Posts Tagged ‘organic gardening’

Returning from our morning walk, my wife turns to me, “Pat, the field is looking seedy.  Should we mow it?”  “Yeah, let’s mow it,” I say, wondering if there’s enough gas.  Hmmm, I think I’ll try the new EGO battery mower to see if it’ll work on the thicker grass.  To my surprise it works well.

3513 Pat mowing with EGO, 7-4-16 copy

July 4th…Independence Day. Mowing thick grass with the EGO cordless electric mower. I’m not producing carbon emissions. I’M INDEPENDENT OF FOSSIL FUEL.

We usually mow the field with the big DR Brush cutter.  It’s about 11 hp and uses quite a bit of gas, so I was very impressed that the EGO cordless mower could handle this thicker and taller grass.

3529 Leave some Heal's All, Bird's Foot Trefoil for bees, 7-4-16

Leave some “No Mow Zones” for the bees. Here’s some healsall plants and some yellow Bird’s Foot Trefoil.

3527 Left some tall grass for the deer, 7-4-16

I left some tall grass too, for the deer. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to feed the deer, but there are so many juicy temptations in the garden that they feasted on last year. In a way, I am thanking the deer for not jumping the new deer fence into the garden. Maybe it’s more of a distraction, but so far it works. We’ve been picking up the “June drop” apples along with the mountains of ripe plums and scattering them in an area where we can see them eat (outside the garden, of course.)

3514 Wheelbarrow load of clippings, 7-4-16 copy

We fill several wheelbarrow loads. What are we using the grass clippings for, you ask? For mulch in the garden. We are coming into the dry season. We’re on a shallow well, so we try to conserve on water usage. Mulch cuts down on the need for water. I scatter the lawn clippings out in the sun. I’ll turn them tomorrow morning. It only takes a couple of sunny days to dry them out enough. (I’ve learned my lesson. Years ago I used fresh lawn clippings over newly planted potatoes. I couldn’t figure out why no potatoes were growing. Pulling up the mulch, I realized the grass had burned off the sprouts.)

With the advances in battery technology, it’s exciting to be able to do more and more things without using fossil fuels.  If it’s true what most scientists are saying, then our grandchildren are facing a future of mass starvation, cities underwater, and out of control wildfires.  With that being a possibility, we are very willing to reduce our carbon emissions as much as possible.

3492 Cousins, 7-1-16 copy

July 4…Our grandchildren.

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3146 Entrance into Sue's secret garden, 5-18-16

May 18…This is the entrance. Just today Sue was able to get the path covered with wood shavings. She says, “I feel like this is a secret garden. I can’t wait to show the grand kids.”

3142 Pat's block work, 5-18-16

The project involved some block work by you know who. (Note to self…never make suggestions to someone about block work unless you’re prepared to do it yourself.)

3129 Sue's (semi) Secret Garden, 5-18-16

Sue has added the planters with lobelia, snap dragons from seed, and Clary Sage Salvia (also from seeds this year), hoping to attract some bees. The squash barrels contain butternut, Red Hubbard, and Sugar Pie pumpkin starts. Between the planters and the squash is the Witch Hazel which we bought a couple of years ago, but it didn’t  do well in the clay pot we chose for it. We hope it comes back and blooms in winter. It’s next to an Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium).

3159 Sue in new garden room, 5-19-16.JPG++++

I asked Sue to sit down for a moment so I could take a photo.

3144 Hugelbed, cosmos, marigolds, phacelia, 5-18-16

The hugelkulture bed is technically in the new garden too. It’s getting planted with cosmos, marigolds, phacellia, California poppies, and more marigolds.

3145 Looking over hugel bed, 5-18-16

This is the other end of the hugelkulture bed, looking back towards the tall echium.

Some other garden scenes…

3196 Potatoes growing well, 5-22-16

May 22…Potatoes growing well.

3121 Turnip blossoms, mulched lettuce, 5-18-16

May 18…..My wife says it was a mistake to mulch the lettuce. It takes quite a bit of time to remove the straw when you want to eat it. In the background you can see the turnip flowers heavy with growth. This is our turnip seed source. The bees are still working it for now. For the record, these turnips, which were planted directly over crab shells last year, grew all winter.

