Category Archives: Gardens

Spring 2018 Gardens (and Italian purple artichokes)

This year lots of changes are in store for the garden. I am removing all nine of my raised beds from the outer yard and replacing them with a perennial rock garden. I want to focus on the remaining six beds as well as Duckie and my woodworking pursuit.


The six center beds are all planted and almost ready for harvest.


The greenhouse is full of seedlings for the spring (and Japanese cucumbers and basil for the winter.)

Next up a photo essay on the remodel project for the front yard!

The Summer is Winding Down…

The past two weekends have seen the changing of the guard in the garden. With the early spring, the tomatoes are almost done, the summer leeks are gorgeous, and about half of the shelling beans are ready.


This year I tried several new cultivars, most from Territorial Seed Company in Oregon. Most were a big disappointment. One that was not was the Fraise du Bois, or wild strawberries, or alpine strawberries, etc. They were very slow to get established, but now they are on fire!


I also tried two shelling beans that were advertized as bush-type. They were not. They just grew tall then flopped over. They yield was very low, but the beans are cute. Below are Tiger’s Eye and Yin Yang. I will look for pole varieties for next year.


Another cultivar that I liked was the Scarlet Runner Beans. They have very pretty bright red flowers, and exotic-looking purple seeds.


The Charantais melons are still coming along. It hasn’t been too hot this year, so I’ve only picked a couple, but they are amazingly fragrant.


Finally, I went for the interesting-sounding Lime Green zinnias. They are remarkably unexciting in the garden, although they do look kind of cool in a vase.


Growing Tomaotes for Preserving

This year I again planted ten San Marzano vines to can for the rest of the year. Like everything else in the garden, this was a very early year, and I will probably be tearing the vines out in just a couple more weeks to make room for the autumn fava beans.


I prune each plant to two leaders, and I remove suckers once a week. In the photo above you will see the vine with mature fruit to the top (8 feet) and the lower leaves cut away to allow sun to ripen the fruit. This year I tried something new. I planted my San Marzanos  from Territorial Seed Company as usual, but I also planted a second plant to be used as root stock. When they were both about 2″ tall, I grafted the scions (the San Marzanos) onto the root stock, (called Supernatural) also from Territorial. I was skeptical, especially since most all of the seeds that I had ordered from Territorial were a big disappointment. But, as the season progressed, three advantages became apparent over the two control plants that I did not graft.


First and most important was a complete elimination of blossom end rot. I had some, not much, but some on both non-grafted plants, all minimal like the two above. Second was the girth of the actual vines. Much more robust, and there was more fruit on the grafted vines, too. Finally, and I might be imagining this, it seemed like there were lots less suckers to cut out.


The tomatoes are great, super-easy to peel, and almost solid flesh. The root stock was stupidly expensive, but I will definitely do it again next year.

Kitchen Garden Update – An odd winter in the Valley

After low 20’s destroyed my citrus trees in December,


I now have to contend with this strange spate of 70’s in January. The grape hyacinth and asparagus are beguiled into beginning their springtime rituals, and they may not make it through the next freeze.



But, for the most part, the worst thing I have to contend with is my cabbages believing that it’s time to start blooming rather than growing into nice, tight heads.


The leeks, garlic, and lacinato kale are all very happy to have the unusual heat.




Meanwhile, in the greenhouse, the early spring plants are almost ready to go into 3″ pots,

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and the next round of beets just went into the ground today.