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In which the garden fence is finally finished, and everything is rainbows and lollipops . . .

 
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Interesting post!
 
Posts: 151
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hahaha
 
steward
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Thanks, Manuel, glad you enjoyed my prattle.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Aaaaaaannnnnd . . . I'm back.  

Whew! Just lived through the last grad week I’ll have to attend until I have grandchildren! The last of the kids (my youngest sibling’s youngest child) graduated last week, and the family gathered for days of fun, food, and . . . all the other things that go with family get togethers. I’m exhausted.

I was away for 4 days, and was very happy to come home to our little island. And even happier to come home and see that The Man remembered to water at least SOME of the things in the greenhouse. C’est la vie. I didn’t have room to plant those new celery starts anyway . . .  >

~

Everything looks great in the garden - the broccoli is starting to head out, the first heads of lettuce are just about ready to harvest and sell to the Co-op (we’ve been eating it for weeks), and the tomatoes are coming along nicely. I’m sure I saw a blush of color on some of them . . .

What we’re eating out of the garden:

Lettuces - Romaine, a couple of curly types, and mesclun mix
Kales - Red Russian, Blue Scotch
Parsley - flat and curly
Green onions
Celery - small stalks and tops
Chives
Sage
Thyme
Rosemary
Summer Savory
Cilantro

Coming soon-ish:

Broccoli
Zucchini
Cucumber
Tomatoes

Onions in the fall

What I hope to have space to plant for the fall/winter season:

Leeks
Kale
Lettuces
Broccoli
Carrots
Potatoes
Turnips

~

Very happy with how my garden is growing. A few weeds are popping up here and there, but nothing remotely overwhelming. Everything is green - no yellowing leaves, or sickly looking plants. And the ‘soil’ is holding water well. It’s always moist underneath, except on the sunniest most exposed parts. But most areas of the beds are covered with, or shaded by, plants of some sort.

The weather continues to be weird. Rain, sun, rain, sun. Cuts down watering needs, and the cool weather crops like lettuce are doing well, but it’s getting a little dreary; and I want my grapes and tomatoes! Need more sun shiny days!

~

R. Ranson has thrown down the gardening gauntlet in the 'dehybridizing hybrids - I invite you to join me’ thread, and I’m working on setting up the parameters for my experiments to create my own varieties of my fave growies. I’m learning as I go, so have been reading lots of threads on here - lots from Joseph Lofthouse - and putting together the info I need to set up the experiments.

I just bought Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener, and have learned a few handy things so far. I kinda wish I’d bought Breed Your Own Vegetables first, but it’s next on the list. I have Suzanne Ashworth's Seed to Seed, and it’s loaded with good info. And of course, there is gobs of info online. So, I think I have the info I need to get started with my plans. BWAAHAHA!  

I feel that this is one of the most important things that we can do to not only ensure our own personal health and safety, but to ensure our collective future as well. I’m so freaking pissed off about corporations (Yes, you know who you are, you evil bastards!) trying to take over and control the food supplies of the world. Saving seeds and breeding resilient varieties for our areas will certainly become an act of civil disobedience, if not outright illegal. Awesome! I’m in. And if we then actually SHARE these seeds, and make sure EVERYONE can eat for free . . ? Cool.

Anyway! Enough of that. I’ll start with learning how to mix up some plant genetics, and get some tasty and rugged veggies growing in my little slice of paradise. Anarchy is just a fun little sideline . . .

~

Oh, and last, but not least - I’m quitting smoking. So, I’m pretty bitchy, mildly hysterical, and my thoughts are a little homicidal-ish, but this too shall pass. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!
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Tracy Wandling
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I am a little sad about the world today . . .
 
Susan Taylor Brown
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I hear you, Tracy. i have no answers except the touchy-feely kind which is to spread love where you can. I just wanted you to know that I hear you.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Thanks for that, Susan. It actually helps heaps.  Trying to spread the love where I can. Sometimes I get so frustrated when talking to people who don't see the world the way I do, and who aren't sad or scared or angry at what is happening. My heart just breaks for so many people all over the world who are going through absolute shit storms - and then to sit and listen to someone talk about it like they actually know anything or have any compassion or even get it at all . . .

I'm going to leave it at that. It's much too convoluted, and somewhat depressing, to try to write down here. I’m sure many here have the same feelings.

~

On a much brighter note, tomorrow I make my first sale of produce to the Co-op! I have about 24 heads of lettuces, Romaine and curly leaf; kale bunches, Red Russian and Blue Curly Scotch; green onion bunches; parsley bunches. I'll try to get some good photos tomorrow.

Soon I will have broccoli - some have almost 3” heads on them! Very excited about that. And the celery is getting bigger, too - not quite there yet, but hopefully it won’t be long. I’ve never grown celery, so it’s kind of a guessing game at this point as to when it’ll be ready. Lots of tomatoes on the vine. Zucchini plants are robust and getting bigger every day, as is the cucumber.

~

After I harvest produce tomorrow, I’ll spread some compost and other goodies, and plant some more stuff. More lettuce and broccoli, some pac choi, and green onions, and maybe some chard. I need to plant some more cilantro and parsley, too. And that’s probably all I’ll have room for, until the first broccoli gets harvested - then I’ll probably have room for another round of lettuce if the weather stays cool like it has been.

~

Finished reading Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener. Loved it. Very clear and full of great little tidbits of information about growing staple crops, and just being successful in the garden in general. Very inspiring. Her Breed Your Own Vegatables is next on the list. And they have it at the local book store - Yay! Really excited about getting into that.

It is difficult to figure out what my first plant breeding experiments will be. As this is the first time I’ve gardened in this climate and growing conditions, I think that I need to get through a couple of growing seasons before I have a really good idea of what is possible here. But I do have a few priorities that I would want in any vegetable I decide to work with:

• Early
• Drought tolerant - dryland gardening
• Heat tolerant - slowest bolting varieties
• And of course, delicious and strong producers for the market garden

So, obviously I will plant seeds next spring that are said to have these traits, mix them all up, and start selecting the plants that do the best with my growing conditions - earliest, survive spring frosts, don’t need a lot of water, stand up in the heat, and bolt last.

The plants I would like to work with first are:

• Lettuces
• Broccoli
• Tomatoes

I will definitely be buying seeds from Carol Deppe’s Fertile Valley Seeds. I’ve looked through the catalog and am pretty excited about some of the varieties available. I’ll also buy from West Coast Seeds, which is a Canadian company, not too far from me (although I doubt they grow all their own seeds). I’ve gotten as many of my seeds as I can this year from them. There are a few other companies in my neck of the woods that I’d like to get seeds from - places that actually grow their own seeds - so I’ll be gathering together a wide variety of genetics to start my breeding with. From what I’ve gathered from my reading, it's good to use seeds from a variety of sources, in order to get a good selection of genetics going.

So! The three mentioned above will be the first on my list I think. I’ll work up a planting plan for the garden - if the other beds ever get built - and get my seeds early so I can get the plan solidified, and make sure I get the varieties I want. I won’t have room to work on more than these three, so others will have to wait.

From what I understand, the first year I will be planting a mix of all of the varieties I can get which have the characteristics that I want, and letting them ‘promiscuously pollinate’ (love that phrase!). Then I save seeds from the ‘best’ plants - the ones that demonstrate the desired traits, as well as some others that have redeeming qualities, just to keep the mix interesting and genetically diverse - and plant those, letting them once again get it on with whomever they please. Oh, you sexy lettuces!    From those plants, I start selecting a little more vigorously, cull (eat, sell or toss, before they set seed) plants as they grow if they aren’t showing the traits I want or are looking weird or aren’t attractive, and save seed from the front runners once again.

From there, I guess it’s just a matter of continuing to grow, cull, save seed and regrow until I’m getting the results I want, and have some varieties that are working well for me. By then I’ll be more educated on the subject, and I’ll be able to stabilize the ones I want to continue growing, and which perform the best for my market garden growing conditions. How cool would it be to have my own varieties someday?! It’ll be fun to think up names for them.  

