Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mild December

This pic was taken two days ago, on Friday.  Since then it has been overcast and wet, yet very mild.  As I write this it is almost 60º outside!  We'll see how this mild fall/early winter affects the garden.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

End Of Season Pictorial

20151107 004Yes, we have ignored this site for too long.  Not a whole lot has happened to report, but I have tried to keep regular posts going for our records.  Kate has been busy with school and life, I have been lazy - I haven't even posted much at my main blog.  I promise a catch-up post soon.

20151108 005In the meantime, Kate harvested the parsley yesterday and spread hay over the garlic and some around the raspberries.  It has been an unusually warm October and now November so far.  The garlic started to sprout so we need colder temperatures soon or I don't know what to expect from it.  The garlic is still covered with the screen to protect from squirrel interference.

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The winter onions or spring onions above it are meant to stay over winter, I guess.  I don't know the difference and I don't really get it and I don't think Kate does either, but we will find out in the Spring.  A friend from work and her husband recommended them to us.  They gave us some back in late August, if I remember right, and we were to plant them right away so they would be established before winter.  We must also be careful, I guess they like to spread.  I guess we'll see.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Pictures of the yard and other remarks after the break!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The (not quite) End-of-Season Update

Last weekend, Mr. Scoakat retired the tomato plants to the compost bin. I would have done it myself, but the BIGGEST SPIDER ON EARTH was living in a web between the two plants. So, naturally, I couldn’t go anywhere near that side of the garden! Mr. Scoakat says he didn’t see the spider. I say the spider saw Mr. Scoakat and decided it was in his best interest to relocate.

Once I was convinced the spider was gone, I was able to get close enough to plant garlic, harvest the carrots and some thyme, and remove the last basil plant (which provided a few final sprigs before meeting its end).

Between the garlic I purchased and the head I saved for planting from this year’s harvest, I had enough to plant two rows of 15 cloves. As you can see in the picture below, the garlic is covered by one of the awesome garlic/strawberry covers Mr. Scoakat made a few years ago, and so far, it has not been disturbed.
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20151003 047The carrots ended up in beef stew. And the beef stew ended up really tasty! The last time I made beef stew (probably at least 15 years ago) it was not great. The thing is, the beef stew is beef stew. The recipe I used 15 years ago cannot be that different than the recipe I used last weekend. Lesson here – I am a much better cook now than I was 15 years ago! 

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Did you notice that small green thing behind right side of the garlic cover? Just in case you didn’t, here it is again.
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Yes, that small green thing behind the garlic is a tomato plant that started growing from seed… all on its own. Because when I try to grow tomatoes, I get nothing but trouble (and the BIGGEST SPIDER ON EARTH), and when I’m not even trying, they grow on their own.

I am being mocked by a tomato plant.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fall Flora Tour

After the break is a little tour of the plants in our yard this fall.  Nothing too exciting, just for future reference for us.  These pictures were taken this last Saturday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Les écureuils sont Bâtards

Squirrels are bastards… but it sounds so much nicer in French. 

In case you missed what the fluffy-tailed suburban rats did to my strawberries last spring, you can see it here. This time they left the strawberries alone and went after the tomatoes. All of the tomatoes. Even the green ones. 
20150905B 005I came home from work one day a couple weeks ago (just a few days after my last post) to find all of the ripe and almost-ripe tomatoes gone, and all of the green tomatoes scattered on the ground around the plants. I didn’t take pictures of the destruction so you’ll just have to imagine it. I’m not growing tomatoes next year.
In happier news, I made a whole bunch of Italian cocktail meatballs last weekend, using garlic and herbs from the garden. I found a recipe several years ago (I’ve tweaked it a bit) that I make every year when it’s time to harvest the herbs. And it was time to harvest the basil several days ago before the overnight temperatures dropped into the 50s. So, it was time to make meatballs!

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Of course, meatballs have to simmer in something… so I made marinara sauce too. Not with my own garden-fresh san Marzano tomatoes (les Bâtards!), but with my own garden-fresh thyme, parsley, basil, and garlic.

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I know it’s been awhile since my last post. It will probably be awhile before my next post. I’m taking a class this semester at a local community college and that’s going to take up a lot of my time. But there’s still garden work to do this year and I imagine there will be a few more posts before the season is over.

Maybe when it’s time to plant garlic???

