• Last spring my garden is alive after along winter sleep. Plenty of work to be done. Planted many vegetable seedlings grown in the greenhouse. Lettuce, carrot (sowed direct into the ground), collard, kale, Swiss chard, corn, pumpkin, potato, beet, summer squash, tomato and leek. The garden is doing great. Just yesterday I harvested several zuccinni. Right away I made zuccinni chocolate cake. It is always a joy to be able to harvest from your own garden and cook with the vegetable that you grow yourself. Gardening is an excellent exercise for body and mind. Regardless how big or small your garden is.
    Thank you for coming by.

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Spring is almost here

The sound of tree frogs croaking in the distant meant spring is almost here.  Time to think of gardening.

As usual every morning I would visit the greenhouse to look if the seedlings need watering.  While busy looking around, I notice a tree frog not far from the peat moss container.  It unusual to see one so close.  I let the frog out into the garden.

Tree frogs are only about an inch long.  Which makes them hard to see even where they are plentiful.  Ponds and wetlands where they can be heard croaking on wet nights especially if temperature is above 40F.  Although they are excellent climbers they are rarely found in trees.

The frogs can be found at night with flashlight by quietly following the sound to the source, although they will quit calling when searches get close.  During the day they can often be found under boards or other corner in or near wetlands.  Just about any wetland habitat with shallow standing water that does not dry up before June is good place to hear and find these frogs.

 
                                       Photo courtesy Chris Carney stock.xchng

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Autumn Harvest and October Gardening Calendar

Autumn Harvest

Late August through October is my hectic time in  the garden.  Harvesting every other day before frost arrive.  From the garden, juicy tomatoes, carrot, pumpkins, digging the potatoes, kale, mustard, chard, etc.  The orchard, apples, pears, plums, strawberries, raspberries and last month blueberries.

So far this year has been excellent, over abundance of everything.  That is good for my hard work.  (smile broadly)

October is the month to start preparing the garden for winter and next year planting.

  • Spade or till available organic matter such as tree leaves, into the empty spaces in the vegetable garden.
  • Mass plantings of one type or color of spring bulbs masses a more effective display than mixing them.  I’ve place an order for next hear bulbs.  Waiting with excitement.
  • Scrape loose bark from trunks, forks and main limbs of apple trees to eliminate sites where insects could winter.
  • Save seeds from vegetable and flower garden.  I have gathered cosmos and marigold.
  • Plant evergreens now and winter rains will do the watering.
  • Dig and divide rhubab (should be done about every four years).
  • Rake and destroy disease infested leaves. apple, cherry and rose., etc.
  • Harvest squash and pumpkins.  Store in dry area 55F. to 60F.
  • Dig and store potatoes in a cool, dry and dark location so they don’t turn green,
  • Clean and oil gardening tools, coat with handles with raw linseed oil to prevent cracking.
  • Mulching around azaleas, rhododendrons and roses will keep weeds from invading and will protect the roots that are close to the surface from severe cold.
  • Correct any drainage problems in the yard before the winter rains begin.
  • Devide crowded perennials.
  • Harvest sunflower heads and hang them in a warm dry area to dry the seeds.
  • Shake off dead rose petals, allowing hips to form.  Plants will then wind down and go dormant.
  • Early October begin manipulating light to force Christmas cactus to bloom in late December,
  • Store garden supplies, fertilizers in safe, dry place out of reach of children.
  • Ripen green tomatoes indoor.
  • Clean and paint greenhouses and cold frames for plant storage and winter growth.

 Happy Ggardening……

 

For the compost and vegetable garden

 

 

Buying Seeds by Mail

By November through the end of December seed catalogs arrived in my mailbox.   I usually put them aside until I am ready to look at leisurely. 

Seed catalogs is like a magical place to visit.  Some are cleverly written, some show beautiful picture, while others offer gardening information and recipes. 

Seed companies realize how winter can make our life miserable.   So they mail us their magical catalogs to a frustrated gardener like me to peruse in their vast treasure troves.   Dreaming how our garden will look like in the summer.  

Today seeds pricing seem to be a little high.   Although if one search around, there are catalogs offering reasonable price with good quality seeds.  For me who enjoy gardening buying seeds by mail is still the best way.  They offer much more variety than buying plants from the nursery.

General catalogs offer a mixed bags of annuals, perennials, vegetables, herbs and standbys such as corn, tomatoes, lettuce, marigolds, cosmos and sunflowers.  Compare prices carefully not all seed packets price are the same. 

