Saturday, February 14, 2015

GY2015 has begun!


Today I started my onion seedlings. I am going with the old standard Copra for my yellow storage onions as I have done for several years. I am trying a new red onion, Rossa di Milano, which supposedly stores well also. 

I also planted Megaton leeks. I've never had great success with leeks from seeds or sets, but might as well keep trying. 

I have bought most of my seeds from FedCo this year. Typically, I buy from Johnny's but the FedCo prices are much cheaper and I was able to get most of my preferred varieties. Hopefully, I won't regret this change ...

I'm also trying a new seed starting medium called Light Warrior from Fox Farm. It has a pretty crazy looking bag. Seems like it is a lot richer than the mixes that I've used in the past, mostly coir and peat products. 



I'm excited to get the garden started!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GY2013 year in review

Well, it's been a banner year here at my little Dogstreet Farm. The gardens have been completely empty for about a month now, and I've finally tallied up my harvests for the year. I'm proud to report the GY2013 harvest total is

over 330 pounds!

Here are my top five harvests of the year:
  • 311 tomatoes, approx. 95 lbs
  • 219 onions, approx. 43 lbs
  • peppers, approx. 39 lbs
  • swiss chard, approx. 25 lbs
  • 197 garlic bulbs, approx 10-20 lbs

I was also honored to win several ribbons at the Washington County Ag Expo:
  • First Premium: Chard
  • First Premium: Other (for my garlic)
  • First Premium: Yellow Onions
  • Second Premium: Cucumber, Slicing
  • Second Premium: Peppers, Sweet Bell
  • Second Premium: Peppers, Hot Small
  • Second Premium: Red Onions
  • Third Premium: Bean, Snap

This year, I added three new raised beds to the main garden area and I also worked towards expanding the front porch garden to that it now wraps all the way around the porch and approximately doubles its square footage. At this point, I probably have about 500 square feet of vegetable gardens.

I am currently drawing up my plans for GY2014. Here are some highlights:
  • I planted 300+ garlic back in September/October. I'm pretty certain that we only need about 200 for our family and friends for a single year. And so, I plan to sell the extras to defer some of my gardening expenses.
  • I will be planting 200+ onions again, but this year they will all be transplants/sets. This year, I planted both onions I grew from seed as well as store-bought sets, and the set onions were just so much bigger and healthier than my transplants. Lesson learned.
  • We've discovered that we eat a LOT of winter squash and pumpkins these days. So, this will be the year that I successfully initiate early summer plantings for fall harvest. I tried this year and failed because I got lazy with watering in July and August, but this year will be different!
Some new year's resolutions:
  • Be more proactive about insect control, particularly caterpillars and slugs. I lost most of this year's brassicas to these buggers.
  • Stop buying soil amendments in bags. It's more work and probably more expensive than just having a truck dump a few cubic yards in my driveway.
  • Buy some proper gardening attire to help ward off the dozens of mosquito bites that I get every night I harvest.
  • Buy a new wheelbarrow. A good one. Mine has plastic wheels and a crack in the barrow. It's type that I start using the right tools for the jobs at hand.
This garden has brought a lot of joy, pride, and healthier eating to my family. What started as a hobby project is now a serious pursuit and an important source of our nutrition each year. I am really amazed by how rewarding this garden has been for me. It has helped me to acquire an appreciation for the people who pursue farming as a career and also to recognize the value of knowing the origin of your food. I hope that I can continue to share what I have learned with others so that they may also realize the values of gardening.

Happy New Year!
- Lou

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

recent harvests

Despite my best intentions, I have not been blogging in real time as the harvests are completed. So, this post is a catch up for most of June and the beginning of July.

Today, I harvested zucchini, yellow squash, fennel, and a row of carrots. The zucchini and yellow squash have been producing in fits and starts this year. We have had an excessive amount of rain and so I believe that they have been suffering from blossom end rot. Last week, I planted a few antacid tablets to help with Ca2+ uptake and they seem to be perking up a little. Well, the fruit are looking better at least. I harvested most of my fennel today as the fronds were starting to get a little brown. We'll have to start making some soup to freeze this week. I have had great luck with carrots this year also. They are all quite straight and uniform in length. They have definitely benefited from the almost daily rain of the past month or two. The carrots are a little on the small side, but I am still trying to figure out how to space them. It seems like they need to be at least 2 inches apart in order to get really fat. On the other hand, the smaller carrots seem a bit sweeter.


