Aug. 30th, 2009 11:30 pm
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Saturday harvest (half went to Stove Top and Wife, half to us):

Corn - We ate a lot of it last night and blanched/froze the rest, stored in freezer bags. The husks will be used as mulch and compost. Four trays of corn silk are drying for tea. We grew Kenyan corn (white), plus red, blue, and yellow. The yellow corn had the worst insect and bird damage - the white and red fared better. Very few of the blue ones came up, but they did interbreed with the white and produced a striking blue and white variety. All interbred with the Kenyan corn. The results was denser and starchier than store-bought, but tasted very good.

Tomatoes - lots of teardrop, red, and gold cherry tomatoes, and large red tomatoes. Most had bites from insects, but we were able to clean them up and make a tasty sauce out of some of them and salad out of others. We still have a bag full in the refrigerator.

Tomatillos - these were made into sauce (they're not very good raw) which will be frozen and used as sandwich spread, dip, and pasta sauce during the week. We planted one bush of these, and two more came up of a different variety. The original one didn't produce much, but the volunteers produced about a bushel so far. Apparently they're a weed plant around the area.

Purple beans - The beans are being fermented using a process that we're hoping gets rid of the allergens in them so Rialian can actually eat them. He may test with a very tiny amount once they're done.

Buckwheat - these are brown seeds in little hulls, resembling tiny brazil nuts. Each seed has to be separated from the flowers. When the flowers are dry, they're brown like the seeds, so they're hard to see. We're trying to think of a good, low-tech way to separate the seeds from the flowers that doesn't involve manually picking the seeds. Meanwhile I've separated out about half a cup so far. There's a big patch full of it coming up...

Chard - blanched and put into a freezer bag and put into the freezer.

Basil - Small amount harvested, chopped up and stored in a freezer bag in the freezer.

Okra - harvested too late, so it was mostly inedible lignin. Composted.

This is the first time we've actually gotten into preserving food from the garden.


We went to the garden early and did a lot of weeding of the beds and paths, as well as hoeing of the non-planted area so we can plant winter plants there. We are considering how to make cold frames to protect the winter plants during freezes. We're thinking discarded glass doors and straw bales would make good cold frames that won't blow away or collapse under snow. I'm balking at the idea of having ugly discarded doors in the garden that I have to store somewhere during the summer, but I'm considering the possibility.

After gardening, we went to the farmer's market. I picked up some parsley and chives which I planted in the herb garden by the kitchen, and Rialian got some spearmint. We stopped at the antique shop and bought some bell jars so we can store assorted harvests.


Jun. 21st, 2009 09:30 am
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
The garden is starting to reflect the weeks of work that have gone into it. Looking back the amount of work is hard to believe. There have been three tillings, putting up deer and electric fencing, sheet mulching and constructing keyhole beds bordered with dead wood, removing rocks and using them to repave the driveway, making paths between beds using sawdust, and planting. The corn is now about a foot tall and other vegetables seem to be prospering. We ate a salad today made from greens harvested from the garden for purposes of thinning between vegetables so the remaining ones would have more room. I took a few pictures.

Some areas are nicely populated with plants, and other areas are pretty bare still. We've sewn buckheat in the bare areas as an edible ground cover.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
A picture of me and my little red wheelbarrow working on one of the sheet mulched beds.

Rialian took this picture about 3 weeks ago. That bed was the first one we sheet mulched so we could plant some potatos. We planted rows of corn to the left of the Potato Peninsula (TM) (the picture shows bare ground in that area - it's been weeded and there are now tiny corn plants coming up).

Three weeks later (now) we've sheet mulched keyhole beds that occupy about a third of the garden area, and we put diverse plants in each of the beds. Today we planted lavender, sorrel, basil, two tobacco plants, lemon verbena, a walking onion, more marigolds, and something called "Scram Plant" which is supposed to repel rabbits (in case they get past the electric fence and the mesh fence). We'll see if that works.

The asparagus is putting out tiny flowers and seems to be doing very well. The vegetables look like maybe they don't like the sheet mulching. Herbs seem to love sheet mulching and are thriving and taking over the place, but the vegetables seem to like bare ground. Weird.

The e-fence is now live. Or at least the top five rows of wire are live. The bottom three aren't. If any grass touches the wires, it will ground out - so those wires are not connected at the moment until we can weed-whack the greenery under the bottom wire. Thus, rabbits can still get in. We will put landscaping fabric under the bottom wire to keep anything from growing there. The lowest wire is maybe two inches from the ground.

