Monday, May 30, 2011

A couple nice days

Signs of a healthy garden. A few years ago there were
far fewer spiders (and slugs).

A spinach's point of view

Wide angle of the back. The second planting of peas are looking
good and haven't started to bloom thankfully. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tomato steam room

The tomatoes are settling in very nicely. They've put on real growth, looking more stout and full. I pulled the plastic a few minutes ago. A wall of hot moisture greeted me, fogging my glasses. I wish I had taken the temperature in there. Whatever it was, it seemed to agree with them, or they were about to succumb to it.

Current Layout

Where things stand, mostly, as of 5/28

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I put together a couple trellis on Sunday. They are intended for our winter squash. The squash should scale and cover each trellis by the end of the summer.

I built these mostly because I think it will be neat to watch. They should not increase the yield in any way, as they don't increase the root area in fashion. The effect of squash enveloping a trellis are impressive. It would be neat to build a bunch of these in a field and let it all get encompassed. Like ancient Mayan ruins being reclaimed by the forest, the field's texture would reflect the unseen artifacts. Now all that is left is to have the squash make a go of it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A change of plans, of course

There is less of a plan and more of a gist of where things are going to go. Instead of a second plot of beans, I decided to make it the nursery bed for leeks and fall brassica. Another plot that had 10' of shelling peas will now be the home for the cucumbers and a few more beans, or perhaps a squash. 
This is the fall nursery bed. To the right of the
visible stick are leek seeds. These seeds are
from a leek that we let go to seed last year.
There were peas here until this morning. I
put them in too late. Enation would get probably
get them before they produced well. I added
the vertical strings to train the cucumbers up.
There are 4 cucumbers in. Beans will probably
take the remaining spots.

Wide angle of the remaining peas and
the cleared section.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Corn up, Squash planted out, Tomato update

The replanted corn has all come up, making me think more so that the I let the first planting get overly cold. The corn does look a little spindly, a lack of water or high temperature beneath the plastic I think. The corn coverings are off today. They'll get a little drink, as its raining. I put out sugar pie pumpkins and a bunch of winter squash (Galeaux, Hubbard, Butternut, Spaghetti, Kabocha). They are transplants. I'm tempting the fates as transplanting squash is said to be very problematic. The tomatoes in the front bed are growing well. Many are flowering and they are putting on more size. I pulled back the covering yesterday morning so they would not fry in our 1st 70 degree day of the year. A huge waft of hot air greeted me as I pulled off the plastic around 7:00am. Plastics - they work.

Corn, 1st and 2nd plantings. There's squash in there, too.
They should coexist nicely. They are natural companions.
If I was less timid, I'd plant more squash in there. The corn
will be done by the end of July, leaving the remainder of
the summer to the squash.

Newly set out squash. These two will overflow
their expansive bed.

The tomatoes get a day of direct sun.

Front to back: bed of kale and collards;
bed of a mixed bag (squash, lettuce, cilantro);
bed of sweet potato, bed of bush tomato for canning.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beans, carrots, and everything else

The day was unexpectedly beautiful. I was also off work and home. In addition to not having to commute and getting to spend time with Luke, I got out to finish putting in the beans, thin the carrots, generally weed a couple beds, rake out another and plant out a bunch of stuff that up until then I hadn't any idea where to put any of it. But it had to go, so the remainder of the cilantro is out, a bunch of lettuce went, along with some basil and a couple trial squash as the sacrificial cucurbit.

It seems that it all survived the clear night (the thermostat read 35 this morning, I think it was closer to 40). I need to get the remainder of the squash out in the front, perhaps with some covering. Otherwise, they are going to just stunt and die where they are.

As an added bonus, we pounced on our Tacoma Kitchen Garden neighbors as they walked by and talked their ears off. It was all very pleasant.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dangling squash

I'd love to have dangling squash like these people. I ran across this image on flickr while looking for Kabocha images. We had one squash climb the back fence the other year. It produced a spaghetti squash on the alley side. It grew pretty large and then vanished. I hope that it was taken by somebody that appreciated it. It seems that a sheet of concrete re-enforcing wire (6 inch squares) should be able to support the growth of a couple squash. It should also reduce the footprint of greenery in the garden, though it root system will spread out below it anyhow and I shouldn't try to squeeze things in below it. That would be the smart thing to do.

Pumpkin and Borlotti bean trellis (lacrosse net?)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The peas are blooming

The snap peas in the front beds are starting to bloom. These are the first planting of peas, put in on Feb 18ish. There is another planting in the back that are coming along, but certainly show their later start.

Kabocha up

The Sunshine Kabocha are clearly up. They look strong and vigorous. The other half are Cha Chan Kabocha. They are starting to emerge.

