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Last weekend was a fun time in the garden!!  It was sunny and mild temps and not very windy.  The daffodils by the greenhouse are starting to emerge.  I took the frost cloth off of the two raised beds I had covered for the winter in the hopes of being able to overwinter greens in one bed and carrots in the other bed.  It actually worked!  There were some casualties, but for the most part, the greens bed did great.

I also have a lot of leeks that overwintered as well.  Those need to be thinned out, but that’s for a later date.  I was able to harvest some carrots out of the bed that were pretty nice size for being overwintered.  Unfortunately, I will have to buy  new frost cloth if I want to cover the beds again this fall.  I planted some spinach seed in the greens bed and got the supports and deer netting on it so what is there doesn’t get eaten. In another bed that I had planted garlic in last fall, I planted onion sets and green onion seeds, got those hand watered in.  Then we got some snow and rain this week, so that was great for getting more moisture on the new plantings.  There is still a bit of room in that bed, so I might throw some lettuce seeds in there.  I also managed to move some wood railing that had been on the flatbed trailer into the garden to use as supports for the cordon system I had built a few years ago.  I’m hoping to be able to drape deer netting over them in order to be able to plant grapes again.  We’ll see how far I get on that project…..it might be next year before grapes get planted.  There are other things I want to get done first this year.

This weekend (3.31.18) I built another raised bed.  I think I’m addicted to these things.  Now that I’ve figured out how to build them, it only takes a couple of hours once I have all the materials ready.  The way they are built, it keeps the ground squirrels from coming up into the beds so they can’t eat the veggies, and in addition, I can cover them with deer/bird netting to keep the deer from eating everything.

The ground had thawed out so it was pretty easy to work and level it out to put the bed in.  Now I need to get some compost/soil mix to fill up two of the beds so I can plant into them.  Next up on the list of things to do is to change out the fencing around the garden.  There is wire strung around the garden for an electric fence, but my plan now is to remove the lower wires and install regular fencing on the lower portion of the perimeter.  We have some rolls of fencing that I can use for this and it may deter the deer a bit more than just the skinny wires.  And I was looking at the front area of the garden, that runs along the driveway and was thinking that if I built a row of raised beds along the front, I could then have some nice flower beds……maybe some perennials and bulbs.  I’m such a dreamer.  This won’t happen this year, but over the course of the next couple of years, my entire garden might be a lot of raised beds.

It might have to wait 2-3 weeks, but I also have roses to plant out in the big garden.  Currently, they are in the garage, staying cool and dormant (hopefully).  I want to get the fence completed before I plant those out plus it’s still a bit cold at night.  I don’t want them to freeze once I get them outside.  They can go on the northwest side of the garden, towards the trees.  That might be a more protected area than out in the middle of the garden.

All-in-all, it’s been a great couple of weekends in the garden and I feel like I am making progress.  It’s all in the prep work to be able to have a successful summer garden.

 

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Spring Fever!

I have a bad case of spring fever!  What snow we have is melting and I went garden shopping.  I’m trying to get everything in place for when I CAN get out into the garden, but getting everything ready really makes me want to get out there and plant something. I went our into the garden this morning and was looking to see how it had fared through the winter.  I have garlic poking up out of the soil.  I don’t know if they sprouted up last fall or this spring, but several varieties have little green shoots with a bit of frost tipburn.  I covered two of the beds with frost cloth last fall thinking I could overwinter greens, carrots, parsnips and leeks.  I tried to see how they were doing today, but couldn’t get the frost cloth lifted up high enough to see much.  It is frozen to the ground and I don’t want to rip it.  What I did see was encouraging.  It looks like some of the greens did overwinter and once the cloth comes off they will sprout right back up.

The seeds that I ordered have arrived (greens, beans, snow peas, carrots and beets) and my seed potatoes (red gold, purple viking and maris piper varieties) will be here about the 1st of May.  I still need to get some spinach seed and maybe a few other specialty vegetables that will grow at higher elevations.  There’s still time to figure out exactly what I want since I plant a bit later up here.  Most people plant their peas about the middle of March, so I figure that I can plant my peas about the middle of April. We are about a month behind at this elevation.

On my shopping excursion I picked up bags of potting soil for the raised beds. I will definitely need more, but this will be enough to fill the other half of the bed that has the garlic planted in it.  I also got some rebar and plastic irrigation line to make the supports over the raised beds so I can drape them with deer netting.  The first couple of years of planting potatoes, the deer left them alone and wouldn’t eat them, but now they seem to have developed a taste for the potato foliage, so I need to protect the spuds.  Too much foliage damage reduces tuber set and then I don’t get good yields. They also never used to bother the garlic, but last year I noticed some nibbled tops so now I need to cover those as well.  And since I now have a total of 4 raised beds, the veggies will go on a crop rotation schedule, so everything will need to be protected. Some new soaker hoses and connecting hoses finished out the shopping list.

