Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Roses

I am having a hard time believing that today is the last day of June. So much of June was spent waiting for the rains to finally let up and the sun to come out. Once it eventually did it has been a mad dash to try and get caught-up in the garden. Like everything else, the roses are blooming a bit later this year. I have two roses in the big garden, both planted decades ago by the original owner. While I have no idea what their names are, I certainly am thankful that I get to enjoy them each June.

The first is a hot pink beauty. It has a horrible time with black spot in wet years and responds by dropping its leaves. It has had a tough year this year, and isn't as full as normal. That said, it is still lovely to look at and if the wind is right you can pickup its soft, perfumed scent in the air.

Planted right next to it is the other rose. It is much small in stature and barely hangs on year-to-year. It has never had more than two canes. As soon as it finally grows a new one, an old one dies. It also isn't a strong bloomer, perhaps because it is now so shaded. The most blooms it has ever had is 3, but 2 or 1 is a more typical year.

Yesterday its one bloom started to open. Day 1 is always its prettiest day, when the many petals are cupped and held upward. Today, day 2, it has opened. And by tomorrow it will start dropping petals and be done by day 4. I have always considered its color to be a soft shell pink, but yesterdays' overcast weather revealed that it is actually a stronger peachy-pink color when not faded by the sun. Even though it is so short lasting, I would be very sad to loose this rose.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Onions & the Solstice

Last week's Summer Solstice marked an important time of change in the onion row. For those of you who don't know, onions are sensitive to the length of daylight. When the days are growing longer in the Spring, onions focus all of their energy on producing green leaves. This is particularly important, because each leaf is responsible for one layer of the onion bulb. The more leaves, the bigger an onion you will harvest. Now here is the cool part. As soon as we pass the Summer Solstice the onion changes its game plan and begins to store all of the energy in the leaves down into the bulb. What really amazes me is how soon after the Solstice you can see it happening. In the picture above you can clearly see at ground level that the red "Mars" bulb is starting to thicken. I can't perceive the shortening of the daylight hours yet - thank goodness! - but my onion can. How amazing is that! One important disclaimer. Everything I have mentioned related to northern onions. For those of you in the South, you need to buy southern varieties of onions. They respond in reverse to daylight conditions, so they are perfectly suited to growing in your zone at a different harvest time. Do you have onions in your vegetable patch this year?

A bulb starting to thicken on a "Yellow Storage" onion.

Monday, June 28, 2010

More Progress & More Sun

Another beautiful, warm day. I got up and went right down to the garden. I worked from 9-12:30 and got quite a bit done. I started by getting 12 more dahlias planted. Then I created 5 mini raised beds. In two of them I planted my 4 starts of "Canoe Creek Colossal" Cantaloupe. I have never successfully raised a full size cantaloupe and I can't believe this year, with its cool start, will be any better. But a girls gotta try!

After I got them planted and well watered in, I then planted three hills of "Chimiren" Winter Squash. As I stated in an earlier post, this is a new variety for me and I am anxious to see how it grows and how it tastes. After dinner I went back down to the garden and worked for about another hour. With some help I got 8 more dahlia planted. The total now stands at 39 in and 159 to go!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another Day of Planting

This morning I went down to the garden and started by planting 12 more dahlias. The weather was sunny and warm and it was so nice to work outside. After I got the dahlias all settled in, I planted 4 rows of seeds. The first 2 rows are "Hutterite Soup Bean". This is a new variety for me to try this year. The bean seeds were on the smaller side and a very pretty soft yellow with a white eye. I hope to grow these and harvest them for use as dry soup beans. I also put up another bean tower and planted more "Bingo" Pole Beans. It will be interesting to compare the growth and production of this tower compared to the tower up at the house in the vegetable bed. I also put in 2 rows of flowers. I planted "Persian Carpet" Zinnias and "Polka Dots Mix" Bachelor Buttons. I grew "Persian Carpet" Zinnias years ago and really loved them. And I always grow bachelor buttons, just like my cousin Kristi. She's in Michigan now but we both grow bachelor buttons and think of each other. That's one of the neat things about gardens; a conection to others.

Here is one of my 2 rows of "Hutterite Soup Bean" waiting to be covered and watered in well.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Big Garden..a Big Day!

Today I finally hit a milestone- The first dahlias were actually planted in the ground! But I should backup the story a bit. Because of the record rains in Oregon the last two weeks of May and the first 2 weeks of June, I haven't been able to till and plant the big garden. Finally, last week it warmed up a bit and then sun came out. On the 20th we got back into the garden for another first tilling and then hit it again the 22nd and 23rd.

