Harvest Monday: Broccoli edition

June 24, 2013

IMG_3185IMG_3188Finally, after my slow start in the garden, some harvests are happening.  I harvested 3 heads of broccoli, weighing in at 1 lb. 12 oz..  Another 3 heads are also almost ready to go.  We’ll eat one tonight and freeze the rest for winter treats.  One head started to bolt early, but while not cosmetically perfect should still be tasty.

I discovered this morning that some other mammal is harvesting some crops for me, unfortunately.  Recently set out broccoli and Brussels sprouts, lettuce, cauliflower, all have been chomped.  I suspect it is a rabbit that squeezed through the garden gate.  I’ll be fixing that as soIMG_3186on as this report is posted.  This early unauthorized harvesting may be the end of the Brussels sprouts and broccoli, I don’t know if they can recover if the main stem is eaten.  I may need to look for replacement plants.

Some of the lettuce was of a size where I could harvest some of the outer leaves, but no more.  A few of the smaller transplants are doomed, I think they are too chomped to recover.  Grrrr.  Time to set the HaveNoHeart trap.

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Heading up

June 19, 2013

IMG_3159I’m making good progress in the garden now that my days in the office have ended for the summer (yay!).  Almost all my transplants are set out, just a few purchased Brussels sprouts I purchased yesterday remain.  Over the past few days and with Dan’s help, I managed to plant the remaining lettuce, some bok choi, potatoes, more broccoli and IMG_3166cauliflower, and sow some cucumbers and squash seeds in the vegetable garden.  This morning, I sowed more lettuce, and some cilantro and dill, and then I peeked under the brassica row cover.  The broccoli and cauliflower I set out in April is heading up — there will probably be broccoli for dinner some night soon.  I also IMG_3170set out all my flower seedlings, a mix of zinnias, black-eyed Susans, bachelor buttons, and salvia.  I also sowed some sunflower seeds in both the flower bed and the vegetable garden.

In the midst of all this, we’ve been weeding and fluffing the perennial beds, and starting a big refresh of the house.  We have a fabulous contractor repairing and patching sheetrock and replacing the textured ceiling in the living room.  Once he is done, we’ll be doing some painting.

We have one other little problem to solve, too.  I need a groundhog sniper.

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A big gardening day

June 10, 2013

IMG_3122The blue tarps worked.  Although the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea dumped about 3 inches of rain on us Friday night, the soil below the taps was dry enough to work today.  We had a mix of sun and clouds throughout the day, with just enough of a breeze to keep the black flies and mosquitoes at bay.

We started the day with a bike ride, then breakfast with friends at a local restaurant.  Then we rode home (uphill, I might add) to do some gardening.  First I finished planting annual flowers in containers for the deck.  We are going with white and pink this year, with some silver accents.  Once all the containers were planted, I mulched the pots with grass clippings IMG_3124to minimize soil splashing and help keep the soil moist.  Once that was done,

I fertilized the beds lightly with to give the seedlings some readily accessible nutrients, then Dan and I laid down the plastic mulch.  While Dan weeded the shallots (he is a weeding fiend!) I sowed cucumber and squash seeds, then planted lettuce in front of the tomatoes.  I peeked under the tomato row cover and discovered some of the tomatoes were flowering, so I removed the row cover to let the bees do their thing.  I also cut some chive blossoms for chive blossom vinegar, mmm.

I have more younger lettuce starts to go in the garden, but they will have to await another day.  All in all, the garden is looking better, although there is still a LOT to do.

DONE/STATUS:

Snap peas are beginning to flower
Tomatoes thriving and uncovered
Peppers planted and coveredIMG_3125
90% of the beds are ready for planting (not including the hoop house)
Plastic down
Checked on broccoli, beginning to head up  some weeding and recovered
Cucumbers and winter squash sowed50% of the lettuce starts sowedShallots weeded and mulched

TO DO:

Sow bush and pole beans
Purchase and sow “Flying Saucers” Patty Pan squash seed
Sow cabbage and more bok choi, tatsoi, kale (for baby kale) and other Asian greens
Plant leek starts
Sow cilantro
Plant parsley starts
Plant cutting flower starts
Sow sunflowers
Prep remaining beds

 

And oh joy, heavy rain is forecast for Monday overnight and Tuesday, with up to 2 inches, and more showers and overcast skies through Thursday.  I feel bad for commercial growers, with strawberry season just beginning. Sigh.

