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Friday, June 18, 2010

Catching Up In The Garden

While today was not exactly sunny, it didn't rain either, so I was out all day in it.  I first installed wire on the new section of fence to hold up the volunteer blackberries that grow all over Oregon.  They'll get sun all day, except for late afternoon.  I will have to stay on top of them because they really are quite the invasive weed.  They are invading under the fence from the neighbor's yard, who isn't quite as aggressive as Steve is about killing them off.  They are just a weed with a nice little pay off, and as long as I keep them corralled, things will be okay.  And as long as they produce blackberries, they can stay.  But I'm not going to water them. (Although I might fertilize them for more flower, i.e., fruit production.) But no water.

I planted storage onion seedlings, which appear to have gotten a little leggy in the garage.  Really, I need to replace the one fluorescent bulb in the light fixture with another grow light.  The seedlings really didn't look so hot when I transplanted them, so only time will tell if they are going to make it.  I also transplanted a few pickling cucumbers (Parade, from the Seed Savers Exchange).  They were not happy with me.  Cucumbers really dislike being moved, but I felt like taking a chance.  Parade are supposed to be especially good for processing because they all ripen at the same time, but my silly plants didn't all grow at the same rate, so I may as well have planted any pickling cuke and had the same results.  It won't matter that much, though, because this year we have a small air conditioner so I can keep them cool enough to ferment properly. Making up small batches will hopefully be a good thing, and not a pain.

I wanted to plant some more pickling cucumber plants that I started, but I didn't get that far today.  Didn't get to sowing the warmer weather greens as well.  But I did get a picture of this:

Baby Eight Ball Zucchini

This is what comes of babying your squash plants when the weather threatens unseasonable hail, and also why I was extremely grateful that yesterday's hail in the Tualatin Valley didn't make it this far east. It would have destroyed my plants and broken my heart.  As it is, I'm hoping to be able to give my friends who are coming in from out of state next Wednesday some zucchini from the garden for dinner.  When my friend Karen and her boyfriend were here a couple of weeks ago, I was able to serve them a sorrel soup from the garden, pasta with greens from the garden, and a salad from the garden.  It wasn't fancy, but it was fresh and it was local, and fortunately, they were appreciative.  The zucchini are the first real summer vegetables; it will be weeks and weeks until I have tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers ready.

But these little successes make me want to try harder to get more ground under cultivation.  I have cabbage that are going to be ready in a few weeks, but I need to think about where to put more of them for this fall and winter; growing cabbage in a three-foot wide box doesn't really work.  They sure take up a lot of room!  I'm also trying to figure out where to put wheat. I'd like to try growing some, but also not in a box, obviously.  I'd like to be stuck with the problem of having to thresh, winnow, and grind homegrown wheat, because then the pasta and pizza I make would all come from the garden, with the exception of the cheese.  Since I'll never keep a goat, I'm okay with that.  And where to put a bed of strawberries?  And I'm really sorry I canceled my order of seed potatoes because it turns out potatoes don't seem to affect Steve adversely the way that wheat flour does.  I can give him potatoes with his eggs in the morning and it doesn't make him crash the way toast or biscuits would.  From what I've read, potatoes provide the most calories per acre, making them a good way to produce a lot of food.  I'll do them next year, and I'll stick to the original plan, which was to grow them in grow bags.  I just can't put them in my clay soil.

Speaking of clay, I think that one of my Italian plums is dying, and I suspect that it's all the rain that we've had.  I'm going to take a picture (if I can get a decent one) and send it to the agricultural extension to see what's killing it.  All the leaves are withering, but I can't see any insects or cankers or anything that would cause it.  I looked in my IPM (Integrated Pest Management) book and wasn't able to identify the problem with the book.  The other tree is just fine, though.

Well, successes and failures aside, this is only the beginning of my first real growing season, so I should neither beat myself up over what didn't get planted or fret about what I still have to grow.  It's all a learning process, and I have to remember that what I don't eat has to get put up somehow- canned, frozen, or dehydrated.  I'm not up to the challenge of making a meal a day from the garden yet- somehow, I still think that's a ways off before I have that much food coming from it. But first, I've got to start weighing and recording how much food I pull from it this first summer.

I'll let you know when I start getting sick of the zucchini.

6 comments:

jill said...

Another tip with potatoes - the small new potatoes haven't had the time to develop as much starch as the larger varieties, so they have a lower glycemic load than the larger varieties.

Paula said...

Good to know! New potatoes are truly awesome, besides. MMMmmmmm...

Miriam said...

I wish we had agricultural extension offices up here in Canada - I can't tell you the number of times I have read in a book "Just consult your local extension office." Durn!

On a completely different matter, for some reason blogspot isn't letting me post a reply to your question about which strawberries we planted. We didn't actually plant them - they came with the property - two whole beds totaling about 100 square feet. The plants are in at least their third summer of production and seem to be going strong - we whack them back in the fall and mulch with straw then and once they start to flower, and they seem to be surviving into strawberry old age!

D.C.E. said...

We were not as lucky as you. The hail hit here in Aumsville. Really tore up the squash and zuke that are already being set back by the poor weather.

Jennifer Montero said...

Nice to read about what's going on in your garden. It sounds like you've made the most of your space. I keep forgetting to plant sorrel...

Toni aka irishlas said...

You've come a long way in such a short time and it's amazing the amount of food you are growing! It seems you are great with the planning end of things, too - an area I sorely lack in...