First site update of the season. We finally had Spring weather this weekend. So, I went to Home Depot at 9 a.m. yesterday and worked on the garden until 6 at night. I got every bed prepped and planted with … Continue reading
Since I am so far behind on blogging, I decided to post a few vegetable harvest pictures for you. Here is a picture of the main head of one of the broccoli plants. As you can see, it is bigger than my head! All three of our broccoli plants grew these beasts. I had to go to MN for Christmas and had Kelly take two up to her families for Christmas dinner. I watched this video by Pat Welsh on how to grow great broccoli. She says the key to growing any brassica family plants is to add humic acid. I asked my local nursery if they had any, and I ended up buying some soil conditioner that was 25% humic acid. My broccoli plants have done very well and are much larger than most plants in other peoples plots.
When I was at the nursery, I found seedlings of purple and yellow cauliflower. This was a great find for someone who is a huge Minnesota Vikings fan. I planted two of each, but one of the purple plants didn’t do anything so I ripped it up. I brought some of this home for Christmas to share with the family. I didn’t know there were any colors for cauliflower other than white…looking forward to growing more next year.
As I have mentioned before, the OB Community Garden has 32 chickens in a fenced in plot. I have been fortunate to receive quite a few eggs from them. The chickens lay all different color eggs, white, various shades of brown, and a green egg. They are all different sizes too. It is nice that I no longer have to buy eggs from the grocery store and that I know they were raised one block from my house.
Here is the lone beet that we harvested. I had never eaten one before and quickly learned that the juice stains very quickly. I really enjoy the leaves in salads too. I am going to post a few more pictures below. There isn’t much to say about them so I’ll just put up the pictures.
Another thing that I am going to start to do is post some links to products on amazon. Today they have a great deal on a dyson d40 vacuum with accessories. I recently bought a Dyson AM04 Hot + Cool Heater/Table Fan, Blue fan that works great. I’m guessing that this vacuum is also amazing:
Here is a photo of my garden 2 weeks after my last post. You can see that the swiss chard has been demolished by gophers, as well as the carrots and beets. This is when I started to research gopher trapping. I had to go out and buy to Macabee gopher traps. I asked my Grandpa if he ever had any trouble with gophers and he told me that his mom was quite the avid gopher trapper. He explained to me how to set the traps. It’s pretty simple to do. You have to find a fresh gopher mound, and then use a stake, rod, etc and poke in the ground to find which directions the tunnels run. Once you do that, you dig a whole and set a trap in each direction. Make sure you tie your traps together and then stake them down once they are set. This is to prevent the gopher from running off with your trap if it doesn’t kill it. You should cover the whole with a brick or paver once the traps are set. Then all you have to do is wait… Here is a link that might explain this better, it also has pictures.
Here is one of the gophers that I caught. After they finished off the chard, carrots and beets, they moved to the other side of the garden and started working on our romaine. This first picture is of the gopher in the tunnel where I caught him. You can see that I have twine tied to the trap and that is connected to the other trap that was facing the other direction.
I didn’t realize how small gophers were. I went to the University of Minnesota and am a proud alumni of the Golden Gophers. I no longer feel bad for killing them because they are eating my vegetables. I was somewhat scared to take it off, but with my gloves on, it wasn’t that hard. I through him over the fence for some critter around here to eat.
Since I lost quite a few chard plants, I went out and got a few more. The picture on the right shows the new plants. It is rainbow chard and although I’m not the biggest fan of it, I do like the bright colors in the garden. There are white, yellow and pink stalks that look awesome with all the other leafy green plants growing.
Where the carrots and beets were, I decided to plant a few more cauliflower and romanesco broccoli plants. These are growing slowly, but it’ll be nice to have a harvest in early spring (I actually looked in one of the romanesco plants and saw what it looks like, definitely click the link to the wikipedia page). I also planted some more kale here because I don’t mind it in my salads. We also have been running some through my juicer and mixing it with apple or orange juice. It tastes good and is very healthy for you.
I also planted a few additional strawberries in the corner of the garden. I really like the fresh strawberries from the old garden so I wanted to get more in at my new plot. These are an ever bearing variety and I have been pulling flowers in hopes of having these plants develop a strong root system and produce bountiful harvests.
I purchased a dill plant and another oregano plant. I added these to the herb corner. I am hoping to use the dill when I make pickles with cucumbers from the garden. Last year I wanted to make pickles and didn’t get around to it…hoping we do this time since I have a monster bottle of vinegar sitting in the cupboard.
This picture is of the ‘left half’ of my garden. There is the broccoli in the lower left and the artichoke on the right, with peas along the fence. There are two new plants, a brussel sprout and another broccoli in the bottom center of the photo. Most of these new plants were leftovers from when I helped a friend plant a garden in plastic storage tubs. I took pics and will post them up here soon.
