Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘Eggplant’

End of Growing Season 2013

With the onset of overnight temperatures dropping into the 30’s, and four straight days of rain, our garden stated, “Can you hear her…the “fat lady has sung.” Leaves have curled and turned funny shades of green-black, ripening tomatoes have been damaged, and the only growth surviving the cold are the gourds.

This is what an early frost does to a garden.

This is what an early frost does to a garden.


Our large gourds still hanging in there.

Our large gourds still hanging in there.

I’ve had a lot of fun with this year’s garden, and found it curious that some items which produced well last year, were not happy campers this year…and vice versa. I changed up the location, and made modifications…some drastic, to the soil. The two year comparison has shown me that our red, rocky soil has some really great properties that a bagged mixed gardening soil doesn’t provide. The mental notes that I have taken over the past two years will serve my garden well next year…along with a trailer full of horse manure from the boarding arena down the hill…hahaha!

So in a nutshell, here is a synopsis of how our Garden of 2013 developed. Our tomatoes loved having their roots planted in a container filled with gardening soil, whereas, the onions rebelled, producing a very tall plant without a developed onion. Those planted in the red soil did fairly well…but not as well as last year (their sun exposure was limited by the outrageously huge potato plants.) How did the potatoes do you might ask…well…if you remember, I mixed the red soil with the ashes from a wood burned debris pile….they did GREAT!! In fact, some of the potatoes were HUGE and a couple..kind of gnarled!! Next year I will continue to build the soil up around the stem of the potato plant to get a more controlled growth, and a higher volume yield, rather than weight.

An example of our potato harvest.

An example of our potato harvest.


The corn did well, although I didn’t take the time to thin out the stalks…they were too crowded, but what they did produce was delicious!! The corn seems to like our red soil just fine, but would probably LOVE it with a little added manure.
Our corn yield for the year, minus 2 ears which we previously harvested.

Our corn yield for the year, minus 2 ears which we previously harvested.


Our watermelon and cantaloupe were planted in containers filled with gardening soil. I won’t do that again as it didn’t seem to matter fruit-wise, container or directly into the red soil. The fruit was small, and a little sweeter than last year, but we were able to keep it on the vine longer since deer were not a threat due to better fencing. The fruit was harder to manage since the vine was up off the ground affecting a lot of the early fruit. Our last watermelon to harvest was a very emotional little fruit…hahaha
The Yin and Yang of this year's produce...hahaha

The Yin and Yang of this year’s produce…hahaha


I was happy with my bell pepper plants, as this was the first year I was EVER able to grow peppers. It sounds really odd as peppers are supposed to be easy to grow…right?? I have not been successful at all until this year!! They liked container living, and with a little more sun (they were hindered by the shade of the huge tomato plants) they would have been awesome…..well I thought they were pretty awesome anyway!!
Tiny pumpkins, pinto beans, tomatoes, and a yellow bell pepper!!

Tiny pumpkins, pinto beans, tomatoes, and a yellow bell pepper!!


We grew a rainbow!!!!!

We grew a rainbow!!!!!


The pumpkins did great, the gourds went nuts, and the eggplant produced very nicely. I have to say though, the most fun thing in the garden were our pinto beans (gourds came in a very close second.) If you’ve never grown pinto beans…try it. It’s just plain fun to watch them grow, dry on the vine, then shuck the dried beans from the pods. My daughter and I had so much fun with these beans. In the end, we only came out with about 1 cup of dried beans…but watch out next year!!!
Pinto Beans were incredibly fun to grow.

Pinto Beans were incredibly fun to grow.


The celery did really nicely just planted in the red soil. I have to admit, I grow this mainly for my Great Dane, Penni…she loves celery, and it is like the biggest treat ever when I pull one up for her.
The cucumbers, crook-neck squash, and surprisingly, zucchini (which has to be the easiest vegetable to grow) did terribly this year. There were all planted close to one another in a container…no more container growing for this group. I only got 4 pickling cucumbers (one of which was a mutant orange color…)
My mutant, orange, pickling cucumber!!  Strange!

My mutant, orange, pickling cucumber!! Strange!


and about the same number of zucchini.
In all, I think it was a really productive growing year. I was able to make some really delicious meals with the produce, and canned some things (details on future post.) I learned ALOT about my soil, commercial soil, the need for manure, location – location – location, and that overwatering for many of these plants is NOT a good thing. This concept is really good news for us because we water from the same water source (our well) that we supply the household with…so any use savings there is a huge plus!!

