Monday, May 31, 2010

Death Day

I haven't done a Death Day post in a long time (happily enough!) but all this cool wet weather we're having is just wreaking some havoc on those warm weather loving plants like my Moon and Stars melon. ::cries a little bit::

It's fungualed, nibbled, has a split stem and in general looks like it's about to croak. I think I'll have to start a new one from seed and hope it isn't too late to get a harvest.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wet and wet

(Complain Train comin' through!) Oh, oh, oh I am getting so very sick of this cool wet weather. Sick, I say, sick! ::shakes fist at sky:: My garden doesn't like it much either. Everything is too wet. It took a break for a few hours today, long enough to get out and poke around for a minute or two but not much more then that.

The corn, peppers and basil are overwatered at this point. See the lovely yellow that says, Okay enough rain already!

Plus with all the wet I didn't get a chance to mow the lawn for the past couple of weeks, till today anyway. It's gotten a bit out of hand, though not quite as bad as before. I'd rather use the push mower but with the grass so wet it won't push through it. So yay for the gas mower in this case.

Then there are the fungal issues that are starting to crop up too. The cilantro is getting some sort of weird subtle bumpy texture to it but it's not the worst of it. Tomorrow for Death Day I have a real treasure to share. ::sigh:: I wish I didn't. I haven't killed anything in a long time!

The poor tarragon is looking pretty shabby too. The weather is rather conducive to happy slugs, snails and rolly-pollies.

On the other hand the bee's were out today pollenating the thyme.

The sage is also in bloom and dealing okay with the rain.

My lettuce is somehow managing to be slug free and looking good.

The potatoes (giant pile of plant on the right) are still going nuts.

And of course all the natives are going nuts on the north side of the house.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer now please?

This the coldest wettest spring we've had in a long time... bleh.  Weather records we've broken this month:


                                       NEW       OLD
LOCATION                                  RECORD       RECORD
PORTLAND AIRPORT         50            52               1950

(This is just south of where we live)
Oh Summer where are you?!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Come again some other day

rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain. rain.

Nothing to talk about lately, it's just one big giant wet puddle out there. I've done no gardening for a couple of weeks. I feel really bad because there are things that desperately need to be transplanted at this point. My beautiful pepper plants have all turned yellow and are finding it too cold. The basil is lagging and my sunflowers (started indoors) are needing to be transplanted - which I'd rather do then up-pot. The peach leaf curl on the other hand is quite happy as are the weeds. ::grumble, grumble::

Come on sunshine and warmer weather! Where are you?!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto's Hybrid Seeds

Best thing I've heard all day. Kudo's to the Haitian farmers!
Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto's Hybrid Seeds

"A new earthquake" is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto's seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.

In an open letter sent of May 14, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the Executive Director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti, "...a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds , and on what is left our environment in Haiti." Haitian social movements have been vocal in their opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food, which undermines local production with local seed stocks. They have expressed special concern about the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

For now, without a law regulating the use of GMOs in Haiti, the Ministry of Agriculture rejected Monsanto's offer of Roundup Ready GMO seeds. In an email exchange, a Monsanto representative assured the Ministry of Agriculture that the seeds being donated are not GMO.

Elizabeth Vancil, Monsanto's Director of Development Initiatives, called the news that the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture approved the donation "a fabulous Easter gift" in an April email. Monsanto is known for aggressively pushing seeds, especially GMO seeds, in both the global North and South, including through highly restrictive technology agreements with farmers who are not always made fully aware of what they are signing. According to interviews by this writer with representatives of Mexican small farmer organizations, they then find themselves forced to buy Monsanto seeds each year, under conditions they find onerous and at costs they sometimes cannot afford.

The hybrid corn seeds Monsanto has donated to Haiti are treated with the fungicide Maxim XO, and the calypso tomato seeds are treated with thiram. Thiram belongs to a highly toxic class of chemicals called ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs). Results of tests of EBDCs on mice and rats caused concern to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which then ordered a special review. The EPA determined that EBDC-treated plants are so dangerous to agricultural workers that they must wear special protective clothing when handling them. Pesticides containing thiram must contain a special warning label, the EPA ruled. The EPA also barred marketing of the chemicals for many home garden products, because it assumes that most gardeners do not have adequately protective clothing. Monsanto's passing mention of thiram to Ministry of Agriculture officials in an email contained no explanation of the dangers, nor any offer of special clothing or training for those who will be farming with the toxic seeds.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shoo fly don't bother me

Yeah, that cute little "bee" from a post ago? Not so cute. Apparently it's a...

Greater bulb fly - Merodon equestris - Family: Syrphidae

    Greater bulb fly - Merodon equestrisGreater bulb fly - Merodon equestris
    © Roger Key/English Nature

    This widespread and common hoverfly is a bumblebee mimic, taking on different colour forms to match various bumble bees. It is characterised by the strong projection on the hind femur, which gives it a thickened appearance.