A few weeks ago, I harvested my kohlrabi and I was pleasantly surprised. I think one of them was almost five pounds. We still have two left, and they appear to be keeping quite well in the fridge. I am definitely planting more of these for a fall crop. The spring planted rutabagas did not look so hot. They were small and pretty gnarly. I will give it another shot for a fall crop since that seems to be the more common growing season.


Finally, my pride and joy - the garlic. This year, I harvested 197 bulbs of garlic, which beats the previous record of 185. They are now all braided and dried. Hopefully, this will last us well into 2014. I was trying to break 200 this year, but alas, it was not meant to be. Next year, we're gonna blow right past 200! Mark my words.


Monday, July 1, 2013

yellow onion harvest

111 bulbs of yellow onions!


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Purple Haze carrots

This is turning into a really good year for carrots. So far, none of them look like tripods!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

garlic braiding

My first garlic braid for GY2013.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June garden update

The garden is doing great these days. I am now having pretty regular harvests of produce and I'm already starting to cycle through some second rounds of planting for midsummer crops. We've had plenty of rain in the past two weeks, which makes the humidity pretty gross and the mosquitoes fiesty. Basically, I end up as a sweaty, bug-bitten mess every time I go out into the yard.

My first round of garlic continues to cure in the garage, but I don't see it drying out very quickly with all the humidity. As you can see in the first two beds in the photo below, I still have about two-thirds of my garlic crop still in the ground. The remaining garlic finally put up their scapes this week. I picked all of these for culinary use and so they should now be focusing on their final bulb growth. I expect these to be ready by the end of June.

Dogstreet Farm

The fennel looks especially lush this year, but the bulbs are still pretty small.

fennel

As usual, the swiss chard is producing like a champ. I am picking about a pound per week. The carrots now have nice top growth, but they still need at least another two to three weeks before I dig them up. I just sowed a second round of carrot seeds this weekend. My remaining radishes have now bolted, but I am leaving a row in the ground to see if I can harvest some seed pods for eating and/or seed saving.

swiss chard, carrots, and radishes

My rutabagas still have lots of greens up top, but they haven't done too much in the root department. At this point, I am skeptical if I will get much in terms of roots before the summer heat is just too much for them. In July, I will need to plant more rutabagas for the fall crop. If these guys don't get it together by that time, then they are headed to the compost.


tiny rutabagas

The kohlrabi plants are looking great, and we have some good size bulbs. They're about the size of apples at this point. This particular variety, Kossak, supposedly gets its best flavor when the bulb is around eight inches in diameter. If they really get that big, how am I going to fit ten of these guys in my fridge?


kohlrabi

In the same bed as my kohlrabi, we also have shelling peas and broccoli. The pea vines are heavy with pods just about ready to ripen. We've picked a handful of pods already and the peas are very sweet. The broccoli is looking better these days, but I am skeptical that we will get any harvest before it bolts or withers from the heat.

peas (on trellis), broccoli, and kohlrabi

shelling peas

Under the cucumber/jelly melon A-frame, the dill is growing nice and feathery in preparation for some summer pickles.

cucumber (left), dill, jelly melon (right)

jelly melon climbing the trellis

The bush beans have made a full comeback from their earlier frost damage, but no flowers yet.


The peppers all have numerous small white flowers on them. I have to admit that they're looking a tad yellow in the leaves, so I think they will need a shot of fertilizer pretty soon.


My eggplant is doing poorly again. I just can't win with these plants. Every year, they are attacked by some sort of insect that just destroys the leaves. However, I never see any bugs on them. So frustrating.

sad eggplant

If you know the culprit, please tell me.

Under the second A-frame, I have my cantaloupe/muskmelons. Nothing too exciting going on here yet.


My summer squash and zucchini each have fruits about three inches long.

summer squash

zucchini

Finally, my paste tomatoes have just begun to flower. I have been pruning suckers and training the plants for a few weeks now, and I think the rains of the past week have kicked their growth into overdrive. I think that they've doubled in size in the past week. Like the peppers, I don't think the leaves are as green as they could be, so I am going to give them a little something this week.


I forgot to take pictures of them, but my approximately two hundred onion plants are finally showing some bulb growth. I don't think they will be really big onions, but it will keep us for a while. I've also planted about a dozen winter squash all along the fencing that surrounds my property. These are pumpkins and button squash mostly. I plan to trellis them up the fence. It should be a fun experiment.

Well, that's it for now. Everything is looking great, and my hopes are high for a new harvest record this year.