16 June 2013

Progress Report: Still Alive!

Strawberry: Sequoia

Herb Pot
Sunflowers: Solar Eclipse and Incredible 

Sugar Daddy Snap Pea
Sugar Daddy Snap Pea
Sugar Daddy Snap Pea
Sugar Daddy Snap Pea
Nasturtium: Milkmaid

Corn: Martian Jewels (1 of 5 pots)

Bean: Blue Lake Bush

Bean: Blue Lake Bush
Bean: Scarlet Runner Pole
Bean: Scarlet Runner Pole
Bean: Scarlet Runner Pole
Zucchini: Dark Star
African Marigolds

14 June 2013

Variety: Tyee F1 Spinach (O)
Sown (Direct): 8 MAY 2013
Germinated 17 MAY 2013

This is mid-June in the Pacific Northwest.  No salad! No freezer stock.  Had I gotten this garden started just a bit earlier, this could have been avoided, no doubt. All but 2 plants have bolted and most literally overnight. The seedlings that were sown indoors a month prior never produced more than a single set of true leaves and bolted, as well. This is supposed to be a bolt-resistant variety and the temperatures have certainly not warranted this premature bolting, but I hear our long days can definitely contribute.  Since it obviously isn't the weather, I'm hard pressed to buy that it's anything other than the long days.

I'm in no hurry for fall, but can't wait to seed some more spinach for fall harvest.  Any recommendations?

11 June 2013

Garden Gang

Cats who dream of going outside and eating or playing to death with the frog.
Normally, they just sleep in the sun.  Hawaiian cats are cold in the PNW!
Frog who torments feline beasts and is lucky because they are trapped behind a door.
 Keeps me company in the corn and sunflower corner and has proven survivorship skills by skinnying under the blades of the lawnmower and living to jump another day..

09 June 2013

Phaseolus coccineus (Scarlet Runner Pole Bean )

This beautiful edible and most ornamental pole bean is a sight to behold. My 3 pots worth have weathered several storms, been near frozen, windwhipped, and brutalized by mother nature. I had actually reseeded the pots assuming certain doom was upon them. While barren of leaves in a few spots, they are thriving despite their abusive welcome to the world as they emerged from the soil. It is my wish that the later planted seedlings beneath their beat up brethren will fill in the "holes" and give us a grand display of both colour and foliage.

I have to admit, gardening in a pot is not necessarily difficult, but terse in moments.

02 June 2013

The Lay of the (Pot) Land (Post Stage)

My pebbled patio is replete with 60+ tiny circles, each surrounded by the unavoidable green algae and moss that emerges from yes, even cement during the dreariest of seasons in the pacific Northwest. The excitement that follows those now barren circles is simple delight in watching everything grow and (for the most part), thrive in their nondescript potting containers. Better yet, the possibilities to come in the following weeks and months.While we have been rain free for the past week, we have managed to get the beds cleared and staged pots into their permanent locations for the season! *Woot*  I thought it would look awful, but other than being majorly restricted to straight line side beds, it doesn't look too, too shabby.  Ordinary, but good.  Mediocre, but awesome for what those pots and plants will soon bear.

One week later, there are no fatalities and plants are thriving.  There is still a most abundant area for all the nightshades, and I can't wait until the foliage from all starts spilling forth.  "Container Gardening "One or None" still a "1" for now and hopefully remains so! :)

Original prestaging condition of the BackYard Pot Plots.

01 June 2013

And the (not so) itsy bitsy slugs went up the water spout...

Our pots have been inundated with the rain for nearly a month. The first two weeks, there were at least several hours of dry time between the heavy showers and the plants were at least content with the refreshing drink during early growth.

The past couple of weeks those same plants have endured an almost constant barrage of rain.  Just this week, we saw leaves begin to yellow and the early signs of drowning ready to consume my hard won seedlings, which were becoming large enough to call plants.

A sad pot of snap peas that had endured not only the past month of rains, but two previous wind/rain storms will likely not make it.  I reseeded under the dying growth in the hopes they will spur to life before it gets really warm (we have partial sun/shade spots, so hoping they have a chance).

I did not fret too much as anything that may have drowned was reseeded, will be reseeded, or appeared to be just fine.  But when the yellow leaves began to show on everything, I worried--just a little.

With the rain, the pots are still staged on the patio.  We hope to finish weeding the side beds this weekend and get those pots where they belong (which, with another month of rain, has all kinds of great growth and new things to remove).  The Scarlet Runners shy of their tall teepee and clinging to one another on the overgrown temporaries that will have to be left in place under the large teepee.  They are quite happy, save for the couple of skinny feet at the top with nowhere to go.
 Black Turtle Beans

 Green Onions

 The patio pot staging zone (the DMZ). All set for sidebeds this weekend, hopefully! Good weather on the horizon!

Nasturtium (Empress of India)
  Nasturtium (Milkmaid and Alaska Mix (Variegated)

Connecticut Field Pumpkin

Dark Star Zucchini with slug hole.