~

I’ll definitely be trying out Carol Deppe’s squash, dry beans, and corn next year. I’ll also be planting quinoa and amaranth, and some grains, for saving seed to build up a bit of a stock pile. Can’t afford to buy all the seeds I need, so I’ll just grow ‘em! Must add cover crop plants to that list . . .

~

And on that note, I think I’ll go to bed. Up early tomorrow to harvest my produce! I really hope it stops raining by morning. But at least everything will be clean!

Here are a few sexy shots of the garden.

~

P.S. 4 days without smoking. I am using an ecigarette thingy, but still . . . I've smoked for over 35 years! And this is first time I've felt really done with smoking. Yay, me!

Cheers
Tracy
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The garden today
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Tomatoes, onions, kale
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Cuteness
 
Tracy Wandling
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I am now officially a Market Gardener! Sold my first batch of produce to the Cortes Natural Foods Co-op today. It was a very gratifying first experience. They were very impressed with my produce, and when I went back later the manager said people were grabbing the heads of lettuce out of the tubs before they even made it onto the shelf - ‘cause they just looked so fresh and yummy. My little dream is coming true bit by bit. Feelin’ pretty good about that.  

So, the way it works is that if I can prove myself this first growing season - by supplying excellent produce on a regular basis - then next year I will be one of their Preferred Suppliers. They buy from Preferred Suppliers before anyone else, and we’re pretty much guaranteed a market for all of our produce. And there is plenty of room for more suppliers, as they are trying to purchase as much local produce as possible. Last year they were at 14%. This year they’re trying for 25% local produce.

When the greenhouse gets put up we will be able to supply some produce year round. I think we will be the only big winter greenhouse growers on the island - for now - so it should be lucrative. And who wouldn’t want to hang out in a greenhouse all winter? Pick me!

The thing that will make this a real success is to make sure I grow things others aren’t growing, growing in the winter, and getting produce to market earlier in the season. Having a greenhouse will make that possible. We are planning to start with one 20’ x 40’ greenhouse, and add another of the same size as soon as we can - in two years, hopefully.

Winter greenhouse produce:

Lettuce
Salad greens
Cooking greens
Herbs - parsley, cilantro
Green onions
Celery
Broccoli
Carrots
Radish

Winter outdoor produce:

Kale
Leeks
Greens
Roots

Early to market produce:

Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Zucchini
Carrots

Eventually I’d like to have one greenhouse heated, and the other not heated, or semi-heated. In the heated greenhouse I can have an extended season of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs. So the gap between end of production and beginning of production is as short as possible. I realize that this will be a future project - it’s in the 5-year plan - as I will need to get proper greenhouse lights going in the greenhouse, and will want solar power for those. But I’ll still be able to start things super early with the grow lights I have now, and get production going as early as I can. What I learned from reading Eliot Coleman's book, The New Organic Grower, is that you don't have to plant all of your tomatoes or cucumbers or whatever early - you just need to have enough to get an early start, and the rest can be planted as usual. That made a lot of sense to me. It's much easier to baby and supply light and heat to a few tomato, pepper, cucumber or whatever you want, just to get some product to market early, until the rest of the main crop starts producing. Pretty smart thinkin'.  

There are lots of things that will grow in an unheated greenhouse. And of course there are the outdoor winter things like leeks, kale, and root crops that can stay in the ground, and be harvested all winter.

~

We’re starting to talk about a place to have cold storage - somewhere outside and underground, or semi-underground. Of course, I’m all about the little Hobbity kinds of root cellars - ‘cause they’re just cool. I’ve seen plans for burying all kinds of things in the ground - from garbage cans to freezers to big water tanks. Also, there is the thread started by Paul about 7 years ago called Sepp Holtzer root cellar in the natural building forum, that shows a pretty dang awesome looking root cellar. Love it. Although mine would have a round red door, of course.  

~

I threw a bunch more seeds into the ground today, where I harvested the lettuce. Hoping to keep lettuce production going for a bit longer. This cool weather is good for that. Some of the broccoli will be ready within the week. REALLY looking forward to that. I’ll take the main heads to the market, and I’ll eat the sideshoots as they come. I’ll start some new brocc at the end of the month, to have some ready for fall harvest.

It’s hard to make a plan as to what seeds to start, as I don’t know if there will be beds to plant them in! I think I’ll start a little container garden in the garden area. I hate to do it, as it takes so much more water, but I’ve got things I want to grow!

Okay, yeah, that’s what I’ll do. The plan for tomorrow: start a container garden! Well, I’m glad I got that sorted out. Sometimes writing stuff out helps to bring ideas to the surface. Okay, it’s a fairly obvious solution, but sometimes those are the ones that get missed the most! The mind is a fascinating and scary place . . . especially a menopausal mind that is quitting smoking. Very foggy up there sometimes these days.  

Garden stuff done today:

• Harvested: Lettuce and kale
• Seeded Lettuce (Romaine, 2 varieties of curly leaf); Cilantro; Radish
• Thinned the kale

Do this week:

• Grapes into bigger pots - I have 6 or 7 started
• Cucumbers into bigger pots
• Peppers into bigger pots
• Transplant rosemary cuttings - looks like about 6 or 8 might make it!
• Find some sort of climbing thingy for cuccs and grapes
• Tomatoes need more tying up and pruning
• Sow more radish, lettuce, broccoli, cilantro, and parsley in large pots, or whatever I can find that will hold soil. Hhhmmmm . . . There is a big long wooden planter I can use. It's about 10 feet long and a foot or so wide, so would hold quite a bit of greens. If I put it in partial shade, it might grow lettuce for a while longer if the weather gets hot.

That doesn't seem likely, as it sounds like it's raining. Again. Imagine that.  

~

And I think that's about it, as far as the garden is concerned.

Thanks for hangin' out with me.  

Cheers
Tracy








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Romanesca zucchini
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My little greenhouse, potting, shade area
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Herb spiral spiralling out of control! Lovely and lush, and in need of some pruning.
 
Tracy Wandling
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We had sun yesterday and today, lots of it, all day! It was extremely summer-like. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? It was breezy today which kept it from getting too hot. Just perfect, actually.

~

Took stock of the container situation, for starting my container garden. (Doesn’t look like I’ll be getting the next garden beds for another month, at least; so containers it is.) We actually have quite a few large enough for cucumbers and grapes, and enough to grow a good amount of lettuces, parsley, cilantro, and green onions. So that’s what’s happening this weekend: setting up the containers, filling with compost and a bit of soil, and seeding and transplanting. It will actually work pretty well for the heat sensitive things like lettuce and cilantro - I can put the containers in partial shade. That is, if we really are getting summer now.  

Hoping to get the rest of the path done next week. I can only do the path along one side of the beds, until the next beds are dug. The tractor would just spread the chips around and tear up the cardboard if I do it now. Now if I can just get The Man to get his gravel out of my wheelbarrow . . .

~

I have started some herbal vinegars from my rapidly growing herbs. Rosemary and sage are brewing right now. Thyme will be next, and some mixes. Other vinegars will include summer savory and basil. I do love my herbal vinegars. I already have about a gallon of lemon vinegar that I use for marinade, (and cleaning), so I can mix that in with some of them. It’s nice with thyme.

I’ll still do some dried herbs - thyme, rosemary and summer savory - and some frozen parsley and basil. Should have a good store of herbs for the winter.

~

Some things I’ll do differently in the garden next year:

This year I planted the tomatoes in circles around 7 tomato cages, with 5 tomatoes around each cage. The plants looked so small and lonely when I planted them . . . Of course, now they are Godzilla plants, sprawling and climbing over each other and the lettuces planted in their shade, and the chard. Sigh. Next year, only 3 plants per circle. Also, next year I’ll have more beds, so won’t need to squash them so close together.

