Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Journal July 21, 2015 - Straw for mulch

About half way through the season I visited an agricultural college site and noticed that they had mulched their onion crop with straw.   As I had almost a full bale of straw in the back of the truck I decided that I would do that also.

That day I added straw mulch to the garlic, onions and cucumbers in the raised beds.  The straw did a good job of keeping the weeds at bay and keeping the soil moist.  Also, I suspect it allows a fair amount of air to reach the soil, so it is a win win in my opinion.

The onions in the photo are Walla Walla onions that I started in the spring from plants I purchased at Lowe's.  As I recall, I paid $2.83 for a bundle, which contained 80 small plants.  At this point it certainly looks like we will have at least $2.83 worth of onions in the fall.

As the composition of the soil where the real Walla Walla onions are grown is an important factor in their taste, I doubt that the taste of my onions will compare with the real thing.  Still, I am looking forward to a nice crop of sweet salad onions.

As for mulching with straw: next season I intend to use straw mulch for the garden tomatoes, as well as everything in the raised beds.  Yeah, it  really works that well.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Journal July 19, 2015 - As you sow so shall you reap

Today I pulled and strung garlic from the raised bed.  Actually, this is the first time I have tried garlic, so I was pleasantly surprised at the harvest. 

The varieties are Italian Purple and Canadian Music; the bulbs for which we purchased at a garlic fest in Vermont in the fall.

Both varieties are hardneck, which as I understand it, are best for cold climates like ours.  I had purchased California softneck bulbs from Agway, after being assured they would grow in our area; not a single bulb came up after our miserable winter.  Going forward, I will stick with hardneck varieties.

The garlic is hanging in the tool shed to dry, when I open the doors in the morning the smell is divine.  ( I love garlic) 

We had to put poultry netting around the tomato plants to keep critters from the plants.  Something was taking a single bite from the tomatoes on the lower trusses.  From the teeth marks I could tell it was some sort of rodent, squirrel or a woodchuck.

As you can see by the photos, the tomato plants are cordon type, growing upright attached to the fence.  This method has many benefits, like keeping the fruit off the ground. allowing ventilation and sunlight to reach the tomatoes.

And, on the subject of tomatoes, of all the varieties I planted this year the trusty old Tropics are doing the best, that includes both the greenhouse and the garden.  So, why mess with success?  Going forward it will be just Tropics in both locations.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Journal July, 8, 2015 - Cucumber bonanza

The Matilde cucumbers just keep coming,  it seems there is just no stopping them.  Tomorrow I will pick another batch to make more pickles.

The plants have grown up one side of the greenhouse, up to the peak, and down the other side and have begun to infiltrate the tomato plants.  The tomatoes, on the other hand, are fighting back, as they also have fruit hanging above my head also.

The one drawback of the Matilde is the number of male flowers.  I have never grown a variety that has produced so many male flowers.  The spent flowers are all over everything, hundreds of them are laying everywhere.  It has been necessary to use a shop vac to pick them up so that they don't begin to rot and draw bugs.

The potted ginger is really growing now, to the point that I am going to place it on the deck with the olive trees for the remainder of the season.  I am not sure what, if any, insects attack ginger, but I will have to watch the plant closely.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Journal July 5, 2015 - Picking tomatoes

Although I am pretty much growing the same varieties this year that I have grown in previous years, the fruit seems to be much larger.  As the only real change I have made is to the growing media, that has be what is making the difference in size.

Not only is the fruit larger, but there is more of it.  The bottom trusses are beginning to ripen, while the fruit on the upper trusses is getting larger, and, at the very tips of the plants, fruit is still setting.  Off hand, I would say that this is going to be a very good year.

Again today I picked another batch of Matilde cucumbers from the greenhouse, which once again will be turned into lacto-fermented pickles.  The first small batch is just about gone, as Miss Ava ate at least four today and took one home with her.  These pickles are one of the things that make summer such a delight.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Journal July 3, 2015 - More lacto fermenting underway.

The Matilde cucumbers in the greenhouse are coming fast and furious now, so I thought I would get serious about lacto-fermenting pickles.  This variety of cucumber is absolutely, without a doubt, the most prolific variety for greenhouse growing I have seen yet!  The small cucumbers make great pickles, as they ferment quickly, the larger cucumbers are used for salads and table consumption.  The cucumbers in the photo were picked this morning, with another batch looking like it will be ready in just a few days.

Rather than use Mason jars with air locks, I decided to go with the larger fermentation crock for this batch of pickles.  For some reason they seem to take much longer in the crock, but that is OK, as I have a lot of pickles in process already. 

Lacto-fermented garlic scapes; these should be a thrill for the old palate!  In previous years I simply tossed these on the compost heap, but I came across a recipe for fermenting them and thought I would give it a try.  Well, I love garlic, and, I love pickles, so why not?

The DJI Phantom drone is another interest that has been keeping me occupied this summer.  As I had flown smaller quadcopters, I am familiar with the controls, however, I am just now becoming more comfortable with the large drone.  In case there is any interest in experiencing drone flying I have included a link to my video below.

DJI Phantom Flights, July, 2015