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Joshua Bertram

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since Dec 25, 2016
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Recent posts by Joshua Bertram

Picked the tomatoes yesterday.  Sadly, I wasn't feeling well all of June/early July (not Covid related), and more than half of my ripe tomatoes went to the birds, ants, and time due to my lack of motivation.  Also got a horrible spider mite infestation during that time that I'm not sure will be worth the effort to remedy.  I've easily pulled over 200lbs of various items out of the garden since March, so it's all good.

Yellow pear, different cherries, and Brad's atomic tomatoes.  This came from half of one bed.  I still have one and a half beds the same size to pick.  The atomic tastes pretty good, but it didn't colorize like in the catalogue.  Garlic in the back pulled a few weeks ago (currently making my first batch of black garlic in a crock pot, been on "keep warm" setting for about a week.  Squash pulled late last week.
I still have a colander of Matt's wild tomatoes that I need to cut and dry...........maybe today.  Maybe it'll end up chicken food....

Going to try dehydrating the tomatoes right now.  I just put them in the solar dehydrator about an hour ago (1998 toyota 4 runner) and it's over 120f (maximum reading on thermometer) after only an hour in the sun.

I'm guessing close to 110F for the high today (it was only 95f outside when I took the picture), and about 10% humidity.  Today is the first day I'll have ever tried drying fruit on purpose.
I got hooked on Paul, and his garden just about three years ago.  After close to 100 loads of chips over the last few years, and many struggles here's my take.

Wood chips in a high density annual style garden area suck (in my opinion, and my climate).  All the reasons mentioned above.  In a perennial garden, they're awesome.

That's the thing that I overlooked initially, and I think most people overlook in general.

Paul sifts his wood chips after they've been in the chicken coop, and grows his garden in composted, much finer material than raw wood chips.  I'm going by memory, but I don't remember seeing his rows have big chunks of wood in them.  It's compost he grows in, not wood chips.  Yeah, his orchard has raw chips, and his other perennial areas, but his main garden rows look like compost (again going off memory, it's been a while since I watched).

So now, when it comes to an annual vegetable garden bed, I only use finely sifted wood chips that have been sitting in my chicken coop for a year or so.  I can direct seed, transplant, whatever, and it's all just fantastic.  I think it's just brilliant.  

Raw wood chips are such a pain in the butt to work with otherwise.
I just smile when I see the tomatoes!
1 month ago
So, I'm getting so much production out of these beds I'm going to have to cover them up to slow them down!  Or, at least keep the 105f sun off them for the next few months.

This has pretty much been "peak" for me the last few years.  Peak meaning in the next two weeks, growth will slow down, the squash bugs will invade, things will die from the heat and neglect because I don't want to go out into the searing sun here.  I don't know how the people in Phoenix, or even Vegas do it!  It's not quite as bad here, but still.  Respect to them.

Anyhow, just documenting the progress.  It's really been amazing so far.  I've had about a dozen ripe tomatoes so far, and I'm guessing have close to a thousand ripening on the vines.  It's just crazy.  I grab neighbors and make them hold an open bag, and I just start shoving stuff in it.  Planted dozens of sweet potato slips in places where I could.  Put out a bunch of peppers, but they're not doing great so far.  Not sure how the shade cloth will affect their growth.  If I can get 1/10 of the already on the vine tomatoes to ripen, it will be twice as good as any year before this.  I never have had luck with tomatoes.  Like I said in the posts above, I'm single stemming and doing the "lower and lean" greenhouse technique.  One plant looks like it might die, but everything else looks great.  I really need to top off all the beds with a layer of fresh compost.  I expected them to settle more than they have so far, so they're pretty much within an inch or so of the top of the bed.  The sparrows have torn up the chard, but so far not much cabbage moth damage.  I expect I'll be seeing tons of them flying in shortly.  Also, something really nice this year.  With the exception of one dino kale plant I've seen no aphids in the garden.  My native desert willow trees got infested with them this year, but almost nothing on any of the greens.   Very few on the fruit trees too, normally I'd be worried about all the damage, and be pressure hosing them off by now.  

