Saturday, June 26, 2010

Worm Bin Update

I haven't posted about this in awhile! My worm bin is nearly ready to remove castings from the bottom bin, and place it atop this one for a wormy migration.
Naturally my pal Gizmo has to check things out...

....I'm seeing lots of worms wandering up the sides, too. After digging around, it appears that my population has exploded! I'll need to either make another bin, help a friend make a bin, or sell them as "fishing worms"! Yikes!

Well, all those wormies need to eat, so I dropped in some scraps and coffee grounds...
....until next time! (By the way, I regularly inpect the bin, add bedding and feed the worms-despite my last post being over a year ago :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Veggie Harvest!

Here is the first harvest from my veggie sowing, chinese cabbage 'Soloist'. This was a winter-sown seedling as well! I'd never grown this before, and wasn't sure what to do with it.... I sauteed it in olive oil with some of my home-grown wine cap mushrooms. It was delicious!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tools for Garden Defense

I was contacted awhile back by a representative of Garden Safe brand products to see if I might be interested in trying their products for free in exchange for a review. I was very hesitant at first, because I am genuinely fond of the bugs around here, and I don't want to use chemicals at all. But after reading the details about these products, I relented. They claim to be safe and organic, derived from plant-based ingredients. I have used other brands of insecticidal soap, and found it to be generally safe and effective...
.....but my primary interest currently is in these two products. I have a dwarf sage with powdery mildew issues, and as for the slugs.... wouldn't think I have any when you look at these hostas! However....
....this is another story! I'd added new mulch this spring, and it supplied slug hideouts! Poor 'Guacamole' here has them bad, eating away the stems too!
Yikes! Looks like swiss cheese! My friend Rose has used their Rose & Flower Insect Killer, because her roses were being eaten to bits. Thanks to Garden Safe, Rose's roses are feeling rosey! :)
(Okay, that was pretty corny. But Rose's roses are looking great since she used the stuff.)

Disclaimer: Garden Safe gave me these complimentary products in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed here are honest and all my own.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June Bloom Day

Bloom Day? I got your Bloom Day right here!

For more detailed Bloom Day action, check out the links on the Bloom Day founder's page. Thanks as always for hosting, Carol!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Random Garden Happenings

Aside from veggie planting, there's plenty of other garden action at Millertime! Ants busy on the peony buds... ...harvestmen hanging out as well.

This clematis bloom is pretty, but what's up with the folded petal?
It's a spider hideout! Generally I find them to be beautiful, but the eyes on this Jumping Spider kinda freak me out.
The lupine blooms are always a welcome sight... are the Showy Ladyslippers! This year there are two blooms forming-yay!
I got my first winter catalog the other day! Huh? (Actually I understand the wisdom of preparing to harvest in advance, but I was put off at the mere suggestion of winter this time of year. Heck, summer only started what, like ten minutes ago?! :)
Here's the area I'd burned off this past spring (can't you tell?)
I sure can't believe it looked like this barely a month and a half ago.
The taverns up here have a drink that's popular when the weather gets hot: lemonade mixed with vodka (the "basic" recipe, though this one sounds good too :) Anyway, the drink is called a "summer hummer", but here is my preferred variety...
See the droplet of water at the top of the image? I'd left my hose dripping over the deck railing onto a fern that's planted next to a tree and always dry. I turned around to find Mr. Hummingbird here using it as a shower! Glad to help, dude. Then I saw this "ghostly" weed orchid re-appearing, twice the size it was last year.

I had some guests over Memorial Day weekend, I think they wanted to hang out someplace quiet due to the extra ATV traffic.
My Wine Cap Stropharia bed has been producing very well this year, after a quick harvest only three months post-innoculation last year!

This gigantic amendment project needs to be repeated throughout the flowerbed areas. I began by laying down wet newspaper (I also used large paper kitty litter bags which gave me lots of coverage). Then I topped the wet paper with a 2-3" layer of composted manure....
....then covered that with a layer of wood mulch. Looks kind of "bright" at first, but it will fade in the sun. The plants in this area have really responded well, especially since we started getting rain.

Well, back at it then! :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mystery Product Revealed!

