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Archive for the ‘mulch’ Category

Well, The weather has finally warmed up a bit from the May snowstorms and rains so I finally got all of my potatoes planted. I put together 6 more tubes/cages so I would be able to plant all of them. I planted the first variety a month ago, then it got cold for a weekend, I went to visit my mom and sister over Memorial weekend so finally last weekend, I was able to get my gardening on. I wanted to clean out an area that was on the east side of the greenhouse to put the new tubes. Digging up all that grass was tough!! But I got it all out, chicken wire laid on the ground (to keep the ground squirrels from digging into the tubes from underneath) and tubes staked in and wrapped. Then I put mulch on top of the exposed chicken wire. Wrapping the tubes in plastic helps keep the soil from drying out and, as I have discovered, makes a slick surface so small critters can’t climb the wire of the hardware cloth tubes.

The grassy area that needed to be cleaned.

The grassy area that needed to be cleaned.

End of day 1 digging grass

End of day 1 digging grass

Finished!!

Finished!!

I must admit that I am an over-achiever when it comes to potatoes. I planted 19 varieties total this year. That’s really too many. Next year, I’m scaling back on the potatoes (she says now). But if you are a gardener like me, you just want to try them all. Most of the potatoes I planted are considered short season, meaning they can be harvested in 60-80 days. That’s just about right for this elevation since I figure we have an average of 90 frost free days a year. Once they are ready, I can leave them in the tubes even after frost (but not freeze) which will help set the skins for storage.

In other veggie news…….this year, I did plant carrot seeds in three of the tubes (not with the potatoes) and they are starting to germinate. My parsnips overwintered, but I am not sure how they will taste. They might be rather bitter. I harvested the first round of greens from the greenhouse today and those will go in the salad for dinner. My peas that are planted in the walls o’ water are growing well. They have not been discovered by critters. And all my garlic is finally up. I’m looking forward to scapes on the garlic soon……..they are wonderful in stir-fry dishes.

Next weekend I’ll plant the tomatoes and herbs that I’ve started. Those will go in the greenhouse. I changed up my tomato varieties a bit this year, using determinate and cold-hardy/short season varieties. I have several different varieties of basil, which will help make marvelous marinara in September. I also want to try some broccoli rabe, rapini and a purple broccoli, but I have to figure out where to plant it. I’m glad the weather is (mostly) nice enough to be able to get out into the garden now.

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Well, it has been a while since I posted, however, I did manage to graduate this year, so that is one huge accomplishment that is off my to-do list!  And now, to recap the year……………..

I planted the outside garden squashes too late this year and consequently, did not get any fruit.  I think it is just too cool during the summer for these plants outside.  The only recommendation I can make (and one I might try next year) is to create a hoop house over the area where I planted the squash.  This may allow for a longer growing season.

All things being what they are, for the amount of potatoes that I planted, my harvest this year was small.  I did, still, have more than I can personally use, but the harvest should have been bigger.  I blame the majority of this on the lack of water.  We did not receive any significant summer moisture and as a consequence, everything suffered.  Before planting next year, I will definitely have to remedy that situation.  The tomatoes under the row cover grew beautifully, but unfortunately did not produce that much fruit.  The row cover and walls o’ water did keep the heat in during the majority of the summer so the tomatoes could grow, but also reduced pollination so there was not much tomato set.  I also think that there was not enough heat early in the season to get them going.  Next year, I am going to try an insulated cover which should protect the tomatoes from early and late frosts at our altitude.

I also managed to weed almost the entire garden.  I still have about 10 square feet that will need to be weeded and mulched, but that is reduced significantly from the previous year.  And in all that weeding, I discovered another rose that made it through the trial bringing the total number of survivors to 13.  Pretty good, considering they are surviving drought and herbivore feeding.  The deer managed to eat most of the leaves on the apple trees, so we will see if they survive another winter.  And I think, in part due to the drought, the deer also managed to eat a lot of potato foliage, something they normally do not do.

In the greenhouse, I managed to get a fair amount of roma tomatoes harvested and they did make a great marinara.  The winter luxury pumpkin never did fruit, although it did produce a few flowers.  I did get a nice crop of basil, but the other herbs did not get harvested in time so they froze in the greenhouse once we got cold temperatures.