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Ever Bearing, Summer Bearing

I finally got around to harvesting the arugula, and planting the strawberries and spring (or maybe winter?) onions.
20150822 004Most of the arugula was too large and woody to keep, but there were enough small leaves to use for salads or sandwiches. I also took out one of the basil plants; it never really came back from its cold start and after the heat we had last weekend (temps in the 90s) it took a bad turn. It wasn’t a complete loss; I got a handful of leaves from it.
In my last post I mentioned my plan to plant spring onions; a friend gave us some ready to plant from their garden. However, a few nights ago Mr. Scoakat told me he thought they were winter onions. I’m pretty sure the friend said spring onions; he’s pretty sure the friend said winter onions. I guess we’ll find out in the spring. Or we could just call the friend and ask… The spring/winter onions are planted in three rows at the back of the west garden.

20150822 005The new strawberries are an ever bearing variety. They went in between the established strawberries and the raspberries. Speaking of raspberries, I finally found the email from my order and now I know they’re summer bearing. That means they’re not going to produce fruit this year. Oh well, there’s always next year.
I covered the newly planted strawberries with the awesome strawberry cover Mr. Scoakat built. Here’s hoping it keeps the squirrels out; there’s almost nothing I hate more than re-planting strawberries. And speaking of squirrels, they’ve been stealing my tomatoes ad soon as they’re ripe! Again! The marigolds are useless! Okay not completely useless, but also not the squirrel repellent I was hoping for.
Green onions are done for the year. I harvested the last of them yesterday. I’m still waiting on the carrots. The thyme and parsley are looking good. I’ll be using some of both and some basil to make meatballs soon!

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Mid-August Jerk

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A few days after my last post, the tomato plants in the garden perked up. For a while, they were doing much better than bucket tomato, but then bucket made a bit of a comeback, and the garden tomatoes lost their perk.

It’s not all bad news though, I actually harvested my first ripe tomato a couple nights ago from bucket tomato. It ended up in a salad I ate yesterday – YUM! Bucket tomato lives in the garden now, still in the bucket but slightly more protected from wind and rabbits. 

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The carrots are still growing and the basil is doing pretty well considering its not-so-great start. I did finally make the basil potato salad I mentioned last time around. It wasn’t bad, but I probably won’t make it again. The parsley is growing faster than I can use it. I need to find the motivation to make some chimichurri… A nice beef roast or a couple good steaks might provide that motivation!
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The radishes have all been harvested (and I ate the last of them in that salad) and most of the green onions too. I made a double batch of jerk marinade to use up some of the green onions, but there’s still a lot left. I anticipate more jerk marinade in the near future; that’s not a bad thing.
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I harvested more thyme recently, and I really should harvest the arugula… perhaps this weekend when I plant more strawberries and some spring onions!

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Good News – Bad News

20150721 014I harvested the garlic a few days ago and it looks great – some of the largest heads I’ve ever grown! A big part of this success is due to the type of garlic I’ve planted. It does very well over cold winters, and we definitely had one of those! But I think cutting the scapes early also helped, and since I now have a wonderful garlic scape pesto recipe, I’m sure I’ll cut the scapes early next year too.

In other good news, the basil has finally started to perk up! In fact, I had to stake one of the basil plants last weekend to keep it from collapsing under the weight of all its new leaves. This is especially good news because Mr. Scoakat found a recipe for a basil potato salad several weeks ago; I’ve wanted to make it but the grocery store we usually shop at doesn’t keep a steady inventory of anything, and they don’t seem to know how to store produce, so we haven’t been able to buy any decent basil. Now, I’ll be able to use basil from the garden, and I’m sure the salad will taste so much better.

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The green onions and radishes are also doing well. I harvested some of both and all of the micro greens a few days ago. The carrots aren’t doing as well; only about half of the seeds sprouted.
In news neither good nor bad, I finally got around to removing the purple raspberries that were going nowhere. The red raspberry plants still look great.

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And now for the bad news – even the tomato plant in the bucket has blossom end rot. On the bright side, I’ve solved the “soil or roots” mystery. It can’t be the soil; the soil in the raised beds is top soil mixed with (many years of) compost, the soil in the bucket is a garden soil/potting soil mix. So, the problem must be the roots; something is preventing the roots from absorbing nutrients... I guess that’s another mystery to solve.
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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Catching Up

In my last post I failed to mention the arugula and micro greens I planted behind the basil. Both have started to sprout, as have the radishes and carrots. There’s still no sign of the lettuce; I think I can safely throw the rest of those seeds in the trash.

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A couple days after my last post, we ate the peas I harvested a few weeks ago. There weren’t many, so I sautéed them in butter, added some left-over rice, and mixed in some parsley (also from the garden) at the very end. It was a nice side dish. The peas had that super-fresh taste you only get from your own garden.

