May 12, 2014

Potato News & Other Garden Happenings

The spring garden is producing and summer planting has commenced!

I love my cattle panel trellises. The t-posts are placed
permanently; I just set up the cattle panels as needed. 

Our cooler than usual April temperatures have meant the lettuce is thriving and not bolting! Peas will be ready soon.

Of strawberries, we've had our first strawberry short cake! (Complete with goat cream whipped cream).

Fall planted parsnips have done very well. I plant them for both us and the goats, who eat chopped roots and tops alike.

A handful of the harvest of my fall planted parsnips

Several of the parsnips show symptoms of root knot nematodes, so I planted the bed in marigolds. I have read that marigolds are most effective against these nematodes if planted in beds, so we'll see. I'll feed the stalky part of the parsnip plants to the goats now, and dry the leaves to add to their herbal vitamin and mineral mix for next winter. I left one parsnip plant to go to seed.

And the potato news. Do you remember how all my potato plants died in our frost the middle of April? I'm relieved to report that they have recovered!

My potato plants recovered from the frost. Also note the patch of clover.

The clover volunteered last year and its patch is growing. I am hoping to experiment more with living mulch and would love to have it (and violets plus something like creeping thyme) growing in all my garden walkways. I'll have to work on that.

Along those lines I mulched my Jerusalem artichoke bed last fall with most of my pulled marigold plants in hopes the marigolds would reseed there.

Jerusalem artichokes are thriving.

That is if they can find room to grow as the sunchokes are coming up thickly. Marigolds are just starting to emerge, so we'll see.

Summer garden planting is almost daily. I like to plant my beds in companion groups, i.e. mixing as many types of garden plants in a bed as possible.

I planted bush beans amongst the fall carrots

First I rake the winter applied mulch back over the walk-path between the beds. There, it helps keep weeds down but is available to be raked back once the plants are growing. I turn the soil with a shovel or potato form and pull out all the wiregrass I can. I learned a long time ago that I cannot win the war against this tenacious invasive, so I just try to stay one step ahead of it. Compost is applied and seeds planted. Larger seeds like beans and okra I don't plant and thin later, because I can't bear to pull the sweet little things out! I plant to recommended thinning distance and fill in the gaps with other plants if needed.

Planted so far:
  • Tendergreen bush beans
  • Amish paste tomatoes (seed)
  • Roma paste tomatoes (seed)
  • calendula
  • summer savory
  • white horehound
  • Mountain Okra (new variety for me)
  • marigolds (Brocade Mix from Baker Creek)
  • Boston pickling cucumbers
  • Zucchetta Rampicante summer squash (new variety)
  • Truckers Favorite corn
  • Green Nutmeg melon
  • light seeded sesame
  • coriander
  • more to come .......

Here's a shot of the Truckers Favorite.

Truckers Favorite Field corn, a small patch.

I plant double rows, these being a lawn mower width apart (so I can "weed"). When the corn plants are about ankle high, I'll plant Ozark Razorback cowpeas in the middle of the double rows. I will also plant pumpkins at the ends of the rows. I'd like to sow the pathways with a short clover, like Dutch White as a living mulch. If I can get the seed, I will do that.

At the bottom of the garden I planted two small sections of wheat and one of hull-less oats last fall.

Winter wheat and volunteer vetch

The oats never emerged and the wheat is spotty, but it's growing with volunteer vetch and other lovely weeds the goats love. Dan and I decided to cut this to dry for the hay pile because there wasn't enough to make much of a wheat harvest. The wheat berries are in the milk stage so they won't shatter, but will give the goats a little grain in their hay next winter. In it's place, I'll plant a large patch of giant amaranth. More on this soon with some exciting equipment news!

How is everyone else doing with their gardens? Planting? Or harvesting and preserving? Depends on what part of the world we live in, doesn't it!


Anonymous said...

Lovely straw berries. I have not seen it in the plant like this. Really it looks beautiful.
Wonderful plants! Nice to hear about your potatoes have got recovered!

Kev Alviti said...

I'm on planting at the moment. I've just finished my planting plan for this year as well so at least i know where im going to plant everything. Our growing season is much shorter than yours. We're in the hungry gap at the moment with very little ready to eat.

