Feb 10 2010

On Snow And The Changing Seasons: Garden Report

Roger


IMG_0578

We’re in our third major snowstorm of the season, and there is a blizzard warning until this evening. Probably about 30” of snow on the ground now — 24” from last weekend’s storm, plus what’s falling now. It’s been a long time since we’ve had this much snow.
The quiet, the calm make it a perfect time to reflect on the transition from the first season in the Sykesville garden to the second. Despite a disaster or two, we’d have to say it was a successful, very satisfying garden.
Because of all the infrastructure work — breaking ground, assembling the greenhouse, and most hugely, building the 7 1/2’ deer-proof fence — we got a late start, with not much in the way of early season crops. My seed-starting venture was pretty much a flop. I blame it on the ridiculous commute and hours I was working at a downtown job. Won’t have that problem this year.
As noted previously here, we were lucky to get an abundance of manure, making for amazing fertility. The zinnias and dahlias were ginormous. Peppers, the best I’ve ever grown. The beans were so dense on the gateway trellis that we couldn’t even harvest them. The tomatoes, up until the late blight fungus hit, were magnificent.
That’s the outstanding sour note and biggest disappointment. After an initial flush of fruit, the LBF took out all the tomatoes. Just one batch of sauce, and nothing to can. We actually had to buy tomatoes at the farmer’s market in August and September. How humiliating!
Lessons learned to be applied this year: Rotate, of course. Use only plants started here. Plant with much more generous spacing to allow more air and light in, and avoid persistent dampness. Install ground irrigation hoses to avoid over-wetting of the foliage. And keep the watering consistent.
Also as noted earlier, our showing at the Howard County Fair was very satisfying. The peppers were stars, with the green bells taking a first. We’ll be focusing on some more flowers this season; they were pretty much an afterthought. I’m sure Natalie will be on the lookout for creative containers to present our blooms.
Lastly, bow season was a bust. I had some close encounters, but nothing for the freezer. Leaving the downtown job behind will help that endeavor, too. Natalie, Blue and I have scouted out some prime new spots, and I’ll also be focusing on the old stand that produced last year. (We have one nice doe in the freezer, from Pennsylvania rifle season.)
Now for this year. I’ve ordered way too many seeds, as usual. We probably have enough from last year to plant a full garden. But I just can’t resist.
From Jung, we ordered:
Blue Lake 274 bush bean
Burpee improved bush lima bean
Franklin hybrid Brussels sprouts
Nantes coreless carrots
Eureka hybrid cucumber
Dusky hybrid eggplant
Italian large leaf basil
Florence fennel (for Natalie’s butterflies)
Super sugar snap pea
Aruba cubanelle hybrid pepper
Giant marconi hybrid pepper
Rainbow hybrid pepper
Easter egg blend radish
Bloomsdale longstanding spinach
Italian Largo hybrid squash
All blue potato sets
Benarys giant white zinnia
Magellan mix hybrid zinnia
Oklahoma mix zinnia
Single old fashioned mix hollyhock
New millennium stars delphinium mix
Thomas Edison dahlia
White perfection dahlia
Zorro dahlia
Jung’s premium gladiolus
Good god, I am out of control! Where are we going to put all this?!? And that doesn’t include the tomatoes. Here’s what we ordered from Totally Tomatoes:
Beefmaster hybrid
Lemon Boy hybrid
Pineapple
Roma
4 best hybrids collection
Notice there in no lettuce on the list. In an act of extreme discipline, I decided we had enough seed leftover. Notice also the preponderance of hybrid varieties; until we’re sure we have disease and fungi under control, we’re going with resistant varieties as much as possible.
So, they should be here soon, assuming the mail people can get through the snow. We’ll get the lights set up in the basement, and I will have no excuse for neglecting the little babies.
Now, time to get some serious outerwear on, grab the Blue dog, and go out to get some more firewood. Now that there’s someone here to tend it, and since we have plenty of wood to use, we’ve been doing a lot of heating with the wood stove. A nice country ritual (especially when you don’t have to depend 100% on it).

Above:  Garden after the second big snow of the season.

We’re in our third major snowstorm of the season, and there is a blizzard warning until this evening. Probably about 30” of snow on the ground now — 24” from last weekend’s storm, plus what’s falling now. It’s been a long time since we’ve had this much snow.

