Monday, September 27, 2010

Random Autumn Flashbacks From My Garden Journal

No, not from my garden - I took this picture in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains. The edge of the field was filled with two dozen or so of these butterflies flitting from place to place. They did not sit still long, being much preoccupied with eating! Out of 100 photos taken over the course of an hour, I think I got 4 that are pretty good. This is probably the best photo I've ever taken.

Some old journal entries - in order by day of the month. My current comments in [brackets]. Spelling is as written in my journal - no spell check when writing with a pen!

2007-09-30 7:03 a.m. Well, I guess one cannot argue with 25*F - That is a killing frost with no ambiguity. The sun is up - I am not looking forward to seeing the damage.

On the up side, this will mean that I can procrastinate no further on ripping out marginal items and planting out garlic.

Soaked peas last night - 150 are ready to go. I guess I shall find out if they can germinate this cold. [No, they didn't]

Trees have been full of rich, green leaves - will the frost signal them to change color? So far, just a very few yellow leaves on the apple tree and only 2 orange ones on the nectarine.

Days will hopefully warm up. no wind, but cold right now. I should go do something useful in the garden or yard.

2006-10-01 Bought a wireless indoor/outdoor thermometer last week - need to set it up and start checking highs and lows [presumably to help predict frost].

Funny how much you can get done when you are motivated - D. got a job offer for a job in Iraq, so this weekend we got
  • 5 posts for enclosing my garden up
  • concreted the edges of the dogs' pen (one more side to go, but I can do that side)
Things to do
  • Move the 1/2 barrels to the garden area and use for garlic - make drainage holes [There's a notation that this did not get done.]
  • Plant plant gifts from James W. of Dave's Garden []
  • Top dress bulbs with low nitrogen fert. (bonemeal)
  • Look at the weather report (definately fall, but no hard frosts yet)

2005-10-05 The sweet gums [trees] are looking decidedly perky this morning. I was concerned that yesterday's dry winds would have been hard on them, but I guess the cooler temps and deep watering helped them. Of course, I took pictures yesterday. Need to add them to my [photo] database. 2006-10-05
  • Watered back yard & fruit trees
  • Watered most east sweet gum [presumably the sweet gum tree to the East of the group]
  • Watered front poplars (south)
  • Irises from Dave's Garden arrived today - about 20 lbs worth
  • 1300 bulbs to go into the ground
All this and David leaves for South Carolina in less than two weeks and then on to Iraq 4 weeks or so later. So much to do. So little time left to be together. A year apart - with the chance of it being permanent. So I plant and plant and grow babies to fill the emptiness.

2007-10-06 21:00 ish After a good nap...This year was the first year in a long, long time that I had a real garden. I am totally so very blessed. To be able to come home from work and eat a few cherry toms from the garden, water the trees, take photos of a sunflower, spy on a lizard. What a joy. To have hopes and dreams. To feel, smell, taste the cycle of life. Delicate yellow tomato flowers, lush green growth, baby tomes smaller than a finger nail, sweet yellow fruit bursting in your mouth, frost blackened leaves and deep roots chopped for the compost pile...seeds for next year. The dance of rain and cloud and wind and sun. Birds, lizzards, tiny spiders, giant grasshoppers - if you build it, they will come. Butterflies, catterpillars and ants. If you grow it, they will come. Solitary bees, irridescent wasps, tiny flies. If it blooms, they will come. There is not lack of life in the desert, although conditions are harsh and existance is tenuous. If you provide an oasis, it will be recognized far and wide, and the denizines of the high desert, they will come. I have no idea where they hail from, but across sand and arid winds, they find this tiny island of green and in droves, they come. If 3 4[foot] x 8 [foot] beds - not even 100 sq ft out of 180,000 sq ft of our land - brought such diversity to our land, what might I expect with a garden twice as large [as those three beds]? And if I add more flowers, will that increase the draw? If I spied a dozen wasps and one hawk moth at one of 7 sunflowers, who and how many will visit if I grow 20 sunflowers, 50, 100 or more? If I grow a veritable forest of sunflowers, what will happen to the insect population? And will lizzards take up household there to dine on some of them [I can say that yes, the lizards are in the garden to stay]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

September Garden Status

The last sunflower is blooming, along with oregano, sweet marjoram, yellow squash and desert mallow.

