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Seeing how the garden is faring

December 11, 2009

They say it takes 100 hours to get acclimated to an extreme temperature change – and it figures, we are just getting used to the cold, and now we are going into the usual ice storm warm up.  I had to shed my vest and hat today while building fence.  We haven’t been above freezing for days, but that is ending this weekend.  A Pacific storm is bringing in some warm air and will moderate things a bit.  It takes a while though, the Columbia River Gorge brings cold air to our area and the valley just like the Bretz floods brought the erratics so many years ago.  It takes a little while to feel the effects of the Pacific storms when it is this cold.

I took a tour of the garden to see how things were handling the cold. 

rye, fallow - 12/11/09

rye, fallow - 12/11/09

The cereal rye cover crop is always a trooper.

Winter rye is tough,  you can throw seed out when it is this cold and it will sprout and take hold.  Amazing.

Chantenay - 12/11/09

Della’s carrots, hilled with soil for protection.  The dogs have been puzzled for days, not being able to dig for roots.

Joan rutabaga - 12/11/09

Hard to tell in this picture, but there are rows of carrots, beets, parsnips, celeriac and rutabagas hilled too.  No cover crop planted here – it gives the voles too much cover.

Lacinato - 12/11/09

We are always on the quest for vegetables that can take our winters without much propping up.  Some make it, some don’t – I plant plenty.  It’s too much work to root cellar everything, or can and freeze it.  Most years we always have a good variety of vegetables to eat that haven’t taken much processing.  Lacinato kale is one of those toughies.  Winterbor and Redbor are outstanding too. 

White Russian - 12/11/09

White Russian is not.  It may survive to grow on in the spring, but 18°F is this variety’s  limit in my garden. 

Melissa - 12/11/09

Melissa F1 savoy has been a workhorse cabbage in our garden in all seasons.

Melissa - 12/11/09

Melissa takes a beating and still comes through every time I grow it.

Danish Ballhead - 12/11/09

Danish Ballhead, an old local favorite isn’t quite as predictable.  The real test will be after the thaw. 

January King - 12/11/09

January King always comes through too – so far so good.

Main garden - 12/11/09

The last day of sun for a while.  Looking south to the left (east) I can see the short contrails over eastern Oregon showing the high pressure still in place and the long contrails on right (west) revealing the moisture headed our way from the Pacific.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Marcia in Wyoming permalink
    December 12, 2009 4:59 am

    Glad you are having a bit of a warm-up – we are also – makes EVERYONE happy. Where do you get your January King cabbage seeds? – or are they your own? I’ve tried a couple of years to get them and I think it was both Johnny’s and another company that didn’t have them. I have to use straw or hay to cover root crops as the dirt would freeze so hard I couldn’t dig the veggies out – haven’t had a problem with voles/moles – maybe they have to go farther into the ground here to survive.

    • December 12, 2009 7:19 am

      Marcia, crazy weather guys like to predict down to the minute when the snow will arrive and they sure get frustrated when it doesn’t happen that way 🙂 We are still high and dry, but I’m sure that will change soon.

      I got my January King seeds from Territorial seed, but they usually only carry it in their winter catalog which doesn’t come out until June. I don’t save seed from cabbage since it takes so many plants to really keep the variety true. Not to say you can’t do it, I just don’t have the space for a 100 or so cabbage plants just for seed.

      We definitely are in the banana belt as far as freezing soil goes. So I don’t have to worry about using straw, a reader/gardener in BC has to use entire bales on top their roots – but it does work. The voles haven’t been too bad lately, but they have good years (for them) and bad years (good for me)and they love straw mulch and thick cover crops. Luckily the dogs and cats spend a large amount of time hunting them.

      As I’m typing this I remember that Seed of Change probably carries January King too.

  2. Jim In Iowa permalink
    December 12, 2009 9:06 am

    Just wanted to let you know I am still lurking and enjoying your posts. I understand that if you do not get some feedback you probably would get discouraged with the posting and the time it takes. I mhave your site bookmarked and read it quite often. Thanks for your efforts and keep up the good work. Jim

    • December 12, 2009 10:59 am

      Jim, thanks! the comments are always a plus, but most bloggers just compelled to write. Thanks again for reading.

  3. December 12, 2009 9:49 am

    We used to grow winter rye all the time. We’d plant it in the spring and graze it that fall and harvest a crop the next summer. It’s some of the toughest crop going!

  4. greenhorn from KAFC permalink
    December 14, 2009 11:39 am

    I somehow linked to your blog from the Keeping a Family cow forums, and your’s is quickly becoming a fave! Just wish I had more time to read it. I’m really being insprired by the heirloom seed and seed-saving info. Thanks for all the detailed and concise info.

    One thing I love about your blog are the pictures. They add so much to the posts, really, much more than so many other’s pictures. What kind of camera do you use, or have you used and liked. I’m thinking of getting a nice one “from Santa” and have no clue about what to get. I know they can be pricey, but it’s such a wonderful art form and I need an outlet since I retired from our symphony this August to be with the 4 kids (homeschooled) and really put my energy into the farm (just moved here in April).

    OK, like you needed ot know all that 🙂 If you get a chance to mention your camera and how you learned the basics for blogging I really appreciate it!

