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Archive for the ‘organic gardening’ Category

It has begun.

Logan and Kaia planted sunflowers about two weeks ago for the Great Sunflower Project. Two little shoots popped out of the ground last week.

They’re gone now, a telltale mound running directly beneath where they used to be.

This, of course, means war. So I went to Farm Supply to pick up something that will either a) repel the gophers or b) kill them. I’m going with option a) first, but if that doesn’t work I will move to option b) with extreme prejudice. The first attempt is blood meal.

Updates to follow. Keep your fingers crossed that the gophers get the hint and I don’t have to resort to more drastic measures.

Think Caddyshack.

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And what a beautiful weekend it was for shooting scenes and planting veggies!

First, we prepped:

  • We soaked the beds thoroughly
  • I tilled to loosen the dense loam
  • We sprayed worm “tea” (read: poop) on the soil and then tilled it under

Then we planted:

Lots o' bounty!

As you can see, the right-hand bed still has some hangers-on from the winter planting. We’re going to make the plants in this bed multi-seasonal.

The mound in the middle is comprised of a) my failed composting efforts and b) my successful (though unintentional) greenhouse efforts: the little cantaloupes had started in the “compost” so I just transplanted them to the mound. I’m a genius (also unintentional).

potatoes-day-1

Finally, we planted some potatoes, some already started—again, from my composter-turned-greenhouse.

Now we water, we weed, and we wait for the sweet, sweet rewards!

How about you? Have you planted your summer garden?

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I’m not very good at the whole “right on schedule” thing, I must admit. That said, here are a few shots of the “winter” garden just as we start to transition into a “summer” garden.

Here in SLO we should probably label the seasons “wet” and “dry,” but I’m splitting hairs.

I’m afraid we pulled some of the leeks a tad early. (Sorry, Heidi! It looks like we’ll have to use non-homegrown leeks for the lasagna). The white parts need to be, like, three times longer.

On a positive note, the broccoli is finally taking off. I can’t wait to dig in! (In fact, I kinda already sneaked some. Shhh…)

In a week or two I’m going to post a detailed review of our winter garden. In the meantime, here’s a quick winter garden wrap up, with the winners, the competitors, and the also-ran.

The winners:

  • bok choy (one word: prolific)
  • leaf lettuce (just keeps growing and growing and…)
  • spinach (just keeps growing and growing and…)
  • green onions (SO sweet and tangy)
  • radishes (our fastest growers of the season!)

The competitors

  • broccoli (slow starter, but we’re seeing action now!)
  • head lettuce (died back very quickly after reaching “peak”)
  • leeks (need lots of time to grow)

The also-ran

  • red and yellow bulb onions (la de da, any DAY now)
  • carrots (had better luck with the summer batch)

I must say, it was a great first experience with a winter (wet season) garden. I’m already planning for next year.

How about you? Did you do a winter garden? How did it go?

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Thank you, Freecycle! We just picked up two real (as in designed for the purpose) worm bins. And we even got the red wrigglers. Now, along with our homemade bin, we will have plenty of compost and castings. Plenty.

Worms and all!

The woman who freecycled the bins told us that she had gotten them for free from the City of SLO. Time to put on the Deerstalker and investigate!

Hercules and Catwoman are thrilled!

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I love the rain! So does the garden!

So do the weeds. It was time to do some serious weeding.

I pulled the big weeds right out of the rain-soft ground. I’ve found there’s actually an art to pulling weeds with the entire rootstalk intact. And I really get into the challenge of seeing how many weeds I can pull out whole.

The kids jumped right in. Logan gathered the weeds I’d pulled and Kaia played in the mud.

On the smaller weeds we used straight white vinegar, which is, as I’ve said before, the edible version of Round Up.

And by edible I mean, if you get a bit peckish while your weeding just grab some lettuce, apply a little of your weed killer, and voilà! instant salad.

It’s weird: a project can look massive and onerous, but once I get rolling it’s done in half the time AND I end up enjoying it. Or maybe that’s just me—made half crazy from all the vinegar.

P.S. I also wanted to demonstrate my awesome weed-pulling skillz with an animated gif, but the site that would have allowed me to do that suffered a server crash, so…another time!

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So, we started our winter garden in December to film it, which was actually a bit late. And it was just pure luck that we are having such a warm winter and and everything is growing like crazy. If you’d like to take advantage of the beautiful weather, too, it’s not too late to throw some “winter” veggies in the ground.

The best way to find out what to plan is to check with local nurseries. They’ll stock up on the veggies that are in season and ready for planting. Farm Supply (who I absolutely love, by the way) is carrying broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, bok choy (OMG, Bok Choy is the winter version of zucchini) seed potatoes, onion sets, peas, and lots of other cold-loving plants.

If you have some organic garlic cloves around stick them in the garden, too.

You can start many of the plants—like radishes, carrots, spinach, lettuce—from seeds since they are fast growers. Others you can start from…starts. Hah! Once again, check with your local nursery, they’re the experts.

The Old Farmers Almanac has a time schedule for planting by the moon. So if this is your first or you are going to plant the second round like we are, now is the time.

  • The time to plant flowers and veggies that bear crops ABOVE ground is during the LIGHT of the moon that is, from the day the moon is new to the day it is full, this is a waxing moon. I like to think of it as wax on, like in Karate Kid. Wax on is a clockwise motion adding to the light of the moon. Waxing. Above ground crops Brussel sprouts, lettuce, Bok Choy (OMG) radishes, spinach, etc.
  • Flowering bulbs and veggies that bear crops BELOW ground should be planted during the DARK of the moon: that is, from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again. This is called the waning moon. Again, in Karate Kid Wax off. So this is a counter clockwise motion decreasing the light of the moon. Waning. Below the ground crops like Potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, leeks, etc.

