Archive for July, 2009

Seed Saving–first item of business, the peas.

peas in buckIf your once green peas are looking bloated and showing signs of late season garden rust, they probably look like mine. Peas are definitely early risers and early sleepers. Is anyone else’s peas in the mood for castration yet?

peas in a buckHarvesting a bucket of woody, decaying pea pods made me question whether stir-frying the last crop was worth it…should I just collect the remaining pods and revive the innards next year?

Once I passed through the three stages of pea-related grief, I asked a fellow farmer about techniques for saving pea seeds for 2010 and did a search on google. Each query brought me one step forward and two steps back, because the appropriate pea seed saving method is to wait until the pods have become organisms akin to old men of the Florida coast. It’s best to wait for the pods to reach full maturity on the plant. Unfortunately I didn’t research this before the bucket harvest.

This site provides some information on the process including this–“Allow pods to dry brown before harvesting, about four weeks after eating stage. If frost threatens, pull entire plant, root first, and hang in cool, dry location until pods are brown.”

Lucky for Missoulians who have already picked the remaining pod-ies, there’s this advice from the Daughter of the Soil (a credible moniker, no?)–“If the peas are no longer receiving moisture from the plant then there’s no particular reason to leave them on the plant, as far as I can see.” My plan is to wait until the little peas are rattling around in their graves–then I’ll assume they’re ready for their next life in the garden!


the fruits of my labor

I am so excited to see the harvest coming in this week.  It really is a snowball effect.  It starts with one little turnip, a couple of cucumbers and then suddenly it is madly out of control.

This week I pulled up all of my turnips and prepped them for a potato turnip gratin I will bake for a dinner party Tuesday night.  I also harvested 15 good-sized pickling cucs, my first yellow squash and of course a bowl full of salad greens.  My broccoli is getting really close and the blooms on the cantelope, zucchini and yellow squash tell me that they are not far behind.  A few tomatoes are starting to turn from green to various shades of yellow and red.  And I am already designing next year’s garden in my head, doubling my beds and planning the placement better for rotation.

Here are a few pictures of the garden this week:

Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash







Squash Blossom

Yellow Squash Blossom

Sweet Peppers

Sweet Peppers

You can see a few more shots in my Flickr photostream...

Watering Follow-up

I was asked to provide more details of my soaker-system setup, and better pics. The pics will be added to this post this weekend, but in case anyone was really waiting for this info, here it is:

I got my inspiration at the Mr. Drip website. Laugh if you will, but there are some good graphics of different systems. I based mine on the Split-T system (scroll down on the page link above and you’ll see the pic labeled ‘For Rows and Gardens.’ Then I just went to Home Depot and cobbled together whatever I could find.

gardenMap Here’s an illustration of my gardens and soaker system. This is not to scale, and under no circumstances did I do this at work. You’ll see for the big bed, I assembled one long pipeline of shorter threaded pieces interspersed with threaded Ts, which I fitted with a connector that I then shoved the hose onto. It wasn’t easy, and my wrists were sore for days. For the most part, all of them are working fine. I had one piece of hose that split every day…not sure if the connector was too big or what. I finally gave up on continually trimming past the split, and just wrapped the end of the soaker in duct tape and shoved it right into the connector. I’m nothing if not…well…lazy.

For the smaller beds, I just wound soakers around them, and connected them to either a hose, or a T-connection fashioned from the same pipe-and-connector assembly.

timerI bought a basic timer for about $40 at Lowes, and ran a 4-valve manifold off of that. I have 3 garden hoses connected, and an extra valve to fill up buckets or rinse stuff off. My spigot post looks a bit like some kind of octopus, but we are going to relocate it to the back of the garden this fall, so it should be a bit tidier.

I will take more detailed photos of the individual pieces this weekend, and track down the brands of the stuff I used.

If y’all have suggestions for brands/equipment you’ve used, I would love to hear them!

Finally have my raised garden planted!

Hello! Due to not having internet at my apartment all week I am just finally getting around to blogging about the awesome raised garden that I won! So I went out and got some soil and had to displace all the daddy long leg spiders who had taken residence in the container. I planted a zucchini squash in the top tier of the container so that it can have room to grow out of the container. On the bottom (from left to right) I planted a white eggplant, a yellow pepper, carrots in front, and a tomato plant. I am very excited to see my plants grroooww!! The whole garden is located out in a sunny area behind my apartment. It should get enough light there and won’t be drowned by the automatic sprinklers either. I don’t know how well the tomato will do since it was in a large pot with four other plants and now it has to get used to a new situation, but I will keep you all updated!! Thanks again MasterGardens and 1,000 New gardens! I will get back when there is more to tell!

The Livin’ is Easy

hoses--bigbedI had a vision of gardening this year, and it didn’t involve dragging the hose around, or cursing at the oscillating sprinkler that would stick on one side or the other if the water pressure changed. I spent most of January researching drip setups, but only got my setup completed a couple of weeks ago before we headed out of town. I have to say that I was shocked it worked. It’s composed of soaker hoses, threaded pipe that I think is supposed to be used for ‘real’ sprinkler systems, and some threaded PVC connectors. I also got a timer. I have a bunch of soakers coming off a main line in the big bed, a looped 50′ soaker in my raspberry/squash patch, and a split 75-footer covering two 7×7 beds. It goes off every day at 8 am, after our lawn sprinklers have run, and we’re all done with our morning showers. I have to say I’m feeling bit smug about my garden this year, and that surely means something horrible is about to happen. Just don’t tell the deer what they’re missing.

Anyone else got any soaker hose or timer success stories to share?hoses--rasp



Note: I got hoses from both Home Depot and Lowe’s, and the ones from Lowes are better. Anyone know where you can buy bulk soaker hose, other than online?

Cooking Workshop with Pearl Cash of the Pearl Cafe!

So you’ve seen the cucumber plants extending and the spinach starts are making a lot of noise in the green forest at the far end of the garden…you’ve proven yourself in the fields…now it may be time to get together with other high-spirited harvesters and get some more ideas about how to turn yer bounty into something new and tasty.

The Missoula Demonstration Project is putting on a great event next Saturday, July 18th at 11 PM. Here’s how it’s advertised–Learn how to choose the best seasonal ingredients and cook intuitively with Pearl Cash, owner/chef of the Pearl Café on East Front Street. It’s at The Senior’s Center at 705 S Higgins Avenue. Register ahead to guarantee your space by calling the MUD office 721-7513. $10 members/ $20 non-members.

I seriously hope to see you there!

Let’s swap stories (from the field and the kitchen)

Gardening for vegetables really seems like a spectrum of intemacy. And the farther along in the season, the less careful I am with the produce.

Thinking back to the beginning of the season when those first suckers (or seedlings if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) are ready to transplant, every motion is filled with too much movement. ‘No, arm–don’t figit’ and ‘shit’ were phrases that filled my thoughts and the sound waves.

After the shallets and lettuces and, now, basil survived transplants and seedings these things seem indestructible. The precense of funky bugs and maybe even a fungal disease in the tomatoes haven’t taken it out of them. Nor has MT.

The only non-resilient plant thus far has been the eggplant which is unfortunate because that’s my all-time fave vegetable. It’s been torn to shreds by the potato (read:eggplant) beetle.

Yesterday we ate a spinach salad with potatoes alongside an excellent taco filled with the following:







-1/4 tsp salt

I highly recommend it–because most everything can be harvested from yer Missoula patch, and that is honestly part of what makes it SO good. Love, BBF