Saturday, June 28, 2014

Welcome Saturday June Gardening class

That 45minute class sure zipped by.
For the beginning square foot gardeners I have this step by step list.
See the rest of my blog for other helpful helps, like how to mix your soil.

1.  Find a location that will provide the most warmth.  

     Warmth comes from the South, from protected areas, from good airflow
from other warm areas, 

Cold comes from areas that drop lower than the air flow, from areas
that are deeply shaded, from air patterns that travel North and then to your

2. Collect the materials to hold your square foot garden. NO TREATED Lumber.  

Free materials are GR-REAT. Watch Craigs list.  I only had
to drive into woodinville for cardboard but got all the wood for a box
by picking up a shipping crate on Queen Ann.  

3. Collect your soil, 1/3 peat moss (caution it is compressed) 1/3 vermiculite (if you can't find it
    add it when you get it one square at a time)  1/3 compost 5 different materials included.  
    Use a volume measurement not a weight

4. Mix your soil on a tarp, you need something to push the soil around and some way to get the       finished soil into your boxes.

 I use a rake upside down to evenly spread my ingredients.
Check the blog for step by step mixing

5. Put your soil in your box and put your square markers on.  Use what you have or go for the
    pretty look of white painted boards. 

6. Check the chart I gave you, see what's good to plant in June and July. 

 Plant the square foot way

 X-Large plants 1 per 12" square
Broccoli, cabbage, peppers, egg plant, tomato

some are so large they take 2 to 4 squares,
Zucchini and any non vine squash
You can grow the vine squash upward!

Large plants, 4 per square
Leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, parsley, flowers, Basil

Medium plants 9 per square
bush beans (love them!), spinach, beets, garlic, spinach, 

Small 16 plants per square
radishes, carrots, green onions, chives

Growing upward per square
1 tomato 2 cucumbers, 8 pole beans, 4 potato

So go start these steps and check back for heat units, and seeds that fit
the seasons of the northwest 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Thoughts about our gardening group

I am still growing my own food as much as possible. 

I am still learning tons about how 40 years of doing 
something changes it and you.

  The Gourmet Gardening Group
 has disbanded.

This seems to be a very in-active blog.


It's 2014 and there are now millions of blogs
I have no desire to compete 
I am just a grower of food with only the desire to keep 
doing that very thing.  

So what do you think...shall I keep this blog going?

I was in Harare, Zimbabwe In November/Dec.
It was once the bread basket of Africa.
There are many farmers in the population
but because of an unwise (I'm being careful)
leader there are no longer farms. 
 There are now little vegetable plots.  
They sell their product on the side of the road
or walk between cars
 (lots of broken lights
mean lots of time in traffic)
You can smell the peaches as they walk by your window
Yes we bought some!

I bring this up because food made a big impression on me
as I traveled around Africa.  

If you can't grow your own food and big companies take the rights
to your seeds and only momocrops are grown one day we could be
in just as serious a condition as those wonderful people of Zimbabwe.

And I'm now talking about the good ole U.S.A

Shouldn't we each know how to grow a little fresh food for ourselves?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bartlett Pears

I'm watching my pears trees,
 my mouth is watering but it is
 an act of patience.

Bartlett pears have to be taken off the tree and ripened in a cool place.  
The perfect time approaches.  Here in the Bothell/Woodinville area
it is sometime between the last week of Aug and the first week of Sept. 

People walk by my trees and ask why I'm not picking anything.
I have to tell them there is a time for each tree.  Apples in the fall and 
pears late summer.  They don't always believe me and will pick something
I hope they find it very sour indeed.  

So watch for loose stems when you lift up on a pear and if anything is falling
 now you might be too late 
so harvest that whole tree RIGHT NOW

 I'll be picking mine in a couple of days

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Did you plant some seeds?

The last two weeks were warm!
We broke records for May.

After our classes did you remember how warmth 
cuts down on the time of a seed to sprout?

I planted my beans earlier than I usually do
It was warm and they won't be sitting in the cold wet ground

Beans won't sprout even at 50 degrees but give them
68 degrees and they will sprout in Eleven days

Give a bean seed 77 degrees and they sprout in eight days.

Can you see why I don't plant them in May usually?

Now is a choice time.  Plant like crazy.

Put a scoop of compost in the spot and plant a seed today!

It will rain this week-end and then warm up again.

Think I'll go put some cucumber seeds in!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Getting you started on a new fruit tree

Now is the time!