Oh, and I also bought some bare root roses.  I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but now I have to figure out what to do with them since I can’t plant them outside just yet.  I also don’t want them to break dormancy, so I might just keep them watered and in the garage for another month.

I know I have to be patient.  March is, after all, our snowiest month and the month has just started.  But man……I sure have spring fever!

 

Since I got chased inside by thunder today, I figured I would get caught up on the blog.  I have to say that I am really happy with my garden this year!  Is it perfect?  Of course not!  But I am having a better gardening season than I have had in a long time.  I almost hope I don’t jinx it just by talking about it.

Most of the weeds in front of the beds have been pulled out and disposed of.  Mulch has been spread around the raised beds to help prevent more weeds.  The first two beds are going gangbusters with greens, carrots, beets and peas.  There were a lot of mushrooms in the greens bed for some reason.  I think either the potting mix had a lot of wood chips in it or I might have put some mushroom compost in there that is producing mushrooms.  I won’t eat the mushrooms since I can’t identify them, but they won’t hurt the greens.  I just keep pulling them out.    There are also some volunteer potatoes in the greens bed because I put the potting mix from last year’s potatoes in that bed and apparently didn’t get all the potatoes out of it.  Somehow they managed to overwinter and are sending up shoots.  We’ll see how many potatoes come of it.  It will certainly be a surprise to see what comes of them.  In the second raised bed, the beets and carrots are (mostly) thinned out.  The parsnips have (finally) germinated, and this weekend, I harvested my first small batch of peas.

The potatoes in the grow bags sitting in the third raised bed are growing out of the frost damage we had.  Seems weird that there was a cold snap in July, but this IS Colorado and we ARE in the mountains, so anything can happen.  The research potatoes are not as robust as the regular varieties that I planted.  In fact, there are two bags that did not send out any shoots after hilling them up.  I’ll have to make sure I don’t put that soil in with anything else in case the potatoes rotted.  The nice thing about grow bags is you can clean and sanitize them so there is little risk of infecting potatoes next year.  I noticed the deer are eating the potato shoots around the edges of the raised bed.  I’m not sure why, since there is so much other forage for them to eat.  It doesn’t seem to be harming the plants, though.  Hopefully the potato harvest will be good this year.

The greenhouse is finally fixed.  The panels that had blown out the last couple of winters are replaced and secured.  It’s nice to have that space available again to grow some of the warmer season veggies.  I missed having the basil for cooking.

There are 6 tomato plants, 7 if you count the upside-down hanging tomato.  Also three pots of beans, the classic blue lake, royal burgundy and dragon tongue.  The dragon tongue are yellow pods with maroon mottling.  They sound interesting.  The pictures above from the greenhouse were taken a couple of weeks ago, so everything is much bigger now.  I also have two pots of basil, some sage, and I just planted some garlic chives and oregano today.  I did some cleaning up around the greenhouse today and discovered the deer are eating my lupines.  Oh, well………we do share the mountain.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m really happy with my garden this year.  It’s really gratifying to have little green growing things out there.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, so I figured it was time to catch everyone up on what’s been happening.  Last year, I built two raised beds in the big garden, getting  them ready to plant into this spring.  This year, I’ve planted greens in one of the two beds built in 2016 (mesclun mix, russian kale, red romaine, leaf lettuce and some leeks) and in the second of the two first built beds are beets, carrots, peas and parsnips.  Both of last year’s beds are covered in deer/bird netting that is tied on with brightly colored flagging tape to (hopefully) keep the deer from getting tangled up in the netting.  Last year, the only thing I planted were potatoes so I’m really happy that there is a lot growing this year.

4th raised bed finished

Third and fourth raised beds, 2017

first two raised beds filled and ready to plant

First two raised beds, 2016

 

This summer I constructed two additional raised beds.  The only thing in one of the new beds this year are the potatoes in the grow bags but this will give me time to fill them so they’ll both be ready for next year’s growing season.  I’m slowing getting mulch put around the beds to help reduce weed populations and make for a more even walking surface between and around the beds.

After a slow start, the garlic is coming on strong in the garden.  I thought the late snow we had in May might set them back as it broke some of the leaves off, but they are hardy plants.  I harvested the scapes off them this weekend and used them in some scrambled eggs….yum!

