[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Mostly because: omg we need rain and the trees need to stop mating so enthusiastically.

I just want to be able to breathe and open my eyes all the way. Also, constant-multiple-day-long headache is uck.

So I'm still making progress but much much more slowly. ~sneeze~
picture proof. :) )
[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
I have to say, I love our houseguest! If I had known exactly how willing he was to just get in there and rip out vines, weeds and small trees, I would have taken before pictures, so you could see in the after pictures, exactly how much has been done. It looks really fabulous in the backyard now! Dead trees are gone, large swathes of the Virginia Creeper have been torn off of the fence, great sections of dead leaf and obnoxious weed have been pulled from the beds...

AND!

Thanks to all his hard work, the compost pile is actually HOT! I though it was a holy grail, unattainable and distant, but no, it turns out you just have to pile up an unholy amount of yard refuse, get it wet, and then let it do it's thing. (I think, because I started it in the early spring, late winter with mostly dead leaves, it didn't have enough green stuff to get properly cooking.)

Since he's been working so hard, getting so sweaty and bug bitten, I've been inspired, too. Today I went and looked at all he had done, nodded my head approvingly, and then got to work.

I broke up a few empty sections of the beds along the side of the house, where I had previously had the broccoli. Then, I scraped back the mulch from the beds, added fresh compost, put the mulch back, and then put a top layer of fresh mulch on top of all that. I added about, oh, four to six inches of organic material to the beds.

There's a half circle bed that was home to some random ornamental things and weeds, which our lovely houseguest ripped right out. So, I half-ass broke that up (stinking hard soil, man!) and added both a layer of compost, and a layer of mulch. I think I'll let that sit a bit, and in a couple weeks, I'll try to work that mess in. That's going to be a winter veggie bed in a couple of weeks. :)

I direct seeded one hill of cucumber (Straight 8), two hills of zucchini (Black Zucchini), one hill of spaghetti squash (not labeled with variety), and two hills of cantaloup (Minn. Midget). I also started, in peat pots, three Cherokee Purple tomatoes (the last seeds! oh noes!), four Arkansas Traveller tomatoes, and three Yellow Monster peppers.

I am so excited for the seeds we ordered to come in, I can't hardly wait! eee! The garden boxes have all been moved from the side yard into the driveway, along the side. Since we only have one car now, it makes sense to use the side of the driveway that is unoccupied for gardening, since it's in full sun all day long! Oh, yeah, and in one of the boxes, two pepper plants are coming back! New leaves, and signs of new growth. Very promising.

A couple of days ago, I was struck by curiosity, and so I went digging in those garden boxes. I'd planted onions, way back at the start of the year, and they hadn't done much growth, and then had (I thought) all died. Ditto with some potatoes. So, I dug around in there, and guess what I found?

The potatoes had done their thing and created more potatoes:



(that image is ready to be made into an icon, and if you want to, go for it! it's a 350X350 pixel image right now, just shrink it down!)

The onions, while yeah, they didn't make the giant onions I was kinda hoping for, did create these:



I cooked with four of them today, in a dish of alien guts. (okra, yellow squash and mushroom, sauted and then allowed to steam themselves in their own juices. mmm, slimey.)

Now, I'm tired out, and ready for a nap! Aaaahhh... gardening...  :)

[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
I went out into the garden today, to see that over the past three days the broccoli bloomed. Yep, little yellow flowers. So I've harvested 6 out of 9 plants, leaving three on one end that have been lagging behind all season. Those three have got little bitty heads on them, so I think I'll leave them a couple days more, but the six that I've harvested are, I think, done.

The poor brussels sprouts didn't produce at all for me. I think I planted them way too late. February first is really a bit after their ideal plant by time. I'll start some for the next winter season at the end of October, and see if I can overwinter them and get them to produce. I think it's just too hot for them.

I also need to find out what eats the (expletive deleted) worms that have been chewing them to bits. I left the brussels sprouts in the ground, even after it became obvious they weren't doing well, because I wanted the worms to eat them, instead of my broccolis. Sadly, the worms have finally found the broccoli, and gone to town on them. :(

In other news, the tomato seedlings I planted out (was it two weeks ago?) are doing well. I've noticed that the ones in the ground are noticeably taller and healthier looking than the ones in the earth boxes. Phooey. I think it's the microorganisms in the soil, possibly earthworms, too. The earthboxes don't have worms, the soil is different in them... Sigh. I've got one Arkansas Traveler in a box, and one in the ground, and the ground one is a good two inches taller already.