All in all, it was a pretty decent year even though we had to contend with drought conditions and increased herbivory.  And as always, I’m looking forward to next year and how to improve my garden.

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So today was spent evaluating the damage from the cool nights we have had this past week.  And by cool, I mean it’s getting into the low 30’s.  The potato tops were toasted this week so some harvesting was on the agenda today.  Not all of the potatoes were harvested, I’m hoping if I cut water to the potatoes, the skins will set and they will store a bit longer than freshly harvested.  I pulled up the Red Sangre, Russian Banana Fingerlings and Mountain Rose potatoes.  All together, it was probably close to 35-40 pounds of potatoes.  Since I know we cannot eat all of those potatoes, I have been providing one of our local restaurants (The Wandering Moose) with fresh potatoes for their menu.  It’s not every restaurant up here that can say they source local produce.  After harvesting, I pulled all the weeds and put some pine mulch on the part of the potato patch that was harvested.  All summer, I have been lamenting the fact that none of my Colorado Rose, Yukon Gold or Red McClure potatoes came up.  But it pays to weed the garden…….there are 7 Colorado Rose and Yukon Gold plants coming up and one Red McClure.  Now, I do know that it is quite late in the season for these to just be starting, but I am hoping that with the thick layer of mulch that was put down today, they can overwinter and produce next spring/summer.  Last weekend I harvested all the volunteer potatoes from the garlic/allium bed and had quite a haul from just the volunteers that had overwintered under the mulch.

Toasted potato tops

The tomatoes under the floating row cover were doing well, but with the cold nights, the tops of the tomatoes did get a bit nipped even under the row cover.   The row cover is not insulating, but rather protecting.  And it did protect the plants from total ruination.  I am hopeful that I will still be able to get some tomatoes off of several of the plants before Mother Nature puts her cold hand on them.  There are still quite a few flowers and last week when I checked, there has been some fruit set.  The fruit set is on the lower portions of the plants, so we’ll see if we can get them to ripen soon.

The bottom photo is of the potato patch after harvesting, weeding and mulching.

Tomato tops frostbit under the row cover

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Today’s post is a mish-mash of information and random thoughts on the progress of my veggie garden.

The greenhouse tomatoes, eggplant and peppers are doing great.  I have several Roma tomatoes on one tomato plant and there are lots of flowers on most of the other tomatoes.  The eggplants are all flowering and I hope some of them will be setting fruit.  The peppers are all flowering as well and I even have a few little nubs of peppers starting to grow on some of them.  I definitely learned my lesson from last year and am leaving the greenhouse door open all the time so that the bumblebees can get in to pollinate and it doesn’t get too hot in the greenhouse.  I also planted a couple of cucurbits in the greenhouse this year in hopes of getting some summer squash and pumpkins.  I planted an heirloom variety of zucchini, Costata Romanesco and the best pie pumpkin ever, Winter Luxury, in the greenhouse.  I can trellis the cucurbits like I trellis the tomatoes in the greenhouse and the critters can’t eat them either.  I harvested quite a bit of basil this weekend from the greenhouse.  There were several different varieties and they all smelled wonderful.  This harvest I am just drying down to use a dried basil through the winter.  I also planted fennel in the greenhouse and it loves it in there.  The plants are starting to form nice bulbs.

Outside in the garden, most of the potatoes are looking wonderful.  I had four varieties that have never sprouted, so even though I thought they had eyes, they must not have had enough ‘ooomph’ to get them up and out of the soil.  Of course, this doesn’t mean I won’t get any potatoes, because I do still have 9 other varieties that are doing wonderful.  I planted some pole beans and peas along the cordon system that I set up for the grapes that I removed earlier this spring, and of course, they have been eaten by some critter.  They germinated well and I was hoping to get some produce, but doesn’t look like that will happen.   I also tried to plant some winter squashes outside along the same cordon system.  It appears that critters will eat the cotyledons of the cucurbits as the seeds germinate, but once they start producing true leaves, they leave the plants alone.  The leaves of cucurbits can be a bit prickly and not at all palatable to critters.  I do have a couple of Kabocha and Acorn squash that might survive, but I don’t think I will have a long enough season for them to set fruit.  I may have to transplant them to the greenhouse if I can find room in there in order to get some winter squashes.

