Monday, August 25, 2014

The Garden Update

 EDIT:  SOMEBODY PLEASE IDENTIFY THE MYSTERY ASIAN SQUASH SHOWN BELOW!  (I think it the seeds came from a co-worker, but he doesn't know what it is... he got the seeds from a lady at some Asian restaurant).


Sad looking sunflowers...

 But first... Vacation~!

It's really nice having a permanent job where I have vacation time, such a change from the years working as a contractor!  Taking advantage of this, I was able to take my family to visit my grandparents and other relatives in Kansas two weeks back.  We had a wonderful time relaxing... something I'm not good at.  It was great to spend time with family I haven't seen in nearly five years!  We ended it with some time in Arkansas where my uncle has a dock with a top notch ski boat.  He tried teaching my wife and I how to barefoot ski...  let me tell you something about barefoot skiing - DONT DO IT!  That may be harsh... but I came home from that experience with a greater understanding of my body and where it can hurt!  On a side note, I was able to get out and do some slalom skiing (one ski) which was an incredible blast!  The wife however, never was able to make it up on two skis... maybe another day.


Naturally while away I was a little apprehensive about what the garden would look like when we got home.  After ten days of not being around to manage everything, what would it look like?  Well last night I got around to taking some pictures.

The patio bed
This past spring I decided I wanted a nice raised bed next to the patio.  That way, any of the things we would eat on a regular basis would be close... such that Mrs. J wouldn't have to go all the way out to the garden to get whatever she might need while cooking.  That was the idea... the only thing that seemed to work out was the lettuce, now bolting (going to seed).  The broccoli was a terrible flop, I think the soil is worthless.  The carrots were likewise.  Also seen is a rouge squash and some celery - that was an experiment, but seems to be growing just fine, although we've yet to taste it.  It might just go into the dehydrator...

$2.50 each
I doubt you can see it, but there is a blueberry bush in the top left and a berry cane in the center of this pic.  Each were purchased from Tractor supply for $2.50 when things went on sale.  I would have had two blueberries, but I accidentally stepped on one.  I also bought two berries - one a golden rasberry the other a ???  I can't remember... oh well, only one made it and I don't know which one!

Jersey Knight Asparagus
This stuff seems to be doing well.  I planted it in some black gold from a neighbor and then covered it with packing paper (from the move) and then the horse manure/ sawdust mixture I had delivered.  I really works nicely to keep the weeds down!  Next year I'll have to edge the beds to keep the grass from growing into the bed.

Pole beans, etc
Well I like Herrick Kimball's idea for the tomato trellis so much, I did the same thing for the pole beans.  These are Rattle Snake beans from High Mowing Organic an the package says they grow to 8ft tall... well, mine will never get there.  Some of them did great, others just refused to come up.  Again, poor soil... you can also see how I mulched the garden with paper and horse manure to cover up the hard pack clay!

Garlic seed
I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to let the garlic go to seed like this if you want to harvest it for eating, but all the bulbs I dug up were so small anyway, I figured I'd give a shot at planting seeds this fall.  I was told that garlic is a heavy feeder on nitrogen... obviously my garden is lacking that!

Caged tomato's
These cherry tomato's are doing pretty good.  However, I'm having difficulty keeping them where I want them... which leads me to the Herrick Kimball Whizbang tomato trellis:

 My Whizbang Trellis's
Naturally I took my own interpretation when I built these, but I think it's close enough!  These trellis's are AWESOME!  I really love how I can weave the tomato plant through the cattle panels (each section is 1/3 of a panel) to train them as they grow.  No longer are there any plants laying on the ground, which really helps with diseases.

A little bit of congestion...
 As you can see, these things are a little congested.  Between each trellis I planted basil, which is doing great!  The tomato's on the right trellis are doing great too!  I've never had paste tomato's get so big without succumbing to blight.  Well see if this year is any different.  You might be able to see it, but in the second row (in this pic) of trellises, I planted a squash between the trellis's that seems to have a mind of its own, and has taken over at least two of these trellis'...

Honey Nut Butternut Squash Mystery Asian Squash... the freak show of my garden!
I suppose it's good that my tomato's here didn't grow bigger, because it quickly became apparent that the squash was going to win! 

Just at 24inches circumference
And on the left, 25 inches circumference

Needless to say, I'm quite pleased on how the tomato's and Honey Nut Butternut's Mystery Asian squash are doing!

At the beginning of the season, I had very low expectations for these peppers.  They were short and didn't look like they would go anywhere... but I have been pleasantly surprised to find a number of delicious greens on each plant!

German Chamomile
I had purchased a number of different flowers and herbs this spring and was really just experimenting.  Of all the hers/flowers I planted, the chamomile is the only one that really took off... and boy has it taken off!  I think we'll be planting this a border around the entire garden next year... I think it's quite pretty to be honest... hopefully it makes for good tea as well.

Walthamville (How many squash do you count?)
Another plant I'm excited about is the Waltham butternut's.  At my parent house, in the past, each year we would only get a few fruits before the plant took to the squash bug/mildew.  This year, I've only seen one bug and the mildew is only attacking the pumpkins...

My little rhubarb patch
 I'm telling you, the rhubarb from Stark Bro's is pretty awesome!

Sweet potato patch
I know Sweet Potato's do better (at setting fruit) when they are stressed, so this year may not be the best... but at least I tried!  (Multiple layers of horse manure and cardboard or paper).

My new vineyard
Many thanks again to Herrick Kimball for all of his work on gardening and sharing some of it on his websites!  (I do wish he'd finish up his site for those lamps though!)  Anyway, this is my new grape vineyard.  I need to replace the t-posts on the ends with some wooden posts, but everything in between is awesome!  Thank you also to Tractor Supply for the free grape vines!  Don't worry, I spent nearly $200 there to get this thing set up... in the end, we both won!

Stringing up the vines
I really don't know anything about growing grapes, training them or pruning... but I think I'm on the right track.  I'm simply wrapping the young vine around some twine to get it to grow the direction I desire.

Grrr!!!!  Japanese Beetles...
I'm going to have to figure something out here... these guys are just plain destructive!  Although on the bright side, maybe they will kill all of the bluegrass in my lawn!  That stuff will send roots underground that pop up all over the edges of garden beds... not my friend.

Pollinators, woohoo!
I thought there were not any bees in the area... apparently I was wrong!  Notice the yellow pollen on the bees legs (not the bumble bee's)... that's what goes into making honey!  You can bet I'll be planting a lot more sunflowers next year!  (I'm wanting to get my own bees.)

The swale bed
I hand dug a swale (click here for an explanation of swales) in my backyard and planted some green beans over it... the difference between the mulched an non-mulched beans is pretty obvious in this picture!

And here are a few of my fruit trees...


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