Friday, July 31, 2015

Howden Pumpkins

My two Howden" pumpkin plants are both doing well, even with the extreme heat of the last few days. Both plants have set multiple vines which seem to be growing by leaps and bounds every day. The plants haven't set any pumpkins yet, but all of the vines have many immature fruit on them. It will just be a matter of time before the the female blossoms open and pollination commences. Until then, I have certainly been enjoying the male blooms on the "Howden" plants. They are some of the prettiest squash blossoms I have ever seen; large, star shaped, and bright yellow-orange.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Today is the second day of a four day heat wave hitting our area. This is also our second go-around with triple digit temperatures. We already hit the century mark back on July 2nd. It has been one hot July and one warm Summer so far.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More Watermelon Weather

Today was day one of a 3-4 day heat wave that is hitting our area.We topped out at 100 degrees today and the next few days are suppose to be even hotter. This of coarse means lots of watering every evening after work.

As hard as this weather is on most people and plants, there are a few plants that really thrive in the heat. Among them are watermelon. I have to say my three "Blacktail Mountain" melons are growing like mad right now. I swear the vines are putting on an addition 2-3 inches a day and they have started setting baby watermelon in the last week. Today I added wooden boards underneath the small developing melons to protect them from moisture. I counted 5 melon and the vines are just covered with blooms and new growth. I am going to continue with my every-other-night organic liquid fish fertilizer program. The plants look really healthy. There is no signs of the curling leaves and stunted growth that I experienced last year. If there ever was a year I should be able to grow a successful watermelon, it would be this one.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Planting Day #13 - Finished!

"Valley Porcupine" NX LB PK/WH

Tonight we made the final push down in the Big Garden and finished planting all of the dahlias. It feels so good to be done. We knew a heat wave was due to arrive tomorrow, so there was an extra incentive to finish up the project tonight. We planted a total of 21 dahlias this evening, taking our grand total to 208/208 or 100% done. We still have some "finish work" to do; picking up all of the empty pots and bring down the garden bench. But that can all wait for the weekend. Now I can turn my attention to tying up the taller plants and keeping my fingers crossed that the rabbits will stay away from the shorter ones for a few weeks.

Monday, July 27, 2015

More Garlic Totals on Harvest Monday

This past weekend I cleaned the "Red Russian" garlic bulbs that I had lifted a week ago and set out to cure. I was concerned then that they didn't feel as heavy in my hands as I remembered from past years. After weighting them I did discover that they are smaller this year than any of the other years that I have grown this variety. This year I harvested 9 plants. The total harvest was 3 lbs. 3.6 oz. The largest bulb weighed 8.4 oz , the smallest was 4.2 oz., and the average bulb weight was 5.7 oz. For comparison, in 2014 the average bulb size was 7.23 oz and in 2013 it was 6.77 oz. It would be easy to say the smaller size was a direct result of my late planting last year but the "Chesnook Red" garlic, also planted December 13th, was bigger this year than in past years. So maybe it was just an off year for "Red Russian".

My tomato plants, with the exception of the "Mexico" plant, are loaded with green fruit. I am finally starting to see some color in the lower trusses and was able to pick a just a few this week. Among my early "haul" was the first red ripe "Matina".

I also found 3 "Galina" hiding near the bottom of the plant. This is the third year that I have grown this yellow cherry. It has always produced well for me.

And I also picked the first 3 "Esterina". I didn't realize this was another yellow cherry or I probably would have chosen a different variety. Oh well, I guess my taste testers can compare the two this year and see if they have a favorite.

I also spent an hour or two Sunday afternoon picking the first round of wild blackberries. I didn't expect much, since we have had such an early, hot Summer here. The blackberries love a warm, wet Spring to help develop big berries and there hasn't been much rainfall at all this year. I ended up picking from the top of the driveway all the way down to the main road and back up the other side. While the berry size isn't very good I still managed to fill my plastic berry bucket and ended up with 3 lbs. 15.5 oz of blackberries. I washed them all and then saved half for fresh eating and froze the rest to use this Winter. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Mixed Morning Glories

This year, in the Kitchen Garden, my morning glories came back stronger than ever. I originally planted some purchased morning glory starts in the corner of the garden over 5 years ago. I can't remember the exact variety that I put there but I do know it was a mix of purple, pink and white. The white quickly disappeared over the first few years but the purple and light pink plants have set seed and come back faithfully.

