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A Quick Garden Walkabout

July 14, 2015

My how the garden grows when you don’t blog about it.  I snapped a few photos of the jungles and deserts here so you could see I haven’t been totally twiddling my thumbs.  For the record I don’t remember having such a dry summer since the 70’s when you had to ask for water in a restaurant.  Anybody reading remember that?  Other things from the era, you could only buy gas on odd/even days depending on your vehicle license plate, and businesses were required to shut off lights at night after closing.  Imagine that.  We should be doing some of those things now me thinks.  Saving energy?  What?

Anyway, here’s this afternoon’s walkabout right after I “saved” Jane from her drylot.

This is the best place to start right next to the garden.  At one point this was all garden too, but we were selling at farmers markets then, so the extra space was needed.  I’m standing right at the edge of the garden, and the following photos were taken just by facing a different direction and then wending my way past the garden into the greenhouses and onto the next garden.

Hopefully this grass will grow a bit more and make some second cut hay for Jane.  We clipped this in May to combat a weed that spreads with haymaking, so while yield will be down, quality should be up and we didn’t reseed acres of pasture with rhinanthus, a grass killing weed.

June 21, 2015

June 21, 2015

Just a quarter turn with camera and there is the garden, formerly the dryland garden before the drip irrigation was installed.  I have watered three times since we installed the drip.

Here we are today in the same place, the garlic has been harvested, and the plants are taking off, the water has helped a great deal, but since it has cooled down from 90’s every day, the vegetables have really done well.  From left carrots, parsnips, beets and celeriac.

We have cut back some on our plantings, normally I plant in blocks of four rows with things like corn and potatoes, so to keep to my rotation plan and wanting less, we have dropped the corn and potatoes to three rows.  This garden gets a good breeze so I think, I will be okay with corn pollination.

Three rows of potatoes.  The irrigation header runs by here but I’m not irrigating my potatoes, these have not received any irrigation except what ever rain has fallen.

One row of dry beans this year and a pollinator row of flowers and herbs made up from whatever seeds need to get gone from my seed boxes.  You’ve heard of old cat ladies?  I’m an old seed lady.  Bags, envelopes and jars of saved seeds of all types. Make a furrow and throw them in.  And somewhere there is a scanty row of rutabagas about to be swallowed by winter squash.  Not sure what I am going to do about that…

Winter and summer squash taking over their three allotted rows.

The end, and three fallow rows because I have planted less.  I’m doing a bare fallow here and since the garlic has fallen out at the other end, I will wrap my rotation, and start with garlic here on the first row, then each year the garlic will begin its march across the garden.

It’s funny I enjoy these sunflowers in the greenhouse from outside more than when I am inside.  When I am inside I am always working and not taking in the “view”.  This view greets me every time I walk up the hill to the greenhouses and I actually love it.

Now inside you see why I don’t notice the sunflowers at the other end.  This is a crazy place.  Strawberries, peppers, cukes, melons, tomatoes and one row of brassicas on the morning sun side of the tomatoes.

Just another view from the side.

And this view from the other side, in the land of lost brassicas.  There are just about done, I have a few more heads of cabbage to harvest and some broccoli with side shoots coming, and then this row is coming out so we can weed, and then have room to harvest the tomatoes.

The early greenhouse has kale, cabbage and a few hills of potatoes.  The cover crop needs turning in and then we’ll let this greenhouse rest for a while and plant some fall crops.

Stepping out of the greenhouse and into the main garden which is only about half planted.  I’m getting ready to plant a sudan grass cover crop here in any rows that are open.

Another view of the main garden at the midpoint, dahlias, glads, and some seed crops and lots of bare fallow waiting for sudan grass.

