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This weekend, I harvested my garlic. I turned the water off to the bed that they were in last weekend so the soil would start to dry a bit and I could get the garlic out of the ground. The German Brown garlic was very prolific, but produced the smallest bulbs. The Nootka Rose didn’t produce as much but the bulbs were bigger than the German Browns. The biggest bulbs were from the Island Rocambole, Siberian and Bzenc. They are now curing in the garage for the next week or two and then it will be time to snip the greens off and get them into storage.

Complete Garlic Harvest

Complete Garlic Harvest

Island Rocambole

Island Rocambole

Bzenc

Bzenc

Siberian

Siberian

German Brown

German Brown

Nootka Rose

Nootka Rose

I need to start looing at garlic to plant for next year. I’ll need to plant about the first week of September in order to get a decent harvest next year. Maybe I’ll get some different varieties to try this year.

I harvested a couple of tubes of potatoes this weekend. Neither of them had a label, so I figured I would go ahead and pull those and see what they are. Looks like they might be Desiree and Nicola. One tube was a light redskin potato and the other was a white skin. I think this weekend will be the last big drink the rest of the potatoes are getting. I need to let the tubers size up and the foliage dieback so I figure I should be able to harvest the rest of the potatoes in about 2-3 weeks, provided we don’t get much more rain up here.

I finally got the apple trees planted. They are a cold hardy rootstock, but I don’t know what the fruit will taste like. These are just little whips so it will be several years before they even think about flowering. They need a few weeks in the ground before it starts getting cold up here. I hope they survive. My goal is to graft other varieties onto this particular rootstock once this rootstock gets established.

And last, but not least, I put mulch on the roses and irises that I transplanted a month or so ago. I actually have a flower on one of the roses and with consistent watering after transplanting, they are putting on new growth. I need to start thinking about cutting back on the water in order to let them harden off for the winter. I really would like them to survive.

So I finally have had enough with the weeds in my big garden. Last weekend, I got out the big guns to tackle the Canada thistle and apply another application to the smooth brome. These weeds are nasty. Thistle has roots that go straight down, then take a sharp right (or left) so you never can pull the whole root. And when you pull the thistle, it just sends up more shoots from the roots from hell. I took a couple of pics of the thistle plants in decline from the herbicide. I may have to spray again, but they are on the decline!
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I also harvested peas today. I got a full colander of snow and sugar snap peas. And last weekend, I harvested the same. I’m really happy with the peas. Since I put the walls o’ water around them, they have taken off. Plus, the rain we’ve been getting has helped a lot, too.

Pea harvest today

Pea harvest today

And the best news (because I’m a geek) is in my greenhouse. I have parasitic wasps that are starting to take care of the aphid problem. I hope I didn’t kill too many of the wasps with my insecticidal spray a while back. These guys are awesome! You really can’t see the parasitic wasps, they are so tiny. They are not like yellow-jackets at all! The parasitic wasps lay their eggs in the aphid, when the egg hatches, the larvae eats the aphid from the inside out, then pupates and exits the dead aphid, leaving aphid mummies. It’s really cool. The aphid mummies are golden in color and more swollen than a regular aphid and if you look at the back end of the mummy, you can see the cut end where the adult parasitic wasp emerged. And the best part is the parasitic wasps showed up on their own. I didn’t have to purchase them or anything.

Aphid mummies on a pepper plant

Aphid mummies on a pepper plant

Aphid mummies on a pepper leaf

Aphid mummies on a pepper leaf

I have a couple of tomatoes on one of my tomato plants in the greenhouse and lots of flowers on the eggplant. I hope it’s not getting too hot in there and the flowers are aborting. I opened the door a bit to help it cool down, so hopefully more tomato and eggplant flowers will set fruit.

It’s another good week in the garden.

The July monsoons are officially here. It has rained at least two or three days this last week and at least once each day this weekend. What does this mean for the garden? I didn’t have to water much! The greenhouse veggies needed water, but the outside garden is doing great. The peas in the walls o’ water are flowering. The roses are settling in nicely from the transplant last weekend and have actually put on new leaves.

I got insecticidal soap and drenched the peppers and eggplant in the greenhouse this weekend. I will probably have to make another application, but I hope I put a serious dent in the aphid population. The beans, tomatoes and eggplants in the greenhouse have flowers on them as well, so I hope they will set fruit soon. I will fertilize the tomatoes next weekend to make sure they have enough food for fruit production. Last weekend I harvested a bunch of basil to dry down and it looks like next weekend I’ll have to harvest again. It is doing fabulously well in the greenhouse.