But this year there is a new comer climbing on the tower- and it has a dark pink bloom. All I can think of is the purple and the light pink finally crossed last year. Maybe a hummingbird acted as my hybridizer and the new cross set seed. All I know for sure is the new hot pink is a great addition and the three colors look really nice together. I hope it makes a return appearance next year.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Planting - Day #10

"Alden Snowlodge" Miniature Cactus White

Today was a really pleasant day to work hard down in the Big Garden. It only hit a high of 75 degrees and was mostly overcast. That's my kind of weather! So we had two separate planting shifts today. One was in the morning and the other after dinner. We began the day by hauling down another three rows worth of potted dahlias. I had moved all of the potted days into the garage Thursday night because the bunnies had begun munching on them and I didn't want to loose anymore plants before I was able to get them moved down to the garden. Once we got the pots unloaded and placed, I planted another 14. Then in the evening we returned and got another 13 settled in for a total of 27 planted today. I now have 158/208 planted which is 75.9%. Over 3/4 completed!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Oriental Lilies

In the last week, all of the Oriental Lilies that we have planted in our various flowerbeds have begun to bloom. Some plants we purchased ourselves and know the variety name, while others are unnamed varieties gifted to us by gardening friends. A few people find these lilies a little too loud for their tastes. But I love their super-saturated colors and strong, knockout scents. If it's a warm day and even the smallest breeze is blowing, you can smell them a mile away.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Planting - Day #8

Right after dinner we drove down to the Big Garden to begin working. Earlier in the day, Dad had picked up another 2 scoops of Nature's Best. So our first task tonight, after filling the bird feeder and watering all of the dahlias, was to off-load the soil. Then we set to work digging holes and planting a few more dahlias. We got another 11 planted tonight for a total of 117/208 in the ground. 56.2% complete.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Almost Blackberry Time

As I have walked and driven up and down our long driveway this past week, I have noticed a change in the wild blackberries long the road. Suddenly, the trusses of berries have gone from solid green to now displaying shades of red and black. I am guessing that I will be able harvest the first bucket of ripe berries this weekend.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Planting - Day #7

"Irish Glow" Pom Red

I had a really nice night down working in the garden. As I was driving home, the outside temperature was holding steady at 79 degrees. It has been so long since it was that cool and boy did it make planting in the garden pleasant tonight. I had a running head start with the 12 holes that we dug Monday night. I ended up getting another 20 dahlias in the ground. The only downside was I discovered the first rabbit damage. Fortunately, they haven't touched any of the planted dahlias but they nibbled pretty hard on 4 of the potted dahlias. So I need to think of a game plan as I plant the rest in the coming week. After tonight, I have a total of 106/208 dahlia planted, or 50.9%. Just over 1/2 way done - woo-hoo!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Heavenly Blue Morning Glory

When I stepped out on the back patio this morning, a bright bit of blue in the Kitchen Garden caught my eye. The very first two blooms had opened on my "Heavenly Blue" morning glory plants. Although I have now grown this variety for many years, I still get so much enjoyment from these striking blooms. They have such a bright, intense blue tone, unlike any other found in my garden. I am looking forward to the next few weeks, when I should begin to have a mass of blooms covering the tower and nearby tomato cages each morning.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Planting Day #4

Two really tall "Ms Kennedy" MB Orange that were planted today.

