Wednesday in the Garden: 06/28/2017

Our weather in the past week has been a bit of a roller coaster.  For instance, on Monday the temperature was around 100 degrees F and today was 78 degrees F.  I think these ups and downs are going to have a negative effect on some of the plants.  I know that the really hot days made a few plants unhappy.

In spite of the weather changes, the garden is growing well.  We have a number of things that we are harvesting and eating right now.  In particular we have green and wax beans to pick just about every day.  We also have more chard then we can use, which is nice because I have been able to share quite a bit of it with my mom.

My daughters flowers are growing well, especially the snap dragons.

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The pumpkin plants are over spilling their area and growing everywhere.  I don’t think they like the heat very much, and are starting to look fairly wilted.  Hopefully a few cooler days will bring them back to life.  I think I could get some pumpkins out of the plants right now if they died off.  However, I would prefer to allow the pumpkins to ripen on the vines.  Last year we had our pumpkins ripen towards the middle of July, so that is what I am aiming for this year.

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I am thinking I will be able to pick some of the Desi Squash in the next couple of days.  They taste quite a bit like zucchini, but are round rather then long.  I do have to be careful not to let them sit to long, because they quickly go from good to tough and woody.

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I think these plants seeds came from a packet that was marked as Desi Squash, unless I planted the wrong thing.  However, they are very different looking plants.  As you can see from the picture above the Desi Squash is bushy in nature.  They plants below are vines and want to trail up things.  I am wondering if they are some kind of melon.  I guess I will just have to be surprised at what we get.

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We are getting many green and wax beans. I have been able to give quite a few to my parents, while still having enough for us to eat often.

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The 3 apples on our Anna Apple tree are getting to be a good size.  I don’t know how long they take to grow and how large they will get.  I am having fun watching them grow though.

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My 10 year old son’s garden bed is doing well.  I have been able to get quite a bit of chard from his bed, and a couple of carrots.  I probably picked the carrots to early, but they tasted real good.  Store bought carrots are not nearly as good as home grown.  His melon plants have gotten very large, and have started to put on melons.  He is excited about those, because he really likes melons.

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Our 13 year old son’s garden bed is still doing well.  His flowers have done well, and have a number of beautiful blooms on them.  His corn has ripened and we picked it today.  I will have a few pictures of that later.

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I picked the rest of the beats and the corn from my 8 year old’s garden bed.

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I hadn’t realized that our corn had gotten ripe until last night.  I was probably a couple days late picking the corn, but it was really hot this weekend so I didn’t get around to checking.  Unfortunately, most of the ears had a caterpillar in them.  The caterpillars hadn’t had much of a chance to eat the corn yet, so I squish them and then cut of the chewed up parts of corn.  The unaffected parts look really good and I can’t wait to eat them.

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I have harvested some things throughout the week, but today I did a pretty good sized harvest.  My parents are watching the oldest two boys tonight, so I wanted to give them some things.  I was able to pick the corn, arugula, chard, beans and mustard leaves.

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Tonight for dinner Lynn made pancit using all vegetables from our garden.  There was garlic, red and orange carrots, green and wax beans, and kohlrabi.  I get a feeling of accomplishment from growing enough plants to do a whole dinner.

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-Joshua

 

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Wednesday in the Garden: 06/07/2017

I was negligent in posting garden pictures last week.  I have some animal, I think an opossum or racoon, that likes to dig in my garden beds.  It seems to be going after beetle grubs that live in them.  Unfortunately, that means a lot of uprooted plants and seedlings.  Last Wednesday, it dug a lot.  There were a number of destroyed plants so I didn’t feel like taking pictures.

This last week, we have had typical beautiful San Diego weather. The May grey I spoke about last time has continued into June Gloom.  I am sure you will all feel very sorry for us.  It has been a bit overcast with temperatures in the low 70s.  Very gloomy I know.  It is ,however, perfect plant growing weather.

First I have tomato pictures because my mom really wants to have fresh tomatoes.  The second picture isn’t very good, but it is a Wagner Blue Green tomato.  I grew those last year, and they were a favorite for every one that ate them.  I think this is my only one that survived this year though.

