for Mark's reference next year.....a couple 'new' lessons I learned in this weird 2016 summer of weird cool/warm/damp/dry summer . . . . . 1. Tomatoes. water regularly, sure, into Late July or early August...when you have all those tomatoes out there, GREEN .... ripening is encouraged by reducing the watering.... it convinces the plant, summer's almost over... and by mid-Sept, QUIT watering the plants. 2. Tomatoes - yes, keep pruning any and all dying leaves, THIN out thick inside growth to allow venting and more tomato fruit growth...... do all you can to maximize the use of the cages to help those heavy branches keep from splitting. 3. CUCUMBER - esp. LEMON.... **Plant this against a fence side.... and encourage that thick bunch of vines this plant makes to grow up along the fence. the "lemons" aren't ever so heavy that they'll hurt vine growth. 4. Peppers - don't plant a whole row....we keep planting several odd types, and they NEVER mature in our cool summers. 5. Corn - GET seedlings started EARLIER next year in little pots, even if you have to re-pot b-4 putting out in the garden....use the 1 variety that's always worked here: Golden Jubilee..... 6. Where? **Tomatoes were in the east-north side 2016....move to opposite next year. 7. HERBS - remember to plant just inside a fence opening access so you don't waste time just going out to get some mint, parsley, etc. 8> More later?
Just for the record........it's been obvious this must be the warmest spring on record here..... the yard's weeds / grass has been growing so fast it's kept someone busy here with the trimmer/mower.....I've bagged so much grass, I'm running out of places to dump and compost it.......... It meant one OTHER thing too: The Vegetable Garden space was physically 'dry' enough to actually plant. In 20 years, we learned however, that there is OFTEN a dry spell early in May, so you plant. And then the rain returns for a month, and your plants ROT.....a 2nd planting isn't fun! That being said............ our grower, Mr. Stucki at Millenium Farms was pushing us to plant....sending all this "El Nino" history and we weren't paying much attention UNTIL......... he said he was finishing selling his vegetable starts 2 weeks earlier than normal.....and if we wanted some.............oh oh........ SO..........this garden has been 2/3 planted since May 10. On May 3, we planted a giant tomato plant we'd luckily found at the annual Master Gardener's Plant Sale in Canby, yep, the King of Cherry Tomatoes: a Sungold Variety....it was too big to even put a kozy Coat around it....but we gambled anyway.....along with all the deck starts for Rodger, and just the FUN DAY that this LARGEST of NW Plant Sales can be......... THIS plant, now 20 days later is taking off (smile)....but was already pretty big on day 1, eh? ***this plant now is over the top of the cage!!!! smile. Yes, on May 10th we took off for Millenium Farms where we chatted with Michael and Missy for over an hour, and HAD to simply get all the plants bought and get home.....(they are terrific people)..... So on May 11th, evening, the garden space had a NEW look: Whew. was I exhausted. By now, R has 2/3 of his deck pots planted. THEN? Of COURSE! The weather collapsed....rain/damp/gray/humidity, all the "rotting" effects of a rain forest were in the garden, and I took desperate measures in a grand experiment.....clear bags over the tomatoes: Those bags have been on/off those plants 3 times depending on the weather, and I DO think it's helped.....they are coming out of there today permanently. Must get a pic of how wonderfully everything looks out there. WHAT AN EARLY START! Whew. NOW, must get going......we almost lost Mr. Mac to a Bacterial Infection.....got too sick so quick, we didn't get him in soon enough to start the anti-biotic. So, after a struggle for 2 weeks forcing down medicine, helping him along, cleaning up the messes, he's on the way back, and now...I take him down for a swim! Yea! Let's see if I post an update soon.............. hm.