I actually tried to clip the grass manually, which was probably a mistake - I'm sure there were ticks in the grass, not to mention poison ivy. I'm already feeling rather itchy -- I'm sure I caught plenty of poison ivy, and these plants don't know me very well yet. My rockville poison ivy patch is nice to me, but the poison ivy out here acts sort of like the bees...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
We spent Sunday with [personal profile] guardianjain and [personal profile] wetdryvac. In the morning we went to the farmers market and picked up food and more plants, and then off to the antique shop to browse around. While we were there, [personal profile] rialian found a book which had singularly impressed me many years ago. It was, Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss. I had owned this book when I was a small kid, and then later I wasn't sure if it actually existed. Oobleck... it's green, and it sticks to everything, and now it sits on our bookshelf...

Anyway, then we went back home to work in the garden. We put in a lot more of the raised, sheet mulched keyhole beds this weekend. [personal profile] wetdryvac took some pictures of the garden and what we've been working on recently. Rialian has pictures of previous stages, but I haven't posted them yet. Will do that later. This particular set shows the beds and paths pretty well.


May. 16th, 2009 05:35 pm
helen99: Another Magic Garden (Another Magic Garden)
I spent today sheet mulching what will be garden paths for now. We plan to rotate and shift things around year by year, but at the moment, these are the paths. Rialian and his dad went out early this morning and picked up a free small trailer-full of sawdust from a local lumberyard. We're allowed to pick up that amount of sawdust once a month. The sawdust, the newspapers and boxes in Rialian's dad's basement, and the cheap strawbales available in the neighborhood will provide more than enough material to sheet mulch the entire garden area. I had thought that it would be expensive to get enough material, but so far it hasn't been. After laying down the newspapers, I transferred some of the truckload of sawdust to complete most of the paths. There's room for one or two more large raised beds with paths in the sheet mulched half of the garden. This load of sawdust may cover the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Rialian and his dad are completing the electric fencing so we can add some hives in the next few weeks.

We stopped for a break and I found four dog ticks on me (eek). Three of those were affixed to my ears and one was on my leg. That garden is full of ticks with nothing to eat except me, apparently. After a shower and load of laundry, I'm venturing out into the garden again (believe it or not). This time, I've sprayed myself with atomic tick repellent of some sort. Hopefully it works...


Apr. 25th, 2009 11:51 am
helen99: Magic garden (Magic Garden)
Today is another day outdoors. Hauling more rocks from the garden to the road, placing watering cones with inverted glass bottles where the strawberries are, slightly watering the greens outdoors, watering the raspberries.

Edit at around 2 pm: Thinking of sheet mulching an area for the tomatoes to keep the weeds down, but still not sure if I'll do that. Suddenly it's around 90 degrees out. What happened to spring? I worked on the road a little and the sun wiped me out. Taking a short break...

Edit at around 6 pm: Went back out around 5 and laid out the newspapers on a small part of the garden to prepare for sheet mulching. Came in for another break. 97 degrees today... Headed back out to add water to the newspapers, then sawdust, then more water, then compost mix, then straw then more water. Temperature should be cooling down now...

Edit at around 7:40 pm: Added the water, then added sawdust on top of the newspapers, then some compost mix on top of the sawdust. As I was in the process of spreading compost mix, however, [personal profile] rialian came out with a new box of bees which he was about to introduce to the top bar. So (as some may remember from a beekeeping workshop last year) part of the introduction involves shaking thousands of bees into the hive out of the little package box that they come in. In a regular Langstroth beehive, you can just put the whole box into the hive and let them exit into the frames at their own pace. However, the package dimensions are not designed for a top bar. Hence, shaking the bees.

Now, the first time he did this with our hive last year, the bees were very gentle. Nothing happened - they just went on about life as usual, as if they'd always been there. Well.. these didn't act like that. Maybe the heat had riled them up or something, but they were one hive full of angry bees. They went into attack mode and started flying around menacingly. So... taking a short break while they calm down. I should have the rest of the compost mix and straw on the garden patch by sunset. Hopefully. If the bees let me...

Due to our lightfooted evasive action, nobody got stung. I had two chasing me for a while. I ran down the driveway, then doubled back to evade them, then doubled back again when they followed. Rialian headed them off while I escaped to the house. He told them to "go back to the hive". I'm not sure if they did....