The shade cloth I got off Amazon.
It got good reviews.  I paid $60 total for the two sheets.  Each sheet is 10' X 20'.  It covers six  of the beds completely, but the seventh at the end is not covered.  It's 40% shade, and black.

The frame is just cheap electrical conduit.  I welded some of it, and screwed some of it.  I wanted to be able to unscrew it if I needed to take it apart.  (for when the beds fall apart/need repair)

I just put the shade cloth up this morning.  I'm really hoping it keeps things in the sub 95f range for the next few months.

Lot's more pictures.

1 month ago
I'm excited to see if I can get my unrooted cuttings to grow into perennial trees.  I've seen John Kohler, and Dan over at Plant Abundance have good luck with them, and pretty much rave about how well they do, so I ordered a couple from an Etsy shop called Healthy Harvesters (he claims to be a permaculture nursery, and has a lot of plants for sale on his page although I don't think he's got the tree collard cuttings right now, or the Pakistani Mulberry I also bought from him.).

It all came as stated, and it's leafing out now, so hopefully they're growing some roots in the soil.  I received them through the mail on April 20th of this year, and that's when I took the picture.  The Mulberry was really tiny, but it had healthy looking roots.  I just took a picture a minute ago of how much they've leafed out in less than a month.  I keep them in filtered light under some lattice that gets the filtered morning sun, but gets all shade from about 2pm until the rest of the day, so they're getting very little light.  It's already hot here where I live (mid 90's F right now) with intense sunlight.
I paid $30 for all three of them, which was a bit steep in my opinion, but I wanted them and couldn't find anything local.  I think it was $15 for the two collards.

The long term goal is to plant one of the collards in my pool/chicken coop, along with the mulberry, and the other one like Daron Williams said, against the south side of my heated house since we're in the same zone.
2 months ago
Holy smokes am I pleased with this setup.  Abundance galore, if that makes sense.  I kind of have two threads of the same thing going but I'll just post an update here of the pictures just taken minutes ago.  The other thread is "How I'm filling my 8' X 4' raised beds".  It shows how I filled the beds, and everything I used in them.  It's here.

The ten chickens get a five gallon bucket full of greens every day.  They actually got about a dozen full heads of lettuce this week since our temps got to almost 100f already.  I figured I'd cut it before it started to bolt.  Oddly, the snow and snap peas look pretty good still.  I just ate a bowl of them for breakfast this morning.  I can't believe how well almost everything is growing.  I overseeded the carrots, and am pulling the biggest ones out and eating them on the spot like little baby carrots.  

I'm really just in awe of it all.  I go out there with the biggest smile in disbelief.  
Just planted twenty sweet potato slips in various spots in the beds where other stuff came out, put some peppers in in some other spots, and yeah, it's all just doing pretty well.  I even put a bird house gourd in, and the Chinese snake bean/gourd thing from Baker Creek.
I'm trying a crazy intense method of growing the tomatoes.  Two full beds of them with a total of 64 plants.  I'm going to try a greenhouse technique called "lower and lean".  It is going to be a nightmare.  lol  There must be 100+ tomatoes that are actually fruiting already.  The biggest being about the size of a golf ball.

Oh yeah, I put in a bunch of cattle panels for arches in the last month too.

Blah, blah, the pictures show it all.

2 months ago
Here's a video update of the raised beds, and most of the back yard.

Really excited to have just bought a couple of purple tree collard cuttings, and a tiny rooted Pakistani Mulberry that I'm still contemplating where to plant if I can get it to survive this year.  Also am awaiting a San Pedro cactus cutting that I hope to be able to propagate into growing here perennially.  

Most everything is doing great, and I'm really happy with all the work I put into the yard this year.
2 months ago
Pardon me,

Purple moosage, not "message".

Levity.  It's essential in any argument.