Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How Does My Garden Grow?

Some folks may have wondered if I was ever going to blog again. I admit the thought crossed my mind as well. Insanely busy spring turned into even more insanely busy summer and now that I've gotten lots of yard/house improvements behind me, and a bunch of adventures under my belt, I think I may have found a breather to sneak in writing a few blog posts of some of those summer adventures.

But first, on the home front, is the garden. I've been harvesting lettuce, kale, spinach, parsley and basil for a month already, but now the cucumbers, tomatoes, kohlrabi and zucchini are coming it and it begins to feel like abundance.

Today's harvest:  bibb lettuce, curly-leafed kale, beet greens, spinach, strawberries, kohlrabi, cucumber and zucchini
This year I planted my own starts for all but tomatoes and zucchini (only because I didn't have the seeds on hand when I was planting starts!). I keep my seeds in the freezer and discovered that they dated back to 2009, the last time I'd done starts. I wanted to see if they would grow. But as often happens, I planted waaaay too much, because everything except the turnips grew, and grew well! So rather than my usual 3 cucumber plants I have 15!

I ran out of space in my garden for the cole plants: broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi and cauliflower so I threw them into any spare space in my greenhouse. Of course, spare space when I planted them is much different than now, so the gigantic zucchini plants are crowding out the poor broccoli plants. Don't know if that was an unwise move or not. I was going to transplant them outside if some of the outdoor plants died, but only one did so they didn't get transplanted.

After two mild winters and unusually warm summers, I'm not sure what normal is anymore, but it sure seems like everything is early. Funny how I can gladly adjust my expectations.  This warm summer has brought little rain, and I know it would be doing better if I watered it. Delivered water is now up to 6.5 cents per gallon so to maximize the profit of growing my own veggies I try to minimize watering. Even after we got 2 or 3 days of solid rain the other week, it was still dry under the surface. I keep an eye on the forecast and will it to rain, though for other reasons I sometimes will it not to rain!

July 21 garden view
This year I planted fewer potatoes and way more cole plants and lots of kale. In any spot in the garden that seeds did not come up I've been tossing in more lettuce or spinach seeds for a late crop. We had some landscaping cloth leftover from past years' projects and on a whim I decided to utilize it to keep down weed in and beside the garden. It works like a charm; I don't know why I didn't do this years ago. It reduces my weeding time significantly, and it keeps down the weeds next to the garden in an area we can't get to with the mower. It also provides a buffer that the slugs would have to cross to get to the plants if slugs were an issue, which they are not since it is so hot and dry.

I planted a few different crops this year:  I had celery seed left over from years ago and threw it in; it is doing great in the greenhouse. It was a dud in the garden. I finished off the rutabaga and turnip seeds. As I mentioned the turnips didn't come up but the rutabaga are going nuts so I'll be making pasties again this fall, which is the only dish I use them in. I might have to expand my repertoire of rutabaga recipes this year.

As always, the compost lines are obvious in my garden, clearly delineating between soil that has been supplemented with good stuff and the natural soil. Both my rows of beets and carrots show this, giving me the heads up of where to plant my compost next spring. The store-bought fertilizers just don't do as much for my garden as fish gurry and compost, so if I want beautiful plants, I need to do the work to make my own fertilizer. I'm getting my routines down, though, so it goes more smoothly and easily.

The strawberries must love this warm weather. The plants are well over a foot tall and producing fairly well. I just put chicken and rabbit wire over them but the birds still manage to get in and munch the berries so I think I need to invest in some bird netting. I hung some old CDs around off the wire, thinking the movement and shininess might discourage the birds from hanging out with the strawberries so much, but when it is calm they don't move at all so I'm not sure they're helping much.

All in all, I'm pleased with the garden this year. Especially pleasing is the lack of weeds. I've had 2 light weedings of the entire garden since I planted it the end of May--once in mid-June and once in mid-July. A light weeding means the weeds were easy to pull and it took less than 2 hours to weed the whole garden. I don't know if it's because my soil has more nutrients in it now, or if it's just too dry for weeds to grow. Either way, I'll take it!


Ryan Schaefer said...

Your garden looks great! We also have a very good garden this year. We've had 2 hard winters in a row, but summers have been ideal. I live in L'Anse, Michigan (UP) but hope to make it to Alaska in the next few years. Thanks for posting!

Ryan Schaefer said...

I noticed your fireweed is blooming in the garden background. Ours hasn't started yet here!! I think you may be a week ahead of us:)

Donna said...

What a WONDERFUL story from 2009 telling how you came to Alaska! I came across your blog because I googled "living in Alaska" trying to find a different avenue to help my 19 year old son (who moved there a month ago) find a place to live. I keep looking on Craig's List and my son, Derek, has talked with people at Homer Property Management and is currently living behind the home of a fellow employee until he can find the right place. He spent the first week living on the spit! He got a job the second day he was there and absolutely LOVES Alaska in general and Homer in particular! He really wants a single family home in the countryside. IF you have any thoughts or suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated!

MichelleW said...

I didn't know Michigan had fireweed! Ours started blooming the first week of July and is in its glorious peak now.

I have friends who have a perfect country place, newly remodeled, 480 sq. ft. (great for one person or maybe two). Email me at waclawskim@gmail.com as I don't want to publish their info on the blog.