I’ve partially solved the mystery of the failing tomatoes – its blossom end rot. But is it due to a natural lack of calcium in the soil or is something preventing the roots from absorbing calcium? My best guess is the latter, caused by inconsistent moisture levels in the soil.

I thinned out the radishes today and the green onions are coming along nicely.
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Something small stole the last few ripe strawberries. I’m not sure what (It definitely wasn’t a squirrel, they can’t get under the awesome cover Mr. Scoakat built!) but I suspect a field mouse. I haven’t seen any mice in the area, but the idea of a little mouse munching on a strawberry makes the loss easier to handle! On the bright side, the plants are doing very well. They’re producing so many runners, I might not need to buy more plants to fill the space currently occupied by the purple raspberries (which will be coming out very soon… maybe this weekend).
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So that just about covers everything that’s happened in the garden since my last post. I’ll try not to be away for so long again…

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Radishes, Lettuce, & Carrots

20150627 021 I planted three rows of seeds today in the space between the garlic and the green onions. Closest to the garlic, is a row of radishes; then a row of lettuce; and in the front, a row of carrots. The seeds are left-overs from last year, so we’ll see what grows.

All of the tomato plants have a few small, green tomatoes starting, but the plants in the garden are making me nervous. One day they look fine, the next they’re wilted, and then they look fine again. I’m almost certain the problem is in the soil. But is it bacterial wilt or lack of nutrients???

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Over on the berry side, we removed the raspberry trellis from the middle of the garden. The purple raspberry plants show no sign of improvement; they’ll be coming out before long to make room for more strawberries. The red raspberries in the back continue to thrive. To accommodate the growth, I moved the back support wire of the top arm of the trellis to its widest position.

Flower Pictures

Pictures of all things flowering right now in our yard, after the break!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mid-June Update

It's been a week and a half since my last post and a lot has happened in the garden...

Late last week, I harvested just enough cilantro to try a new salsa recipe. I've never made a salsa with canned tomatoes before, but I thought I would give it a try since it looked like a salsa Mr. Scoakat would enjoy (and he did). In addition to the cilantro, I used a garlic clove harvested last fall (dried and hung in the basement over winter, then frozen), and instead of the jalapeno the recipe calls for, I used a lemon pepper harvested last fall (then frozen). The salsa turned out great and we enjoyed some of it with friends who came over Friday night.

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In other news, I had planned to plant cucumbers this year but I've decided against it. Last year, the cucumbers and the tomatoes were afflicted with bacterial wilt, which is usually caused by cucumber beetles, though I've never seen one in the garden. After deciding against cucumbers, I was considering planting green beans but on Monday I noticed signs of bacterial wilt on the peas! So, I harvested all the mature peas, pulled out the plants, and removed the trellis.

I think I'll pick up some new lettuce seeds, and plant some carrots and a second crop of radishes in the space between the garlic and the green onions. I'm thinking about getting a couple new basil plants too, since the original plants still haven't recovered from the unusually cold temperatures we had a few days after I planted them in the garden.

20150617 017On Wednesday, I harvested the rest of the cilantro before it could bolt. There was a lot of it, so I had Mr. Scoakat contact a friend who enjoys cooking to see if he's like some. He said yes so we met him at a local watering hole last night; we had a few beers and gave him some cilantro (and some thyme - also harvested Wednesday).

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The tomato plants are still doing well. The plant in the bucket continues to do even better than those in the garden. I pinched suckers off two of the plants again, but I think we're past the point where suckers are a real threat.

We've enjoyed a few more strawberries. And it's looking like we'll enjoy even more next year. The purple raspberries are not doing so good; if they don't improve significantly by the end of summer, I'll take them out and plant more strawberries.

That's it for now. But since it's now officially the weekend, there will be more gardening to do, and more to post soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Garlic Scape Pesto! Tomatoes, More Strawberries... More Weeds

I've grown a hardneck variety of garlic the last few years. In previous years, I've cut the scapes off and thrown them in our compost bin. This year, I decided to find a recipe to use the scapes. The recipe I found, garlic scape pesto, is so good. If you like pesto and you really like garlic, you should try this! I opted to use half basil and half garlic scapes, and only used lemon juice, no rind.

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The tomato plant in the bucket seems to be doing better than the two in the garden. This might be worth paying attention to. Buckets are ugly, but I'll put up with ugly if it means a good tomato crop!

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Not much else to report on. We're still getting a few strawberries here and there. And I spent another hour pulling weeds! I'm beginning to think they might be my most successful crop this year...

