Update on garden!

So this is my second blog about my above ground garden. All is doing very well! I have gotten to enjoy an Italian white eggplant already, and my yellow bell pepper is coming right along! I was concerned about all the rain that we got a couple weeks ago because my garden is below the roof of a shed and water was literally pooling inside of it, but it drained it out and is thriving! My tomato plant is getting very big, and my zucchini has a beautiful orange flower. I ought to take some pictures.. I’ll work on that! So far I am very content with my garden, and love every single day of seeing it grow. Cheers to gardening!


Speaking of Downsizing…

strawberries0808I know it’s totally the wrong time of year to move strawberries, but nevertheless, here I am. I am moving some of my garden beds around and have dug up a bunch of June-bearing plants (variety is ‘Honeyloe’). They need to get in the ground ASAP. Please shoot me an email if you can take them off my hands quickly.

UPDATE: My dug-up plants found a home with a friend and some of her friends, but if you’re desperate for strawberries, let me know. I have 2 more people lined up to take some, but I have a feeling I’ll still have some extras.

Looking Ahead

mintI know that there is still probably enough time to get a quick lettuce or spinach crop in, but it feels like the end of the season to me. Most likely, it’s because I am trying to fit in the monumental task of shuffling my garden beds to accomodate a new, smaller version of my garden for next year. I want to get the move done now, so in the spring, I can stroll blithely out to my garden and just plant away.

In light of that, I have been compiling a mental list of things I learned this year, and before they evaporate from my brain, I thought I’d get them down here:

Next year, I will:

  • put only one tomato in a tomato cage (ok…maybe two, but definitely NOT three)
  • plant only cherry tomatoes
  • grow ‘blue lake’ green beans again
  • remember to use legume innoculant on peas and green beans
  • thin early and brutally
  • put out wasp traps in May, and replenish them all summer
  • remember that squash, zuchini and pumpkin plants get huge
  • cut back the pumpkin plants when they even hint at exceeding their bounds (that is, if I grow them again)
  • try birdhouse gourds again

Next year, I won’t:

  • start anything from seed
  • plant corn
  • plant more than 3 zuchini or squash seeds
  • let the volunteer sunflowers grow in the middle of my (soon-to-be) strawberry bed
  • forget to harvest my herbs

Side note: just how late can you start lettuce, carrots and spinach seeds?

Of Pests and Parasites

I may just have to stop reading my gardening literature. Twice in the last few weeks, I have read about a garden problem and then stumbled across it in my own plot just days later.

It started with the fall issue of Zone 4 magazine, where I read an article about raspberries. The berry expert profiled in the article mentioned that yellowjackets can be quite troublesome in raspberry patches, burrowing into the fruit and sucking it dry. “Note to self,” I thought, since my raspberries are coming along nicely and should produce well next year. I filed the tidbit away for future use. Not two days later, I wandered out to my strawberry patch, to find it literally buzzing with yellowjackets, sucking the life out of my STRAWBERRIES!! Ugh. I bought a trap, which has since accumulated quite a collection of corpses. But not before they laid waste to just about every beautiful berry on the plants. Damn, damn, damn!

dodder1A few days later, I was perusing my “Weeds of the West” reference book, trying to figure out if what was growing in one of my perennial beds was yarrow (it was common tansy). While flipping through the book, I came across a yucky-looking weed called Dodder. It looks like thin yakisoba noodles, draped all over the host plant. “Ick,” I thought, and quickly turned the page. This weekend, while weeding my garden with the help of my sister and her husband, we discovered the nasty stuff draped all over my corn! I was so mad….like irrationally mad. This weed is a parasitic annual, which explains why my corn had been looking a little iffy. We pulled it out and stuffed it in a garbage can, but I haven’t had the chance to go back out to inspect the damage. Here’s the thing though…further research this evening shows that corn is supposed to be resistant to dodder. Something’s not adding up. Anyone have any ideas? My next step is to go pull out all my corn, just as it’s setting ears….

Seed Saving Workshop: August 22, 2009

fava beanIt’s about time to leave pea pods on their vines (so the seeds fully mature) and a few biennial carrots in the ground (until next year for them to flower). The Basics of Seed Saving Workshop is also just around the corner at the Missoula Urban Demonstration site. The cost is $10 for members and $20 for non-members–well worth picking up the skills you’ll need Peak Oil or when your peaking interest in hybrid seeds plunges. The workshop is scheduled for August 22 and lasts from 1-3 PM. Think of it this way–once you’ve harvested a sweet crop of seeds, you’ll be able to trade with other Missoulians at the Seed Saver Swap in late October (Date & Time TBA).


Another workshop that we highly recommend is the canning how-to on September 11.


Here’s how MUD describes the workshop: Rumor has it that last April Burpee’s sold out of all its seeds and had to put thousands of orders on backorder. Don’t let this happen to you! Yvonne will teach you how to collect and store your precious heirlooms for next season, and tell you which seeds are hybrids and which are sterile. Also, keep your eyes open for a Seed Saver Swap in late October! 

Filling a void (the sharecrop and fall planting)

Earlier this week a new friend, Marco, and I began a contemporary voyage into (the once abused term) ‘sharecropping.’  Pat Pulliam's 1 editPat Pulliam's 3 editAt two households that have, for all practical purposes, been in fallow for years (visual of one), the lords of the land are letting us fill the void by weeding or tilling, llama manuring or composting, and planting this week.

I’ll provide an updated photo showing the progression tomorrow.

Our goal is to return this ground to a more holy state–not that we’re improving on nature’s inclinations–what I mean is more directed at the ecstatic skin of the Earth, the soil. As Franco put it importantly, “we are growing the soil, not the plants.” Astrologically, Leo (July 23-August 23) is the best time to work the soil.

Our plan is to work a bit with the moon cycle, grow some species of the root (radish, beet, carrot) because today was the first day of the full moon. [To be full-fledged biodynamic guys, we would incorporate many other techniques, but I feel like especially at this late juncture, we are making an effort to become connected to the seasons & intuitively (suprisingly) timing our work together. We’ll expand our repertoire next year.] It’s really an experiment and even with the infinite powers of natural cycles, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can pull of this late season dance. If you’d like to bow to yer neighbor and do see do, we’re willing to sell directly to you. Let me know if yer interested and I’ll get back to you in approximately 48-70 days letting you have a pick of the roots, basil and cucumber.

Has anyone tried garden cover crops before and have advice regarding winter wheat/rye or tritacale? Would anyone like to give it a go fer the first time and buy bulk with us? The plan is to plant whatever we order in September.

This crop serves such a dual purpose–one leg of which belongs to a hairy homebrewer. I’m pondering using a bit of the grain in an ale this spring with hops grown by Lifeline Farm. It could be a loco local beer. We’re also going to be gleaning the neighborhood of its apples, making cider (hard and soft), applesauce, jam and pie. Let me know if you’d like to be a part of any or all of this process. By the way, if you’re a member of MUD you can vie for access to two cider presses in these, the Apple Days.

Peas, BBH

the economy of growing your own food

In an effort to not be redundant and post this in a third spot, I am going to just invite you all over to read my recent post at The Hip Homemaker on how I have tried to be economical in creating my first year garden… See you over there!