Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Garden Update

    Our vegetable garden is larger than last year and doing well.  I'm reasonably caught up on the weeding in the vegetable garden, due in large part to the sheet composting I've used in preparing the garden areas. I'm very happy with my "full sun" front yard garden, We have already harvested parsley and green onions for tabouleh. I've been picking peas and I've got beets and red potatoes that are ready to harvest. The Jerusalem Artichokes, aka "Sunchokes", are over four feet tall.  I have 12 tomato plants (twelve different varieties) that are doing nicely. There are already several dozen tomatoes growing on them. The pole beans have started to work their way up the poles. I also have artichokes, dill, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, tomatillos, and spaghetti squash growing in the front yard. The vegetable beds out by the duck pen is also doing well. I have three long rows of "Rockwell" dry beans, as well as shallots, zucchini, and patty pan squash. I have other vegetable beds which have leeks, red onions, brussel sprouts, more potatoes, and garbanzo beans. One of the benefits to a larger vegetable garden is there is room for failures.  I am happy as a clam as long as most of the garden turns out well.  If this plant or that doesn't work out, I just plant something else and move on.

   The news is a bit more mixed when it comes to fruit.  Our strawberries are doing well. We had very good fruit set on our sweet cherries. It was pretty frustrating to have so much rain just as the earlier varieties were starting to ripen.  Most of the Bings and Lamberts have split. I have enjoyed a few handfuls of home grown sweet cherries, but I would have had lots of them if the weather had been drier. I am still holding out hope for my three later varieties of sweet cherries as the current forecast is for drier warmer weather.  I have black currents which are almost ready to pick and raspberries that are starting to ripen.

   I just got back from a quick trip down to Oregon, The primary purpose of the visit was to deliver honey supers to grand daughters Autumn and Chloe. I was concerned that their hives would outgrow their current equipment and swarm. I really admire their spunk in taking on two beehives, especially since much of my mentoring them is done electronically.  They do the hive exams on their own and then they text me with a hive update or we have a nice chat on the phone. Sarah sent me a photo of Autumn as she was preparing to do a hive exam wearing capris and no socks. Obviously she has a pretty high comfort level with the bees. I warned her that the normal temperament of the hive changes somewhat as the seasons change.  In the Spring a bee hive consists of mostly younger worker bees who are less inclined to sting. In late summer the demographic makeup of the hive reverses and there are more older worker bees who are much more inclined to take offense and sting their keeper. Anyhow, I advised her to wear long pants and regular shoes and socks for future hive exams. While an occasional sting is just part of beekeeping, I would feel very badly if she got stung up unnecessarily. For the benefit of non beekeepers, the technical term "stung up" implies numerous bee stings.

     One of the high lights of my short visit to Oregon was breakfast with my daughters, Sarah and Rachel, at Maggie's Buns, a wonderfully quirky little bakery in Forest Grove. They serve monster cinnamon rolls and other tasty baked goods at a very reasonable price. Lance and Luna each got their own cinnamon roll and neither one was able to eat more than half of it. Sarah and I shared a raspberry bran muffin and a cinnamon roll. The muffin was very good but it was no match for the cinnamon roll.

    On my way out of town I made a brief visit to Rachel's garden in Hillsboro. It is truly an amazing place. Her entire back yard is one big lush garden.  This represents a remarkable transformation from the weedy hard packed ground she had in the backyard when they first moved into that house. It is amazing the miracles that can be wrought with hard work, tender loving care, and lots of worms and compost. I left Rachel's house with a jar of freshly picked raspberries and three artichokes. As a gardener, I always feel inspired after I visit her garden. I always see something she did that I want to try in my garden at home. I also admire the way she involves her children in the garden. I can't imagine that either Lance or Luna won't grow up to be a serious gardener.

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