The product I selected from the CSN Stores is.... Aw yea! This is exciting for me, as I have never used one of these cold frames but always wanted to try one. I won't put it together just yet, I need to select and clear a spot. But I'm hoping that this fall, with a little luck, I can have some greens or carrots or whatever you can enjoy during cold weather using one of these things. They shipped it super fast, too! Thank you CSN Stores!!

Disclaimer: CSN Stores gave me this complimentary item in exchange for a review of their stores. The opinions expressed here are honest and all my own.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Exciting News!

The other day I got an email from Ashley with CSN stores, and she invited me to do a product review. So I visited the website to see what they're about, and I was blown away! They have 200+ sites with everything from cookware to fitness equipment, bathroom vanities , and most importantly garden supplies! The best part: I get to select the product to be reviewed. :) Friends, I can't wait to share the results...stay tuned!

Veggies Underway

I've been too busy outside to post lately, but some much needed rain is falling so now I'm back. It all started with this rack full of plants (and more!) that were started from seed indoors under lights, and a few winter-sown as well. The wringer washer was planted first, this year with tomatoes (last year it was summer squash). One is a vining variety, so I put up this old rusty fence section for a trellis, since it matches the "patina" of the planter.

The varieties (from left) are: 'Prairie Fire' (54 days, canning-type), 'Gold Rush' currant (75 days, yellow cherry-type), 'Sweet Baby Girl' (65 days, vine-cherry), marigold (generic, store-bought), and feverfew (regrew from last year). In the middle by the wringer I planted a runner bean, 'Scarlet Emperor' (figured I could string some fishing line to help them climb to the trellis).
In this group: the feed bag has fingerling potato 'Banana', the larger pot has cilantro seeds, and the smaller one a marigold (store-bought).

The potatoes are planted whole, (I just LOVE the teeny potatoes for flavor) and the bag previously held bird seed. I got the idea to use a bag from a catalog, their bag had a "hatch" on the lower half for harvesting spuds. I figured a feed bag would work for one season, it's free, and I can just cut a hatch. I surmised that an old pillowcase could be used and a velcro hatch sewn on too, if one were so inclined. This suits me for a test run. The bag concept will help, as I can just unroll and fill with dirt as the plant grows, causing more and more potatoes to form. Yum!

This lil' pitcher has bronze fennel and hot pepper 'Delcias Hybrid' (60 days). I also added a product called "Soil Moist" to enable the soil to hold more water and prevent drought stress in case our dry trend were to continue.

This recently acquired chicken waterer has tomato 'Stupice' (52 days, cherry-type), hot pepper 'Hungarian Yellow' (65 days), and sage. (The tomato has since perked right up.)

My river deck tub did pretty well with tomatoes last year, so this year we have (clockwise from upper left): bush bean 'Royalty Purple Pod' (50 days), bush bean 'Gold Rush Wax' (54 days), bush bean 'Early Contender' (40-50 days), eggplant 'Fairytale' (50 days), and perennial french tarragon (purchased as a plant). I realize that eggplant and tomato are in the same family and it's ill-advised to plant family members in consecutive years, but garden rules are meant to be broken ;-)
This pot is in the yard next to a wash tub planter on legs, and it has two stevia plants (top), sage, and tomato 'Manitoba' (58 days).
This entire group is a new addition to the west side of the house, behind a raspberry patch (that needs help too). The black pot at left has: climbing red malabar spinach, 2 summer savory plants, climbing bean seeds 'Papa de Rolla' and 'Red Apsaragus Bean'. The bent "square" tub has: eggplant 'Japanese White' (65 days), climbing red malabar spinach, thyme, tomato 'Red Robin' (55 days, dwarf cherry-type), 2 Greek oregano plants, and a NOID pepper (only one mystery/lost tag so far :) The pot to the far right is the Earth Box that I got free (for reviewing the store it came from), and I followed the instructions to a tee so I could really see how it works. I must admit that it made me uncomfortable to use the granular fertilizer it came with, but the bag of dolomite made a little more sense. (I added crushed eggshells to most of my planters this year, especially the ones with tomatoes in them.) So in the Earth Box we have: tomato 'Cold Set' (65 days, vine), and I planted both an indoor-started plant and direct-sowed the seed (this cultivar was advertised to be "fast" enough to direct sow in the garden so I want proof!) Next to those is tomato 'Grushovka' (65 days, paste-type), a wintersown plant and an indoor-started plant (testing these seed-starting methods against each other). In front of all the tomatoes are: eggplant 'Fairytale' (50 days), two hot peppers 'Early Jalapeno' (66 days), and dill 'Mammoth'. In this group, we have the bottom of a small wooden trunk on the ground with: watermelon 'Katanya' (60-70 days, seeds), italian parsley seeds, tomato 'Siberia' (40 days), and nasturtium 'Tall Singles Mix' (seeds, and I like the name...kinda wish I was in a "tall singles mix" ;-) Ahem, anyway....the tub on legs has tomato 'Moscow' (62 days, canning-type), tomato 'Red Alert' (55 days, cherry-to-plum type), stevia plant, sweet pepper 'Carmen Hybrid' (60 days), and cumin seeds.