The iris got planted this weekend, which will be a nice show of flowers next year. The lupine that was feasted on by critters is really making a nice comeback. I hope the lupines flower this year. It will be a nice addition to the garden.

The potatoes are producing nice vegetation and I am seeing little flower buds on some of them. I’m hoping to have a great crop this year. The garlic seems to be doing well, but it has not produced scapes yet, so I think they are a little behind this year.

The peony that I planted on the west side of the house has bloomed! Yay! I planted this peony 3 years ago and had forgotten what color the blossoms were supposed to be. They are a beautiful ruby color.

Peony bloom close-up

Peony bloom close-up

Peony blooms

Peony blooms

I think I will have to use the grass herbicide again. I was told that smooth brome can be a bugger to get rid of, so that might happen next weekend. The first application may have set it back a bit, but it hasn’t totally killed the grassy weeds yet.

Lastly, the Rufous hummingbirds have finally arrived and are battling it out with the Broad-tailed hummingbirds for space on the feeder. I always assumed we had Ruby Throated hummingbirds, but doing a bit of research for the links, Ruby Throated hummingbirds are east of the Mississippi. They don’t migrate this far west in the summer. The Broad-Tailed hummingbirds are the ones that migrate to the Central Rockies. They look pretty similar to the Ruby Throated hummingbirds. Either way, they are just amazing to watch.

Have a great week and happy gardening!

I should title this Weeding 101. I spent most of the weekend weeding one section of the big garden so that I could transplant all the surviving roses into one area where they will get regular water. I’ve been threatening to do this for a couple of years now, but this weekend, it’s finally done. I started on weeding on Saturday, finished Sunday and got the roses transplanted. The mulch and iris planting will have to wait until next weekend. Pulling weeds is challenging work!

Starting weeding where I left off on Saturday

Starting weeding where I left off on Saturday

Finished weeding!

Finished weeding!

Roses are transplanted and watered in.

Roses are transplanted and watered in.


These roses are what has survived the EarthKind Rose Trial from several years ago. Based on the tags I found when I was transplanting, there are 3 George Vancouver, 3 John Davis and 1 William Baffin still surviving. There are also 4 others that had no tags so I will have to check my plot plan and see if I can figure out which ones they are.

There are also iris blooming. Down along the Front Range, the iris are already spent and folks are dividing for next year. Up here, they bloom about a month or so later than down in Fort Collins or Denver.

Large clump blooming in the big garden

Large clump blooming in the big garden

Yellow iris by the greenhouse

Yellow iris by the greenhouse

The lupine that was mostly stems a couple of weeks ago is starting to rebound and produce new leaves. I don’t know if it will flower this year or not. The peony on the west side of the house still has its flower buds. I hope it blooms in the next couple of weeks. And last, but not least……the greenhouse. have some serious aphid issues. I will be getting some insecticidal soap this week to try and combat the buggers. They are on peppers and eggplant. I really need to get them under control so they don’t infest my tomatoes too.

Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July!

The Big Guns

Well…….I did it. I got out the big guns yesterday and used a grass selective herbicide on the smooth brome in my garden. It will take about 10 days to 2 weeks to start seeing results, but I am hopeful. I got up early to spray and it’s a good thing, there was no wind yesterday morning. That doesn’t happen very often but it was perfect timing yesterday. I didn’t do anything else in the garden yesterday because I wanted the herbicide to dry before I went back out.

So, out I went this morning and I am hopeful once again. The potatoes are recovering from the freeze last week and are putting out new growth. They got hilled up again this weekend, which will be the last time this season. Now I just need to keep up the watering.

Frosted potatoes slowly recovering

Frosted potatoes slowly recovering

The cabbage and aspabroc that I put walls o’ water around last weekend are doing much better. Out of six plants, five of them have put on new leaves. They’re trying to make it. The peas are going gangbusters with the walls around them. Nothing is nibbling on them and the soil is staying moist so they have really jumped up.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are trellised and are doing great. I have 4 pepper plants that were loaded with aphids this morning, but I washed most of them off the plant with water and crushed a lot of them. I hope they don’t find their way back on to the plants.

Something is eating my lupine. I thought they were deer resistant, but I don’t think this is deer damage. This lupine has been there for about 3 or 4 years and was starting to look fabulous. Don’t know if it will survive this.
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My bearded iris have nice flower buds and should be blooming in the next week or so. Looking forward to seeing the colors.

