year in pictures

No I haven't vanished in the thin air.. yet. but really haven't had time to do updates as much as I should have so I'm doing one super large post - view in pictures of this summer bounties. It hasn't been very good year for harvest but we still had plenty to eat. Hope next year will be better.

Garden update

Last month has been a roller coaster for my garden. We went from very cold spring to 97 and then back to 48 which is really not good for plants. But then it settled down and it really picked up and was doing great for a while. These were my daily harvests. Until our local groundhog found a way to get inside. Witness the power of his destruction - what he didn't eat he trampled and contaminated so all my green lettuces, peas, broccoli, spinach and swiss chard has to be pulled and tossed out. But thankfully not all is lost. Beans started to regrow leaves and since he didn't eat blooms we'll have green beans next week. Onions and garlic are not on his menu and they are doing fabulous. I picked few of each just to try it out. From front to back - red onion, white sweet and yellow onions and 3 heads of garlic. Yummy!

Love warmer weather!

Finally weather is cooperating and is warm enough for my garden to start producing some greens. I know I'm being impatient but it's just so much better to eat your own veggies so that if I had a choice I'd grow them year round. But alas, with heavy winter it's not possible. However now that it's finally warm everything started to grow faster. Bleeding Heart was planted last year and it makes very lovely and colorful border for my garden.

Potatoes also awake and had to be tilled for the first time this weekend. I also came up to an agreement with local CSA that I'll help them with weeding/picking during spring and in summer in exchange for letting me plant some of my own potatoes and squashes. Works for both of us!

Broccoli is starting to form so in about 3 or 4 weeks we'll have our own to pick and for my honey to eat. He loves his broccoli! Plus I already have new round of seedlings going as replacement.

and just look at all those strawberries blooming! we'll be swimming in them this summer. But at least I know my honey will enjoy picking them and eating right on the spot :)

There are of course plenty more growing but it would take whole lot more pictures to show everything. In a word of two syllables - LOVE IT!

Spring Garden

Ah, finally spring is in the air and my garden started to really take shape. It's really running behind the schedule but I guess better late than never. So here we go.

Asparagus is awake eventhough it's only 2nd year for it it's doing pretty good. Wish I had more space for it. Next to it is spinach and in between some arugula sprinkled. Two types of lettuces are also peaking through - red on the back and green in front. Unfortunately all those spiky greens in between are dill that went into bloom last year and contaminated my entire garden so I'll be "weeding" dill all spring long to make sure that it doesn't suffocate my other greens. Here we have broccoli, swiss chard, spinach and some tulips. Some of the seeds from salads last year decided to grow this year - go figure. I guess I'll have extra salad. Also some of the last year's parsley came through and really took off too! Garlic is doing fantastic! I forgot to dig it out last year and it really took off this year so I'll be planting quite a bit of it in the fall.
Believe it or not these gorgeous Morels grow in our back yard! The only problem are that all deers LOVE them and unfortunately having much more sensitive snouts they get to them first. Oh well. Can't win them all.

And guess what we have to add to dinner tonight? First harvest - asparagus and parsley.

Hydroponic growth week 2

This is Bok Choy that was seeded two weeks ago - doing pretty good! much better than the ones outside.
I also had to replace some of the seeds because not all came up so instead I put some letuce and sweet and purple basil. We'll see how they're doing in the new system.

Container garden

Have you started your containers yet? I've placed my containers inside the enclosed porch because it's so cold outside and seeded some of them with beans and squashes. Will see how well they'll do in containers but counting that anything planted outside becomes food for deer I'd rather take chances with containers. I did transplant 3 of my tomato plants - Brandywines into containers so I can have early tomatoes. Sadly many of my seedlings caught some kind of a bug that's killing them so not sure if I'll have good tomato crops this year. I did do a trade with someone who runs CSA - gave her about two dozens of my sorrel plants and she'll give me her tomato seedlings in couple of weeks when it's ready to be planted outside.

Update on Hydroponic

Seeds started to wake up! The first to wake up are Bok Choy seeds so hopefully we'll see something come out soon on others as well. Really can't wait to see how it all works out. If these seeds grow properly then we'll add more rows and try other goodies as well for comparison.