Because I only had the two beds this year, I didn’t have much choice in where things were planted; but next year I will definitely plant the lettuces on the western most beds. There is a large conifer (and I mean LARGE) to the east of the garden, and all of its little brown bud thingys blow into the garden - and there are a LOT of them. That’s not such a problem as they don’t seem to bother the plants at all - except the lettuces. They get down between the leaves at the base, and are a bitch to clean out. So next year, the lettuces will be planted in the western beds, or at least where there is something tall between them and the tree. Might need to cover them with a light material - like mosquito netting maybe - during the spring when the tree throws off the most little brown thingys (I’m sure there’s a name for them).

I had WAY too many starts this year, and I planted as many as I could possibly squeeze into the space I had. Now I wish I hadn't planted all the tomatoes and kale, and saved room for successions of lettuces, and more broccoli. I’ll be taking out some kale to make room for other things. But I didn’t keep up on the starts for lettuce and broccoli (because I didn’t have room to plant them), so I’m a little behind schedule. It’s too bad too, as it looks like this ‘summer’ will be cool enough to grow lettuce and broccoli all season. I’ve gotten some seeds planted now, but there will be a gap of about 2 or 3 weeks where I won’t have new lettuces. Oh well.

I’ve never grown kale before, and wasn’t prepared for the monstrous growth! I planted some things close to the kale plants, hoping to use their shade. But they are a little too close. Also, they are shading the onions too much. Live and learn. I’ll be cutting back the kale, and taking out some plants to make room.


Which leads me to my next project:

Preserving kale (among other things) - I have a LOT of kale. But I don’t have an oven to make kale chips. So, I’ll be freezing some as I thin it out. But I’d really like to make kale chips, and powdered kale. I don’t want to rely on electricity to store my food if I can help it. Drying and storing in glass is what I prefer for many things. Canning for others.

I’ve chosen the solar dryer design I’m going to try; and I’m sure I can get lots of the materials from the Free Store. So I’m going to get that going so that when the tomatoes start ripening, I’ll be ready to dry some of them, too. We’re going to have lots, and if the Natural Food Co-op has a glut of them, I’ll need some way to preserve them that doesn’t include me wilting over a hot steamy pot of water, while heating up my house like the bowels of Hell.

I think I’ll grab some old windows from the Free Store on Friday - I always see lots there - and make a small, quick solar dryer to make some kale chips and powdered kale. This is the design I’m going with: http://www.geopathfinder.com/Solar-Food-Drying.html   I’ll make a small one, just to test it out. But this is the one that makes the most sense to me, and looks the easiest for me to make by myself, out of reclaimed/recycled materials.

~

I also want to test out some homemade solar oven designs. I’d love to try some bread. And cookies. I love cookies. I digress. There are so many designs out there, I haven’t chosen the one I want to try yet. Looking for something easy to make, which I can recycled/cheap/free parts to make. If anyone has one they have actually tried and succeeded with, I’d sure love to hear about it.

~

And I guess that’s about it for today. Everything continues to bumble pleasantly along. I am one week smoke-free today. Pretty tickled about that. The e-cigarette vaporizer thingy I’m using is awesome, and is making the transition far less painful than it ever has been before. I know it’s not as good as doing the whole ‘cold turkey’ thing, but that’s just not going to happen. I’m settling for a sort of luke warm turkey. The Man is quitting too. He’s still having a few cigarettes a day, but he smoked more than me, and might have a bit of a harder time. But he’s doing well - a little whiny (sort of ‘the man cold’ syndrome), but we haven’t killed one another yet, so that’s promising . . .

Thanks for stopping by.

Cheers
Tracy
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Mediterranean garden
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Tracy Wandling
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Got quite a bit done this weekend. A variety of containers for the container garden are filled, and some are planted. More seeds planted in the garden beds. Cut some poles to use for supports for the cucumbers. I'll get those set up tomorrow hopefully, if it’s not raining. I've got the cucumbers planted in 3 big pots - 2 per pot - and am going to put a tripod of poles at each end, lay a pole across the top and lash it in place, and then tie twine to hang down for the cucumbers to climb. Sounds like a reasonable plan . . .

Transplanted peppers, seeded more lettuce, cilantro, parsley, green onions, and broccoli. I started a bunch of sunflowers, but I don’t know where I’m going to put them! I want them along the front fence, but it’s just hard packed sand there. I guess I’ll have to use the posthole digger and make some holes. Also need to pot on some other things that aren't going to get into the ground any time soon.

Lots of flowers coming out on the zucchini. Really looking forward to those. I only plant the Romanesca type - my most favorite. The broccoli is looking beautiful, and ready to harvest for the market on Tuesday. There are already sideshoots, so I can sell the heads to the Co-op, and keep the shoots for me. Luckily The Man isn't a big broccoli fan, so I can have them all to myself.    I love broccoli. I love the stalks, too, and my plants are really big and stalky.

The wild flower mix I planted along the fence sprouted well, and there are little plants growing all over. I don't know what most of them are, but they're green and they're growing, so I'm happy. Some of it is Sweet Alyssum, and it’s starting to flower. The bees like it.

Speaking of bees, they were buzzing all over my tomato flowers today. This makes me happy, as there might be some promiscuous pollinating going on there. But I’ll really going to have to do some major pruning in the tomato patch - way too many plants for the space. Still all looking healthy, but they are just too close together, and with all this rain (yes, it rained this evening) I’m worried about them getting so wet, and not being able to dry off properly.

We have lots of dragonflies. I just love watching them zip around. Quite the aerial maneuvers they can execute.

And that’s the news from the garden today. 10 days smoke-free, and nobody's dead. All in all, things are exceedingly bearable.  

Cheers
Tracy
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The container garden begins
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Gorgeous zucchini plants
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Beautiful broccoli
 
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It's so beautiful and green there!  That broccoli is impressive!
 
Tracy Wandling
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Thanks, Tyler! Yes, it's been an amazing summer - way more rain that normal, and things are staying green and lush. I'll be testing out the broccoli tonight, to see if it tastes as good as it looks!
 
Tracy Wandling
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And once again I forgot to take photos of my harvest before taking it to the market. Dang. But I have photos of the aftermath in the garden.

Today I took to market:

8 heads of Romaine lettuce
8 bunches of green onions
7 bunches of parsley
6 bunches of kale
2.5 pounds of broccoli

And now it's time to get ready for having a bunch of people come to our place. This weekend is the Cortes Island Disc Golf club's annual tournament. It starts on Thursday. I'm not a disc golfer, but The Man is. We'll have a few people from out of town staying at our place - and one couple who has their travel trailer permanently parked here.

On Sunday we host the awards day festivities, and I'll be cooking Mexican food for about 40 people. I set up a build-your-own-burrito buffet with ground beef, Mexican rice, black beans, guacamole, and a plethora of toppings like tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro, peppers, sour cream, hot sauce, and salsa. This is probably my favorite meal of all time. I could eat this every day. But I generally like to use chicken rather than beef.

Anyway, I'll be busy as a little bee for the next few days. It's a pretty fun time, but I'm glad it's only once a year. Too many people, talking about too much stuff that I don't care about. But I'd never say that to them, because they are wonderful folks, and I enjoy watching them enjoy themselves. But it is rather exhausting.

Here are a bunch of photos I took today. Random garden stuff.

Have a lovely day!

Cheers
Tracy



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Tracy Wandling
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And some more.
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After harvesting the lettuce
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The Mediterranean garden is filling in.
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Salad!
 
Tracy Wandling
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Okay, if you insist! Here are some more.
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A bumble bee pollinating my tomatoes!
 
master steward
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I’ve really enjoyed your thread! As I read along, I tried to remember answers to some of the questions to asked through the thread.