I think I may start a couple more tomatoes, for an extended harvest (and cause I like tomatoes.) Besides, both my Rutger's tomatoes are in a box, and I soo want some to eat! I'm sure they'll produce, I just feel greedy.

Oh, I know, I'll make some compost tea! With molasses and apple cider vinegar. mmm. Plant yummies.

Waiting for me to make room for them are 6 okra plants, 6 (or 12, if I don't thin them) zucchinis, a basil, a marjoram, and an oregano. I need to pick up a pot for my lemon thyme (I already know better than to try to grow thyme outside). Also coming along, I started some zucchini seeds last week, and they're poking up too. Yay!

It occurs to me to wonder where I think I'm going to stick all these plants...
[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
I got my copy of the 2009 Seeds Of Change (http://www.seedsofchange.com/) seed catalog today, and boy oh boy is it ever cool! I've already found two things from it that we're so getting and growing: oca and yacon!

What are those, you say?

Well. I decided, having read a bunch of stuff on sustainability and good gardening, that we were going to avoid monocropping. That means, not growing only one version or variety of anything. Anything I want to grow, I can take the time to grow two varieties of. :P

I also decided that we were going to look into finding as many alternative crop plants as possible, and trying to grow them here. Especially any that thrived in more... mediterranean ecosystems, or warmer climate, drought resistant, or 'neat' plants.

Enter, oca and yacon. Allow me to quote from the catalog:

Oca: Oxalis tuberosa Native to the Andean region of South America, this colorful and nutritious tuber has been cultivated as a staple food for centuries, dating back at least to the Inca Empire. Almost entirely unknown in North America, oca holds the potential to be a significant food crop throughout the world, exhibiting tolerance to drought and a wide range of soils, while containing similar nutritional value to potatoes. Crisp and sweet/sour when eaten raw, steaming brings out a distinctive tartness with raw nutty overtones. While much is to be learned about its cultivation across a wide range of bioregions, we are happy to offer this for the first time for intrepid gardeners.

Yacon: Polymnia sonchifolia A staple of Andean peoples for centuries, but rarely seen in the North. Unique tubers are delightfully sweet and crunchy, reminiscent of jicama or water chestnut. A majestic relative of the sunflower and dahlia families, the plant itself is a star in the garden. Yacon ha fuzzy broad leaves that are resistant to most pests and produces 1 in. bright orange flowers in 4-5 months. The tubers are excellent raw, shredded into a salad, or lightly steamed or sauteed. Grows vigorously wherever sunflowers thrive. An early sellout every year...

See? See? That's why I want them, precious... Yes, yes. Biodiversity, alternative food crops, they'd do well here, and they're neat! Oh, and on oca, the edible part is the tuber. mmm, potato replacements. Actually, I'll still have a couple of varieties of potato, cause, I love potatoes. Blue spuds! Fingerlings! Reds! Yellows! Yay!

And now, I shall go read the rest of the catalog, and try not to drool all over them. 'Cause if I drool on the pages, they get stuck together, and then I can't read them. :P
[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
Well, I just stuck some seeds in peat pots. We'll see how they do. :) (see, I'm being all laconic farmer person.)

That would be:

8 Broccoli Romanesco
8 Bibb lettuce
8 Sweet Oregon Sugar Peas
8 Rutger's Tomatoes
4 Rio Grande Tomatoes
4 Arkansas Traveler Tomatoes
8 Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

If they all come up, and I wind up with too many baby plants, I may splurge on pots and create potted tomatoes for all my friends! With companion basils.

Once these come up, and start needing sun, I'll use the rest of the peat pots in the greenhouse thingy to start the herbs that 'need light to germinate'. Bastards. Anyway, all the need light ones need to start later in the season anyway, so I think it'll work out ok.

Wow, look at me being all gardeny. :D Yay!

Oh, and if any of you reading along want or need icons, I made a bunch today. They're in my other blog, free for the taking. Lots of plant and food icons. Tasty tasty!

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