3195 Pole beans planted, 5-22-16

Because of the new deer fence, I can plant pole beans for the first time in about 25 years. It’ll be fun watching the vine crawl up the bamboo poles.

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I love the May garden. Everything is so lush and and green.

3002 Garden looking SW, 5-8-16JPG

May 8…Looking over the garden to the southwest, Sue’s foxgloves (grown from seeds) provide the foreground colors, the volunteer Tower of Jewels (or echium Pininana) to the left, yellow turnip and kale flowers all attract the bees.

3007 Potatoes, peas, cultivator, 5-8-16

The potatoes are up.  I just tilled between the rows with the little cultivator below.

3009 Cultivator, 5-8-16

For several years, we tried to garden without using fossil fuel. We prided ourselves on the ability to spade the garden and then hoe out the weeds. But now we’re several years older. Last month when we were faced with the task of planting potatoes, my wife says, “Let’s get the old Troy-Bilt tiller out.” Yes, it started on the second pull, but it also is waaaay too big for the raised beds. Reverse doesn’t work on it anymore and plus…it uses fossil fuel!!! Enter the battery-powered Greenworks cultivator. It’s easy to use, works well in the raised beds, and USES NO FOSSIL FUELS!

2988 Peas growing outside, first time 20 yrs, 5-6-16

Peas planted outside…first time in about 25 years (because of the deer fence.)  I added a couple of rows of carrots in the middle after I tilled it one more time.

3005 Buckwheat, tomatoes, peas+carrots, potatoes, 5-8-16

Buckwheat is growing well, tomatoes need cages, peas and carrots, potatoes in far back.

2931 Sue plants corn, 5-2-16

May 2…..Sue plants some corn.

2941 Sue plants lettuce, 5-3-16

…and a second batch of lettuce.

2998 Tall lobelia transp. 5-8-16

Just for the fun of it, we bought some giant lobelia (Lobelia fistulosa) for the hummingbirds and bees. A daisy to the left and the Knockout dahlia in the center back. The dahlia has flowers that attract leaf cutter bees (at 1:18)  It’s fun to watch the leaf cutters in action.

3036 Creative drip watering, 5-10-16

II had to get creative with the drip water grid for the squash. I’ve been accused of planting the squash too close together in years past. This time, there are only 5 hills here, where I’ve planted 10 or more hills before. The idea is we will get more if we don’t crowd them. I left the turnip flowers for the bees (and for next year’s seeds)

3034 Drip watering Hubbard, 5-10-16JPG

Drip watering gets the water to the customer without wasting any.

3032 Drip watering squash, 5-10-16

Another look at it…I think these are Sugar Pie Pumpkins.

2944 Hubbard near, pumpkins far, 5-3-16

There’s never enough room for squash. We are trying some ‘container squash’ this year. It’ll trail down over the stump grinding experiment.

3023 Squash barrels, 5-10-16

These squash are up against the fence for a reason. They get the morning and afternoon sun. We might try using the fence to trellis them. The upside…more squash. The downside, I’ve got to water by hand unless I figure out a drip water solution.

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August 27...I'm a sucker for any 'gardening trick'. Here I'm holding up a dried banana peel. It's supposed to give your transplant a shot of something (potassium?) when the roots reach down to it (assuming you put it in the hole before the plant goes in.)

August 27…I’m a sucker for any ‘gardening trick’. Here I’m holding up a dried banana peel. It’s supposed to give your transplant a shot of something (potassium?) when the roots reach down to it (assuming you put it in the hole before the plant goes in.)

August 27...The lettuce transplants on the left have the dried banana peel under them. On the right, no banana peel. PVC water grid in place, deer netting over the top, we will see what happens.

August 27…The lettuce transplants on the upper left have the dried banana peel under them. On the lower right, no banana peel.
PVC water grid in place, deer netting over the top, we will see what happens.  I forgot to mention the heaps of fresh crab shell that were buried here last week.

October 5...This is what the lettuce looks like 5 weeks later.  Can you tell where the banana peels are buried?  I can't.

