Tag Archives: chard

Sun!

We love this weather!” exclaim the tomatoes, squash, melons, corn, and beans.  “About time!”
Oh, don’t forget the baby basil, starting to plump out their true leaves.

Oooowee! Tomatoes enjoying freedom from their red jackets, and lots of things rejoicing in warmth.

Do we gardeners get bonus points for our patience?

Yes, finally we have been graced with several days of real summer weather, so that the logarithmic growth rate is very visible.  Rumor has it that consistently warm days will not be with us until late July or August, and we’ll be bouncing around with cooler weather again, possibly this coming week.  But, it finally feels like we’re in the real month of June, albeit near the end.

With the longest days of the summer solstice at hand, as if on cue, the spinach has bolted, as well as a couple of beets and some lettuce.  Time for a big greens harvest.

Great hidey-holes in the towering sugar peas; Juniper is out, where's Aspen?

Although we’re not tracking the pounds of bounty going to the food bank, per se, I think it would be fairly realistic to say that at least 75% of June’s bounty is going to help others.  At least 7 pounds of greens were harvested this morning, headed directly to a food bank.

Over 7 pounds of luscious greens headed for a food bank

Prediction: no knee-high corn by July 4th; maybe shin-high.  Will report!

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Red jackets & tomatoes

Fortunately, hardly anyone witnessed the laying out of soaker hoses one evening while it was chilly and threatening to sprinkle.  We would have been deemed crazy, as there we were in our fleece jackets and sweats.  There was only one quizzical look.  Truly, the hoses would have been useful four days earlier when we actually had two consecutively warm days, and the lettuce, kale, and chard went into minor shock.  What was supposed to be a warm and sunny week, with only 1 day of “cooler interference”,  morphed into 5 days of below-normal temperatures with little sun.  (Not sure anymore when we’ll actually see 3 consecutive days of mostly sun.)

Which is why the tomatoes are staying wrapped up in their airy red jackets!

Tomatoes with red jackets to help cope with Juneuary weather

Yes, we are grateful for not being deluged with tornadoes, rain and floods, as others are enduring.  And yes, it is perfect weather for planting.

At the same time, some of our plants would love to bathe in more light and warmth, so they grow well.

We’re ready for summer!  Or some semblance of it……

Greens galore! June 12-2010

Spring is sprung!

Some classic spring weather to start off our early spring planting.  It was exceptionally warm on the official first day of spring, followed by colder rain showers the next day, when we were scheduled to plant (of course).  But, it held off perfectly for us when it came to assembly time.  I dashed in and out between showers beforehand to survey and lay out some boundary lines for the planting.  Because I’m curious about soil temperature, of course, I measured it: 53°F, and the air temperature was about 54° when we planted.

A little soil prep before planting

It was wonderful to finally kick-off the garden season, and we were in high spirits.  A little weeding, some fertilizing, shoveling and raking it in, and then…..seed sowing!  To start off: a couple of rows of lettuce, a row each of Swiss chard, scallions, and beets, and a row split to spinach and kale.   The kale started growing so fast we were able to harvest 1 pound of it about the time we quit!  Just kidding.  The harvest was from some overwintering kale, that is starting to flower and needs to get used up.  Then there was a consensus to plant snap peas and some mesclun greens mix, which will be added during the coming week.

And now, for the patience part.

Two-thirds of the early spring planting crew...and Juniper nowhere to be seen.

An arctic wave to end the season

The full moon on December 2nd heralded a phase of turbulence that has only eased itself with a slow return to more seasonal, wet weather.

The day was busy enough as it was, coming home from work to prepare a meal for friend Jack, just out of knee surgery.  Old Cedar-cat had been having a very difficult week since Thanksgiving, and there was always a good amount of ritual cleanup to do.  Meanwhile, we were warned of an imminent plunge of night temps, having already had a couple of frosty nights.  The lettuce and chard needed to come out, but I needed more time.  Neighbor Patty to the rescue, as if she read my mind!  With her help we plucked the lettuce and chard well after dark, leaving the leeks and kale to weather whatever might come.

The arctic wave extended well beyond its original few days, leaving us cold and dry (thank goodness, no ice) with night temperatures into the single digits.  It became too cold for frost, quite a rarity in these parts.  It will be interesting come spring to see what doesn’t make it through.  Though I kept them fairly sheltered, I hope the new pineapple guava seedlings in their containers make it!

But, all those positive ions that build up with continued high pressure get trapped down in the dense cold layer, and start making many people agitated, impatient, crabby, and extremely tired.  Where was our seasonal rain?

Relief was on the way as of December 11th, with a noticeable pressure shift and cloud cover moving in. The tricky part in western Oregon is maneuvering through the “transition zone” since freezing rain is frequently a visitor.  There was a quagmire of accidents once the ice formed during that night into the next day, but it passed quickly.  My skin in finally relaxing and feeling less dehydrated!

Juniper-kitty thought it would be fun to jump out the door per her normal routine, but didn’t bargain for the immediate skating she had to try out.  At first perplexed, she then thought it a bit fun, making tiny runs on the concrete to see if she slid.  However, that quickly became old as she became more intent on walking through the yard, where she had more traction on the soil.

