Monday, May 16, 2011

Irrigation, Natural and Artificial

We got quite a bit done this weekend.  Nothing like the threat of rain to motivate us to get to work.
Friday was a beautiful day.  Saturday was supposed to start raining at 11, but kindly held off until 5 or so.  Saturday night and Sunday brought 2.5 inches of rain--a record.  Now there's flooding along the Grande Ronde River, but we are luckily high and dry.  The plants held up remarkably well in the rain.
We got all of the potatoes planted.  We also got a few more onions in, radishes, cilantro, beans, and carrots.  I think we're ahead of our usual pace.  Even the corn was planted!  I'm sure they're all thrilled it was 34 degrees last night.
The kitchen was briefly taken over by potatoes as they formed a coating on their cut edge.
The tiny things I transplanted last weekend were probably too small; some were lost but others are hanging in.  The radishes at all are coming along.
The volunteer cilantro are doing better than those which I started.
Shawn went crazy and bought fertilizer devices.  One is a compost tea brewer.  It uses a 5 gallon bucket and an aquarium pump as well as a few cups of compost and some catalyst.  It takes 24 hours to brew and can be applied foliarly or to the roots.  The first batch was enough to fertilize all of the garlic.  The second batch watered the greenhouse plants.  I think the garlic already looks darker green.
We spent a fair amount of time putting in irrigation, but ran out of drip tape part-way through the garlic.  Then of course the rain came, so the need abated.
Shawn say evidence of cut worms, so the diatomaceous earth came out.
Diatomaceous earth applied to cabbages with a flour sifter.
The swallows are being pestered by a flicker that insists that it wants to come inside and visit.  To do so it needs to make their front door larger.  They do not like it.
The young owls are growing and seemingly getting used to me walking under them.
The babies.
The leeks look great!

More new zucchini.

Onions perked up.

General overview.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cleaning Up, Still and Again

Saturday: In between rainstorms, we pulled up drip tape from last year, removed all the twist ties from the tomato plants, yanked the tomato plants, disconnected the hog panels, and dragged them over to an out of the way pile.  I pulled a few of the fence posts, but my back said to call it quits.

Partly cleaned up.
Left to do: pull up the rest of the drip tape, pull out the pepper plants, pull up the corn stalks, and grab the tiny pile of gourds that didn't get picked up in the fall.  There are also some cauliflower skeletons that need to be removed, and an area of poorly harvested garlic.  I'm not sure what the plan for that is.  I think we should dig them up.
The herbs in the tiny cells were transplanted.  Some went into little 4-inch pots.  Others I decided should go straight into the ground.  Things like fennel, which are all about the root anyway, seem to me like they shouldn't spend much time in a pot.  So I thought I'd just put the fennel, dill, parsley, and cilantro into the ground.  Each is tough enough to handle the temperatures I think.
The results of the science experiment are in: windows win by a mile.  Most of what was under the ground cover is dead.  The window area suffers from want of water, a problem likely to be solved this weekend--the failure from last fall has been repaired.  Now the problem is a missing faucet on one of our many new places we can get water.  Anyway, the plants under the windows look great.  Plus, when I stick my hand in there it's so warm I'm tempted to crawl in with them and take a nap.

Windows in the foreground, row cover in the background.
Zucchini under the windows.
Zucchini under the row cover.

However, in the name of science, the experiment goes on.  Helpful reader Scott has loaned us little temperature data collection devices.  Shawn has installed them in various places in the window area and under the ground cover, but seems to be lacking a control.
I think last week I suggested that we had some germination in the radish, lettuce, pea, etc. department.  That continues and they are starting to seem like rows of plants.
Sunday was full of rain, snow, hail, and finally sunshine.  We planted more onions (I think I said last week they were all done, but I lied.  They still aren't, but are close).  The experiment on the extra space for germinating onions was a success, sort of.  We had a huge and never before seen die off, but those that survived are certainly bigger than usual.  With the leeks, it was unmitigated success.  Best looking leeks we've ever transplanted.  Shawn encountered a gopher run while planting the leeks.  He took the hose and stuck it down the hole.  Several gourd seeds popped up.  The water ran for a good 5-10 minutes.  Never came out the hole, never emerged anywhere else.  How big is the gopher world down there?
Leeks ready to be planted.
The leeks and the gopher hole with hose.

As planned, I got the fennel, dill, cilantro, and parsley into the ground.  They took the transplant well, but I didn't check them after they were poured on.  I also put in additional fennel, dill, and cilantro seeds.  I put them all down by the deer entry point--I'm hoping they won't like the strong taste.  This year, if we don't have dill, it won't be because we forgot to plant it.
I had hoped to get the carrots planted.  Unfortunately didn't get it done.  All the drip tape is out of the garden and the tomatoes are all clear as of today.  Certainly there's always more to do, but all in all, I feel like we did pretty well given the conditions.

The garlic is growing

Garlic detail
The great horned family overlooks the garlic.
The culprit in last year's water failure.  Having water in our garden sure is nice!
Greenhouse is pretty full.

The first tomatoes are big.

Everything else is growing.  They ALL recovered remarkably well from being transplanted.  Blows my mind, because for some doubles I just ripped one out and there was only one tiny root.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Gorgeous Day

It's been a very cold spring.  Usually we get warm days scattered here and there between February and summer, but this year I can only remember one on a day when I wasn't at work.  So this was the second day and we made the most of it.
Shawn got to work yesterday (when I thought it was too cold) planting the onions.  He got them all done!! This is great news.  The leeks had gotten tired of waiting, and most didn't look good.  Luckily, the leeks we planted from seed have done well, unlike all the onions.
The things I planted in the ground a while back finally came up over the last week, but we're out of row cover.  The real problem with that is the quail come in and snap everything up.  Their priority seems to be the peas.  I found an old ratty piece of row cloth and got them covered.  We'll see what's left.  The beets are still ungerminated, but there is some spinach, chard, radishes, and lettuce.
Shawn also built some warm spots in the garden.  He made surrounds of straw bales and then put windows on top.  He planted zucchini and cucumbers.  I'm rooting for another one with tomatoes and peppers.  As an experiment, he also planted some and covered with just row cover.  He had sprouted the seeds, so they just need to not freeze.  Unfortunately, in the several trips I made down to the garden this weekend,  I never remembered my camera, so no photos.
In other garden news, the swallows are back and started building their nest (none of those on the hill have started building yet).  Shawn put another house up; hurrah for mosquito control!  Bluebirds were sitting on it much of the day.  Also, the baby great horneds have left the nest and are showing off their fluffiness on nearby branches.
We did lots of transplanting this weekend.  Shawn mixed up a secret recipe of worm dirt, compost, potting soil, peat, and who knows what else, so hopefully the plants will be well-fed.  Almost all the peppers and all of the tomatoes and eggplant are done!  We split lots of them so will have starts to sell.  Rather than throwing milk cartons away all year, we saved them and are trying them out as planters.
In the orchard, the apricots are blooming and it looks like at least one of the plum trees will be covered with blooms, which has never happened, but seems to be usual with other people's plum trees.

It takes a lot of dirt!

Eggplant ready to spread out.

Ready to transplant--roots just emerging.
Part-way through.
Long way to go, though.  Lettuce in the background.
Being transplanted is hard!
Re-using labels (formerly most of them were venetian blinds).
Mmmm, tomatoes.