My next big project is to do something about the ground squirrels. They are out of control. They are now digging into my greenhouse, not just out in the big garden. Hopefully all the containers in the greenhouse are high enough off the ground to deter the little ^&^%^&$$%(*@#@#’s. I’m hoping that once the grassy weeds are gone and they don’t have the vegetation cover, they will move out of the garden to someplace else. We’ll see. As always, one can only hope.

……..that mountain gardening brings me to the point of frustration. I was hoping to get through this season without having to use my walls o’ water….for ANY of my plants. But today, I got them out again. Last weekend I planted some cabbage and aspabroc seedlings a friend had given me, thinking they would be fairly cold hardy and could withstand the cool temps at night. I was wrong! Last Sunday we had a freeze event that toasted some of the leaves, the intense sun up here burned leaves on a couple of them and now something is feasting on them. So in an effort to save what little plant material is left, I got out the walls o’ water and put them around the upside down tomato cages that I set over the plants. All this in an effort to provide a bit of warmth to the soil and the plants, protect them from the hellatious winds we are having up here and provide protection from predation. I also put walls o’ water around my pea seedlings. They seem to be doing ok with the cool weather, but I did notice something has been nibbling at them. I would really like to harvest some peas this year.

Another frustration is the weed situation. Every time I think I am making a little headway in digging them out, we get rain or snow and they flourish. I think I am going to have to resort to some grass selective herbicide to combat the smooth brome that has become one of the MOST noxious weeds in my garden. A grass selective herbicide won’t hurt my broadleaf plants, but I will have to be careful around my bearded iris, garlic and remaining daffodil leaves. I’ve hesitated to use herbicides, but this grass keeps finding its way into my garden via very strong rhizomatous roots and prolific seedheads and it is so hard to keep ahead of it.

Which brings me to my last frustration of the day…….frost! We had a frost event last night. I watered my potatoes yesterday and most all of them had sprouted. The ones that had sprouted last weekend, I hilled up again and they had pushed their way through the soil. The other spuds that had not sprouted last weekend were just starting to nose up this weekend. I went out again this morning to water and noticed the potato leaves looked water-soaked and were a much darker color. Guess what? Frost! It did get cool yesterday afternoon but I didn’t think that it was going to frost. I should know better. I’ve lived in the mountains now for 12 years. But I am still surprised by weather events. Hopefully the potatoes have enough energy to put out some more leaves. I did notice that under the darkened leaves were some leaves that were protected, so I’m hoping they will thrive.

All that being said, you may ask why do I continue to garden up here? Simple…..I like to grow plants. Nothing tastes quite like freshly harvested vegetables from your own garden. And it is a challenge, but I’m going to keep trying.

The last time I posted, I was lamenting the amount of snow we had had and that I had to wait to plant potatoes. This past weekend was time for inspection because our weather has been, to say the least, weird. On May 23rd, after the big potato planting weekend, we had massive thunderstorms rolling through the area that produced large marble-sized hail. There was also a funnel cloud spotted in the area so we were under a tornado warning (very unusual for Red Feather Lakes). Who would have thought that this could happen in the mountains at 8600 feet elevation? Well, the funnel cloud was a reality. As we discovered later, there was a massive blowdown of trees by Bellaire Lake and the Bellaire Lake Campground, caused either by tornado or a micro-burst. According to KUNC radio, there were about a thousand trees that were uprooted. The Forest Service said the more trees may come down as the soil is saturated and unstable.

Which leads me to the inspection of my garden. The greenhouse withstood all this weather but some of my plants did not fare so well. The garlic had some leaf damage. The onion sets I had planted the previous weekend, also had some leaf damage as well as leaf shredding of some of the bearded iris. The potatoes were in good shape because they had not produced any leaves above the soil so they were protected. The daffodil flowers took a big hit as the hail knocked off most of the petals.

But the rain did have benefits. It was good for carrot, parsnip and beet seed germination. Almost all the seed has germinated, which means I’ll be thinning the seedlings out in a few weeks so there will be room for the rest to grow to a nice size. My orange mint did not sustain any damage, of course. Mint is one of the toughest plants I have ever grown. I think it will survive anything! My pea seedlings were so small that the hail did not damage them and the added moisture actually help encourage them. Now I just hope the ground squirrels, pocket gophers and chipmunks don’t find them.

I also planted most of my tomato, pepper, eggplant and basil seedlings in the greenhouse. I’m hoping for a nice crop this year from the greenhouse. I’m really trying not to cram too many plants in there so I get a decent harvest. That’s one thing that I really have to watch……I want a lot of produce, so I think more plants is better, when in actuality, less plants will produce more because I can take better of them and they have room to grow.

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