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...

One More Reason to Grow.

A few years back, before I got started on my garden, I was watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and was shocked by some of the things I saw. 

This was one of them:

I could not believe that these kids couldn't even recognize fresh vegetables.  I kept thinking about how my daughter at age 3 could spot the McDonald's Golden Arches from a mile down the street, but there's no massive advertising campaign to support whole, fresh, natural foods.  She still wouldn't know an okra pod if it bit her, but that's understandable since okra doesn't grow here, nor is it a part of the Northwest diet normally.

I'm really proud to say that after a few years of having the garden in place, my 4 year old son can recognize not just the vegetables but also the plants of peas, beans, squashes, onions, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, cucmbers, tomatoes... so many things!  Admittedly he won't eat most of them, but his diet is expanding as he braves new things each year.  I even got him to eat peas the other day by explaining that they were like little balls of broccoli (his favorite veg).

My husband on the other hand still needs to work on it.  He asked me last night what the big green shrub next to the bench was, and I had to explain that it was mint, one of the easier to identify plants in the garden.  He'll get there.  But he grew up in a household that was dependent on canned veggies, TV dinners, and boxed macaroni.

I'm glad to know that with the garden and the changes in our diets and shopping habits my kids will grow up to understand how much work goes into good food, to know that food doesn't have to come in boxes and bags from the grocery store, and to respect quality food for what it is: healthy, filling, and delicious. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Chaos and Bad Blogging

I'm coming to the realization that this year is turning out to be evidence of my bad blogging.  I just don't feel much inclination to write up long informative posts this year.  I apologize.  Not only am I failing at writing useful posts, but I am also writing rather sporadically.

The chaos of our past six months has sapped my initiative.  From surgery to job changes to my dad passing away, a lot of things have interfered with my blogging interest.

I will make every effort to keep up with harvest posts, especially since this year is looking to be a major improvement over last year's garden.  I will also be doing my best to keep up with the bloggers I read.  But more than likely my readers won't see a whole lot of excitement from my posts this year.  Perhaps this will change when I feel a little less overwhelmed by life.

Again, I apologize for being a bad blogger.  Thanks for sticking around anyway. ;)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

And The Tide Just Keeps Rolling In!

 Well, if nothing else, my harvests have been plentiful!  The broccoli is long done, and my remaining cabbage and all of the cauliflower were pulled.  What a shame, but they just weren't doing anything, and i need the space!

Lettuce, mint, kale, Swiss chard, and strawberries.
 The lettuce are almost ready to bolt and i still have 8 heads in the garden, and 2 in the fridge.  I think it's time to start giving them away!  My lavender and mint have grown so much this year I couldn't get to the peas to pick them, so they both got a trim and are hanging to dry. 

Lettuce, lavender, garlic, and strawberries.

 Both the kale and Swiss chard were pulled, all but two squares of them, but not before I got another pound+ of greens off them.  I have no idea how I'm going to make enough room for all the tomatoes and peppers with so many things still growing!  My few heads of garlic turned out to be large and beautiful and ready to cure earlier than last year's.  Such a pretty purple/pink and white striped variety!

Oh look... more strawberries.
 The strawberries just keep piling in, my estimated grand total in berries so far is about 14 lbs. And there are still more coming in.  All of the jam is made, there are 2 gallons of frozen berries already, and they just keep coming.  It's kind of unfair to my husband, since he can no longer gorge himself on strawberry shortcake during the season.
Kale and Swiss chard.  BTW, this basket is huge.
Just for a sense of scale, my harvest basket is big enough to fit two gallon milk jugs in... that's how much vegetable goodness is in that basket.  I'm very happy with this year's garden, and considering how slim it was last year, and what a disappointment it was (yet I still got over 120 lbs.), I have a feeling this year is gonna blow me away.

First sugar snap peas were ready today, 4.5 ozs.
 Finally, the snap peas have just started coming in, which seems a bit late.  The snow peas still haven't blossomed though.  And my blueberry bush, while still pretty tiny, is positively dripping with unripe berries, and even one RIPE one!  I'm excited to see how this turns out, since the plant seems happy enough.

My very first blueberry is ripening.  I'm wishing I had planted more than one bush.
 I'm hoping to convince my brother to give me a hand building another planting bed as well, to help get the peppers and cukes in... I just have to find some space for it. ;)

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Strawberries Pay Off Quickly

Thanks mostly to the massive influx of strawberries, the first week of June has paid off with as many pounds harvested as in ALL of May.  Strawberries and broccoli have been the majority of the harvests; but the kale, Swiss chard, and lettuce are recuperated enough now for some decent harvests. 

Yesterday I planted the first of the tomato starts.  I'm a little concerned that I got overzealous again though, I have 48 tomatoes, and 48 squares in my beds... so where will I put the peppers and cucumbers??  I still havent prepared a place for the potatoes either.  But my neighbor's daughter offered to do yardwork for me to earn some money, so maybe I can get her to dig a potato bed for me. :D

Meanwhile, my snap peas started to flower yesterday, so I should be seeing some peas fairly soon.  I was really productive yesterday and got my pumpkin bed completely planted, including a new trellis for the pole beans.  Pumpkins, beans, and zucchini are all in the ground finally. 

I'm really excited about the difference in weather this year, last year was so cold for so long, I am glad I can actually get the tomatoes planted now instead of having to wait for the cold weather plants to finish up until July!