failures 2009

In retrospect gardening went well this year, many great harvests and equal amount of failures. In all, I’m happy with my newfound gardening interest. It is very delightful to witness small seedling magically appearing from soil, flowers budding from plants and many fruits/veggies getting to their prime.

With this, there are many failures to list.
Lettuce – I grew too much, last of few I added to compost pile directly

Bokchoy – fall sown, something kept eating leaves and stems never grew any fatter

Spinach – won’t grow beyond 3 true leaves

Brussels Sprouts – started way late? I still have hope as I think I can harvest it till December?

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Peppers – planted in non-so-ideal location, these need more light and fertile warm soil. Although I managed to get 7-8 big size peppers, these small ones were still growing when I pulled up plants. I need to set these in sunnier location and maybe cover soil with black plastic to help them retain heat.

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Butternut squash – sown too late, see above tiny raw lone squash I picked last week. I am sure if it had one more month to grow, would have grown and ripen. I’ll seed this variety earlier next year. It looks cute though, right now it is adorning Halloween decor inside the house.

Garden Planning 2010: growing Indian vegetables

Year 2009 gave me good learning and more encouragement to grow my own vegetables. I grew lots of lettuce, peas – western vegetables. I did better with fenugreek (methi), dill (shepu), cilantro, mint and peppers. Next year my total focus will be growing Indian vegetables – that I love to eat every single day.

Here’s the 2010 plan –
Greens: Fenugreek (methi), Chinese Spinach (math), Spinach
Squash: Dudhi/Lauki/Bottle Gourd, Cucumbers
Beans: Green beans, Snap Peas, Long beans, Okra
Alliums: Spring onion
Fruit Vegetables: Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers
Root Vegetables: Potatoes – Yukon gold and fingerlings

I’ll grow below veggies just because I have free leftover seeds from this year
Greens: Basil, Lettuce, Brussels Sprouts
Squash: Zucchini , Butternut Squash
Alliums: Spring onion 
Root Vegetables: Beets, Radishes 

Fun veggies:
I am planning to grow Kala vatana and Rajma just for fun, ever inquisitive mind wants to know how seedlings look like, are flowers beautiful? I also want to grow just 2 of each – cabbage and cauliflower. Just for fun.

Apart from leftover seeds from this year, I am planning to order few Indian veggie seeds from these seed stores, I checked their websites. Time to order for catalog 🙂
Johnny’s Selected Seeds – got good selection with bottle gourd and greens
Evergreen Seeds – Specialized company with Asian vegetables, good selection
SeedsofIndia – everything and anything from India. I usually tend to buy seeds from local area suppliers as these seeds are developed suitable to environment. I suspect success rate with seedsofindia as it seems these seeds are imported from India?

why I want to grow my own potatoes next year

From msnbc.com (http://health.msn.com/nutrition/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100246775&page=2)

What the farm director won’t eat: nonorganic potatoes

Jeffrey Moyer is the chair of the National Organic Standards Board.
The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes—the nation’s most popular vegetable—they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. "Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t," says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). "I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."

The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

The alternate solution from me: grow own potatoes, at least a few pounds 🙂

Update – Surprise squash vine

I wrote about mystery vine that looked line from squash family. Here’s update –

Looks like this is pumpkin, not sure still. I ripped off the vine as it was growing bigger and getting unmanageable. From the looks I think this is volunteer pumpkin. how cool… To give some background: Back in June, I spotted this squash like seedling volunteer. Instead of weeding it, I let it grow. I never knew this small innocent seedling will grow into giant in couple months.

Will I be growing pumpkins again? intentional or not – answer is NO. Pumpkin vines are gigantic, even without any compost or special soil, they’ll grow monsters and take up way tooo much space. I have a small yard and I’ll use it to grow something more cool – maybe potatoes?

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Pumpkin Patch

Me and girls hit pumpkin patch at the base of Sahalee way yesterday, it was good fun.

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What’s that got to do with gardening? oh yes, I witnessed first hand how pumpkins are grown in rich, moist soil. learned that sunflowers + corn + pumpkins are grown in vicinity because sunflowers ward off bugs on corn, yellow pumpkin flowers attract abundant bees helping pollination, birds gathering to collect sunflower seeds eat harmful bugs…organic growing concepts at their best.

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Harvested fall planted fenugreek

 Harvested last of the zucchini, few snap peas and loads of fenugreek planted on 5th Sep here. I wasn’t sure if fenugreek will grow in cool weather, it did.  I am going to sow some more seeds in container today, let’s see if they give me yield before frost hits 🙂

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Out of season berries

What’s going on with Raspberry canes and blueberries? We are in cold zone, temperatures almost touching 40F at nights and 60s in days. Plants and shrubs should be changing colors and going dormant to face wintry weather. Instead raspberries are budding and blueberries are giving me second crop?

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Raspberry flowers?

After  windstorm 2 days back, it was partially sunny day yesterday. I went to examine raspberry came damage and saw cluster of buds on one of the canes. A good friend gave 3 canes as gift in early summer, since these are new canes friend told me that they’ll start bearing fruit next season. I wasn’t hoping on fall harvest. These are in sunniest spot in garden.. maybe that’s what to do with it. Not sure at this point if they’ll bear fruit or not… let’s wait and watch together. I am excited 🙂

Blueberries are going crazy too, I am surely getting 2nd tart crop in few days. Do these typically give 2nd harvest?

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Blueberries

Peppers

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I seeded 2 kinds of peppers this year, back in March when things were cold and dreary – 1 packet of banana peppers ( 30 cent seeds from American Seeds) and 1 packet of bell peppers (30 cent seeds again). Banana peppers were a disaster and I pulled them mid July, they never grew beyond 4 leaves, were stunted. On other hand bell peppers were semi-success. I learned so much about growing peppers, what to do and not…..