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Pay no attention to the weeds in the background.  All the extra rain this year has made the weeds go crazy.  I have cut them much more then I have had to for years, but they keep coming back.  In this garden bed is green beans, peppers, purple basil, and some flowers.  The crazy plant in the back is our New England Sugar Pie pumpkins.

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The pumpkin plants are spreading all over the ground, and already have pumpkins growing.

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This bed has more beans, Desi squash, patty pan squash, carrots, and some cauliflower plants that is still hanging out.

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The Desi squash is a lot like zucchini, except they grow round rather then long.  They are at their best when they are about the size of a baseball.  We are starting to get a couple of Desi blossoms.

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This week I picked 5 wax beans.  Mostly there are just blossoms on the bean plants though.

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Last week, my 3 year old daughter and I picked out some flowers to plant.  She wanted to be like her 3 biggest brothers and have her own garden bed.  Her favorite color is purple, so there is a number of purple flowers in her bed.  She also went with some pink since that is also a nice color.

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My 13 year old’s garden bed is going well.  He mostly has corn and each of the plants has some healthy looking ears on them.  His plants are pretty short though, so I am hoping that is just due to the type of corn.

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My 10 year old’s bed is doing well.  He has been dug up multiple times, killing many of his plants.  Finally, it seems like his plants are getting ahead and growing well.  In particular his Madhu Ras melons are doing well.  They have blossoms on the plants right now.  He is really looking forward to eating the melons. I added some Swiss Chard to his bed to replace some of the plants that were dug up.  Between his chard and some others I plants, we will soon have chard coming out of our ears.

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Everything in my 8 year old’s bed is growing well.  He is very excited about how tall his corn is.

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The last pictures will just be some random ones from the beds.

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I hope that all of your plants are growing well right now.

-Joshua

Wednesday in the Garden: 05/24/2017

Our little garden is growing really well right now.  This is a great time in San Diego County for plants.  The sun shines for well over 12 hours a day, and the temperatures are generally mild.  We did have some fairly extreme temperature jumps this week.  Last Wednesday our high was only 67 degrees, but by Sunday it was about 95 degrees.  I had to make sure I kept the soil from drying out and allowing my seedlings to die.

I also had a problem with something digging in my garden beds.  I have some sort of beetle grub that lives in the soil.  The grub seems benign, but occasionally there will be holes dug all over the garden beds when some animal decides grubs are on the menu.  At least I think that is what is going on.  When I find dug up spots, I just attempt to put the dirt back in place and resettle the plants.  Generally, the plants do OK, but I do miss out on seeds sprouting when they are disturbed.

 

Our lemon tree is growing and putting out many lemons.  Three years ago the lemons looked diseased and were inedible, now there are more lemons then we can keep up with.

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I think we might actually get blood oranges for the first time. The fruit seems to have set and is growing larger right now.

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The key lime tree I bought at Costco has blooms all over it.  I planted it near the end of the summer last year, and got a few limes off of blooms that were on it when I bought it.  I think we will get a lot of limes this year.

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My Anna Apple tree is blooming again.  I was surprised to see more flowers on the tree.  It is the first year I have this tree, so I have no idea what to expect from it.

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The almonds continue to look good.  They really don’t look like almonds at all though.  The part we eat is safely protected inside of its large fuzzy shell for now.

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I really hope this plant is an artichoke and not some lesser cousin.  I think the seeds blew in from my neighbors yard, but I haven’t been able to ask them yet.

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This garden bed has a large cauliflower plant in it that I think is finally going to give us something to eat.  There are also green beans, carrots, Desi Squash, Patty Pan Squash, Long Beans, Pok Choy, and Swiss Chard.  I had some Kale plants, but lost them when that part of the bed got dug up.  I might have a couple pepper plants going, the seedlings look like peppers, but I planted the peppers so long ago that I am not sure.

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The large plants you see in the bed are New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins.  We grew this type last year and got 19 pumpkins out this small area.  There are also 3 kinds of peppers in the background, and green beans in the foreground.

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The brown plants in the back of this bed are my garlic.  They look bad, but seem to be growing well.  There are also three types of flowers, mustard greens, kohlrabi, and some kind of cauliflower.