The tomatoes and eggplants outside seem to be doing well.  I do have one tomato fruit on the ‘Mortgage Lifter’ tomato.  This past weekend I put a floating row cover over the tomatoes to help protect them from the cool night temperatures.  The temps at night are starting to dip into the 40’s and 50’s and this can inhibit the tomatoes from flowering.  I am hoping that the row cover along with keeping them in the walls of water will keep enough heat on the tomatoes that they can produce quite a bit of fruit.  I had a setback when I planted them since we had a dip in the evening temps on June 10th and it settled on a few of the tomatoes and actually killed them.  I lost a ‘Mr. Stripey‘, ‘Brandywine’, ‘Zapotec’ and one of the Romas.  I replanted with a couple of tomatoes that I got at the store and some ‘Indigo Rose’ that I had started in the greenhouse.  Hopefully the row cover and walls of water will extend the season so I can get a lot of tomatoes.

My garlic will probably be ready to harvest in about a month.  The tops have not started to dry down yet, but they did produce scapes, which I cut off and have been using in several dishes that I cook.  They impart a very nice, mild garlic flavor to omelets and salads.  I even used them as a substitute for chives on a baked potato.  I am thinking I might try to find some garlic to plant now, so it has time to set roots before winter hits and I might actually get an earlier harvest next year.  I also have a lot of volunteer potatoes in the allium area.  Apparently, I did not get all the potatoes harvested last year from this area before I planted the garlic.  It will be interesting to see what varieties they are.  I kind of remember what I had planted where, but not totally.

The apple trees all survived the winter, which is good.  They did have some flowers on all the trees, but when we got that frost/low temperature night in June, it killed all the flowers, so there will be no fruit this year on the trees.  It is probably just as well, since root establishment for the first couple of years is more important than producing fruit.

I am getting a lot of weeding done in the vegetable garden and it is a good feeling. I can look out at the progress and it feels great.  I am adding more mulch to the areas that I have weeded to help keep any future weed growth to a minimum.  It is a very noticeable difference in weed growth, the areas that have a lot of mulch vs. the areas where the mulch has thinned.

As the summer moves along, it will be interesting to see what happens.  I’ll be keeping you posted.

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……….well, almost the first of May, but who’s counting?  The days have been pretty warm for this neck o’ the woods and the garden is starting to show its colors.  The garden got a perfunctory going over yesterday afternoon.  The daffodils by the greenhouse are blooming as are the daffodils in the perennial bed in the big garden.  I hope all the hyacinth bulbs I planted come up soon.  They smell heavenly and will definitely provide a burst of color to the garden.  It looks like 11 out of the 12 surviving roses from the trial are coming back in good shape.  The canes are starting to green around the crown and there are new leaves forming at the base of the plants where they are protected from our cool night temps by the mulch.  Buds on two of the four apple trees are swelling.  The grapes didn’t get inspected very well, they need more time to show if they are going to survive or not.  There are quite a few green tops showing in the huge allium bed that got planted last fall, so even if everything that got planted doesn’t come up, there will still be plenty of garlic.  It’s really nice to see some green out there.  I need to check the soil temperature to figure out if I can plant potatoes yet.  This year, after planting, once the potatoes sprout, I want to start ‘hilling them up’ and covering them with some straw so the potatoes don’t turn green by being exposed to the sun.

The perennial beds next to the deck of the house are starting to show activity as well.  The peony that was planted last year is coming back.  There are four, reddish colored shoots peeking out from the mulch.  The roses in this bed look like they have survived as well.  I didn’t see anything on the Cheyenne Mock Orange shrub, but I said that last year and it came back like gangbusters.  The lambs ear has survived wonderfully well and I can’t wait for the iris to start blooming.  I got anxious yesterday and finally bought some pansies for the deck, but think I will keep them in the greenhouse for another week or two just to make sure the cold temps don’t take them out.

