Senior Gardening

One of the Joys of Maturity

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The Old Guy's Garden Record

June 20, 2024

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Pea vines pulledHarvested pea podsI slept in a little too long this morning. After my coffee wake up, we were moving into the heat of the day. That delayed my plan to begin transplanting tomato plants into our East Garden plot. Transplanting in the heat of the day is never a good idea.

Instead, I began pulling our browned out tall early pea vines. I checked the vines as I pulled them and harvested a good many pea pods for seed saving. Most of them were dry enough that they would have begun to split and shed seed in a day or two.

Once shelled, dried, and frozen, today's picking along with previous pickings should give us enough seed peas for planting next March.

I still have some weeds to pull in the narrow bed the peas grew in. And the double trellis will need some serious work, as the weight of the pea vines along with a severe wind storm left its posts a mess. Fortunately, the trellis netting is still in good shape. After some soil renovation, I'll transplant Japanese Long Pickling cucumber plants into the bed as a succession crop.

The spinach plants that had grown alongside the peas got smothered when a recent storm blew over the pea vines. The spinach was a total loss, even for seed saving.

Fruit Bouquets


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A little bit of rainEclipse peasWe got just a little bit of rain overnight. A pop-up thundershower around five last evening made me decide not to water our planting of Eclipse pea plants. They're really struggling to get established in our current hot, dry weather.

Defying the weather conditions, some of our lettuce has remained healthy and sweet. I picked four lettuce yesterday and after washing and drying the leaves was pleasantly surprised that the lettuce was still sweet.

Of course, we have some lettuce plants bolting now from the heat and just being too old.

Bolting romaine Bolting leaf lettuce

I'm certainly not complaining about the bolting, as this year is about as late as we've ever been able to pick good, sweet lettuce.

Tall, early pea vines browned out

The vines of our planting of tall, early peas have finally browned out. I did a heavy picking of the vines this morning for seed saving. When I pull the vines in the next day or two, I'll probably find more mature pea pods to dry for seed saving. Once the vines are out, the soil will get renovated a bit and Japanese Long Pickling plants will be transplanted into it. JLPs are a sixty days-to-maturity variety, so we should have cucumbers for fresh use and canning fairly soon.

While I enjoyed some outside morning gardening and still have lots of stuff to go into our East Garden plot, a good bit of the rest of my day will be consumed with cleaning and pulling our pull-type rototiller from our lawn tractor, and cleaning and mounting the mower deck.

Best Buy

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Our Senior Garden - June 16, 2024WalmartI broadcast buckwheat seed over about half of our East Garden plot with our Earthway Seeder yesterday and lightly tilled it under. I ended up using all of the five pounds of buckwheat seed I had, as I forgot to reset the seeder from last fall's seeding of larger pelletized hairy winter vetch seed.

Today's gardening fun was seeding an eighty foot row of zinnias down the middle of our East Garden plot. I made a fairly shallow furrow with our garden hoe and then watered the furrow. I was generous with the seeding, as we have lots and lots of saved zinnia seed.

Usually, the buckwheat and zinnias go into the plot last. But with our current dry spell, I'm hesitant to begin transplanting stuff, although I may try in the early hours tomorrow. Daily highs for the next ten days are predicted to be in the upper 80s to mid 90s with no rain in sight.

Botannical Interests

Friday, June 14, 2024

I started my morning gardening today by watering our row of Eclipse peas and then collecting ripe early peas for seed saving. Our Eclipse peas looked pretty dry and weary even though they'd been thoroughly watered a day ago. Some of the early peas for seed saving were showing mold on the outer pods. Where they're getting enough moisture to mold baffles me.

Weather Underground Extended Forecast - June 14-23, 2024

It's really dry here and our extended weather forecast doesn't show much chance of precipitation over the next ten days. Putting seed in the ground and even transplanting stuff even with generous watering is an iffy proposition in such weather conditions. But our days of summer weather seem to be quickly slipping by.

I tilled the back half of our East Garden plot this morning. It's the part that will be planted to tomatoes, sweet corn, potatoes, and so on. It's getting a little late in the season for planting, but we should have enough good weather left for stuff like sweet corn to mature by late August or early September.

