Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Part III, June 2014 garden

I'm almost finished with show & tell, so bear with me.

Just a little more on the vegetable garden.  We are trying a new trellis system that was featured in Heirloom Magazine from Baker Creek Rare Seeds.  It is the Bishop Bean Trellis (Elvin Bishop) and is an inverted trellis.   We are using it in 2 1x6 boxes that are side by side, but next year we will use 2 boxes end to end.  Even with 3' spacing between boxes, it is going to be crowded when harvest time comes around since the trellises are wide at the top.    Can you see the tarp covered mound at the far end?  That's my coveted mushroom compost pile.

These are McCaslan pole beans, a flat Italian type bean.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 2014, Part II

Wow, 2 posts in 2 days!

I love Fedco Seeds.  I've also ordered quite often from Baker Creek, but Fedco has better prices, a much larger selection & FREE SHIPPING.

I ordered 2 sweet pea varieties & a new larkspur, Carmine.  It was their last year to carry Carmine, and I'm really glad I ordered  them.  They are double flowered, a rich pink & so pretty.  I planted them with a mixture of blue, purple, lavender & pink larkspur that I already had.

Here are the sweet peas.  The first one is America.  Fedco's description is very accurate, except I would call the color bright pink:  "An antique striated variety, arresting both to eyes and nostrils. Each blossom contains subtle variations of bright reds with creamy white streakings. Heavily perfumed. Looks lovely next to Cupani. First offered in 1896 by Morse-Vaughan. Vines grow to 3'."

Per Fedco:  "Oldest and among the most fragrant of all sweet peas. Celebrated its 300th birthday in 1998 amidst a surge of renewed interest. Named for the Sicilian monk who found these bicolors growing wild, Cupani combines deep maroon-purple upper petals with deep violet-blue lower petals. Grow Cupani for enticing intoxicating aroma. 5' vines."  Mine were planted against a fence with poppies.  The poppies grew about 6' tall & the sweet peas didn't get enough sun to do well, but the blooms are still very pretty & fragrance is outstanding & are a "keeper".   

If you are interested in non-GMO, open pollinated, heritage varieties you need to check Fedco.  Their catalog is printed in black & white, but you can always Google if you aren't familiar with something.  Their catalog is really interesting and they give lots of plant history and vintage line drawings.

I don't get any compensation or discount from Fedco, I just really like them a lot.

June 2014 Garden - Part I - mostly tomatoes

OK people, it's time for my semiannual blog post!

We (well, it was mostly my hubby, but I am a very good supervisor) completely redid the garden this spring.  We built more boxes, moved the pre-existing ones and mixed, mixed & mixed Mel's mix.  A friend from church brought me a large dump truck full of mushroom compost for $350, which should last for as long as I am able to garden (I turned the ripe old age of 65 this year & am proud of it.)

The initial investment is a bit costly, but after the boxes are built & filled, you only need to replenish the compost after each harvest.  When something is through producing, just pull it out, add a scoop of compost & plant something else.  Remember, with Square Foot Gardening you don't use garden soil - a mix of 1/3 each compost, vermiculite and peat moss.  The mix doesn't pack down, you can plant in it right after a rain and NO WEEDS.

My previous beds were 4x8, which were too big.  I could never quite reach the center of them.  I also use a lot of trellises for cukes, delicata squash & Tromboncino squash at the end of most beds, so we changed the sizes to 3x6 and 1x6.   So far I am really liking the new design.  I'm especially pleased with the tomatoes in the 1' wide boxes.  Plenty of air circulation.

You can click any picture for a larger view.

I have eight 1x6 boxes, each of which has 6 tomato plants.  And no, I don't know why I thought I had to have that many tomatoes.  Actually I do have a good idea as to why - I start my own seed & in the dead of winter I get a little carried away sowing seeds.

 It is very important to sucker the plants or you will have a major jungle on your hands.

Each tomato is supported with a length of heavy nylon fishing line that is looped over the top of the PVC pipe, extends to the ground with a couple of extra inches.  As the plant grows, I just loosely wrap the nylon around the plant.  Every few days I wrap loosely til the plants are at the top of the pipe.  Nylon carpet yarn is actually better, but I couldn't find any this year.

As large as these plants are, the one strand of nylon is all that is needed & doesn't cut into or through the plant.

 PVC frames are removable - just slip them out of the pipe clamps.  This will help with crop rotation.  My husband is really brilliant figuring out stuff like this.  I give him a general idea of what I want & he makes it.

Huge German Pink tomatoes

Rumi Banjan tomato

Rumi Banjan is a new variety I got from Winter Sown; they have been the earliest ones.  It is a medium sized, somewhat ribbed tomato that was brought to the U.S. in 1937 from Afghanistan and is thin skinned & very juicy.    Rumi Banjan is bright yellow with a pinkish blush on the bottom.   The taste was pretty good, especially for the first tomato of the season, but a little too tart for me.  (That doesn't mean I had any trouble eating them!) .

And now the ugly:  My grandmother always said the Japanese beetles arrive after the first rain in June and unfortunately this has been my observation too.  I hate that they are so reliable.  

Stay tuned - I actually have plans for another show & tell post.

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