I like this starting box. It is just a plastic container with a hinged lid. The lid lets me lock the moisture content into the box. I haven't added any water since making the soil blocks. I don't think I'll need to until I put them out, next weekend I think.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Things to do

It feels like I'm falling behind. I am a fan of the list. I should make them more.
This is a bus ride's worth of tasks:
  1. plant out squash/pumpkin into front bed
    • maybe plant with corn. Their timings may go okay, as the corn will be gone by the end of July if it comes on at all.
  2. plant out cucumber
  3. find a container or two for Cruiser cucumber in greenhouse. (perhaps give on to coworker).
  4. plant out remainder of sunflower 
  5. plant out San Marzano tomatoes (5/16 - one goes in with the beans, still another to move out or into a container within the greenhouse)
  6. pot up lettuce
  7. move eggplant, tomato for greenhouse into final containers
  8. move peppers into final containers within greenhouse
  9. move some peppers out into hot garden spots - front yard?
  10. move along tomatoes that are destined for people (5/18) - all tomatoes have been given homes except mom's. The remainder need to find larger pots or homes in the ground.
  11. plant out onion 
    • inter-plant with front collards/kale
    • within strawberry bed in back
  12. begin Leek nursery bed 
  13. begin nursery bed for fall broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts 
  14. add strings to front bed peas. (5/14)
  15. finish bean trellis, plant out beans (5/16)
  16. plant out sweet potato (5/14)
  17. plant out cilantro (5/16)
  18. plant out dill (5/16)
  19. plant out a few broccoli (5/16) There are more to go. At this point I'm not too concerned with summer broccoli, but I don't want to just kill them off. 

Remaining new front bed, maybe a good mix of plants:

  • tomatoes (2)
  • cilantro
  • cucumber? Kabocha?
  • onion
  • basil

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Salad 2011

Lettuce, radish, green onion tops and mustard greens
made up the first salad of the season. Very tasty.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tomatoes set out

One of the new front beds is now home to our hopes for canned tomatoes. We put in ten tomatoes yesterday and then covered the whole bed in plastic. It looks a little like we are camping in our front yard. This bed is one of the brand new ones. It is 4'x10' and filled with about 2 yards of Tagro potting soil.

I increased the hoop size from 4 to 8 feet this year. I've used 4' hoops in prior years. Under the 4' hoops, the tomatoes grew themselves into the plastic before long, causing their topmost leaves to burn. The loft on the 8' hoop is ample and there won't be any such burning. I am wary of over heating them. I will cut some flaps into the plastic to allow venting.

A good sized hole was made for each tomato. A cup of Complete Organic Fertilizer (Steve Solomon's fertilizer mix) and about a quart of water were mixed into the hole's soil, turning it into a nice slurry. I removed the first set or two of leaves from the tomatoes, planting that portion of the stem below ground. Roots should grow from those pricked off leaves.

I'm not too worried about moisture now. The rain of recent weeks has thoroughly dampened the soil without making them overly saturated or muddy.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


This plus a cup of quinoa were more than enough dinner last night.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Corn replanted

The 1st sowing of corn resulted in spotty emergence. We filled in the blanks today. I think the initial covering of plastic wasn't complete enough, it didn't enclose the ends completely, to warm the soil to where the corn would be happy. I added the second layer too late and much of the seeds rotted. The soil is very toasty these days.

Almost everything to donate

I think this is about everything that will go to the TNC plant sale. There may be a few more taken down on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Late night potting

The greenhouse, pretty full-up these days.
It was late for me, 11:00 when I snapped this picture. It is the greenhouse last night after finishing some re-potting in preparation for donating starts to the upcoming Tacoma Nature Center plant sale (this Saturday, May 7).

We will be donating various varieties of:

  • Tomato (45)
  • Pepper (24)
  • Eggplant (~10)
  • Lettuce (~50 at varied stages)
  • Sunflower (~20)
  • Raspberry (~6)

The throngs of visitors generated by this post (my mom is reading this, I know for sure, I think) will make it a success. We raised around $350 last year. I was hoping for more this time around, but it seems a little doubtful now (see #2 and #3 below).
Just like taking my Probability & Statistics final, I realized a good handful if things during last night's operation. They were pretty obvious at the time, but not leading up to it, like:

  1. plant directly into all the extra plastic 6-cell containers that you have instead of thinking that you can easily transplant 50 lettuce into those containers. This will probably be why we don't have more in the leafy green category (mustard, lettuce). Onion would work like this as well (note to self-that'd be a good way to distribute onion starts).
  2. plan ahead more. I thought I was going to hit the day better, having things like basil more developed and ready, but they are too small.
  3. plan ahead more. Did I already say this? Well, do more if it, self.