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Tomato Cages, Raspberry Adjustment, and the First Strawberry

It was time to get the tomato plants caged up for the season. I’m growing grafted tomatoes this year, so before I could cage them, I had to pinch off suckers growing from grafting scars to prevent the scions from rooting.

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The raspberries in the back continue to spread, as do the weeds growing amongst them. After a lot of weeding, we moved the back support wire on the bottom cross arm of the trellis to its widest position. Eventually, we will need to move the back support wire on the top arm too.

20150531 011And, as promised, Mr. Scoakat enjoyed the first ripe strawberry of the year!  It looks like we’ll have several more ripe berries by the end of the week, and the runners on the new plants have already rooted so we should have many more plants by the end of the summer.
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Ms. Scoakat Blogs

The garlic, planted last fall, is looking good. It’s the same type I’ve planted the last couple years and I really like it. Great flavor, nice size heads, and easy to peel cloves.

I planted cilantro seed disks again this year and they are doing well; not quite as well as last year’s but I wasn’t able to get them from the same, local company this year. Funny story about the cilantro seed disks this year… Mr. Scoakat accidentally threw away the first pack of seed disks I bought this year. They were sitting on top of the TV stand with the shipping invoice (I had to buy them online this year) next to some junk mail… it was an honest mistake.
20150523 010The peas are doing well too. Last year, several weeks (and a lot of damage) passed before I realized the pea sprouts were being eaten by birds! This year I covered the east bed with bird netting after planting the first seeds in April.
As previously noted, I harvested the radishes on Thursday. I’ve had a few as snacks and they are delish! I will have more in salads soon. I might even be able to convince Mr. Scoakat to try a few slices in his salads (yes, he eats salads… don’t tell him I told you).

The lettuce seeds I planted in April are MIA, or AWOL… or maybe they were abducted by aliens??? The point is, no lettuce.
Basil is a cat (an emotionally needy, rather large, scaredy-cat; see Scoakat’s Blog for more information) but basil is also a Mediterranean herb that is lovely in Italian dishes but does not like cold temperatures. We had two or three nights under 40 degrees this week, so the basil’s not looking too hot (ba-dum-ch).

The parsley looks fine. Especially when you consider it had to travel to hell and back seven times before it ever even sprouted!
I planted marigolds around the tomatoes on Saturday; they’re supposed to keep squirrels away. We’ll see how that works.
The thyme is adjusting well to its move. Apparently thyme is on my side…

20150523 013On to the other side of the garden!
I’ve done a lot of weeding on this side lately, and there’s a lot more to do. The red raspberries (in the back) are spreading in a way that makes me happy and nervous at the same time! I’m glad they’re doing so well, but I know raspberries can get out of hand, so…

The ‘purple’ raspberries (in the middle) aren’t doing quite as well; for now, I’m okay with that.
I planted six new ever-bearing strawberry plants on Saturday. A few of them already have healthy runners and due to the new strawberry cover, I’m not too worried about the squirrels tearing them out; so I’m hopeful we’ll have strawberries to eat this summer. Of course, the first ripe berry goes to Mr. Scoakat; a reward for crafting the new (Improved!) strawberry cover.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Catching Up*

20150522 017Just to catch up, last Saturday Kate planted stuff in the east garden.  From the bottom row, tomato, thyme (replanted), tomato.  Next row up is basil, parsley, basil. Also, on Thursday she picked the radishes.

20150522 019On a side note, my wife Kate will be taking over posting on this site.  Well, I hope so.  We'll see how much I end up doing still...

*Edit: These pictures were taken Friday evening, yesterday. Kate has put much more work into the gardens today and will be posting her first post here hopefully tomorrow, with pics taken this evening.

I'm really looking forward to her perspective and personality here!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Strawberry Cover and Plant Day

20150509 015Yesterday I made a taller cover for the strawberries so they have room to grow and still have protection from birds and squirrels.  I threw it together out of scrap wood that I had, thankfully I have a table saw.  We did have to buy some more chicken wire but at least it's pretty cheap.  Now we're hoping to actually get some strawberries to eat this year.

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We also went out and got plants yesterday, a Spring ritual.  We bought two hanging plants, one for front and one for back, and several smaller plants to put in the pot out front and Kate pulled several old pots out of the garage to fill with plants to put on the stump in back.

Plant Day pictures after the break!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Yard and Garden Pics

Wednesday I mowed the lawn for the first time this year.  I also got out and about the yard with the camera.  For keeping a photo record's sake, a tour of the back yard and garden flora... and some more rocks.

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The reason I have a project tomorrow.

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