Here is the broccoli corner, and one brussel sprout plant on the left. In the broccoli closest to us, you can barely see the broccoli head. Once the head is ready, you cut it and then side shoots will form and you can harvest broccoli for at least two months (and who knows how much longer…first time growing but just ate two nice side shoots tonight for dinner)
These pictures are fours weeks after the last post, so around November 1st. You can see that the flowers at the end are dieing, but everything else looks great. Going around the picture clockwise from the flowers, there is cauliflower, lettuces along the border, and a kale plant in the corner. In the bottom left are carrots, above that near the path is the swiss chard, and to the left are some beets.
The broccoli, peas and brussel sprout grew quite a bit. The peas look good but they will soon die out… Once the broccoli grew larger, I was unable to get my big body to the fence to help them up the fence. I also lost two of the broccoli’s to gophers. Gophers will be the next blog topic since they have done nothing but cause trouble in the garden…
The carrots and beets that we inherited with the garden ended up getting pretty big. We only harvested a few carrots and one beet because of the gophers. The one food my dad doesn’t eat is beets so I was curious to try them. I also wanted to save him a few since he was coming to visit over thanksgiving. The chard that is planted next to them also fell victim to the gophers.
Here is a close up of the swiss chard and a few beets. I did take a few of the beet leaves and add them to my salads. I was hesitant at first, but they actually tasted really good. I’ve heard that about other brassica family plants but am too afraid to try them. I’ll get some when I get back from mexico and give them a try.
Here is the one beet we harvested and some romaine leaves that we pulled from a couple of our plants. Greens are pretty easy to grow and I tend to not eat the salad out of the bags very fast and end up throwing it out. The lettuce out of the garden is nice and fresh, tastes great and lasts longer in the fridge. I’ve been able to pick enough to have a large salad every other day.
I have one last picture of a radish we pulled. We tried growing them at the house in a planted box, but they weren’t doing well. I moved the planter box to the garden and will try growing them there.
About a year ago, I moved one block from the Ocean Beach Community Garden. I called to see if there were any open plots but there were none. I was put on the waiting list and finally received a plot in late September.
This is the entrance to the garden. It has a nice archway to go through before getting to the locked gate. There are 51 plots in the garden, but 2 are used for chickens and ducks. I have received plenty of chicken eggs and 2 duck eggs from the garden. The eggs are tastier than store bought eggs. I used the duck eggs to make some Christmas cookies and they were uber tasty. To get to my garden plot, you go through the gate and make your first left and walk past two gardens and it’ll be on the right. Most of the plots are 10 feet by 20 feet depending on where the plot is located.
The picture to the right is the plot that I have. This picture was taken a few days after I started to weed out the plot. The plot was completely covered with weeds, along with those flowers, some carrots and beets, and an artichoke plant. My plot receives full sun and I can’t wait to grow summer crops! The garden has a bunch of garbage cans for green waste. I think I loaded three of them after all the weeding.
Speaking of weeding, here’s a picture of me digging into the ground to loosen them up before pulling them out. It’s been a while since my last post, but you can tell I haven’t upgraded my wardrode…still rocking the sleeveless Corona shirt. We had some really nice weather out here in San Diego last fall which really made it easy to get out there and churn through the plot.
So after weeding was completed, it was time to plant. There is a fence that wraps around one end of my garden. I decided to plant peas along the fence so that they can climb up it. The plant on the far right is an artichoke. The previous owner had dug out the artichoke and left it in a garbage can. I pulled it out and replanted it since I had never grown one before.
This is across from the other peas. You can see the rest of the fence and more peas next to it. I decided to plant broccoli in this corner and a brussel sprout plant is on the far left. It’s fun seeing these pictures now because these plants are monsters now. I have been eating broccoli pretty much every day for the past two weeks.
I planted 2 purple and 2 yellow cauliflowers, some romaine, and a dinosaur kale plant. I didn’t know there were different colors of cauliflower until I found these at the nursery. Kale was an experiment and it turns out that it is super healthy for you and doesn’t taste bad like I imagined. You should check out this recipe if you like kale.
Here’s a picture of some of the beets and carrots that were in the plot when I took it over. My dad hates beets so I’ve never eaten one. As you’ll learn, we ended up having gopher problems and were unable to eat any of the beets. We got a couple carrots, but the gophers got the rest… There is also some swiss chard growing here too. The gophers will eventually eat 5 of the 6 plants…
In this corner of the garden, I planted a bunch of ever bearing strawberries. They taste great straight from the garden. Eventually I ripped up the flowers when they were dieing and planted 6 more strawberry plants. I have been pulling the flowers since I have planted them in order for them to grow a nice root system to supply me with bigger/more berries this summer.
In the corner opposite of the strawberries, I planted some herbs. I planted sage and lavender next to each other. We used some of the sage this past thanksgiving. I was told that sage and oregano are good things to plant to bring in the beneficial organisms. The lavender flowers are now blooming and I need to learn how to use it. I have seen a lot of drinks that had lavender in it so I’m interested in harvesting it. After ripping out the flowers, I additionally planted oregano and some dill in this herb corner. I would like to use the dill this summer when we are making pickles.
