August 2013: week 3

This has been a week of Greens…

We harvested bunch of Kale – lacinto, shared with friends.

kale lacinto

Big head of red sails lettuce was pulled, this was more than enough for 2 lunch salads.

red sails lettuce

and 3 bunches of Methi leaves (pictured below harvest from 1 container)

methi

Looking forward to colors next week…

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August 2013 week 1

June July has gone and we’re into August now, we are left with month and half of warm weather. Around Pacific NW, first frost usually arrives late October, I have been tracking it last 4-5 years and most years it was Oct last week. Plants grow well into September but go into semi-dormant mode after.

So the growing season is in full swing early August. Other things in life (camping, hiking and summering) are taking over life, leaving less time to spend in garden. (It shouldn’t be this way really). Its slow time now, but soon I have to gear up planting for fall/winter.

There’s none planting going on. Here’s what’s harvested:
 

potato harvest 
Red Sails Lettuce and red potatoes

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Potatoes dug out and early carrots

 

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This is how potatoes look like upon harvest
 

 

 

 

Methi is almost ready to be harvested…

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July 2013 Week 3

Berries are in high production now, we are eating many berries and clicking less. Here are few of the pictures clicked. This year I didn’t a good job cleaning out Strawberry bed in fall and early spring. There were many weed runner, mainly buttercups and lots of old dead leaves. Many of my strawberries were rotten (neglect to pick up, rotting under leaves mess).  I have to keep up with strawberries and clean up in spring next year for more production.

Strawberry

berries

Here is mid-July garden update:

Pea vines were pulled out, before pulling peas reached high up.

 
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Here is Bed 2 with huge broccoli plant with tiny head 😦 along with kale, lettuce and some chard.

tiny broccoli 

More peas – these are snow peas. I didn’t like the taste and I didn’t use much in cooking. I might not grow snow peas again, I’d rather grow shelling and snap peas.

snow pea vines 

We harvested more Peas (snow peas, snap and shelling) , broccoli shoots and arugula this week.

arugula peas

Next week looks more promising with harvest, many onions are dropping tops so I might get a big harvest out of it.

This week’s harvest:
Snow Peas:  #22
Broccoli shoots: 1 cup
Strawberries: 2 containers (not pictured)
Parsley: 1 bunch
Onions + tops: 32
Raspberries: 2 containers (not pictured)

Happy Gardening!

March 2013: week 1 Springing

March is here, March is here. Garden is springing into new life, blooms and buds are everywhere. Weather is still spring like, cold fronts rains and sunshine is still in air. Local news stations have forecasted it to be chilly spring. March is here, March is here.


March is all about starting a garden. For me it’s about visiting the storage to look for seed stacks, check on compost bags and a casual stroll in still wet muddy garden. I don’t start seeds indoors, I don’t have a seed rack and germination stations with heat mats. I am ‘direct sow’ type of gardener. Summer plants that require indoor start – I just purchase seedlings at local shops, at swaps etc.

Winter in Seattle has been very mild, all snow storms made their big appearance in rest of the country and we were spared. So my garden hasn’t been heavily damaged. Yes, there were frosty nights and snow sprinklings but nothing major (yet).

What’s sown this week:
None

What’s growing:
Broccoli (over wintered)
Beets (over wintered)
Chard (some overwintered, some self-sown from fallen seeds)
Sorrel (perennial)
cabbage (over wintered)
chives (perennial)

What’s harvested over last 2 months (January, February and early March):

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Late January: Broccoli 1 cupful florets. Main head was picked in November (which wasn’t so big), now picking side shoots. I used cupful in stir-fry dish.

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February: Broccoli 1 cup florets. Enjoyed it raw.

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March week 1: Broccoli 1 cup. Made noodle soup. (picture above).
It’s mushrooms, tofu, carrots, homegrown broccoli, cilantro in flavorful ginger clove broth. yum.

Harvest Monday: Oct 1

October is bringing in abundant sunshine and it is quire rare here in Pacific Northwest. Fall has begun and we are appreciating everything this garden hhas been producing.