Finally almost back at the beginning, flats of more fall crops, and successions of some warm weather crops too.  That growing food is a never-ending job 🙂

38 Comments leave one →
  1. Ali permalink
    July 14, 2015 3:51 pm

    Wow! There are no words for the garden envy I have! We are having trouble with just our few little garden beds. None of the lettuce we planted is growing. The watermelon and picking cucs haven’t sprouted either. The pumpkins have sprouted okay but the critters are getting them. We will be lucky if we have any left by the end of the week. I am in awe when I see your gardens, surrounded by forest no less, and the are big and full and beautifully providing abundance. Ground squirrels and rabbits are our biggest problems right now. It’s so dry here right now the pumpkin sprouts are looking pretty good to them. Plenty of mustard weed and plantain for them but I guess they are tired of that stuff.

  2. bunkie permalink
    July 14, 2015 4:09 pm

    Looking good there moh! Looking alot like that here since the temps went down! Whew, here in eastern WA. we’re just not used to a full month of 100’s and 90’s in June. I remember well the 70’s and the gas even/odd days….got a job pumping gas at Sear’s! Also remember having to ask for water. I agree on the thought that we should be doing all that now! Good to see you posting…and no ‘smoke’ in your pics!

  3. elaine permalink
    July 14, 2015 5:07 pm

    So glad I am not the only old seed lady around ~ your garden is great!

  4. July 15, 2015 3:02 am

    ” You’ve heard of old cat ladies? I’m an old seed lady. Bags, envelopes and jars of saved seeds of all types.” Hahaha, we’d make a great pair! I’m just about to sit down with my midwinter seed catalogues and do an ‘audit’ of my seed box and I know I’ll end up with more than I need. Then what to do with the unlabelled jars and the unmarked envelopes….

    • July 15, 2015 4:58 am

      Cassie, I know and I’m bad because a lot seeds especially flowers are gathered just before a rain and stuffed in a sack, because I’ll mark on the bag right? A year later, I’m looking in those bags and wondering, what the heck? Makes for a good medley in the flower row 😉

      • July 16, 2015 8:11 pm

        We could almost form seedholics anonymous. I have the same problem and it drives my detailed oriented husband mad. Glad he is the one keeping the animal records 😀

  5. Shelly G-S permalink
    July 15, 2015 3:10 am

    Beautiful gardens and pictures! Quick question – what is the benefit to leaving a bare fallow rather than cover cropping it?

    • July 15, 2015 4:56 am

      Shelley, it’s only for a few weeks of the year and you can weed it, getting rid of some weed seeds. So a short time bare fallow, with a light hoeing, then cover crop.

  6. m in nc permalink
    July 15, 2015 4:56 am

    Your gardens look great. Wish it was practical to have a small greenhouse.

    I live in the city and we have a few raised beds around the house.
    I did a get some early green beans from an odd pack of ‘experimental bush beans’.
    One of them is PURPLE, like an eggplant purple! Yet, when cooked they turned green and looked normal. Two more little plots staggered and one I did not plant.
    A few cucs at the house and two large tomato plants for mom.
    We have had a lot of heat this year, with a small break of a few days between each 2-week heat wave.
    That is hurting bloom & fruit set.

    The country garden is doing well.
    We had a long hot dry spell where we hand watered most of June. After the new neighbors moved in and we have had some big rains.
    Climbing Butter beans didn’t germinate well (told Mom I need to start some early in pots). Replanted.
    Green beans germinated well and are just starting to produce.
    I rotated the black-eyed peas and some crouters in last-years GB row.
    The BE Peas have just started making enough for a meal.
    Cucumbers, squash and zuchini have exploded.

    Tomato plants are growing well. I put them in raised rows.
    Its more work to prep (hand shoveling),but it makes a big difference when we get too much rain.
    Belle Star, Jersey Devil, Amish Paste , 2 brandywines that were purchased and some volunteers that I rescued before
    plowing the garden. They look like cherry toms). I have only had to pull one for wilt.