Buy a couple of fruit trees and grow them
along a fence, a building, a wall. 
  It's not hard to do but MUST 
be started in a young tree.

It's not a big project
prepare the supports and 
Just do the follow up trimming and tying 
and you will have fruit in not too many years.

This is not a new way to grow fruit trees
In fact it is very old 
and these directions came out
a very old sunset book. 

Apples trees usually are trimmed with only 5 main branches
so this is a logical use for apples.  
Consider plum, and pears also, though
any fruit tree can be trained this way.

You need to buy your tree in it's first or early second year in order
to start with a pliable tree.

Start with a sturdy support, all ready to go.  
You will not want to be building around the training plant.

Yes this takes 5 to 10 years to get smoothly trained but so 
do the big trees!

So with a couple of fruit trees, a couple of blue berry
plants and a few pots of veggies you have an
instant start to gardening.

Blue berries need another bush that blooms when it does,
Early with Early
Mid season with Mid season
Late with Late season.
There can be some cross over of seasons with success.

Pears need another pear tree to produce. 


Saturday, June 23, 2012

growing potatoes in cans and having problems

It was time for more potato cans... 

We have been growing potatoes in 2 very old plastic trash 
cans for so many years they are 
falling apart. 

This spring I bought several new plastic cans.
Cheap ones (by today's standards).
They were deeper, heavier and as I thought built to 
last many potato harvests down the road.


Look at what is happening.

The light blue/gray can is an old one, it is thin and lots of light comes through it.
 The potatoes are growing as they should be.

The black or very dark green can in the back ground was planted the same day as 
all three cans were.  It was perhaps warmer being black.  However it is not
growing well at all.  The wall are thick and didn't allow the sun through in the early 
growing of the potatoes.

The lighter green can is new also, in the foreground, the plants are so small
they are still not growing well. 

 Thick plastic not good I'm thinking. 

This is the can that is not growing well they are barely 1/3 the way up the can. Sad!

Oh look at this gray can, my very oldest one. 
it is growing so very well!  Oh to have more old cans.  
All potatoes were planted the same day and in the same way!

My suggestion, keep them in a warm place.  I've moved all the
cans to the cement patio in the sun.. They still won't grow as well.

Maybe if you beat me to the local garage sells you'll find 
some old thin plastic cans.  

Once again  SAD


All the potatoes are harvested.  Some very nice ones but clearly 
the heavy trash cans had much smaller potatoes.   It's good to hear
Kevin has had success near warm stones and metal containers.

My Helpers

How to eat from a home garden

When you consider price, work, weather, bugs etc
 gardening can seem very un-necessary.

Why would I be so driven to grow my own food when I can buy it in the store?

1) The taste of home grown food can not in any way compare to the store bought
2) When it comes to variety home grown can beat store bought hands down
3) fresh, nothing can be fresher than a pre-dinner walk to gather your supplies for dinner.
4) harvest when the food is perfectly ripe has to be my favorite reason home gardens are wonderful.

In thinking about the above list let me add some things for you to consider.  

We do not need to let our home grown plants
 get the size of store bought. 

 We are so lucky to be able to harvest our food when it is young and tasty.

If you wait for your produce to get as large as store bought
 you'll miss out on the yummy taste that is possible.

Here are some examples:
Peas as soon as formed are better than large peas
lettuce cut from the outside of a plant, leaving the plant to keep growing is tender and sweet
Bush beans are wonderful when only 4 inches long
Carrots are sweet and tasty when not too old
Spinach collected a few small leaves at a time make perfectly heavenly salads
Beet greens taken young are very tender as is kale and chard leaves.
Zucchini is perfect at 6 inches long
beets that are the size of golf ball roast in the oven so nicely

Some plants that do need more time to be fully grown are
winter squash
storing onions

They each have signs that show they are ready to eat.
Potatoes need to bloom and die down

Garlic needs to have some warmth to form a bulb 
and then they will dry to about 4 leaves left before harvest

Peppers can get bigger before harvest and be wonderful and juicy

Eggplant need some bulk to be good

Onions can be harvested small, med or large.  They need some dry weather and
the greens to die them over when the onions decide to flower.  

I think we all agree that tomatoes are better when they get red, 
or orange or yellow, anything
except green!

A very good habit to make is to walk through the garden every 
day when planning your evening meal.  
You will learn to eat from all that is in your home garden and become a garden Gourmet.