East Garden partially tilled Tilled and untilled parts of East Garden

I left the front half alone, as I plan to seed it to buckwheat this evening and lightly till under that seed. Currently, my lovely wife is going to pick up buckwheat seed from Graham Grain in Terre Haute (IN). The photo at right shows the difference between the untilled and tilled portions of the plot. Once the untilled part is seeded to buckwheat, I'll set our pull-type tiller to shallowly mix the soil to incorporate the buckwheat seed. Buckwheat is pretty forgiving seed that will sit and wait for soil moisture and sometimes germinate anyway in dry soil conditions.

As I work at gardening this season, an old Danny Glover line from the first Lethal Weapon movie keeps coming to mind. I cut my wrist when attempting to drop the mower deck out from the lawn tractor so I could mount our pull-type tiller. Like Glover, I muttered, “I’m too old for this sh*t.” But I find that I'm really getting excited about planting our East Garden plot at least one more time.

Annie got home with the buckwheat seed a little after two. But by then, it was 92°F! I'll need to get up early tomorrow morning before the heat sets in to do the broadcast seeding and tilling in the seed.

Garden Tower Project

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

East Garden tilled a second timeRow marker stake for zinnia rowI did a second tilling of our East Garden plot. By shifting my tilling path ninety degrees, I made sure to catch all of the plot. I was really pleased to see this tilling completely smoothed out some ruts I'd made with the truck over the winter.

The plot will need one more pass before planting, as it had a heavy cover of grass, weeds, and the remains of a hairy winter vetch cover crop.

While not readily visible in the photo of the whole plot, the row marker stake shown at right is for our annual row of tall zinnias. I set the stakes 45 feet from the back of the plot, giving the area to be planted a 45'x80' dimension. The other approximate half of the 80'x80' East Garden will be planted to buckwheat and eventually another round of hairy winter vetch. Such turndown crops over the last ten years have really improved the soil in the plot.

Pea pod for seed savingWhile I'm no longer picking our row of early peas for the table or freezer, I still check the vines each day for browned pea pods for seed saving. Catching the pods at just the right point before they split open and spill their seed is important.

Young garlicWhile most of the pods on the vines are still pretty green, I did find one this morning at just the right stage for picking. It went onto a cookie sheet to dry where it will be joined by future finds. Eventually, the pods will be opened and the peas allowed to dry some more before going into frozen storage.

As a test, I dug a Chesnok Red and a Purple Glazer garlic yesterday. The Purple Glazer was a little small and the Chesnok Red had formed one large bulb instead of individual cloves. Both are signs of immaturity. I'm guessing that I won't dig garlic this year until late this month or early July.

As I came in from tilling, I was thrilled at all the apples on our apple trees. I had to tie up our youngest Stayman Winesap again, as it was still leaning a bit from the storm that came through last month. Our older Stayman Winesap had less apples, but was still fairly erect. And our yellow apple tree is filled with immature apples. I noticed a few of them had a blush of red on them.

Apples on young Stayman Winesap tree Older Stayman Winesap tree Yellow or Golden Delicious apple tree Red bluxh on yellow apple

I'm wondering where that red blush on the last photo above came from. The tree was supposed to be a Stayman Winesap, but has consistently produced nice yellow apples. Whatever, I'll gladly take whatever it produces. It's apples make great applesauce and apple pies.

The Home Depot

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Monday, June 10, 2024

I finally got our large East Garden plot tilled today. It's where our space hogs such as sweet corn and melons will go. I also hope to put in a long line of tomato plants and a double row of Goliath broccoli for seed production. I have seed potatoes ready to go in and plan to direct seed kidney beans.

Unmounting our mower deck and attaching our pull-type tiller seemed to take forever. I hadn't done the switchover since last fall, and it ended up taking around two hours! The actual tilling only took an hour.

East Garden tilled

I skipped liming the area as a pH test showed the ground to be about neutral. When I till again, I'll add fertilizer over the sweet corn area. The transplants to go in will each get a deep deluxe hole. But at this point, I'm guessing the soil will require two more passes with the tiller before it's planting ready.