Wouldn’t you know?  My camera decided to go on the fritz while trying to take some pictures.

A good time to list the bit of November’s bounty, and call it the final tally for 2009:

  • Lettuce:    6.5 (pounds)
  • Kale:         1
  • Chard:      3.5
  • Leeks:      0.75

Month’s Total: 11.25

Total season bounty:  579 pounds (rounded)  Well done!

Halloween Bounty

Halloween 2009

Happy Halloween!

A beautiful All Saints’ Day is dimming as I post our October bounty:

  • Summer squash:        13.5 (pounds)
  • Swiss chard:                 0.5
  • Lettuce:                         1
  • Beans:                           0.75
  • Peppers:                       2
  • Tomatoes:                  38.75
  • Eggplant:                     0.5
  • Beets:                           2 (tops & roots)
  • Winter squash:         46.5
  • Apples:                         1.5

Total for month:                109

Total season bounty:        568 pounds

Thank you plants, pollinators, and devas!

Bye-bye basil…..hello lettuce

While goldfinches feast upon sunflowers and nuthatches nip away at the suet, we have picked our way through all the squash, tomatoes and peppers, laying most to rest and ripen in garages and windows.

Final samplings of squash, tomatoes, and peppers.  Clockwise from yellow summer squash resting on top of darker buttercup squash: "yellow" pepper, spaghetti squash, delicata squash, patty-pan squash, with ripening tomatoes nestled among squash.

Final samplings of squash, tomatoes, and peppers. Clockwise from yellow summer squash resting on top of darker buttercup squash: "yellow" pepper, spaghetti squash, delicata squash, patty-pan squash, with ripening tomatoes nestled among squash.

My lone cricket still eeks out his chirps most evenings, letting me know that all the frost warnings are not quite for real…..just yet.  The predicted heavy rainstorms never materialized in our area, only a couple of short-lived squalls one day.  But, it’s so much easier to do cleanup when it’s a lovely, dry autumn afternoon.

The kale, lettuce, chard, and leeks are very happy with the current phase of mild part sun, part cloudy days, alternating with rain, and the nasturtiums that refused to grow all summer have never looked so lush…….

Mid-October transitions in the garden.  Where's Juniper?

Mid-October transitions in the garden. Where's Juniper?

But, it’s not over yet!  It’s not THE final harvest……we’re just getting growing on the fall crops….check back in!

Classy evening wear

Just because we harvested all the basil the evening before a cold rain was supposed to dowse us, the storm skirted north, depositing its brief, but heavy showers while I was slipping the last plants.  I wasn’t going to take the chance of seeing our beautiful plants become black-spotted before harvest!

Instead, dry, but cooler weather has prevailed, allowing the summer squash to keep pushing out more small “gourmet size” fruits, while several yellow bell peppers have actually yielded a couple of large, still-green specimens.  (Perhaps they felt it necessary to prove themselves after finding themselves mentioned in a “comedy of errors” mode.)  Tomatoes are in absolute limbo with the lower sun angle and night temperatures hovering in the low to high 30’s.  They have earned the right to wear evening jackets!

Evening wear for classy tomatoes

Classy evening jackets for the tomatoes

Happy to report that the lettuce seedlings that had nearly been chomped to death before evacuation of the kale and chard, have pulled through and are starting to put on a little girth.  And, some rainbow chard seeded in July, largely sheltered by green beans and squash has grown up nicely, almost ready for picking.

Lo and behold, I came upon another “double-take” today while scouting about the patty-pan/saucer squash; that makes four pairs of fused veggies this season!

Double-take on patty-pan squash

Double-take on patty-pan squash

We’ve been warned about a rapid arctic front moving in just ahead of autumn rains setting in, and the weather guy’s last-minute prediction of 28° had two of us running out before dusk to clip off all the tomatoes.  It felt too warm to believe it could fall that low, but we weren’t going to get up at 4:00 am. to find out.  As it turned out, it only went down to the crisp 30’s again, but we’re further along in preparation for the temperature dive now postponed for a couple of days.

Emergency evacuation: pests out of control!

In a fast move to save the lettuce seedlings being savagely eaten in an outbreak of both aphids and Cabbage White Looper caterpillars migrating from the neighboring chard and kale, an emergency evacuation took place.  Thanking the plants for their extremely productive service, all kale and chard was removed, salvaging what little was decently usable as food, but discarding most directly into the waste debris containers.  This is what we get for “slacking off” in observation given our really busy schedules last week, while there was a burgeoning plague.  I had noticed a few tell-tale signs of building aphid populations on the kale, as well as white flies, but nothing had seemed in imminent danger. Then the Swiss chard seemed to become inundated with aphids almost overnight.  Evidently, behind that were lurking newly hatched Cabbage loopers, always unseen until they wreak havoc, stripping plants to their ribs in only 1 or 2 nights.  Even with eradicating the plant host-sources, and spraying Thuricide* on the lettuce, we could still lose the whole row, but hopefully not.  We’ll know in a day or two.

