Wednesday, May 29, 2013

maintaining the home front...

It has been a hectic couple of weeks since we got back from vacation and I am almost back to the way things were when we left. Due to a wedding, lots of work and lots of rain; I have not been able to spend quality time with my plants. Instead I have been spending time with the garden to keep it going good. It was a nice evening though, so we all went out and worked on weeding the front flower beds. I got a lot done last saturday, but this part is still lacking that "no weeds" feel. I also have discovered some kind of really evil weed. I didn't take any pictures, but will later as this guy won't die. No, no, and he doesn't even try. Instead he grows and grows and how to stop him, no body knows. 
This time around, I am trying to dig the weed out as it just breaks off at the roots if you are not careful. This may help for the future, but if not, I'll have to resort to a harsher method for dealing with this curmudgeon's nefarious schemes. (i'd like to see someone else incorporate future, nefarious, curmudgeon, and resort into the same sentence!) 
On to happier things, we harvested our first carrot. They are the Napoli Carrots and seem to do well here. None have done poorly, but these seem to be the most "normal" looking of what I've grown.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

enjoy the blooms...

Some weekends nature and natural laziness combine to create an urge to enjoy rather than work. Isn't that what all the hard work is for? Well, maybe not, however it is nice to sit back and relax once in a while. Let the birds and bees hop about and work. I'll sit here and enjoy. The rain frequent showers also helped to disuade me and I will share the blame as if it were perfectly sunny, I may have felt the urge to be out there weeding. (there is a need for that just about everywhere)
In case you think i'm entirely lazy, I did do a bit of work weeding the front beds, but as soon as that was done. the enjoyment began. In case you haven't been seeing lots of bloom in your beds, I'll pass on a few from mine.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

1st harvest ... except for the other harvests...

While away, our garden went into overdrive on growing. This meant that it was time to start the pickin'. There wasn't a large variety, but there was quantity to make up for that. Almost all of our radishes were ready. We divvied them up between relatives, friends, and our own little stash. More are ready now, but  someone almost said, "a radish a day keeps something away" and since that is true, I'm eating them. They are also nice on the salads.
Since you brought up salads, that reminds me. Our lettuce is in the baby leaf form and the spinach is going bonkers, so we have that covered as well. It is a nice change as most of the overwintered lettuce was pretty bitter. The peas, beans, corn, beets, broccoli, and head lettuce are all up and growing. I think the fluctuations of weather have kept them puzzled of late, but they'll soon realize that they are in Washington and that's pretty much the norm.
I also picked up my tomato plants. It was later than usual, but I still was able to get the sweet 100s. I didn't get a sungold as they were sold out, so I am trying the yellow pear. It will at least add some color. I also got the usual beefsteak and roma. To avoid blossom end rot and other diseases caused by the lack of calcium, I added bone meal and we've been putting egg shells from breakfast out. As they break down, they'll add calcium, and while in their unbrokendown state, they are a deterrent for the slugs.
A few more roses have started blooming, but the majority are waiting for memorial day or perhaps a personal invitation. I'll start giving them out on saturday if we are still waiting ;)

Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The swift descent into chaos...

If you've ever asked yourself, "Self, how long would it take for a nice orderly kitchen garden to go from nice and orderly to absolute jungle chaos?" well between you, me, and the kitchen garden - about 1 week. 
Our family went on a week vacation last week and returned on monday to find that a lot has happened. It has been pretty nice around these parts and that helped spur the growth I'm sure. The biggest and baddest change was in the kitchen garden. Weeds abound, grass is growing, the lily pond looks leers out at us like some miasmic pool from the deep jungle, and a few things have gone to seed that I usually try to keep from going to seed. Well, there are only two things to do, complain or blog about it and then go out and start weeding. I have at least informed the garden that I intend to commence to plan to clean it up this weekend. (However, my wife also informed me that she intends to commence to have plans for me also, so we'll see how it works out.)

On the good side of change, comes our wine and roses wigelea. It is leaning a bit to the sou-sou-east, but so does the leaning tower of pisa so it probably means that it will be a work of art that everyone will come to see! 

The garden is coming along nicely as well. Some of the Pac Choi decided that it wanted none of this hot weather so it has bolted and soured. However, the spinach, lettuce, radishes and carrots are doing there best to make of for it. A few of the closest have even turned their back as if to say, "We are compelled to be next to you, but that in no way, shape or form signifies that our plans for growing coincide" or something like that.

