Monday, May 3, 2010

Surprises, Weeds and Other Garden Pests

It has been about 6 weeks since the last update on the garden. Unfortunately life gets in the way some times, but it also gives the plants time to grow. And of course, the weeds grow even faster.

The tomato garden is doing well, we should have a wide variety of tomatoes, from interesting colors to the garden standards to heirlooms. We set out a kitchen garden close to the house for the herbs, tomatoes and cucmbers, things my mom loves and eats the most.

Mom loves her cumcumbers, so I started some Lemon Cucumbers that are round and she picked out her favorite long green variety. We both started our seeds at home and they have now been transplanted. I was happy to see how well her green plants were growing, they were much bigger than my yellow ones.

Oddly this year her zuchini plants did not do well starting from seed, we ended up purchasing a 6 pack of plants to put in the main garden. This is the first time in weeks that I have had enough time to actually stop and look at the plants. Those cucumbers of moms sure are getting big, then I looked had a small cucmber starting....only it is shaped like a cumber and is green like a cucumber. But clearly, something was not right. And I think we solved the zuchini plants that would not start....they were labeled Cucumbers. Mom swears it was the seed package. Either way, we have new cucumber seeds to plant and will be having a bumper crop of zuchini to share!

With all of the rain we have had, we have a lot of green growing, too bad much of it is weeds. Now with chickens, the weeds with in their reach are those that the hens refuse to eat. Since we have kept the hens out of the front yard and around the house, I have plenty to pick and spent about 3 hours pulling them out of the path and planters. As I was using the leaf blower I noticed that we had bees looking for a new place to live in the house, so a very smokey and low (cool) fire was quickly started in the wood stove in the house and I grabbed the hose and helped the bees decide that it was not a friendly place for them to live. Guessing it will be an on going battle this summer, I have to cover (cap off) the chimney and wrap with window screen to keep them out. The chimney is in rough shape and we had planned on removing the wood stove already. Add that to my list of things to do.

Mom loves using her gopher weed to help keep the critters from visiting, she lets them grow tall and go to seed............and boy did they go to seed! The sap is toxic, so we will be spending some time with gloves on pulling hundreds of them from inside of the garden and all of those that venture past garden fence line. She also cleaned up the extra fruit last year by tossing them in where the garden is now, add a few hundred baby fruit trees coming up. And those stupid zapotes refuse to give up, we have hundreds of them trying to pop up all over too.

We did have several types of plants almost wiped out by garden pests. Mom had planted a lot of cabbage, kale and broccoli in the main garden. It was coming up and looking pretty good. Until some garden pests came through.

This weeks gardening lesson is:

When showing off your garden and hard work to your friends who do not have chickens, make sure you close the gates behind them. They must have left a gate open and Mr Rooster and his four hens came and helped themselves to broccoli, cabbage and kale. Hopefully enough is left of the plants so they will come back, if not I guess we will be planting them again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mid March Update

The rains have come, and with the installation of a rain gauge, they have gone.

The ground has dried out enough we can dig in it and have even had to re-wet a section that is too compacted to get a shovel to break up the dirt.

As of today, we have taken out several more loads of wood, branches, palm tree trunks, yucca and old bee pollen traps. The metal man came again and took out a big load, included the old "smoker" aka refrigerator and the heavy metal rack.

Suddenly, we have a beautiful place to sit under the fruit trees and enjoy the garden. Who knew! I am looking forward to finishing the clean up of that area.

But for now, we have plants that need to go in the vegetable garden area:

As of today:

We have 4 new blue berries: two Sharpblue, Misty and Oneil.

Two new rows of Boysen Berries, two plants are new from the nursery, the first flower appeared today. The rest are made up of runners we dug up and transplanted. We hope they are good plants and not the naturalized black berry canes. Only time will tell.

Two new rows of Raspberries, also dug up and transplanted from where we will plant potatoes next week.

A tomatillo, tomato, artichokes, leaks, zucchini and two random asparagus.

