On the other end of the farm, George has more animals then I. He has many pigs, and a small herd of Free Range Chickens. They are an odd lot, and if I’m in a comical mood, I can cluck like a chicken and get them to follow me around for a bit. They are not very friendly, and they keep there space. They roam all over about 20 acres of the farm. Often they can be seen just feet away from the horses in their pasture. I imagine they have a symbiotic relationship where they eat the bugs which are attracted to the horses.
My neices and nephews seem to enjoy the chickens, as they can go on an egg hunt any day of the week, and be almost assured a heavy treasure. Davie and I were re-arranging some things in the barn, and found a trove of 30 + eggs ! In the summer these eggs should not be eaten as they may be spoiled, but it sure saves on cat food. In the winter, they should be fine, if not frozen.
I took a few minutes tonight to do my own searching, and sure enough, I quickly found a small stash. This is a door which was used in older times to trow hay down into a trough for the animals below.
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, and yesterday, I had another item added to the long list. I have enough trouble sleeping on a good day. When I found my insomniac self unable to sleep yet again last night, I decided to find solace in my garden. I haven’t had a good look at the garden in a few days. I was quite amazed at some of the things I found, especially considering the dull moon light I was navigating through. I found it quite funny that the neighboring dogs barked for a few minutes as I looked around, but soon recoginized me, and became quite again. I guess that’s telling of how many times I’m out here at night.
I found the first pepper of the year, one of the Chablis variety, which should grow in many different colors. I was suprised that this pepper is first, since I had planted regular California Wonder peppers days before this variety, and those plants are several inches taller in size.
This morning I awoke early, still unable to sleep, so I set out to take some pictures. I noticed many of my vining plants are beginning to set tiny fruits, so I decided to post those pictures as well. Above is a Cucumber. It is either a Straight 8 or a Boston Pickling variety. I did not mark them, as they are the only types I’ve planted, and the size of the fruit will be a dead give-away to the genes involved in its production. I’ve had to dust the cucumbrits again recently, as I had noticed a build up of cucumber beetles. The dust will generally keep the bugs away for a week or two. I used nearly a whole bag of Sevin-10 this time, as the plants are much bigger, and the surface area of the leaves has expanded near exponentially.
Even the Zuchinni is getting into the action, with micro sized squash jutting out from the base. You can also see some of the powder I applied previously. The cucumber beetles have avoided these leaves in favor of cucumbers, which must taste better.
The three rows of green starting on the left next to the Pole Bean Trellis are Yukon Gold Potatoes, my favorite variety, and the only type I have been growing for the last few years. I know I should invest in diversity, but I am not dependant on this food source for my diet, so I only grow what I like to eat. The plants are doing rather well, and I will soon be hilling the soil around the base of the plants, which will encourage more production from them. Next to the potatoes are some Ying-Yang beans, Turnips and Radishes. I haven’t yet harvested potatoes, so they don’t quite fit with this post, but I’m sure proud of there growth.
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you may recognize these tomato plants that I started in January. You may be asking why on earth I’ve started them so early, so here is why: I wanted to be sure the seed I had saved was going to germinate, so I started 8 plants. Once they started growing, I couldn’t help but encourage them along, keeping them watered and full of nutrients in my kitchen.
I had plans to buy extra seed if they did not grow, but luckily, they did. This years garden has well over $100 invested in seeds alone ! Nevermind all of the cups, containers, and Miracle Grow. If I had to pay an employee for all the endless nights I enjoyed planting away in the greenhouse, I’d be a popper for sure. This is my hobby however, and I’ve wasted money on much worse things. A year or so I quit smoking, so I figure I should use all that money for recreation, and enjoyment.
Here is an old world favorite, Red Brandywine. I’ve started many different types of these heritage tomatoes, simply to preserve their diversity for future generations. You see, there are thosands of flavors of tomatoes. Diversity is the key to success in many things; for example, the Irish Potato Famine occurred because they only grew one or two types of potatoes, whereas the Natives of South America grew thosands of different types each year. The Indians were always ensured a successful crop due to this diversity. If a pest or fungus destroyed half of the varieties, they would still have food.
You may also notice the mess I’ve made on my water tables. When the fertilizer leaches through the dirt, and soaks into the water, it creates a wonderfull mess. I try to keep it clean, but I’m not a big fan of sweeting away in 100 Degree Farenheit that is the normal tempurate in daylight. I could clean it at night, but I’m usually about ready to relax by then. I figure if it gets really out of control, at least I will have the winter months to clean up, and a good excuse to be warm in those cold depressing days.
Here’s the first real crops to come out of the garden, other then lettuce and a few baby onions. Sandy gave me all of the seed pods from the radishes she grew last year, and I mixed them in with some store bought seeds, and planted one big row. The chickens loved the leaves, and the kids and I had these slightly hot radishes gone in no time. I have also tried some of the Endive I’ve grown this year, and it’s not bad. Coming Soon: Turnips, and Beans.
In other news, I’ve noticed tiny cucumbers, and melons forming all throught the garden. There are also nearly a hundred green tomatoes already….
This year is really turning into a good gardening experiance. = )
Here is a water Carrier / Sprayer that Dad used to water all of the grape vines back in the day. It hasn’t been used much in the last few years, but I’ve decided it would be a huge help, and I’ve begun repairs to bring it back up to speed. There seems to be a problem with the electrical connection, which is my specialty, so as soon as time permits, I’ll try to get this great tool working again. I’ve parked it next to my car so that I have to look at it every day when coming home from work. I’ve found in the past that if you want to get something done, put it in your way, you’ll get sick of seeing it after a while.