I have been picking so much over last week, here is recap:

beans

Sunday: Green beans and one small early girl tomato. Green beans are mix of Contender (Ed Hume Seeds) and from cheap seed packets of Harvester (American Seeds). Early girls come from seedlings I picked up from local drugstore early summer.h

tomatoes

Monday: few cherry tomatoes


summer harvest

Tuesday: More tomatoes, more green and wax beans and Muncher cucumber

blight

Saturday: Tomatoes (mix of Early Girl, Cherry and San Marzano with some blight). I checked remaining of San Marzanos of any of them showing blight and removed affected promptly.  More beans, un-pollinated Zucchini and more Muncher cucumbers were picked.
While walking our lovely Sammamish river trail, me and friend came upon this lovely Pear Tree loaded with fruits along the riverside. Us and few other folks did pick few fruits.

Harvest Summary for week:

Green/Wax Beans: about 45
Tomatoes: 17
Cucumbers: 5
Misc: small zuk and pears

Harvest Monday: 3/11/2012 First of the year

March is looking wet and cold. On a positive note, flower bulbs are poking out of the ground, fruits tree buds are pumping up.  And among other things, broccoli is sprouting. Overwintered Beets are looking better.
I decided to get small first harvest of the year 2012. Here are couple beets and broccoli sprouts.


Harvest Summary:
Beets – 2
Broccoli sprouts – half a cup

Harvest Monday 7/11/2011

Last week’s harvest is mostly fruits and berries. Last few days of heat – 2 days above 80 and 4 days above 70 (Yeah, that’s what we call summer in Seattle) helped berries and fruits ripe. For 2 years I have lost cherries to crows, strawberries to slugs and raspberries to chickadee. This year I have been planning around saving a few for myself : ) I sprinkled generous amount of Sluggo every week for last 3-4 weeks near strawberry beds and slugs hiding spots. I noticeably saw slug population go down, I even found many dead slugs under rock slab, containers.
Harvested 132 Raspberries, 73 Strawberries and 265 cherries. That’s 3 lbs of cherries and strawberries each. Along with that there were 18-20 shell peas which kids munched on before photo opportunity.
Linking this post to Daphne’s Dandelions.

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Duh

“There are very few things to harvest this year, it seems so strange” I told my husband. He responded with YES. “I haven’t seen you much in backyard all spring long” He said.

So it dawned on me, To get Summer harvest, I have to kick start in Spring get soil prepping, sowing in Spring. Hmm. What was I doing all spring long? Well, life happened and things were just too busy. Not anymore.

All hope is not lost. Now I get it. To get Fall harvest, I have to start planting fall garden NOW.

Week so far… Picking, harvesting a lot

Summer is gone fast, there’s chill in the air – we are falling into fall/winter slowly. That translates into more harvests and picking many last of the garden goodies.

So far this week, We have been harvesting  a lot – squash, cherry tomatoes (sweet 100 variety), Jalapeno, green beans, shelling peas, cucumbers, fenugreek and dill. Here are some photos….

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(above) – Methi (Fenugreek)

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(above) – Methi and Shepu (Fenugreek and Dill), both used as greens

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(Above) in colander: Chard ‘bright lights’. in plate 1:  sweet 100 tomatoes, green and wax beans. in plate 2: Agatha tomatoes, 1 black krim, peas, cucumbers and yellow squash.
(Photo captured with phone)

Ambat Chuka = Green Sorrel

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Ambat Chuka has a special place in Marathi Cuisine. Little I know that we can grow Ambat Chuka here, well sorrel thrives in Pac NW conditions. It grows well in spring and thrives in summer, I hope it continues to produce in coming fall. It’s got tangy, sour taste which come all together when cooked with daal – my favorite. We harvested big bunch of sorrel this weekend and made into Ambat Chuka Bhaji (no photos) – It’s almost been 10 years since I last tasted it. Happy.

Green Sorrel has many names :
  English – Green Sorrel, Garden Sorrel
  Marathi – Ambat Chuka
  Hindi – Khatti Palak
  Telugu – Chukka Kura

Ambat Chuka goes onto my list of things to grow next year!