The raw season-ending-coming-soon weather changes that come in "High" summer sometimes take your breath away. Roses.....the "springtime" wonder.....have mostly gone, but those that are left are appreciated all the more in their dry hot weather beauty: . . . okay. NO time to sit around in "August" of high summer smiling at roses..... work is finally "required" in the vegetable garden. Simply because, the production there is NOW at a point harvest must happen........THIS is the point one works for in the 3 months that lead up to this. Some things had to be done NOW: **Thin/Prune some Bay Laurel branches poking through the deer fence. I wish people would take some...cook with 'em fresh, or dry them...... it's cool to have the plant that gives us "Bay Leaves" in the yard: This year, I surrendered the north end row of the garden to mostly "Volunteer" plants since with most damp years we don't see these, so it was simply an experiment. ... but in this row are 2 kinds of tomatoes, 2 tomatillos, a bunch of garlic plants and then some planted chard, thyme, rhubarb.... The bay laurel is at the end....but I was amazed how BIG even these volunteers got and how much they too are fruiting: The Tomato rows begin with some "Stupice" (Russian) heirloom tomatoes that truly work well at our altitude, they are early, perfectly tasting like a big slicer.....We and a couple neighbors have been dining off these are 3 weeks now almost ev day....delicious: And the other 1st plant in the row is the SUNGOLD, our favorite 'cherry' tomato.... that plant is absolutely FULL of fruit.....so this next month, there will soon be "spares".....we won't be able to eat all of them: This was an "experiment"....an Italian huge Slicer tomato (oops...forgot name at moment)....but the plant and fruit are SO heavy, you can SEE that it's bending the tomato cage itself: **I've mentioned on the FB how, since Aug 5, I've been pruning these plants back, and maybe this can show you why.....I HAVE TO.....they're producing lots of fruit yes, but STILL growing vines/branches....and in 4 weeks....by mid-September, weather will be changing and not in the Tomato Plant's favor. So TODAY, THESE rows all got a major cutback of vines: now, at the Southern end of the garden.....this early cool crop row of what was lettuce/chard, celery, is finally been chopped out....we had enough Chard to get tired of it.....I'm NOW awaiting to see just how the corn Does RIPEN up.....it's about done with the tassels dropping pollen period: 2nd Harvest of the Oregano meant.....it went into the compost heap....1st harvest produced 2 quarts of dried oregano....... too bad I couldn't have sold it...it's one hardy annual: And Thyme was harvested.......now drying in our Dining Room: It DID well....smells wonderful: I sure don't KNOW what KIND of heirloom Zucchini Michael & missy gave us this year, but it's unquestionable that it's been the most amazing squash plant I've ever seen..... Rodger's made zucchini bread 3x and plans more: Now...the Tomatillo Plants are coming into season....and even though I cut BACK the number of plants THIS was a summer with weather perfect for these guys.....I will have MORE than I'll want to turn into salsa....will have to give some away within a couple weeks: . THIS......was the tomato harvest TODAY...... (will do this again in 2-3 days): And what garden is complete without a few of these guys blooming by August.....2 of ours are already finished pollination, now drooping, and seeds beginning to form......by November, they are Perfect Bird Feeding plants out there....they remain standing until the seeds are all eaten: . And THIS GARDEN.....in AUGUST.....is one of the BIG reasons Mark doesn't have much life outside of being home..............but it's exactly WHY one DOES do the tiring work of the 3 months leading UP to this....to see, enjoy, preserve, eat, etc etc.....the beauty that grows out there. that's all folks!