True Leaf Market

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Garlic planting and harvest dates

2023/2024 - November 16
2022/2023 - December 2 - July 7
2021/2022 - October 20 - June 23
2020/2021 - November 19 - June 29
2019/2020 - December 26 - July 6
2018/2019 - November 24 - July 6
2017/2018 - December 2 - July 3
2016/2017 - November 16 - June 21
2015/2016 - October 26 - June 19 and 20
2014/2015 - October 28 - July 5
2013/2014 - November 10 - July 16
2012/2013 - November 26 -- June 26/June 28/July 4
2011/2012 - November 9 - June 9
2010/2011 - November 11 - June 21/June 23
2009/2010 - November 28 - June 25
2008/2009 - November 30 - July 9
2007/2008 - November 18 - July 10

Garlic leaves yellowingBecause I write this blog, it sometimes makes it easy to go back and find when I did what. I have a page that holds all sorts of garbage info, but also where I record dates. Having that info today told me that our garlic's yellowing leaves probably weren't a sign of a nitrogen deficiency, but rather, the garlic being about done with its growing cycle.

From the data at right, I'm guessing that I'll be digging garlic sometime towards the end of this month. Of course, I'll do a test dig at the end of one of the rows to see if the garlic is really ready to come out.

Sonia Stairs and her husband, Henry Caron, ran the Boundary Garlic Farm from 2002 to 2019. Now retired from growing and selling seed garlic, they have graciously left their site in place with its wonderful wealth of information on all phases of growing and saving garlic.

Our how-to, Growing Garlic, may also give some guidance on how to grow, or at least, how we grow our garlic. It begins, "Garlic is one of the easiest, most trouble free and productive crops one can grow in a home garden." I'm getting excited about harvesting and drying our garlic. And since with age I've gotten a bit lazy in my cooking habits, I'll probably dehydrate and grind to powder a lot more of our garlic than in years past. Adding a teaspoon of garlic powder is a lot easier than chopping multiple cloves of garlic.

Earlirouge tomatoes setting onI ran a photo on Tuesday of some Earlirouge tomatoes setting on an eager beaver tomato plant. It wasn't a very good shot. To correct that inferior photo, I got a good shot this morning of the tomatoes on the plant. Since I used some nifty tree tags to identify the source of the tomato seed that grew the plants, I know the saved seed was from 2009.

The Earlirouge tomato was released in 1977 by Jack Metcalf of the Agriculture Canada Smithfield Experimental Farm, in Trenton, Ontario. It was probably the most commercially successful release of the eight or nine open pollinated tomato varieties developed and released there from 1967 to 1993.

Lettuce in salad spinnerThe canning/slicing variety has deep red interiors and incredible tomato flavor. Sadly, it doesn't have a lot of disease resistance.

Our crop of Earlirouge tomatoes the last two years have been disappointing. Hence, I dropped back to older saved seed for this year's plants. I also ceased offering Earlirouge seed for sale this year. Fortunately, the Turtle Tree Seed Initiative offers seed for the variety from some seed I gave them years ago.

I cut, washed, and ran a couple of heads of lettuce today through our salad spinner. I harvested a Coastal Star romaine and what I think was a Nancy. (Sometimes my record keeping is a bit iffy.) I'm not sure how the lettuce will taste, as we've had some hot weather that may have made it turn bitter. The lettuce is now in the fridge cooling down.

Park Seed

Friday, June 7, 2024 - Eclipse Peas

Eclipse peas transplantedTrays of cucumbers and butternuts outside hardening offI found myself outside this afternoon in 20 MPH wind gusts trying to hang a short pea trellis for our Eclipse supersweet peas. After fighting some old spliced clothesline wire, I just pitched it and used new wire to support the top of the trellis netting. The wind actually worked a bit in my favor as I untangled some old trellis netting.

It's a bit late to be starting peas, as they're considered to be a cool weather crop. But the Eclipse variety doesn't germinate well in cold soil. I started our transplants on May 6, using seed saved in 2019 and 2021-2023. There were enough good transplants that I spaced the plants 3-4" apart on either side of the trellis and only had to direct seed about two feet at the end of one row. If the peas aren't as sweet as I'd like due to hot weather, I can still use them for seed saving.

