Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tomatoes Break-out!

I can't believe how big the tomatoes are getting! Of course, I always say that, as if tomato plants might somehow be smaller this year for some reason. Compare the difference between them now and on April 2nd. I'm finding homes for most of them, which is a good thing as the ones I want to keep need potting up real soon! Mr. C. says I need greenhouse #2 to go up.

The hunt for where to put the new raised beds continue. So far, choice #2 weighed in with "Partial Shade". Even worse than choice #1. I tried the SunCalc in bed 2 only to be dismayed with the result "Partial Shade". That was a shocker. But the change in sun angles does cause the amount of sun to change in the yard. That bed is ideal in the winter, very productive with swiss chard and other winter veggies (I was musing that's where the Brussels Sprouts should have been this winter). But I had a hard time last year with corn in that bed. I thought it was a lack of nutrients, but perhaps, I thought wrong. I've also stopped testing as the dark clouds have been hanging over our area. No rain, but not much sun either.

Tomorrow I will try choice #3, weather permitting. I'll also have to try to test bed 2 again to see if it was too cloudy that day. I'm thinking Sunday according to the weather predictions.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sunny day

A quick shot of bed 1 with calendula and Rubine Brussels Sprouts. The marbles are just beginning to form. It's going to be a race to see if I get them before the season gets too warm for the plant. The plant looks much different from January. I think the plant is at least twice as large as it was in January. My seed charts are saying to start more Brussels Sprouts by seed in May. And the local farmers usually plant out starts around June/July. Speaking of local farmers, I wanted to remind myself when the artichokes starts go in field along Highway one. I noticed them on Monday, they look to be about 4 inches tall. Artichokes are grown as annuals around here, even though I know many gardeners who keep them as perrenials.

Sunshine is a welcome change. Mostly because I've been wanting to try my new toy. With so many tomatoes to plant I need to find a good sunny spot for the raised beds. Mr. C. has made four new ones and I've been trying to plan where to put them. And I thought I may have found a spot so I decided to test it with my SunCalc. As it takes 12 hours to do the test, I had to set it by 7 am and by 6:30 I was pacing around like someone waiting for the kettle to boil. Sadly, the spot is partial sun, not enough for tomatoes. Well, onto spot #2. I also now want to test bed 2 as I wonder if the oak tree shades the bed, making it a "partial sun" bed as well.

I've also done a soil test on bed 3. The pH is 6.5, slightly acidic. Nitrogen was N1- deficient. But at least it registered a little. I did grow beans in that bed last, before the onions. Phosphorus was P2 - adequate and Potash was P3 - sufficient. I'm undecided on what to do with the phosphorus reading. It occurs to me that I might have to use bed 3 for tomatoes. I'm planning on combination planting cosmos, sunflowers, and maybe chammomile and petunias. I'll especially do that if the other tomato beds end up in the front, choice #3 for the new beds.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter "Break"

Went up to see Mom for the holiday. Her dogwood trees were really stunning, despite the dark clouds and drizzle. Maybe that made them shine as they were the bright spot in an otherwise dark and damp day. Of course I had to check in with the fruit trees that I planted back in January. Espaliers, showing leaves and looking good. Craigs Crimson cherry, showing leaves and possibly branches, but all lower than the scaffold branches we were hoping would bud out.

Calville Blanc d'hiver, still a stick. Can't say the asparagus is going wild. But there are a few weak sprouts. Mom thinks the bunnies (aka wild jack rabbits) have been nibbling there, but I can't see any indication. I'm hoping it't not me (who probably didn't do enough research on how to plant asparagus) that is to blame. Seems there is a great deal of information on how to plant them that I discovered after I had done the deed.

Also, note to self: don't believe that the peach tree doesn't need horticultural oil in the winter just because it's a new tree and there aren't any that I can see. Poor thing has a good case of peach leaf curl, something I could have prevented.

We talked about what to plant in May in her garden. She said she's enjoying the Swiss Chard and that should be repeated in the fall with some Mustard. I took the tomato plants I gave her back to Elkhorn. She's going on a trip and I don't think the soil is going to be warm enough to plant them outside. So, it'll be easier to watch them at home in the greenhouse.

Keeping Count:
Rain in Elkhorn over the weekend was 1/2-inch.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sunny break

It was a very nice day. Temperatures over 70's. Too bad I was at work. I guess I have been avoiding the whole rain issue as I didn't take the rain gauge readings for the last couple of days. I just dashed to the car and forgot to look. It's been a total of 1/2-inch for the last couple of days. The weather report says there's another system moving in, but not much chance for rain. I made sure the tomatoes were watered and checked some of the cuttings. I seem to have been successful with the Mimulus 'Jack', the mallow, and leonotis. So I potted them up quickly before sunset. I usually don't have much success with cuttings in vermiculite with hormones. My prefered method is cuttings into water. I really like my incubator. I have a small one modelled off something I read on a web site. If I can find the propagator description, I'll post it.

Angela Bares All

Angela's Northern California Garden Blog where she dares to bare all. I applaud her, and I know how hard it can be to be truthful in our gardening. Currently, the garden club that I belong to has a monthly "show off your best blooming plant". Last month, only a couple of our members had posted a picture and the web-master sent an email to remind everyone. I responded "does oxalis count? because with all the wet weather, it's the only thing in bloom that isn't snail eaten." I received a few emails that confirmed that was what was happening in my neighbor's gardens. One member said the snails were so large that they were pounding down the door for more cat food. Another gave her vote to me (and I hadn't even sent a picture). Maybe this month we can have a "who's soggiest" contest.