Beans, Scarlet Runners and three colors of pole beans, Lima Beans and Snap Peas.

Peppers: red, green, a 6-pack of unusual colors, three banana, three Anaheim and three Jalapenos! Now for the salsa recipes!

One egg plant is in, but several are started and just waiting to get big enough.

We still have to dig some more for the root veggie section and then finish digging up the winter squash-muskmelon-watermelon area.

Considering this whole area was an over grown orchard with tiny sections that Mom carved out as small clear garden patches just a couple of months ago, it is the start of a hopefully amazing crop. If nothing else, it looks much better for the neighbors, the trip hazards are greatly reduced and should she fall, people walking up the street can see her. And, we have clear access to the dozens of fruit trees, several still need trimming and most will get a good thinning out once we can determine which limbs are productive and which are not.

The almost dead grapefruit has already shown up how happy it is with the work we have done, it is covered in fresh leaves and tiny flower buds.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mid February Progress Update

One Month Later

Progress has been made, with a week off here and their due to rain and drying times. The fence now goes completely around the garden. Two gates are in but we need one more, craigslist deal I hope! We ran out of the free fencing we were using, and ran out of the left over chainlink, we may end up buying some welded wire, but I really wanted to wait until next year so we could easily make layout changes.
One thing different from a month ago, the tree behind my mom is missing now. It turned out that the tree she wanted to save was totally dead and rotten. I leaned up against it, and it moved....moved a LOT. It had one side with a root runner that was still alive, but I think Mom could have pushed the tree over on her own. On the far side of the top photo, you can see the artichoke plants and across the garden. We filled 4 trash cans with boysen berry canes, we probably will have one more can full by the time we finish digging up the runners. But it is progress. On the downside, I counted over 20 medium sized tree stumps to dig out....ugh

We moved a couple of chairs down and saved a couple of vintage things to use in the flower beds to come. The old Orchard ladder and orchard box truck are going to be covered in sweet pea vines.

At home, I have cups of seeds to start for the flower border on the outside of the garden fence. It has to be plants that either chickens don't want to eat or can put up with some 2 legged cultivators.....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Progress January

Spring does not wait on us...........

Clearing and out transforming an overgrown and neglected garden of this size is a serious project, it is easy to spend a day working and be exhausted at the end of the day. When you look back, you have to remind yourself there was progress, even if your not sure the neighbors would agree.

We had a week of rain and then it took some time for the ground to dry so we can walk in it again. But this past week, about a dozen smaller tree stumps were pulled up, dirt was shoveled from a high part that wanted to dump dirt in the street in the rain and instead used to fill a part that was too low.

Two more loads of branches, the too big or crooked for the chipper and too small to cut for free firewood made it to the transfer station to be chipped up for some one else to use. A load of old wood and lumber went off to be ground up too.

For this first year, we are using plastic fencing, recycled from a finished school project and found by the side of the road. We will see if we like the lay out of the garden this year and then use a more durable fencing next year.

Of course we have a lot of extra help, the hens hoping for a worm to be turned over and they help us distribute the fresh dirt.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Starting the Garden in January

We have been busy; trees cut, small branches chipped, and limbs ready for the green waste. And had a BIG load of old scrap metal hauled (the hauler will sell, but all we had to do was make a pile and call him!)

I also pulled up some old wire fencing for a better garden by the house and walk for my mom to grow the more thirsty plants and the ones she picks and eats daily. We had an old gate that matched, not enough for all 4 sides, but the front will look good and who knows what else we will find as we finish clearing out the lower garden.

And....the first load of horse manure too......boy was she happy and I sure drove carefully with that in the bad end of the truck! We spread and dug some of it, probably need a couple more days to really get the beds ready to plant..........but she is ready!

And of all things to find in the yard, my dad must have drug home some kind of underground vault cover (nothing under it but dirt) maybe he thought it would be good to walk on, who knows.....guess it goes with the kitchen sink we found, faucet, toilet, and all the other finds.