Time to Redefine our Lives in Oregon

Posts tagged ‘Vegetable Garden’

That Certain Age

Within these past several weeks, I turned that certain age. I’m not giving that age up, but most people who grew up with me, or have known me in these adult years have a good idea what age I am. This is that year in which I am forced to reflect on my life a bit. It is that age I have kind of dreaded…that I have watched my brothers reach and surpass, and when brought to mind, prayed for, earnestly, keeping in mind that lightning rarely strikes twice the same way…but knowing that sometimes it does.

August 2014

There is just enough irony in life that the nagging of the unknown around that certain age sometimes settles in the way the fog lingers over the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Sometimes the fog looms, and my fears grow. I pray, I hug my dog, I take a walk, or busy myself with simple chores that take me outside and into the grandeur of the land around me. Other times I write…I write to you whom have become part of this journey…I write those stories that are the “maybe someday, somehow” unpublished pieces…and I read…I read the words of many others who have stories to tell, who ask nothing but to be read. They are out there…stories…wonderful stories baked in the lives of so many…when the fog settles in, these things help me to remember that the truth of this certain age is not necessarily the truth of that same certain age of another.

September Sunset 2014

I am that age…the age when my father died.

Daddy - 1990

My dad was a young man…he seemed older to me, at the time, than I feel now, but since I am that same age I realize how young he was, really. He died suddenly, his body failed him. That’s what bodies do…some earlier, some later, but they all fail. That Sunday morning left ripples, waves in my life lasting the entirety of these past 23 years.

Sept. 2014

So this year, the year of that certain age, I’m focusing on health…this little homestead helps with that, along with you, as I read your words and learn from your wisdom and recipes…and from new friends who have recently introduced me into the delicious world of squash, beyond zucchini…. 🙂 I’ve never been to this world before. Then there’s this TVP, Textured Vegetable Protein…..hmmmm, that’s a maybe.

Butternut Squash and Spinach

Mostly, I know that this body will fail at some point. Greater yet, I am assured of this….

John 10:27-29 (Jesus is speaking at the temple during a dispute at the feast of dedication)
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

Sunset June 2014

….my salvation through Christ is rock solid, nothing can snatch me from His hand!! When I actually do reach the age in which my time is done, I know where I’m going. That assurance makes being this certain age a much happier place to reside. In the meantime, life is good……

GREAT DANE PUPPIES TO HUG!!

That's my Penni in the orange collar.

That’s my Penni in the orange collar.

BUBBLES TO POP!!

HANK!

HANK!

GARDENS TO GROW!!
August 2013 006

CHICKS TO HATCH!!
Don John

CRAZY CAT PICTURES TO TAKE!!
Tito August 2011

AND THEN THERE’S SOURDOUGH….SAN FRANCISCO SOURDOUGH!!
Sourdough Heaven

AND DISNEYLAND!!
DISNEYLAND 2010

AND THESE GIRLS!!

My sweet girls, Penni and Karli !

My sweet girls, Penni and Karli !

AND THIS FAMILY!!
September 2014

AND THIS LAND!!
July 2014

AND YOU…all of you..who walk through this forest, and visit this farm. Who’s words inspire, teach, encourage, and fill my kitchen with wonderful fragrances from delicious new recipes. As my thoughts turn inwards…you help me to look out from the window of this certain age, and I, once again, move away from my apprehension. And since the SF Giants are one step closer to getting into the World Series….October is looking pretty darn good!!!

Thanks for sharing this certain year with me!!

Your friend from Oregon,
Tami

It’s In the Little Things

There are tiny things in this world….

The Royal Antelope

The Royal Antelope


The Brookesia Micra Chameleon

The Brookesia Micra Chameleon


The Fennec Fox

The Fennec Fox

The Paedophryne Amauensis Frog:

The Paedophryne Amauensis Frog:


Photos found at http://http://www.viralnova.com/smallest-animals-in-the-world/

…..then there are the fruits from my garden. It’s been an interesting year for growth. Maybe it’s the water, maybe the soil. Whatever the reason, many of the veggies and fruits are quite small…some are plentiful, but most are kind of tiny. Guess what?? There are powerfully big, fresh flavors coming out of those little packages! I wish I could share more with you than just their pictures.

