Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ladies' Day at PAR Davies

Hi Everyone,
TODAY'S HARVEST 35 lbs.      YTD 176  lbs.

Just we three ladies in the garden today....Cathy, Mary Elizabeth and myself. We had to change our workday because of the rain forecast, so there were few workers...but much was accomplished.

Kale harvest sitting in the cabbage patch.

A good amount of time was spent on the harvest. We picked a few remaining strawberries and the rest of the radishes, onions, peas, cabbage, kale, mustard, lettuce and herbs. Cathy pulled out the pea plants in the in-ground bed and put them in the compost.

Strawberries tumbling over the sides of the bed.

Mary Elizabeth cut off all of the leaves of the tomatoes that were touching the ground. She said that we had many more tomato plants than she realized. A few of the Romas had some leaves worrisome for blight, which were removed and bagged. These plants were then sprayed with Neem, and we hope that it is a benign issue that will not progress. We noticed some aphids on the tomatoes too. Saturday these will be sprayed if that is still a problem.

Tomatoes and carrots.

Mary Elizabeth brought some blackberry starts, which we added to the blackberry bed. The rest were put on the front fence where some of our raspberries died of an unknown cause. Now we think there are three blackberry varieties, of which we hope at least one will be really good. The blueberries are really taking off though and look good and healthy.

Lutz beets and Nevada lettuce.

Next week the beets should be ready to start pulling. The Detroit beets in the in-ground bed did exceptional, however, the Lutz beets in the raised bed did not germinate very well as you can see by the blank areas in the photo above. The Lutz beets are not ready to harvest yet, but they are supposed to get large and still remain tender and not woody.

Florence (bulbing) fennel.

This is our first time growing fennel. We have the bulbing type and one plant of the Bronze (leafy) fennel, both seedlings started by Al Hayes. The bulbs are forming nicely and doing much better than I'd expected. I will be on the lookout for some good recipes using fennel to send along with the harvest.

Chinese celery and Nasturtium.

Another new thing this year is Chinese celery. Since it is near impossible to grow celery in this area, I was trying to find a substitute....so we planted Chinese celery and Lovage. So far the Chinese celery is the winner. The stems are hollow, but actually look like smallish celery stalks with very similar but stronger flavor. Great for use in soups or wherever a celery flavor is needed. The stalk can even serve as a straw!

Loaded up and ready to go...herbs, Chinese celery and lettuce.

Cathy added epsom salts to the peppers and tomato plants. Saturday these can be mulched. Cathy also delivered everything to the women's shelter.

Because there were only three of us, we weren't able to get as much planted as I had anticipated. On Saturday planting will be our main focus.

Pretty potato flowers.

Because of the voles, our potatoes are about half the crop we'd hoped for. What is remaining looks great though. We will need to plant something in the vacant spots in this bed. 

Now we can sit back and hope for a nice rain these next few days. The rain always gives us a growth spurt, so I can't wait to see what it looks like Saturday.

'Til later,

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Special visitor day at Davies PAR

Hi Everyone,
HARVEST TODAY 10 lbs.        YTD 141 lbs.

Today was a good day to work in the garden with Susan, G.A., Jamie, Karen, Martha, Cathy, John, Mary Elizabeth, Janet and myself. Harvest was smallish but varied...radishes, leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, herbs, strawberries and mustard. We had three large boxes of the beautiful lettuce. Cathy delivered the produce to the women's shelter. As you can see in the pic below, the lettuce is overflowing the block holes. I think we found the best place to plant leaf lettuce, as it seems to thrive there.

Several varieties of leaf lettuce alongside the potatoes.

We got another nice harvest of strawberries with almost 3 lbs. I am really encouraged by this since last year we had very few berries that weren't eaten by something. The Lacinato kale is still putting out even as it heats up. I've read that this is one of the more heat tolerant of the kales. We will certainly plant more of this in the fall. 

We sprayed some small beetle looking bugs on the potatoes, but then wondered if they were small lady bugs after seeing adult lady bugs later. I hope we didn't kill the good bugs!! John checked the kale and cabbage for worms but didn't see any. Mary Elizabeth had time to spray a portion of the cabbage after she noticed the dreaded white butterflies making rounds. We will finish this up Saturday.

 Red cabbage with white butterfly.

