Monday, October 16, 2017

Final Large Harvest

This past weekend saw our first dip to near freezing weather. While it wasn't a killing frost, the lawn was a frosty white Saturday morning and the bird bath was frozen solid. With that in mind, I harvested the last of the "tender" crops earlier in the week. Top on my list was my one and only "Lambkin", a Piel de Sapo melon from Spain. After I finished planting all of my dahlias in early July, I still had a bit of bare garden left. And of coarse I couldn't let that stay that way! So I picked up two "Lambkin" melon plants at the Farmer's Market. I knew it was pretty late in the year and that part of the garden is fairly shady, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I was rewarded for my optimism with one - yes one! - set melon. It has been growing and slowly maturing. Finally this week the mottled green skin began to turn yellow. It was time for a harvest! It was quite aromatic and had a very interested solid white flesh.

  • "Lambkin" melon - (1) 1 lbs. 10.9 oz

The cooler temperatures also meant that it was time to harvest the Winter Squash. I had only three plants this year, down from my normal 6. Two of the plants were "Waltham" Butternut, which I was able to plant the earliest. My other Winter Squash was one bush "Delicata" plant. It was planted late and struggled to ever get really settled and happy. But it all turned out to be an interesting experiment in plant numbers, garden space, and production. I have always grown 2 "Butternut" plants but they have always had to share their growing space with 4 other winter squash plants. This year, for the most part, these two plants had the whole area to themselves. The result was huge vines that produced like I have never had a Butternut produce before. Each vine easily reached over 15' in length and just kept setting fruit. I ended up harvesting 12 mature butternut from them and there were three more that were full size but still green. 15 large squash from 2 plants! By comparison, last year, when there were 6 Winter Squash, my two Butternut plants gave me 3 total squash. There might be something to be said for a little elbow room.

  • "Waltham" Butternut Squash - (12) - 39 lbs. 6.0 oz.
  • "Delicata" Squash - (1) 11.6 oz

The nightly temperatures have fallen enough that the large tomatoes are no longer ripening. But the smaller varieties and the cherry types keep plugging along. A nice harvest for mid-October.
  • "Galina" - (57) 9.9 oz
  • "Blush" - (58) 2 lbs. .7 oz
  • "Chef's Choice Orange" - (1) 5.8 oz
  • Wapsipinicon Peach" - (7) 9.2 oz

Monday, September 18, 2017

Harvesting Before the Rains Return

Some much needed rain is in the forecast for the next few days. It will be our first substantial rainfall since the first two weeks of June. While the rain is desperately needed to help put out the fires raging all over the West, it does cause some concern in my garden. First in mind were my dry bush beans. So Saturday night I went down with a bucket and harvested all of the dried pods. I am guessing about 1/4 of the beans have yet to dry, but I am really happy to have 3/4 of the crop already harvested and stores for the Winter before the first rainfall. It makes the job so much easier.
  • "Titus" Cannellini Dry Bush Bean; 1 lbs. .8 oz

I am learning that the "Pride of Wisconsin" melon go from ripe to over-ripe very quickly. I need to do a better job next year really looking at the skin color and giving them a few gentle squeeze now and then. I am afraid I have lost 2-3 as they are now overly mature and splitting open. But I was still able to harvest 4 good melon this week. I have also been saving all of the seed, with the hopes of growing my plants from my own seed next year. This week's harvest:

  • "Pride of Wisconsin" ; (4) 7 lbs. 10.8 oz

I was pleased to be able to harvest the first of my "Black Krim" tomatoes this week. "Black Krim" always takes a long while to set and mature here in Oregon. And more often than not, almost all of the fruit ripens within about 20 days, so you end up with a lot of it at once. 
  • "Black Krim" ; (17) 5 lbs. 13.8 oz