Little yellow bell peppers

Little yellow bell peppers

Tiny, tiny strawberries

Tiny, tiny strawberries

Beautiful Jalepenos

Beautiful Jalepenos

Okay, Grape Tomatoes are supposed to be small...er

Okay, Grape Tomatoes are supposed to be small…er

This is the entire harvest of nine potato plants…hahahaha…there is one fat little gopher running around here somewhere full of my potatoes!!

Garden 2014

The apple in these pictures is there for size comparison (of course you needed that explanation, ;D )…

We actually got pears off of the 1st year pear trees...hahahaha

We actually got pears off of the 1st year pear trees…hahahaha

The mighty artichoke

The mighty artichoke

Tiny Cantaloupe..smaller than a softball, bigger than a baseball

Tiny Cantaloupe…smaller than a softball, bigger than a baseball

Major big flavor in a tiny little package!

Major big flavor in a tiny little package!

Apples from an old, old apple tree.

Apples from an old, old apple tree.

Each year a different garden has grown, same basic varieties, very different results. We have been playing around with soil and location a bit, this year mainly soil. Time to start taking notes.

I hope you have a wonderful day…go ahead and pick a few tomatoes…they are amazing!!

Tami

What’s Going On??!!

It always confuses me when parts of the garden goes crazy with growth, and other parts struggle to stay alive. Obviously, providing a good soil, water, and sunshine is not all there is to growing fruits and vegetables.

I learned last year that onions do not want a lot of water, they need to be able to drain or you get squishy, disintegrated mush. The green of potato plants may grow like crazy, but the tubers underneath may not be as grand (I got potatoes, but some were huge and misshapen, and others were small, and they were just kind of flavorless.)

Misshapen and gnarly.

Misshapen and gnarly.


Peppers…well let’s just say my peppers never really took off..they were small and frail.

This year’s garden has some problems, as well. Take a look….

What is going on with my pepper plants??

What is going on with my pepper plants??


My sweet pepper plants are struggling AGAIN!!! I am the worst at trying to grow bell peppers. These plants just have not taken off, their leaves are curling, and the flowers seem to get to a point, then they just fall off. SO FRUSTRATING!!

Eggplant - fail!!

Eggplant – fail!!


My eggplants are alive, but they haven’t grown in size, and they have not yet flowered. They were planted the same time everything else was. They are not happy.

Garden 2014
These are pumpkin plants. Do you see any pumpkins??? Again, no growth!! Do you think that big flower will produce a pumpkin?? I don’t know!!! Thankfully I started some others by seed in a different container and those are doing pretty well…fairly well…I might get a pumpkin or two from them…maybe.

Garden 2014
These are my serrano peppers….kind of scrappy looking, aren’t they!! The plants behind them are my jalepeno’s and they are doing well. The serranos got a bit of a late start, planted from seed…it will be interesting to see what they produce if anything.

Garden 2014
Actually, the artichoke is doing well. However, I have noticed a small amount of aphids…thankful for this little critter who is happy to eat those aphids!!

UGGHHHH!!

UGGHHHH!!


I have no idea what is happening to my zucchini!! The zucch developed, then the flower fell off the end leaving a rotting hole. I hope this is a fluke and not a problem.

Thankfully, there is a flip-side to these garden difficulties.

Tomatoes and onions

Tomatoes and onions


There are rogue tomato plants growing within some of my onions! There must have been seeds from discarded tomatoes from last year’s garden. All I need is a jalepeno plant over there, and we’ll have salsa tasting tomatoes!! 😉

Watermelon

Watermelon


This little watermelon is a VERY welcome sight…

….and the strawberries are delicious!!
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Garden 2014

We’ve got thunderstorms going on today…but no rain yet. Hopefully the rain will come because the forest is really dry right now. The trees would appreciate the water. Keeping my fingers crossed that there won’t be any hail…that would not be good for the garden.

Thanks for walking through the garden with me!
Have a wonderful, relaxing Sunday!!

Tami FYI – it just started raining…YAY….ooopps…it stopped!!

The Beauty of Summer

The beauty of summer presents in many forms. Just look around you!! Do you see it??

This is what I see when I look around our forest – farm in the summer….

