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Old 06-07-2015, 08:46 AM
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Lower garden continued:

Blackberry plant trying to survive the roses. Another place that required extensive weeding quite suddenly! I also find it amazing how weeding in that bed is good for mindfulness training. I've yet to meet the glove that can stand up to my thistles, although a Facebook friend turned me on to the existent of Kevlar gloves. I will try these!



Plenty of strawberries but only saw one flower so far this year. This is disappointing I love strawberries!



My tomato trellis contraption. I added two more wire supports on either end after I took the picture. It's a bit jury rigged but is standing up to the rain so far! Therefore, it might not be the prettiest but it's good!



Thank you as always for following my thread! Please let me know if you have questions or comments, and happy gardening/prepping!
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Old 06-07-2015, 09:15 AM
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Love your garden citykitty! This spring has been so yucky with rain and cold, that I didn't get my larger garden in until yesterday! Because I am so far behind, I went to Steins yesterday and got plants...tomatoes, wax beans, cantalope, watermelon, zucchini, tomatoes and green peppers. At least the lettuce and spinach that I sowed in the smaller garden is coming up nicely.

BTW.... do you keep your bay leaf plant inside in winter? Does it not survive outside in the ground in our cold winters?
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Old 06-07-2015, 01:52 PM
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Citykitty, purty is as purty does. Your trellis is right nice...
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Old 06-08-2015, 08:36 AM
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Kokosmom, I do indeed bring the bay leaf in for the winter. The artichokes also overwintered inside. Those two are warm loving plants in a very big way and definitely won't survive winters in this planting zone!

Also, I start my seeds indoors but buying plants is perfectly fine too. In fact buying has its good points-part of my problem is that the calendar and the weather aren't always in sync so I end up having to put plants outside due to needing the space for the next batch! This goes for both my seedling table and my greenhouse space. Six of one, half dozen of the other, right?

Optimist, thank you for the kind words. She made it through yet another storm so this might be a good start. Experience teaches and I'm always fiddling
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Old 06-25-2015, 01:12 PM
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Good to see you going back at it again this year! I'm jealous of your artichoke plants. Mine croaked early on last year. Apparently they didn't like 40 degrees in July.

Your garden is looking lovely, as ever.
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Old 06-27-2015, 10:55 PM
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Glad you're back.

Started to be concerned when your thread wasn't updated recently!
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:33 PM
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Back for an update! Forgive me if I'm not hanging out online as much as I'd like. I got a crap ton of work dropped on me all at once and given this big bill courtesy of the IRS and a shady ex-accountant, I felt the need to put nose to grind stone. I am indeed at it however! The bigger garden of course takes a bit more attention, and I'm trying to expand my food preservation skills this year too.

To that end, I'm working on my first jam. This is strawberry-rhubarb; I've been freezing fruits from the farmer's market and got rhubarb in my first CSA share, so thought I'd give jam a try.



That bowl of goodies turned into this:



This effort was a bit runny, and I learned a valuable lesson here. Regardless of what I think I read on some gardening blog somewhere, Fruit Fresh is NOT pectin! The first effort was too runny, more like juice with chunks than jam. Now I'm used to home made stuff not looking or tasting like store bought, but this simply was not right. So while learning the above, I also found a recipe for remaking jams here:

http://www.pickyourown.org/how_to_fix_runny_jam.htm

Following those instructions, along with using actual fruit pectin, has yielded this result:



I'm not totally sure of success; it still looks a bit runny but it hasn't totally cooled down yet either. I did buy extra pectin if I should need to remake it a third time although that would be a bit annoying just because it would be. It does look quite a bit different from the first effort and gelled on the spoon at room temperature, so I'm hopeful. Do and learn, right?

This lovely zucchini came in my CSA share also. Even the solo share has too much for one person to eat so I froze it. First I learned that sauteed zucchini rocks! More so when I throw in garlic scapes from my garden.



I also have a frozen chicken from my CSA so I'm planning to make stock and soup for it. First I have to learn how to cut up a chicken. Thank Goodness for YouTube!

Next, the garden.
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:35 PM
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Pickled zucchini works pretty well too. You can go sweet or dill, same as cucumbers.
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Old 06-28-2015, 06:47 PM
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The tomatoes are growing gangbusters in the raised bed, and the Contraption has held up! Incredible, on both points. These plants are almost six feet tall and loaded with blossoms! Making meat sauce with my own tomatoes is looking like a real possibility.



I tried to show the fruits that are forming with not so much success. They're there however. I can see blossoms from my kitchen window too!