One other benefit………homegrown seasonal decorative items, courtesy of our very own farm!! Oh…and the chickens love our leftovers!!!

Free and home grown!!

Free and home grown!!

That red of the pumpkins are their true color!!  Beautiful!

That red of the pumpkins are their true color!! Beautiful!

Where Are the Bees??

It took three posts to do it, but I will be caught up-to-date with my garden’s growth chart at the end of this writing..hahahaha.

Water, water, everywhere water….and not a drop to spare. In a cruel twist of irony, this usually rain soaked portion of the Pacific Northwest becomes very, very dry in the two – three heated growing months. A common saying around here is, “Summer starts on July 5th.” From what I have seen, it also marks the end of any kind of rain (this year was about two weeks earlier) until fall. We’re on a well, and with the help of a water storage tank, it produces more than our daily needs. Water use and conservation here or in the Bay Area has always had to be in our thoughts, and habits…drought conditions are not uncommon in California. In par with that, watering the garden has to be adequate, but not over-abundant. To combat this, and maximize the watering, I try to build little mounds and tributaries around where I want the water to flow and stop. Nobody wants a stream running away from their plants. Sometimes I’ll give a shot of water…let it seep into the soil…then repeat several times for one plant just to maximize the concentration of water into one spot. It takes patience.

I’ve been noticing a real lack of honey bees visiting the flowers in waiting. My plants are really huge at this point, they have flowers, but barely a bee. I do have some beautiful gems that have started, and a few larger than that, but it is getting to the point that I might consider “artificial inpollination” (play on words here) to bring more for the harvest….Tony said all I would need is a cotton swab…I don’t know, it seems a little imposing hahaha. I hope they start showing up!!!

Whatever our difficulties, the earth is giving back!! Our plants are beautiful….take a look!! These pictures are the latest taken on July 20th…one month later from yesterday’s post.

Potatoes, Corn and Pumpkins in the background

Potatoes, Corn and Pumpkins in the background

Potatoes, Celery, and Corn... I did not expect the potatoes to get soooo big.

Potatoes, Celery, and Corn… I did not expect the potatoes to get soooo big.

Tomatoes, with Peppers in front

Tomatoes, with Peppers in front

One pot full of Watermelon, and Cantaloupe

One pot full of Watermelon, and Cantaloupe

Gourds in the foreground...Pinto Beans in the background.

Gourds in the foreground…Pinto Beans in the background.

Pumpkins!!  I've never seen pumpkins start out yellow instead of green...

Pumpkins!! I’ve never seen pumpkins start out yellow instead of green…

The strangest pumpkin I've ever seen

The strangest pumpkin I’ve ever seen

Taking my morning trek down to the front gate with Penni, I discovered where the current honey bee hangout has developed….they are all over our wild blackberry bushes!!! Blackberry jam is right around the corner…YAY!!!

The Vegetable Garden That Almost Wasn’t

This year, winter turned to spring really quickly, and weirdly, unexpectedly in our minds. Even though it was late April, temperatures were still dropping really low at night…I think we even got a light frost in early May. Tony had to leave on business for a couple of weeks…we had just entered the month of May. All of a sudden the weather was warmer, and we had NOT set-up the garden at all. In my mind, we were way late…remember, we were used to getting our garden going by Mid-March at the latest in California. I was starting to panic, but I pulled it together…hahahaha…..got out a big shovel and turned the ground over…Tony would have used the tilling implement on the tractor, but it wasn’t attached when he left. At that point it was MUCH easier….more practical…NO WAY was I going to try and get that thing attached.

My second obstacle was the fencing…we have to have protective fencing or nothing will survive. We had 6 wire panels with 2×4 boarders that Tony and my son, Will, had already made that past summer. They would be perfect for a quick set-up…remember, I was in panic mode to get my seeds and tiny sprouts into the ground. The one drawback was that it would greatly reduce the space I would have available to plant….we have 34 acres….my garden would be reduced to a 16’x 8′ rectangle…oh well…at least I’d have great tomatoes!! My son and I attached the panels together, and then I addressed the other issues.

Veggie Garden 2013 – Young, Growing Seedlings

My cute little garden!