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This is my long bed.  It has a number of things planted in it. Unfortunately, this one got dug up pretty badly twice.  I probably lost the carrots I planted in here and some of the green and wax beans.

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My 7 year old’s garden bed is growing like mad.  Some of his corn plants have corn on the stalks already.  Earlier this week I harvested two of his beets to make room for the other beets.  One of his cauliflowers was eaten by caterpillars so I replaced it with two chard plants that I bought.  His other cauliflower is getting chewed up by caterpillars too, even though I try to look for bugs to kill on it every day.

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My thirteen year old’s garden bed is also growing well.  His corn is also starting to have fruit on it.  His cilantro didn’t like the mid 90s temperatures from the weekend and looks like it wants to bolt.  Cilantro is very heat sensitive, which I find interesting because it seems only be eaten in places where it is warm.  His Black King Pansies have started to bloom a little.

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Here are some pictures of a tomato plant since that is what my mom and my wife really want me to grow.

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There isn’t much growing right now that we can eat, since I didn’t do well in the transition from winter to spring.  There are a few things that I was able to pick.

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Chioggia Beets

 

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Arugula (rocket)
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Pok Choy

This afternoon we had a decent sized California Kingsnake on our driveway.  I wasn’t able to get much pictures or video of it since it quickly slithered into our ivy.  There are a number of gopher holes near the snake, so I really hope the snake slaughters some gophers.

 

I hope that everyone that read through all this enjoyed the pictures, and I hope your planting endeavors are doing well.

-Joshua

Wednesday in the Garden: 04/12/2017

Today there will not be as many pictures as last week. While working in the garden, I had my two oldest come to cull their plants. I wanted them to cut out the extra plants that came up with some scissors. I guess I gave my nine year old bad instructions or he miss understood. His beet seeds produced a few plants per seed. I wanted him to trim each spot where the beets came up to only one plant. He thought I meant every square that he had planted. So he cut most of his beets and many of his carrots down. After I discovered what happened some crying happened, and I now felt like the worst dad in the world. I helped him replant where needed, and now I have to hope his plants still do well before the summer heat kicks in.

So here are the pictures I did get to take.

Our lemon tree is doing well so far this year.  I think Lynn is going to need to do a bunch of baking with lemons in the near future.

The Pomegranate tree continues to put out flowers.  I think we will have many fruits from this tree this year.

I am experimenting with strawberries in one of my raised beds.  There is some fruit on them, but I am mostly hoping they survive the summer.  I want to get runners off the plants and have a raised bed full of strawberries.

This celery plant took a long time to sprout.  I had planted it in the fall, but it took months to finally start to grow.  I like the color of the stalks because they are such a vibrant dark green.  The celery from the store is always so much more pale then this. I wonder if that is because they are a different type of celery or just that the store bought is picked to early.

They pansies that we planted have started to grow.  I never grew these plants from seed before, so I am interested to see how they look as they grow.

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Our square foot garden raised beds are starting to look really good.  This is such a good way to grow a garden in the urban/suburban setting.

 

Hopefully, next week I won’t have my son kill his garden so there will be more pictures. I hope all of you that read this are having success with your gardens, and that you enjoy many tasty fruits and vegetables.

-Joshua

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Wednesday in the Garden: 04/05/2017

Spring is my favorite time of year.  All the plants are starting to grow like crazy, and the sun is shining but not overly hot yet.  Living in San Diego County, our spring is a bit different.  Today, the temperature were already in the low 80s.  With a lot of sun and good temperatures I have many plants growing.  I like to document the growth of the plants for my own enjoyment as much as showing them to other people.

I am going to attempt to put up garden pictures every Wednesday.  Some of them may be taken on other days, but doing one day of pictures is better then a barrage all the time.

 

My pomegranate tree has tripled in size since I bought it. It really likes our warm dry weather.

 

For me one of the scents of spring in our area is Jasmine.  It is another plant that does really well in our climate, so many people grow them.  Mine is doing well, and getting close to covering the wall I have it growing up.

 

The California Poppies continue to flourish.