The night of Thursday the 24th I started raking the garden flat and plotting out my rows and stakes. Last night Dad joined me in the garden and we knocked out setting the last of the stakes in the ground. This morning I got up and we went to Lane Forest Products and got 2 yards of Natures Best Planting Mix. We drove it down to the garden and dumped it at one end. Then I went back to the house and grabbed my name tags for each dahlia variety. I am not completely done making them for this year but I did get everything that was done attached to the stakes, per my map. And then....... (drum roll please...)....

I planted a dahlia! It only took until June 26th. I do think that is a record for the latest first planting. First in the ground was "Dagmar" a "B" sized orange incurved cactus. Pictured above is the first plant in and another of the same variety waiting to be next. I managed to get 7 planted today before I had to call it a day. While I still have 191 more dahlias left to plant, it feels so good to be able to say that I have finally started!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A sign of things to come

While I have been busy planting, and digging and fussing, Mother Nature has quietly gone on about her work. On my walk home from the big garden last night, I suddenly realized that the wild blackberries are starting to bloom. Like everything, they are a bit behind last year. I took this picture at a patch that has full sun. Most of the patches have only the leader bloom open at this point. The plants seem to really be enjoying the extra rain and are producing some huge canes. Of coarse this year's berries will come off of last year's canes, but the still damp ground bodes well for this year's berry crop. Dust off those cobbler recipes!

Blog post up date: Well, we finally did it today - it reached 80 degrees outside ! I just heard it on the evening news. It appears to be our second latest 80 degree day ever. The record for the latest 80 degree day was July 1, 1982. Thankfully we didn't beat that. But it was our first 80 degree day since September 23, 2009 - that's 272 days that we have been waiting. Welcome back Summer!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Vegetable Bed

This morning I finally finished planting the vegetable bed. I decided that my "Delicata" Winter Squash starts needed to get into the ground and into the sun. I hope that they are big enough that the birds won't pull them up or pick away at the leaves. I do have an extra I started, just in case one needs replaced. They look so little planted next to the older, larger "Butternut" Squash that I bought and planted last week.

Out of the peat-pots and into the ground they go! I built up 2 hills and added a good amount of well rotted chicken manure to each hill. Once they get settled, they ought to like that.

Since germinating last week, the "Bingo" Pole Beans have really done well. In the background of the picture, you can still see two of my protective "bean tunnels". I put these cups over the beans until they have fully sprouted and have opened their first set of leaves. This keeps the birds from pulling them up and acts as a mini- green house too, keeping them a bit warmer on cool days.

Both varieties of onions are really looking good. Now that we have passed the summer solstice the bulb growth should really start in earnest.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy First Day of Summer!

Today is the official start of Summer and the longest day of the year. Thankfully, after a cloudy morning, we are enjoying a beautiful sunny afternoon. Hopefully a sign of things to come! Fingers crossed, we can rototill the big garden again tomorrow and then I can start laying out the rows on Thursday. The first dahlias might actually get planted - in the ground - by the weekend. Hope springs eternal on a sunny, summer day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday at the Farmer's Market

This morning Beth and I went down to the Farmer's Market. As always, one of the first things to catch my eye were the flowers. Mid-June is an amazing time for cut flowers. Many of my favorites are at their peak. I was immediately drawn to the bundles of sweet peas. They have one of my favorite scents.

With our cool, wet weather, the peonies were still for sale at almost every flower stall.

All the bouquets were just beautiful.

On the food front, the strawberries were looking good. Lots of people were buying whole flats to take home to process into jams & jellies. I bought a pint just for snacking!

Since my last visit to the Market, the latest "newcomers" are raspberries and cherries.

And we also found a couple farms selling the season's first Cherry & Plum Tomatoes. With the weather that we have had, I would think that these would have to have been grown in  a greenhouse.

And I just liked this pile of garlic scapes. Such great geometry.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

If you can't grow it....

Today Beth and I took at trip to Bloomer's Nursery. As we arrived separately at the check-out area, we both were drawn to these beautiful mosaic fruits & vegetables. The funny thing was, after I picked out my 2 favorites to show her, she pulled out the two she had already picked up - completely different!
I chose the Heirloom Tomato and the Pear.
Beth had grabbed an Eggplant and a green Bell Pepper. How Pretty!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

199 dahlias in pots..0 planted!

Well, the weather has dried out a bit. It hasn't rained since Friday and that in itself is a big victory. Unfortunately, it also hasn't really warmed up much. With the exception of Saturday, we seem to be stuck in the low 70's. The big garden is still too wet to rototill at this point, so that means my 199 dahlias are still up at the house growing away in their 1 gallon pots. So far the deer haven't nibbled on any. Tonight's count had 169 of them up.

These dahlias were planted first so they are naturally the tallest now.

This variety is called Crazy for Jessie. It is a new one for me this year and I am excited to grow it. Its form is Incurved Cactus, one of my favorites.