The month of February starts out with a waxing moon so plant above ground crops up until 2/9. The full snow moon is 2/9. So plant your below ground crops on the waning or dark of the moon. Or not. Some swear that planting by the moon makes a real difference. Others, who have to get stuff in the ground so they can film it, do it whenever they can. (I’m sure Samson will write a post about how he’s SKEPTICAL about planting by the moon. I say skeptical, schmeptical).

Old Farmer’s Almanac shows the following planting dates according to the moon for:

  • BEETS 2/10-23
  • BROCCOLI 2/24-3/10
  • BRUSSEL SPROUTS AND CABBAGE 2/24-3/10
  • CARROTS 2/15-23
  • CAULIFLOWER 2/24-3/7
  • CELERY 2/24-28
  • COLLARDS 2/24-3/10
  • ENDIVE 2/24-3/10
  • KALE 2/24-3/10
  • LEEKS 2/15-23
  • LETTUCE 2/24-3/7
  • ONION SETS 2/10-23
  • PARSLEY 2/24-3/10
  • POTOTOES 2/10-23
  • SPINACH 2/7-9, 2/24-3/10
  • SWISS CHARD 2/7-9, 2/24-3/10
  • WHEAT, SPRING 2/24-28

Plant away! And we’d love to hear how it goes. Oh, and if you have any other questions, leave them in the comments. Oh, and if you have a nursery you really like, let us know about that, too.

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The update is here! (I’m saying this like I’ve POSTED other updates to see if I can fool you. How’s it working?)

Right now we’re getting about 16 oz of leaf lettuce and several radishes a week, and we’re growing enough bok choy to open a small Chinese restaurant. I’m looking forward to harvesting the spinach next!

The bulb onions are taking forever, which we expected. So are the carrots, which we didn’t. I WANT BABY CARROTS!

The nasturtiums and marigolds are coming in nicely, though we haven’t had any real bug problems anyway. Something likes the bok choy, but only a little bit, so I’m okay with sharing. Plus, it’s the bok choy. We have PLENTY.

When we were out watering last week, Logan, my ever-vigilant son, pulled up several of the head lettuce shoots thinking they were weeds. Oh well, they went very nicely in the afternoon salad.

My only concern at the moment is the broccoli. It’s looking a bit stringy and anemic. Waiting to see if broccoli start off as gangly youth before they grow into strapping young stalks.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for the next in the series! Because I’m going to make it a series! Honest!

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Radish Shooters

I’ve always loved radishes with salt. And I also have an affinity for the occasional tequila shooter (pop the tequila, lick the salt, suck the lime). So, while I was munching the most recent batch of radishesI was shocked at the white one! (cool colors, huh?) I had a stroke of genius:

Radish Shooters!

Organic sea salt, of course!

Pop the radish,

Say "aaaaah."

lick the salt

Organic sea salt, of course!

…now if only I had a lime. Seriously, I wonder how that would taste…

A few more and I'll have to take a cab.

I really need to get out more.

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So I am sitting in my favorite coffee house, Black Horse (which used to be called Uptown and which is where I used to work in my college days sooooo long ago). After the euporia of my latte began to wear off and more pragmatic thoughts began to filter through my brain, a conversation I’d had with my mom bubbled back to the surface. It was about coffee grounds. Coffee grounds and gardens. And reusing. And not wasting.

You see, coffee grounds are GREAT for my garden. And Black Horse has LOTS of coffee grounds. Therefore, getting LOTS of coffee grounds from Black Horse would be GREAT for my garden. Oooooh, I LOVE logic! (You can tell that by now my latte high has completely dissipated).

Seriously, Eric makes the BEST lattes.

I asked Eric—the manager and coffee hero who created my nectar-of-the-gods—if Black Horse recycled its grounds. His response was measured and polite.

“Hell no. We have way too many grounds for that.” He pointed to the trash bins where they deposited the steaming remains of brewed and espressoed coffee.

“But you would give them to someone who asked?” I pressed.

“Sure. In fact, we have a few people who come in for that already. Why, were you thinking about some for your garden?”

My opening arriveth on golden wings.

“Yep. And I have a few other friends who might like some, too.”

Do I ever. Here’s the deal: if you live in SLO and you need grounds, feel free to stop by and ask for a bag of grounds. Better yet, bring your own bag. Tell Eric that Samson sent you. If we get enough interest, I’ll formalize this with Eric and we’ll create an actual Grounds for the Garden program, which will benefit everyone involved:

  • Us gardeners will get some beautiful high-quality grounds for free
  • Black Horse will reduce their trash fees and get increased customer pass-through
  • We’ll be taking waste bound for a landfill and reusing it to produce necessary commodities

If you’re NOT from SLO, have you considered asking your local coffeehouse about reusing their grounds? They’ll probably be up for it if you explain the potential benefits.

Huzzah for community involvement!

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We filmed the planting about a three weeks ago for Episode 6. Just after we planted the weather got really cold and it rained a lot. I was afraid we’d have some frozen, drowned plants, but they apparently loved the weather because they’re doing great. Despite my influence, even. I’m liking this whole winter garden thing because I don’t even have to worry about watering—very much.

Today, after spending the majority of Christmas doing as little as possible (and what a wonderful day it was!), I decided to venture outside to take a few photos for everyone to see.

We’ve planted some head lettuce, some…well, just listen to the audio I recorded. And listen to Logan’s call-to-action at the end. He’s our #1 marketer!

The kids in the garden (Update 2: The link is working now!)

And here are some photos to go with the audio. Gives you a sense of place, and kids, and coldness…

Quiz: What did Logan get for Christmas? (It hasn’t left his side yet).

Is anyone else tending a winter garden? Have you done it in the past? Do you have suggestions for us? Sound off in the comments!

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