I found certain company are more generous than others.  Some packets stuffed generously, while others mighty stingy.  When I opened the seed packet,  looked inside  “gosh is that all”  what a disappointment.  In spite of this I still buy seeds by mail.  They are prompt with shipping, hardly any back order.  I suggest  order early so you will not have any out of stock items.    

The joy of seeing one’s own work flourish in those growing trays and seeing them thrive in the garden, to me is an achievement.

Nichols Garden     in Albany, Oregon offering herbs, heirloom, vegetable seeds.

Territorial Seed     in Cottage Grove, Oregon, offering variety of seeds and gardening supply.

Pine Tree       in New Gloucester, ME  offering variety of seeds, vegetables, flowers and gardening supply.

Turtle Tree  a biodynamic seed initiative in Copake, NY flower, vegetable and herb seeds.

Fedco  in Waterville, ME  flower, herb, vegetable and gardening supply.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds Wainslow, Maine, flower, herb, vegetable and gardening supply.

Vermont Bean Seed Randolph, WI, vegetable, flower, and gardening supply.

Happy Gardening !

Backyard Harvest

Summer of 2010 was not a good gardening year here in McKenzie valley, Oregon.  Long wet spring weather, delayed planting, not enough warm temperature.  Tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers all suffered except those cool weather variety vegetables did well.  Such as carrot, lettuce, collard, beetroot, potatoes, leeks.   I harvested a basketful of each vegetables which was not bad at all.  Here are the list of vegetables variety that I grow in 2010.

Shelling peas – green arrow, so prolific with a good pea taste.  Excellent for freezing.

Carrot – Chantenay red color, good flavor with deep orange color.  Good for freezing.  Avoid sowing carrot in wet soil, it will not make straight smooth roots.  Use excess nitrogen will cause splits, forks and hairy roots.

Leeks – a staple in my garden.  Kilimia leek, a summer leek fast growing and tolerates light frost.

Broccoli –  a big disappointment.  The reason was the growing site did not get enough morning sunlight, hence small broccoli head.  Next time a different area with lots of sun.

Lettuce were the best, thrive in cool temperature.  My favorite are, Red Deer Tongue, slow to bolt, mild flavor, tender has red tinged leaves.  Tom Thumb small plants 3″-4″ ball.  A perfect single serving.  I grow this in the greenhouse slow to grow but at least fresh lettuce available through winter.

Collard – also a staple in my garden.  champion variety, dark green and large, have a cabbage like leaves.  Delicious flavor.  I left these growing in the garden through winter.  They survived snow, frost, cold and rain and still growing until spring where they will produce yellow dainty flower which will turn into seed when left alone.

Beetroot – like rich soil, moist and deep.  Use compost or well-rotted manure several days before planting.  Harvest them when reach their desired size.  Ruby Queen variety bought in gardening center, germinated well, good flavor.  I tried many other beetroot, this variety grow well in my garden.

I hope 2011 will be a succesful growing season.

Happy Gardening……

Building a Greenhouse

My husband and I have been discussing to build a greenhouse for along time.  Since we moved to Oregon several years ago finally our greenhouse is a reality. 

We decided to convert the carport when the roof collapsed by the sheer weight of heavy snow.  It is unusual to get snow in this area, if we do have, only lasted for a few weeks.  We hired a contractor/handyman to build our greenhouse.

The greenhouse all wood construction, beams, panels, and posts.  Glass windows and the roof a corrugated fiberglass provide ample light.  A regular greenhouse without bells and whistles.  No heating except for the growing box with heating coils where I have my seeds flats for germination.  It will stay there until ready to transplant outdoor in the spring.

Construction in progress

Greenhouses comes in many shapes and sizes.  Ours is 10 by 20 sq.ft.,  hight from top center of the roof to the ground approximately 25 feet.  The foundation is concrete slab remainder from the carport.  Built from scratched, it is  a sizeable greenhouse, similar to a small cabin in the woods.

When building  a greenhouse you need to consider many things.  Finding a suitable space on your property.  Obstructions such as buildings that will block light or trees.  Building codes, size of the greenhouse and the amount of money you want to spend.  You have to consider your possible options carefully.  If building a greenhouse from scratch is not an option, you can consider  prefab greenhouse that come in many sizes from small to large or in between. 

The finished greenhouse

Having a greenhouse has some benefit too.  You can start your seeds for early start in the garden or exotic plants that need to be  indoor most off the time.   The greenhouse have given me much pleasure over the years and gardening is more enjoyable.

Snow covered greenhouse

“Treat the earth well. It wasn’t given to you by your parents.  It was loaned to you by your children. ”    – Kenyan proverb-

Happy gardening ! 