The rest of the tomatoes are also rolling right along.  I am really enjoying the beauty of the "Blush" cherry tomatoes. I love the conical shape and the bold yellow color, splashed with red, is really pretty. One of my co-workers has declared this one her favorite tomato this year.
  • "Blush" ; (25) 11.5 oz
  • "Galina" ; (58) 9.6 oz.
  • "Chef's Choice Orange" ; (1) 2.6 oz
  • "Ukrainian Purple" ; (38) 5 lbs. 10.1 oz
  • "Wapsipinicon Peach"; (25) 1 lbs. 7.6 oz

Monday, September 4, 2017

Bean and Melon Harvest Time

I can't begin to write about this week's harvest without first mentioning all of the smoke and heat in our area. Like all of the West, we had a very warm August that sparked fires all across Oregon. There are major fires burning in my county and many others in nearby counties. As the winds shift, our air quality drops and more smoke moves in. The picture above was taken at 2:00 PM yesterday. Our air quality dropped from Very Unhealthy to Hazardous in that hour. While it is making gardening and all outdoor activities nearly impossible, my thoughts go out to the firefighters working around the clock and the poor folks who have been displaced or lost their homes. We desperately need some rain.

I did make it outside to work in short one-hour increments this weekend. On Saturday I picked all of the dried pods from my bush "Titus" cannellini beans and shelled them inside. It would guess a little over 1/2 of the pods were fully dried on my three rows, so I think I will be able to match this harvest again in a few weeks.
  • "Titus" Cannellini Bean - ( 3 cups) 1 lbs. 4.6 oz

It wasn't just dry bush beans that were ready for their first harvest of the year. My very late planted "French Emerite" pole filet beans were also ready to pick this week. It wasn't a huge harvest, but I wasn't sure I would get anything this year with such a late sowing date. They also aren't loving this current heat wave, so this might be the largest harvest that I have this year.
  • "French Emerite" Pole Bean - (43) 8.9 oz.

Continuing with my theme of "first of the year" harvests, I picked my first melon last night. I am growing a small patch of "Pride of Wisconsin" melon this year. It is a "new to me" variety. The plants seem to be doing pretty well. My melons do seem to be much smaller than the 4-8 lbs size melons described in all of the catalogs though. But that said, the melons look perfect. This one smelled heavenly when I sliced it open tonight. Taste results will have to wait as it is getting saved for breakfast!

  • "Pride of Wisconsin" Melon - (1) 1 lbs 15.8 oz.

The tomatoes on the other hand are loving the heat. This is my biggest weekly harvest yet.
  • "Ukrainian Purple" - (49) 9 lbs. 7.6 oz.
  • "Wapsipinicon Peach" - (19) 1 lbs. .9 oz
  • "Blush" - (37) 1 lbs. .2 oz.
  • Galina" - (108) 1 lbs. 4.7 oz.

And lastly, I harvested another batch of potatoes from my first grow bag. We had family over for a last minute dinner. It was so nice to go right outside to the Kitchen Garden and harvest a nice bunch of brand new potatoes. It took only a few minutes to clean them off and they were enjoyed simply steamed with a bit of butter. Nothing better!
  • "Dark Red Norland" potatoes - 3 lbs. 6.1 oz.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Giant Primrose Sunflower

The five "Giant Primrose" sunflowers that I started from seed this past Spring are just beginning to bloom. Each bloom of this variety has soft yellow petals that surround a chocolate colored center.

None of my plants have reached the 8-12' described on the seed packet, but that could easily be because I transplanted them, instead of direct sowing them. Sunflowers dislike disturbance,
but I was afraid the chipmunks or rabbits would eat my freshly germinated sunflowers if I planted them directly in the flowerbed. Three of my plants have grown 6-7' tall and that pleases me, as I do love tall sunflowers. This is a vigorous, branching variety and would make a great screen. I am excited for the next few weeks, when my plants hit peak bloom and are covered with pretty yellow discs.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Second Flush for the Birthday Girl Rose