Tomato Time…here now, gone tomorrow

This is my very first year growing tomatoes, few are from seeds, few are store-bought plants and a few acquired. So far, I am able to get 10 ripe tomatoes ( 2 Beaverlodge, 8 Sweet 100), many more green ones are still on plants.
We got 3 beautiful days of summer last week but from today it’s all downhill. Big chilly air moved into Northwest and forecast says it’s going to stay. Temps climbing to upper 70s is almost a dream, that means there won’t be any more vine ripening of tomatoes for us. This has been my first year of growing tomatoes and it’s GREEN in color. (as in color of tomatoes so far.).
KitsapFG talks that same and advises to keep tomatoes in greenhouse or bring indoors to ripen. Really? I have to give up so soon? All I have so far is 10 ripe tomatoes …

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(Above) Agatha Tomatoes – I got seeds from wintersown.org. I started seeds in late April and transplanted out mid July (We got rains and cold all June). Very compact, determinate plant loaded with tomatoes.

 

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(Above – 2 photos) Brandywine Tomatoes – This is heirloom type indeterminate plant. I got it as a seedling in local swap. Plant got too big quite early with lots of bloom. Unfortunately all the blooms are not translating into tomato yet. We got ONLY ONE green tomato on plant (above) so far. This is supposed to be huge 1-2 pound tomato, pink in color with burst of flavor. I can’t wait …

 

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(Above) Black Krim – This is supposed to be black Krim, seedling got mixed up. I hope it ripens and I’ll find out soon. Semi-determinate plant I think. if you think it’s not Black Krim, please help me identify.

This tomato originally from the Isle of Krim on the Black Sea in the former Soviet Union. This tomato yields slightly flattened dark-red, slightly maroon, beefsteak tomatoes with deep green shoulders. 

 

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(Above) San Marzano Tomatoes – Started from seed, semi-determinate plants produce oval shaped fruits. These are supposed to be best for sauce and paste. This tomato originally comes from Italy.

 

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(Above) Beaverlodge Tomato – Compact plant loaded with tomatoes. This is ultra early tomato which sets fruit and ripens in cold rainy weather. My plant has curled leaves – leafroll – due to excessive rain and improper drainage. I acquired this plant as part of local plant swap, it is first to give me ripe tomato. This tomato is bred at Canada and is earliest maturing tomato, best for cooler, foggy, rainy growing conditions (translate to Pacific NW).

 

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(Above) Celebrity – Store bought, Indeterminate. This is a hybrid variety which is 1984 AAS winner. It is said to be mid-early variety with flavorful fruit. This plant was to set fruit very last from all store bought plants.

 

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(Above) Lemon Boy – Store bought, Indeterminate. As Name suggests, this tomato ripens to yellow color. Appearance is of heirloom tomato but I am sure this one can be hybrid as plant did not suggest it was heirloom. I am curious to find out how it looks and tastes ripe…

 

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(Above) Sweet 100 – Store Bought, Indeterminate. As name suggests there is over abundance of tomatoes on this 5 foot tall plant. It has given me 7 ripe sweet tomatoes so far.

I am also growing Kimberly tomatoes, these are from seeds shared by wintersown.org. It’s supposed to be early tomato on small plant. Kimberly has frilly leaves and I am so much interested to see how fruits looks like. It has not set any fruits yet, party due to my mistake of starting it late. It is said to be early type with small fruit which ripen in cold weather, even in autumn. I am patiently waiting ….

Happy Growing!!

Summer Flower Show & Happy 1st Birthday Dear Blog!

Summer flowers are in full bloom, they are flowering a little later than last year. Maybe cold wet May-June is to blame. 

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(Above) Hydrangea – Nature own litmus paper. Hydrangea will bloom blue if soil is acidic or else red-pink if it’s alkaline. On my recent trip to eastern Washington – Walla Walla side , I saw white hydrangea – it’s bred differently and not indicative of soil PH.

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(Above) Unknown – Please help me identify.
It’s growing tall up, 5-6 foot and bearing pink-purple flowers up on top.