It was also good incentive to tidy up other areas in the garden looking a bit more distressed, removing the cucumbers and ‘delicata’ squash plants, and trimming back the sprawling cherry tomatoes.

"Looking good" yet hunry pests lurk in the chard and kale.  So, now you see us.....

"Looking good" yet hunry pests lurk in the chard and kale. So, now you see us.....

Free of aphids and ...........

.........Now you don't! And the lettuce seedlings are much happier.

*Thuricide is a liquid comprised of millions of spores of the bacterium Bacillis thuringiensis, which reproduce inside the gut of specific types of caterpillars, becoming fatally toxic in a very short time.  This is a naturally occurring bacterium that evolved into its specific function.

A comedy of errors

What would gardening be without some mishaps, failures, or faux pas to keep us humble? The mysteries of  “why did this happen”?  So, I am offering a sort of “comedy of errors” to keep us amused while the main part of the garden hangs in a sort of suspended equilibrium.

You’re looking at a 2-pound harvest of new ‘Cranberry red’ potatoes there in the next picture.  An exceptionally good amount considering nearly 1 pound of eyes were planted!  And the Yukon Golds  and Banana Fingerlings each yielded the same amount.  This is almost worthy of a booby prize!

'Cranberry Red' potatoes being dug up from growing bags

'Cranberry Red' potatoes being dug up from growing bags

I definitely don’t have potato production down (taking place in my house yard in deep, black, breathable “growing bags”).  I had a better crop last year, when I didn’t know much of anything except to keep adding layers of soil.  After reading up on some of their preferences, it’s possible that really hot weather hit at an early stage in their growth, which they don’t like, and I may not have kept them as moist as they like, given their well-drained soil mix.  If I were a grower I would be calling this a loss.  The potatoes are disease free and good looking, just tiny; the vines seem to have thrived early on, but after the really hot weather in July they started floundering.  My suspicion is they were nutrient-starved as I probably forgot to put in some fertilizer in first.

Upper left: Fingerlings (well maybe finger-nail-ings); upper right: Yukon Gold; lower: Cranberry Red

Upper left: Fingerlings (well maybe fingernail-lings); upper right: Yukon Gold; lower: Cranberry Red

Then, there are the “little peppers who could” or my “comedy team”.  Three little bushes pushing out orange peppers as if their lives depended on it (which is what a stressed plant will do).  Two of their neighbors grew out of their stupor and are each pushing out 2 or 3 full-sized peppers.  Hey, at least the nearby basil took off.  Actually, the stunted pepper syndrome has something to do with light availability, too, as they were shaded much of the day by tomatoes, come mid-July.

The comedy team peppers barely hanging in there 10 weeks after planting!

The comedy team peppers barely hanging in there 10 weeks after planting!

The comedy team peppers 17 weeks after transplant-Sept. 2009

The comedy team peppers 17 weeks after planting-still hanging in there, now orange!

The weather continues to yo-yo by 10-degree increments for the daily high temperatures. The lettuce, basil, tomatoes, and chard are growing well, while cucumbers are putting out their last fruits, and the summer squash pushing out their last little groups of flowers where the newest growth is free of mildew.  The now-giant kale is robust and still sweet, but is succumbing to aphid egg infestation, and difficult to clean.  I think our resident ladybugs scattered away some as the old corn stalks were removed.  A short row of purple bush beans survived the deer-browsing from 2-weeks ago and are delivering the goods, although their green bean companions got hit again last weekend, and aren’t long for the world after being half pulled out while still small.  For anyone unfamiliar with deer browsing on beans, they don’t want the beans, they want the leaves, which is great if the plants are fully matured and no longer producing.  (Time for a bigger piece of netting, now that our deer is getting more daring.)   Next it’s time to start sampling the spaghetti squash!  We humans, that is, not the deer.

September showers are good for….a change of pace

The weather devas decided that it was time to clear the air with a good rain for at least half of Labor Day weekend.  In anticipation of serious showers many tomatoes were gleaned the prior evening, to prevent splitting.  When the steady showers picked up on Saturday we knew it had been the right decision, even if the bushes now looked “green” without hardly a ripening tomato. It was a good chance to focus on inside food preparation, like making sauce, or starting up the dehydrator.  Not quite sun-dried tomatoes, but a close equivalent.

BowlofBigBoyTomatoes-2

Tomato rescue before rain set in....

A rainy day task - drying tomatoes for winter

A rainy day task - drying tomatoes for winter

It’s been a good change of pace, spending time with all the other inside jobs one neglects when spending most of the time outdoors.  Spiders of all sorts are quickly spinning webs, even in the bath tub.  After two days of good rain showers the garden looks refreshed, although mildew has set in upon the squash and cucumbers with a vengeance.  Kale and chard keep growing like gangbusters, the basil is finally getting really bushy after a few prunings for pesto sauce, and another crop of bush beans is just about ready. The good news is we are warming again in a few days to nearly 90°, so we can ripen more tomatoes!