Well, some days I actually feel like I had a real garden this year with an actual harvest.  A review of some of the crops:
  • Birds and everything else will pluck out newly sprouted sunflower seeds and peas - must rig up some protection for them. At least a dozen sunflower sprouts and 100 pea sprouts were donated to the local wildlife.
  • Garlic beds dug up a month or more in advance worked out very well - nice, soft, easy to plant beds. Ones not made up early are not nearly as easy to plant out. Now I am looking at planting some directly in unprepared beds, and that will be even worse, probably inhibiting good bulbing up in the spring.
  • Sunflower seed heads need to be well protected or the wildlings will eat them all - even before they are mature. Chickies got very few this year, and there are none for the wild things for the winter. Sunflower leaves,however, made excellent chicken greens all summer long. And after the sunflower seeds had been consumed by the wild things, I pulled the stalks out and the chickens had a riotous good time eating up the leaves and pecking at the seed head itself.
  • Collards grew very well under the shade of the large, yellow squash leaves. Next year, need to grow more. The chickies really like collards, and I added some to our salads.
  • Spinach was a great success. I only half-hearted saved seeds. Some of the ones I saved did sprout when planted in the fall, but I don't know if Matador is open pollinated, so I didn't really work at it. Chickies and Granddaughter indulged in much spring spinach.
  • No matter how many edible pod peas that I grow, there is never enough! I like to eat them right off the vine. The chickies like the peas, the pods (from ones that have grown too old to eat more than the peas themselves), and the leaves.
  • Peas sown in September will probably not ripen before the first hard frost - still, at least they will make some nice greens for the chickens.
  • Bi-colored corn was stunted as usual, but flood watering them produced a significantly higher number of ears of corn this year. Pollination was spotty, so most ears were missing kernels here and there - not pretty, but still very sweet and yummy. I ate several raw, right off the stalk - and happy chickies got to peck at the resulting cob. The bright red stalks and leaves of this variety is beautiful - need to look up what type I planted so that I can order that type of seed again.
  • Yellow squash was a great success in bed no. 3. The ones in the ground, however, were eaten the moment they sprung forth from the earth.
  • My garden blessed me with any wild things in the garden this year. I saw my first and only humming bird while sitting quietly in the garden before work one summer day. Lizards lapped water from the herbs in bed no. 1 all through the summer. Pigeons nested in the chicken coop (although Old Biddy kept destroying their nests, so they did not raise a brood). Chipmunks and mice raided the garden from time to time, and red tailed hawks (or so I believe them to be), soared overhead. Rabbits, luckily, are well-fenced out!
Well, I am sure there is more, but if I am ever to get this posted, I shall have to stop for the moment.
Chickies and Hungry Jack (the rooster) enjoying sunflower stalks for a late afternoon snack.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Garlic Planting Season

The gathering of the Canadian Geese at the lake and the arrival of crisp, Autumn mornings indicate that Garlic Planting Season has arrived in the High Desert.  In years past, I have planted Bogatyr, Polish, Georgia Crystal, Korean Red, Siberian, Music and Kettle River.  With the exception of the Kettle River, all have been hard necks that enjoy a good, freezing winter.  Over and over, Siberian has been the best grower, with the rest of the hard necks being one slight step below and about equal.  The soft neck was still good and quite edible, but did not produce as large a bulb as it might have with a milder winter.  It has been a few years since I have grown garlic, and the most I've ever grown was about 100.

This year, I decided to plant enough to perhaps sell a few and give away some... so far, 316 cloves are in the ground.  I waited until the last minute to order garlic as I wasn't sure I would have time to plant out so many, due to school and other obligations; however, the urge to plant garlic was irresistible, and I succumbed at the last moment.  Alas, this meant that my favorite garlic supplier, The Garlic Store ( , was out of all of the varieties that I wished for.  So instead, I ordered from Two Sisters Garlic (  I am somewhat disappointed that they also ended up not having Siberian and ended up making a substitution; however, I understand I ordered late.  I also understand that the biggest and best bulbs had already been sold.  Still, the varieties I have should make plenty of wonderfully stinky garlic.

This year I am growing only 4 varieties.  One of the reasons I limited myself to four varieties was not simply because I ordered late and choices were limited, but also because it is difficult to keep track of the different varieties.  Many look similar in clove color, skin color, shape and size.  Planting maps need to be carefully kept and the bulbs must be tagged at harvest if there is going to be any chance of knowing which variety you have.  The four varieties I chose for this year are all different in appearance, so even if some are confused at harvest time, there is a middling fair chance I will be able to tell them apart.

The varieties I am planting this year include Inchilium Red (soft neck), Fireball, Music, and German Red. Planted so far - 316 cloves. 281 main crop and 35 small cloves to let flower or to eat the scapes from.
  • 29 Inchilium Red
  • 126 Fireball
  • 99 Music
  • 27 German Red
  • 35 very small cloves Fireball
Main Bed North 56 Music, 27 German Red, 42 Fireball
Main Bed South 43 Music, 70 Fireball
Raised Bed No. 2 10 Inchilium Red along the south board
West Sunflower Bed 14 Fireball, 19 Inchilium Red, 35 small Fireball for scapes or flowers

Still left to plant - about 100 cloves of planting size and 100 small cloves for chive, scape or flower use. And somewhere along the way, in a totally unrelated drive to plant flowering spring bulbs, I also now have 45 daffodil bulbs to plant out!