  7. Stumplifter(Andrea) permalink
    July 15, 2015 6:25 am

    So good to hear from you again old seed lady. Me too, though since I got some of those nice seed envelopes from Fedco, I am better at cleaning, storing and labeling, I think those envelopes really speak to my anal retentive side.
    MoH, if you have time, I really need some wisdom about restoring a neglected hayfield. We finally found our farm in Northern Wisconsin and it has about 25 acres in pasture- mostly native weeds now and almost to my head in head in height (no drought in WI this year). We are looking for a tractor with a mower, and from what I have read, it can take 3-4 years of mowing and seeding to bring a pasture back. Anything you could suggest including how to begin mowing such an overgrown pasture, titles to read, or any other resources are much appreciated and revered as I have witnessed what your pastures look like and aspire similarly for ours. I hope to start my team of oxen ASAP, but fear the bovine appetite might not approve of the current state of grassy affairs- not to mention that their might be some not-too-friendly plants for them in the stands, which I have just begun to catalog.

    • July 15, 2015 4:01 pm

      Stumplifter, I need to get some of those I think. My homegrown seeds are a mess.

      I would start mowing as soon as possible, unless you plan on getting a mob to trample the pastures for you. Cattle would be the best, but not as realistic as the next choice a tractor and a mower. Mowing will be similar to grazing without the benefit of manure and urine. You will stop any weeds from going to seed, carbon will be laid down on the soil which is how nature builds soil, carbon on top and then the soil critters get to work. Also mowing will cause roots to slough and that builds soil from the bottom too. You’d be surprised what your bovines will eat and what they leave. For the most part they should be able to ascertain what is poisonous and you will have a clue also if you identify your plants. You can overseed if you wish but I would suggest mowing and then seeing what a change that brings about, most likely the seeds you seek are already there in the soil seedbank just waiting for the right conditions. Lime might be a better investment than seeds in the beginning. Greener Pastures on Your Side of the Fence is a great book to start with. And you know if you ask several people how to improve your pastures, you’ll get several absolute cures 😉 I say when in doubt mow, and if you get a brush hog, back in mowing with the mower high in those places you have no idea what is in there…old farms are awful for junk. Driving in head first is a sure way to puncture your tires.

      Congrats by the way on your farm!!

      • Michael permalink
        July 16, 2015 7:03 am

        Might I suggest something else?

        • July 16, 2015 8:03 am

          Steve Solomon doesn’t really go into pasture management in any of his books, not saying it isn’t a good book but growing annuals is a lot different than perennial pasture acreage.

      • Stumplifter permalink
        August 17, 2015 8:09 pm

        Thanks a whole ton, MoH. We have commenced mowing, somewhat delayed as DH found a lot of fun in an unnoticed rock, make that, boulder pile. Got himself out while I ran to town for chain. Anyways, your prediction was correct, we are getting grasses coming back first on regrowth, now to identify said grasses.
        I am sending wet wishes to you, and thanking my lucky stars to have found a mentor like you who rolls with the punches and makes proactive decisions.

  8. July 15, 2015 10:50 am

    I have garden envy now, too! Well, I do every time you post 🙂
    How do you keep creeping grasses from reclaiming the garden? Do you deal with bermuda grass? Or any grasses that act the same? Bermuda is my worst garden enemy. I keep trying things and the grass keeps coming. It spreads by runners/stolons above and below ground and you can’t chop it up because each piece grows new grass. Its sharp new shoots can poke straight through thick wood mulch, weed cloth, and concrete hard bare soil. And I’m getting really tired of the chiggers that live in it, too. Any advice? Thanks

    • July 15, 2015 3:52 pm

      Emily from TX, that awful cuss word – tillage. grass doesn’t like disturbance. We deal with quack grass but that is just in my poorer soil areas, and it hates cereal rye cover crop and bare fallow, so I try to use those to keep it at bay. I have no experience with bermuda grass, but my weed books say it likes low calcium, low phosphorus, and low magnesium, so maybe some more amendments would help?