    In spring, the males are seen flying low and hovering over short grass looking for a female. She lays eggs near bulbs, especially wild bluebells and daffodils, and larvae then enter and feed on the bulb. The adults may be seen in a greenhouse from February and outdoors from April to August.


    The adults feed on pollen and nectar of spring flowers, especially dandelion. The larvae burrow into bulbs of bluebells and other plants.

    I found the pupae emerging right beneath a stand of bluebells. This does not make me happy as at least half the plants in my front yard are some form of bulb or other.

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    First tomato blossom!

    Some show and tell...
    We got our first tomato blossom today!

    Also the very first few blueberry blossoms are starting to plump into blueberries... they have a long way to go yet. Most of them are still flowers that the big ol fat bumble bees love.

    The mint, thyme and sage are all going a little bonkers right now. It was nice to grab some thyme and sage to marinate a pork tenderloin in that we grilled up tonight.

    ...and there's my kid trying to be stealthy while rootin' around in the alpine strawberry plant. Yeah, no berry is safe with her around! She worse then the bugs. ;^)

    I also managed to get at least another row of corn planted but didn't quite get around to the carrots. I really should've as we're supposed to be pretty rainy for the next week. Guess I'll just have to attempt some more underwater gardening that's so typical to this region. ;^)

    I also managed to get pictures of all the beds today. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the blog you can see I've taken pictures of each raised bed at one month intervals. If you hover over an image it will tell you what month it was taken. Kinda fun to see the progress! I really can't believe how big the potato plants got in a month!

    Bees Knees

    Not sure if it's some sort of mason bee or a bee-mimicking-fly but it was cool to watch it wriggle out of it's pupae. Anyone know what it is? It was the most fun I've had while weeding a long while!

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Nylon Footies: Excellent Insect Barrier

    A lovely friend has passed this tidbit of info my way and I'm putting it here for future reference since I just planted the Honey Crisp apple tree this spring. It won't be long, undoubtedly before the wormies show up. I think this would be effective if you have one or two trees but I can't imagine anyone with a small orchard to go around putting footies over all their budding apples!


    The results are in; Nylon Footies are 100% effective against apple maggots & 96-98% effective against coddling moths. The environmentally effective way to protect your fruit without spraying is easy to apply. The key to the effective barrier is time of application. Nylon Footies must be applied BEFORE the codling moth emerges in early spring. Apple maggot fruit fly emerges after the codling moth.

    Easy to Apply

    I was an advocate of paper bagging fruit. I now advocate use of nylon footies because they are just as effective but much easier to apply. I apply the footie when fruit thinning for apples within 40 days of petal fall to help eliminate alternate bearing by sliding the footie over my little finger and bunching the nylon so that at least half of the length of the footie slides up the fruit. I make sure the top of the nylon covers the stem. That's it, no tying the nylon to the fruit stem or branch. Footies also work well on short fruit stemmed varieties, whereas, paper bags do not.

    When thinning fruit, it is the general rule not to have two fruits on one spur because they will touch each other. If two fruits touch each other most of the time the coddling moth larva will enter where they touch. I placed nylon footies on 6 pairs of fruit that touched each other to see if they would become wormy. Results: not one of the six pairs of fruit had coddling moth or apple maggot.


    Nylon Footies stretch as the fruit grows. When removed from the fruit it is still stretched. One HOS member has washed stretched nylon footies and said they shrunk to their original size. I have hand washed about 200 used nylon footies and dried them is a dryer and all shrunk but a few (>5%) still had a slightly larger opening than non-used nylon Footies. It appears and we will know next season if they will stay on the fruit.


    HOS is now selling them on this website. See the Fruit Footies page for details.


    Bits and Bobs

    Not much going on in the garden... just letting things grow. I've got some corn to plant as I'm trying to stagger the harvest. It's so hard to not want to plant it all right now! Also hardly any of my carrots came up this year which is disappointing. I'm not sure why. My only guess is I didn't have a board to lay down over the carrots after seeding. I wonder if they just got too dried out? Anyway, I'll try to reseed this weekend to see if I can't a few more to sprout.

    Otherwise I have a very healthy crop of weeds coming up in the front yard. It's actually rather embarrassing. I've tried to get out there and pull up weeds for at least a few minutes every day but I'm totally out numbered. Heh.

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Attack of the killer potato plants!