Two big dogs catching some shade in the heat of the day.
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I can see the future…salsa, salads, tomato sauce…….
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The deep blue of a beautiful Oregon sky.
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A basketful full of a friend’s Beagle puppies.
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At the cusp of spring into summer, the first & last of the cauliflower.
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A visit from our neighbor’s peacock.
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OMGosh…how gorgeous is this??!!
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My Penni girl basking in the warm sunshine.
IMG_6201 June 2014

“Red sky at night, a sailor’s delight…..”
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Strawberries on the vine.
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A cute little visitor…I moved her to bushy young oak growing from a stump.
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Dark blue of the night-time sky.
July 2014

C-A-N-T-E-L-O-U-P-E!!!!!
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The last of the broccoli; the first onion and sweet pea harvest.
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Baked beans from scratch for the 4th of July barbecue!
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The beauty of a summer wind against the tall summer grasses.

Sometimes, we wait to cut the grasses just to watch the “amber waves of grain,” if just for awhile.

I hope you find beauty in your summer…look for it, it’s all around you! Thanks for taking a walk in the forest with me today!

Tami

Fir Chips in the Garden

Remember my attempt to squelch the inevitable…??

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.
The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

…You know, those dreaded parasites that continually steal water, minerals, and sunlight from their rightful heirs. What are they called? Oh yeah, malas hierbas, les mauvaises herbes, bagīcē mātama, …. weeds…garden weeds. Two months or so later, here’s how things look…

Uuugghhhh the invasion is on!!!

Uuugghhhh the invasion is on!!!

I'm glad the good stuff are in pots.

I’m glad the good stuff are in pots.

…well, I guess my experiment in Douglas Fir chips was a wash. Not exactly the results I was hoping for, but easily fixed….

Now that's better!

Now that’s better!

I can see the fir chips!!

I can see the fir chips!!

Lookin' purdy!

Lookin’ purdy!

…thank you Mr. Weed-Wacker!!! Nope, I didn’t get the roots, and yeah they will grow back. Mr. Weed-Wacker and I will have a few more dates this growing season, but you know, it’s easier than trying to pull them up, and healthier than using a weed killer. Anyway, there is more exciting news

The zucchini is blooming!

The zucchini is blooming!

Wee little strawberries.

Wee little strawberries.

The peas are awesome.

The peas are awesome.

Future bad boys...my Jalapeños are blooming!!

Future bad boys…my Jalapeños are blooming!!

And did I show you these beauties??

Look at those little red jewels!!

Look at those little red jewels!!

And the most important…. Penni’s happy!!

My happy girl!!

My happy girl!!

Thanks for taking a walk with me through the garden. Have an awesome day!
Tami

First Things First

VERY EXCITING NEWS!!! Okay, those “firsts” in life are usually very exciting, but the firsts on the roster today are the first fruits of our 2014 Garden. Take a look!!

Pretty, little, yellow, watermelon flower.

Pretty, little, yellow, watermelon flower.


Not exactly a fruit…but it’s the first flower leading to the fruit. I think it counts 😉

I spy with my little eye…..

You might have to zoom this picture to find the first pea pods.

You might have to zoom this picture to find the first pea pods.

The first cantaloup flower...leading to the first fruit.

The first cantaloup flower…leading to the first fruit.

The first really big “fruit”….

Look at that BROCCOLI!!

Look at that BROCCOLI!!

…that we have actually been able to harvest!!

Look at that beauty!!!

Look at that beauty!!!

I’m so excited for this next one!! Can you see it? Can you see it?? Look again, it’s right there!!!

Our first, little, itty, bitty, Roma Tomato!

Our first, little, itty, bitty, Roma Tomato!

Lots more firsts to come, lots more fruits and veggies on the way……….P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E!! Now, I’ve got to go stir fry a bunch of broccoli.. 😀

Before, After, and Today

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For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. – Isaiah 61:11

We’ve had growth…growth in the garden….

SUGAR SNAP PEAS

BEFORE

BEFORE


AFTER

AFTER


Sugar snap peas...TODAY!

Sugar snap peas…TODAY!

STRAWBERRIES

BEFORE

BEFORE


AFTER

AFTER


Strawberries...TODAY!

Strawberries…TODAY!

BEAUTIFUL BROCCOLI!!

BEFORE

BEFORE


AFTER

AFTER


Beautiful Broccoli TODAY!