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This Creeping Black Sage is my first native plant to start to grow and flourish.  It has done well with the extra rain we got this year.  One of my long term goals is to fill my yard with native plants to attract bees and humming birds.

 

My newly planted apple tree has blossoms though I don’t expect any fruit.  I just think the flowers look nice.

 

Last year I got 3 almonds from my tree in its second year in my yard.  This year looks to be a much better year.  I was able to count over 20 almonds growing on the tree right now.

 

This poor little blood orange has been in the ground for 3 years, but has been been eaten twice in that time.  However, it keeps on trying to grow.  This year it seems pretty happy and is trying to put out some oranges.

 

The raised garden beds I planted with my sons last week have many plants sprouting.  I hope all of them do well.  Some of them like cooler weather, but I let the boys plant what they wanted so they would enjoy the process.

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Carrots
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Madhu Ras Melons in foreground, beets in background
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Cauliflower on left, carrots in middle, beets on right, corn in the back
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Cauliflower and corn
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Many carrots sprouting
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Marigold, beets, and corn
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Dill and corn.  The orange things are from the neighbors pine tree
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Cilantro and Corn

I hope that anyone that reads this enjoys the pictures, and that your garden adventures are going well.

-Joshua

Easy Raised Garden Beds

One of my gardening goals for this year is to get my oldest three children more involved.  I want them to learn how to grow their own food, and not just eat what dad grows.  I think it would be sad for them to grow up without any ideas how to grow plants, and think that it is a hard thing that only a select few with “green thumbs” can do.

Since I needed to build three garden beds, I wanted to make beds that were quick and easy to put together.  Fortunately, I saw a product at Home Depot that happened to do exactly what I wanted. It is an 8in x 8in x 6in block with slots that a 2×6 board can slide into.  There is a small hole in the middle of the bricks that a piece of rebar can go into to help hold the bricks together or stack them to the ground.  Each brick costs $2.97 at my local store.

PlanterWallBlockI also bought my redwood for the sides of the bed at Home Depots.  I wanted each bed to be 4ft by 3ft.  Of course, Home Depot doesn’t sell boards in those sizes so they have to be cut down.  Home Depot does do limited cutting for free, mostly to make the boards fit into customer’s cars.  I bought 8 foot boards that I had them cut in half for me for the 4 foot side.  I also bought 12 foot boards that I had cut in half for transportation.  I have my own table saw so I cut them into 3 foot sections myself.  I had to pay for one cut at Home Depot, so I paid 75 cents for my wood to be cut.

Getting these blocks and having Home Depot cut the wood for you is an easy way to build a raised garden bed.  If you don’t have the ability or tools to build your own garden bed I highly suggest doing it this way.

Once my boys and I put the beds together, we filled them as close to the Square Foot Garden method as we could.  That is 1/3rd vermiculite, 1/3rd peat, and compost.  Vermiculite is very expensive so I never quite make the 1/3rd on that.

Then I let the boys plan out what would be in their garden beds.  I bought a few new seeds for them in addition to letting them picks seeds from my collection.  We made a grid on paper and wrote out what seeds were going in each square foot.  I want them to remember what what they planted and see the different stages of growth for each type.

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Corran doesn’t want to grow vegetables because he doesn’t want to eat them.  I grew corn last year in one of my raised beds, and it actually did pretty good.  I picked a blue corn because I liked the color.  We ended up with a number of ears, but they were not particularly edible.  Corran does like corn so he picked a yellow sweet corn to fill most of his bed.

matthias gardenMatthias really likes carrots so he mostly went this those in his bed.  The Madhu Ras Melons are a type of honey melon from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They are supposed to be from India and grow well in hot dry areas.  Our summers are very dry and tend to be fairly hot.  Hopefully, this melon will do well here.

ian gardenIan’s garden has the most variety.  He wanted to do corn to be like Corran, but does enjoy a few types of vegetables that he really wanted to try to grow.

I was able to plant Ian’s garden about a 5 days before his brothers.  Our weather has been nearly perfect for sprouting seeds so all of his plants have sprouted.  He is very excited about his garden, and the plants that are growing in it.

 

-Joshua

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