My cute little garden!

Just planted!

Just planted!

First of all, the soil….the soil!! We have red, very iron rich dirt…not rich in much else…great for Douglas Fir trees, vegetables, not so much. Last year’s garden was a total Test Garden. We did not improve the soil, at all, on purpose, and it did okay with some help from granulated fertilizer. The tomatoes were delicious, the strawberries did terribly!! This year we chose a different area within the ashes of a burn pile. Mixing all of that into the soil beneath it really broke up the packed, rocky soil and seemed perfect for the potatoes, onions, corn, and celery. We also added pots with traditional bagged soil because the burn pile was not big enough for everything I wanted to plant…… I think we need to call this Test Season #2.

Veggie Garden 2013 – One Month Later (June)…Oh How They’ve Grown

One Month Later...Potatoes, Celery, and Corn

One Month Later…Potatoes, Celery, and Corn


Carrots

Carrots

Gourds...what do you do with gourds??

Gourds…what do you do with gourds??

Pinto Beans

Pinto Beans

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Pumpkins

Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Pumpkins

Tomatoes, Green and Yellow Bell Peppers

Tomatoes, Green and Yellow Bell Peppers

Remembering Our Garden Mistakes of 2012

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2: 15

I’m always amazed when I plant a vegetable garden, and it actually starts to grow. I’m even more amazed when I’m grabbing a basket and plucking the beautiful gifts that garden gives. Can you imagine the preprogramming that is in each and every tiny, tiny seed?? Not only is the Big Guy the Master Gardner, He is the original computer geek…LOL!

I started this post with the mindset that I could get everything caught up about the garden into this one writing. Uuhhmmmm….that is not working too well, so I’m breaking it up. Why I’m saying that and just not doing it…I have no idea!!

I have found that there is a certain timing to planting a vegetable garden up here in Oregon. This has been a learning curve for me. In the San Francisco Bay Area of California, you’re pretty safe getting things into the ground really anytime from late February to mid March. Oregon plays by a different set of rules, I mean, it can be April, and a light frost comes on for a couple of nights damaging your young, delicate crops. Timing is everything. Last year was our first attempt at growing veggies within these conditions….let’s just say I lost most of my garden due to frost, and had to replant. Those things that did fight their way back…like a really brave eggplant, never really produced much….except the potatoes, they did really well.

The Brave Little Eggplant...produced a mutant vegetable after coming back from the late frost of 2012

The Brave Little Eggplant…produced a mutant vegetable after coming back from the late frost of 2012


Our 2012 potato harvest...not bad for hard, rocky soil!!

Our 2012 potato harvest…not bad for hard, rocky soil!!


Example of our 2012 garden

Example of our 2012 garden


Our funny little 2012 carrots..hahaha

Our funny little 2012 carrots..hahaha


Although the 2012 watermelon had reached the full size they were going to grow to...they hadn't ripened when we had to pick them to save what we could from the deer.

Although the 2012 watermelon had reached the full size they were going to grow to…they hadn’t ripened when we had to pick them to save what we could from the deer.

I think the short growing season has created, in me, a better appreciation and thankfulness for the produce that we receive from these plants. Truly, different from gardens past, wherein, the growing season and production times were much longer, I didn’t waste or let lay to waste any of it. I really saw for the first time, the value of what God had provided us from the tiny seeds we planted in the months prior to harvesting. It’s now mid July, 2013, and I’m just starting to see gems of goodness hanging from the vines and limbs (I can’t see what’s under, but I’m imagining with great hope)…looking forward to the coming weeks where I’ve gotten those precious “stones” out of the garden and onto our dinner plates. Now if I can just keep the deer from eating it first…..

The Bell Peppers struggled, and in the end were eaten by deer.

The tiny 2012 Bell Peppers struggled, and in the end were eaten by deer. As you can see, I gave up on trying to keep back the weeds..hahaha


This was the ripest of our 2012 watermelon...

This was the ripest of our 2012 watermelon…


The deer were hungry that night...pumpkin of 2012

The deer were hungry that night…pumpkin of 2012

This year’s garden, 2013, almost didn’t happen. The ground was not tilled, the protective fencing not up, and all of a sudden…winter turned to spring in late April, and we were unprepared. The, Have a Dane Hill Garden 2013, did get in the ground….that story is next…..

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