Our new "Birthday Girl" floribunda rose is just starting its second flush of blooms. Since its inaugural flush during the first week of July, it has put out 4 new canes as well as lots of new buds on its original canes. In the catalog, its final size is described as one foot wider than it is taller. And that is the growth pattern for this rose in its first year in our garden too. It is off to a terrific start.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

French Emerite Pole Filet Beans

The "French Emerite" pole beans that I started - late - from seed are really beginning to take off. Even with the heatwave, they continue to climb up the bean tower, slowly wrapping in a counter-clockwise fashion. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have lovely purple blooms. Even though they got off to a bit of a late start, I think there is enough time left in the growing season for them to produce a mature flush of beans. It will be nice to have a "new" crop just coming in as September nears its end.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Melon Update

There was a lot of growth in the "Pride of Wisconsin" melon patch while I was away. The melon have definitely increased in size. I am hopeful that the heat wave we had helped them mature and sweeten. I am worried though, that it seems like they are mostly done growing. They aren't anywhere near the 4-8 pound size range described in multiple catalogs. I weighted one last night and it was only 2.5 pounds. But the outside skin is developing a netting and the coloring is changing. So at this point the outward appearance seems to be telling me that they are getting close to maturity. I guess I will weigh my test melon in another week and see if it continues to gain weight. If not it might be time to begin to harvest the oldest melons.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The First Tomato, Potato and Blackberry Harvest

There is nothing that makes you see that incredible late Summer growth in your garden more than leaving for 9 days on vacation! After a wonderful week in Michigan I returned home to find there was a lot of change in the Kitchen Garden. We had a heat wave while I was gone. Two days hit 102 and three more were 95 or warmer. My poor Nephew earned his keep watering my garden! But all of that heat meant that I was greeted by a garden with things ready to harvest!

This weekend I dug the first of my potatoes. They were planted back on May 7th in four grow bags and have done really well. I have had problems storing red potatoes in past years, so this year my game plan is to only dig what I am gong to use in the next few days. I think this will work much better for me, as the potatoes seem to do fine being "stored" in the grow bags, in the soil, until I need them. My first harvest was ;

  • " Dark Red Norland" ; 3 lbs. 10.2 oz.

I was also excited to find color in the tomato plants when I returned .Not all of them have ripe fruit yet, but I was able to harvest from 4 different varieties yesterday. I was also pleased to only find blossom end rot on fruit in one variety so far. It plagued almost all of my tomato plants last year, so I can happily deal with one bad plant. Yesterday's harvest;

  • "Ukrainian Purple" ; (10) 1 lbs. 5.1 oz
  • ""Galina" ; (7) 1.4 oz
  • "Wapsipinicon Peach" ; (6) 9.2 oz
  • "Blush" ; (2) 1.1 oz

Thanks to Mother Nature, I was also able to harvest the first wild blackberries of the year. I knew from driving up and down the road that there were ripe berries to be had. But I was very surprised when I came hope with a completely full bucket. The final tally for this first picking was 4 lbs. 4.1 oz. A great start to the season!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The First Precipitation of Summer

Rose "Birthday Girl"

We awoke to cloudy skies and by 7:00 AM there was the softest sound of rainfall on the roof. It never really rained this morning, but we did get what I would call heavy showers at times. It ended by 9:00  AM but it was enough that the ground was damp and the air smelled clean. We need a lot more rain to help put out the fires and really renew the earth but even the 10th of an inch we got this morning was certainly a welcome gift.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Blush Tomatoes

One of my "new-to-me" tomato varieties is getting close to having its first ripe fruit. I purchased my "Blush" plant this Spring down at the Territorial Seed store. The signage mentioned that it had come in 2nd in a taste testing contest that they had held and I was also intrigued by its bullet shape. So home it came with me! The plant is now nicely covered with tresses of fruit. The immature tomatoes are a pretty soft green with dark green streaks. As they ripen they turn a strong yellow color with red streaks. A really pretty tomato in both stages. "Blush" appears to be growing well for me. It will be fun to see what my total harvest is from this plant and also to hear what my taste-testers at work think of its flavor.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The First 100 Degree Day

