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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Update July 17, 2018



The weather has been wicked hot lately- reminds me of California a lot. Upper nineties and super dry. Not as dry as Arizona, thank goodness, but dry.  Right now I'm just trying to keep carrot seedlings damp by going out there three times (at least) a day with a watering can. 

Tomorrow it's supposed to be a much more reasonable 82F, so I want to do a lot of transplanting, chiefly the collards and kale. To that end, I finished prepping the bed where they'll go, which consisted of erecting a shade over the bed and watering it deeply so that there is already some moisture in it.  This bed had the garlic in it, which didn't get watered for months, so it's pretty darn dry.

The kale is True Siberian from Adaptive Seeds. I grew it for the first time last year and I really like it. It cropped pretty well as kale, over-wintered just fine, and then in late winter/early spring it kept making great raab and we ate a lot of it, because it kept on coming. I almost think that's where this kale really shines. (It's next to the red watering can.)


Today I potted on my Brunswick cabbages for autumn. It will be a little while before I try planting them in the ground- I sure don't want them to bolt.  There were only a few four inch pots of them but I split them up and now I have twelve of them. These were a freebie seed pack from Baker Creek Heirloom and are supposed to be very cold hardy, which is what I want. I have not had the best luck, or even very good luck, with January King, so it was time to try something else. Free seed was a good incentive to try it.

I also have sixteen Beka Santoh (far left in the wood box) plants and I'm not at all sure where I'm going to put those- probably in the hoop house.  I can't seem to find any information on how cold hardy they are so I won't take a chance. Well, maybe one to see how it does. Then I also have a dozen red cabbages started- eight Red Acre and four Red Express (that's just how it worked out), and then finally four or so Earliana cabbages in the longer, middle tray.  To the right of the cabbage are two more flats- one is full of Lutz Winterkeeper beets and the other is a mixture of Blauerspeck (which translates literally as 'blue bacon') and Superschmelz (super melter) kohlrabis, both of which are supposed to get to huge sizes without getting woody. I love kohlrabi in a slaw, but I'll admit that it's not the easiest thing to grow. Not as hard as cauliflower, though.

Things are growing in other parts of the yard. The left box has a variety of different peppers in it; the box on the right has Violetta Lunga and Tonda di Bianca eggplant in it. I fear I've over planted the eggplant, but I'll slice, smoke, and can it for sandwiches and Baba Ganoush. In between both the peppers and the eggplant I have carrots for this winter planted, along with Stuttgarter onion sets.  I also have carrots started over by my tomatoes.  The carrots are Flakkee, Berlicum, and Jaune du Doubs.  They are all Franchi seed from Seeds From Italy because I find their seed to be really reliable and they are generous with it, which is more important with plants that will make one item from a seed, like a carrot, as opposed to a tomato.  The Berlicum is a pretty large carrot- I've grown it before, and the Flakkee is also supposed to be pretty big, so I am growing them side by side to see which one is bigger.  The Jaune du Doubs I'm growing because it's a yellow carrot and is pretty reliable. Not as big as the Berlicum, but it's good carrot, in my view.

This next one is all Amanda's fault.  She and I made a deal that she would throw me a bunch of bowls (she's a ceramicist on top of all her other accomplishments) and I would start her a bunch of vegetable plants. Except that she wanted beans for Leather Britches beans, hereinafter referred to as LBB.  Well, that got me started down the LBB rabbit hole.  I dug out my old Foxfire books, which got me on an Appalachian kick again. I don't know why I have such an affinity for Appalachia, but I do. Maybe it's because my mother's people were from Pittsburgh PA which is solidly in the northern end of the region. Or maybe I spent an earlier life there (which would have been a tougher life and probably a short one). I don't know, but I like the place. Anyway, much digging around later, I decided that if we were going to do LBB we would do the whole three sisters thing, and it would probably be a good idea to use the recommended Appalachian varieties while we were at it. In for a penny, in for a pound.  Amanda chose to grow a couple of popcorn varieties, because that's what she likes for corn, and she also chose a pumpkin for her squash.  What she got for LBB were NT Half Runner, Cherokee Greasy beans, and Kentucky Wonder.  The greasy beans are called that because the bean pods don't have all the velvety hairs on them that normal Phaseolus vulgaris have- they are shiny because of that so they look 'greasy'.  For the rest of my 'sisters', I chose Neal's Paymaster and Cherokee White corn, and my squash is Northern Georgia Candy Roaster. Not sure I'll get anything out of the whole shebang, because I was late getting it in, again because of the up and down vagaries of the weather and temperatures. Crazy variability seems to be the new normal for spring around here and I haven't figured out how to deal with it yet.  Winter gardening I have down now- try to have most everything started by the end of July and keep it all covered and cool as possible. That's how you winter garden. But spring is really confusing for me anymore. So yeah- three sisters.

The boysenberries are really covered this year.  This is the back side of the plants- there are a lot more berries on the other side.  Plant size and robustness-wise, they are doing a lot better than last year.  They seem to really like the fact that I dug up all their weeds, boxed them in, and then filled the box with hard wood chips from the back yard. 

The only thing is, they are doing the same thing they've done for a few years now and that is illustrated to the right here.  I can't seem to find the same issue elsewhere on the interwebs, so I fired off a question with picture to the good folks at the Oregon State University Agricultural Extension Service to ask them what it is. I'm hoping that it's a simple deficiency of some kind that is easily remedied, and not some funky, exotic fungus or virus that's going to require me to yank and destroy the plants. Because that would make me cry. The boysenberries are one crop on which we can count every year.  I haven't heard back from the Extension Service yet, but I'll report what I learn. Keeping my fingers crossed in the meantime.

Last but not least, I'm just waiting for my garlic to finish curing so that I can clean up the bulbs and get them braided, although I may just bag them. It's been a couple of years since I last grew garlic and I seem to remember that they do better if kept in the dark, which is easier to do in a bag stuffed under the hearth in the kitchen, rather than hanging up somewhere.  Plus, it would save me from having to braid them.  That's it- I talked myself into it- bag it is.

So that's what's been keeping me off the streets and out of the pool halls these days. (Although a nice, cool, pool hall and a cold beer sound pretty good right now...)


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