I repaired the greenhouse a couple of weekends ago as well.  The panels that the wind took out are replaced and now the tomatoes are in and I planted bean seeds and some herbs this weekend.  I’ll put some more herbs in next weekend but this is a good start.

Now I’m trying to figure out what is next.  I have two rows of t-posts with cordon wire that I strung back when I thought i could grow grapes up here.  Well…..that didn’t happen….it got too cold and the deer absolutely loved the grape leaves so nothing survived.  But I’ve been pondering putting in a hoop house over the t-posts in order to grow cucurbits, things like pumpkins, maybe some summer squash but also some winter squashes.  I’ll have to do some research and figure out if it would be feasible.

all 4 beds

All four raised beds; the weeds in front are not there now.

In addition to getting some seeds planted in the greenhouse, this weekend was all about weeding.  The weeds are starting to take over, especially the annual mustards and cheatgrass.  Since they are flowering and/or setting seeds, they need to be disposed of instead of trying to compost them.  The seeds on the weeds would continue to mature and just add to the seed bank and then there will be more plants…..definitely don’t want that!  The rest of the summer will be more weed pulling and maintenance.  I want to get some more perennials planted but the weeds have to go first so they don’t compete for space, etc.

In the bed by the deck, the peonies came back as did the two lilacs that I planted last year.  And now the smallest lilac (it’s a Miss Kim) is blooming, both peonies have flower buds and it looks like they may have flowers by Saturday.  The russian sage is returning and the Cheyenne Mock Orange is almost ready to bloom as well.  And I keep being amazed that the lavender comes back every year.

peonies and lilacs making a return

Peonies and lilacs before blooms

All in all, this season is going well for gardening.  It is much better than last year and I really enjoy seeing everything growing!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a bountiful harvest.

 

 

This summer is turning out to be more of a maintenance year than actually doing a lot of gardening.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still growing a couple of veggies and have worked on weeding and putting new plants in my perennial beds, but it’s not the all out gardening of years past.  In the perennial bed close to the deck, I planted a Charles Jolly Lilac and a Miss Kim Lilac.  I added another peony (white) to complement the magenta peony that is already established.  The Russian Sage I planted a few years ago is doing good this year…..amazing what weeding and some water will do for plants!

The big garlic bed was a no-show this year.  I think the voles that tunneled in ate most of the cloves or at least enough of the clove so that they could not produce new garlic.  I still have some garlic that I planted in another area that is doing well, in fact, today I harvested the scapes off of them.  The bulbs should be ready to harvest in another month or so.  I think I will try to plant the garlic for next year a little earlier so it has time to sprout and set roots before winter.

I still have 10 roses that have survived from the rose trial several years ago.  I noticed today that a couple of them have flower buds and a couple have produced some blooms.  Yay!!  The lupines by the greenhouse are going gangbusters.  At the start of the season, the lupines were covered in aphids and I wasn’t sure they would make it through, but a little help from some insecticide solved that problem.

The research potatoes seem to be doing well in the grow bags.  This weekend when I was watering, a few of the potatoes look like they got scorched by something.  I am not sure what is causing that.  It doesn’t look like a disease.  It might be insect feeding from the lygus bugs that I found on the potatoes or maybe since the deer have been in the garden nibbling on the potatoes, they peed on the plants??  Who knows?  I’ll keep an eye on the potatoes and hope it doesn’t get any worse.

Last weekend I watered the peas I planted this spring and was really excited as they had flowers so I knew I would get some peas.  This weekend…….I think the deer got in the garden and had a feast on my peas.  The peas had been eaten down to about a foot from the soil level.  Rat b**stard deer!  The good thing about peas is I can grow some more into the fall so I should still have a harvest, albeit a small one.

My big achievement this weekend was getting the first raised bed built.  I still have to fill it with soil, but it is in place and ready.  I found the bricks at the store that have slots to slide boards into and also a 1/2 inch hole in the middle to be able to put rebar or similar through to stabilize the stones.  The bricks take a 2″ x 6″ board (I used kiln dried–not treated), cut to any length you want.  I used 5 foot lengths to make the sides and 4 foot lengths to make the ends.  I had to level the area since we do live on a mountain and things are on a slope, but it wasn’t that difficult.  Because I had to level the area, I used the bricks 3 high so the bed is 18″ tall.  I don’t have to put soil up to that level, but wanted a sturdy foundation for the bed.  I laid down chicken wire before putting everything in place to prevent voles and ground squirrels from being able to tunnel up into the bed.    And it looks really nice!

