Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A great pea season

Snaps and shellers.

The weather may be cooler than normal, but that suits the peas just fine. All but gone (down the hatch) is the first planting of Super Sugar Snaps. We are actively picking a heavy load of Alderman now. They really are the best shelling pea around. Next up is the second planting of Super Sugar Snaps. They'll be better than the first round. They have reached their full height and seem to have plenty of moisture (unlike the first planting which suffered at the end). They are also loaded down with pods.

Snow Peas, too.

We also started grazing on a little planting of snow peas. It is a trial more than anything, filling in about 10' of ground behind the garlic. They are a bush variety. I was suspecting them to be about as poor as the bush snaps I put in last year. Those were not good, at best passible in a stir-fry. I'm pleasantly pleased by these. They are sweet and tender. I will put more in next year, with the intention of freezing them for winter.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Corn tasseling

Tasseling has begun with the 1st planting of corn. The reseeded corn is visibly behind by a couple weeks.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Strawberries / Peas / Raspberries

Cabbage Butterfly (Moth) Update

The cabbage moths are really butterflies, I think. A chrysalis that we took off a collard and interned into Luke's bug barn has produced a little butterfly for us. It was clinging to the roof of the barn this morning. Butterflies have thin antenna, moth antenna are feathery. Butterflies have thin bodies, moth bodies are more plump. Our little miss/mister/whatever clearly has non-feathery antenna and a pretty thin body.

A caterpillar that we plucked off one of those collards has shed its final skin and is now snuggled within a chrysalis. It will be interesting to note how long it takes to emerge, assuming we don't fry it within the bug barn.

As Luke will point out to you -- you can
really see its compound eyes!

Beautiful, really. It is too bad it loves our
collards and kale so much..

Brassica / Fall seed bed

Taking the John Seymour page to heart, I'm starting a pile of fall veggies in a nursery bed. In the background are the leeks we started a month ago. In the fore is a mix of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

These went in around 6/11 and began to emerge a few days ago (6/22).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tomato dreams

I made the hoops larger this year. In prior years the tomatoes have always crashed into the plastic, resulting in burnt and disfigured leaves. This year the hoops are made from 10' lengths of 1/2" PVC, resulting in something like a 4' loft. 

My goal is ripe tomatoes, canned and put up before the end of the summer, that being the end of August instead of the beginning of October. I have a dream of gobs of ripening tomatoes by the end of July. Steve Solomon says that it is possible. I am hopeful. I see the pathway to get there and positive signs. These plants are bursting with blooms, pollinated and waiting for pollination. I see the beginnings of fruit as well. These are determinate, they should soon set fruit aggressively.  

Today is a beautiful day and Cliff Mass says that the northwest summer weather switch will turn on around July 6. Things look good, but there is always time for disaster to sweep in. 

Started Feb 24; emerged March 3; put out May 8.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Weekend round-up: Gift planting, Lettuce Gleaning, Winter storage (and worm picking)

It was another good weekend, including the weekend's weather. Saturday brought rain, a pretty good soaking. It was long enough that things perked up from their slumped over stature. The strawberry bed, very much loaded, was looking a little under the weather on Friday. I gave it fifteen gallons of water. It responded pretty well, but Friday and Saturday's drizzle seemed to top it off. I best not neglect it, else we'll get a hoard of undersized berries in a couple weeks.

I finally found a permanent home for the pretty chives gifted to us. Their flowers are beautiful. There are some green onions going to seed in the foreground. Soon the remaining leeks will put their flowers on display. 

Chives, settling in.

Shari picked a pile of lettuce yesterday, washed it up and dropped part of it at one of the local soup kitchens and the other part at a women's shelter. I really like the idea of taking veggies to the kitchen, more so than where we've taken it in the past. The kitchen advertises that it likes large quantities of fresh vegetables. They seem well equipped to process and make use of it. They also have an endless need, which is unfortunate. 
Most of this and more were donated.

The cabbage worms are out in force. It is time put some kale up. Shari picked the remainder of what over wintered, washed it, poured over it for cabbage worms, and is now ready to blanch and freeze it for later. Doing some reading this evening, it is no wonder that the worms are so plentiful. May and June seem to be their busy months.We haven't had problems in the past because, I suspect, we've been outside their primary window of activity. I think that will need to be our plan of attack next year: grow a bunch for this fall and winter, fewer for the spring (less to inspect).

The remainders of the over-wintered Lacinato.
A cabbage worm, having fed
enough, makes a try for white butterfly
status (the odds are against it now).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garden tour

I saw that Bastille, a french restaurant in Ballard, is giving tours of their garden each wednesday through the summer. Their garden is 4000 square feet, atop their roof. How cool does that sound? Very. I doubt that I'll make it up there ever, but it's pretty neat. You can see their rooftop spread via google maps (5307 Ballard ave NE)
Via: Urban Farm Hub, via Tacoma Kitchen Garden

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lettuce, 2 day germination

I started these lettuce on Friday morning prior to heading out to work. They are in 3/4" soil blocks within a small plastic storage bin (with a hinged cover). I noticed activity Friday evening, the smallest inkling of germination - some seed coverings had opened and tendrils emerged. Most of them are well on their way this morning.

The closed environment (the closed lid) must be the cause. The seeds, once moistened, didn't dry out. The temperature was also constant. In reading Steve Solomon, he states that this is the best way to get consistent and rapid germination. I certainly believe it now.

As a side note, the seeds were not covered in any fashion. Most seeds, especially vegetable seeds, do not require darkness to germinate. Covering serves to maintain moisture consistency.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Two years ago, pictures from the same angles would be dominated almost entirely by tomatoes. There is a much more diverse mix today.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Beans shedding their soft hands

New and old growth.
The leader seeks the string.
The soft growth coaxed by the pampering comforts of the greenhouse are nearly gone. Unable to withstand the harshness of our cooler, wetter spring, the initial leaves have withered. But it seems as though they've made it beyond the transition and are putting on sturdy growth. The concern is: have I stunted them overly? I doubt it, but that's my wished outcome. I'll see, of course, as there is nothing I can do now that I've sent them this far down their path. I do have a flat of their cousins in reserve, growing within the pampered setting of the greenhouse, where the danger is stunting them through space constriction.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mother Earth in Puyallup

This weekend is the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup. It is going to be a beautiful weekend and there appears to be a ton of interesting talks, workshops and vendors on tap.

I have a reoccurring solar panel dream. It resurfaced a few weeks ago. I've begun looking over the potential for solar generation here via sites like PVWatts again. There is a speaker at the fair this weekend,  Dan Chiras, who is a solar advocate, author and speaker (of course). If I can't make his presentation, there are bound to be a vendors who know there stuff and can answer my list of questions. I need to make that list up, still.

It is pretty remarkable to think that western Washington is exposed to enough sunshine to make solar panels worthwhile. We aren't New Mexico, where our summer months barely beats there winter months, but if  Scandinavian countries do it, we should be able to also.

Seattle and Albuquerque's solar radiation exposure by month.