The tomatoes had grown quite a bit. The voles are consuming fewer each week as the roots get tougher and less appealing. One of the trellised cherry tomatoes was replaced with a yellow pear-shaped cherry. The peas planted in the in-ground beds are not doing as well as last year, but the ones in the raised bed are doing nicely. A few cabbage could have been harvested today, but we decided to give them one more week to get a little larger. From then on we ought to be able to harvest cabbage for the next several weeks.

'Alaska' peas harvested from the trellised raised bed.

A row of Jade greens were planted and sweet potatoes were put in the spinach bed. Jamie and G.A. put up the fences down the middle of the two onion beds, but we didn't have time to plant anything. One bed will be Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe and the other Bubba's Black Beans...these will be planted Saturday.

We obtained a colorful sign to display which tells visitors exactly what we do. We got this from the Plant a Row for the Hungry organization, and we are now 'official.'

Sign is at the front gate.

We had a group of Master Gardeners from Fayette County visit us at noon today. Janet and I gave them a tour of our garden explaining what we are doing this season but also what we've done in the past--successes and failures, organic pest control and fertilizers, crops that we have grown and things that we have learned. They were very interested and spent an hour in the garden. Before they left, the group toured the Manor House.

Fayette County Master Gardeners.

We were so happy to have the opportunity to meet and share with the Fayette County folks and that we were able to learn from each other. Every garden is different, and we are always eager to learn new things. Every gardener I've ever met loves to share....their produce and gardening tips.

'Til later,

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Brewing Comfrey tea and many other late spring garden chores.

 Hi Everyone,

TODAY'S HARVEST 6 lbs.       YTD 101 lbs.

The garden looked good after the rain. Not as much vole damage visible today. Gardeners present were G.A., Karen, Bob and myself.

G.A. fertilized the garlic bed with fish emulsion, and Wednesday we will fertilize the onions using same. I think we have about a month to go on the garlic yet.

The garlic bed is looking good. 

Bob worked on the irrigation system and will finish that up when Jamie gets back. G.A. planted a new type of bush bean in one of our containers. It is supposed to be especially for containers and small spaces. We got these from Anne Krekelberg last year for evaluation (for Harris Seed) and finally got them planted!

G.A. planting container beans and Bob working on irrigation system.

Karen planted garlic chives and dwarf zinnias in the block holes. The zinnias under the muscadine are emerging, and the muscadine is shooting out lots of growth. I hope we can get it climbing on its wire soon.

Karen planting in the block holes with covered squash on the left.

G.A. cut down the entire comfrey plant about 5 inches from the ground, and this was put in a 5-gallon bucket, covered with water and closed up to steep. In about 2-3 weeks we should have comfrey tea. This will be diluted and used to fertilize our tomatoes, peppers and squash. Last year it was our primary fertilizer for these three crops. G.A. suggested that we divide our comfrey plant and have two in the bed, which I think is an excellent idea. I'll check and see what time of year is best for this. It may be that we will need to wait until next spring for best results.

Comfrey ready to steep.

We were able to harvest strawberries, lettuce, radishes and cilantro. These were taken to the women's halfway house. I was amazed that the voles left us a whopping pound and a half of strawberries! We should be able to pull out all the rest of the radishes in the two onion beds on Wednesday. Many are bolting.

Beautiful strawberries...enough to make strawberry shortcake!

G.A. planted the yellow Italian pole beans around the red trellises. I can't wait to see what these look like. I checked the cabbage and kale, and so far no return of cabbage worms. The green cabbage is really heading up nicely, and the red cabbage is just starting to get little heads.

Pretty 45-day cabbage, which I believe has been at it more than 45 days!

The tomatoes are really looking good despite the critters eating them. We replaced two tomato plants today with several more needing replacement, and I will get these for planting on Wednesday. G.A. planted two 'Celebrity' today. There will be an abundant array of varieties to taste test.

Tomato beds with companion carrots on the right.

The covered squash is looking good with blossoms emerging. Wednesday we can check to see if there are any female blooms, at which point we will hand pollinate the butternut and yellow squash. The zucchini are supposed to be self fertile, so we can wait a while and see if this is true. 

Clockwise starting at top left ground cherry, Cavilli zucchini under cover, and BJ's lettuce.

That is all the garden news that I can think of for today. I am looking forward to seeing what has developed when we get to the garden on Wednesday.

'Til then,