Rudbeckia Fulgida "Goldstrum"

It took until August, but Summer has officially arrived with full force! Today it hit 102, out first 100+ degree day of the year. Sadly, it is also suppose to be that warm tomorrow as well. I guess the good news is, this heat wave waited until August and didn't arrive months earlier like it has in the past few years.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Chesnok Red Garlic Harvest

Not too much to report in the harvest department this week. I did harvest my "Chesnok Red" garlic plants this past week. I was worried about the bulb size becasue they looked so much smaller than the "Music" bulbs did when they were lifted. Well they are a lot smaller, but I think they are more "normal" garlic sized. My average bulb size was 2.6 oz. The smallest bulb was 1.8 oz and the largest came in at 3.4 oz. My total "Chesnok Red" this year was 2 lbs. 4.0 oz.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Green Patty Pan Squash

Yesterday I had the first male and female blossom open on the "Green Patty Pan" Summer Squash plant that I purchased at the Farmer's Market. The blooms opened while I was gone all day at work, so I can only hope that an industrious bee found its way to the plant and did a little pollination for me. I have been slowly gathering recipe ideas from the internet for patty pan squash, so I am hoping for a good harvest that will allow me to try a variety of new kitchen ideas.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Music Garlic Harvest and the Last of the Sweet Peas

Yesterday I processed the "Music" garlic that I harvested back on Wednesday. Normally I like to have them cure for a week before I clean the bulbs and store them, but I am leaving on vacation soon and am in a bit of a time crunch.

I am so pleased with this harvest. This is my second year growing this variety. I first purchased my stock at the Common Ground Fair in Maine, in September of 2015. So this is my second year with "Music" and it really performed well. Pictured above, my biggest bulb weighing in at 7.5 oz.

I ended up harvested 17 bulbs. The average bulb size was 6.2 oz. The largest bulb was 7.5 oz. and the smallest came in at a healthy 5.0 oz. My total "Music" harvest for 2017 was 6 lbs. 9.8 oz. In comparison, the 2016 harvest was also 17 bulbs. But the average bulb size was 4.8 oz. and the total harvest was 5 lbs. 1.0 oz.

After cleaning the "Music" bulbs, I dug up my "Chesnook Red" garlic. I am not happy with this variety this year. I know that "Music" produces larger bulbs, but the "Chesnook Red" bulbs look really small. I will wait to process and weight them, but I think it might be time to order some new stock to plant this Fall.

"Wiltshire Ripple"

I also cut what are probably the last 2 sweet pea bouquets of the year. After a cooler May, a wet and cool June, and a cooler July, Summer decided to show up. These 90 degree days the last few days have taken a toll on the 2 sweet pea towers. But what a year they had. They absolutely thrived in the cooler weather. The "Wiltshire Ripple" produced more blooms than any sweet pea variety that I have ever grown. And the Royal Family" Mix did well too, after a tough start becasue of rabbit damage. Until next year.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

First Tiny Titus Cannellini Beans

The "Titus" Cannellini bush beans down in the Big Garden began to bloom about a week ago. Soon the snow white blossoms began to drop and tiny, immature beans were revealed. It's hard to tell at this point what kind of harvest its going to be this year, as the plants have really just begun blooming. But the plants look healthy and are continuing to produce new, leafy growth so I am optimistic about the a nice long spell of bean production. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Golden Celebration Rose

Our "Golden Celebration" rose opened its first blooms this weekend. It was the last of the 5 new roses that we planted this Spring to bloom. Since we didn't expect any of the roses to bloom this first year, these displays, although small, have been a real bonus.

