Archive for the ‘June 2009’ Category

Why I’d like to just play a tune of many lettuces next year

Earlier this spring, I was a carbon copy of Dr. Frankenstein as I helped Tanya Olsen plant the arugula and kale, the carrots and lettuce and hon tsai thai. I worked a bit diligently, hoping my creation would come alive (Note: this is my first year of gardening ever, although I’m quickly realizing that yes of course, my ancestors did it and, so, like the salmon that swim upstream to spawn, I do likewise cultivating life in the soil). Trusting that my chard seeds will germinate to the surface of the Earth, and waiting that extra couple of days before reseeding a fallow spot was just one of this year’s lessons.

Anyways, I discovered yesterday that nothing had changed. I was the same carbon copy DR. F — I was tearing down my creation (due to the boltingness of arugula) in the interest of life, different lives in the plant community. It was easy to salvage what leftover small leaves hung from the plants–I ate them as I ripped the plants out of the ground and stripped some leaves for pesto. I’ll let everyone know how well wilted arugula leaf pesto turns out soon enough.

There’s more bad news for another fruit bearing crop. Right now we think the tomatos are serving a terrible life sentence due to Verticillium Wilt (follow link for the cold, hard science). Come to the farm to put yourself in the tomato’s shoes (and stripes). Here’s a photo, although in the early stages of whatever we’re seeing (fungus, pest, …) the leaves are not brown, but curled. It’s interesting, when I visited the Fifth Street Estates last week we noticed the same sort of leaf curlage but there were bugs in those leaves. There was little to no evidence, however, that insects at the farm were the “evil doers.”

The website says, should you ever have the V-wilt, part of the solution to the soil fungus lies in the chosen seed variety..some seeds are evidently more resistant. I’m going to do some research about which tomato seeds and report back, and with photographs. Until then, keep them Early Girl tomatoes in your thoughts! Love Ya, the BBF


Kinda Sorta

So I’ve decided that next year, maybe I just won’t start seeds at all. The plants that I started from seed either haven’t made or are barely holding on by a thread. Maybe I started them too late this year? Maybe they needed another month? Maybe I wasn’t consistent enough with my watering? I think next year, I will start melons (canteloupe and watermelon) only, since they need a longer season, and just make do with seedlings. Or veggies that have enough time to grow when direct-seeded.

garden-june 001

happy peas

On the plus side, I used legume innoculant on my pea seeds this year, and holy cow! What a difference! The first batch has flowers and the second sowing (about 3 weeks later) is coming right along too. I also used it on my green bean seeds (1st time veggie for me) and they’re looking pretty happy, too.

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happy beans

And although the deer ate my raspberries down to nubs over the winter, they look pretty fat and happy too. AND I discovered the first smiling red, almost-ripe strawberries this morning! When I told the boys, they were speechless with delight and anticipation. They’ve been out there poking around the bird netting this week, itching to get their hands on some berries.

garden-june 004


OK…I’m feeling a little less like a garden moron, and a little more like it might be worth it. 🙂

Garden From The North Country

Today I feel inspired to write… Inspired by the rain, really. While the view of the many-ridged Mission Mountain Range tempts my gaze, most of the seconds I spend North of Misoula in Moiese, Montana, are dedicated to the top 3 inches (0r less) of sandy loam at my giant feet.


Whoever tells you an organic farm or garden is the most pure, tranquil, utopian existence is wrong. It is and it isn’t. I’ve killed to protect plants under cultivation…

“See pests, pick them off or hose them off. That’s about it, but it works. Healthy plants don’t have too many insect problems, to tell the truth. Bugs and diseases move in on a plant when it is already going down, the same way you’ll catch a cold when you’re stressed” — from The Urban Homestead.

…mainly potato beetles, although we’re also attempting to rid the bok choi of its aphidsoi with an organicide. In these patches of murder by liquid and “the two rock crunch”, I’ve also found a kill-deer nest of 3 dotted egges. ‘Life and death’, I say, as I weed patches of their mallow, their pigweed, their chickweed, and toss the “weeds” into the compost and the pigweed into my evening salad. The killed in the garden contribute to the life of everything else in quick albeit meandering ways.


In any case…the chard, kale, hon tsai tai, three lettuces, radishes, tomatoes, eggplant, fava beans, and peas seem to be growing well. My cohorts and I forgot to put the starter solution on the favas before we planted them 2 inches down…and yet they came up. The watermelon and pumpkin are in the ground as of Sunday (perhaps not recommended for the colder Missoula climate just yet), and the bok choi, kale, cucumber, and potato plants are the only ruffians that seem to be strugglin’.