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All tucked in

June 6, 2013

Tonight, I covered the peppers with floating row cover to protect them as best I can from the weather, which looks like this:Picture 27

Originally the forecast was calling for up to three inches of rain in my area, but has dropped the amount to just 1 inch.  Here’s hoping for clear skies for the rest of next week.

Good advice well heeded

June 5, 2013

IMG_3110Daphne gave me good advice.  With the threat of 3+ inches of rain approaching over the weekend from a tropical storm and an army of weeds standing between me and planting, I was feeling IMG_3111overwhelmed.

Daphne said If you aren’t sure you will get the weeding done on the beds that aren’t planted up yet, cover them in black plastic right now…. At least they won’t go to seed and make the problem worse. And the plastic will keep the beds from being too wet when you want to work them.

Before my dentist appointment this morning I managed to prep two beds and lay down the plastic mulch.  I even managed to plant my pepper seedlings.

This evening, Dan turned over most of the rest of the beds and covered them with plastic tarps to keep the rain off.  I hope this will make it possible to work in the garden once the worst of the rain passes.

Thanks, Daphne!  And thanks Dan, too.IMG_3112

I need a gardening pep talk

June 3, 2013

Some good weather over the weekend would be nice, too.

Henbogle garden is in a sad state.  End of year busyness, and bad gardening weather is keeping me out of the garden at the time it (and I) most need to be in the garden.  Weeds are taking luxuriant advantage of the 4 inches of rain we got over Memorial Day weekend, especially after the 3 days of 90+ degree weather we had this past weekend.

My tomatoes are doing ok under the row cover and plastic mulch, but I haven’t been able to plant my peppers or potatoes, let alone prep the beds for direct seeding of pole beans, squash and cukes, more lettuce, etc.  The shallots are looking good but in need of daily intensive weeding for a bit and then a thick layer of mulch.  The cool crops in the hoophouse hated the hot spell and most have bolted.  At least the hens enjoy the sharp flavor of the arugula.

A lot more rain is in the forecast for the weekend and I am despairing about getting the rest of the beds weeded and ready.  I am beginning to think I should have planted a thick cover crop last year while we were away and then the garden would have been in better shape this spring.

Harvest Monday: Bok Choi and Tatsoi

May 20, 2013

IMG_3077I’m finally harvesting a few items from the garden.  Whew, it’s been a long haul, and I’ve really missed having my own backyard produce after our summer away last year.

Saturday I picked two nice bok choi and tatsoi plants for a stir fry for dinner.  It was a pretty local stir fry, too, other than the rice and the green beans, soy sauce, ginger and oil, everything in the dish was locally sourced.IMG_3081  Ok, maybe not that local except by weight.  Still, it was darn tasty!

Unfortunately I forgot to weigh them, but will weigh the remaining plants when I harvest them this week and guesstimate the total.  The two remaining plants were smaller so it will probably even out, or least be close enough.

I also picked a few radishes and will make these into an Asian-type salad this week using some rice wine vinegar and sesame oil.  I’m out of sesame oil though, so they have to wait a bit in the fridge as they were getting a bit big.

This post is part of Daphne’s Harvest Monday series on her fabulous blog, Daphne’s Dandelions.  Other gardeners from around the globe report in on what is growing in their gardens,  It is really interesting reading.

Alewives

May 14, 2013

alewifeSpring is alewife season in Maine.  No, it isn’t when we go hunting for the wives of ale-drinkers or -makers, it is when the alewives, a sea-going fish in the herring family, using their sense of smell, return to the freshwater lakes and ponds where they were spawned to themselves spawn. IMG_2985 Alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus), are fairly small fish of less than a foot in length, whose number used to be so great that bears would wade into streams to eat their fill as the millions of fish made their way upstream.  They have long been smoked and preserved for winter use, or harvested for lobster bait in Maine, but the damming of Maine’s rivers and streams for energy interrupted their passage and the number of alewives has plummeted in recent years.