Nasturtium (Milkmaid) under Scarlet Runners

Nasturtium (Milkmaid)

Black Turtle Beans

Green Onions

 Sugar Daddy Snap Peas

Sugar Daddy Snap Peas

Sequoia Strawberries
Jersey Blueberry 
The photos are from today as the sun unleashed itself through the dense cloud barrier that has been so dominant these past weeks.  A bit yellow, but looks like everything will survive (at least that how it appears right now). 

As We Make Our Way Out to the Sun

EWWW! Even the baby snails ran for high ground during all those weeks of rain. This is the top of the sliding glass door-disgusting.   I was really just fighting my way out of the door to clean all the glass.  It gets a little mottled after such a lengthy deluge of rain. 

They are smashed properly disposed of now. While the slugs were mowing the carrots, we wondered what tiny thing gnoshed tiny holes in the center of the nasturtiums.  Now we know!

These guys are not nearly as gross (or intriguing) as the giant African snails in Hawaii--just saying!

Break over--I just wanted to share the gross out of my current heebie jeebies! This is definitely not what one wants to find when cleaning all dirty rain spots off the glass!

Off to assess the rain damage to our little green friends. . .

28 May 2013

Slimy Marauders!

Slugs just mowed my carrots down to the nub somewhere in the rain during the past few days.  Five juveniles caused some malicious mischief in my carrot pot.  What I did notice in respect to the slugs in that pot in my staging area of the patio, is that they only gnoshed on the contents of the shorter containers.  Carrots and thyme (Thymus vulgaris).  Neither the carrots or thyme was an easy germination, but both were thriving once they started.  It isn't crop failure, yet.  A single green top survived and the pots are presently re-seeded. Disappointing at best as I'd hoped the containers would slow them down, even just a little.  Since none were evident in the larger containers, I'll take that as a good sign to get the small ones up in the morning and spot check the larger containers just to be sure.

In the meantime, what to do to eradicate?

Organic Sluggo (iron phosphate, not the metaldehyde version) is the obvious and probably most effective choice, but even though its claimed to be mostly organic, Sluggo can result in iron poisoning for pets and children. 

Eggshells, are they fact or fiction? There seems to be some variable thoughts on the topic. Do they cut the slugs to bits or do they just not like crossing the coarse shell bits?  How fine does the shell need to be crushed--have seen dust to large pieces mentioned, but nothing definitive.

Coffee grounds are said to avert slugs for two reasons: they don't like caffeine and do not like to cross uncomfortable surfaces, much like the eggshell option.  I've just seen these slugs wander into my pot staging patio which is roughly pebbled cement with obviously no issue. Sans the caffeine, gritty sand and wood ashes are also said to be effective or the same reasons.

Diatomaceous earth. Another non-crossable barrier for plants as the edges are quite sharp.

Citrus halves - simply tuck into your garden, collect the slugs drawn to the citrus, and put them back.  Slugs must be collected and disposed of. Your choice how to accomplish the disposal.

Beer makes for a great drunk. Drowning drunk slugs.  They crawl in to the shallow dish or side tipped bottle and don't crawl out (or not too far if they do not drown first).

Nut shells are another slug barrier that they just aren't comfortable crossing.  Toss around your plants, checking daily to make sure the barrier has not had a path bumped through it.

Copper is supposed to incite a neurological shock upon the slug crossing the narrow strip and they turn back from whence they came.  Copper is pretty pricey these days, so not the most economical for a large (or even a small) garden.

Salt and foam.  Simply salt the hungry buggahs and watch them foam away to nothing.  Quite messy and you risk the excess salt harming your plants and your soil in the garden.  Great for driveways in theory, but not directly near vegetation.

Grab and Smash! Really. Just pick up, and cut in half or smash accordingly.

Living options: ducks, chickens (sometimes), and garter snakes.  When I go from wanting to remove small and slimy to larger and seems like slimy--the snake, who is not slimy, but is stereotyped to be slimy). I'd probably opt for ducks, had I the option to do so right now.  Hungry, hungry ducks!  

What do you do with all the slugs and bodies? Disposal options - salt the living in a container and dispose of properly.  Take them for a one way ride out to the woods and set them free (they will be back!).  Tag and release! Kidding! Maybe!

Back to serious, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly as slugs do carry parasites.

Alas, I'm fairly certain we need to draw in as many as possible to dispose of primarily to lessen the local population of the yard.  I think once the pots are in their permanent spots, we should decide on what we are going to sprinkle the area with.  For maintenance, perhaps just a shared beer in a bowl weekly to keep the population down.

What has worked best for you in ridding the slug population in and near your garden?

24 May 2013

Like-Minded Gardening Age?

I am not a spring chicken, but I'm also not quite an old (old) hen, just yet.  Not to say I don't appreciate those old hens, but even at my age, I know exactly one  (1)  person who gardens (vegetable/flower).  She is my age.   I've gardened since I bought my first home early in my twenties.  I was always the odd duck out with that activity.  I'm pushing twice that age (oh heck, plus a few more years) and I'm still the only one.