Personal Hydroponics

Two weeks ago we went to the county fair show where we looked at different ideas of landscaping, local plants and ideas for gardening. One of the items really caught our eye - hydroponic system to grow greens like lettuce, arugula, swiss chard etc in the water solution instead of soil. This is actually something we were thinking already because I really like my greens but at growing it take lots of space in my garden. So if this really going to work then we'll have home grown greens year round and I'll have more space in my garden beds for root veggies, squashes and tomatoes etc. So my honey took some time to look on the Internet for various systems available and decided to build me one himself. Last week he ordered some supplies and was putting it all together this weekend. It's all connected with flexible tubing, on the bottom is a tub with nutrient liquid and a pump that brings it up to the top and then it runs down through all 4 levels. One side of each level is slightly raised so gravity takes over. So now we need to wait until we get some holding materials and start planting seeds. This is all experimental of course until we learn how to balance nutrients, what to plant and what works best. But in the meanwhile I'm really looking forward to seeing some results :)

Green and growing

Just a quick update on my seedlings (at least those that are still inside) - they are starting to pick up speed and growing pretty well. I have quite a few sweet bell peppers, tomatoes and some herbs going. Here are my Red Bell peppers - I really didn't expect all of the seeds to take so will have to plant more of them in containers on the patio.

More peppers - mix of hot and long skinny types here. Mostly just to see what they'll produce and if I want to use this type later on.

This is sweet basil that just woke up last week and has first two true leafs formed. Hopefully it will do well once transplanted when it's warm outside.

Tomatoes are doing pretty well - some are a little struggling but since they won't be transplanted for another 5-6 weeks I don't think it's a problem. They'll have plenty of time to get stronger. I have about 20 tomato plants overall so far and just started seeds for cherry tomatoes. I will also be looking at the farmer market for some of the not-so-typical that I'd like to try but don't want to buy whole lot of seeds yet. I'll buy 1-2 plants first to see if I like them.

More tomatoes but not sure on what happened to one of them that caused it to grow so fast and so strong. It's way ahead of schedule so I will have to transplant it in about 2 weeks and put it in the large container for now since it's too cold to put it outside. It's a "brandywine" by the way.
Well other items are yet to arrive like my squashes and cucumbers that I'll be planting in about 2 weeks for now - they don't like cold weather. But for now we still have snow on the ground and more of it promised for tomorrow. Spring this year is definitely not in a hurry.

Snow again??

Just as I thought we finally got into spring weather Mother Nature reminds us all again that she is indeed in charge of the events and we can't hurry her along. Last Friday temperature went up to 67 degrees and I made a mistake thinking that spring is here and it's good time to plant my seedlings. Not all of them of course but all cool-season ones like Spinach and Broccoli and Swiss Chard were transplanted in to the ground beds. What a mistake that turned out to be. Sunday night we had hard frost and then ice storm early in the morning following by the snow storm that brought couple of inches of snow. Of course that completely destroyed all my transplants. They can survive a dip in the temperature below 30 but not the ice storm. Weeks of growing and caring for them is wasted. Now I have to start from scratch again.

At least I still have some of my seedlings for tomatoes and peppers but they will remain in the house until mid-May. Oh well. Back to start my pots again and lesson learned for the future - don't be in such a hurry and let nature take its own time.

It's SEEDLINGS time!

Yup, it's that time of the year again - time to start preparing for spring, checking your seeds and maybe even start planting some for early harvest. Not all veggies of course can be planted this early. It's only mid-February of course, but you can start with the hardier type that can be transplanted outside in March/April - like Broccoli and Swiss Chard that are not afraid of a little frost at night and actually like colder weather.

I started my trays already thanks to my dear honey, who knowing my "quirks" as he calls it, bought me mobile cold frame. Normally you can build your cold frame outside and plant first early salads or herbs and let the sunshine warm it up through glass frames creating much warmer inside environment. Well mine is slightly different. It's a 4 shelf structure on wheels.
As you can see from picture above, he wired fluorescent lights on each level so my seeds won't get "weedy". It's also completely covered in plastic that can be un-zipped if it gets too warm inside but that's what allows warm air to stay inside and not escape into the room. So all I had to do was make a seedling mix - part organic peat moss and part soil, fill my seedling cups that are made out of recycled carton and is biodegradable, soaked it with water and planted my seeds. So far I have Broccoli of course, Swiss chard, 3 types of basil - regular sweet basil, purple and lemon type. Also some arugula, salad, some pink Brandywine tomatoes for early start - majority will be planted in about 3 weeks from now.

Each shelf can fit 3 of such trays so closer to mid-march I will start on my tomatoes, peppers and other goodies. By then I hope to transplant my Broccoli and Swiss Chard outside and clear out more space for new batch. I will be rotating seedlings every month or so to get smaller amounts but keep it growing in waves. This way it won't overwhelm me with harvest all at once and I'll be able to pick more each week.