 Our wall flowers missed us and have almost doubled in size, so that we wouldn't miss them on our return.

And now we get to the good stuff. This is one of my favorite twelve months of the year because it is the beginning of rose season. I'm not sure if the Josephs coat or our kitchen climbing rose won, but they are both in bloom. All of the other roses are ready to pop, but haven't opened up quite yet. I have around 25 roses, so when they all bloom, it is heavenly.

Last, but most definitely not least, we were eating dinner and the grosbeaks came for their dinner. This is the second year these delightful critters come to enjoy our hospitality. I asked him to turn, but he said that he looks skinnier from the left profile and it accentuated his lithesome form, so here he is as he wanted to be seen.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day...

Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers out there. Without this holiday, we would all just take you for granted. The millions of meals, the loads of laundry, the billions of band aids,  and everything else that makes our days on this earth comfortable and pleasant. So, in the stead of all us children, Thank you.

Now, on to gardening. Since Mother's Day is the unofficial start to gardening galore, most of us (except those of us who get started earlier) will now go out and plant all and sundry. Carrots will be scattered, radishes spread, and beets planted. So with all of these annuals being planted, the perennial question resurfaces. Do we plant lots and thin later, or plant carefully and not have to thin as much?
Most of us  greedy gardeners get out there and with our blood up, become like the sower in the bible going forth to sow. (Just a note for the younger ones out there. There are two kinds of sowing - sewing and sowing. Sowing seeds and sewing stitches. The difference is that stitches don't grow and seeds do - sometimes, if you're luck) He sowed on the good ground and the bad, caring not but that by quantity, quality would be null and void.
I've found that if I sow this way though, I'll spend more time thinning or regretting not thinning because the are too many plants in an area, than the time necessary to plant each seed the necessary distance apart. In my opinion, spending more time now will result in less work, an orderly garden, and better larger plants. Of course, I still have lots of greedy gardener blood in me so I still overplant at times. 
When this happens, don't despair. Even the best laid plans of mice and men and so forth. Console yourself with epitaphs of some sort and get out the scissors. Instead of pulling out each extra plant and possibly uprooting the ones you didn't want to. Just snip off the extras and "reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed." 
The one exception I've found is a leaf lettuce mix by Johnny's seed co. called Allstar lettuce mix. You drop a row of seeds and they all group together.when they are large, your harvest a section and it is a mixed salad without the work of mixing. 
Now, the last ingredient, with the exception of dirt, which I'm sure yours is exceptional, is the seed. "What brand of seed should I plant?" You may or may not be asking this, but as you may, I'll answer. 
Get seeds from a local nursery that are from your area. These will usually do the best. Don't get lots of seeds from large stores that usually are bought in bulk from another state. In sharp contradiction, not following this wonderful advice, I actually order all of my seeds from Johnny's seeds in Maine. Why. Well since its Mother's Day, I'll blame my mom. She gets all of her seeds there, so I started there. Territorial is good as well, but the problem with these places is that you have to order them. This requires thinking and planning ahead. If you didn't place your order week, but still want to plant seeds today, get to your local nursery and buy local. 
So as the opening whistle has blown, and the starters bell has been rung, get to gettin' like b b king and let's plant stuff!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Now speaks the skeptic...

Every once in a while, though not too often, I read a book or hear of someone reading a book which states in one way or another an absolute fact that is not absolute except in the mind of the author. I'm not saying that there are not lots of other good parts in the book, but this one part is putrid.  
"I believe if everyone had a compost pile and recycled kitchen scraps... State taxes would be lowered, oil prices would come down, and the balance of nature would be restored." I'm not sure that it wouldn't create world peace as well, but he didn't feel like adding that part for some reason or another. 
Gardening is great fun, but I seek to create a better place where I am, not to change the world. My advice to all book readers (and people who read this blog) read with an open mind, but to be human is be fallable. All things we write may change just like the weather seems to be doing. Just because one states that the only way to water is by hand and with container not made of plastic doesn't mean to throw away allow the plastic watering cans. Most things have a grain or two of truth, but like bob Dylan sings, the times they are a changin'. He would of course have said the ways of gardening they are a changin' almost every day, but since that didn't really fit the music....