      • July 20, 2015 6:41 am

        Thanks for the tips. So if you just till often enough around the edges the grasses can’t cross into the garden? i guess the key is to have an edge area in the first place. I don’t have a lot of room the way I set my fence up, so I have landscape barrier installed instead. We kind of scalp the bermuda on the edges with the weed whacker, which keeps it from coming in over the top but it still gets in through the neighbor’s fence. Supposedly there should be no shortage of calcium on the Blackland prairie, but I really should get a proper soil test…probably missing the other minerals

        • July 20, 2015 9:12 am

          Emily, pretty much that does the trick, but I do have some problem areas within the gardens themselves, so we work on that in this part of the summer when dry weather makes quack grass the weakest. It’s never totally gone, but I used to think it was the worst weed problem I had, and then I got a new one, junglerice 😦 I thought I was so smart using chicken manure instead of cow because it’s so much lighter and easier for me to handle…well, chickens eat grain, my cows don’t for the most part, so what I brought in with chicken feed and subsequently their manure was a whole new class of annual weeds that grow in grain fields!@#&$! Ha and people worry about grass! Any grass seed that was in our cow manure is a perennial that really can’t take tillage so I never really had a problem because an annual garden is treated nothing like a perennial pasture. But annual grasses that resist tillage, oy vey. I would rather weed quack grass any day compared to that stuff.

  9. July 15, 2015 2:59 pm

    I see a lot of work to be had there. That’s what keeps you so busy! Well done to the work crew though, including the dogs – as I’m sure they play their part in cleaning up fallen tomatoes. They’re probably watching as eagerly as you, when its time to harvest (for them). 😉

  10. July 15, 2015 3:29 pm

    Question: do you have any issues with ranunculus (creeping buttercup) in your pastures, and if so, what do you do about it? I have both creeping and tall buttercup, and although the creeping is pretty much confined to the wettest areas, the tall,buttercup is a terrible infiltrator.

    • July 15, 2015 3:44 pm

      Aimee, we don’t, it’s a drainage and low calcium issue, usually brought on by overgrazing or compaction from high stocking. Lime and pasture rest help the most.

  11. July 15, 2015 6:08 pm

    why would you plant ‘sudan’?

  12. July 16, 2015 8:19 pm

    I was wondering how you were getting along. I think I should do the same, but oh the weeds! The shame of it. Our germination is poor this year for a combination of reasons, old seed sometimes, poor storage of seeds, cool and very dry spring, continued cool summer but at least with rain. The cabbages, though are loving it – hardly any insects to eat them and the cool temperatures 😀

    • July 16, 2015 8:20 pm

      The same as a walk around with the camera to do an over view 🙂

  13. Carrie permalink
    July 17, 2015 11:13 am

    Nita, productive gardens as always – much envy here!

    Can you give a pointer – your thoughts – on whether it’s worthwhile to pinch out the growing tips of the main stem of the Sweet Meat? The plants seem OK this year; they setting fruit despite a few early fruitlets suffering ‘blossom end rot’ or similar. (I’m inclined to a lack of water and/or lack of pollinators.) Now my two plants are going great guns and romping off across the allotment at a rate of knots! Thus I’m starting to fret about how I’m going to harvest and then plant-up the beds they are galloping across. Before action I thought I’d check with my resident Sweet Meat expert. 🙂 If I pinch out the tips of the two main stems will there be a downside? I’m sure they will bush off in other directions but I’m more concerned about production issues, eg, fruit growth and ripening (given ‘iffy’ English weather).

    Hope hubby is feeling better.

    • July 17, 2015 11:29 am

      Carrie, I employ the slash and kick method, mine are as unruly as well, and I’m “carefully” putting all runners back towards their row, and I usually start lopping off the ends and any fruit NLT about the end of August, it might be earlier for you. I’ve never actually spent that much time pruning but it might be in your favor and any fruit that is set now to trim those side shoots off and make the plant buckle down and ripen what you have. We had a bout of high 90’sF weather and the pollinators didn’t want to come out and visit the squash, I’ve taken off many duds as well here too this summer.

      So far so good on the hubby front. PT, Drugs and a little less work seem to be helping.

