Monday, May 22, 2017

Harvest Monday - 22 May 2017

Hello again from Eight Gate Farm! The weather here (like a lot of places) has not been consistent, which is not good for gardening. We've had some very warm days, and just as many absolutely cold days, and especially cold nights. No hope of getting the warm weather crops in early.

For harvests, we've decided to make the following the last asparagus pick of the season. We've enjoyed every stalk, but the bed has not been especially productive, and even the plants that usually give a lot have been stingy this year. Not sure why. Better now to let the rest of the stalks just grow.

You might think that we already have enough garden space here. We have a fenced area that is 2400 square feet, plus another 600 square feet we call the "Survival Garden" where we grow dry corn and beans. But the fenced garden, which might have been perfect in its day (before we got here), is now getting more and more shaded. Plus, I've taken 2 of its raised beds out of vegetables and substituted strawberries.

When we were out in Northern California's wine country last fall, we stopped at the historic (1876) Simi Winery in Healdsburg. It is a pretty spot. There, I was completely struck by their novel (to me) raised beds:

I knew just what they were: livestock tanks!

The above bed contained a hot pepper I was unfamiliar with. I asked, and it's called "Calabrese." They let us take some, but warned us they were "atomic." I found them flavorable, but not all that hot. I saved some seeds, and now have a plant growing. It will find a home in our latest project:

You guessed it, our very own stock tanks. They measure 8 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 2 feet high. We bought two. They weren't cheap (about $250 each, plus soil). But they will outlive me (I'm tired of replacing worn out raised bed frames). I expect to place all our pepper and eggplant seedlings in them. No worry about shading in this spot. They even have threaded drain plugs. We filled them with a layer of rubble, then about a foot of sandy/gravelly/loamy soil, and the rest beautiful loam that's 20% compost. Should be plant paradise.

I of course will keep updating the progress of these beds. But for now, enjoy the other posts on Harvest Monday, kindly hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Harvest Monday - 8 May 2017 - Don't Do This!

Welcome to a Harvest Monday update from Eight Gate Farm. Not wanting to start any post on a negative note, please "do" do this: harvest luscious asparagus if you got 'em.

But please "don't" do this! Like last year, aphids invaded the sunroom where all my precious seedlings start life. Once noticed, I started spraying with Pyrethrin. It beat them back for awhile, but they returned. So I got the brilliant idea to take a cotton swab to all the leaves in the hopes of crushing or removing them. Here is the result of that unfortunate effort:

I shortly realized that what I had done was damage the tender leaf cells. Almost all the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers started wilting. What is worst is the growing tips appear to be compromised on many plants.

Some may recover, but are starting life at a disadvantage. Of course there's no time to start new ones, so that means finding a garden center that stocks something more interesting than the typical Early Girl, Jet Star, and Big Boy varieties.

Gardening is hard!

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday, and also providing so many other interesting and informative posts.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Harvest Monday - 1 May 2017

It's been a dismal spring, but I always say that. It just won't stay warm. I've delayed planting most things by at least a week. But I finally have a vegetable harvest to share on Harvest Monday. Of course, it's asparagus.

We've gotten several similar pickings this week. You'll note the lack of uniformity. You don't see that in the supermarkets, but I imagine that commercial growers get a mix of sizes just like this, and simply select only the fattest for the fresh market and relegate the skinny ones to bulk processing of one kind or another. But for us, every stalk is precious and delicious. My favorite way to prepare is just lightly steamed, then add a sprinkle of sea salt. Fabulous! We should get several more weeks of harvest before letting the plants do their growing for the season.

I guess this counts as a "harvest." I grew many more onion and leek seedlings than I had room to plant, which we did this week. Rather than throw the extras into the compost, why not eat them?

The Kitchen Goddess put some in our scrambled eggs, and they were fantastic--bursting with flavor. The rest she'll put in a quiche. They were a pain to clean, she reported. So, thanks, TKG!

That's all for this week. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for continuing to host this great forum.