Tag Archives: kale

Fall…ing fast

Fall…arrived in lightning speed, so it seemed; preceded by a few cooler days of decent rain to relieve some of the stress of excessive smoke and thirsty trees all over the region, both urban and forest. The precious rain was a bit precocious in actually arriving as anticipated; taking itself further north for a few days, but it did finally arrive in time to help with the forest wildfires and start cleaning out the smoky air that kept recycling itself over the state.

The smokey skies, hot temperatures, and strange humidity initiated a very early onset of powdery mildew, ensuring the end-of-squash-and-melons in a very abrupt manner. With the return of some sun and a bit more warmth, the nasturtiums, lettuce, and kale are more vigorous, however. As the first rains arrived it was a dash to clip melons, spaghetti, and delicata squash from their deteriorating vines, and gather in any ripe tomatoes.

Winding down those squash, winding up the greens. Where’s Juni?

A first-year learning experience in a new garden; it was very productive in most ways, and less than anticipated in other ways, seemingly more related to sun and shade patterns than anything else. A few ideas are now being tucked away for reference for next year.

In some ways this “new” garden seemed easier to care for, compared to the former one, with seemingly less watering needed, although the overall bounty was a bit less. Whereas the high amount of loam in the old community garden was well drained and easy to dig, more clay in the present yard helped retain moisture longer, even if it made the ground a bit harder to work to start with. And, more shade trees overhang this yard, keeping the area a bit cooler.

Tomatoes were later producers here, in spite of being next to the house, which is turning out to be an asset as we cool down. What wasn’t foreseen was the amount of shade they would be in until the sun shown on them (after 12:30pm), and then for the remainder of the day. And they weren’t particularly early-ripening varieties, but now they’re doing well, with some extra plastic over them as the temperatures cool down. Maybe a different spot next year, or else an early ripener.

Enjoying the current 2-3 days of warmth before we see a longer stretch of rain settle in. That delightful flip-flop transition of early fall.

Hoping your bounty has been generous this year!

On the driest day of the year…..it rained…

Yes….the garden is growing!  In spite of very inconsistent spurts of summer! The almanacs show that on July 12, typically the driest day of the year (.001 inch of rain in the records) we received about 0.7 inches overnight, setting a record.  Didn’t need to water for a few days!
Tomato jackets came off July 3rd….and they are now doing wonderfully; many blossoms and a few small fruit on one plant.  A plethora of beets, spinach, and lettuce have been pulled, and the inconsistent warmth we have seen has allowed a prolonged lettuce season.

July 4: starting to kick in for biomass

A bright sunrise....tomatoes love it!"

Oodles of Chiogga beets (red and white interior; almost like radishes)

A most inconsistent corn stand emerged, and there was no way that the corn was knee-high on the 4th of July; but now there are some plants that are waist-high, while others are shin-high.  Crows picked off some squash seedlings, so had to replant at a late date, and slugs knocked off a couple of melons.  So, we feel behind in some aspects, and yet catching up very quickly during this last week.  An overnight rain just left us 0.5 inches of rain, when we normally see none at this time of year; everything is different!

July 16: Lush greens

July 16: Growth in full swing!

June harvest tally:

  • Beet shoots: 3.25 pounds
  • Kale: 9
  • Lettuce: 14.25
  • Swiss chard: 4.75

Total: 30 pounds
And on we go….with gratitude to all Beings involved!

Solstice solitude

Solstice greetings of increasing Light to everyone!

Whew!  November and December have flown so fast!  Some well-meaning friends are already asking if I have ideas for next season.   No, not yet; it is really the season of rest right now, for both humans and plants, and soil.

Although I do think it is time to consider a cold frame of sorts to help weather some lettuce and spinach a bit longer.  If California starts to have climate trends tending to flooding (or interspersed with droughts), produce prices will skyrocket.  Fortunately our local producers are doing well, given their newer methods of winter gardening, but demand sometimes exceeds the supply in our locally-supplied markets.

The older kale plants are looking a little wobbly from wind and soaking rains a couple of weeks ago.  Some of us will probably pick off one plant at a time and pull it out when used up.  The crop planted in fall is surviving very well, as is the chard, but they are both small.  Older chard seems to have survived the cold frosts of earlier December, but is in a “holding” pattern, not looking particularly anxious to grow!  Who would, on the shortest day of the year?

But now, the life-stimulating energy of the sun starts to expand just a little more each day, though our coldest days have yet to come.

Happy holidays!  I’m hoping that some magical elf will bless me with the gift of a hori-hori knife (Japanese multi-functional gardening tool, meaning did-dig).

Yule-tide resting time....Where's Aspen?

