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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer of Disappointments

I know, I know; I haven't posted for a long time.  I don't usually post unless I have something to report; I just haven't had anything of interest to relate lately.

Truth is, I am struggling with my garden this year. Somewhere between being really busy at work and the unreliable weather we're having, I didn't get the warm weather crops in until late; I'm only just getting green beans and zucchini, but the tomatoes aren't ripening, and the peppers are still no where; ditto eggplant. It'll be a miracle if I get any fruit off of them. I'm finally getting the Abenaki Red Calais flint corn to make ears, which is great- I just hope they're ready in time before the rainy season starts. And it's not all bad- we did get a bumper crop of boysenberries this year.

The biggest disappointment of all has to be the Big Bed.   I can't tell why some of the stuff planted at the same time is growing and some of it isn't.  I've had it stuffed full of seed and its progress has been just incredibly slow.  For weeks and weeks the parsnip seed has been in and I can't tell if it's actually growing or not.  It's supposed to take a long time to germinate, and it seemed to do that in the appropriate amount of time, but the first true leaves appeared weeks ago and then they stayed like that. For weeks!

parsnip seed, all planted the same day
It's truly odd; depending on what I planted, all the seed in a given area was planted at the same time, and some of it's growing and some of it's not; I don't know what the problem is, but I have a suspicion that it has something to do with the COF (Complete Organic Fertilizer, Steve Solomon, Gardening When It Counts) with which I dressed the soil.  Problem is, I can't tell if it was too much or not enough.

Parsnips planted earlier, but some are
just not making any progress!
the kale is doing it too

It just points to the importance of properly building up your soil with things like compost and properly rotted manure, or in the case of rabbits, "hot" manure. In any case, I will have failed again this year to produce a major portion of our food from the yard, and if it all fell apart tomorrow, we'd starve.

I really need to get the hen yard made so that I can get chickens and rabbits.   Even if the rabbits wound up being pets, they'd still be good to have around.


Miriam said...

Oh, that's frustrating. I think every year you win some and lose some, but this sounds like a discouraging one for you. In my books, anyone who even attempts to keep a big garden going while working full time deserves a medal - or at least some juicy, ripe tomatoes!

I use COF for the first time this year, too, and I'm not sure what I think. If it had been Kim, she would have organized a scientific trial and could draw some conclusions, but there are so many variables that go into things growing I don't know what to attribute to what.

Yes, tough weather everywhere it seems. Welcome to the new normal, I guess...

Rachelle said...

I know the feeling! I got things going a tad late this year because of my son's graduation. Looking at your plant pics and the uneven growing, I'd almost say it was not enough light or heat, but I don't think that has been the case for you this year. Then I noticed the lower leaves were a yellow on most of the plants. If they had bee red or purple tinged I would say lack of nitrogen, but the yellow and lack of growth, I'm thinking you need phosphorus, however you choose to add it.

Rachel said...

Not much to say, just a pat on the back from one green tomato growing Oregonian yard farmer to another. I have read your mole post several times because we've had similar issues this year and if I don't laugh about it, I might cry
(so thank you). I'll leave you with a link to the January issue of our County Extension Service newsletter-- there's a little article about parsnip despair and redemption. Don't give up hope!

Oh-- If you ever want to give your compost heap a boost, you can come on out to Vernonia anytime and clean out our chicken coops for us.

Anonymous said...

Paula, my mom & I have always put rabbit pellets directly on the garden. With chicken poo we usually waited about 6 months - as it is hot. If you know anyone with Llama's or Alpaca's their manure can be used directly on the garden also - this is my favorite. Elizabeth

simply living said...

We have raised rabbits for meat, they are incredibly good. I used to dig a hole a foot deep and drop in a shovel full of rabbit manure and cover with 3" of dirt and plant my squash seeds. Crops would be crazy good.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Paula, sorry to hear you're struggling in the garden. And I know from bitter experience that it's not just frustrating, it's mysterious. Some things grow, some things don't. I planted two kinds of pole beans. One kind got lots of beans, the other kind got zero. Nada. Zip. Lots of leaves, no beans. Why? Who knows.

Be patient with the parsnips -- they take forever and tend to pop when it gets cold (this I know from the few runty specimens I produced earlier this year). And I think getting rabbits is a fine idea. We think about it every year ... maybe next year.

Perhaps fall will be your season. Everything will start to grow and fruit. But you won't know why. You never know why.

jules said...

Hey Paula!

We got a batch of mixed rabbits this Spring. We put all but the momma and two babies in the freezer. We got a new unrelated buck and everyone is set to mature in the next month or so. We'll be starting our breeding then, and by Christmas we should have rabbits in the freezer. We have two does and one buck, for now. When we get some more babies, we can breed the buck we kept from the original litter (he's a gray/brown lop, too cute for words). We just cleaned out beneath the cages and DH is mixing it with compost and sand and trying to renew our front yard. The rest will go on the gardens.

Try rabbits. They don't need as much space as chickens and boy howdy, the meat is tasty and delicate.