I’m not a big fan of mushrooms, and I would never eat them unless I was sure they came from the store. They are a great benefit to the world however; Mushrooms basically suck all of the bad heavy minerals out of the soil. They have a huge underground network of roots that do wonders for the soil. This year I’ve decided to leave them grow, as well as a few other plants. Clover is also more then welcome in my garden as it “fixes nitrogen”, or adds nutrients to the soil. I also allow Yarrow to grow unchecked. It is a herb that was used long ago similarly to how you would apply neosporin to a cut. It was also used long ago to flavor beer before hops were used.
I’ve finally found the time to plant all of my cloned grapes. The one shown above was part of a much larger vine only 8 months ago. I really love grape vines, and I have even made my own wine with this flavor of grapes. I didn’t make much, but it worked quite well, and was a bit warm going down. I got some compliments when some friends tried that wine, but it wasn’t the taste that they liked. I think I let it ferment a bit too long….. Hope to make another small batch this year, but I’ll defiantly get a better recipe.
Above is the first few rows of corn we planted. It’s Early Sunglow, and should be ready in 62 days. This years crop is doing far better then last year, again, I suspect it’s the huge amount of fertilizer applied in the winter months.
Here’s a picture of my larger garden, the one that includes Fruit Trees, Grapes and Various Cherries and Berries. The idea I’m shooting for is to build a more permanent garden around my seasonal garden.
The tall posts placed in the ground support five strings of cable, which will eventually hold grape vines. Most sources suggest two or three strands, which are actually part of the pruning process. My plans differ due to the plans for these grapes. There are ten different types of grapes, and I hope to let them grow out of control for several years. This will create a massive set of roots. When the plants are large enough, I hope to use these out of control bushes as a source for cloning canes. I’m not interested in the quality of grapes which will grow from these vines, I’m interested in plants that can support heavy cuttings each year. I can use these cuttings in my process of cloning, from which I can grow quality grapes. It’s generally a long term plan.
Next to the grapes, and barely visible in this photo are some Tart Cherry Bushes. They set lots of medium sized cherries, that are used mostly for pies. The row past these contain Elderberry bushes, a personal childhood favorite.
Towards the left of the photo are the some Fruit Trees. They run across the crest of a small hill which is not really visible. I have Pears, Apples, Peachs and recently added Plums.
Out of the range of this photo are many more plants, but include the following: Apache Blackberries, Sea Buckthorn, Pixwell Gooseberries, Saskatoon Blueberries, Conventional Blueberries, Niagra Grapes, more Tart Cherries, a couple Lilac Bushes, and a few more Fruit Trees.
I also wanted to include a picture of my tomato rows. It was taken after a heavy rain, which is why the peppers look so worn out. This year, we managed to plant everything in fairly straight rows, that look quite amazing from across the valley. I still haven’t quite figured out why I planted so many, nor what to do with them when I get overwhelmed with hundreds or even thosands of tomatoes……. Should be interesting.
I also wanted to share this very unique photo, which showcases an onion plant in it’s seed growth stage. Each of these little white pods contains the potential to start a new onion plant. I’m not sure if the timing of this is right, or even a good thing, but I’m pretty sure if I let them all sprout seeds, I’ll never have to plant onions agian. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to grow a different crop in this part of the garden if I do let them turn to seed. I guess you live an learn what you can.
I am simply amazed at the tomato patch this year. All of my plants are growing very fast, and many of them are already setting fruit, althought not yet ripe. This is a stark contrast from past years. I am unsure what single factor is contributing mostly to this growth, but there have been many changes from previous years:
1.) I’ve started the seeds in the greenhouse at about the same time as I started them in my house last year. There is no comparison, as the greenhouse tomatoes have always been blasted with direct rays from the sun. Plants which are started indoors, sheltered by the roof are stunted when they are moved outside, and it can take a week or more for them to adjust, before they can begin growing.
2.) It’s been a hot dry year so far, unlike last year which was cool, and wet. I’ve also changed up my watering patterns. I now water half the garden at a time, staggering the watering over two days. This allows more water to seep into the soil. Keep in mind my garden is on a slope, and I imagine it’s impossible to over water it.
3.) I’ve added truck loads of manure to the soil, including Bat Guano, Goat, Sheep, Horse and Cow Manure.
4.) There has been lots of help with planting, and weeding the soil. This keeps the soil loose, and helps oxygen and water seep into the dirt. If you think of plants like crystals, it’s easier to understand what will make them grow well.
Some friends and I recently went garden spying….. No we were not dressed in black with fish net stockings wrapped snuggly around our mugs, but I imagine it would be a great photo. We all piled into my car and drove around looking at other gardens. It’s a way to judge my progress, as I’ve been watching a few peoples gardens for several years. There are quite a few excellent gardeners in the area, and many of them are exceptionally consistent. Everything in this world can be measured if you know what kind of ruler to use, these consistent gardeners are the best tape measure I’ve found. Perhaps I should stop and thank a few of them.
All in all, I guess you know your getting old when you go joy riding with two attractive young ladies for the purpose of looking at gardens = )