Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sunday in the Garden Part 2 (Picture Post)

Where has the time gone? I thought I better get Part 2 posted before another weekend passed. This post is just some photos I took last Sunday. As always click on the photos for a larger view.

These are the carrots I started in the greenhouse and transplanted into bed 2
 The carrot stocks look really healthy.
It won't be too much longer and I will be harvesting carrots.
Looking good!
I'm growing German Chamomile and Stevia for the first time this year. I picked a leaf off the Stevia to try and wow is it sweet. It tastes just like sugar. I'm going to dry a few leaves and grind them into powder and see how it tastes in my oatmeal.
The raspberries are starting to flower. I think my yield this year will be lower. I didn't have very many new canes come up. I think I should transplant them into a wider container to give them more room to spread out.
Strawberries are coming in.
I planted half a square in bed 4 with pole beans about 3 or 4 weeks ago and they are just coming up. This tells me it's a good time to plant the rest of the row. 
Oregano seedlings.
Nectarine blooms. I didn't get around to spraying my tree. Last year it had a mild case of leaf curl. Chances are it will get it again.
Lettuce in bed 4. I will be able to start harvesting this weekend.
Looks like we might have a new neighbor. I don't know what kind of bird this is but they are so very cute. The pair of them were building a nest in my morning glory. I'm sure they thought this would be the perfect place until the rain stopped and I started gardening. They were a little upset with me every time I walked past the area. Not sure if they are going to stick around. I haven't see them in two days.
This Saturday I will be in the Haven garden with 6 or more teens that need to get their community service hours in before school lets out for the summer. It's a good thing the temperature will come down a bit for the weekend. It gets darned hot in that garden. It was 82 today and tomorrow should reach 80. Come Saturday it will drop to 65 for the weekend perfect for gardening at Haven.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday in the Garden Part 1 (All About Tomatoes)

Finally a day without rain and I took full advantage of it! I was out in the garden by 9am and didn't come back in until 3:30pm... well I did stop for lunch. On top of the to do list was getting the tomatoes potted up. I really let them go way too long. I hope I didn't stunt their growth by waiting so long. Time will tell.

As I was transplanting the tomatoes for the Haven garden I was having a debate with myself if I should go ahead and plant out my tomatoes. The weather is looking good for the next ten days and I think at this point it should continue to get better. I ended up compromising with myself and I planted 2 out of the four but made sure they would be well protected. I'll tell you the rest through photos.

Click on photos for a larger view.
Bed 1 will be the home of two Fox Cherry Red Tomatoes as well as two Black Beauty (Bush) Zucchini
This area gets sun most of the day but the evenings are still a bit cool. So I pulled out my 4x4 pop-up greenhouse. I had almost forgotten about this little gem.
4x4 pop-up greenhouse. Both sides open up or you can just open a netted window.

It's going to be a tight fit. I want to be able to to plant these as far back as possible so I can fit the two zucchinis in the bed as well.  

Before I show you how the tomatoes look in the greenhouse let me give you a lesson on what not to do with tomatoes and what to do.
Do not let your tomatoes (or any transplants) get root-bound. This plant should have been potted up or planted in the garden at least two weeks ago.
Before planting I gently pulled the roots apart.
When planting tomatoes you can plant them deeper then the root ball. The plant will push out more roots along the stem.  In this case I'm going to plant this one at least 4 inches deeper than the top of the root ball. Before doing this I must trim off the lower leaves.

If you click on this photo you will see where I made my cuts. At this point I also remove all the "suckers" see circled area for an example. Only remove suckers on indeterminate tomato plants.
Click on the photo for a larger view. Here you can see how deep I planted this plant and where I removed the leaves.
Once this tomato was planted I could see that one set of leaves were touching the ground. I removed these as well to keep them from getting eaten and/or diseased.
Plants are in and are still a bit tall for the space so I opened the back door and clamped it to the trellis. The tomatoes were watered with a solution of rain water with seaweed extract and fish emulsion.  
Since this bed is now a mini greenhouse I planted two Black Beauty seeds to see if I could direct sow them. I also planted two in the greenhouse on the heat mat just in case. 

The other two tomatoes, one Jujube Cherry and one Roma were potted up and placed in the mini greenhouse until I can plant them into their beds in the next two weeks.
All tucked in for the night.
The tomatoes for the Haven garden are ready to be planted.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Spiderjohn asked "Liisa, do you collect rainwater?"