You asked about deer-resistant edibles. One that I love dearly is nettle! The stuff is delicious, nutritious, and the deer don’t seem to touch it. Other than that, I don’t think they eat salal, Oregon grape, or blueberries/huckleberries, or rhubarb, or comfrey (rhubarb &/or comfrey could go under your fruit trees, too). They LOVE thimblerries. They also enjoy salmonberries and raspberries, but not as much (I think) as the thimbleberries. I don’t *think* they eat currant (haven’t eaten the native stink currant or my American black currant). They also don’t seem to eat the daikon radishes. Nothing eats daikon raddishs here—not bunnies, not bugs, not slugs, not ducks, not deer. I have a lot of daikon  . I also haven’t noticed them mowing my buckwheat (could be because it’s surrounded by daikons), herbs, or alliums (bunnies eat my chives/green onions, though, go figure).

You also mentioned not wanting to risk your serviceberries to deer, in case they ate them. Well, you are wise! They will happily devour service berry trees, especially small ones. I had to fence mine off, because the deer nearly killed them. Bone salve does seem to help prevent deer from eating fruit trees, though I have to apply it once or twice a year. Maybe I did something wrong when I made it, but I find it wears off after about 6 months (I can tell because the deer devour my young fruit trees in the course of a few days). After re-applying the salve, they stop completely...at least for a while...

You also mentioned your very sandy soil. One thing I’ve started doing is stealing a little of the soil underneath my salmonberry plants and sprinkling that over my existing soil (gravely loam) to introduce soil organisms and nutrients. There’s always a lot of nice happy leaf mulm/soil under those salmonberries, and I have a lot of salmonberries, so I don’t feel bad stealing some of their soil. I do avoid the soil that’s under the salmonberries if those salmonberries are growing under cedars, though, as those cedars love to inhibit growth.

As for getting more food out of the wild edibles, the patches that I have that are within my zone 2 & 3, I try to prune and tend and even fertilize (duck poop bedding). This really seems to up their production, especially for the blackcap raspberries and native blackberries. Also, if I find a native edible that I like (say, thimbleberries or currants) I hack out the salmonberries that surround it so it can get more light and grow more. This has been working out really well, and I’ve been getting a lot more berries. I’m still figuring out how to prune red huckleberries for more production. It seems that whenever I prune them, they just send up a bunch of suckers (which blueberries don’t do).

As for slugs, if you’re plants are being destroyed by them, then you probably don’t have to worry or search for them. You’ll know (sadly) when you have a slug problem. It will be obvious because there will be slime and destruction. I hope you continue to be slug free! The first year I gardened, I lost almost everything to slugs. Coffee grounds do helps a lot, and act as a great fertilizer/mulch. But, they tend to disappear into the earth after a while and need to be reapplied. I’m almost wondering if you don’t have many slugs because your soil is so sandy and devoid of organic matter. When I apply mulch, the slugs breed like MAD and eat seeds before they even come out of the ground. I live in a moist place by a pond, too, so that doesn’t help. Thanks to ducks, this year I haven’t had any slug problems. I walk down the road, and there’s slugs EVERYWHERE, while there’s nary a slug to be seen on my property.

I just wanted to say, I’ve really enjoyed reading your journal and seeing what someone in a similar climate to mine can do and grow. Oh! Speaking of which, do you happen to know what type of grapes you’re growing? I’d love to grow grapes, but am afraid of buying a variety that won’t love me back. Thank you so much!
 
Susan Taylor Brown
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Oh Tracy, your garden looks so lush and yummy! Thanks for sharing these pictures. Maybe next year my garden will approach something like this. This I may have successfully grown onions but that might be about all. LOL You inspire me so thanks for sharing.
 
pollinator
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Tracy, you are a treasure!!  Your excitement is soooo contagious, even though I have only a surburban lot, I'm re-energized :)  I know the 'glazed look' in the partner's eyes, so I'm glad you're sharing here... love traveling on your adventure with you... especially as you're in the PNW ;)  And that you're including us in every new day... actually, in every new 'page' of this book that you are writing (didn't know that, huh?  lol).  

Re: deer - I don't have that problem, but I do know that Shasta daisies also stink... and grow like gangbusters, while not 'traveling', and are bright enough to put your eyes out, ;)   Maybe they'll slow Bambi down.  (But I haven't gotten to hour last post yet... so ...)

Yes, I describe Permaculture as the cross of two popular books:  'Biomimicry', Janine Benyus and 'Edible Landscaping', Rosalind Creasy (I know I"m dating myself), with a gigantic scoop of Australian design thrown in.  Check in with the 'masters' and let 'er rip! I say :)  I also love that book by Coleman.  You've inspired me to dig out my soil blocker.

You are a kick in the ... derriere... thanks!.. but then you seem unable to not be yourself !  (another lesson there :)  BTW, no moles on the island?  And, yes, I think the 'pests' haven't found you yet... more adventure awaits ;)  And I've been adding clay also...cheapest bentonite kitty litter, in my case of sandy subsoil.

Got to get back to catching up to your latest.. ;)  Oh, and have to add that my post hole digger is my very bestest friend ... but then, I'm suburban :)  Oh, also, congrats on the smoke-less... we're 'pullin' for you' there!  
 
Tracy Wandling
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Thank you so much, Nicole, Susan, and Nancy! I'm glad I'm inspiring you. I feel that permaculture, growing our own food, and learning to take care of our small slices of paradise is so important, and I'm so happy to be involved in the 'global conversation'.

Thanks for the tips, Nicole. As for the grapes, I have no idea what kind they are - they were here when we bought the place - but I've taken a bunch of cuttings, and got about 7 new plants going this summer. Can grapes be sent by mail? 'Cause I could send you one! They are a small, sweet, seedless variety. Very yummy. OH! And I LOVE your Herb Spiral of Randomness!

Susan: Onions are a great start! I was amazed myself at how well my first year garden has grown. I hope you get a good little plot going - home grown food is sooooo much more delicious than anything at a regular grocery store. It still amazes me how tasty it is.

Nancy: Yes, Shasta daisies! They grow all over the island, except on our property apparently. So I'm going to go dig up a few plants and get some going here. Nope, no moles here. We are pretty lucky that we don't have a lot of garden-raiding critters here. Hmmmm . . . a book. I could write a book.

Thanks again, girls, for your support and enthusiasm! I'm enjoying the adventure, and glad that I can do some inspiring along the way.

Cheers
Tracy
 
Tracy Wandling
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Whoohoo! First tomatoes of the summer - FINALLY! Little Gold Nuggets. Yum. Many more are getting that ‘look’ about them that tells me they will change color soon. Can’t wait. The plants are absolutely covered - there’s going to be quite a harvest coming off as soon as they all start ripening. Sun dried tomatoes, frozen tomatoes, and lots of tomato salads and sandwiches. Plus, selling to the Cortes Natural Food Co-op.

I’m harvesting:
broccoli
zucchini
lettuce (just the new leaves of the mesclun mix - all the head lettuces have either been harvested, or let go to seed for saving.)
parsley
celery
chives
basil
onions
cucumber.

Oh AND! The grapes are finally ripening! So delicious. They grow in my little outdoor ‘office’ area. How convenient. I can snack, and they help keep it cool. Some of the figs are looking like they’d like to be eaten, too. And we’ve had some feeds off the plum tree - those are super delicious.

Peppers are growing, and there are other herbs we are eating as well: rosemary, thyme, summer savory, and oregano. And there is one pepper on the cayenne pepper plant (only one plant made it). Well, at least I’ll get some seed from it for next year.

The sun is back, with a vengeance. And so was the wind for the last 3 days. Insanely windy. And I do believe it sucked every ounce of water out of the garden. Crazy. Seems to be over now; just a nice cool breeze, which I love. I’ve given the garden a good deep soak. Nothing looked to stressed, but it was getting pretty dry.

~

Next year I look forward to more staple crops such as potatoes, squash, beans and corn. As well as the chickens for eggs. Oh, how I miss homegrown eggs. Reading Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener has really opened my eyes to the merits and possibilities of using these staple crops in place of meat in some meals. I don’t think The Man is quite there yet, but I’m going to keep trying out new recipes on him, and see if I can’t convert him from such a meat guy to being a little more adventurous in his eating. For myself, I love a green salad or a quinoa salad with a mess of black beans, tomatoes and cilantro. Yum. He doesn’t like cilantro, and isn’t a fan of tomatoes . . . or quinoa, for that matter. And he claims to not like beans, but I think he just hasn’t had them done properly. So I’m just getting them in front of him bit by bit.

