Thursday, March 26, 2009

and then there was one.....

thats all folks... its been awhile since i have been able to blog a bit. work activities over the past few weeks has prevented blogging or work in the garden.

BUT the last bed has been set and subsequently filled with 2 yards of soil. so it looks like the garden for 2009 will be have all hands on deck with all 12 beds ready. next steps for the garden will have to interleave with many other tasks, but will include:
final grade work around the beds. recent rains exposed drainage issues that need to be corrected to ensure standing water doesnt rest against the beds.
cedar bark will be brought in and spread around the garden to finish the area nicely and equally important to keep the dust down.
the final side of the fence needs to be installed and when that is in, i will investigate an electric fence to help keep the deer at bay. tomato planting day is april 28 (farmer fred's bday), so it looks like we will be there with bells on.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato, 4

yes keith, i do have potatoes. however, i didnt order them from seed savers - i purchased them from my local nursery. front yard nursery, located in el dorado, is the source for my spuds. buying these local, eliminates shipping costs - which can be relatively high for seed potatoes (in quantity).

its been a while since i have grown them. while i lived in cameron park, the soil had a high clay content and made growing them a challenge - typically resulting in a bunch of smallish potatoes. i did amend the soil, but deemed it wasnt worth the effort in the limited space i had.

But, now i have the space and will dedicate at least 1 bed to these delightful plants. i purchased the following varieties:
all blue
red la soda
yukon gold
yellow fin
yukon gold happens to be my families favorite. its always fun to eat different colored food - bring-on the blue french fries!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

first order to

in case i havent been clear, i am very anxious to get going on this years vegetable garden. i have always been interested in odd-ball varieties of vege's - so this year i placed my first order from the seed savers exchange. they offer hundreds of heirloom varieties that are sure to please. this is what i ordered for my 2009 garden:


purple dragon carrot
royalty purple pod bean - bush
bean purple pod bean - pole
rattle snake snap bean - pole
japanese climbing cucumber
early silver line melon
thelma sanders sweet potato squash
table queen squash
waltham butternut squash
plum purple radish
early scarlet globe radish
golden midget watermelon

i also took the opportunity to order tomato starts - their price was comparable to local prices, even considering shipping costs. so i will see how well these 'mailed' tomatoes do. here are this years picks:

hungarian heart
gold medal
german pink
cherokee purple

i am planning on 30-36 tomato plants, so as you can see my local nursery will still get the majority of my gardening dollars.

sticks begin to sprout

a few of my newly planted bare root trees have begun to sprout leaves. like kids, no two trees are alike and though they are planted at the same time - timing of the leaves can be separated by weeks.

the picture on the right is a cherry tree - and was planted in late january. i havent had a chance to paint the trunk yet, but will soon enough. i am hopefull all trees will make it - time will tell.

you may notice that this tree is pretty short. i am a disciple of ed laivo and his backyard orchard culture practices - which keep trees in the 5-6 foot range. in order to do that, they need to be cut short when planted, to force lower scaffolding limbs. trimming of the tree will occur in the summer - after fruiting and in the fall, where i cut for strcuture as well as cutting for height.

beds 7,8 and 9 are in - 3 more to go

progress continues on my raised beds. the picture on the left shows beds 7,8,9 ready for action. as mentioned before, i have space for 12 beds so 3 more to go and the bed project is ready for prime time.

my current daily run rate, (when i can actually get an entire day dedicated to the project) cranks out a terrace, builds the trex walls, attaches the chicken wire bottom, placing and leveling the bed and starts filling the bed with topsoil.

thank goodness for daylight savings time, as i now have about 3 hours of work time (m-f after work) before it gets dark. i am actually making decent progress on a daily basis - weekends arent the only time i can get work done. best estimates will have the rest of the beds done by the end of march.

the picture on the right gives an idea of the terracing needed to level out an average bed. its tough to see, but next to the fence is my grandpa's pitchfork. leveling that end to the same height as the front end (identified by the shovel) is about 8 inches. not a ton of dirt is moved - but enough to make for a decent amount of shovel work.

in some cases, i use a rototiller to break up the soil on the pitchfork end. the area also has an abundance of roots from the manzanita that used to call this area home - and the rototiller does an admirable job of blasting through those.

if you look real close, you can see the snap lines i use to keep the new beds aligned with each other.

Monday, March 2, 2009

how many tomatoes, is too many?

lets be real - tomatoes are the only reason i really vegetable garden. dont get me wrong, i really like other vegetables and appreciate each and everyone i grow. but - tomatoes are the real deal and the end all be all of my vegetable gardening experience. if i could not grow tomatoes, it would be difficult for me to muster the enthusiasm for vegetable gardening that i have today.

i cant wait until i get my first - home grown, vine ripened - tomato every year. in fact my first tomato is usually picked a bit sooner than optimal - because i cant wait any longer for my first tomato. once i get that out of my system, i look for optimum ripeness of my 'maters.

so what is the point of this non-sensical post? it goes back to a conversation i had with my wife. i was pontificating (its been awhile since i could work that word in sentence) on what would be the maximum tomato plants i could grow in my new garden. i was thinking about 100 plants. but really, given space for tomato cages and room for growth - i dont think 100 plants is truly feasible.

But!, my real point is - i want to plant enough tomatoes that i can supply enough for me for the entire season and have enough to give out extras to friends and family. i would rather have an abundance of them and throw the extras in the compost pile - then to come up short.

this years tomato math is a little different, as my friend 'keith' - who is growing my seeds, will have to be supplied with tomatoes - and at the same level as i expect for myself. i was originally planning on growing 24 plants - 9 more than last year - but is that going to be enough?

will i have to go from 24 plants, to 30 plants? i know i will have enough room, but is 30 even enough? i have some work to do, determining tomato layout in the beds - how to stagger the plants within the bed to get the maximum number of plants i can in a given bed. i'm probably going to start looking at 36 plants - that should be enough.....

yeah, right.....

bed progress continues

no photos for this post, but over the weekend good progress was made as the first bed placed was filled with 2 yards of soil. the terrace for bed number 2 was completed, the bed placed and also filled with 2 yards of soil. terrace number 3 was created and bed number 3 is 2/3 complete.

rain killed any chance of work on sunday - but i will forgo any progress in my garden to fill up our lakes with rain.

given the progress i am seeing, i am betting that i will have all 12 beds complete and ready for planting by the beginning of april. updated photos will follow - pending getting out between storms over the next few days.