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(Above) Shasta Daisy

Beaverlodge Tomato

Summer in Northwest is very unpredictable, we never have sunny days in row. Most of the summer days include morning cloud cover and afternoon sunshine with 4-5 days of abundant heat (maybe in 90s). Not so good news for us gardeners who want to grow main crop tomatoes. Here by the time tomato plants grow, bear fruits and begin to ripen – comes September/October and plants are threatened with frost. I see many many people (friends and co-workers) growing tomatoes during summer and end up with baskets of green, unripe tomatoes by frost.

That’s the reason I am growing ‘Ultra-early’ or ‘Cold-Set’ tomatoes. Tomatoes which ripe earliest or set fruit/ripen in relative cold. For main-crop tomatoes, I have never had success with seed started plants, they just never reach maturity before frost hits. I have bought plants from Fred Meyer for main-season. My house sits on cooler side with morning sun exposure so it is extremely important for me to grow tomatoes well suited for my micro-climate.

The very first tomato to ripen this year is Beaverlodge.

“Beaverlodge tomato is bred at the Beaverlodge Research Center in Alberta Canada, these are Sub-Arctic series of tomatoes developed for short season gardening. They are considerably larger than cherry tomatoes and take about a month less than regular tomatoes. The plants are determinate, which means they form compact, bushy plants rather than sprawling ones. That growth habit makes these varieties suitable for container growing.”

Here is pictorial:
 
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It made to the daily harvest yesterday 🙂

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Weekly Update: July, week 4. How can another week go by so fast?

Finally summer has arrived in Seattle and it is staying, we are enjoying beautiful days. Temperatures are staying in 80s, it is just so perfect – not too hot and not too cold, loving it much! Nice weather to my family means lots of outdoor time, hiking, visiting places and that’s the reason garden work is getting neglected.

It’s been long since I have sown anything, my time is just so consumed with weeding and HARVESTING produce. Here are some pictures of my harvests over last 2-3 weeks.

I have not started fall planting yet. OMG – thought just gives me shivers and I exactly know what that means – no broccoli or Brussels sprouts for me this fall. I have to be better next year. I have to make commitment to start fall sowing at least till this weekend.

We have been harvesting and eating lots of berries and fruits from Garden. We picked about 70 Bing cherries, 140+ raspberries (oh so delicious!) and 70+ strawberries. YES! I have won war against slugs, this year I was able to eat strawberries. Thank you SLUGGO! We also employed tacky methods to stop crows from taking cherries before we could, that involved – hanging old napster turbo tax CDs, wind chimes, blackberry thorns and mom’s old saree. I wish I could show you photo (I lost it with camera crash) but you get the idea… Mainly harvests for last 2 weeks were fenugreek (methi), strawberries and random other veggies. Here are more photos of what we have been eating from garden.

We were talking potatoes last week here’s another one that I pulled.DSC_0040

Strawberries, 2 blueberries and bok choy (some slug damage) DSC_0011

More Methi and strawberries 

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1 Salad head (Black Seeded Simpson), Turnips (Purple Top White) and few French Breakfast Radishes. Yes, Northwest can still produce radishes, we are not hot yet.

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Lovely Chard and blueberries

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More fenugreek and strawberries. I am making lots of methi thepalas these days 🙂

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Potatoes

Potato growing experiment is a success! I planted out just 3 potato eyes to check if potatoes can really be grown where I live, turns out – Yes, we can!! From just one potato, I planted 3 eyes, already got 3 big one and 4 tiny taters. Second plant is yet to flower so I am waiting on digging it out. I am sure that next year I am set to double it 🙂 New potatoes had very delicate skin, came out just by rubbing potatoes with hand. They were so yummy, I microwave baked them and sprinkled with rock salt. Potatoes just melted in mouth – no butter required here.

I read that potatoes should only be planted out in Spring, but can I plant them out now? Will they grow? Has anyone tried growing them in summer, maybe this is good new experiment for me.

Geekgardener posted a comment that I am missing my potato harvest photo. Yes, between my camera issues and phone losing all it’s data – I lost lots of photos, glad this one was safe in archive.