Beautiful Broccoli TODAY!

PINTO BEANS

Pinto Bean BEFORE

Pinto Bean BEFORE


3 days AFTER

3 days AFTER


Pinto Beans TODAY (2 days after the AFTER picture)

Pinto Beans TODAY (2 days after the AFTER picture)


RANDOM PICTURES OF THE GARDEN
GARDEN 2014
GARDEN 2014

A weed or a plant?

A weed or a plant?


Garden 2014

Growing Season

A farmers delight, a heavenly sight, a mix of sun and rain, a blessing for the growing grain….and weeds, and trees, and tomatoes, and…….. IT’S GROWING SEASON!!

Last year's cantaloupe 2013

Last year’s cantaloupe 2013

Enter the keep-working-till-the-sun-goes-down-eat-dinner-around-9:00 p.m. busy season. Well actually, in about a month it will be 9:00….right now it’s more like 8:15 🙂 I need to get my routine down a little better this year, and head inside in the late afternoon to prep dinner during the higher heat hours of the day. Otherwise, I find myself trying to throw something together around 8 p.m. or later. My goal is to have dinner ready to eat by 7:30 p.m. this summer…that would be a good change.

The early evening hours hold chores. There are dogs to feed, the tidying-up of the chicken house (poop control, new water, food, and shavings in the nesting boxes, sleeping areas (for those who don’t seem to like to roost), and brooder area (if we have chicks…which we always seem to have chicks – thanks Chardonnay…oh and of course Benedict!!) Also, a nice, general tossing of new shavings really freshens up the place.

Benedict and some of his ladies...a little molting going on.

Benedict and some of his ladies…a little molting going on.

I prefer a “clean” chicken house (is there really such a thing) when the Roommies show up for their night’s stay. When the sun rises, it’s out to the let the Roommies roam for the day; a quick look, and removal of any poops in or near the nesting boxes, and a freshening of the brooders water (always seems to need freshening.) With the extra effort, we have very few eggs with any soiling on them.

WOW, did I ever get distracted!!! This post was supposed to be about this year’s vegetable garden 8)

So, here it is…so far. For the most part, we’re using planter tubs again this year. Hopefully by next spring we will have a proper fence, better gopher control, defined planting areas, and a more defined watering system. I’m hopeful!!! In the meantime, here is what has been planted so far…

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

The Douglas Fir mulch lining the garden.

Cantaloupe, and Strawberries

Cantaloupe, and Strawberries

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.

That empty container is waiting for watermelon.

Sugar Snap Peas, and regular pod Peas

Sugar Snap Peas, and regular pod Peas

Cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, yellow onions

Cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, yellow onions

Grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, etc.

Grape tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, etc.

Russet Potatoes and Red Potatoes

Russet Potatoes and Red Potatoes

I'm getting quite used to using one of these.

I’m getting quite used to using one of these.

Well…it’s not fancy, but the veggies and fruit will be awesome nonetheless. I still have a few more things to plant, but it’s finally coming together!

It’s Springing Like Crazy!!

Contrary to popular belief…I haven’t yet lost my marbles….well maybe not all of them. :o) I know it’s still winter, and much of the country is still experiencing the freeze from the polar vortex…

Amazing images from NASA!!

Amazing images from NASA!!

….but I’ve learned that once these guys come out from the mud….

…Spring is springing, spranging, sprunging…it’s knocking, loudly, at the door!!! I recorded this frog song last year in April, so right now they are not singing as loudly, or voraciously, but the brave have emerged and are singing in the early dusk evenings. It’s very exciting, and hopefully, encouraging to my friends out in the Mid-West and on the East Coast…especially to the amazing dogs (Great Danes) and people of the Service Dog Project in MA ( servicedogproject.org ) whom, btw, you can watch live on Explore.org!

OKAY...ENOUGH OF THIS FROSTY, WHITE, COLD STUFF ALREADY!!

OKAY…ENOUGH OF THIS FROSTY, WHITE, COLD STUFF ALREADY!!