This award wining variety from David Austin, released in 1992,  has lovely golden-yellow blooms. They don't appear to be as cupped in shape with this first flush as they were described in the catalog. But that might change as the plant matures. They do have a very soft, floral scent. It will be fun to watch as this plant grows to reach its final 4.5' by 4.5' size.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rose Birthday Girl

The first bloom opened this past weekend on the "Birthday Girl" floribunda rose. This rose is one of the 5 new roses that we purchased this Spring for one of our new flowerbeds. "Birthday Girl" has semi-double flowers with cream centers and pink and yellow edges. It is a repeat bloomer throughout the Summer and Fall. It should be a knock-out bush after it matures in a few year and gets covered in these vivid blooms.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dahlia Planting - Day #9

"Ember"  MB Y

Another cooler night down in the garden. It feels strange to be planting and planting and not sweating! The sun finally came out around 4:00 PM today, so we had a pretty evening to enjoy. We began the night by giving everything a good watering. Then we launched into digging holes and planting dahlias. Another 16 in the ground for a total of 160/242 or 66.1% completed.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Dahlia Planting - Day #8

"Ruthie G"   WL LB PK/YL

A much different evening down in the garden with the high only hitting 73 today. It felt cool tonight while we were working. And a few times, when a breeze came through, it felt downright cold! What a difference 2 days makes! We started the night by taking down part of the rabbit fencing and off-loading another two yards of Nature's Best. Dad had picked it up earlier in the day while I was at work. Then we got back to planting. We were able to get another 16 dahlias planted tonight. It was 9:00 PM by the time we got the fencing put back in place and were headed home. I now have 144/242 dahlias in, or 59.5% completed.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Turnip Harvest

Yesterday I started to clean up the middle raised bed in the Kitchen Garden. Like all of my raised beds located there, this one has "gotten away" from me this Spring. Just a few weeks ago, both varieties of lettuce and the turnips planted in it were close to being mature. Now, just a few weeks later, they are past maturity and nearing bolting. I was most shocked at my "Tokyo Market" turnips. I swear the last time I looked at them they were still marble sized. Now most of them are 4" or more in diameter! I did manage to salvage about 8 of them that are still fairly small and tender. They weighted in at 13.1 oz. I washed them thoroughly and we will enjoy them diced in our salads. I will have to pull up the remaining monster turnips and toss them in the compost pile. Maybe the deer or rabbits will be brave enough to give them a try.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Sun Finally Returns

After a week of cold, rainy weather, the sun finally made an appearance today. Since it is way to wet to even think of working down in the Big Garden, I decided to concentrate on getting things off of my "to-do" list up at the house. I began by planting the 14 "Bright Lights" cosmos that I had dug up from the overflow kitchen garden a number of weeks ago. All of these plants are volunteers from last year's four plants. It will be fun to see how many of these have orange blooms and how many bloom yellow. Last year I only had on plant that had yellow blooms, so it seems that orange is a more dominate trait.

Here are all of the cosmos planted. I actually have 15 plants this year since another volunteer popped up and I didn't have the heart to pull it out.

Next I retrieved my "Pride of Wisconsin" muskmelon plants from the shop. They have spent most of the last week back under the grow lights, since the weather has been so miserable.

I laid out a section of black plastic and used earth staples to hold it in place. Then I cut out six small holes and set in my young muskmelon plants. I certainly hope the weather will change for good soon. These melon are going to need a lot of hot, sunny days if they have any hope of reaching maturity.

Here is an overview of the overflow Kitchen Garden area. At the far end are 4 "Ukrainian Purple" tomato plants. Then the middle section has my 6 "Pride of Wisconsin" muskmelon. Finally the 15 "Bright Lights"cosmos are planted closest to the patio. It all looks really good. I just wish this had been completed about two weeks ago.

I then turned my attention to planting the new perennials that we purchased last weekend at The Little Red Farm Nursery. I ended up setting in everything except for the two boxwood plants and the two digiplexis plants. I am really loving this yellow "Canary Feathers" corydalis. We have grown the blue version for a few years and really like it. This yellow is equally as stunning and I hope proves as hardy for us as the blue variety has.