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Garden Update – May 15

It has been a busy month and so I haven’t been updating here. Spring in Oregon has been unusually warm and dry. Today I picked the first two snap peas. Last week I planted some Dragon Tongue beans. The lettuces are about ready to eat and the tomatoes are ready to transplant.

Garden Update – April 4

Today I decided I had better get the seedlings I bought at the nursery last weekend into the ground. It rained a lot while I was planting, but I’m sure that will be good for the plants. I transplanted a six-pack of brussel sprouts, one of broccoli, one of red cabbage, and two six-packs of lettuce. Last year I was good and planted everything from seed, but I couldn’t resist getting a head start on the harvest this time.

I’m going to have to expand the garden significantly since the majority of the existing beds are planted now. The seedlings in the cold frame and the tomato seedlings are sprouting.

Garden Update: March 27, 2013

Today I am planting a flat of tomatoes and peppers. Last weekend I went to the local seed swap and picked up some seeds for this season. Having the seed swap has meant that I have payed almost nothing for seeds over the last few years, probably saving hundreds of dollars. I think last year I spent $70-100 for straw and manure to be delivered. Watering the garden probably cost us $10 a month over the summer. It would be easy to spend hundreds on gardening each year, but with careful planning I have been managing to keep expenses down while still harvesting lots of fresh food.

Here’s what I planted today:

  • Stupice
  • Early Girl VF
  • Fantastic
  • Principe Borghese
  • Sunsets Red Horizon
  • Oregon Spring
  • Beefsteak
  • Gypsy
  • Rutgers
  • Rio Grande
  • CA Wonder pepper
  • an unmarked sweet pepper
  • Paprika
  • Marconi Red



Garden Update: March 26, 2013

About a month ago, my dad built me a cold frame for the garden. Not sure how well it is warming yet, but I’m trying it out by starting cool season seeds in it. My first batch of seeds was decimated by snails about a week after they sprouted. After that, I sprinkled the bottom with sluggo. The wet climate here means the slug and snails are out of control! Yesterday I planted a flat full of cool season greens. If all goes well, I will transplant them out into the mulched garden beds in a few weeks.

  • Arugula-Sylvetta
  • Mixed Kale
  • Chard
  • curley cress
  • southern giant mustard
  • broccoli
  • 2 six packs mixed lettuce

I also decided to try a pea planting experiment. I bought a six pack of sugar sprint peas at the nursery along with a 1 oz packet of the same sugar sprint peas in the southwest bed of the garden. We will see if the transplants are ready for harvest sooner than the seeds. I also planted a test spot of old seed – simpson lettuce and brocollini. The soil very heavy clay in that corner, but with lots of redworms in the hay/mulch. Sprinkled sluggo again in that area. The last thing I want is to lose those pea sprouts to hungry slugs.

I moved the strawberries from the front to the northwest bed and the north-central bed. They seem to be adjusting well. The north-central bed is also sprouting volunteer potatoes. Kale overwintered in the northeastern bed and is now starting to flower. The flowers look like mini heads of broccoli. I might try snipping and eating them.


Garden Report: June 29th Everything is in Bloom!

Sweetpea flower
Creative Commons License photo credit: net_efekt

It really is a strange spring, yesterday was June 29th and the peas are just starting to bloom. I’m excited because that means only a few weeks until there are fresh peas from the garden! The potatoes are blooming as well, so soon there will be baby potatoes. There are also a few tomato flowers. The community garden plot has quite a few volunteers and the volunteer nasturiums and borage are also starting to bloom, which means edible flowers for our salads!

Creative Commons License photo credit: ms.Tea

fleur de bourrache / borage flower
Creative Commons License photo credit: OliBac

I harvested some of the nasturiums and borage flowers and another couple of baskets of strawberries.

What are you harvesting in your garden right now?

Understanding Climate Change

Lilac II
Creative Commons License photo credit: starmist1

I just wrote this rather long comment on Fern’s blog, in response to her post on climate change. I really love her blog and don’t mean to sound critical, but I thought it was worth repeating here, because her comments reflect a common misconception about how scientists are investigating climate change. Often people look at one year or one season’s weather and notice it is cooler than the previous year and so conclude that there isn’t clear evidence of climate change. The problem with this is that you can look at 1 or 2 years or even 3-5 years and find evidence for or against climate change.

There is a big difference between observing the weather and measuring the climate. I understand why many people, including some scientists are still not sure, but it’s important to talk about why so many scientists are convinced. Weather in individual places over time might be warmer or cooler year to year or season to season–there are always those types of variations. What makes many scientists worry is the changes in average temperatures world wide, over decades.

Biologists are also finding many plants and animals that are changing their ranges or flowering earlier. As gardeners, we can and should be helping to gather evidence about climate change in our local areas. Some gardeners regularly monitor the weather, including daily highs and lows, rainfall, and the first and last frosts of the year. This is the kind of information that, if it’s continuous for decades, lets you begin seeing climate change in action. You can also monitor your garden plants for changes in seasonality. If you want to monitor climate change for yourself and help scientists you could join the National Phenology Network. Their volunteers have been monitoring the dates of flower blooms (lilac and honeysuckle since 1956).  It’s normal to see flowers bloom earlier one year and later another, but when you monitor for decades and the average bloom date gets earlier and earlier, that’s when scientists start to worry.

It’s common for people to look at year to year variations and wonder where the evidence is, but a climate scientist is looking at decades (for temperature and precipitation changes) or centuries (if they are looking a CO2 levels in frozen ice.)

Here are a couple of audio stories from NPR about phenology.

Climate Scientists Enlist Citizen Volunteers
Beautiful Lilacs Tell a Tale About Climate

If you want more information, you might want to pick up The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery. Flannery does a good job of explaining what evidence scientists are examining and related politics.

Patio Gardening – Kitchen Herbs for Your Patio

Creative Commons License photo credit: tillwe

I’m still getting my patio garden set up and arranged, but one of the first things I bought to plant was some herbs. Herbs make me happy. They are beautiful, they like to grow in pots, and they then I don’t spend a bunch of money when I need some fresh herbs for cooking. I don’t know about you but I always feel like it’s such a waste to buy fresh herbs from the store. A small bunch of herbs costs $1-$1.50. I use a few springs and then the rest rots in my fridge, it’s such a waste. A small herb plant only costs $2-3 dollars and you can continue to pick sprigs off it almost year round here in Eugene.

Here are a few of my favorite perennial herbs for a patio…

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Garden Dirt- Preparing your Garden Soil for Spring

Alexander: Watching for Grubs
Creative Commons License photo credit: dok1

One task you should be thinking about in your fall garden is preparing your sustainable landscape now for spring planting. There are lots of different ways to prepare your garden dirt for spring planting from double digging to lasagna gardening. If you prepare your garden beds now then you can plant earlier in the spring, when the dirt is still too cold and wet to dig.

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Patio Gardening – Six Common Mistakes in Choosing Containers

the flower riot
Creative Commons License photo credit: la fattina

This fall I’m starting a brand new patio garden at my new home in Eugene. One of my first steps was acquiring some nice containers. My patio does have some soil around the edges, but it’s fairly shady and the soil is filled with tree roots, so I’m focusing on planting in containers for now.

Plants in containers are much more susceptible to overheating, lack of water, or drying winds than plants in your garden beds. In order to be successful in growing plants in containers you need to choose your containers carefully. Here are six common mistakes gardeners make when choosing containers for their patio garden:

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