One of my main reasons for wanting to get the protein production up in the garden is the completely outrageous price of meat on the island. It’s really beyond ridiculous. And even our ‘cheap’ source of meat isn't always so cheap anymore. (Plus, it’s not exactly what you’d call ‘healthy’ meat.) I am eating less meat all the time, but I’m going to have to really work on The Man to convince him to eat less meat. I’ll have to cook up some pretty spectacular bean and potato concoctions to convince him that he can, in fact, go a day without eating meat.

I’m thinking of picking one day of the week where we go meatless. Meatless Monday! And so, on Monday I cook up something new that involves one of the staple crops done up as the main dish rather than a side dish. It’s going to have to be something pretty special to start with, in order to keep him onboard with the scheme. I’ll have to visit Chef Google, to see what’s out there . . . Also, I'm going through the Cooking with Dry Beans and Peas thread to see what I can find.

Getting our own chickens next year will also obviously help in this area. I'd like to fill the freezer with chickens, as well as a couple of feed piggies.

~


It’s time to start getting plants started for the fall/winter garden. I’m still amazed to think that I can grow lots of veg that can be harvested late into winter, and even into spring!

I've started broccoli and pac choi. In a couple of weeks I’ll start some more lettuce, parsley and cilantro. And I’m going to pop some peas in to get a fall harvest. Looking forward to that. I’m also going to try some carrots. Not sure how they’ll grow in my current garden system, but now’s as good a time as any to find out. It would be lovely to have some carrots in the ground for fall and winter munching.

This will be the year to experiment and see how far things can go into winter in these beds before they succumb to the cold. I know kale will hang in there, and the broccoli will probably go pretty far. But I have no experience growing a fall/winter garden, so it should be fun. I’m going to plant a little bit of everything, and see what keeps and what doesn’t.

I don’t have room to plant much overwintering stuff yet - I mean things that start growing in fall, go dormant in winter, and then pick up in the spring, like favas and cauliflower - but I hope to get at least two more beds done by fall so I can plant garlic, and try a few overwintering things on a small scale. And also, to plant some early spring stuff.

~

The Mediterranean herb garden is looking gorgeous. It’s really filling in, and things are blooming. I have a couple of baby rosemary plants just about ready to go in. Next year I’d like to get a few more perennials in there: lovage, winter savory, tarragon, and garlic chives. And I’ll always include a few flowers - the calendula really brighten it up, as do the crimson and yellow yarrow. All quite lovely.

~

And that's about it for the garden update. It has been quite a successful year so far, despite getting such a later start. And I just love going out to the garden to pick the veg for dinner. Makes me feel good. Plus, yeah, it's Delish!

Thanks for stopping by!

Cheers
Tracy
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Yellow tomatoes!
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Delicious grapes ready for munching!
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A roma starting to ripen.
 
Tracy Wandling
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And some more photos . . .
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Meditarranean Garden, with my new little red wheel barrow from the Free Store!
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Mediterranean Gardne
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This newt likes to hang out in my outdoor 'office' area.
 
Tracy Wandling
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The Man has cut down some more alders for firewood, as well as clearing up more of the back field. More growing space!
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Back field
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The twins. Just 'cause they're cute.
 
Tyler Ludens
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That Newt look more like a Skink to me...
 
Tracy Wandling
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Is it? I have no idea. I just call it a newt because there are Newt Crossing signs on our island.    A skink, huh? Well, he's pretty cool, whatever he is. I like to watch him hunt. He's speedy!
 
Tracy Wandling
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Harvesting the dried poppy heads. Squillions of seeds. And then I got to looking at the colors, patterns and shapes of leaves and took lots of pictures. These will definitely make into a painting this winter.
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Susan Taylor Brown
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Oh Tracy, your garden is evolving as is your gardener self. I love these updates. Did you start with an actual plan or is it evolving as you go? (I find I am stinking at the planning part, LOL)

Thanks for sharing so much of your journey.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Thanks, Susan! And thanks for your company on my journey.

A plan? Yes, there was/is/will be a plan. Actually, I love planning. It's so much fun. I love all the little details, all the researching and thinking and daydreaming and possibilities. I have many very detailed garden plans done up in Adobe Illustrator: multiple planting plans, multiple rotation plans, multiple possible configurations of the garden/greenhouse/chickens/food forest. I have files of information on planting dates, transplanting dates, direct seeding dates, harvest dates, and potential yields of all the things I want to grow. Yes, I LOVE planning.

Following the plan? Uuummm . . . I'm supposed to follow it? Where's it going? LOL! The basic plan-like structure is somewhat there in the background, kind of like a heat shimmer; but I find I pretty much do what feels right at the time. And things don't always go as planned - especially when someone else is involved, and doesn't do what they're 'supposed' to do.

It's the same when I paint. I can envision the painting as I think I'd like it to be, but once I get that brush in my hands, the plan begins to fade, and I just do what feels good. It generally works out in the end.

So, my basic plan is to have a really big garden, grow enough food for us, and enough food to sell, and do some other things, too - whatever else that pops into my little head. That's the general plan. Oh! And have fun doing it. That's a big part of the plan.

Cheers
Tracy
 
nancy sutton
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Ditto, Tracy.  Dreaming, learning, planning is just plain fun... but I've so often found that the best 'idea' just seems to spontaneously pop into my head out of seemingly 'nowhere' (what that is, is whole 'nother discussion :).  I don't remember 'planning' that!!  Gratitude is the attitude :)
 
Susan Taylor Brown
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I do love the planning and the research myself but I never seem to translate it to paper very easily. I am big on daydreaming but mostly my garden unfolds like my books, a little at a time with surprises around every corner. We had to turn in an actual on paper plan for the irrigation for the greywater permit and that was hard but now that I have it I can start to build the guilds around the trees.

Some of my favorite plants are those that volunteer.

Are you doing most of your starts by seed? I have been flunking seed starting thus far except for yarrow, poppies, and buckwheat but I am going to keep trying. Right now I am trying to propagate as many plants as I already have. I am most successful with my red twig dogwoods which have no food value but are great for wildlife.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Hi Nancy: Yep, kinda like magic! And my gratitude for living in this amazing place, with all of it's beauty and potential, is profound.

Hi Susan;

Yes, all of my first plantings were started from seed. I used soil blocks, and they worked brilliantly. The keys to starting from seed are: a good, healthy soil mix (I do NOT use a sterile mix for veggies); proper water, light, temperature, and air; and giving the roots enough room so they don't get too root bound. With those things sorted out, seed starting shouldn't be difficult. Other important things are to make sure to 'harden off' the seedlings before planting them out, and then making sure they have fairly consistent moisture as they are getting established. Now, this is mostly for vegetables. For the grapes, sage and rosemary, I took cuttings and rooted them in peat. I'll be doing the same for the figs and plums. I'm also planting plum pits, avocado pits, and some peach pits, as well as being on the search for some black locust pods (I think our friends have some!) and some nut tree cuttings/nuts that grow well on our island. I'll let you know how that goes.  

For the planning part, have you tried googling 'free garden planning software'? These types of programs can be pretty fun to work with, and can help with the 'visualization' part of the planning. I like doing the planning of physical features on the computer because you can easily move things around to find the best fit, instead of doing a lot of erasing on paper. If I were doing it on paper, I would make little cutouts to scale and move them around.

I find it most helpful to just walk around looking at the area, and envisioning where, what, and how in my head, and then translating that to the 'plan' later. I find that easier than staring at a piece of paper (or a computer screen), and trying to envision a layout or plan. And it's also REALLY important to make sure the plan is to scale. Otherwise, you'll find later that stuff doesn't fit the way you envisioned. But I imagine your greywater plan is to scale, so that's a good start.

