well this year compared to the years before, but I can't complain about their production.

Last week we got our first tomato, and while I've waited patiently we've gotten enough tomatoes ripe at this point to fill a large bowl, but nowhere near enough for sauces or salsa.  It's hard to wait, but I am trying.  There is a monster tomato out there, and I can't wait to weigh it when it's ready, sadly the tag on it got lost but I think it may be a brandywine.

My current harvest weight is at 88 lbs.  The cucumbers aren't done yet, the curing onions haven't been weighed, the beans are still going, and the zucchini, and the tomatoes have only just started coming in.  This year may set a new record!  Not that that is hard to do since I only started keeping track last year...  Still, the only thing that isn't really doing as well as I'd like is the pumpkins.  There are three pumpkins on three different vines, and they are very small.  The Cinderella and FairyTale varieties are supposed to be bigger, but the Small Sugar is just fine the size it is.  Even the vines didn't get nearly as large as previous years, only reaching the top of the trellis rather than crawling across the shed roof.

That's my update for the day, now it's time for me to go buy some dill and get back to pickling!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cucumbers and Beans

While July didn't really seem to pay off, August is getting off to a great start.  Pounds and pounds of cucumbers are rolling in, topped off with great big piles of beans.  My pumpkins haven't grown much this year and may need more nitrogen in their bed next year, but there are already three small pumpkins out there.

The zucchini are having their worst year ever, I have only seen about 6 female flowers so far and only 3 of those have grown into full-sized fruits. 

My new bed is teeming with peppers, though none are ripe, and the old beds have piles of tomatoes in them... of course none of those are ripe either.  Not sure what happened this year, even the extra early tomatoes and cherry tomatoes haven't ripened.  Not sure if it was the weather, it's been quite warm with highs in the upper 80s to 90s nearly every day, but we haven't had a major heat wave at all.  No 100 degree days.  For now I'm content with my harvests and hoping that the tomatoes change color before the leaves on the trees do.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Failures. :(

When I started this blog I decided I would share the struggles I have with gardening as well as the accomplishments.  On that note, I have had two major failures this year, I hope that sharing them will help others avoid the same mistakes and maybe I can get some advice on how to improve as well.

First, my thyme plant which had been growing merrily for two or three years died all of a sudden.  I think it drowned, since it was planted at the corner of the shed where runoff from the roof would land.  I bought a new one and plan to plant it out in the area near the blueberry bush, but I am sad that the old one is gone.

My second big failure is my rhubarb.  I kind of saw this one coming though, I knew that planting it in a pot would be risky.  Last year it seemed to do well enough, and this year I was looking forward to seeing a harvest.  It filled in really well early in the spring, but the stalks were hollow and not very tasty, and then they started dying back until now.  Now there is only one leaf left on the poor thing.  I'm going to plant it at the end of the strawberry bed, with some fresh compost and see if the new spot will perk it up a bit.  I hope it survives, it was kind of expensive and I'd like to avoid replacing it if possible.

My artichokes also seem to be struggling with being in pots.  This is their second year and still they have not produced the flower buds that are the edible part of the artichoke.  I think I'm just better off putting all of my perennials in the ground.

We will wait and see if they improve any with replanting.


So, my plants had somehow magically gone far beyond the number of square feet I had for them.  I gave up struggling with how I was going to find room for them all, and just built another bed.  It is definitely getting crowded out there now!
New garden bed
The new bed is 7'x3' and just the right size to squeeze in between the big bed and the pumpkin bed, with a narrow walk space around it.  It holds all of the peppers, most of the cucumbers, and three tomatoes that were donated to me.

Today in the garden
 I hadn't realized just how out of control my plants were until I planted the new bed and realized I still had more tomatoes than there were spots for.  I got a bit carried away after last year's harvests were so poor, seems I figured I would need more of everything to improve my harvests.  I still don't know what to do with the potatoes! 

As the strawberry harvests are finally starting to slow down, the blueberries are just beginning to ripen.  My single blueberry bush isn't producing bucketloads, but it does seem to be content and has now provided a total of 7 berries.  Not bad for a first year.  I have a feeling that my harvests are going to get much smaller for a few weeks, the spring plants are just finishing up, and the summer ones aren't quite ready yet. 

I will wait with bated breath for the first tomatoes...