There are those who do some landscaping, throw a colour pot out here and there, but nobody really gardens.  I have worked in technology for eons, so it is nice to go to the old standby, the Internet, and be able to take a peek at other folks gardens.  I know I am not alone and I apparently just don't know people who garden.  I imagine I will have to live with that and be content, seeking some camaraderie in like-minded friends to be made, well--across the country and globe.

I find it interesting with the recent years' economy in the US that there are many younger people getting into gardening.  Fire escapes, patios, a single raised bed box in a corner of a yard.  I'm seeing that online.  I think it's fabulous. 

I can't attribute the following to any one person as I've seen it quoted and heard it numerous times from different individuals, but if a child grows it, they will eat it. I have seen that to be true.  Even if they don't "like" something, they will try and try again, especially when they've helped grow it or grown it themselves.  Eventually, some vegetable will be pleasing to their palate, and then it's on!

True dat.

So why aren't there more vegetable gardeners! Especially parent gardeners. One simple pot can go a long ways for a child's imagination and future healthy eating habits.

But back on topic with a curious question. , ,  I realize the collective "we" of the Internet is inclusive both the very young to the very old, and everyone in between.  So what is the average age of gardeners (all kinds) in your circle?

Yes, that is a beet.  I have picked so many acres of beets over those young years that I really don't care for them, but find many other vegetables more than sufficiently palatable. ;)

22 May 2013

Container Colour and Nasties

Container colour seems to have an informal science behind it. Dark is good, dark is bad, light is good (have never read light is bad), and so it goes on about how container colour can impact the productivity of our container plants.

My container garden is large. I am also trying to keep it to as close to organically certifiable as possible (which has likely turned me certifiable in moments). I cannot escape the use of nursery trade pots. Budget disallows my preference for large terra cotta pots or even fiberglass wannabes. Did I mention the terra cotta is also good, but also bad?

Light pots tend to reflect light, thus leaving the container requiring less water on those particularly "warm" days.

Dark pots tend to absorb the light and heat, thus rendering the container a miniature oven for roots and requiring 1-2x, sometimes 3 waterings a day, depending on the latest and greatest information.

Terra cotta tend to leach their moisture, keep the soil cool, and crack in the winter. Personally, I've never had a terra cot pot of any size crack in winter, but I can certainly understand how that could happen. I do know they will keep the soil cool, but the claim that they lose their moisture is beyond me for I've never seen this, myself. Perhaps it is my location(s) that make that different.

My trade pots are black, a near black, and dark gray. This means my stealthy green friends may be warm and possibly be responsible for root scorching as the plants mature . We've hit some grand temperatures between the rain and storms. Even in the mid 60s, those pots are hot to the touch. For this season, I will be able to water at least twice a day and monitor them for hydration and evaporation. For the long term in container gardening, I don't think this is a great way to go, but you've got to use what you have, can get, or afford.

I had a large number of pots to purchase, so I purchased my plastic trade pots in small bulk. I much prefer the earthy feel of terra cotta, but I would have ended up with a few large and lovely terra cotta fixtures on the patio and no true container garden to speak of.

Moving on to the real question that begs to be answered, how do we mitigate the black trade pot?

Optionally, we could spray paint the pots (I was really considering glow in the dark paint, but at 70 pots, the investment did not really seem worthwhile and may have ended up a bit on the cheesy side of aesthetic appeal. 

After all, we do have to look at these all season long!

Alternatively, in staying organic, we bought a truckload of nasturtiums ("Nasties"), Milkmaid, Alaska Mix, and Empress of India. Their companion-friendliness to almost all other vegetables precluded our decision to basically shove a few seeds in every pot.

"Why would you do that?", I imagine you are asking!

Well! It is our hope that the nasturtiums will grow, flowng over the sides of the pot in a pleasing cascade, essentially covering (and ultimately shading) the darkness of the container colour. Voila! Problem solved. Or so we hope!

Of course, it will take a bit for the nasties to fill and spill, but while the seedlings are young, that soil needs to be essentially warm and comfortable. With the spring rains still in the air, moisture is the least of the problems while then nasturtiums take over.

Bonus perk: if our garden absolutely fails, we at least have the nasturtiums to enjoy, both for eating and eye candy!

We may have possibly overdone the nasturtiums. . .

20 May 2013

Weather Woes

5/21/2013 19:30:00PM
The more days of rain, the more effects I see on my large, fledging pot garden.  The pots are still grouped on the patio for ease of care and monitoring.  I am starting to see yellow leaves.  There are far too many to bring in.  Hoping for longer dry periods to remove the excess moisture that was good in recent days, but beginning to show the potential toll on the seedlings, some of which are growing into full on plant phase.

The winds today changed direction over and over.  The paper birch tree was doing a hula swaying one way and then the other throughout the day.  What we thought was a fine pruning, the winds have totally shown us to be false. 

5/20/2013 10:52:00 AM
Gray, rainy, windy. Wash, rinse, repeat. For the past two weeks.


Little sun, but quite lovely when it pokes out between the fog and the long overcast mornings. Spotty at best and insufficient time out to keep the hardening process up outdoors.

They promised 70 degrees and sun this afternoon. Welcome to the PNW!

Tomorrow is a new day.  I shall continue working on the previous blog posts that have yet to be published.