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Back after gardening break

Towards end of June it starts to get really busy at work and lasts well into first few weeks of July. It is that time of the year, although I had decided to spend some time with garden every day, it did not happen. This time really coincides with start of fall gardening, fertilizing summer veggies but it goes on backburner. Well, things have now eased up and finally I can concentrate more on home front and garden too.

On from 5th July we are blessed with sunnier days and warmer temperatures, garden is loving every bit of the sunshine. I managed lot of gardening work yesterday, cleaning up garden – raking, weeding, deadheading old flower stalks. I transplanted pepper/eggplant/karela that have been indoors so far. Something has been chewing up on squash, I already lost 7 seedlings so I moved remaining Squash to other location. By now, I should be getting baby zukes but this damage is giving me a month of late start.

Last week was all about picking berries and fruit. I have a 4 year old Bing Cherry tree out in the yard, crows in my neighborhood wait impatiently to pick cherries from this tree. After loosing quite a bit semi-ripe cherries couple weeks back, I decorated the tree with old reflective CDs, wind chimes, blackberry thorns to scare crows away. Crows didn’t budge so I had to cover few branches with soft cloth (my mom’s old saree), that did the trick and I was able to pick sweet, succulent cherries. I got 3 raspberry canes from a friend last year, one broke during windstorm last year, 2 of the remaining canes came loaded this year. I got abundant berries from just these 2 canes – about 150. Canes that bore fruit this year will die down this year but raspberry sends out baby plants so I’ll have few more canes next year. I already spot 4-5 new canes but I’ll have to do some rearranging and placing for next year’s.
June bearing Strawberries are giving me fruits now – in July. Me and girls went with big basket yesterday and got big basketful. Generous sprinkling of sluggo last week really helped with slugs attack, at least I am eating strawberries this year vs last year I was picking leftovers from slugs.

Over last couple weeks, I have picked generous amount of chard, bok choy, sping onions and big bunches of turnips. First potatoes were also picked. Here are some photos:

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I am already very late on fall planting, I have to fire up this week and get cranking ….

Weekly Update: week 27, more sowing and berries galore

Start to the summer is surely bringing sunnier days to western Washington. Days are in high 60s and nights are staying above 50s, days are longer. This all translates into end of spring veggies, many of then are dying, bolting or yellowing. Summer vegetables are not growing big yet due to lack of real heat. Sun is out there but mostly hidden behind cloud covers. This weather is predicted to last first few days into July.
About a month back, my FIL built few vegetables beds using untreated cedar wood. two of these beds sit in shaded part of the garden, these receive mild morning sun till about 2 pm. I started out this bed with Rapini, lettuce, turnip and Spinach – all cool loving crops. Although it’s not hot yet here, spinach and rapini bolted and is pulled last weekend. This bed was poorly planted and underutilized since it’s built, now it is planned and planted for summer months – again with cool loving plants. Here’s how how it is planted:
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Berries are ready, almost ready, maybe in about 1-2 weeks. Raspberries were earliest, these sit in sunniest spot. I picked very first raspberry on June 17th, they have been ripening steadily over last 2 weeks. I pick about 10 almost every 3 days from just 3 canes. I cannot wait for next year when these 3 canes have produced some more baby plants which will bear fruit next year. Strawberries are getting plump, they are still green though. last year most of strawberries were attacked by slugs – this year I have sprinkled generous sluggo around strawberries and protected them with copper barrier on one side. Let’s see how that goes 🙂 I got 2 small blueberry plants alongside north fence, these berries will ripen soon.

Harvest continues – I picked Mustard which was ready to bolt, used it in mustard-bean curry on Sunday. Raspberries are flowing in. My biggest surprise and excitement came from real potatoes this week. Back in April when I came back from India, I saw 2 supermarket bought potatoes sprouted in pantry. Instead of tossing in trash, I cut ‘eyes’ and buried them out. Fast forward 3 months – Potato plant had flowered, 3 days back I buried my fingers down in soil and felt a good size potato. I could not wait any longer and dug out the plant – I got 3 good size potatoes and there were several tiny ones forming (I’ll wait a little longer next time). I have one more potato plant that isn’t flowering yet.