After a fairly mild winter, March almost broke records with Rainfall.....tied for 3rd all time. Last time we had this much rain was March 1957. So, now, spring is exploding after the ground got saturated with mild temps.....(sorry, Midwest with your hellish winter)..... What's up? What isn't up is more like it. Veggies: Potatoes, chilves, green onion, leeks, shallots, oregano, fennel....with lettuce, parsley planted. NO seeds started yet, but that get done soon..... I have the plastic mini-mini greenhouse bins ready. Currants are blooming....bees are everywhere. Hummingbirds have disappeared within 3 weeks of arrival......ALREADY nesting I presume AND eating lots of insects now that they're out. Dandelion Patrol! IS big time now, and I'm almost at the point of.....sorry birds, I may have to spray a bit of the lawn....since I'm getting weary of digging out the roots of those pests.....the new neighbors don't help much with a mammoth dandelion lawn.......... they're new here, so we'll give 'em one more year to, uh....... settle in. I feel some energy coming back. I don't remember a winter where long gray damp days got to me by March 1......I suppose last year's dry warmer spring got to me. We have enjoyed lots of theater the last few weeks, and will be going to Othello this Sunday. We've dined out a bunch, but spent most of our entertainment hours at home. I worry I AM again as Rodger's accused me of doing....I'm NOT as ambitious as I used to be, there's NO question. Even Mac's not QUITE as ambitious as he once was....at 9 1/2....it's not as hard to keep him exercised and worn out. TO DO LIST April 2014 left: 1) Plant some seedlings ....that should be ready for transplant mid-May 2) Finish thinning out house clutter, a project started in February.....and once things got comfortably thinned enough to navigate, the cleaning stopped. woops.... So, in a very short note, here is spring 2014....and I'm getting back in shape. Not easily...so MUCh yard work yesterday, I'm sore and tired today.......we'll keep at it! FUN NOTE: A tiny crew of 2 plus 2 stars (including Grimm Nick -David Guintoli) of the TV series GRIMM we're preparing to film a scene as we walked back up on Firelane 10 in Forest Park..... I didn't dare just take the pic while they were looking at us....so did this from a distance....but I did offer, "Hey...I can get my dog over there, he can probably solve whatever crime scene you've got there." ....they laughed: YES, Meeker Raspberries are healthily up, and spreading a bit, yes: Yes, Finnish Fingerlins, and red potatoes are back as always....and there's enough starts out there we will be sharing some: Always a sign of spring: Rhubarb!
Still in amazement that our almost perfect summer is being abruptly thrown into a solid rain pattern for a week. Dropping temps, humidity, meant time to get those "fall" tasks DONE immediately. Not before harvesting the last of the corn and freezing some.....but you MUST know that didn't happen without making some creamed corn along the way (YUM!): Yes, that would soon become this: WHO doesn't LOVE creamed corn when it's JUST been picked! That gave us the energy to start some other tasks....RODGER has 'intended' to get the back deck steps fixed....for proper drainage in the winter....he got a lot of work done, but this still awaits getting the gravel: I had gotten the lawn fertilized with iron 2 weeks ago just ahead of the rain, and man has it taken off. Yesterday, it was mowed and bagger attached to the tractor. That means as the garden is cleaned out (yep corn and some 'maters are gone now, it gets its first blanket of "dirt food" . . . lawn n leaf cuttings: This bagger will probably stay on the machine NOW until later November after all leaves have dropped from the maples: **that also shows the state of the woodshed, BEFORE, all the summer "stuff" gets brought in sometime next month for winter...then we'll have to use a little imagination to get everything in.......... Speaking of woodshed, above picture is ONE end...the other at today's start showed I haven't done one thing all summer to get wood moved in, so junk was in the way for my "today" job, aka, move wood: The "woodpile" out back didn't look much better: But I DID get busy this morning.....moved things out n around, moved a lot of scrap wood outta the way, and made major progress....now there's a new row of wood stacked in the "shed": AND....there's the first little woodstack IN the garage and ready: . The woodpile, for the first time in 3 years, looks smaller....there's only ONE ROW of wood in this low pile left: The 6 Russian "Stupice" tomato plants suffered through their last harvest today (I'll make some more of that fab juice I like (canned with just a sprinkle of sugar & salt...makes ALL the difference)........and were quietly murdered, mutilated, and thrown on a heap of other dead plants. What a horrible end for something that has given MORE than any other garden year. Poor things: **I know, there weren't many left anyway.........I called it a "mercy killing". Tomato cages (except for 5 still on duty holding up the paste tomatoes.....hopefully, they'll endure this week's rain 'cause we want to make some pasta sauce to freeze).......are finally resting for winter: **They've held up now for 12 years.....amazing......since we HAVE learned to grow bigger better tomatoes, and the strain of weight sure showed this year. I had harvested the giant sunflowers, and they spent their day just laying around. Did nothing to help me, but hopefully they ARE sobering up and drying out: BERM NEWS........along the driveway, I KNEW I was experimenting when we planted some things where they got placed....I didn't visualize well that just a FEW years is all it took for them to begin overtaking each other. Looks like we have some big digs and moving to do this winter: That's been the adventure since we moved here.......LEARNING a lot about a lot of things I've never done. SO............it's been a VERY busy couple of days........... and THIS IS THE LAST THOUGHT.........it's THAT time of year. EVERY spider up here is preparing to surrender itself to the next generation and WEBS are going up everywhere. WHEN you walk a dog in the morning, you are probably wise to wave a longer light stick ahead of you on the trail to avoid the web surprised...... **Some of these make astounding creations when the framework gets stretched out by the breezes then filled in...they're incredible. Yep, another diary entry hurriedly written........not edited or worded well....but at least I'll have some reference for whatever happens next year. Oh well. Fall begins this coming week. sigh.............