If you live in town, the bricks in the middle of the sides probably aren’t necessary, but since there are large mammals, like deer and moose, making their way through my garden, I wanted to make sure the bed would survive.  The added bonus of the rods through the bricks is that next spring when it’s planting season, I can get some bendable poly tubing and place it on the metal rods and use it to make the bed a small hoop house with deer netting or row cover to keep the critters from eating the veggies.  I think this raised bed will work well and I might even be able to get another one built before winter.

I knew I was taunting Mother Nature this week when I purchased potting soil so I could plant potatoes this weekend.  I volunteered to trial 2 varieties from the San Luis Valley Research Station Potato Breeding Program and wanted to get them started since the potatoes were sprouting.  My plan:  to use 10 gallon grow bags, with one potato or piece per bag so there would be plenty of room for tubers to form.  This morning when I woke up, it was foggy with just a bit of mist.  foggy start 5.7.16

Since it was foggy, I decided to start this process in the garage.  I figured I could fill the grow bags with potting soil, plant the potatoes, water and then carry the grow bags out to the garden.  It was misty rain, not real cold, so this could be a good plan.  I got the first variety planted, labeled and moved out to the garden.  first group of potatoes 5.7.16This is where the extreme gardening part comes in.  First, I had to get the potting soil out of my car and because I watered the grow bags in the garage and carried them out, this turned out to be my weightlifting exercises for the day.  Walking back and forth from the garage to the garden gave me my steps for the day.  Plus all the bending to fill the grow bags with potting soil worked my lower back and hamstrings.

After this first variety was set out, I took a little break.  By the time I got back to planting the second variety of potatoes, it was hailing with thunder.  So it looked like there was a little bit of snow on the ground. hail 5.7.16

I have muck boots so it wasn’t that bad.  I figured that by the time the hail was finished, I would have the rest of the grow bags filled with potting soil and the potatoes planted.  Never let it be said that mountain gardening is easy.  By the time I was ready to bring the second variety out to the garden, it looked like this:  all potatoes out with snow 5.7.16

It had stopped hailing and started snowing.  Big, wet flakes. I finished moving the grow bags out to the garden……..why stop now, just because there is a little snow?  I got out the frost cloth and took that out to cover the bags so they won’t freeze.  I checked the forecast for the next two weeks and the daytime temps are supposed to be in the 50’s and 60’s and the nighttime temps won’t get below 32F so the potatoes should be protected.  But this is what happens when trying to rush the gardening season up here.  Finally, this is what the potatoes look like covered in the frost cloth:  potatoes covered with frost cloth 5.7.16

As I write this, it is still snowing and there is about an inch or so accumulation on the garage roof.   Yes, mountain gardening is not for the faint of heart.  It is an extreme sport!

So it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post.  I figure I had better get caught up.  Last year’s potatoes were harvested early due to the fact that the ground squirrels or chipmunks figured out how to climb up the potato cages and get inside to eat the growing tubers.  I had a few carrots to harvest and not many tomatoes from the greenhouse.  But this is another year and another gardening season begins.

I had my first chance this past weekend to get out into the garden to survey what Mother Nature had wrought this winter.  The big snows have melted except in the shaded parts so it was easy to check out the garden.  The voles have been very active this year.  I planted the majority of my garlic last fall in a different area  of the garden and it looks like the voles have made a lot of trips through that area.  I hope they didn’t eat too many of the cloves that were planted.  I did not see any little green sprouts coming up in that area.  I have another smaller area with garlic and they have sprouted and are coming up nicely.  No vole damage in that area.

I weeded in the walls o’ water and around them (in the big garden) so I could get the peas planted, which I did.  And that was great, because last night we had another 2-3 inches of snow.  The peas will be well watered and I hope they sprout soon.  After I finished that project, I moved over to the greenhouse to check things out.

4.25.16

This was the view that caught my eye as I headed to the greenhouse.  There were several plexiglass pieces blown out of the greenhouse by the wind.  This picture shows the largest piece from the east side.  There were two other smaller pieces, one from the roof and one from the south side of the greenhouse that were also blown out.  The dead aspen fell at the edge of the potato cages, with just some minor crunching of the top of the hardware cloth cages.  The poor lupines under the plexiglass managed to survive and were growing very nicely.  I hope that they survive this spring snow now that they are not protected by the glass.

On the positive side, the daffodils by the greenhouse are almost ready to bloom.  The daffodils planted in the large garden are emerging and should bloom around the end of May.  It appears that most of the roses survived the winter as did the bearded iris.   Most of the lupines up by the greenhouse have nice leaves. It’s spring, and I hope the weekends stay nice so I can continue to get things cleaned up.  I’m hopeful………again.