Maybe this is why the deer are staying away...not!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Planting

Last Saturday, I started a few more plants from seed. Even though the weather forecast showed another week of rain & cool weather, I decided that June was ticking away. It was plant now, or it would soon be too late. I started by planting a new, to me, pole bean "Bingo" up in the vegetable bed. On the packet "Bingo" is described as " a classic Borlotto type pole bean. Big Creamy green pods streaked in bright pinkish red, grows 5 inches long".

The seeds were a pretty tan, streaked in burgundy. On my garden inspection this morning I discovered that the first two beans had started to germinate. Unfortunately, the birds discovered them before I did. Both were pulled out of the ground and had dried up. Grr! I replanted those two seeds and then created 2 bean "cones" out of clear plastic cups. I cut out the bottom and twisted the cups over the next 2 beans that I could see pushing up. This should give them the protection that they need to get big enough so that the birds will leave them alone. After I planted the beans, I got out a seed tray and started some of my favorite annuals. I planted Zinnia "Berry Basket" & "Hot Crayon Colors". I also started Cosmos "Kneehigh Sonata Mix".

One week later I have 12 of the Zinnias up and 4 of the Cosmos. Considering how cool and wet it has been, I am pretty happy with this early germination. With the sun coming back so stay today ( I hope !) the rest should be up in the next few days.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another Soggy Day..but the end is in sight!

Another June day, another storm passing through dropping torrential amounts of water. I was outside, looking at my potted dahlias tubers, when the wind started howling and the first few rain drops hit my face. By the time I made it safely under the front porch, the sky had let loose. Yet again. Ever since Sunday, May 15th, the weather turned from Spring back to late Winter. The last 3 weeks have brought steady grey skies and amazing rain totals. Both May and the young month of June have broken all-time rain accumulation records. A friend of mine in Oregon City reported that a bucket he left out one month ago now has 11 inches of standing water in it ! The only reason I am not in complete despair and crying ( besides the fact that would just add more water to the ground) is because the end appears in site. Today is suppose to be our last stormy day. Tomorrow shows the transition to just cloudy weather and then the 10-day forecast shows nothing but sunshine and warmer temperatures. Hurray! But until then..

Rain pouring of the roof into the gutters.

Flowerbeds full of over-saturated, soggy soil and puddles.

Windows covered in raindrops

And rain gauge showing yet another inch of rain the last 24 hours !

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Look who came home with me....

Today Beth & I went to the Tuesday Farmers Market for lunch. The weather actually became nicer as we were in town. The clouds mostly dissipated and it became warm and muggy. After lunch I wanted to stop by Down to Earth to pick up a ceramic pot. After I found the perfect pot, I wandered over to the greenhouse. Once inside, I was attacked by the above two vegetable starts! I have always wanted to try "Patty Pan" Summer Squash. And I know, I do not need another tomato, especially because I already own 4 tomatoes that haven't even made it in the ground yet! Yes, I know. But then I read the description on the tag for "Moonglow" ; Gorgeous, brilliant orange globe-shaped 6-8 oz fruit have fantastic sweet-tart flavor & smooth texture. Perfect for fresh eating or making a beautiful, unusual sauce. Heavy yields, good keeper. Into my cart it jumped!

Then, instead of wisely heading to the cash-register, I wandered over to the Climbers & Vines. Danger! Ever since I started my infatuation with Morning Glories last Summer, I have been looking for new, interesting varieties to try this year. Bingo! So , into my cart went "Scarlett O'hara" ; Magenta blooms with red star shaped centers & " Crimson Rambler" ; Crimson red blooms with white centers & throats. And just because it sounded cool I picked up a Mina Lobata "Jungle Queen". It is described as "a member of the morning glory family. Flowers emerge orange-red and fade through yellow to white". So, besides my necessary ceramic pot, I took home 5 more cool plants. Has something jumped into your cart this Spring?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A New Community Market

Today was the inaugural opening day for the Spencer Creek Community Growers Market. This new market was conceived by neighbors looking for a place to sell their product and foster a sense of community. In the words of the founders they are " committed to providing a venue for neighbors to sell their locally produced agricultural items, with an emphasis on sustainable & healthy growing practices". This kick-off day featured about 10 vendors, wonderful live music and lots of neighbors shopping and catching up on news. The market will run every Saturday 10 AM - 1 PM, from June 5th through October 9th. If you're in the area do drop by and support this great community event.

Many of the vendors were selling vegetable starts and garden perennials. There were also a few vegetables for sale as well as fresh eggs and a beautiful custom chicken coop. The ladies of the Grange were selling coffee and treats too.

One vendor had three large bags of different colored wool. She raises sheep and spun yarn as we watched.

The Old Time Fiddlers proved music all day. Chairs were set out so that you could just sit and enjoy. This was reason enough to come! They were great.

On the walk home the creek was just roaring. With the record rains that we have received in the last 5 days, the water was flowing, high, fast and brown.