Whoa! Like every August, it's HARD to believe that just about 70 days ago, one starts with some damp ground that you weed, feed, rototill, and begin to "work" with plants, water jackets, and "time".......THEN......one day, you wake up and the 'garden' seems to explode. No different this year, this garden is thick and almost overgrown. An exceptionally DRY year has exaggerated that fact....the garden's solid green, the yard's pretty brown.....and the house has had flower arrangements several times. Breaking up Dahlia bulbs last winter paid off......there's already been 3 times Dahlia Flower Arrangements have brightened the family room, and there will be more! This was the 2013 NEW bulb addition: * Seems every August, a day comes when ..... as today was, I "re-discover" the motivation that makes a person work all summer to grow a garden. Today, I just finished a big lunch of Potato Salad (everything but eggs from the garden including potatoes (finnish fingerlings), the first just picked vine ripened tomatoes....sliced and slightly salted. I finished that lunch with some tree picked peaches surrounded by some vanilla bean ice cream. That brings back every GOOD memory of MY childhood summers....when things came OUT of Mom's and Grandma's garden that we immediately enjoyed for lunch. In 2-3 weeks, it appears there will be quite a sweet corn harvest to enjoy too. AH! The August Garden. Remember the MAY Garden Pic? Remember the End-of-June Garden Pic? And finally....TODAY. Here are some from this morning's prep to water, and tie-up, or, "support" unusually huge garden vegetables: I asked Mac to pose to give some perspective on just how high this Golden Jubilee Corn has become: And turning a few degrees, another picture: From the south side (yes, the deer fence shows): And the Tomatillos! For the yield we're going to get, I've planted FAR too many....we'll be giving some away: We messed with mother Nature this morning too......IF it appears the corn TASSELS are truly giving off dust/pollen, and there are Corn Silks still untouched, I cut 2-3 tassels and introduce artificial fertilization to the plant...yep, it wasn't natural selection, hah: So NOW, I can begin to plan just when this lettuce can be picked to match the annual week we'll be eating some beautiful BLT's: garden lettuce, home-made bread, bacon, and tomatoes outta this garden: AND that doesn't mention what else is ready to harvest THIS week: 1) MORE Rhubard (4th cutting this summer, wow), 2) BASIL - harvest and get some pesto made n frozen, 3) 2nd cutting oregano to dry, 4) 2nd cutting Thyme, AND SOON TO COME: 1) Tomatillos......and Peppers from the garden into SALSA, 2) CORN! to Eat and Freeze for winter. AND..........what really made us tired after all's said and done, was a full day of making the family Pickles last Saturday THEN........Fisherman, neighbor, friend, Aaron returned from a chartered Tuna Fishing Expedition with friends, family.. It is TUNA season! They came back with so much, his surplus was 47 lbs of Albacore Tuna (filleted weight)....WE have been planning this day with friend Marie & Jamie who own John St Cafe, our favorite breakfast place, for a month....so the fish came in Sunday. It was placed in Marie's restaurant cooler sunday, and we began canning Tuna Monday morning....... 2 hours of the entire time, the fish simply sat in pressure canners to cook/cure. Marie bravely cleaned every filet herself on Sunday after work. . . . yes, R & I lucked out.....so when we came to her restaurant kitchen, we simply had to pack jars.....in four hours this was out outcome: Was that enough? No. We're doing Tuna Part 2 next Tuesday with some fish from Marie's source in Gearhart who, are going to expertly clean/filet the fish before we see it......So it appears WE have to come up with a few recipes for using CANNED Tuna this winter! SO. YES, it's HIGH SUMMER in the Pacific Northwest, a summer running full of energy with all the dry weather...... The rainy months get long, yes, but there's nothing more intense than these 6 months of full-on NW summer.......... Whew! No WONDER we don't make plans in August........."spare" time doesn't show up until Mid-September.