Photo by Mark Arimault

With this being our third “emergent of spring-time” season, we think we have discovered a pattern with the onset of the frog songs. They are like our groundhog…our indicator to start planting seeds in the greenhouse (okay, we don’t have a greenhouse yet…but when we do…) and then into the ground in six weeks. We started hearing the frogs about a week ago, so we are going to mark the date of Feb. 23rd, count forward 6 weeks to April 6th, and ready ourselves for planting into the ground during that week. Since the growing season in western Oregon is at least a month shorter than in the San Francisco Bay Area, timing is crucial. My garden of 2012 suffered a lot of damage because I planted just a week or two, too soon. Frost killed much of my garden, and I had to replant which, of course, meant double the costs. My garden wasn’t huge so it wasn’t a big loss. I wrote off the cost of that garden to a very well spent Pacific NW Gardening education…of which, I’m still trying to earn my degree!

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

Looking forward to these little beauties again!

In the meantime, I’m enjoying our mildly cold, rainy days, watching and listening to the amazingly poetic sounds of numerous types of birds in the tree canopies, and watching the green of the pastureland become more vibrant as everyday passes. This is beautiful country, God’s country, and I am so thankful to be living within it!! When I take the time to sit, look, watch, smell, and listen, I can feel Him, hear Him, see Him…my God, my Savior is here He created all of this, and it is good…it is very good!! Just listen to Benedict…he’ll tell ya!!

Douglas Fruit Trees???

I stepped outside Sunday morning…there was a distinctive winter chill to the air, but it sounded like spring! As I looked over to the pond, the “foreigners” who have been absent for three months were paddling around in the water. Up the road, guinea hens were loudly boisterous, and the songs of the robin were like beautiful waves of melody. My neighbor’s horses were once again in their front pasture..it seems that spring may be attempting to bloom.

To speak of the seasons, you speak of events choreographed in nature. Spring is a time of renewing as trees bud and push out new growth; it is the season of gardens, gardens, and more gardens. Ironically, this season of young, delicate, sprouts is really too late for planting trees. Generally, a tree planted in the springtime will struggle. The good thing is that it will probably catch up the following year. As the ground warms, summer is a time of fullness as the canopy overhead shades with a lush, green umbrella. Planting trees in the fullness of this season can shock them badly, causing a loss of leaves, fruit, and stunted growth that could last 2-3 years. Fall then is a time of harvest, fruit is ripening and tired trees are getting ready to go dormant for awhile. Yet just beyond the harvest season, late fall, in the colder parts of the country, is the best time to plant trees.

Out here in the west…specifically the west coast, contrary to popular belief, winter is a time for planting. Seems odd, why plant while the ground is cold, and growth is almost nonexistent? Something magical happens under the ground while trees lay dormant above it. Roots, young and old roots stretch their “legs” and grow during the cold of winter. While a tree stands motionless, sometimes to the point of, “Is it alive or dead?”, the underground world is active and working hard to gain strength, gather nutrients, and find new ground from which to sustain itself.

On that note, this week has been a time of planting on the hill. In late November, numerous trees arrived. We planted the Giant Sequoias (post – Replanting the Forest), and have been protecting the yet-to-be-planted fruit trees. Over the past two months we (more specifically Tony…with a little help from our son, Will, and I) have added 347 trees to forest and pasture areas. Within that count are 300 Douglas Fir one gallon seedlings, and 37 varying 15 gallon fruit, and chestnut trees all wrapped in wire cages to keep the deer away. Timber and fruit…Douglas Fruit trees..haha…I can’t wait to see them grow!! A nice gift from nature…deer are not attracted to Douglas Fir seedlings…Whew!!…glad we didn’t need 300 tiny wire cages around those little beauties!!

A hillside of Douglas Fir seedlings.

A hillside of Douglas Fir seedlings.


Rocky, muddy soil...use a post hole digger to plant 300 fir trees!!

Rocky, muddy soil…use a post hole digger to plant 300 fir trees!!


After the holes are dug, someone has to plant the trees!

After the holes are dug, someone has to plant the trees!


An orchard full of 4 types of apple trees, and 2 types of pear.

An orchard full of 4 types of apple trees, and 2 types of pear.


Cherry trees line the driveway.

Cherry trees line the driveway.

Contrary to what Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog said….the neighbor’s Peacock flock are converging on our hill once more, another indication that spring is on the horizon.

Really, this year, who knows? It’s predicted that we’re to dip down to the single digits again this week. We’re on the coast side of the Cascades so temps like that are not a winter common.

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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