Sunday, August 23, 2009

Proud of our plots

Paul and I are such proud gardeners this year! Everything we've planted has seen a measure of success, and some things have flat-out blown our minds. Case in point: the beets. Last year we planted them in the "big garden," where the Conservation District Agent said we'd have no luck, and, well, he was right. We had too many rocks for the bulbs to really develop. This year, a little mushroom compost, proper thinning and a new location in the raised garden beds, and we had a bumper crop, harvesting 80-90 medium-sized beets. We made 9 pints of pickled beets (our first canning venture!) and froze several two-person-sized portions for later, and divvied the greens among the cattle. Our other successes:

Broccoli: we planted two varieties and one was truly a shining star - 'Umpqua', and early variety, producing huge heads and so far up to three crops of yummy side-shoots. The 'Premier Crop' is ok and didn't bolt this year as badly as last year's crop did, but I don't know that we'll plant it again.

Cauliflower: the 'Cheddar' variety produced some nice, tasty heads but all the plants show signs of club root, which means we can't plant ANY brassicas (broccoli included) in the same location for 3-5 years. Bummer. The 'Graffiti' also did well. We'll harvest our first giant, bright purple head today.

Pole Beans: we planted two rows of 'Blue Lake' pole beans and while they've been slow to start, all the plants are now about 7 feet high and producing loads of flowers. We may be able to harvest our first mess tonight.
Corn: our 'Bodacious' corn is 8 feet tall and most stalks have two or three ears developing on them. We're probably at least a week from harvesting. The 'Golden Jubilee', a later variety, is starting to set ears now after tassling just this week.
Swiss Chard and Spinach: the 'Bright Lights' chard seeds I broadcasted did overly well. We've been feeding the biggest leaves to the cows for a few weeks now. We have yet to eat any ourselves, but it sure is pretty! The spinach, also broadcast but into a bed that doesn't get as much water, finally germinated and is resulting in seven smallish plants. I'll need to pick some and see how it tastes.

Tomatoes: we've harvested one 'Oregon Spring' (YUM, huge, acidic fruit, a definite winner!), two 'Bush Early Girl' (also yum, but smaller) and several unidentified small yellow cherry-types so far (from Barb in Tacoma!). All the 19 plants have fruits on them so I know the bounty is coming. It may be overwhelming, but that's what canners are for, right? I'm hoping to make some salsa and may try some of our tomatillos in a few jars, too.
Onions: for some reason these are the only plants attractive to our crazy deer! They've eaten the tops off of each lazily-planted clump, one clump at a time, from left to right. They've not touched the chard or spinach, nor any of the flowers. It's the weirdest thing. Now that I've lifted some of the vigorous tomatoes off of their stalks, I'm watching for signs of browing so that I can harvest these guys before the deer take the rest!
Zucchini: we've had zucchinis for a few weeks and have been trying not to let them get too big. It appears the green variety is about done, but we're still getting yellows. I think it's time to freeze some more for those long winter nights. Powdery mildew has a been a problem this year so I'm looking forward to finally being able to rip the plants out and throw them away.

Herbs and "beneficial bug mix" flower seeds: these did very well, even the basil which is remarkably coming up in a nice little row, squashed as it is between the dill and the giant Swiss chard crop. I still need to figure out what to do with the basil so it'll last...maybe I can freeze dry it.

Winter Squash and Pumpkins: the 'Carnival' winter squash is going crazy. The plants are three feet tall and wide, and each of the four hills have multiple fruits on them. 'Thelma (some-last-name-I-can't-remember)' is doing ok, so far producing only three lovely off-white fruits. The 'Sugar' pumpkins are doing really well; I think we had 10 fruits at last count, but again, powdery mildew is a problem (they share a bed with the zucchini) so I look forward to the vines dying so I can rip them out.

How are your gardens growing? Hope you're enjoying your own fresh produce!


  1. Congrats on your garden successes! So fun and satisfying when the harvest exceeds your expectations.

  2. here's a plug for "sugar buns" corn-i've had corn for the last month, the plants are finished this week--it's really sweet, it was a 72-day corn i think.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys! It has indeed been both fun and satisfying, although Bonnie, I think we may need to try 'Sugar Buns' next year because our "early" corn still isn't quite ready! (It was supposed to be harvestable on 8/19, and the later corn on 9/4, but neither is quite ready. We probably should have planted earlier.)


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