For my garden notes next year...................END of gardening occurred yesterday, Oct 10. **there are still some tomatoes on the kitchen counter, unbelievably: The Carbon and Japanese Moromoto were the surprise beefsteak additions.....but...one MUST remember our DRY weather was at a record length....3 months of dry that won't end until tomorrow. TOMORROW? ALL forecasts say this IS the beginning of the WET season......NO day on any extended forecast does not show rain. So. I've had time to really prepare the garden for this coming rain. EVERY year for the past 15, it has taken the deer 3-4 days to kinda figure out the deer fence is DOWN and they can eat everything they want that's left.... BECAUSE of our mini drought, this year, everything was GONE the first night......at least leafy stuff....all the lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, tomatillo plants that had been left.... 2nd night? All remaining anything was gone: carrot tops, branches of all the above plants....and for the first time in 15 yrs, they ate EVERY single remaining tomato (I'm SURE for the moisture inside). Yes, the deer fence came down on a warm sunny day.....a GOOD day to work outside.....it has always come down later, but in mud/rain...this was nice. Today's prep for rain involved: all tomato cages stacked stored, first firewood moved into garage, stacked, and 2 boxes of kindling now ready for the NEW woodstove installation next Tuesday, YEA!. Ran the lawnmower mostly to pick up all leaves dropped from dry weather, then fertilized everything and put down bug stuff on chosen areas where moles attack us in winter. Cousin Bruce has gone to Oregon City for a few days to spend with lifetime friend Dan and his wife.....we'll see him back here about Sunday, good, except it will be WET when he's here.....narrowing our choice of things to do. MAC, has gotten used to swimming 2-3 times a week since we have no longer hiked much ......... he really is in good shape but does show some wear in that he doesn't swim for an hour anymore....he's down to 30-45 minutes.....then he begins dawdling around and not returning stuff like he should....you can TELL when he's ready to be done...... And no pictures! VERY soon, I should be able to post something interesting with pics......can't wait for the stove to come, get the place painted, baseboards down, and think about how to live in this new(er) space. Cool. ah.