 

                                  

 

Gardening Calendar In The Month Of June

Woo hoo, finally the rain stopped.  I thought spring will never leave Oregon and today is the first day of summer.  The long-range forecast is for good weather, so I will take the opportunity to do some yard work.  More transplanting vegetable seedlings,  pruning the flower shrubs, mowing the lawn, etc.  I found by following a to do list is quite helpful.  Here it is…..

  • Apply fertilizer to lawns
  • Control root weevils in rhododendrons, azaleas, primroses, and other ornamentals.  Use beneficial nematodes if soil temperature is above 55F.
  • Remove seed pods after blooms have dropped from rhododendron, azaleas.
  • Prune lilacs, forsythia, rhododendrons, and azaleas after blooming.
  • Use an inch or two of organic mulches or sawdust or composted leaves to conserve soil moisture.
  • Pick ripe strawberries regularly to avoid fruit rotting diseases.
  • Control garden weeds by pulling, hoeing or mulching.
  • Thin apples, pears, and peaches when fruit is as big around as nickle.  Expect normal June drop of fruit not pollinated.
  • Late this month, began to monitor for late blight on tomatoes.
  • If  indicated, spray cherries at a weekly intervals for fruit fly.
  • Move houseplants outside for cleaning, grooming, repotting and summer growth.
  • Make sure raised beds receive enough water for plants to stay free of drought stress.
  • Learn to identify beneficial insects such as, ladybugs, ground beetles, rove beetles, spiders and wasps.
  • Blossoms on squash and cucumbers begin to drop, nothing to worry about.

Happy Gardening

Garden Peas

Home grown peas always taste better than store-bought.  Growing your own is easy and you do not need a  large garden to grow this nutritious vegetable.

Pisum Saticum the botanical name for garden peas.  Loaded with vitamin A, B, C, Riboflavin, Protein, Carbohydrate, calcium, Iron, Phosphorous and Potassium.  Adding peas to your diet also has health benefit.  They are excellent nourishment and strength restoring.  Peas contain nicotinic acid reportedly recommended for reducing cholesterol in the blood.  Steam diced carrot and   peas,  mix with meat, or sprinkle on salad.  Anyway you use peas they are healthy and nutritious.  

Garden peas was discovered at all place in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand by an archeological expedition at approximately 9750 B.C.  This is a much earlier finding than the peas found in bronze age (approximately 3000 B.C.) lake dwellings in Switzerland and Savoy.  The Greeks also cultivate peas and they were brought to Britain by the Romans.  Peas were the first vegetable to be canned and later deep frozen.

Peas are cold weather crop, so plant them early.  I started mine in the greenhouse in flats early February, then,  transplanted outdoors in early spring depending weather condition.  Green Arrow variety is my first choice shelling peas, they are prolific producer, long pods up to 10 peas per pod, excellent pea taste.  Pick them early when they are still tender.  You can find green arrow here  www.nicholsgardennursery.com or www.fedcoseeds.com.

Many diseases affect peas.  The most common is pea root rot (Fusarium or aphanomyces Euteiches), which causes browning and dying of the foliage from the ground up.  This is what happen to my pea crop last year.  Unfortunately not all peas were effected,  probably, in my opinion, some part of the growing area not well-drained.  This year the pea crop growing in a different site of the garden.  Another pea disease to watch is the powdery mildew, those white powdery mold on the leaves, stems and pods in hot weather.  Choose resistant variety. 

When done with harvesting,  pull the stalks and spread them on the ground in a sunny area of the property to dry.  When they all look brown and brittle use your gas driven mower and mow the stalks into shredded particles.  Dried pea stalks have nitrogen content that is beneficial for compost and the garden. 

Peas are good for freezing too.  Shell the peas, spread on a cookie sheet then put in the freezer for several hours or until peas are frozen.  Fill  one gallon plastic bag with the frozen peas, depending how often you use,  it will last until your next planting or longer.  

The recipe below use fresh peas and home-grown potatoes.  Serve this side dish with fish, meat or chicken.  Delicious.

CREAMED POTATOES AND PEAS

3 pound steamed or boiled potatoes, 1/2 cup cooked peas, 1/2 cup sautéed chopped mushrooms, 1 cup cream, 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons flour, 1 tablespoon butter.

Thicken the milk and cream with flour, braided with a little milk saved out for the purpose, add the butter.  Cook fifteen minutes, put the peas, mushrooms in and pour over the steamed potatoes.  Enjoy !

Happy Gardening.