Maine is working to restore the populations of alewives and other sea-running fish by dam removal aerialand the construction of fish ladders and passageways.  Even in the 12 years I’ve lived next to the Kennebec River, several dams have been removed, hastening the return of salmon and even sturgeon to the river.  Community groups, municipalities and state and federal agencies are working together to restore fish passageways and fish ladders across the state to keep the alewife and other sea-run fish from extinction.  IMG_3020

Sunday we took Dan’s mom to the historic Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder to see the alewives. The ladder allows the fish to pass from Great Salt Bay into the ladder, marked with a yellow arrow in the photo, and then upstream along the yellow line into Damariscotta Lake at the second arrow.

A coalition of local community groups has been working hard to restore the ladder and educate IMG_3028the public about the alewives and the role they play in the ecosystem.  It is an amazing, inspiring sight.  Thousands of fish fill the stream, swimming as one body, packed so closely together it is difficult to see them as individuals when you first look.  The new fish ladder is engineered to add oxygen the water and has 8 resting pools where the plucky fish can catch their breath, so to speak, before continuing.  Netting over the pools prevents eagles, osprey, seagulls and other birds from excessive snacking as the fish make their way up the ladder.  The fish IMG_3033ladder is abutted by homes on one side.  In the photo above you can see some of the resting pools looking down the ladder.  At the top of the fish ladder is a concrete dam.  The alewives fight their way through a small opening in the dam into Damariscotta Lake.  After all their struggles to return to the lake, they are met with hungry ducks and cormorants (as seen in the photo) eager to dine.   The alewives form large schools, and eventually move to quiet water to spawn.  After spawning, the fish return to the sea, IMG_3041traveling downstream tail first, much like they traveled upstream.  A female alewife might lay 60,000 to 100,000 eggs, but only a tiny fraction survive to adulthood.  It is truly an amazing journey.

(above aerial photo from the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder Restoration webpage, my graphics added)

Henbogle’s new theme song

May 13, 2013

Thank you, Jimmy Fallon for being one of the funniest people on the planet.

 

Weeding my life away

May 12, 2013

IMG_2976After a very dry April, we’ve been getting a bit of rain here at Henbogle.  The rain gauge shows about 2 inches over the past sever days, which was just what we needed to green things up in a hurry.

Of course, the weeds also relished the rain, but the nicely moistened soil made it a lot easier to remove some of the worst offenders in the garden, the dandelions.  While they make a lovely contrast with the tulips, the dandelions and other weeds really overtook the blueberry bed last summer while we were IMG_2979away.

The dandies also made themselves at home in the veggie garden, along with a lot of other weeds..  At least the dandelions and chickweed are delicacies in the eyes of the hens, but it was time for the weeds to go.  Dan used a garden fork to loosen up the soil around the dandelions, and pulled them out one by one.  With taproots of 10+ inches, it was a big job.  I raked the thick layer of chickweed out and gave it (and a lot of dandelions) to the hens, then went back and pulled a lot of chickweed and other weeds IMG_2981out by hand.  Look at the contrast between the weeded bed on the left, covered with plastic mulch, the center bed, with most of the chickweed gone, and the bed to the right of Dan, still awaiting the weed patrol.  We piled what weeds we didn’t give to the hens on plastic tarps to haul off to the town mulch pile.  I’m not convinced our compost pile will get hot enough to kill all the seeds in that mess, so off it goes.

We tried not to work the soil too much, as it is a bit wet, but it is the perfect time to weed.  After weeding, I sprinkled some Plant Tone fertilizer over the bed and lightly raked it smooth, then spread the plastic.  I purchased some garden staples from Fedco to pin the plastic down tightly, as the creeping charlie like to crawl into the garden under the mulch.  Just as we finished spreading the plastic, the rain began again, so we picked up the tools up and headed inside for our big clean-up.  We have more to do but in 2 hours of grunt labor, we made a lot of progress.