Fall Glory

It is amazing how one can stay so busy caring for a garden that is essentially moving towards a long nap.  Maybe it is my sense of  “clean management” that spurs me on to remove the decaying matter, though not so much in the house yard.  Actually for the CG it comes down to removing the dying, so that a blanket of leaves can be put down, to be turned over in spring, and to help insulate the remaining veggies.  Slugs will probably love it, as there are quite a few lurking in the lovely lettuce, but that’s just something we’ll have to deal with as necessary.

A lovely spurt of unseasonably warm weather delighted us gardeners a week ago, also prompting all the weeds to put forth new energy, and teasing a couple of strawberry plants into producing a few berries.  Of course, the bees were very happy with it, too.  Pineapple sages and Japanese anemones are still actively blooming, much delighting the hummingbirds.

Fall splendor; a little sun, a little fog....

This week heralds the onset of a few colder nights, between rainstorms, but no frost.  It won’t be as easy to see our pollinator friends and hummingbirds now, with shorter days, colder mornings, and barely light by the time I get home from work.

Still trying to ripen picked green tomatoes, but after last month’s rain, it’s not so easy, as many want to rot before turning any tint of orange.  Drying them down if they show any color is turning out to be a better option.

Our October bounty was exceptional, now that the tomatoes and squash were all pulled in:

  • Basil: 0.75
  • Cucumbers: 8.5
  • Kale: 1
  • Lettuce: 3
  • Melons (combined): 8.5
  • Acorn squash: 22.5
  • Delicata squash: 8.75
  • Spaghetti squash: 119
  • Swiss chard: 2.5
  • Summer squash: 10
  • Tomatoes: 44.5

Month’s total: 229 pounds (rounded)
Season total: 629 pounds

And this season’s total bests last year’s total at this same time by about 61 pounds, and it surpasses our final 2009 tally by 37 pounds!  Hooray for all the superb contributions from the plants, devas, pollinators, and human caretakers!

Last Tomato Standing

….for the moment.
It has been a time for progressive clean-up, given the cool, but vibrant fall weather of the last two weeks.  After hard rains on Oct. 10, it was time to remove the thrashed summer squash, cucumbers and melons, and harvest the nearly 150 pounds of winter squash.

Our beautiful mild fall weather since has helped ripen more tomatoes, wrapped in their red jackets, while a few more cucumbers have eeked out their full figures.  Basil is now typically spotted and un-pretty, especially after a mild frost.  The mixed lettuces are very happy, being the perfect size for gourmet greens as they are thinned.  Kale seedlings are poking along.  Hoses are finally put away for the season….alas.

A favorite for kitties: over and under the deer netting!

With impending heavy rains, all the tomatoes were removed, save the “yellow pear”, which still has a few fruit, and more blossoms.  It’s always good to have a sentinel for awhile.

Prepared for fall rains beginning in earnest

 

They really exist!

Thanks to one of our natural pest controllers, who decided to quit being so shy, we had beautiful bounty, even if the tomatoes are still slow, and the summer squash are slowing down!

An elusive friend mantis making a brief appearance

September bounty:

  • Basil: 6.5
  • Bush beans: 2.75
  • Cucumbers: 6
  • Grapes: 2
  • Charantai melons: 16
  • Margarita melons: 8.75
  • Delicata squash: 8.5
  • Spaghetti squash: 6.5
  • Spinach: 2
  • Swiss chard: 2.25
  • Summer squash: 26.75
  • Tomatoes: 41.25

Month’s total: 125 pounds (rounded)
Season total: 400 pounds

Spaghetti squash near harvest

Transitions

Labor Day already?!  Wait a minute, we’ve only picked 3 red tomatoes (this last week)!  I check last year’s entry, and like I thought, I was drying them, there were so many.  C’est la vie.  Three weeks of a cycle in which each week contains 2 days of above-average temps, followed by 15-degree drops to below-average and drizzle, plus mid-40’s at night, just doesn’t cut it for ripening tomatoes.  Still, the plants look great.

Mildew on the squash; always a good seasonal transition symptom.  The acorn, spaghetti, and delicata squash are doing very well.  The zucchini, yellow, and patty pan summer squash are also yielding well, but not overabundant, since they prefer more consistent heat.  The charentais melon has proven very prolific, and we await ripening fruit, now that their skins are roughening.  The margarita melon is not as prolific, but the plant has a few healthy specimens ripening.  Cucumbers are finally cranking out.

Little charentais melons roughening up their skins

More breathing room for squash & tomatoes

A magnificent corn harvest again this year (see tally below); the stalks were pulled to get more light into the tomatoes and squash, and to make easier picking.

Ears of corn sized for big people & little people!

Chard and kale plants are marvelously large,  just starting to get bitter.  Seeds for a fall crop went in last week, as well as a mix of lettuces and salad greens.