October 5…This is what the lettuce looks like 5 weeks later. Can you tell where the banana peels are buried? I can’t.

October 5...Just to use the rest of the bed, I shook some dried kale branches in this area.  Ha-ha...there must have been some seeds that dropped out.

October 5…Just to use the rest of the bed, I shook some dried kale branches in this area. Ha-ha…there must have been some seeds that dropped out.

August 20...This is WHY we are planting in this bed already. The oh-so-cute deer chomped our beautiful broccoli plants when we forgot to re-net it.

August 20…This is WHY we are planting in this bed already. The oh-so-cute deer chomped our beautiful broccoli plants when we forgot to re-net it after burying crab shell in one end.

The new fawn follows Mom to the bird feeders every evening.

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But they ARE echium ‘trees’;  more specifically, Towers of Jewels.

I spaded the this patch of turf, then kept finding more and more transplants to put in.

I spaded the this patch of turf, then kept finding more and more transplants to put in.

Last year the only one I had grew 10 feet (3 meters) in a single year.  The bumblebees loved it.  They worked it mid May til mid September.  I kept thinking about collecting seeds, then forgot.  Not to worry, I’ve got plenty of ‘upstarts’ now.

If I ever had any doubts that the Tower of Jewels would throw seeds, those doubts have vanished.  Self-seeded echium in garlic bed.

If I ever had any doubts that the Tower of Jewels would throw seeds, those doubts have vanished.      I’ve got to get these out of here to plant garlic.  If I don’t transplant them, my wife has threatened to ‘toss’ them.  Why?  We have so many.

The plants don't have big root balls.   Hope they take.

The plants don’t have big root balls. Hope they take.

These look a little wilty.

October 20, hummm, they look a little wilty.  I better water them.

November 9, 2013...They are starting to look better after I trimmed the lower leaves. What are the tires for?  They are to hold up the tarp to protect them from freezing.  Not too hard to cover them when they are this short.

November 9, 2013…They are starting to look better after I trimmed the lower leaves.
What are the tires for? They are to hold up a tarp to protect them from freezing.

November 13...Echium in the sun, looks good.

November 13…Echium in the sun, looks good.  This will be the area I’ll plant some of my “Bulbs for the Bees,”  Snowdrops, Winter Aconite, and Siberian Scilla.

According to Palmbob, at Dave’s garden, trying to transplant it, ends up killing it, but these are still growing almost a month after transplanting.    The Tower of Jewels is a member of the Boraginaceae family which includes borage (grows all year here) and comfrey which I planted 40 years ago and is still coming back.  I’m hoping these will grow to be tall nectar sources for bees and butterflies.

11-24-13...I've had to take drastic action for the cold weather.  Bags of leaves hold up the tarp, tires hold it down.

11-24-13…I’ve had to take drastic action for the cold weather. Bags of leaves hold up the tarp, tires hold it down.

12-26-13...These echium have definitely taken a hit from the sub freezing temps we've been experiencing for a couple of weeks.  I hope they make it.

12-26-13…These echium have definitely taken a hit from the sub freezing temps we’ve been experiencing for a couple of weeks. I hope they make it.

February 5, 2014...Five out of six have survived so far.  These sub freezing nights are NOT helping.  I cover them with blankets and a plastic tarp every night.

February 5, 2014…Five out of six have survived so far. These sub freezing nights are NOT helping. I cover them with blankets and a plastic tarp every night.

February 5, 2014...new growth means it's still alive!  More cold nights forecast so I've got to keep them protected.

February 5, 2014…new growth means it’s still alive! More cold nights forecast so I’ve got to keep them protected.

Feb. 5, 2014...These four echium are more slightly more protected.  They were put here as a back up (Plan Bee)

Feb. 5, 2014…These four echium in the backyard are slightly more protected. They were put here as a back up (Plan Bee).  I didn’t think it was a very good spot because of the shade, but they are doing the best of the bunch.

12-29-14...I shot these  back yard echium to show the progress they have made.  No blossoms in 2014 means they will blossom in 2015 (if they make it through the winter without frost damage.

12-29-14…I shot these backyard echium to show the progress they have made. No blossoms in 2014 means they will blossom in 2015 (if they make it through the winter without frost damage.)