    My potatoes apparently LOVE where they're at. They're taking over everything. I actually had to corral them yesterday to keep them from getting any more crazy ideas. They've already shaded out all my spinach, which I got three leaves from. Foo! (I finally get it to grow and then don't get to eat any of it. ::sigh::) They pushed over two broccoli plants and are crowding out the peas now too. Dang it! I wish I had a separate spot for potatoes that didn't involve the garden beds. I might have to really do something about that next year. Of course with the new "potato collar" it sure does make hilling up a lot easier! I was thinking they'd be a bit more slow growing and the peas would've had a chance to get a little taller then the spuds. With the collar in place I don't know what'll happen with the peas and broccoli behind it... probably they won't get enough sun. Shoot. I like potatoes and all but not sure I like them at the expense of my peas and broccoli. ::grumble, grumble:: At least I have potato leek soup to look forward to later in the summer... mmmmm. =)

    On the bright side the thyme is in bloom and the bees are loving it...

    Also all the bush and pole beans have sprouted so that's lovely too.

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    The allure of the garden

    Today I should've been in bed recuperating. Alas, I found myself sitting in the garden reading a book and drinking coffee. It was such a lovely day reaching just to 80*F/26.6*C and how could I stay inside after a long wet cool spring? So there I found myself again in the garden. I thought to myself, well, planting just *one* row of corn wouldn't be too strenuous. Oh, and I've been meaning to put my cilantro starts in the ground too and well the next thing you know I'm doing all sorts of things I really shouldn't be doing because I'm sick you see. However the allure of the garden was too strong to over come. I did totally crash late in the afternoon for a three hour nap though. Perhaps I over did it?

    Being the studious gardener that I am, I took copious notes.

    Soon to be a tasty strawberry

    Happy sunny marigolds

    The last of the pasque flowers

    Bleeding Heart

    Baby peaches *Squeeee*!

    Chive flowers - I love how pretty these are.

    And the uninvited guest, the ever present dandelion, beautiful in its own right.

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    April sure flew by in a hurry!

    Really? I haven't posted here in almost three weeks?! Whoa. Sorry all! Life was busy and then it came to a screeching halt. (I've had the stomach flu for the past week) but hey! Now I've got time to sit down and talk about dirt! (and the lovely plants that grow it in)

    So, I finally got to harvest something - woo! Mostly I grow the radishes for DH who loves them. I'm not a big fan but I do like them on fish tacos. I hope I don't miss my window of opportunity here... (stomach flu + fish taco = bad idea). Maybe once these are gone I'll plant another round in the same spot.

    The sacs of orb weavers have been hatching all around the property this spring. I love it when they're so teeny tiny (size of a pin head each in this picture). The kiddlet refers to them as Halloween Spiders because of their yellow and black coloring.

    Speaking of the kiddlet, she's started her very own little garden in a pot on the front porch. It's not much yet but I hope it does well for her. She picked out the seed pack herself in late winter.

    The large iris are just coming into bloom in the front. They're so pretty.

    We had our last average frost date pass a few weeks back so I was able to plant out quite a bit. I'm a little more cautious this year however as the temps have been on the cool side. So for the first time ever I used water cloches. It was interesting setting them up.

    You can see the wee little melon plant to the left of the bucket? That's what I'll be protecting.

    I put the bucket over the plant and set the plastic cloche around the bucket which offers both support and temporary protection for the plant.

    Here I fill the little compartments with water.

    Then I remove the bucket.

    There's the little melon all tucked in!

    Tomatoes shouldn't be put out in the garden with temps lower then 55* at night unless they're cloched. They shouldn't be put out at all if the night time temps are lower then 45* (or so I've been told) as it stunts their growth. So being the impatient tomato lover I am - I put them in the garden with their fancy new little red hats. It's still hovering around 45* here at night so they'll keep their covers on for a good while yet.

    The tomatoes don't seem to mind the water cloches at all. I also put them over the melons but they don't seem nearly as happy. I know it's because it's too cold for them even with the protection. Also I've got some gnawing little critters that have trapped themselves in with the melons. I put out some Sluggo in the hopes it'll take care of it. I haven't been able to check in a while on them since I've been stuck in bed. The one day I did sneak out side to check on the babies I got scolded for being outside and chased back into bed. I'm hoping to sneak back out there again this afternoon. Heh.

    What else is going on in the garden? Oh yes, the dreaded Cabbage Worm Moth is back. I've been out checking the broccoli and squishing the little eggs off the undersides of the leaves. I was pretty vigilant about it, hope none of them have hatched while I've been stuck inside.

    Apparently I was also half asleep in March when I planted the potatoes.. they accidentally went in under where I'd planned on planting spinach. Now it's just a big mish-mash and I know the spinach will suffer for it. I finally get the spinach to grow and now this! Bah! It makes me so! ::grumble-grumble-grumble:::

    Since the taters are doing really well already I've hilled up around the russet which came up first. I'll hill up the other varieties as soon as they're a little bigger.

    Waiting for the lettuce to get a bit bigger too. I can hardly wait for the first spring salad...