Hope you're having fun with your projects!

Cheers
Tracy


 
Tracy Wandling
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Another beautiful day in paradise. Got a few things done in the garden today. Finally put up the supports for my cucumbers - very rustic lookin’, but they’ll do the job. Lots of little baby cukes on the 6 plants. I’ve got them in pots, and one in the ground that I’ve gotten 2 cukes from so far. Quite delicious. Also planted some chard, pac choi, lettuce, radish, and broccoli seeds. I’ve planted a bunch of seeds in the beds, to see how they germinate in the mulch. But I’ll be starting some in soil blocks as well, just in case.

The tomatoes are starting to ripen, cilantro is making leaves, and tomorrow I’m gonna cook up some quinoa and make myself a little tabouleh salad. Yum.

~

I’ve got one little cayenne pepper plant, with one big cayenne pepper growing on it. It’s about 3 inches long. The plant is so tiny it probably won’t make any more peppers. All the pepper plants were planted so late that I’m surprised they did anything. They’re pretty stunted, poor things. Three of the sweet pepper plants each have one pepper on them. Ce la vie.

The borage is about to bloom. The yellow and gold of the calendula, the purple of the anise hyssop, the crimson and yellow yarrow, and the various greens of the plants in the Mediterranean herb garden are so beautiful. It’s going to be a stunning part of the garden when I get through with it.  

For me, growing a garden is about all the senses. It’s not just the healthy food. It's about the tastes, colors and smells. It’s about the feeling I get when I wander through the garden, looking at the plants, trimming and pruning, watering, smelling the sweet alyssum and the lemon balm, the thyme and the rosemary. It’s the satisfaction I get when I pluck a ripe tomato off the vine and pop it into my mouth. And the joy I get when I pick the vegetables directly out of the garden and chop them up for dinner.

I know that sounds all sappy and woo woo, but it’s the honest truth. Hanging out in my garden, planning, dreaming, putting seeds in the soil, harvesting, all make me feel so good, so productive, so . . . magical. I’m not really a sappy, woo woo kinda girl, but this is how I feel.

~

So! What else. Oh, I found out that the co-op pays $3 a pound for grapes, and 75¢ per fig. So those will be a new product I can add to keep sales up. The broccoli is basically done, except for the shoots that I keep for us. The zucchini is going gangbusters, the kale and parsley will keep going for a while, and the tomatoes will soon be producing their little gems. Then, the new stuff I’ve seeded will start to produce in about a month: lettuce, cilantro, chard and pac choi. And a whole bunch of broccoli for fall. Also, the onions will be ready to harvest.

For fall and winter, I’m going to keep the lettuce, broccoli, parsley, kale and cilantro going as long as possible. I’ve been reading about harvesting lettuce in winter, and how often I will need to seed to have an ongoing harvest. There is some pretty tricky math involved, and I need to learn about our frost dates and so on, but I’m looking forward to the experiment. I’ll be doing it with the broccoli, parsley and cilantro as well. They can be pretty frost and cold tolerant, and this will probably be part of my selecting criteria for my landrace experiments.

I know I have a lot of dreams, but I think they’re all attainable. I’m smart, capable, and what I lack in experience, I make up for with enthusiasm and brains. Think that’ll be enough? lol

Anyway, sappiness seems to reign tonight. I’m watching Once Upon a Time. Must be all that happily-ever-after stuff . . .

Off to bed.
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Cucumber contraption.
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Mediterranean garden
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Lonely cayenne pepper
 
Tracy Wandling
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Good grief! It's raining again. What a strange summer. I'm not really terribly upset about it, because I don't really enjoy hot weather. But my tomatoes are just starting to ripen! And the grapes, too. Ah well, the sun'll come out, tomorrow . . .

~

I finally remembered to take a photo of produce going to market! The broccoli is finished now, but I had 5 lbs of tomatoes and 10 lbs of zucchini to take to market today. I have new broccoli started, but it will be a few weeks yet before it's ready.

Other things that have been seeded and are growing:

Lettuces
Radishes
Pac Choi
Chard
Cilantro
Parsley

Also, going to get some more green onions going this week. Still lots of kale in the garden, and the broccoli is still putting out side shoots for my eating pleasure. Of course, the zucchini is nuts. I've got a couple of large ones I'm going to slice and dry this week, along with some kale. If it stops raining.

The tomatoes are gorgeous, and there are many more to come. The fall onions are growing well. And the Mediterranean herb garden is putting out lots of herbs now. There won't be a whole lot for drying this year, but next year the thyme and rosemary should be big enough. This year I'll get summer savory, sage and oregano for drying, and basil and parsley for freezing. I've also got some herbal vinegars on the go. So there will be lots of summer flavors to use this winter.

I'm looking forward to trying out the dried zucchini. Carol Deppe tells how to do it in The Resilient Gardener, and since I grow Romanesca zucchini like her, I'm looking forward to trying it out in soups and stews this fall. Now, to find a dry place to hang them . . . Oh! And I'm going to try some zucchini and kale chips in the toaster/convection oven thingy. Should work fine, but won't be able to do many at a time. Kind of an energy suck, but I want to try them to see if The Man will eat them. No sense making him snacks he won't eat. He's worse than a kid . . .

~

I picked some figs yesterday. Some of them were ready to split - and some of them split right while I was picking them. I know NOTHING about figs. But they sure taste good! Just ask the deer. I'm going to try drying some of them, too. I don't really know what else to do with them yet. I'm thinking that their sweetness would go well with my experiments in making granola bars. I made some granola the other day in the convection oven. It worked out pretty well, even though I over cooked some. It's a real fine line between nice and toasty, and a little too toasty. Live and learn. But, dried figs might be a nice sweetener to add to the mix when I make granola bars.

~

And that's the fascinating news from here at Ain't-Got-No-Name-Yet Farm.  

Here are some pics:

1. Today's haul to the market.

2. The wildflower bed I planted to bring in the bugs is growing well. It is called a Pacific West Coast mix, from West Coast Seeds.

3. Just a nice shot of garden bed and Mediterranean herb bed.

Thanks for stopping by!

Cheers
Tracy
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Lovely zucchini and tomatoes for market.
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Wildflower bed is growing well.
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Pretty.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
601
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It’s hot! Hot weather and hot flashes just don’t mix. I’ve become very good friends with my ice packs and fan. I love spring and fall, but the dead of summer is reeeeal uncomfortable at this particular stage of my life.  

~

My beautiful garden is churning out zucchini, tomatoes, kale, parsley, and herbs like a mad thing. Still getting broccoli sprouts as well. I have more broccoli started, as well as lettuce, pac choi, chard, radishes, and cilantro. Also, eating thinnings from the pac choi and radishes for stir fries. Yum.

The cucumbers are doing well. I’ve had two lovely cukes so far, just harvested another one today, and many more on the way. The one lonely cayenne pepper is about 8 inches long and starting to change color. Also a few sweet peppers are starting to turn color.

The Mediterranean herb garden is pumping out basil, summer savory, borage, and thyme, and calendula flowers for the kitchen window sill. The flower beds are making lots of lovely blooms for the bees and bugs.

Oh, and grapes and figs. Yummy sweetness.

~

This weekend we're (hopefully) building a zucchini drying rack ala Carol Deppe, from The Resilient Gardener. I have lots of big zukes ready for slicing and drying. I’m hoping I can get them dry enough to store well without having to freeze them. If I had an oven or dehydrator I could finish them off, but I don’t. So, the hot sun and a fan will have to do the trick. If I can’t get them super dry, I’ll probably have to put them in the freezer, although we only have a tiny freezer. But, people have been drying food and storing it without freezers for a lot longer than I have been playing homesteader, so I’m sure I can find a way.  

I’d really like to dry some kale, too. I’ll let you know how that all works out.

~

I’d really like to expand my permaculturing beyond the garden gates. But my partner in crime has different priorities.    So I’m spending my time learning how to make the best market garden possible.