The bell peppers, in the same bed, also seem to be much happier than they ever were in containers. Already a few small ones forming, a couple of flowers, and a number of flower buds:





Potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower beds. I've been freezing broccoli for awhile now; in fact I cut more today. I have one head of cauliflower growing nicely too. Not sure what's growing in the potato bed yet; I haven't seen anything lying above ground nor have I dug yet. Nice plants, pretty flowers. Hoping for the good stuff



The bubblegum plum looks happy, and some mustard has magically established itself there. Nice to have condiments when I need them



Here's another try at establishing rapini in the yard. I've read that it's a perennial, but I've also read that it's cold tolerant. It is not. At least not in my yard! Some of those Mediterranean plants just can't take the -40 temps in this part of the world! Sigh.



Strawberry bed. The plastic forks are holding down some bird netting. I've had a couple of berries and as you see, a ton of flowers! Would be cool of course to make jam from my own berries!



Blackberry fighting the lilies and the ivy. I think given time the blackberry will win, which is the idea.



Garlic bed. Nice surprise that the Russian Red produced scapes. Yummy things, scapes.



Superior plum along with another stand of mustard. Coming along.



Now, the deck.
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Old 06-28-2015, 07:01 PM
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Lettuce is coming along slowly. The front pot is reseeded rapini, much happier now that the night temperatures are well above freezing.



This spinach is also reseeded, and I purchased a bolt resistant variety too! It seemed to be growing well, then died off. Damping off disease perhaps? Crap. I use new potting soil every year but as you'll see in a moment that's no guarantee of no disease.



Oregano and the artichokes. The herb seems to be establishing itself. The artichokes aren't much to be jealous of as I've not seen any sign of the edible yet. Sigh.



Parsley not doing quite so well as the oregano. Not sure why; I purchased three plugs of it, soil is identical to oregano pot. Just not growing as well.



Cucumbers are happy and producing! I've got a couple of those forming, and lots more flowers. These seem to like the Earth Boxes.



Melons and potato pot seem happy. Lots of flowers on the melons though I haven't seen any female flowers yet, therefore no melons. This potato pot hasn't yet flowered either.



The VegTrug with lettuce, meslun, and radish. Not really happy with production in here although the lettuce seems to be making some progress at last. Might dig up those poor radishes and replant, this time in standard rows that I can thin easily. Screw the seed scatter method! The mesclun in front seems to be making some progress finally also. Finally! LOL



The other potato pot, which has been flowering. It'll be interesting to see if there's a difference in production when I finally dump them.



Powdery mildew on my cucumbers! I saw this tonight and acted immediately. This killed both my cucumbers and melons last year, but this year finds me Prepared! I blew part of my birthday money on a sprayer and some stylet oil. I guess I'm middle-aged when I'm buying garden stuff or gun stuff rather than CDs, DVDs, or clothes. I have some Azamax backup but from what I've read, stylet oil is organic and (hopefully) will do the trick.

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Old 06-28-2015, 07:08 PM
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The bean bed. Amazing how they can grow when the rabbits aren't messing with them! I exceeded the pictures allowed in a single post so had to put it here. Life can be this way.



Lots of work to get done of course! Weeding is forever, and I want to put some string across that bean bed for them to climb. I'm out every few days to train the tomatoes up the string trellis. Really would be cool to get the drip system in one of these years too! There is something to be said for getting out of my chair for watering however, and the drip system won't service the deck. There's a lot less on my deck this year and I still have room in my yard for 1-2 more of those 4x8 raised beds. That's next year however, and I hate to see space wasted. So I'll think of something! And oh yeah, the paying work-

Thank you as always for following my thread! It warms my heart to see your comments and page views. Happy gardening/prepping!
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Old 07-12-2015, 09:28 AM
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Time for a quick update. I harvested more broccoli and cauliflower yesterday, all of which is now blanched and in the freezer. I also froze some rhubarb from my aunt's garden and the blueberries that came in my CSA share. I've been finding that the solo share I purchased is more than enough for one person, so obviously I've been preserving what I can't immediately use for winter. It would be cool if I didn't have to buy anything other than bread and milk this winter! That's a whole lotta food put away. I certainly plan to fill the freezers and the shelves. We'll see how far it goes!

To that end, I canned my first soup yesterday. It's chicken; I purchased a free range chicken from a friend with a hobby farm, only to discover that I hate chicken as much as I ever did. Back in college I worked in a banquet hall serving weddings and such, and broasted chicken was served at nearly every single one of those events. The guy who ran the hall couldn't sell the leftovers to another event and just hated to throw stuff out, so he'd let us take the leftovers home. Being a broke college student, I ate chicken nearly every day for five years. Twenty five years later I still hate chicken, although I will eat the soup when I'm sick. I also hate to waste a $16 free range chicken. So, soup it is. That used up the carrots and a kohlrabi from my CSA share as well as some canned potatoes from 2012.