I pulled all bell pepper plants ( 6 total) yesterday, got about 7-8 large green peppers and about 10 tiny ones.

Lessons learned, here’s what I’ll try to do next year:
1 – Pepper seeds are slow to germinate, they need 80F to germinate. Since I don’t intend to invest in fancy heating mats, here’s what I’ll do (which worked this year tooo.). Soaking seeds 6 hours in lukewarm water, heating soil block before sowing pepper seeds and placing it in oven with lights on. This guarantees germination in 6/10 days.
2 – Placing seedlings under light and keeping on heated surface
3 – Heat soil in pots and cover with black plastic before transferring seedling to final pots
4 – Choose sunniest location

Windstorm

We had forgotten how winter feels like after picture-perfect incredible summer. We had huge windstorm yesterday with gusts upto 50mph all day long. We went straight to Winter and skipped fall.

Wind shook all tress, dried loose orange red fall leaves acted as sails and intensified wind velocity. In my neighborhood, beautiful display of orange, yellow, red fall colors was gone in 6 hours….

Comparatively little damage in my backyard – Pea supports were down, Zucchini plants uprooted (it was time anyway…) and raspberry cane broken (sad).

Blackberries along the fence wall

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Although unwanted but still qualifies as surprise. Volunteer blackberry vine along he back fence has always annoyed me, I meant to get rid of it for months. While weeding on the retaining wall along the fencing wall yesterday, I spotted surprise cluster of blackberries. Hurray!

I don’t REALLY need blackberries in my own garden, they grow like weed here in pacific northwest. 10 minutes of berry picking in my neighborhood once a week in Aug-Sept keeps my kids very happy in this berry season. I don’t even go far, we got plenty of blackberries just walk around the this suburban community.

So what happened next?
I popped sweet ripened berries in my mouth and at the same time whacked berry vines, so ungrateful of me. Hmmm.

 

Beets are ready

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Purple/Red beet heads are peeking out of ground and ready to be harvested. These were started from seeds on 20th June , transplanted in a month and ready by 5th October. That’s 100 days till harvest. Not all of them are ready yet, some are still in ground, not sure if this depends on amount of sun or water they are getting.

Notes added later: I went back and checked seed packet information, these are – Detroit Dark Red. Packet says 60 days till harvest. (?, it’s almost 100 days now…)

I am finding that Vegetables in my backyard are typically taking plenty more or less time to mature than what’s on seed packet, it just varies. Peas and cucumbers were earlier than maturity days on packet. Peas (50 days, maturity days listed on seed packet – 70 days) and cucumbers (muncher, 45 days, maturity days on packet 62 days) . On the other hand, butternut squash listed as 90 days, I seeded those on 1st June, it’s 130 days today and all I have is tiny tiny green fruit that may never ripe. I think I just have to go by what works for me, make a journal of success/failure from this year.

 

Bloom Report: Roses, Geranium and more

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Yellow-orange fragrant rose by the back fence

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Geranium weed flowers: These were identifies as wild geraniums by UW botanical guests at Farmer’s market. UW (University of Washington) sends experts every Saturday to Redmond Farmers market; many people seek guidance on identifying plants, starting a garden, bugs, pests, organic gardening etc. Many times King county plant and wildlife department also holds informative sessions on ‘Invasive weeds and control’, ‘Identify friendly/invasive plants/bugs/animals’. Thank you for such a great service.

cool mornings

Although days are surprisingly sunny, nights are getting cooler, we went down to 37F last night.  I strongly suspect we got light frost 3 days back, Sunday morning. Grassy area behind the house just didn’t look bright green. maybe light frost or I was too sleepy.

Here are some of the random tasks I need to accomplish this month:
1 – keeping up with lawn, re-seeding
2 – get pond maintenance done
3 – clear out bamboos
4 – trim and prune all trees, plants
5 – Harvest last of herbs: Chives, Mint, Rosemary, Oregano
6 – pull out summer squash, cucumbers, peppers

Update – Fall Planting Gamble

Fall sown seeds have germinated and nice seedlings are bracing chilly temperatures in night. Although days are unusually sunny and nicer, our nights are down to 45F now. We did get down to 40F last night. Not sure when the first frost is expected. Lot of local weather stations suggest frost does not occur until October 22nd but it can differ by couple weeks depending on particular location. I am up on plateau and not shaded by trees etc. I’ll start keeping track of frost here on this blog.

Here’s update on fall planting:

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Beets (Top, above brick): Beet seedlings have emerged. seeds planted 15th Aug, 75 days, expected maturity 10 Nov

Fenugreek (bottom, below brick, barely visible, day 5 in ground) : seedlings just starting to form. Seeds in 5 Sept, 30 days, expected maturity 5 Oct

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Fenugreek (bottom, day 15 in ground) : edible greens forming. Seeds in 5 Sept, 30 days, expected maturity 5 Oct

Brussels Sprouts (Top left corner in background): no sprouts forming yet. 3 July, 120 days, expected maturity 3 Nov

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Radish, cherry belle: ready to harvest soon. lost many to slugs, poor soil. 20 Aug, 27 days, expected maturity 20 Sept

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Carrots: seedlings. 15 Aug Aug, 90 days, expected maturity 15 Nov

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Radish, Icicle: will be ready to harvest soon. 15 Sept, 30 days, expected maturity 15 Oct

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Turnip: seedlings, need to move them in ground. 5 Sept, 60 days, expected maturity 5 Nov

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 Bunching onions: seedlings, need to move them in ground. 5 Sept, 70 days, expected maturity 15 Nov