My answer: 
Hi Spiderjohn, I don't have a "real" setup but do put buckets around the shed to collect what I can. I cannot collect water off the roof of the house because it is a rubber roof painted white. The water is not what I would call safe. The little that I do collect is used to water my seed starts and anything left over is used in the beds until it runs out. I would love to have a setup just not sure I have the space for it... but I keep thinking about it.

With all the rain we have had the last two weeks I really wish I did have a rainwater collection setup. I'm going to have to figure something out. Just this week alone I think I could have easily collected 100 gallons maybe more with the right setup and that is just off the 10 x12 "man cave" (shed).

The photos below are of the current setup.
Buckets collecting rainwater off the shed.
 35 gallon trash barrel. This is where I store the water from the buckets.
Future home of water storage?
What do you use for rainwater storage?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Catching Up

Last Saturday I continued working on my never ending water project. I now have soaker hoses in beds 3 and 4. Not that I need them with all the rain we have been having this week. But there will be a time in the near future that I will be happy I took the time to get the yard "hooked up". This will save me lots of time this summer and I will not need to rely on family to come over to water when I'm on vacation. My son was really happy to see me put the water lines in... as he said to me " it took me 45 mins to an hour to water your garden every other day when you were away". Ha ha! Tell me about it!

I still have more to do to get everything in the yard "hooked up". Bed 2 needs soaker hoses added to it. It currently had over head sprinklers. Beds 1, 5 and 6 still need water lines as well as all the potted plants. The photos below are of bed 4 with the soaker hoses.

Click on photos for a larger view

Square foot garden bed with water lines
The two tools I could not live without during this project...
Hose hole punches
If you are thinking about adding water lines to your beds I was doing some research on line and came across this video from the Garden Girl Patty Moreno on how to install a drip irrigation system. Which I found helpful even though I'm working with an existing sprinkler system.

On Thursday (March 17th) I about scared myself to death. I was working from home and about 9:00am the sun was shining on the patio so I thought I would take the tomato and cucumber seedlings out of the greenhouse and give them a little morning sun. So out they came and I went back to work. I walked by the window about 10:00am and looked at the cucumbers and saw this....
 Oh no! what have I done! I've killed all my cucumber starts! So what was it.... was it too much sun? No it was cool out... that's it... it was too cold and a bit too windy... I moved the cucumbers back into the greenhouse and gave them some water. After about an hour they came back. Boy was I lucky!
The tomatoes had no problems with the cool air and wind. In the photo below you can see some blooms on this cherry tomato.
 I really should pot these up one more time before they go out into the garden.
Tomato starts
Even though the weather has been cool the bok choy and pak choy is already starting to bolt. I will need to pull them as soon as it stops raining long enough for me to get out into the garden.

The carrots that I started in the greenhouse are doing so well. Who said you can't start carrot seeds indoors and transplant them out into the garden?
The sweet and hot peppers are doing much better than I thought they would in this cool weather. They have been off the heat mats for about three weeks now.
The raspberries seemed to have sprouted overnight.
And the nectarine is in full bloom.
The first apple leaf...

And finally the sweet potatoes. They are rooting very well. I updated my Sweet Potato post with some new photos. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the update.

As I finish up this post the winds are started to pickup and the rain is coming down. Be sure to check out my post on the hail storm we had this morning. Here is the link if you missed it.... Hail post
That's it for now. Happy First day of Spring!

What's Next?

Yesterday March 18th around 11:00am the San Mateo County coastline was on a tornado watch. Really? On the California Coast?
This morning around 2:30am thunder woke me up.
3:00am the sound of rain turned into the sound of someone dropping BB's on the roof. I get up to go see what's going on and this is what I found when I opened the front door.....

Click on photo for a larger view

That's right hail. Not just a little hail but a lot of hail. I can honestly say in the almost 50 years that I have lived in the Bay Area I have never seen this much hail come down and stick.

The four photos below were all taken between 3:15 and 3:30am. Click on the photos for a larger view.

Bed 2
Beds 3 and 4
At first light I went out to see how the garden looked not thinking we would still have hail on the ground but we did. These next few photos were taken just after 7:00am

View from the roof

The only real damage that I found was my banana tree has been shredded.
Banana tree
 So what's next? The weather prediction for the rest of the weekend. Afternoon thunder showers which is very rare for us in this area. Late tonight rain with a high wind watch through tomorrow afternoon. Winter is just not going to let go.