Sorry, no photos for the week. Camera is acting funny and refuses to take any pictures. Happy Gardening!

Fall Gardening planning

It’s end June and the summer garden season is not even really started for me, and yet I am thinking ahead to the coming fall and winter season. I want to do fall and winter gardening and I have to come to terms with the fact that we always have to be thinking about 2 to 3 months ahead of our current situation, sowing seeds and prepping now to meet future harvest expectations. Even though I tried fall vegetables last year, this is truly first full year of growing for me and I am learning as I proceed.   

Typical fall and winter crops for me will include Fenugreek, Turnip, carrots, Broccoli,  Brussels sprouts, cabbages, Swiss chard, lettuces and spinach.  Here’s base plan for me.

  Sowing date Days to mature Desired Maturity Date
Brussels Sprouts 15-Jun 150 30-Oct
Early cabbage 25-Jun 80 30-Sep
bunching onion 1-Jul 70 30-Sep
Dill 1-Jul 90 30-Sep
Kale 1-Jul 70 30-Sep
Peas 1-Jul 60 1-Sep
Turnip 1-Jul 90 30-Sep
Beets 10-Jul 80 30-Sep
Broccoli 10-Jul 110 30-Oct
Kohlrabi 10-Jul 80 30-Sep
Swiss Chard 10-Jul 80 30-Sep
Lettuce 15-Jul 45 30-Sep
Peas 15-Jul 60 15-Sep
Beets 20-Jul 90 30-Oct
Turnip 20-Jul 100 30-Oct
Spinach 1-Aug 55 30-Sep
bokchoy 10-Aug 60 10-Oct
Broccoli Raab 10-Aug 50 30-Sep
Lettuce 15-Aug 45 30-Oct
Mesclun Mix 15-Aug 45 30-Sep
Radish 15-Aug 40 30-Sep
Fenugreek 25-Aug 35 30-Sep
Mesclun Mix 1-Sep 50 20-Oct
Radish 1-Sep 40 15-Oct
Mesclun Mix 5-Sep 50 30-Oct
Fenugreek 10-Sep 35 15-Oct
Lettuce 10-Sep 50 30-Nov
Fenugreek 1-Oct 35 5-Nov
Fenugreek 10-Oct 30 15-Nov
       
Garlic (overwinter) overwinter   10-Oct
onion (overwinter) overwinter   1-Sep
Spinach (overwinter) overwinter   1-Sep
Broad Beans overwinter   10-Sep

Happy Gardening!

Weekly Update: Week 26, Welcome Summer

last entire week was cool and damp, few sun breaks made its way here and there but temps did not warm even to 70s. Although mild and cool, day length is increasing and it’s showing. Spinach has started to bolt, I pulled it out. I remained very busy at work and there was very little progress on gardening front.

Whoohoo… I spotted some red and wow – there it was, very first ripe raspberry. Me and girls ran out to backyard, plucked sweet, ripe raspberry and shared it by 3. Sorry, No photo 🙂 To record, very first raspberry of the year was on June 17th! I still got cherries, blueberries and strawberries in line, although critters are also waiting it to ripen. My biggest menace is crows, last year crows got away with half of my ripe rainier cherries, birds got blueberries and slugs loved strawberries.  I have big plans to deter crows this year, I am ready to fight…

Sown: More wax beans, Tacoma bush peas
Transplanted: transplanted Daikon to big container. Daikon needs loose soil of 8+ inches to grow I think container might be good idea. we’ll see. Also I planted out just one tiny Ichiban eggplant and one unknown tomato plant
Harvested: last of spring fenugreek was harvested along with salad mix (lettuce, spinach, Micro greens – mustard and beets)

Harvest Photos

Last of the Spinach, about an ounce. I used it in kids’s spaghetti.

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Brocolli Raab (Rapini) and Salad Mix
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Last of the spring sown Fenugreek, I am storing it for use in next 3-4 days.
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