So! My main focus right now is on the soil. As you may have read in earlier posts, I grow in organic mulch rather than actual soil. I am in the process of figuring out how to know which amendments need to be added. I think that sending in a ‘soil' sample (actually, a sand sample) will be the first thing. Once I know what, if any, nutrients are in my sand, I’ll know what else I need to add.

Next year I will have chickens, so there will be homegrown manure for the garden, too. And once The Man decides when the compost area is ready (could be years, the way his decision making skills are . . . ), I can start making some purposeful piles of stuff to start composting on a larger scale.

Still waiting for the next beds to be dug, but when they are, I’ll be ready! Unless I die of old age . . .  

~

The next thing I will be focusing on for the garden will be growing the right varieties for my gardening style and climate, and plant breeding/landrace gardening. Because I will be growing a market garden, I need to be able to rely on the varieties I grow to produce well and profusely.

I will definitely be ordering from Fertile Valley Seeds where I can get Carol Deppe’s seeds. She grows in a similar climate, so it’s a good place to start. But I plan on mixing in other varieties as well, to make sure I get the plants that will do what I want. Resilience is the name of the game, and I hope to get there: drought, heat, and frost tolerance, pest and disease resistance, and hardy plants that produce well. That's everyone's dream, right?

I’ll also be ordering from West Coast Seeds and Salt Spring Seeds from Salt Spring Island. Salt Spring has a great selection of less common varieties - I’m really looking forward to trying some of their soup peas!

There is a permaculture farm on our little island that has been here for 30 years or so. Very cool people, doing great things. They are giving a PDC in the fall, but I can’t afford to take it. Hopefully next time . . .    Anyway, they also grow a market garden, and sell seeds that they have been growing for years. So I’ll definitely be using their seeds, as they will be used to growing in our climate. But I don’t necessarily want to be growing the exact same varieties as they are - I’m more interested in filling in the gaps, and growing what isn’t being grown here already.

Which brings me to my next step: setting up a greenhouse for winter growing. There are lots of food plants that be grown or harvested through the winter here without protection - kale, leeks, and other cold hardy varieties - and I want to fill in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall with the popular veggies such as lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, as well as things that I notice are imported during the winter months such as parsley and cilantro. If I can grow and harvest lettuces through the winter that would be great. I will definitely have to invest in lighting to do that, as we tend to have a grey, rainy winter season.

But to start with I will plant on a schedule that will allow me to grow plants to a certain size by winter, and harvest through the winter. Not much growing will happen through January and February, but then I will get a jump start in spring.

I’m also hoping to get the field ready where I want to grow the larger things like corn, quinoa and squash. Trying to work out the best way to go about it. I know chickens would be a great start, but we won’t be getting any ’til next year. They can help clear and fertilize the area. But I’m more concerned about how I’m going to plant it. I don’t think my regular buried wood beds will work great for planting tall plants like corn and quinoa. I think they would fall over very easily.

So, how to grow the larger crops such as corn and quinoa? Quinoa is more drought tolerant than corn, so I will probably be able to grow quinoa first; I'll have to work on the area more to be able to grow corn with minimum irrigation. The trick will be to create a growing area that holds on to the rainfall in winter, and keeps it there as long as possible into the summer.

Perhaps I’ll need to do it as more of a swale system, where the swales are mulched heavily to collect and retain moisture, and the plants are grown between the swales. The main problem is our lack of soil, and the fact that our sand is a bit hydrophobic, and also eats organic matter very quickly. That’s why I’m using buried wood in the main garden, rather than just tilling organic matter into the sand, or building beds on top of the sand. It is not garden-friendly sand.

That’s something that needs more research and thought. I hope to have it sorted out by next spring.

Those are some of my garden plans. Just keep building up my soil, expanding my garden, and trying all kinds of plants, to get to the most resilient growing system I can.

~

I just watched one of Sepp Holzer’s videos. Very inspiring. One of the things that his videos do is help to show that just because people don’t grow certain things where you are, doesn’t mean you can’t grow them. You might just have to work out what the plants need and supply it.

I really want to grow citrus and avocado. I mean, I REEEEALLY want to grow citrus and avocado. The thought of harvesting my own avocados is beyond exciting. So, I’m going to try. I’ll give them everything I can - healthy soil, a good microclimate, shelter from wind and frost, and heat.

As you may have read, we have a LOT of rocks. So I can use those rocks to supply more heat for the trees. And using buried wood beds will help to supply the right micro-organisms and nutrients; as well as helping to keep them watered without lots of irrigation, if I let the wood get really charged with water for a couple of years before planting the trees. The large rocks should also help to hold moisture in the soil.

And that’s my theory. Hope it works. Of course, it’ll take quite a while before I know if it works, but it’ll be worth it if it does.

~

For the initial food forest areas, there are lots of trees that I know grow here, so those are the ones I’ll start with. I want fruit trees that grow fruit good for drying, and nut trees that grow nuts that store well in the nut, are relatively easy to shell, and can be ground into flour. More research to do for planning the food forest.

We’ll also need to do a lot more fencing, as the deer will destroy anything we plant out. So I’ve been researching ‘alternative fencing’ options. Lots of neat things, such as hedge laying and densely planted prickly hedges to keep deer out. These things will take longer to get in place than putting up a wire fence, but it might be worth getting them set up in places that we won’t be planting right away.

For the initial food forest areas, we’ll definitely need to put up fencing. I had thought that I could plant out trees and bushes with individual fencing around them, and wait until they are big enough to fend for themselves before taking the protective fencing down. But I’m not sure that’s feasible. Besides the fact that I’d have to keep expanding the fencing around the trees and shrubs as they grow, the deer will also eat the cover crop plantings. I’m not too keen on planting a legume field for the little fiends. So fencing the whole area is probably necessary.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t start collecting the trees and bushes that I want to grow, and get them started in pots and garden beds, ready to transplant when we get fencing done.

I had some Saskatoon plants from a neighbor, but a little deer got into my garden and ate all the leaves off them. I’m hoping at least some of them recover. The little bugger also ate the leaves off my grape cuttings that were doing really well. But, I’ll get more cuttings going for next year, as the grape plant is quite healthy, and I can get cuttings any time. (In the meantime, I plugged up the hole under the fence where the little bugger wormed his way in.)

~

Plans, plans, plans. I really enjoy the planning part, but find myself getting a little impatient for things to move along a little faster.

And that’s that. Lots of plans and a long wish list - I’m sure many of you can relate. Trying to remain patient, and be happy with what I’ve achieved so far - a beautiful and successful garden, lots of food produced, and lots of learning. Being impatient doesn’t help anyway, it only makes me not able to appreciate what I already have. So, pullin’ up my big girl panties, and doing what I can to be ready for the next phases as they come.

Here are some sexy snaps of the garden.


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Cucumbers climbing
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Tomatoes are fruiting well
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Radishes that sprouted in the
 
Tracy Wandling
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Posts: 2127
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
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And some more.
Aug20-Cukes-3.jpg
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Crazy curly cuke - this one isn't trellised
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Mediterranean herb garden
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Wild flower bed
 
Tracy Wandling
steward
Posts: 2127
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
601
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Aaaaaand . . . some more.
Aug20-FlowerGarden-1.jpg
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Pretty
Aug20-Grapes.jpg
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Grapes gone wild - helps to keep the west side of the house cooler
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Little teeny frog that lives in the pepper patch
 
Tracy Wandling
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Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
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And this is it.
Aug20-Magnolia-1.jpg
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The magnolia is blooming again!
Aug20-Toms-2.jpg
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Lush Juliet tomato plants
Aug20-HerbGarden-3.jpg
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Bee paradise
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Looking good!   I'm also trying to figure out how best to grow the space-needing things like grains and large amounts of squash - basically a staples garden.  I have a large unused fenced space that used to be the vegetable garden, but the deer can get into it so it would need more fencing.  Also it dries out too much during Summer which is why I abandoned it.  I'm trying to determine what would be the best strategies to try for low-or-no-irrigation.  I put in some buried wood beds a couple years ago, but the asparagus I planted there died without irrigation.  Will you be irrigating your larger crops?
 