My two hanging baskets on the garage and this one on the screen house all have one pepper, three alpine strawberries, and nasturtium seeds in each. The three peppers used are: hot pepper 'Numex Sunrise' (75 days), sweet pepper 'Sunrise Orange' (60 days), and sweet pepper 'Italian Frying' (50 days). The alpine strawberries were grown from cold-treated seeds under lights indoors, and I used all three: 'Ruegen' (red), 'Yellow Wonder' (yellow), and 'White Soul' (white). The nasturtium seeds were from the 'Tall Singles Mix'.
This pot has a coral bells that winters over, and last year I added spaghetti squash 'Small Wonder'. This year it's cucumber 'Tasty Jade' (54 days), and I added mustard 'Red Giant' seeds.

This white tub was a freebie from the dump recently, and the trellis is two sections of old plastic fence that I retired this year (the bungee holds it up sturdier, but it's buried in the pot, too). In here we have: spaghetti squash 'Small Wonder' (75-80 days), nasturtium 'Spitfire', sowed cucumber 'Little Tyke' (34 days!), okra 'Little Lucy' (55 days, dwarf), celery 'Afina' (63 days, 6 small plants), sowed 'Bush Pickle Hybrid' (45 days).
In a wide shot, my yard may look junky to some, but it pleases me. :)

This poor decorative wagon broke here, so I planted it up here. I'm trialing a "tomato automator" tray to see if I like it (not a review, I bought it). The tomato here is 'Sasha's Altai' (59 days), hot pepper 'Chichimeca' (60-63 days), summer savory, dill, basil 'Red Rubin', and hot pepper 'Inferno Hot Banana' (60 days). Along the "northern" edge of the wagon I sowed a "row", half kale 'Starbor' and half rose orach. The kale germinated almost overnight! The gray pot on the chair next to the fence has: a short row of morning glory seeds (in the back to climb the fence), a store-bought marigold, hot pepper 'Thai Hot' (40 days), hot pepper 'Bhut Jolokia' (85-90 days), and dill 'Mammoth'. The group in the foreground is new this year, and is really contributing to my "learning experience"! Hahahahaha....sorry. Anyhow, in the ground by the desk seat is turnip 'Tokyo Market' (30-50 days, sowed), a store-bought marigold, and cabbage 'Caraflex' (68 days).
Inside the desk is a real "mob" of greens in short rows (from right to left): Greek oregano plants, and sowed rows of: purslane 'Red Gruner', purslane 'Goldgelber', vit corn salad (mache), lettuce 'Waldmann's Dark Green', lettuce 'Red Deer Tongue', miner's lettuce, saltwort, bok choy 'Ching Chang', curley cress, raddichio, kale 'Dwarf Blue Curled', and arugula. Waaay too crowded yes, but I want to see what happens. And in the blue pot on the seat: tomato 'Glacier' (45 days, plum-type), sowed italian parsley and pea 'Seedling' (to be picked as small greens for salad).

This ash bucket has: tomato 'Early Girl' (52 days), sage, and nasturtium plant 'Alaska Mix'.And the saddle planters on the deck were so successful last year, they both got single "crops" this time. Here are onion sets 'Red Zeppelin' (purchased for the name, of course! ;-) The other one is carrot 'Parmex', which is a cute little round variety.

Whew! This wasn't even all of my planters, and growing veggies this way can definately make for some time-consuming, labor-intensive hose dragging if it's a dry season. But I tried to give myself a break by using the "Soil Moist" granules in the smallest pots that dry out quickly. Plus I went out of my way to try fast-maturing varieties of everything, so fingers crossed I'll get to eat veggies real soon!