P.S. She seems to have had some odd bug with back-link and I've reposted this without the back link. It's still a good post.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

signs that are telling you that you need to clean out the shed

While looking for something else, you come across another garden tool, that illicits the remark "I wondered where I had put that!" This happened on Sunday, when I was looking around for a weeder and found my triangular-frame weed whip instead. Which was fortuitous as I wanted to take some of the weeds down, but couldn't get to my electric string trimmer as Mr. C. had moved his new motorbike into the garage in front of it. Anyway, I find it very pleasant to work the weed whip, although the surplus oxygen can really mess with your head. If you haven't tried working a manual weed whip, it's a bit like practicing your golf swing by beheading dandelions. Unlike a golf swing, I tend to swing it back and forth.

swiff, swiff, swiff, swiff
"hey I wonder if this really does improve your golf swing?"
swiff, swiff, swiff, swiff
"ha ha, off with their heads!"
swiff, swiff, swiff, swiff
"left, swing left, that's the newly planted blackberries!"
swiff, swiff, swiff, swiff
"oh look, my transplanting trowel"
swiff, swiff, swiff, swiff

Well, it's a start. I think Mr. C thought I'd gone completely mad.

"Hey Percy, you know we have a string trimmer for that job?"

Yes, but it tends to be a chore, especially the gas powered ones. In fact, we have by far too many string trimmers, I prefer my electric one, but Mr. C. has 5 others all gas powered. All the noise and noxious fumes, you can't breathe and the neighbors can't wait until you finish. But a weed whip causes a mild euphoria partly because the wild grasses are at a more reasonable height and you've gotten a great aerobic workout after being couped up after many days of rainy weather.

Keeping Count:
1/8-inch rain from yesterday. More on the way.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A little sunshine

I called in late to work today. I needed a sunshine break. There are lovely poufy clouds in the sky and I'm told that it's the rain coming in for Friday. So, I'll enjoy it while it lasts. The next storm will be on it's heels, and the weather folks are saying that it will carry more rain than the impending Friday storm.

1/2-inch precipitation last of this storm, on to the next.

P.S. As it was sunny, I couldn't help but go out and take pictures to put into some of my past posts. The rain gauge shot is the 4 day measurement of the last storm (April 4th through 6th.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

You have to stay upbeat

All this rain can get a person down, but some gardeners know how to stay upbeat:

Angela's Northern California Garden Blog: No lines at the checkout!
Now if I could just get Mr. C. to stop saying "It never rained like this in England! Isn't this supposed to be sunny California?"

Rain Count for my little corner of Elkhorn:
5 Apr 2006 1 1/4-inch
4 Apr 2006 1 1/4-inch
3 Apr 2006 1/2-inch

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Tomatoes, Finished!

Final count of this year's Tomato Monster participants is 124 plants and 37 varieties. Only a few didn't sprout and I lost the only Dagma's Perfection to a potting accident (smashed the poor bugger when I dropped the tray, alas). The "no shows" were Purple Calabash (an heirloom that was grown by Thomas Jefferson at one point), Ananas Noir, and Green Giant. I'll have to try them some other time.

Fortunately, quite a few of these will be adopted out by friends and family. But I'm excited to go forward with 37 varieties. I think I'm going to have to come up with some new ways to keep the plants warm, but I'm hopeful that many will be okay with the coastal temperatures.

Next bit of news is that the assumed-apricot has fruit on it. I was looking at a flock of itty-bitty birds (I can't seem to identify them) when I noticed some fuzzy lumps on a branch. Upon closer inspection, I could see lots of fuzzy lumps and a few were even an inch long. Hurrah! I may get apricots! I suspected that the lack of fruit was because there wasn't a pollinator, and I think I guessed right. I'm very pleased that the 4 in one pluot I've introduced to the garden must have been the key. I wasn't completely sure it would pollinate the apricot, but it seems to have worked out. My next step, if this hadn't succeded, was to plant a self fruitful apricot and see what happened, but I'm glad that I can choose whether or not I want another apricot tree.

Other exciting news is that Mom's "stick" (Calville Blanc d'Hiver) is budding out and showing signs of life. We are still holding our breath on the Lapin cherries, but my tree and Mom's tree are showing some swelling buds. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Store Wars

A little April humor. I was laughing so hard this morning I woke Mr. C up. But then he got a good laugh too.

There's a break in the clouds. Better get out there and get more work in the garden, 'cuz my part of the rebellion is growing my own.

1/2-inch precipitation last night.

Garden Mistakes or April Fool's jokes I play on myself

I just noticed this "note to self" in my other garden journal:
"Remember not to plant turnips next to the rutabegas."
This is because the plants are too similar to tell one from the other. The little row marker I set out (wood tongue depresser) happily composted itself right there in the row and my effort to harvest a few turnip greens to add to a stew or stir fry were quickly thwarted. And I couldn't find any reference material to see if rutabega (or as Mr. C calls them "swedes") greens are edible. I am leary just because I know how many greens are not edible - i.e. potato, rhubarb, etc.

So my next "note to self" is "Remember not to plant the leeks near the elephant garlic". I thought I could tell the difference. I mean, elephant garlic has these slightly destinguishable ridges if you run your fingers along the leaves, while leeks are smooth. But what I noticed recently is that leeks, once they are a bit bigger, seem to be getting these same ridges. Great. Now which are which?