I also harvested garlic this weekend. I want to expand that bed a bit more but I'm happy with what I have. The hard necks are huge, and I anticipate having more than three cloves for the garden next year. That means more fresh scapes of course. Those are yummy in both pasta and my free range egg dishes!



And Oh My God! I got an artichoke! A tiny one to be sure, about 10% of the size of the store bought. It was enough to illustrate the difference in taste though. I may be ruined for store bought-again!





The Contraption isn't doing well. I need to strengthen it a bit, at the very least put a support in the middle. Perhaps something in a pole with a Y. The weight of the plants is causing that bend in the soft wood, and I'm not sure that it'll hold up when the plants are loaded with fruits. This pic was taken from my kitchen window; I think you all can get the idea though.



Other than that, things are proceeding pretty much as expected. The beans are flowering and I've placed some string for them to grab on to. The spinach and rapini on the deck are pretty well dead although the cucumber and melons are growing well. The lettuce and mesclun seem to be growing OK but not stellar. I'm wondering if they simply don't care much for this soil, since it has compacted a bit more than I'd like. I'm thinking to replant in a couple of weeks or so when the worst of the heat has passed. I have some other stuff in the compost pile I can mix into the containers to hopefully loosen things up a bit. The herbs aren't especially happy either. Interestingly enough, the many flowers on my strawberries don't seem to be forming many fruits. It might be a rabbit/chipmunk problem. I need to work on the bird netting, and of course it's hot and muggy again today. Heat stroke weather. Sigh.

God help me when I'm an old lady in assisted living! No doubt I'll be complaining about the lack of real food constantly.
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Old 07-12-2015, 01:04 PM
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Yay, the long lost artichoke has appeared!

You are as persistent with artichokes as we are with bees.
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Old 07-13-2015, 08:58 AM
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The race often goes to the persistent! If at first we don't succeed-
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Old 07-13-2015, 01:25 PM
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Happy Artichoke Week, and good luck with getting a few more this season....
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Old 07-15-2015, 11:52 PM
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The spinach and rapini on the deck are pretty well dead although the cucumber and melons are growing well. The lettuce and mesclun seem to be growing OK but not stellar. I'm wondering if they simply don't care much for this soil, since it has compacted a bit more than I'd like. I'm thinking to replant in a couple of weeks or so when the worst of the heat has passed.

From my limited experience, lettuce and spinach simply do not grow well if the soil is too warm, probably why they are a cool weather crop. I don't know what rapini is, but I gather it is a similar leafy green?

In my first year garden (a whole two years back) I had leftover lettuce seed when I got done sowing the designated area, so just for grins I drilled some drainage holes in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket, filled it with dirt, and planted lettuce in that. The lettuce in the bucket sprouted but stayed tiny. It was alive and healthy looking, but just would not grow. After I harvested the lettuce in the ground I transplanted the bucket lettuce into the empty space. Mind you, I've also read that lettuce does not at all like to be transplanted, but whatever... this lettuce that had stayed basically the same size for a month in the bucket just took off and grew like crazy in the ground... same dirt even! The only thing I could surmise is that the soil in the bucket warmed up a lot more than the soil in the ground.
This year, with my late planting of greens, I'm finding out that they just grow a lot slower in the higher temperatures. Fortunately the shade tunnel I made for them seems to be effective as the baby lettuce I ate last night was not bitter at all.
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Old 07-17-2015, 07:35 AM
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Your artichoke reminds me that we had one growing in the greenhouse. Not sure what ever happened to it? It seemed to disappear.
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Old 07-20-2015, 12:43 PM
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From my limited experience, lettuce and spinach simply do not grow well if the soil is too warm, probably why they are a cool weather crop. I don't know what rapini is, but I gather it is a similar leafy green?

<snip>
Rapini is also called broccoli raab. It's a brassica type green indigenous to the Med. Very yummy sauteed with some garlic, salt, and pepper! Allegedly perennial; I'm trying to establish a stand of it in my lower garden.

Interesting thoughts on soil temps in containers vs. the ground. That's the one difference I can think of; last year the stuff I had planted in containers actually did OK though not stellar. This year I can't get it to grow to save my life! The only difference is the soil; I'm thinking that the compost mixture is retaining heat and also compacting more than the Miracle Gro I've used in past years. My radishes haven't done worth a crap either in that soil! Oh well. I'll mix that stuff into the raised beds and use something else next year or better yet, get the rejuvenated stuff out of my illegal compost pile. IF it's not still frozen when I need to plant that is!