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

What lucky goats, as we head into winter I am getting extra greens in the garden to give to the chickens. The grass keeps growing but by feeding them silverbeet and pak choy it keeps their egg production up and the yolks lovely and yellow.

Dawn said...

You have so much going on, it makes me feel restless, I want to so much get out there and get on with things, I am really interested in the feed you grow for your livestock, its somthing I hope to have a go at.

Unknown said...

Being autumn down south (much much lower than Fiona in Qld), ive been having a slack attack in the garden for a few weeks while i do some decorating projects. I only get two days a week off work and much of that is doing the wife/mother/cleaner/shopping/cook thing so usually its one thing only extra. Dont worry, gardening scheduled for next week.

Leigh said...

Weekend-Windup, the strawberries are especially pretty when loaded with red berries. And talk about tasty!

Kev, yes, a shorter growing season would be more challenging. On the other hand our summers can be so hot that even the tomatoes don't like it!

Fiona, great idea with the pak choy and silverbeet!

Dawn, I have too much going on, should I send you a project or two, LOL. Feeding our livestock from our land is a long term goal that we're slowly working toward. But with there being less and less I can buy that isn't GMO, I feel I have no choice.

Lynda, having been in the decorating mode recently, I know what you mean! I just keep telling myself to be content with doing the best that I can. :)

Renee Nefe said...

Normally they tell us to wait for Mother's Day to plant outside to avoid frost...well this year we got 4-6 inches of snow.
So I'll be waiting for Memorial Day instead...I'll have to buy my plants already started because there isn't any way to do them from seed...except lettuce & radishes.

Mom at home said...

Our raised beds are completed and planted. The pots are filled with lettuce and cucumber seedlings. The grapevines took off this year for the first time. Little grapes are forming. Berry bush looks great and the plum tree may have fruit this year. Hail tried it's best but the veggies prevailed. My mom said it was in the forecast again today, boo! Happy gardening!

Felecia Cofield said...

Hi Leigh! Your garden looks fantastic! I love how healthy everything seems! Surprisingly, our strawberries are doing better than they ever have; that is if I can harvest them before the squirrels get to them! Thank you so much for sharing about how you intend to feed your animals from your land! I want to be able to do some of that as well, since organic feed is not within my affordability at this time.
I'm still wondering about the almond trees. Are they faring well and producing almonds? How long does it take for them to produce almonds? I would like to try planting some, if you think they will do well here; zone 7, Alabama. Thanks for taking precious time to share with us! Blessings from Bama!

Woolly Bits said...

don't mention the g word.... the strawbs only start to flower now, the apple blossoms are in full swing, but on the veggie side there is nothing much to report - apart from picking a few leaves here and there, kale and other autumn leftovers. I am way behind - the only thing that's growing on are my tomatoes in pots, but only because I cheated and bought in pre-grown small pots:( this gardening year will be the worst ever I fear, because our monsoon season started again - wet weather for the next six weeks or so I think:(

Sandy Livesay said...


Good morning! The items you've planted in your garden have taken off really nice. I see your pea's are pretty tall, mine are only 3 to 4 inches tall. They don't seem to be growing as fast as I think they should.

I've harvested plenty of lettuce, and still have all kinds to use.
We've also harvested spinach and had it for dinner a couple of times. This week I need to harvest all kinds of spinach to can and put up in the pantry. I've harvested most of our strawberries, and will be processing them today.
My beans, Swiss chard, turnips, beets, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes are growing like crazy and I say in a couple more weeks I will be harvesting them too.
Tomorrow, I will be putting out more seeds to fill in the naked areas around the garden beds.

This garden season is really looking up, I hope the weather doesn't get to hot.

Leigh said...

Renee, snow really puts a damper on gardening, doesn't it. Blame global warming! LOL

Mom at home, what a relief to have it all planted! Sounds like you'll have a bountiful fruit harvest this year. So glad you survived the hail.

Felecia, thanks! I have to say that this is the best our strawberries have ever done too. I'm planning to have my first batch of strawberry jam to show off soon!

