Wednesday, July 30, 2014

spuds and cukes

there are a dozen potato plants in containers out on the south side of the house because i overbought seed potatoes and simply ran out of garden space...they have doe well and a couple are beginning to signal the season's end...there are ollala, yukon gold, all red, and yema de huevos out there...i planted them deep in the containers and then filled them to the top as the plants grew so i am curious to see yields...the bottom two photos are cucumbers vining through the hurricane neighbors may claim the cukes on their side as their own..fair enough...i will take what comes to fruition on my side.

fall crops..

the fall crops are up and running...beets ( top photo ) are already red stemmed...the onion sets are greening up ( seconf photo ) and the clover, which will winter over and be a green manure next spring, is germinating as well...after the next rain i will inoculate it with rizobia and start the symbiosis rolling...looking to late september or early october on these...just in time for jerusalem artichokes.

...and a few friends

cherry tomatoes, sweet banana pepper, and pod corn with a side of that order...there are cukes on the fence and squash blooms all over... the red pontiacs will be done soon...more on the container potatoes in due time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

the three sister's giuild and their immediate neighbor

the three sisters' bed is coming along..there are several well defined ears of maize in there and all the plants have yet another first beans are appearing on the vines in the maize two thirds of the intended denizens have made an their presence known...the squash plants are blooming but no squash yet...that will ( hopefully ) be a post in the near future...meanwhile back at the bean/cucumber wall cohabitation is going on as more nascent beans have appeared and there are some reasonably large cukes hiding out near the bottom of the wall...always sneaky devils, they pop up unexpectedly and, seemingly, overnight..there will be bells and whistles when we see squash..stay tuned for more reports.

helianthus and another bee for fern

the jerusalem artichoke blooms are out in full force now and they are rotating to face the sun like any good member of that family...and, like ellen's corner box flowers, they are attracting pollinators...and it's another bee to boot...every time i see one anymore fern leaps to mind...hope you like it fern!

water please!

the grass in the community garden was brown and pretty crunchy underfoot this evening and the curled leaves on the maize ( second and third photo ) in the iuncg and the ones on the teosinte in the pgp ( fourth photo ) told me it was time to i spent about an hour going over all the beds from from to back ( and i did not neglect to soak the arborvitae )...a much drier month has increased our need for supplemental water..a bit late but the idea of a flow meter to quantify use season?

Monday, July 28, 2014

timing II

the jerusalem artichokes in my back yard are coming alive with blooms...a bit later than the ones in the community garden...but well within the usual window of late july or early august...these are about a foot taller than the ones on campus and have put more energy into verticality than far...the real test will be when harvest rolls around...then we can take some measure of micro-climate differences over a six mile distance and its impact ( if any ) on productivity...the sunchokes aren't the only thing moving along out there...the grapes in the elm tree are beginning to change a couple of months there will be yet another harvest...and crawling around in the brush behind the concord cascade i see bunches of grapes.

homemade northern tepehuan teosinte

i took thenorthern teppehuan teosinte plant in the top photo, which began in the basement, germinated form seed form the teosinte i grew in my yard last year and kept under the lights downstairs in the plant room, and put it out in on the south side of the house in has prospered so far and is around three feet tall...hoping for seed may be asking too much..with only four plants out there viable seed is probably impossible...still...this is a second generation teosinte plant...i may have to be satisfied with being able to say i accomplished that so far from its home turf.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