Lettuce in containers has grown incredibly slowly. On the up shot I have dug the two potato containers and got some! I'll post pics in a bit. I'm also getting my usual ton of cucumbers and a few melons from the usual containers with this mixture. I'm trying summer squash in the VegTrug; I dug the radishes and figured I'd try something different since they weren't working! We all know what they call doing the same thing and expecting different results after all. I'm also going to plant another batch of potatoes in two different containers; the containers are just sitting there doing nothing so why waste? I have a couple of potatoes sprouting anyway.

Back to indexing the book on progressivism that I'm really hating except for the check! Ugh. It'll pay for my new buddy Walther though. He's a blast at the pistol range!
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Old 08-01-2015, 01:58 PM
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OK, I'm indulging my inner rebel due to my overloaded work schedule, so it's time for another update. I've shipped one index of four today so that's progress. I can stand working weekends when I must but I admit that working both days is a bit irritating, even though I'm grateful for the work. So I've done what I must and it's back to hurry up and rest! Full schedule tomorrow. Sigh.

I started my day in the garden while it was still cool enough to get some much needed work done in there. Things have been growing very well indeed but the weather has been so hot that working outside in the afternoons simply wasn't wise, unless you're a fan of heat stroke! So the garden pretty much grew wild. I did get out to prop up the Contraption; the tomatoes have really taken off in the raised bed and the top bar was looking a great deal like a U. The screws were pulling out and I knew that I could either take care of the problem while it's still small or wait until it gets bigger. I chose the now.



You can see a few of the 'maters in the above picture. Here's a better look. I have these all over! They're big and therefore heavy. Hopes for that meat sauce are rising! Making the stuff from my own tomatoes etc, buying only the meat, will really reduce the price per jar. This is good.



Beans growing wild. I have two levels of string for them to grab on to. I didn't really look for pods today but I have seen plenty of flowers and pollinators. Flowers + pollinators usually means goodies.



Cauliflower bed has six plants left of sixteen. No sense watering what isn't producing. Some of the homesteading stuff I've read says to not even grow it because it's a one hit wonder. It is, but it's also so danged yummy! So, one bed.



I've got some nice bell peppers growing too, although I don't think they're all that happy being in with the tomatoes. The maters are overgrowing them so I have to keep pruning them back, or I'd have no bells! These are nice sized bells too. Obviously they prefer to grow in soil vs. containers too.



I cleaned out the potato bed, separating them from the morning glory and getting that parasite out of there. Turn my back for a lousy couple of months! Jeez.



I cut the broccoli way back. Lots of it has gone to seed although side heads are still forming. So I cut the seed pods off. I'll find out if more side heads form.



Plum getting along with mustard. When I mow next I'll cut that mustard back. It's been so dry that most of my yard is brown so not much need to mow. This part is green due to watering the vegetable garden. I suppose that means I should at least mow this! Sigh.



Other plum tree. I've been staying a bit more on top of that hedge since I don't want the thistle to overgrow my new plum. Same for the box elder and maples that I didn't want there in the first place.



Crap ton of strawberry flowers but no strawberries! I wonder if the rabbits are just that much on top of it? Despite the netting, they seem to be able to get in there, sadly. Chipmunks have been seen skating out from under there too. This is really cutting into my jam making supplies!

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Old 08-01-2015, 02:08 PM
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I made this interesting discovery while cleaning out the potato bed. I had thought these were morning glory-related but I found several of them attached to the potato plants.



This is what they look like inside. Potato seeds, really? I wonder if these berries are edible? I'll look it up-not crazy enough to just gulp! That's asking for too much trouble and the Universe is already full of trouble, thanks. Only a fool goes looking!



4 1/2 pints of blueberry jam and 4 of bread & butter pickles, mostly from my CSA share and the farmer's market. I've got another crisper full of cucumbers to process too. I bought a solo share and it's more than I can eat so hey, why waste? My freezers are filling up



An 8 qt pot filled with cole slaw. This recipe didn't can well so I froze it this time. Two one gallon bags of it. Again from my CSA share.



More stuff to freeze, and I've done more than that! All from the CSA. Tell me another place where $12.50 per week will go as far!



One half of the potatoes from my two containers on the deck. They were yummy too!



My first cantaloupe along with one cucumber of many. Melons and cukes seem to be fine in containers. I don't recall getting any more from growing them in the raised beds than I'm getting now. Should probably rotate them down there next year though.


Last edited by citykittyatheart; 08-01-2015 at 02:10 PM.. Reason: to fix a picture
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