Whoosh! The last 30 days have felt like being stuck on a downhill ski slope that doesn't end. Whoever decided remodeling some of this house should happen while garden work is at its peak needs to have a talking to! Hah. IT IS the grasshopper vs ant story all over again....when it's summer in Portland, you'd better make the work get done. We've both fallen in love with the new deck! What a place that breathes relax...... enjoy the woods! NOW, we've moved forward with nice laminate floors being put down and replacing the awful green carpet we've lived with for 15 years.... a quick pic shows a hint how they'll look ..... (in a better pic, hah): **Scott Seger is the craftsman, and make a note, Portlanders...if you EVER want to do floors this is the guy.... As nice as anyone I've ever met and helpful about ANY question, never in a hurry, and a perfectionist. HE IS HERE today and part of tomorrow...today working on the front room and hallway. What did we do in the meantime? Yesterday was a full day catching up on the garden: 1) Rodg trimmed, pruned his sauce tomatoes (marzanos, romas, etc etc) back to the fruit, hoping to get some ripening happening. 2) Mark watered the garden then picked a small bucket of tomatillos (guess what for): **There's most of the ingredients sans lemon juice. This will make the total salsa jar count for this winter up to 76. BUT. 12 of those are EXTREMELY HOT. I WONDER WHO will volunteer to test 'em out. 3) SO many tomatoes and you can ONLY eat 1 BLT a day and a plate of slicers.....so it was time to ROAST these: ** HOW? slice, tumble just a mite in a bit of olive-oil.....place upright on the roasting pans, a light sprinkle of sugar, salt, pepper and roast at 375 about 2 hours.... and they're finger lickin' good right out of the oven: **yum. 4) The sept nites are cooling.....age showing on BASIL. 2 BIG plants were pulled, cleaned and made ready: **YES, once the leaves are free, run 'em through the blender with just a drizzle of olive oil, so they're coated. then, PLACE into ice trays: ***when they're frozen, get out of the trays, pack so they'll be loose, and freeze for the winter. NOTE: THIS IS NOT a real pesto recipe, but almost. WHEN they're THAWED this winter, I'll add the garlic, walnuts, and parmesan "FRESH" and it will truly taste LIKE a just made pesto. Yes, that was a full day.....then, as Scott left after 5:00 pm, we then had to move all the furniture back into the TV room so the front rooms could be done today. So we relaxed, sat down to watch the U.S. Open Tennis matches of the day, and WHAT? RAINED OUT? ARE YOU Kidding? Oh well...... TODAY? Pick MORE tomatoes and maybe make Stach's Scalloped Tomatoes......it sounds delicious.
Seems ev August there's an entry or two prefaced with these words: "I'm SO busy, this will just be a diary entry / pics put in quickly with random thoughts....not edited well." **True again today. Here we go: First of all, it's HOT. That has brought about the BIG almost overnight change for a veggie garden taking it from growing vines / stalks to producing fruit. In the NW, we think about these heat waves (95+ for US, is a HEAT WAVE...most of us have NO air conditioning)......so, the even before ends with summer MAC Salad being made....... **Used in this FROM the garden were: thyme, grn onion, red onion, celery. And it's finished....some may be going to a potluck later this week: **yum. If it IS hot, your day begins just after dawn gathering the hose/soaker, taking down the deer fence on one side, and watering / pruning green growth to encourage fruit production. This thing is REALLY overgrown this year.... (NOTE:THE DEER FENCE has disappeared, and everything is taller than the fence is.....) : The "experimental" variety of corn, me dummy, was Golden Bantam. It's about 8' tall and finally beginning the tassel / ear phase: ***Some of this is So green heavy, I've had to tie IT up just like the 'maters and tomatillos. I have begun the tomatillo harvesting.....and just now have enough in the fridge for one batch of the salsa to can: I can now count on harvesting enough tomatoes every day to eat sliced & lightly salted tomatoes for the next 4-5 weeks, PLUS eventually have SO many, we'll freeze some for winter sauces: To go along with those, the SERRANO peppers are really getting ready to be used too: It is PESTO making time ..... to freeze for winter.....the basil plants are BIG.....that is IF, you can see beyond the Marigolds and the PIG waiting for harvest: I just did a harvest of the English Thyme yesterday, and it will lie here drying in the heat wave: This is NOT to forget flower production has peaked......due to some hard work by the rose guy, Rodger, they flourished late into the season despite being eaten early by a deer...... I like this double bloom: The lilies are mammoth, not a good pic by lighting, but dozens of these blooms are now back on the new deck: And then, always a favorite of MINE....the DAHLIAS BEGIN blooming when so MUCH of the rainy Northwest's mainstays fade away, and right now IN the HOUSE are 3 separate vases with differently colored dahlias in them..... I love this color for one: ******* Let's NOT forget the DECK project is just completed, and wow are WE happy with who we chose to do this finish work: ***IT looks much better today with all the plants back on there.....update later. and now to gather together recipes for: 1) Tomatillo Salsa canning, 2) Roasting/Preserving Gypsy Peppers, 3) Preserving Basil via/Pesto, 4) etc.