Getting the two trays of pea transplants out from under our cold frame made room for our Japanese Long Pickling cucumber transplants and some butternut squash plants. The cold frame's plastic is torn in places, but its usefulness in temperature protection is no longer needed. It does, however, supply some wind protection for tender young plants.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Our Senior Garden - June 5, 2024Tall pea vines failingWhile picking early peas this morning, I saw that our pea vines are beginning to fail. They still have some nice pea pods on them that I'll let ripen and brown a bit for seed saving. But our early pea harvest for the table and freezing is probably over. I froze another pint of the peas this morning.

Once the peas are out, the bed renovated, and the double trellis repaired from storm damage, I'll transplant Japanese Long Pickling cucumber plants into the area. They're a tall variety that requires a tall trellis to support their 16-20" long cucumbers.

I'm running way behind where I wanted to be at this time in getting our East Garden plot tilled and planted. But our extended weather outlook seems promising.

Weather Underground Forecast - June 5-14, 2024

Hoss Tools

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

There were lots of little jobs to do today, but one of the first was scuffle hoeing parts of our main raised garden bed. Lots of small and medium sized weeds had germinated in and between our vegetable rows. While some of the weeds cut by the scuffle hoe may re-root after some rain this evening, I'll be a bit ahead on weeding.

Parts of bed scuffle hoed

On my way out to the main bed, I was happy to see a few tomatoes set on one of our Earlirouge plants. The other plants have blooms on them. I also saw that two of the Castle Dome broccoli plants that had buttoned were actually putting on decent heads. And while some critter ate the tops off of all of our beets, our row of carrots has come in strong.

Tomatoes set on Buttoned broccoli plants still putting on heads Carrots up

I also spread fertilizer, lime, and granular soil inoculant down the row where I'll put our Eclipse peas and hoed the row. I hope they'll catch some rain this evening to wash them into the soil.

One last job today was driving a T-post at one end of the pea row and attaching our rain gauge to it.

High Mowing Organic Seeds

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Greenworks Electric ChainsawSkechers Work BootOther than picking some nice peas, I really didn't work on gardening today. Instead, I started work by tightening the chain on our Greenworks Cordless Electric Chainsaw. Part of a tree had fallen blocking mowing around the north end of our East Garden plot. While the limb was down, it was still attached to the rest of the tree and required cutting. Then I strung a log chain around it and drug it to our burn pile.

And whenever I work with a chainsaw, I always wear steel toed boots. The Skechers Work: Relaxed Fit - Workshire ST boots I have are now on sale for about $30 off at Walmart.

Both the chainsaw and boots were good buys.

Burn pileWith about an inch of rain yesterday, I felt safe in lighting our burn pile. Unfortunately, everything was too wet to do much more than smolder. And as I'm writing, I can hear it raining again.

While I'm going to continue cleaning up the downed tree parts, it has become obvious to me that I'll need to bring in some help doing some of the heavier cleanup.

One job I'm looking forward to doing soon is transplanting our Eclipse pea plants into our main raised garden bed. The transplants are ready, and when done, our main raised bed will be totally planted.

Fallen tree parts to clean up

Stark Bro's Nurseries & Orchards

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Our Senior Garden - June 1, 2024
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Hover mouse over images to reveal labeling.

True Leaf MarketWe're starting June with a cool (65°F), rainy day. I got out early before the rain started and picked a few peas. I froze another pint of peas last evening. I also took stuff out to the garage freezer and brought in a packet of Sugar Cube seed. I'd noticed that one of our two pots of the delicious cantaloupe variety had died, so I re-seeded it. With appropriate watering and bug control, the variety produces great small melons all season long.

I picked up sticks and limbs yesterday so I could mow. There's still a lot of tree down, but that stuff will require a chainsaw to clean up. Then I mowed our side yard and the field next to us. Mowing over the rough ground almost always requires a recovery day off afterward. I'm lucky, I guess, that it's raining today.

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