The quiet, the calm make it a perfect time to reflect on the transition from the first season in the Sykesville garden to the second. Despite a disaster or two, it was a successful, very satisfying garden. We ate a lot out of it. Natalie was very pleased with all the butterflies. And I’d have to say, I couldn’t have a better gardening partner: champion weeder, tireless transplanter, keen observer and meticulous caretaker. We’re an excellent team, in gardening and just about everything else.

Because of all the infrastructure work — breaking ground, assembling the greenhouse, and most hugely, building the 7 1/2’ deer-proof fence — we got a late start, with not much in the way of early season crops. My seed-starting venture was pretty much a flop. I blame it on the ridiculous commute and hours I was working at a downtown job. Won’t have that problem this year.

As noted previously here, we were lucky to get an abundance of manure, making for amazing fertility. The zinnias and dahlias were ginormous. Peppers, the best I’ve ever grown. The beans were so dense on the gateway trellis that we couldn’t even harvest them. The tomatoes, up until the late blight fungus hit, were magnificent.

That’s the outstanding sour note and biggest disappointment. After an initial flush of fruit, the LBF took out all the tomatoes. Just one batch of sauce, and nothing to can. We actually had to buy tomatoes at the farmer’s market in August and September. How humiliating!

Lessons learned to be applied this year: Rotate, of course. Use only plants started here. Plant with much more generous spacing to allow more air and light in, and avoid persistent dampness. Install ground irrigation hoses to avoid over-wetting of the foliage. And keep the watering consistent.

Also as noted earlier, our showing at the Howard County Fair was very satisfying. The peppers were stars, with the green bells taking a first. We’ll be focusing on some more flowers this season; they were pretty much an afterthought. I’m sure Natalie will be on the lookout for creative containers to present our blooms.

Lastly, bow season was a bust. I had some close encounters, but nothing for the freezer. Leaving the downtown job behind will help that endeavor, too. Natalie, Blue and I have scouted out some prime new spots, and I’ll also be focusing on the old stand that produced last year. (We have one nice doe in the freezer, from Pennsylvania rifle season.)

Now for this year. I’ve ordered way too many seeds, as usual. We probably have enough from last year to plant a full garden. But I just can’t resist.

From Jung, we ordered:

  • Blue Lake 274 bush bean
  • Burpee improved bush lima bean
  • Franklin hybrid Brussels sprouts
  • Nantes coreless carrots
  • Eureka hybrid cucumber
  • Dusky hybrid eggplant
  • Italian large leaf basil
  • Florence fennel (for Natalie’s butterflies)
  • Super sugar snap pea
  • Aruba cubanelle hybrid pepper
  • Giant marconi hybrid pepper
  • Rainbow hybrid pepper
  • Easter egg blend radish
  • Bloomsdale longstanding spinach
  • Italian Largo hybrid squash
  • All blue potato sets
  • Benarys giant white zinnia
  • Magellan mix hybrid zinnia
  • Oklahoma mix zinnia
  • Single old fashioned mix hollyhock
  • New millennium stars delphinium mix
  • Thomas Edison dahlia
  • White perfection dahlia
  • Zorro dahlia
  • Jung’s premium gladiolus

Good god, I am out of control! Where are we going to put all this?!? And that doesn’t include the tomatoes. Here’s what we ordered from Totally Tomatoes:

  • Beefmaster hybrid
  • Lemon Boy hybrid
  • Pineapple
  • Roma
  • 4 best hybrids collection

Notice there is no lettuce on the list. In an act of extreme discipline, I decided we had enough seed leftover. Notice also the preponderance of hybrid varieties; until we’re sure we have disease and fungi under control, we’re going with resistant varieties as much as possible.

So, they should be here soon, assuming the mail people can get through the snow. We’ll get the lights set up in the basement, and I will have no excuse for neglecting the little babies.

Now, time to get some serious outerwear on, grab the Blue dog, and go out to get some more firewood. Now that there’s someone here to tend it, and since we have plenty of wood to use, we’ve been doing a lot of heating with the wood stove. A nice country ritual (especially when you don’t have to depend 100% on it).


Apr 19 2009

Kale is Delicious. . .really!

Natalie

We ate kale from our greenhouse tonight.  Unlike the leafy greens from the grocery store, this was a vegetable I would eat often.  There’s a great article about CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) in the most recent issue of Urbanite Magazine.  Author Tracey Middlekauf begins with the line:  “Serious about eating local?  Better learn to love kale.”  kale

http://www.urbanitebaltimore.com/sub.cfm?issueID=71&sectionID=4&articleID=1196