Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Summer recap 2018 and garden lessons learned...

In the Garden

Our first big garden and there were lots of lessons learned:

The wind can do more damage than the cold/hot temperatures.  
I didn't realize how damaging the wind can be.  In the spring, I was so concerned about cold temperatures and the possibility of a freeze wiping out plants that I had planted early.  BUT the wind can do more damage with knocking plants over that do not have a well established roots system.  Also, the wind can dry things out quickly which can be damaging to the plants.

Seedlings this past spring waiting to go out and be planted in the garden.
Water, water, water is so important.
In north Idaho, you HAVE to have a plan for watering.  The past 3 months, we have had 1 rain of about 1/3 inch.  In August, we had a few days where it got up to 100 degrees.  I implemented some drip hoses and I will need to buy more for next year.  This was a bit of an investment but it will pay off in the long run.  I need to figure out a better system for watering the raised bed stock tanks.  I have an idea already...

Over plant and then thin...seed is cheap but losing 2 weeks of growing weather is expensive.
I was a bit stingy with the seed when planting.  Then, the slugs came in and ate most of the small seedlings.  So, next year, I will plant more and then thin out (or let the slugs thin it out).  The growing season is so short here that you don't want to have to start over.  I am also going to start looking for and buying the shortest season plant seeds I can find.

Slugs are the worst! 
For such a dry climate, I could not believe how many slugs I had eating my sunflowers and lettuces and anything else they could get to (this was mostly in the spring)!  I am going to have to be more proactive about the slugs next year. 

Here is a pic of the celery that I am blanching (that is why I have the paper bags around them).  I harvested them yesterday and cut up put in the dehydrator.  What you can't see is that I had to throw away over half of the celery due to slug damage.  I still got a lot of celery but will set things up differently next year...

I will need to grow a LOT more if I want to preserve things!
We did fine with providing vegetables all summer for our family.  We had fresh spinach, lettuce, beets, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, summer squash, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, onions, garlic, corn and peas during the growing season.  This was our first attempt at having a large garden and I was a bit limited on the planting space since I was mostly using the hay bale gardening.  I think once we have the raised beds up and going, we will have a lot more space to plant in them.  Henry built a couple raised beds already and I am just shocked at how much growing space there is (compared to the top of a hay bale).  I did get to dehydrate a few things and I will can some salsa and freeze some corn and green beans.
Veggies growing in the top of hay bales.
Sunflower recap
The peach and white sunflowers just did not work.  The bugs just LOVED the peach sunflowers.  I may actually keep planting them strictly to use as a trap crop for the bugs.  As I mentioned previously, I had trouble with slugs eating the seedling.   I made the rows WAY too close together and I have already taken steps to expand the sunflower growing area for next year.  The voles still got in and got a few of the sunflowers but overall the sunflowers did well! 
Vole damage on end of sunflower stalk.
Birds, Bats, and Bees...
It appears that something is using one of the bee blocks I made!  Nothing is in the other bee block.  I will move it to a better location.
I know several of the bird houses that I made were used.  I have not seen any bats.  I think we are going to move the bat house too.

We made some time for fun at Silverwood.  Mark did not want to get out of the wave pool for like 2 hours!
Joshua, Henry, and Mark in the wave pool at Silverwood.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Now that's an Idaho potato...

In the Garden

I decided to harvest my potatoes yesterday.  The potatoes were grown in the hay bales and we have been stealing some out of the bales as we needed them the past couple of months.  Last time I went in to take some, it seemed to me that some of them were starting to sprout.  So, even though the tops had not died back, I decided to harvest the potatoes.  I was pleasantly surprised!

Potato that is way bigger than my hand.
The good thing about the hay bale garden harvesting is how easy it was to do.  I just had to peel back pieces of the hay bale and grab the potatoes out.  No digging.  No accidentally stabbing potatoes with a fork.  No cutting them in half with a shovel. 
Potatoes growing in the hay bale.
 I had planted 3 bales and harvested a 5 gallon bucket of potatoes!  This doesn't count all the potatoes that we had eaten before I went in to "officially" harvest.

Another reason that I wanted to start harvesting them is because we are starting to make some raised beds and I needed a place to put them.  Henry made the frame and I put hardware cloth on the bottom.  It is a little hard to see but the bunch of plants at the end of the bed is the last of the potatoes.  As I harvested them out, I just threw the half rotted hay into the bottom of the new raised bed.

As I had noted in my garden post about a month ago, I almost gave up on even growing the potatoes in the bales.  It took me 3 tries to get them going.  I am SO glad I didn't give up on this!  I also have a 100 gallon potato bag.  I harvested that too.  I didn't even get enough potatoes to fill the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket.  From now on, it will be hay/straw bale potatoes for us!!!

Another note...I planted white and red potatoes.  I got maybe a total of 5 red potatoes.  For some reason, they just did not grow as well.  Maybe I planted more red potatoes in my first 2 failed attempts.  I really can't remember.  I will definitely be saving some of these white potatoes for planting next spring.  I also want to try some other varieties next year.  

Now, I am curing the potatoes and then I will store them.  Here is a great article on storing potatoes.

Next project, besides continuing with building the raised beds, is planting these overwintering onions that I started indoors last month...