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Archive for the ‘weeds’ Category

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.

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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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I must admit that I love gardening.  It feeds a part of me that nothing else can.  It feels good to be outside, sunshine on my face, working the soil.  Planting little seeds or transplants that will transform into these marvelous plants that produce food to feed us.  And today, I finally was able to spend some quality time in the garden.  The new area for potatoes had compost added and was tilled last fall, left to rest over the winter and today, has potatoes in it.  Today the thistle was pulled from the patch (you don’t want to till thistle as each little piece will make a new plant and it is a horrid weed to try and get rid of), some fertilizer added and tilled once more.  Twelve potato varieties are now planted in this new area.  And I have them labeled so I can remember what I have planted.  I can’t wait for them to sprout.  This is the earliest I have planted potatoes, I don’t usually plant until the first of June, but the temps have been higher than normal the past month or so, so the soil has warmed up enough to be able to plant some things.  And even though we are still getting down into the 30’s at night, it is not cold enough for the soil to freeze.  We had some great moisture yesterday which will help the potatoes sprout. 

The potato varieties include Russian Banana Fingerlings.  Four red varieties:  Sangre, Colorado Rose, Mountain Rose, and Red McClure. Several yellow-flesh varieties:  Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, Nicola and German Butterball.  I also got some assorted fingerlings from a friend that I planted as well as some Rio Grande Russet.  I was looking for some Purple Viking potatoes, but haven’t looked real hard yet so I may be able to plant those as well when I find them.  There are still a few slots left in the potato patch in case I find another variety.

All the apple trees have survived.  I had thought that I was going to lose at least two of the trees, but all four are leafing out.  This is good, it means that these may well be cold hardy for our area.  I don’t know if they will flower or produce fruit this year (or any other year for that matter), but I’m always hopeful.  I don’t know if you can see the leaves of the apples in the photo, but they are there.  The grapes are another story.  I do not see any buds that look like they will leaf out at all on any of the vines, either the table grapes or the wine grapes.  However, it may be too early for the grapes.  I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.  If the grapes don’t make it, I may be able to use the cordon system to plant some pumpkin and winter squash varieties to see how they do up here.

But in the perennial beds, the Shasta Daisies are making a great comeback as are the Echinacea, Liatris, Red-hot Poker and Bearded Iris.  And if you think the cold temps and high altitude will kill mint, forget it.  The mint is coming back gangbusters.  I will definitely have to weed it out as it will take over that whole perennial bed if given half a chance.  In another perennial bed, the peony is coming back.  It’s the first peony that I have ever planted that returned the following year.  Who knew that I would have to move to the mountains to get a peony?  Granted, it’s in a protected area, but still, it came back.  I hope it flowers this year.  I know that the peonies along the front range at lower elevations have or are blooming now, so I expect that mine won’t bloom for at least another month.

All in all, it was a good day in the garden.  Just what I needed.  A feeling of accomplishment and looking forward to another season in the garden.

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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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