It was a busy, HOT day in the dahlia garden. We broke yet another record when we reached 100 degrees for the day. We planted twice today, once in the cool of the morning and once in the warm, early evening. I got 16 dahlia planted in the first session and another 10 in the second round for a total of 26 today. Not a bad day's work and my back is definitely feeling it tonight. 61/208 dahlias in the ground, 29.3% completed.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cauliflower Bandit

For the last week, something, or should I say someone, has been getting into my kitchen garden and eating my three cauliflower plants. I was fairly sure that it was a bunny but tonight that was confirmed. When I entered the garden to begin watering, I discovered this little one resting in the cauliflower plants. I am not sure if he is acting alone, or if others are getting in as well. Next year I am definitely going to install a low rabbit fence around the perimeter. But this year, he wins. Just please quit chewing on the morning glory plants.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Planting Day #3

"Weston Spanish Dancer" M C FL

Tonight after dinner we went down and planted 20 more dahlias. We had a bit of a running head start, since Wednesday night we dug holes but didn't plant. So now I have 35/208 in the ground, 16.8% completed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Amazing Watermelon Growth

Just 10 days ago, I took a picture of my 3 "Blacktail Mountain" watermelon plants. All three plants were still circle shaped and had only begun to form their first running vine. What a difference now!  On each plant, the runner has grown inches every day. It felt like I could almost watch the runners move across the dirt. All three plants have also now sent out multiple new runners, so soon this patch will be covered in watermelon vines and foliage. But most exciting is the appearance of tiny yellow blooms and immature watermelon. Pictured below, is the very first melon I found on any of the plants. It will be fun to see how long it takes before the first melon has set and begins to grow.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Planting - Day #1

Well, tonight after work, we finally made it down to the Big Garden and began planting my potted dahlias. Due to work and family commitments and then a two week heat wave, I am getting them planted much later than I would like. Normally my goal is to try to have them all in by the 4th of July weekend. Last year I started planting on June 15th and finished up on July 3rd. It just wasn't meant to be this year. At least the plants are holding up fairly well. Tonight we planted the first 15/208, so I have 7 % in. We are off and running!

Below, two "Asia", a B-sized cactus form in red.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Garlic Harvest


Yesterday morning I harvested my "Chesnook Red" Garlic. I was late planting my garlic and it didn't get it in the ground until December 13th of last year! I was really concerned that my late planting would effect the overall size of the garlic bulbs the next Summer.

Well it appears that I didn't need to worry. I planted 19 cloves back in December. One clove split so it produced two bulbs this year. I dug up what appear to be 20 nice size garlic bulbs. I have laid them out on my make-shift drying rack in the shop. After they have dried for a week I will clean the bulbs and get an official harvest weight. Until then, we won't have to worry about any vampires hanging around the shop!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bunny Trouble

 Early this morning, my sister reported viewing a rabbit slip under or though the fence into my kitchen garden. Then she said she saw it leave the back of the garden and go into our west facing flowerbed. I didn't think too much about it, until I entered the garden tonight to do my daily watering. Then I noticed the rabbit didn't just use my garden as a shortcut, but stopped to have a bite. The cauliflower plants took it the worst. I had managed to follow the on-line suggestions and clipped the leaves over one of my cauliflower heads to help it stay white. It was doing the trick and it was truly time to harvest that head this weekend. But Mr. Rabbit cut off half of the leaves on that plant and took quite a few bites out of the cauliflower head too. Luckily he left the other two heads alone but it is still frustrating. I think this Winter I am going to have to come up with some better, lower fencing options for the perimeter of the kitchen garden.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Howden Blossom

Both of my "Howden" Pumpkin plants that I started from seed have open their first male blossom. I think all squash blossoms are so pretty. The first open blooms let me know if won't be too terribly longer before I have small little pumpkins setting on the vines.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Zowie! Yellow Flame ZInnia

In mid-May, I purchased a 6-pack of "Yellow Flame" Zinnias at the Food for Lane County Youth Farm Plant sale. When I bought them, I assumed they would have a bright, solid yellow bloom. Boy was I wrong! The first bud opened today and I was surprised and pleased by what I saw. After googling the name, I learned that I had actually bought "Zowie! Yellow Flame" Zinnias. They are described as having "iridescent magenta centers and petals dipped in orange". Which is all quite true. I am not too sure where the Yellow in the name fits in but I am pleased just the same. Later in the season, after the plants have grown and branched out, they should put on quite an eye-opening display.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Early July in the Kitchen Garden

Now that July has arrived, I have finally finished planting the Summer crops in the Kitchen Garden - I think. It has been so very hot the last two weeks, but for the most part, the plants have come through with flying colors.