Edit: So ... went back out to the garden. The bees hadn't calmed down quite yet. One of them flew at me - didn't sting, but kept buzzing me and tickling my arm, so to speak. I decided to leave and let them calm down some more, but this one decided to follow. I began walking quickly down the driveway toward the house, and it hitched a ride... somewhere in my hair. So no matter which way I went, the bee was right there with me. Rialian came over and said everything was fine, there were no bees following me. Right. That was because it was in my hair. Just then the bee noticed Rialian and left my hair and chased him for a while. Still didn't sting. Interesting bees. So anyway, I went back into the house for a few, then came out. I changed out of my black teeshirt and put on a white one with some light colored pants. I wore a white teeshirt on my head. The bees stopped bothering me at that point. I don't know if it was because of the change of wardrobe, or if it was because it was about sunset and they retired to their hive, or if it was because they just calmed down naturally, but they left me alone for the rest of the evening. I did get the compost mix spread out on top of the sawdust but left the straw until tomorrow. I did get a good start on making a rock border around the raised bed.

In other news, three mysterious babies are sprouting in a pot out front. I know I planted some seeds in that pot on a whim a few months ago. I just don't know what I planted. Maybe that's where I put the lemon seeds, or maybe apples, I don't know. I don't think they're apples, though, because the cotyledon is larger than an apple seed. The leaves look fleshy and dark and shiny, like teeny little ficus trees. So cute. Citrus. How the heck am I going to grow Citrus in Zone 6?? I guess these will be keeping us company indoors during the winter, and hogging the glass doors. Heh.

Meanwhile, in another pot, the almond tree is growing well, sprouting lots of leaves. At least we think it's an almond tree. It sprouted from the compost out of something that looked exactly like an almond. We're hoping. There are about 5 other unknown plants sprouting in that same pot. I have absolutely no idea what they are. Apple seeds? Maybe. Those cotyledons were small enough to be apple seeds.

Markers are my friends. Why didn't I use markers? This is one of those unanswered questions. Oh well. They're surprises. It will be fun to see what they become.
helen99: Another Magic Garden (Another Magic Garden)
Edit: Back crossposting didn't work. I think only posts made after you set up your crossposting parameters can be crossposted. I'm not sure about that though, so don't quote me...

Several mystery plants have popped up out of the compost. One of them might be an almond tree. We found out that even though they're pasteurizing almonds now, it's doesn't kill them. I was very happy to hear this. Anyway, something that looked a lot like an almond did indeed sprout and is quickly growing into something that looks like a tiny tree. I'm not sure when we'll put it outdoors, or where we'll place it, but that was a welcome surprise.

There's another mystery plant sprouting in one of the large grey pots that were outside on the porch when we bought the house. Originally, these pots contained ornamental cabbages and assorted flowers, but all of those were annuals that died last winter. I do remember planting some seeds in one of the pots. I also remember noticing that the pot was available and thinking I should use it, and choosing something from some seeds I'd saved. I remember taking care that whatever I chose was OK to plant when there was still a possibility of frost. However, I didn't put a marker in the pot, so now I have no idea what it is. The cotyledon that's poking up out of the dirt looks like it could have come from a pumpkin seed. I guess I'll know once it's bigger whether it's a vine or a tree... (Note to self - mark all planted seeds).

Today I spent much of the day digging up rocks out of the garden and transferring them to the driveway. I have most of the major pot-holes patched, but there's one area that still needs a couple of loads of rocks. There are plenty still left in the garden, though in some areas it's actually getting harder to find rocks (amazing). Rialian repaired his top bar hive which needed a little bit of tightening up and a paint job from being out in the elements all year last year. He got the last touches done today and it's ready to go. Next week we get bees and Austeja will fly again!

Today [personal profile] rialian also planted many things. Here's the list:

In the herb areas (we still have to get chicken wire fencing up for the herb areas):
Lemon balm (from our yard in Rockville)
Oregano (plants from shop)
Terragon (plants from shop)
Marjoram (from Rialian's brother)
Raspberry plants (from Rialian's brother)

In a ceramic pot: Rosemary (plants from shop)

In the fenced in garden: Spinach, Snap beans

In Self Watering Containers: Eggplant

Last week he set up self-waterers with two bitter melons, Asian okra, and Thai Basil which he got from the Asian market.

Last week he also sheet mulched a small area of the garden and put in potatoes.

Meanwhile, my tomatoes have sprouted in their peat pots and will be put into the garden area after the last frost. Right now they're indoors with a grow light on them. I plan to sheet mulch a small area of the garden where they'll be. That will prevent having to weed the garden the whole season.

April 2010



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