So that was all of the planting I did after weeding. The picture on the right is the garden after planting. I must have been shaking when I took the pic because it’s pretty blurry. Ill post a few more pictures below for you guys to check out. One is of the chickens and the one turkey, another of me bending over and weeding, and lastly a close up of the artichoke. I can’t wait to post the most recent pictures of it…it’s taking over the plot!
1. I created a raised bed out of some old cinder blocks that I found in my garage. The bed is 3×6 feet. I planted some pole beans and constructed a trellis for them. The beans started to germinate a couple of days ago. We have had weather in the low 90s the last couple of days, so I have been watering heavy.
2. I have been harvesting snow, sugar snap, and shell peas over the last week. They make a delicious snack, especially with some homemade ranch dressing. With the recent heat, I doubt that I will get many more peas. I also tried an experimental trellis system that was a minor fail. Look for a future post about it, with pictures.
3. My spinach and arugula are done. I turned their beds and planted edamame to add some nitrogen to the soil. If the soybean harvest is early, I may turn the beds again and plant arugula and spinach again in the fall. My spring mix is still providing great yields, but it doesn’t like this heat. I keep the ground well watered in order to keep the soil temp down. This allows me to get 1 or 2 extra cuttings.
4. The cooking greens are looking great and will give me and my friends a steady supply of kale, chard, and collards through October. Look for a future post with my sesame kale recipe. I planted several different varieties of cooking greens, because I had a major pest problem with my lacinato kale last year. Hopefully, that pest is a picky eater and it stays away from the other varieties.
5. The curcubits and nightshades are doing better after a rough week for some of them. I didn’t harden off all of my starts. Therefore, some of the plants got leaf burn from the intense natural light. I trimmed the leaves that were burned, so the plants could spend all their energy on new leaf growth. Overall, I lost one pepper plant, but all of my tomato transplants look healthy enough.. The cucumbers are taking off and I planted two summer squash varieties (Patty Pan and Zucchini) today.
6. I threw a final layer of dirt on top of my potatoes. I did this 3 times. It tricks the potatoes and increases yields. Basically, I let the leaves break through the soil and then I cover them with more dirt. This is the first time that I have grown potatoes, so I am interested to see how well this technique works.
7. I have hops growing along a fence in my backyard. If supported they will grow to be 20 to 30 feet tall. They smell great and can create a natural privacy fence. Oh, and of course you can brew some bitter ales with them come Fall. Watch for brewing tips from agridude’s resident brew master, Austin Jevne from Driftless Brewing.
This is some arugula that recently flowered. The leaves will be more bitter now, because the plant is putting its energy into producing flowers. The nutty flavor of this green is nice for spicing up a salad or bowl of pasta. When cooking arugula make sure to add it to the dish late in the cooking process. It is not quite as robust as spinach and can only handle a quick braise.
This Blue Dwarf Kale is just about ready for harvest. I used mulch around the plant to retain moisture and to reduce the competition from weeds. The mulch is nice to use on beds that you do not plan on turning that same year. If you don’t have mulch, try straw. It is a great alternative and breaks down much faster. I look forward to sauteing the kale in some toasted sesame oil or bacon grease.
The spring mix and spinach are dealing with some encroaching grass. I need to do a better job of containing the growth in between my beds. These crops have already been big producers for me this spring. It is one of the better raised beds that I dug. I hope to get another couple weeks of production out of these guys, before the soil gets too warm.
The butter leaf lettuce is doing pretty well. I am going to let them get real big before I harvest. The weather is going to stay cool, so there is little risk of them going to seed anytime soon. However, once they do start to produce seeds, the plant will be way too bitter for consumption.
Here is a cuke seedling. As you can see the cotyledons (original 2 leaves) have not dropped. Growth should start picking up in the next couple weeks. I transplanted my toms and peps over the last couple weeks as well. Minnesotans don’t have the benefit of a Mediterranean climate. We have to wait for the soil to warm up into the 70s, before the cucurbits (Cucumbers, Zucchinis, Watermelons) and nightshades (Tomatoes, Peppers) start to show any significant growth.
Mint grows like a weed. I had to pull up half the mint in my garden today to make room for tomatoes and cucumbers. This perennial is great, even in northern climates, and helps make a mean mojito. Just grab some rum, sugar in the raw, limes, and club soda, and you will be ready to mash up a tasty summer refreshment.
These peas were planted in late March, as soon as the soil thawed. Snow peas take 60 days to reach maturity, which means I have been harvesting away this week. You can plant peas multiple times throughout the season. So, stagger your plantings and make sure you start getting some in the ground again in late July, because peas are very cold tolerant and will survive into late October. Peas also serve another purpose in the garden besides providing us with a good source of protein. All legumes (Peas and Beans) put nitrogen back into the soil. For this reason, it is a good idea to rotate them around your garden from year to year.