I'm in zone 7 and our almond is doing well. We planted it about 4 years ago and it's thrived. The year before last we got our first small harvest of almonds. Last year, none(!), but the our pecan trees did lousy as well. Fruits and nuts don't seem to be consistent every year regardless.

Bettina, constant rain is a real challenge to gardening! I'm hoping we have a more even rainfall this year, but it's been two weeks with very little and I fear my strawberries, lettuce, and peas are starting to get thirsty. Thank heavens for our rainwater tanks!

Sandy, sounds like you've really been on top of gardening this year! Well done, and inspirational I might add. I agree about hoping it doesn't get too hot. That usually brings the growing season to a scorching halt.

Anonymous said...

Your garden is looking amazing Leigh! I know it will take a few years to get mine to look that good, but we are hard at work getting it there. I will do my own update soon.

Unknown said...

Hi Leigh,

I like the cattlepanel idea for a trellis. My home came complete with several of those, I've yet to use them for anything. Now I know what I'm going to do with them. As to the plantings. I'm a little slow this year on getting things done. My sister and Brother-n-law took possession of a 20 acre farm about 3 hours from here, and I've been spending time helping them get the place ready to move in. Still, I have som spring wheat, bloody Butcher corn, potatoes, sweet corn, red kidney beans, and black beans planted. also have some tomatoes and peppers started (I need to get these out before they out grow their pots) Not today though, I need to catch up on the grass (the bane of my existance!)!

see ya,

DFW said...

Mine is doing only ok. I lost all my first tomatoes. Found some growing in my compost bin so I put those in the ground, no clue what they are. I have since restarted grape & yellow pear. Those will go in the ground next weekend.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I've been looking forward to seeing what you are growing at your place. Much of what you grow we grow over here, but often have to raise plants under glass first because of the shorter growing season. The fodder crops are interesting and I look forward to seeing how you harvest and put these aside for winter.
And as for strawberries..I love them and as hardy perennials they are not difficult to grow are they?
Happy growing

africanaussie said...

Oh gosh my mouth was watering looking at everything you are growing in your garden.... I popped some more pea seeds into the ground after looking at yours - I think it was still too hot when I planted the first lot.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

I grow the Brocade Mix as well. My marigolds are always huge and gorgeous. We've had a very cool spring as well, so my garden is just starting to take off, but we are in desperate need of some rain.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Hi! You have a lovely lot of garden growing. I can't seem to keep up to my little one. How do you do it!! After reading that book on companion planting I planted a little row of bush beans between some of my potato hills and one row of dill between. I have 9 potatoes peeking through out of the 12 so far so that is exciting. My rows are only about 4 ft. long. LOL Your ahead of me on the strawberries but I have lots of blossoms on the 4x4 raised bed patch! Happy Gardening! Nancy

Mark said...

My garden is next up after I get the coop done and I'm antsy to get started! I've used a hog panel Teepee of sorts for my tomatoes for a couple of years. They are sooo much better than any other tomato cages we've tried. we have 23 raised beds, a rhubarb plot, a horseradish plot, a 20x40 foot plot, a 30x60 foot plot, an herb garden reclaimed in the fieldstone terraces, and fruit trees to plant. I need to get cracking, you are so far ahead with your beautiful garden.

Leigh said...

Stephanie, it looks better in pictures, LOL. Slow but steady and we eventually get there. :)

Matt, grass is everybody's bane! It's great you're able to help your sister and BIL, and it sounds like you've gotten an excellent start.

DFW, shame about those tomatoes!How nice for the compost volunteers, however. Sounds like you'll have plenty of toms this year. I hope they all do well.

Gill, length of growing season makes a huge difference. Except our summers can be blisteringly hot so that nothing wants to produce! And the strawberries! This is our best year yet.

Africanaussie, peas do prefer cooler temperatures. You should get a nice fall crop!

Candace, I'm guessing you got your Brocade Mix from Baker Creek? :) We're needing rain now too. It doesn't take much for things to get thirsty as the temperatures get more summer like. I am so thankful for our rain tanks.

Nancy, isn't that a great book? And I love the way the mixed beds look!

Mark, that's a lot of garden!