Tracy Wandling
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Hi Tyler;

Thanks! Yes, it's been a great first year in the new garden.

A staples garden, yes, that's what I want next. And the water issue is definitely a main priority. I would love to eventually have a no-irrigation garden, and I think it is possible. But it will take a lot of upfront work, and probably a couple of years of initial irrigation, though hopefully not as much as a regular garden system would use. Putting in swales and other catchment systems, burying lots of wood and letting it get charged with water, gathering lots of compost materials, and growing lots of mulch material to keep the area fully and heavily mulched, are the strategies that I've thought of so far. It's so hard with our soil-less sand. But the buried wood beds are definitely a brilliant start, and I hope to keep that going.

I've been following along on the thread about growing without irrigation, and it seems to me that the one thing people don't say is that, yes, it is possible to grow without irrigation, but it is not possible to grow without water. So the main ingredients in my no-irrigation recipe will be to get it set up properly, install all the water catchment and retaining elements possible, get as many water-retaining elements into the soil as possible, ensure that I'll have lots of mulch materials to keep the soil covered, and grow plants that thrive on low-water growing systems.

So, that's my water strategy! Time will tell how it works. But I'm pretty confident that I can work it out.
 
Tracy Wandling
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Some musings on dryland farming . . .

I think that confusion comes because people think dryland farming means growing without water. That's just not possible. I think what dryland farming means is that the land is able to retain as much of the rainfall as possible, to be used to sustain the plants during dry periods. So it takes time and effort to set up a dryland growing area - improving soil, earthworks to collect and hold rain, mulch, cover crops, etc.

The other thing that I see is that we need to grow the proper varieties - varieties that can thrive on less water. This is probably where landraces will come into their own. I think that dryland farming is a situation that can be worked toward. But I don’t think that we can just plop some seeds into dry soil and expect them to sprout and grow. There needs to be some moisture there for the seeds to sprout and the plants to grow. So, how do we get the moisture there without conventional irrigation?

Buried wood beds, or really large above ground hugelkultur, will probably be great ways to grow without irrigation; although, these will probably take a couple years before they hit their stride and can be planted without irrigation. But, I’m not sure yet how we can plant seeds or transplants without at least some irrigation at the beginning.  

With Geoff Lawton’s Greening the Desert project, I believe that he says they used 'waste water' just to get the system going. After that it was the 2.5 kilometres of swales that collected the rain when it fell, and the organic matter that helped to retain the water. Once the system got going, they no longer used water from outside the system; just the rainfall.

My recipe for growing without irrigation will include: swales and other catchment areas; organic matter - lots of it; buried wood; mulch - lots of it; appropriate plant varieties for growing without irrigation (or breeding appropriate varieties); appropriate plant spacing; and appropriate timing. I have very little actual soil, only sand, so there are specific challenges I have to work with.

The plant spacing bit will be an experiment. Some believe that an intensely planted area conserves water because it keeps the soil covered better to stop evaporation. Some believe that a wider spacing is better because there are fewer plants using the water in an area. Some believe that mulch is the only answer, while others can’t use mulch because of slugs and bugs that live in the mulch. Whew! How to figure it all out?

Experiment. I think this is the only way to find out what is possible wherever we are. Each particular growing area is completely unique, and will probably end up using different techniques than someone in a different, or even a similar, area.

So, I will be starting out by experimenting. I will plant some plants with the 'recommended spacing’, some a little closer, and some a little farther apart. That’s how I'll find out which works best where I am. I will plant different varieties and see which ones grow best under my conditions. I will try some areas mulched, and some areas not mulched. And maybe play around with different types of mulch, or different thicknesses.

It is a sort of hit-and-miss game, but there are a few constants: Plants need water, fertility, light and air. So, we give them those things to the best of our ability. Now, if we want to grow without irrigation, then we need to figure out how to get water to our plants in a more ‘natural’ way - by harvesting all the rain that falls onto our little plot of paradise. There are lots of techniques to use for this - and a lot of them depend on our climate, soil type, aspect and slope of our land, available resources, etc. So, we put in swales - but they may take longer to work well if we have really sandy soil, without a lot of organic matter (which is what I have). Or we bury wood. Or we build hugelkultur beds. Or we do all of these things.

(My personal opinion is that a dry land garden will most definitely not have raised beds. Ground level, or even slightly sunken, beds will hold water much better. It only makes sense. And the hotter the climate, the more important it becomes to have ground level beds, or fields. If we are going to build above ground hugelkultur beds in a dry summer climate, we’d better make them HUGE. Otherwise, I think they won’t work nearly as well, and buried wood would work better.)

I think one really important point to remember is that few of these techniques will work immediately. Even if we put a lot of water on the materials that we use to build hugelkultur beds - below or above ground - it will still take a couple three years of rain infiltration before the beds are at their peak. So the first year or two there will probably need to be at least some irrigation - for starting seeds or establishing transplants, for instance. Maybe the first year (after it has gone through a winter soaking) we only have to water every couple of weeks. And maybe in the second year we can go a month or more without watering. And then maybe by the third year the wood and organic matter is fully charged, the ground has soaked up it’s fill of water, we can go all summer without watering, and then it recharges in the winter rains.

Or maybe we don’t have all of the ‘right’ materials to build a ‘proper’ hugelkultur bed. So, maybe it takes a little longer for the beds to hit their stride. Or maybe we have crappy sandy ‘soil’, and we need gobs and gobs of organic material, just to have some sort of growing medium to work with. Or maybe we have solid clay or severely compacted soil, and need some sand and organic materials to get it to the point where it is a good growing medium. So, we have to work at getting the resources together that we need - maybe we have some, maybe we have to import some. If we don’t want to import, then we have to work at growing our own.

And maybe we need to plant certain early, quick growing varieties in the spring, which are finished and harvested before the heat and dry of summer. And then plant again, as the fall comes on. Maybe there are only a few things that we can grow through the heat of summer. Lots of things bolt in the heat, so we have to keep sowing them in succession if we want a steady supply, such as lettuces, cilantro, and other greens. No problem, just sow part of the row, then in a couple of weeks sow more, and so on. By the time we get to the end of the row, maybe the first part of the row is already harvested, so we can start again; or plant something else.

A lot of things will slow down during the hot, hot times, and then pick up again as it cools. So, if we have enough water stored in whatever growing system we are using to get them through the hot, then they’ll continue to grow once it cools down, and/or the rains come again. And then we can plant other things that can either grow through the winter, or start growing in fall, go dormant in the winter, and then get a jump start on the season in the spring. It all depends on where we live and what our climates will allow.

If we try to grow ‘conventional' vegetables in a ‘conventional' garden, but grow them as ‘dryland’ crops, I think we are likely to be sadly disappointed. We will undoubtedly need to tailor the crops and the growing techniques to the conditions. So, there might be things that we just can’t grow as dryland crops where we are - or we have to do a lot of work to the area before we can grow everything we want to grow. Or maybe we have only a part of the garden/growing area that is irrigated for specific water-loving plants that we really want to grow. Maybe have the irrigated area slightly upslope from the ‘dryland’ crops, so that perhaps some residual water makes its way down there. Who knows? Lots of room for new ideas, experiments, and learning.

So, in my ever so humble opinion, according to the research I have done, the things I have seen, and the common sense I was born with - such as it is - these are the conclusions I have come to. We know what plants need, so if we want certain plants to grow in a certain area, at a certain time, then we need to give them what they need. If we don’t want to irrigate, then we need to ensure that the rain that falls on our land gets caught and stored in our land, to provide water to our plants in the dry season. And the techniques we use to do that all depend on our soil type, climate, slope and aspect of our property, available resources, etc. There is no recipe, only a whole bunch of ingredients to choose from. Our job is to choose the ingredients that will work together. That is, to choose the techniques that will work on our unique piece of property. And that’s it.
 
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