It’s also time to start clearing out the greens in the greenhouse.  There is a great crop of mesclun mix and microgreens, but the containers need to be cleaned out for the herbs that were started.  I just hope there is enough room for everything in that greenhouse.  This past Friday, some of the veggies that got started in a different greenhouse got transplanted out of the plug trays up to a larger size pot so they can start putting on some healthy roots.  Tomato varieties for this year include ‘Black Krim’, ‘Brandywine‘, ‘Speckled Roman’, ‘Italian Roma’ and ‘Zapotec’.  I may also try a couple of other varieties of tomatoes as well.  There are four varieties of eggplant, ‘Long Purple’, ‘Nadia’, ‘Beatrice’ and ‘Rosa Bianca’ along with about 6 different varieties of peppers.  I may have gone a bit overboard on the basil this year, planting 9 different types of basil, but it is a wonderful addition to most dishes, so I don’t think any will go to waste.   As usual, I have probably started too many veggies and herbs, but I can always give them to friends to plant if there is not enough space in the garden.

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Here at our elevation, it is quickly becoming fall.  The aspen are starting to turn, night temperatures are consistently in the 30’s now, with a few dips into the 20’s.  Daytime temps are in the 50’s and 60’s (all temps in Farenheit) so it is still nice, but not warm enough to grow many more vegetables outside.  In the big garden outside, all the frosted veggies from labor day weekend have been torn out, the walls o’ water are emptied and in storage for next year.  The shallots are harvested even though they will have to be treated like scallions/green onions.  It never did get warm enough for them to form true bulbs like the ones you see in the store.  The shallots are definitely going to have to be eaten fairly soon.   The white onions are all harvested and actually had some decent size bulbs, although they could also have used some warmer temperatures.  I noticed on the onions that something had been feeding on the leaves, but all they did was pull the bulbs from the ground without eating the bulbs and just left them lay on top of the soil.

Sixty purple hyacinth bulbs got planted this weekend as well.  In the area where the wall o’ water veggies were, are the new bulbs. Hyacinth are also deer resistant, so hopefully they will survive in good shape.  They are planted to the correct depth, watered in and covered with a nice 3-4 inch layer of pine mulch.  If they are anything like the daffodils, flowers should start showing in June/July of next spring. 

Another project this weekend was cleaning out the greenhouse.  All the warm season veggies (tomatoes, peppers, etc) have been replaced with freshly planted greens (mesclun mix, micro-greens and arugula) for some fall, cool season fresh produce.  All the herbs that were left in the greenhouse were also harvested (basil, sage and parsley) and they have been used to add fresh flavors to all the cooking this weekend.  Now I just have to remember to water the newly planted seeds in the greenhouse so they actually grow.  The heater in the greenhouse has been replaced with one that has a fan to circulate warm air since the nights are so cold.  It would not do for the greens to freeze.   

All in all, a productive weekend, looking forward to some fresh greens and perhaps, after some research, there will be other seeds that can be planted in the greenhouse for fall harvest.

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Given that the temperatures at our elevation dipped into the 20’s on Saturday night, it seems that the garden needs winterproofing.  The tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos that are outside in the walls o’ water got their tops toasted.  I’m leaving the toasted foliage on the plants to help protect the developing/ripening tomatoes in the walls.  Even the foliage on the artichoke that was hanging outside the wall o’ water got a  bit of frost damage.  The shallots and chard made it through the frost with no evidence of damage so they will be staying in the ground for a bit longer.  The grapevine leaves also had some serious frost damage, all of the leaves are curled and brown.  Here are some photos of the tomatoes and peppers that got hit the hardest. 

So, this weekend was all about winterizing some of the large garden.  The grapes and apple trees had a fair bit of weeding done around them then some fresh mulch was added to the base of each plant.  I planted some daffodil and ornamental allium bulbs in the perennial bed inside the big garden, then added more mulch to help protect the crowns of the perennials.  One of the mint plants suffered from frost damage, but a different type of mint actually seemed to thrive.  Guess it’s time to make mojitos with the mint before we get a serious freeze.  The perennials in the beds closest to the house can wait a bit longer for winterizing.  They are more protected and not so exposed to the elements.  But, still have my work cut out for me.

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