Attempts at growing potatoes in the breathable grow-bags proved more productive than last year, but still not what I’d hoped.  The plants looked good, and putting more fertilizer in initially helped, but I’m suspecting there’s an issue with not enough moisture during hot weather, even though they were watered daily much of the summer.  I’m of the mind to only plant Cherry Red and All-Blue varieties next year, since they’re not typically available anywhere else.  The Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, and Banana Fingerlings are usually available for less money than I put into growing them.  At least they’re proving to be deletable morsels, and it’ll be easy to make some potato salad without having to chop much.  Now, if I was to make raclette or fondue, these are the perfect size!

(left) Yukon Gold & All Blue potatoes; (right) Cherry Red & Banana Fingerling

We could not have planned it any better for plant arranging, as the dying nasturtiums in the front/lower tier were replaced by squash vines migrating down around the them and the lavender.

Thanks be to all gardeners, pollinators, and devas, visible and invisible, for a bountiful harvest!

August bounty:

  • Basil: 5.25
  • Bush beans: 18.5
  • Corn: 46.5 (40 ears)
  • Cucumbers: 9.5
  • Kale: 3
  • Lettuce blends: 4.25
  • Parsley: 0.75
  • Scallions: 4
  • Spinach: 2
  • Swiss chard: 4.25
  • Summer squash: 57
  • Tomatoes: 1.5
  • Blueberries  4
  • Potatoes: 14

Month’s total: 174.5 pounds!

A sea of melon leaves! Where's Juniper?

A lush “green tomato year” in the making

Awoke to some drizzle, and had a an opportunity to reset the energy button to a slower pace; to actually sit in the garden (as the skies cleared), rather than tend to it.  Listening to the breeze, the little birds, the newly-hatched grasshopper, the bees.  Watching the cabbage white loopers darting around, and the juba skippers snapping and courting in their little aerial spirals.  Smelling the lavender, sages, bee balm, corn, nasturtiums, squash; summer in general.  Feeling like a sleeping cat.

I noticed a feeling of early fall precisely on Aug. 1.  The days started feeling noticeably shorter at the same time; there is a tinge of color on sporadic trees.  All this seems a couple of weeks earlier than “normal”.  We’re most definitely on the downside of summer, with very few tomatoes set.  I’ve never had this many tomato plants grow over 5-feet tall before setting fruit!  But, we’re not alone in this predicament.  Our day and night temps are so variable, slow to warm and very quick to cool in late afternoon.  More heat needed!

Fortunately, the squash have kicked in, though more sporadic than last year, especially for their mammoth sizes.  The spaghetti squash is out of hand, while little acorn and delicata fruit are just getting started.  The cucumbers are developing nicely, as are the margarita and charantai melons.  Corn ears are nicely elongated, waiting to fill out the kernels.

Tasseling corn

'Early prolific

Lavender and nasturtiums cushion a spaghetti squah

It was time for the lettuce to be harvested completely, or be overrun by squash and melons, besides being a little bit bitter.  Kale and chard are still vigorous, and the bush beans are still producing well.  Harvested over 5 pounds this last week on the oldest row.  Basil has been sheared back for a second round of bushy growth.  Lots of pesto being made!

July bounty:

  • Beet tops and roots: 11.75 pounds
  • Basil: 6.25
  • Kale: 3.5
  • Lettuce blends: 16.5
  • Scallions: 0.75
  • Spinach: 2
  • Swiss chard: 4.75
  • Sugar Snap peas: 0.25
  • Summer squash: 8.75

Month’s total: 53 pounds

Thank you all participants and garden devas!

Lushness galore! August 8

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!

April…come what May

April….spring….is always shifty in relation to weather, but this year feels less normal “than normal”.  This isn’t surprising to some of us who can feel the invisible shift in planetary energetics.  Strong fluctuations of Earth’s geomagnetic fields, episodes of solar winds, coinciding with increased tectonic activity around the world, just might influence weather patterns and people’s energy, though we won’t hear of it via traditional technology or the media.

Slowly but surely there is growth. The large overwintering kale doesn't count....

April has taken forever to get through; it seems like eons ago that we put in our first cool-crops in the CG.  Happily, they germinated well despite heavy rains just after seeding.  They have survived several episodes of hail, heavy rain and wind storms, frost, and “much lower than average” temperatures for the month.  We could call it….Apruary.  Somehow February and April got mixed up. But the sporadic days of sun between storms have brought us snippets of warmth, enough for the plants to show some substance, so initial thinnings were just made.  Love those tasty kale, lettuce, spinach, and pea sprouts! I decided to try potatoes again this year, so planted them last week.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a decent crop.  I think I heard something about a warming trend in early May.  Yes! Please, oh please.

Aspen beginning his tentative first outdoor explorations: his motto seems to be "always safer to hunker down and watch".

Where's Juniper? Where's Aspen? We know you're there....somewhere.

So, what is the current bumper crop? Weeds!