Feeling very disconnected from the outside world. Comforted by the fact that at a time when the commentators can’t be separated from the chicken littles, it’s nice to be able to put up a tippee and create a life where you can be made to feel like you’re in control (even though can’t shake the fact that you never really are in the garden).

Fifth Street Estates 6/14/09

This week pumpkins made their appearance and sweet peas have reached the first string for clinging. Lima beans are looking kind of mixed, as are pickling cukes. I have high hopes for my cukes because there are few treats better than a great pickle, and I have had the best. Lettuce is not coming along as fast as I would like, nor have my flowers. On the other hand, I have been munching two kinds of radishes–apparently any idiot can grow them. Evidence of carrots is scarce and I am concerned about that. Finally, I have gotten my design for a greenhouse settled. It is a modification of one I found on line that was four times bigger than I need. This one will be small, but will meet my needs.

The wonder of seed germination

I planted my seeds about two weekends ago. I water the garden 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night. I water once a day when it’s cooler out. I can’t believe what has come up already. Peas, snap peas, 4 varieties of lettuce, spinach, kale, swiss chard, carrots, beets, onions, cilantro, dill, chives, basil, squash, cucumbers. The only two things I am waiting on are cabbage and broccoli, but I did read it takes about 3 weeks for them to sprout, so I am crossing my fingers.

The pepper plants and tomato plants that I bought from Clark Fork Organics are thriving as well. I can’t wait until everything grows into a wonderous compilation of texture, color and smells.

After reading some of the other blog posts on this site I wanted to give a little advice on some plants I grew last year that may be helpful, especially to new gardeners, which I was last year.

  • basil – when your basil gets flowers on it, break the flowers off the plant, this will encourage new growth and you basil plant will start to bush out. If you do not pick the flowers off, your basil plant will be done growing and you will not get much yield from it.
  • lettuce – if you are like me its hard to know how much spacing occurred during the planting of the seeds. When your lettuce gets to about 2-3 inches high and has a small bunch of lettuce leaves you can transplant the lettuce elsewhere to help space out the lettuce, thus getting a better yield.
  • beets & carrots – once these reach a height of a few inches you will want to thin them out so that they have spacing between them and can grow big a plump. They also taste best if left in the soil until after the first frost.

Hope that helps some of you. If anyone else has anything like this to share I would be very appreciative.


Fifth Street Estates June 7, 09

Lima beans, peas and pickling cukes are up and going like gang busters. I strung some twine for the peas to climb on. Beets and radishes are going well, although I am disappointed at not seeing any carrots (which I co-planted at the same time)yet. I am still sorting out the lettuce catastrophe that occurred from the runaway sprinkler. There seems to be a lot of “free range” lettuce in the area that got wiped out so that will yield something. Other stuff is growing but I will confess I don’t know if it’s weeds or crops. Some weeds I know but others I am not sure about. As stuff gets bigger, I will be able to sort it all out.
I planted some pumkins this week, too.

I can’t brag about my green thumb yet, but since there is something growing, I am not a herbicide.

Get yer June on…

“The garden is an unhappy place for the perfectionist. Too much stands beyond our control here, and the only thing we can absolutely count on is eventual catastrophe. Success in the garden is the moment in time, that week in June when the perennials unanimously bloom and the border jells…it’s easy to get discouraged, unless, like the green thumb, you are happier to garden in time than in space; unless, that is, your heart is in the verb.”

–Michael Pollan, Second Nature

Howdy gardeners–

According to the Missoula County Extension Service’s G-calendar, a very helpful guide ( calender.pdf), May is a month for sowing carrot and cucumber seeds, onions, lettuce (plant every 10 days?), broccoli, potatoes, beans. But now soil temp is surpassing 60 degrees!, which is nice because we can begin to plant the type of veggies minds are attuned to hearing (namely tomatoes y corns).

The average last frost date for Missoula is May 23 so if yer an antsy, wormy or nematody Missoula gardener like I am, you will plant yer corn soon. Soon enough so that, depending on the variety, you’ll give them enough of a growing season to expel kernels while still avoiding the frost potential that atypical Montana seasons flex. My mother’s first attempt in 2009 to plant corn on Woodford Street was very unsuccessful. She put another batch of seeds in the ground this weekend. We lie in wait. The garden calendar also says “you can plant early tomatoes and cucumber transplants if you use a row cover fabric or wall-of-waters.”  Peas, Max