March 9, 2015...Is this the year the echium will bloom?  I sure hope so.  It's putting on a spurt of growth.

March 9, 2015…Is this the year the echium will bloom? I sure hope so. It’s putting on a spurt of growth.

February 23, 2014...five echium still hanging on, barely.

February 23, 2014…five echium still hanging on, barely.

February 23, 2014...This poor echium plant suffered in the cold temps, but it's still showing signs of life.

February 23, 2014…This poor echium plant suffered in the cold temps, but it’s still showing signs of life.  Footnote…it didn’t make it.

June 16, 2014...Three echiums made it through the winter, but it looks like they are not going to bloom this year.  Sometimes it's the second year and sometimes it's the third year.  It looks like I'm going to have to wait a year.

June 16, 2014…Three echiums made it through the winter, but it looks like they are not going to bloom this year. Sometimes it’s the second year and sometimes it’s the third year. I guess I’m going to have to wait a year.  😦

12-29-14...There are still 3 echium plants going into winter, although one looks a little sick.  I wanted to shoot a photo before I covered them up with tarps prior to the big freeze this week.

12-29-14…There are still 3 echium plants going into winter, although one looks a little sick. I wanted to shoot a photo before I covered them up with tarps prior to the big freeze this week.

March 9...This echium also has been adding height.  I notice it most when I try to pull the tarp over the top to protect it from frost.

March 9…This echium has also been adding height.  I started noticing it when I tried to pull the tarp over the top to protect it from frost.  We haven’t seen any bud starts yet.

March 19...I just noticed the tallest echium (in the picture above) is starting to send out blossoms.  Hooray!

March 19…I just noticed the tallest echium (in the picture above) is starting to send out bud starts. Hooray!

July 14, 2015...In the spring, we enlarged this bed and planted some bee-loving plants along with the echium.

July 14, 2015…In the spring, we enlarged this bed and planted some bee-loving plants along with the Towers of Jewels echium plants shown in the background.

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Sweet Thunder provides the delightful musical background for this video of hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies at work in my garden on the Oregon Coast.

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This is how the garden looked in August 1998.  All those beautiful raised beds are rotting into the ground after 15 years and need to be replaced.

This is how the garden looked in August 1997. All those beautiful raised beds are now rotting into the ground after 16 years and need to be replaced.

Trex-built raised bed 5-5-13

Trex-built raised bed 5-5-13  Don’t look at the background…it’s messy.  I’m linear.  I can only work on one bed at a time!

We built most of our raised beds in 1996 and ’97.  The lumber came from a small sawmill using white cedar that had been passed over by the big timber companies.  It was sawn to a full 2 x 10 x 16′ (5.08 cm x 25.4 cm x 4.87 m)  It was beautiful wood.  We had less personal time then but more energy…lots more.  As good as that wood was, it still rots when in contact with the soil.  So after 17 years all those 16 beds have got to be replaced.  We found this decking material on close-out.  It’s not cheap but is supposed to outlast wood.  It’s a little wobbly so I had to set the corners in concrete, but if it outlasts wood, it’ll be worth it.  We’re trying to replace ONE raised bed a year now.  The green one was built last year out of old siding…much cheaper than this one, but won’t last as long.

Soil leveled, drip water grid laid out, tires centered over drip holes in pvc.

Soil leveled, drip water grid laid out, tires centered over drip holes. The tires extend the warm temps into the cool evening.

Hoops added with 1x2x8 re-enforcement.

Hoops added with 1 x2x 8 re-enforcement.  I use this to hold the tent open  too.

Don't glue any of the pvc like I did for many years.  That way you can have more options like this swing-away hose connection

Don’t glue any of the pvc like I did for many years. That way you can have more options like this swing-away hose connection

Clear plastic over hoops, held up rope and the re-enforcement wood.

Clear plastic over hoops, held up by rope and the re-enforcement wood.  Why have ‘tents?’  Our night time temperatures will dip to 45 deg. F (7 deg. c)  even in the middle of summer.  Use 6 mil UV stable greenhouse film. It’ll last for years of opening and closing every day.  We like our tomatoes to be warm and happy.

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