I spent some time Sunday re-building my onion raised bed. My watering had eroded one side badly. The onion bulbs were getting quite exposed and most of the water was just running off the bed. So I built up the right side once again and leveled off the top. The onions are much more stable now and my watering is more effective and much less wasteful.

Here's a nice "Candy" onion. I should be able to start harvesting them in the next month.

And here is a "Cortland" yellow storage onion. I am hoping that they will start to size up now that they are receiving more water.

My garlic has done terrific since it was planted last Fall. With the hot weather, I think I am going to harvest the "Chesnook Red" plants this week. They are already half brown and fading fast.

The large "Russian Red" plants are still 2/3 green so I will wait another week or so until I dig them up to cure.

I pulled out the lettuce a few days ago and amended the raised bed in which it was planted. Then I set in two "Bush Delicata" plants. I didn't cover them with remay and I am paying the price. It looks like the finches have eaten out the growing tip on one of them already. Sigh. Now I need to decide what to do in its place.

My two little "Butternut" squash have finally settled in and are putting out some nice, green new leaves. This week's forecast calls for temperatures in the 80's, so that should be a little kinder to them as they get established.

My two "Howden" pumpkins are really taking off. One has already toppled over and is starting to crawl and the other isn't far behind.

The three "Snow Crown" cauliflower plants appear to be surviving this heat wave. All three have white crowns of various sizes.

I am a cauliflower rookie, so I need to read up on them a bit more and see when I should harvest the crown. While they aren't perfect, I am pretty pleased with my first attempt at growing this finicky vegetable.

Both of my pepper plants appear to be on the way to a great growing year. They certainly should be loving the  hot weather. Pictured above is my "Gypsy" Sweet Pepper.

I now have two nice size "Gypsy" Peppers maturing on the plant.

I am growing a "Padron" pepper plant for the first time. It too is doing really well and is covered with blooms and nice, new branching foliage.

This is the very first "Padron" pepper on the plant. It just started to grow a few days ago. Hopefully it is the first of many.

The mixed variety Morning Glory plants have almost reached the top of their tower and are starting to put on a really pretty display each morning. Once again, even with thinning, I have a good mix of pink and purple blooms.

I put the second tier of the towers on my last three tomato plants this past week. I did it in the nix of time. As you can see, two of them are already half way up the second tower.

The original three plants that I put in the garden have almost reached the top of the second tier and it's only early July! And my "Heavenly Blue" Morning Glory, planted in between the tomatoes, has reached the top of its support and is now scrambling over the tomato cages. So far, it hasn't yet bloomed.

A truss of "Mountain Magic".

The  young "Matthew" tomatoes definitely have a plum shape.

The "Esterina" is starting to set fruit.

"Galina" has always been a reliable producer for me and my co-workers love it.

Here are two green "Matina". All of my tomato plants have now set fruit except for my "Mexico" plant.

After I removed my empty Potato grow bag this past weekend, I planted two of the "Hale's Best Jumbo" Muskmelon that I started from seed. They look pretty small right now, but its still early Summer and the weather has been very melon friendly this year.

My three "Blacktail Mountain" watermelon plants are really starting to take off. All three plants developed their first runner this week, so their growth should really explode. I am trying to be vigilant and fertilize them every other day.

I certainly have just about every size of beet possible in my two rows of  "Golden" beets that I planted. You would never know that they were all started from seed at the same time. I do have some fairly large ones now, so I need to harvest a few this next week and give them a try.

The "Gold Coin" cipollini onions continue to look good. Since this is a new-to-me variety, I am not quite sure how they should be progressing. But since they don't grow up into a huge globe onion, I think they are right on track. Also growing under the remay tent, in the kitchen garden annex, is a row of "Cabernet" red onions. They aren't too happy with their cramped growing conditions and are still pretty small at this point in the season.