The never-ending battle

(against the weeds, that is)

Unseasonably rainy weather here, combined with some personal stuff taking up all of my spare time, has meant that I’ve been out of the garden lately. The weeds are trying to take over in my absence. So today I was outside chipping away at that. I’ve also moved my compost bin and  now I’m working on separating the yard waste that won’t compost from the dirt and partially compost weeds that are all in a pile on my patio. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to use the patio area for actually enjoying the outside.

A lot of my seeds from the last planting I did never came up. Right now the area closest to the street has pretty much nothing in it except some broccoli seedlings that seem to be stunted. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong there. Probably I’ll end up buying starts and hope that they’ll be more successful.

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Garden Check-in

I finally finished spreading all 30 bags of compost that I bought at the beginning of the spring. Word to the wise: 30 bags of compost weighs close to a ton. Your vehicle would appreciate if you made two or three trips.

I weeded as I spread, so that I wouldn’t be fertilizing weeds. I’ve been mostly finished for some time now, with just two bags left. Doing those final two bags meant digging up and transplanting the sage and lavender plants left by the previous gardener (and pulling the bindweed roots out of their root balls, sigh). I finished that up a week or so ago, so now I’ve got them all spread, my first big accomplishment of the year. Only one bed left to dig, and all of the crucial structural work in the garden will be finished.

My other big task has been clearing the trash, weeds, and assorted plastic pots left by the previous gardener off the patio area behind my garden. Today I got some good work done on that, so now I just need to move the compost bin and get rid of the pile of yard waste/dirt I’ve created in the last month or so. It’s finally starting to look like an area I could imagine spending time and enjoying sitting outside.

Other big projects in the works: New fencing, clearing my mess off the driveway, and possibly setting stepping stones in the walkways.

Seeds are going in a few at a time. I’d hoped to get lots of planting done today and get caught up, but it’s so windy out I would have lost all of my seeds to the wind. Maybe it’s for the best, since we’re still getting lows in the upper 30’s at night. I’m behind my planned schedule, but still way ahead of where I was this time last year. That by itself is a huge accomplishment.

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Lessons About Gardening, #3

When all else fails, there’s always next year.

Same goes for gardening blogs, I suppose.

I’m well into the season this year and figured I might as well poke my blog a bit and see if it still works. I’ve dramatically changed my approach  this year: I’ve redone the whole layout and I’m planting much smaller amounts of food in the hope that I’ll be able to harvest and eat most or all of it. I’ve given myself wider pathways and smaller beds, and I’ve weeded the whole garden at least once – so I’m already far ahead of last year.

At this point all of my salad greens, peas, and broccoli have had their first plantings, along with some spring flowers. In the next few days I’m going to keep digging on the beds I haven’t planted yet, transplant my sage and lavender, and get in some second plantings. I’ve put in some strawberries this year in faith that the general layout will be the same next year – though only one Junebearing, so I can get some berries this year!

All told, I really feel like I’m much more on top of things this year, and I’m looking forward to new growth every day.

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Harvest time!

Harvest has actually been going on for a while now, with zucchini, peas, beans, lettuce, and radishes. This week I got my first tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, beets, onions, and peppers. I’m pretty excited!

My peppers: One big red bell-shaped one, one long skinny red one, and one yellow bell. I haven’t tried any but the red bell yet – it prety much tasted like the kind you’d get from the store. All of my pepper plants have lots of peppers on them, to the point of falling over if they’re not staked. I think I’ve got some ripe jalapenos too, but I don’t know how to tell that for sure.

Tomatoes: “Oregon Spring” and “Early Girl” both are ripening. I picked a couple “Viva Italia” ones but they’re a bit firm so I’m not sure they’re completely ripe.

The “Early Girl” is taking over a whole corner of my garden, growing way past the tomato cage. Lots of green tomatoes, too, so it should be a good season. It’s got a good flavor and texture to  it – pretty much the classic fresh tomato taste I’d expect from a grocery store tomato (except much fresher).

The “Oregon Spring” is prone to cracking with the way we had hot dry weather followed by cool weather. It gets soft on the bottom while the top is still green, so it’s hard to know if it’s ripe yet. I’m not a huge fan of it – it’s somewhat bland and the texture isn’t great. It’s very juicy though.

I dug up the potatoes that had wilted on top today. I didn’t find a huge yield, but maybe I didn’t dig deep enough – I just dug down with my hand a bit. I also pulled up the one that was in the path. It had a good yield, but I didn’t hill it so some of the tubers have green patches and/or sprouts. I’ve still got a few plants left outside.

My onions are mostly ready to pull, but I only pulled a couple small ones today. I’m a little late on cutting the broccoli because it got past the point of a single firm head, but hopefully it will still be tasty. The beets are really nicely sized up; I haven’t had a chance to try them yet.

The poppies ended up putting on a beautiful show. They’re mostly going to seed now, so hopefully they’ll self-seed for next year. I haven’t decided if I’ll let them stay in that spot – it’s kind of hard to get to, but it’s also the sunniest corner of the garden and therefore prime real estate.

The arugula went crazy and was trying to go to seed. I cut it all down and we’ll see if that works; if not, I’ll just pull it out and re-plant for fall.

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Lessons about gardening, #2

No, it can’t wait until tomorrow.

No, you can’t wait to thin the arugula. It doesn’t like being crowded and it will bolt.

Ditto for the spinach.

No, you can’t wait to water the lettuce. It will wilt and be useless in the near-record heat and dry weather.

No, you can’t wait to lay the soaker hose. You’re just making your job harder.

No, you can’t wait to pick the zucchini. They grow into giants overnight.

No, you can’t wait to weed. No, really, you can’t.

No, you can’t wait to plant the next round of seeds. Well, you can, but it will be that much longer between harvests.

No, you can’t wait to write that blog post. There will be something new tomorrow.

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Plantings – 06/17/2009

Marigolds “Janine Tangerine”, 4 bedding packs

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Lessons about gardening, #1

The lettuce will come up. Or if it doesn’t, you’ll know within a week and will have time to reseed. It’s not necessary to seed it heavily, and doing so will just mean more work thinning. Same goes for the spinach.

I thinned out some of my lettuce, spinach, and beets. Already the thinnings are more than I can eat in a day. It looks really tasty, though, and I’m excited to have food that I grew myself. It’s really a great feeling.

Today I built a teepee for my peas to grow on – a bit late, since they were starting to latch onto each other, but I think they’ll be ok. I put cages around the tomatoes, too.

Something was in my garden and pulled up a guide-string for my pathway. I also noticed that one of my broccoli plants got broken off. It’s got one leaf left, so hopefully it will survive. My best guess is that someone threw a ball over the fence or something similar.

I’d been feeling bad about the bindweed creeping up the fence and into the less-tended parts of the garden, but when I took a walk today I noticed that most of the bindweeds in the area are in full bloom. So far it seems like I’ve delayed that part anyhow. *knock on wood*

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