Saturday, June 24, 2006

Garden Update

Well, I was out hoeing in the pumpkin section this morning when welcome rain interrupted me, so I figured I would write down some of what has been on my mind lately.

All the seedlings were planted the end of May and by June 1 all the seeds were put in the ground. Then on June 10 we had a frost warning. Other chores had kept me out of the field that day and when I went out to the field after supper to cover everything against the frost, I discovered that most of the frost tender plants had already demised. We must have had a clear frost (low temperature with just the right amount of wind chill) on the 9th. I covered what I thought was salvageable. The next day I took a closer look at everything. I think I miss the sacrlet runner beans the most; I never grew them before and was really looking forward to watching them climb the 10' teepee towers I made. Most of the heirloom tomatoes are gone, and I can't find any sweet bell peppers. In fact, the other odd thing I've noticed is that for all of the seeds I've planted, almost none is coming up. I don't understand what is wrong. I know I planted the seeds correctly, and I've hauled water out to the field religiously. I don't see any deer tracks, so the Phantom Guard and Pro (cougar hiss anti-varmint device) must be working. My dad thinks it's probably grubs. I suspect earthworms, too. Anyway, I have never had this problem before. I will give the seeds some more time, but if they don't start coming up in the next two weeks, I'll turn everything under and plant some buckwheat and more short season beans. I replanted sunflowers and Mandan Bride flour corn in the pumpkin section, but have not seen any seedlings there yet either. I figure the crows will get most of the corn, and I will be happy if I can get even a couple of ears for next year's seed. I was upset to lose the 72 Moon and Stars (long) and Crenshaw melons. I was able to replant the Moon and Stars, but will have to try and locate the Crenshaw now that Burpee and Fedco are no longer offering it. That is a wonderful tasting muskmelon. I replanted Pride of Wisconsin in Crenshaw's stead. Kentucky Wonder and Kentucky Blue pole beans took Scarlet Runner Bean's place. I was heartbroken when I saw that all of the giant pumpkins were gone, but there is always next year.

What have I learned so far? Hmmmm. (1) Working in the field is more comfortable in the very early morning or in the late afternoon after supper. (2) Transplants seem to do better than planting by seed. (3) Do not plant frost tender plants in the garden until after the full moon in June. (4) Buy more seed -- I think I plant too thinly; better to plant thickly and thin than not fill in the planting area.

Yesterday I hoed the perennial and small fruit section. The rhubarb is looking great this year, and the Bohemian horseradish is starting to take off. Next year I will have both for the farmer's market in Phillips. I need to bury some flashing to keep the horseradish in bounds. My uncle says that the only thing that will get rid of horseradish is to run pigs over the area. Well, I don't want pigs and I don't want horseradish to take over the field, so I need to get that bed hemmed off. Still, I think the horseradish is looking good. I planted some garlic last fall and it is looking good. So are the chives I brought from my old garden. Those chives must be close to 25 years old. I will plant some Czech heirloom garlic this fall (fron Ronnigers). It is a tan color with mild flavor. I turned under the bed where I want to plant strawberries next year. I want to have that soil in really good shape by next spring. The red currants are all doing nicely; I hope to have berries beginning next year. Less satisfactory are the gooseberries. I bought 6 bushes this spring and they are all dead. My husband bought a couple of bushes, too, and his are dead as well. I have been growing gooseberries for over 20 years, and I say we both received bad stock, and we purchased from different nurseries! The gooseberries I bought last year are ok. They seem to be growing much slower than I am used to them growing, but I notice that all of the elderberries in the orchard section are not taking offer either. I think I need to add more manure all around. The raspberries for the most part are alive and well. I have a few questionables. The asparagus is looking fine. I replanted both the asparagus and most of the raspberries this spring. I hope replanting does not become a habit, but this year we seem to have had more rain than we did last year, and I have more cans to haul water in than I did last year, so hopefully the new stock will dig their roots down far enought to make it through the winter.

What's on the schedule? Mowing the grass around the sections again, tilling under the bean section as nothing is growing there but grass. Maybe I'll put some buckwheat there to be followed by annual rye grass. Putting up the high tunnel. If I can get that high tunnel up, I'll plan for a fall garden.

Looks like I'll have to replace most of the apple trees and both pear trees. Only the Fameuse apple is alive and well. My Egremont russet is hanging on, but is "iffy". Three of the Bali pie cherries are doing well. I think I will get two Wealthy apple trees (I really like Wealthy's taste). a Chestnut Crabapple, St. Edmund's russet, another McInstosh and perhaps a St. Lawrence, as well as two more pear trees and another Bali cherry. Looks mostly like winter kill and fireblight (on the pears). Not enough water last year didn't help any. I can't wait to get a well in the field.

The chickens are doing well. On a good day I'll get between 5 and 7 eggs. Chin Lee and Chardonnet the roosters, keep the ladies in line. Chin Lee is the boss of the chicken yard. Some times I call him Chairman Mao as he keeps poor Chardonnet on the run all the time. Still, it's better to have two roosters in case something happens to one of the them. I can't get the ladies to set, but I have time to build up the flock. I would like to build a nice little brooder house before I get more chicks. So that is another of my "to do" tasks for this year.

Well, it's getting late, so I'll leave off for now. Happy gardening to everyone!