    • December 14, 2009 12:32 pm

      greenhorn from KAFC, thank you for reading my blather 🙂 Our camera is nothing special or expensive compared to my old 35mm that was getting too expensive to use much. We just went to Office Depot with $200.00 (our digital camera budget) and were astounded by the choices. We talked to a helpful gentleman who answered all our questions rather politely and listened to our criteria. My only want was something that would take good action shots of our dogs, and he was a dog lover too, so this is what we ended up with. A Kodak Easyshare 712IS, which is now no longer made. We have abused this puppy for 2 solid years, and used the heck out of it, and no sign of it slowing down. We are by no means photographers and couldn’t justify more money for a camera. But I have to say we all love it. And as for the photos, it is the way we see things. I like close-ups to convey what I am saying. Maybe too many years with a Instamatic cured me of the vacation type long distance photos, or maybe my eyes are getting old so I have to have a close up 🙂 Anyway, it’s a great camera, and the photos do not need to be enhanced to get the point across, these are almost always SOC, straight out of the camera.

      As for learning how to blog, just start a blog and start writing, getting in the drivers seat is how I learn almost everything. So far so good. For me WordPress is the easiest, but some prefer Blogger. Find a blog you like and use those features on your own with your own quirks! You’ll do great 🙂

  5. December 14, 2009 1:47 pm

    Loved this post. I also loved the last photo.

    Isn’t it an amazing fact that we always looking at the sky.


    • December 14, 2009 2:57 pm

      Linda, so true – today we are back to the grey, normal look, the ice is just about gone.

      You’re saying that about the sky reminded me of guy we bought a truck from in eastern Washington (very dry), he was born and raised there and said he spent his whole life looking for a rain cloud, and we laughed and said we are always looking for the sun on the west side of the mountains!

  6. greenhorn from KAFC permalink
    December 14, 2009 1:48 pm

    Thanks for the reality check about affordable quality cameras. My dh uses a Kodak Easyshare C643 for ebay ($50) and it takes good pics of records and occasionally of a kid, but a step up would bbe better. I think something like what you use is right up my alley! Plus, I still need a few things for the farm like a chainsaw, firearms, pig pen, 70 more bales of hay for our Guernsey, etc…….it’s always somethin’ ain’t it!

  7. December 14, 2009 3:02 pm

    GH from KAFC, it is always something – I just spent 2 hours looking for my boot chain I lost in the ice yesterday! No luck – there went $10.00!! Did I hear the word Guernsey spoken???

  8. greenhorn from KAFC permalink
    December 14, 2009 3:21 pm

    Oh, yes. We have a nice (very nice) 2 yo Guernsey that is probably due in July. I got her about 2 months ago from an Amish dairy. She is a self-sucker on one teat, so she wasn’t producing up to capacity and was one of 5 they were selling. I LOVE her!!!! I’m hand milking about 3 gallons/day and we have 2 friends on “cow share” here in Ohio. My hands are killing me (off and on) but it’s really great, and the kids are out of their minds about her and the raw milk we’re drinking now! I was initially after a Jersey, but am so happy with Honey!

    I tried goats (read: ended up with 9 right away THEN decided I really wasn’t into them! All are sold except the random wether) but once I got some cattle on the property I was in love. We have our own Holsteins steers (5) and are “baby sitting” 4 huge Blck Angus for a friend. That and a bunch of chickens, 2 great pyrenees and 2 barn cats we inherited in the house sale.

    • December 14, 2009 4:08 pm

      GH, put me down as officially jealous 😀 I’m hoping for a heifer this spring! My ol’ girl is getting up there in cow years. We were just trying to pick our favorite tree ornaments and I got stuck on my Guernsey or the butter churn, and then the rubber boots! We couldn’t pick our favorites – we like them all.

      There aren’t many Guernseys in Oregon, and they used to be all over… but then dairies were too. So sad.

  9. December 16, 2009 3:26 pm

    The tree looks the ornaments…especially the cow and the BAG looks awesome!

  10. greenhorn from KAFC permalink
    December 19, 2009 2:52 pm

    Well, uncall yourself jealous! My silly cow went into heat yesterday big time! She was standing in the pasture mooing over and over and I had noticed changes in her backend the day before. Well, we have an Angus bull (plus 3 females) in the next pasture, so I let her in with them. She proceeded to get into a dominance fight with one of the other gals and promptly kicked her Angus butt. It was pretty amazing to watch those 2 #1100 ladies wrestling for dominant head position! After about 20 minutes the Angus relented, but the bull was so scared by everything who knows if he did his business! She’s back in her own pasture today and seems very “content” so hopefully he did. We’ll see in 3 weeks I guess.

    I’m inspired to add cardomon to my traditional sour cream “Swedish” cookies….are yours the kind you make with a cookie press? I LOVE tree! You’ve inspired me this year. We almost didn’t do a tree since all the Christmas things are still packed from the move and I just didn’t want the hassle of chasing the 2 yo away from it every 5 seconds! But since this is our first Christmas here it would be pretty dismal if we didn’t have a tree! Wish I had a bag balm ornament!! And the butter churn is just too cute:)

    • December 20, 2009 8:36 am

      GH, arrghh that is terrible! Not getting a cow settled is the worst I think. Cow fights are hillarious, gives me a headache to watch. We have a revolving pecking order here – usually the loser ends up being the slave. Those grudges last a long time. Fingers crossed!!

      Cookie press confession – I have one, but I have never used it! Too lazy I guess. I have to thank my hubby for the churn and bag balm ornaments. He made the bag balm one from a personal size bag balm can and he found the churn in a miniatures store. I am amazed the churn actually works. Have a great holiday!


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