      • Bee permalink
        July 17, 2015 12:14 pm

        Yeah, better living through chemistry for those guys of ours. Mine is headed in for another epidural steroid injection Monday. The biggest problem is getting them to slow down…

        • July 17, 2015 2:49 pm

          Bee, ugh, it seems to be helping some here, hopefully more than some, we’re starting to finish the house roof this weekend. I need to get garden stuff done so I can be the gofer 😦

      • Carrie permalink
        July 20, 2015 9:47 am

        Nita thanks for the ideas. Just looking at the pattern of weather in August in your area and comparing to average temps etc here. August here (ave 16.4C) is likely to be considerably down on your temps. (Unless 1976 repeats itself!) Humm. First frost can be as early as mid-October. I think this year I’ll try pruning during the first week of August and see what happens. If I get lucky I might even remember to write my observations down! 🙂
        Hope all went well with hubby’s back this weekend.

        • July 23, 2015 1:55 pm

          Carrie, I’m thinking the same thing here, I usually wait until September,but all the squash is going out of bounds so I need to just get it done and stop the unruliness. I have enough fruit set to get me through, any think pollinated now might not mature anyway. Hubby is doing well. Thanks!

  14. Bee permalink
    July 17, 2015 12:32 pm

    Not only do I remember all that 70s stuff, I remember the gas prices. Hoo boy, and we bitched about gas going from 35 to 37 cents a gallon! I like Joanna’s idea: The Old Seed Ladies’ Club. We could all be charter members. Not to mention that we’re infecting the upcoming generations (at least I know I am), so it could be multigenerational
    Kitchen garden is really chugging along with the harvest/toss on compost/replant immediately system. Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, chard, bok choy, green onions, dry onions, green beans, lettuce, summer squash and eggplants. Just cleared out a lettuce bed and immediately replanted with beets, and the carrots will probably be next.
    Big garden (corn, squash, more tomatoes, melons, pumpkins) is doing only so-so because of the ongoing problems with the irrigation system. But we finally found a fix: rented a sewer camera, cut the irrigation pipe every 300 feet and ran the camera up it to find root plugs (there were eight!). We finally have more water than we know what to do with. In retrospect, I probably should have just concentrated on getting the big garden in better shape instead of planting, but I really didn’t expect it would be July before we could irrigate properly. Sure wish I had a better crystal ball. We’re having serious thoughts about putting a couple of pigs in there over the winter to help clean out weeds and rocks.
    Spent yesterday afternoon and a good chunk of the morning processing the blackberries and wild plums we’d picked. Apples getting ripe, too. We certainly won’t starve!

  15. Barb in CA permalink
    July 18, 2015 8:43 am

    I don’t remember seeing sunflowers in your greenhouse before? There is something very ethereal about the way they look through the plastic. I like it too. Are they for the seeds, or just the flowers? Like you and Bee, I remember the 70’s. In 1973 I adamantly stated, “I will NEVER pay 50 cents a gallon for gasoline!” Needless to say…

    • July 18, 2015 9:32 am

      Barb, they’re always there and in the garden too, just for flowers. I know now it’s “I’ll never pay $4.00 a gallon for gas!” And then we do 😦

  16. Paula permalink
    July 19, 2015 5:31 am

    I enjoy your words and pictures . . . but most of all I enjoy the work you do and how much you respect the land and strive to work with it. Thank you!

  17. August 4, 2015 11:10 am

    Hope your garden is still doing well. Just posting a comment to say, I still think about what you are doing and quote from your blog often to my hubby :).

    We have had a relatively coolish summer this year and some heavy rain last week, but this week promises to be hot, so everyone is out cutting the last of the grass before the August 15th deadline to get their subsidies. We got enough in for our winter feed and stored in a neighbour’s barn at the end of June, so we are not particularly worried about doing the cutting as we don’t go the subsidy route (at least not yet), but while the sun shines, grass still needs cutting 🙂

  18. August 8, 2015 8:08 am

    Beautiful gardens!

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