hedgerows and tree lines

running around doing some sunday afternoon errands took me south into lake county and i stumbled on something seldom seen these days...not around here anyway...i found a cornfield that was bracketed on the south side by a tree line and on the west and north ( i did not see the east side..the road veered away from the field before i got there ) an era of industrial farming, with its heavy reliance on machinery, trees and hedgerows would seem to be an the words of a farmer in the film "king corn"..."you can get a lot done if you aren't turning around all the time." other words a straight, flat, unbroken field is the optimum trajectory for a tractor or combine...another issue is in modern farming straight lines and open space as an aesthetic means hedgerows look sloppy and unkempt....a derelict hedgerows and trees won't help linear what do they provide...wind break and perennial roots to hold a file in place...the soil may be bare but the edges serve to contain it far better than open fields...habitat...critters abound in the shelter and many of them are predators that prey on the critters that eat crops...natural pest control...chemical free and at little cost to the farmer...that's fine with this can see gaps in the hedgerow that are clearly meant to move machinery in and out of the field through...there were several gaps on each side and access is the only purpose i could feature for them...the local supermarket is dabbling in community supported agriculture...for a fee you can sign up and take weekly delivery of five different locally grown crops...whatever is in season...wouldn't be surprised to find this farm is part of that or some other similar program...getting chemicals off the farm is imperative one would think...a step in that direction is always good to see.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


out early to campus to do some watering and have a look around at what's up today and there's always quite a bit...starting with sweet's coming along...quite a few plants are six feet tall or better and at least half a dozen have begun to sprout ears...that's one in the second photo ( with a lady bug on aphid patrol ) and the plant in the third photo is coming out with two ears ( this is sweet corn, not dense yellow #2...nothing odd about multiple ears here )..the bottom photo is of a bean vine that has successfully use the cornstalk as a trellis ( and help recreate a three sisters' guild in one of the beds ) and will be sprouting beans soon enough...there is produce to harvest...stop by.

jerusalem artichokes

eight feet tall with big yellow flowers that scream "helianthus"! and attract attention ( even if some folks think they're "weeds" )...native plants that produce prodigious numbers of great tasting, versatile, healthy tubers and can clue us in on subtle climate changes...what is there not to like? of course they get a separate post.

around the garden

lots to see out there...the apache red has a full fledged ear going on...a bit more advanced than the sweet corn...the bean/cucumber wall ( who would have known the beans would take to it? who knew beans and cukes would cohabit? ) is a verdant mass of leaves with lots of blooms....and there are cucumbers trailing along the ground out there as well...if you find a tomato you may find a cuke...we have been giving the arborvitae much more water this month and it is doing just has grown a bit since it was planted and things look promising over by washington street.

ellen's flowers and a bee for fern

the flowers that ellen and her protege planted on planting day are really coming into their own...i found a bee taking advantage of the blooms while i was there...bottom photo's for you bug that isn't irritating you...right?

quantifying labor

i spent an hour by the clock this morning threshing winter rye...pulling seed heads off the stalks and aggressively rolling them between both thumbs and index fingers...and being repeatedly stabbed by awns...goes with the territory...that hour of threshing got me 1 1/4 ounces of rye seed and awns and chaff ( yes i zeroed out the scale to negate the container's weight before i weighed the product )...another ten minutes of winnowing the grain and i had netted 1 1/8 ounces of clean rye seed to add to what has already been done...a total of 3 3/8 ounces so far, or about three-and-a-half hours of's the result of that work? ( and there is more to do ) we ( because this will be going into the community garden too ) get w winter cover crop that is locally produced ( my back yard is as local as i can get ) will also act as a reservoir for nitrogen th egreen manures that are planned for the garden will produce...two thirds of those seeds ( winter vetch and dixie clover ) will come form stands i grew in my yard as well ( i have not quantifies the labor for those...the winter vetch is simply a matter of splitting open the pods and dropping seeds into a container...about a thousand seeds to an ounce...not tremendously time consuming and i have 5 1/8 ounces of seed...more than enough for our purposes....dixie clover is far more intricate [ particularly when you have clumsy fingers ] and the returns far smaller in quantity of seed...that's another post ) the yet...field peas i purchased as well as inoculant for the bacteria to set up the symbiosis...we are not completely independent...yet...the good news is once a rizobia colony is established in a bed it can survive for up to five years without the introduction of host plants...if we use green manures every year we should only have to inoculate the beds once...more independence...i will be planting stands f all these plants this late summer to grow more seed...the process does the work.