2017 Harvest

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tired and frustrated

What do you do when you get a first sunny day after weeks of rain?
You rush to the garden to do as much as you can. I have so many things to do, so much weeding, planting, digging and not to mention I still have around 300 different seedlings for planting.

But all this had to wait because my main job for today was placing a net for my cucmbers.
For the last 10 years we plant our cucumbers on a net. Growing cucumbers on a net is the best way for a downhill garden. Cucumbers are clean, take less space in the garden and it is easier to pick them. All you have to do is walk and pick. Also other good thing is that if cucumbers grow too big they will not sink in mud and turn yellow. 
Bad thing is that besides the net you need to get strong enough poles, meters of string and wire tensioners to keep the net from ending up on the floor. Also you need a strong enough person for digging holes.
In my family I'm the toiler so I had no choice but to get up early enough and start digging holes.
For my 10 meters long net I use 6 poles that need holes 50cm deep. The only way to dig them is with this little thing.

This hole digger saves me from bruised hands and sore back. I just stick it in the ground and turn.
After digging holes I have to bring poles down the steep and slippery path. Usually I carry 3 poles at once (I eat lots of spinach) but today soil was so wet that I decided to play caber toss and threw my poles from the yard in the garden. I've hit the fence and potatoes that just grew out of the ground but in the end all my poles were back in the garden.
I could leave them in the garden over the winter but then this would happen.

There is so much humidity in the garden that one of the poles I forgot last year is now turned in mushroom pole.
After 4 hours of digging, nailing, stretching, tying and almost crying net was finally up and I was able to plant my cucumbers. I planted Levina F1 and Chinese cucumber Souther Delight.

Two days ago when my neighbor took it's seedlings she gave me a bag of shallots.

 I have never planted them before. But I was told they shouldn't be planted deep in the ground so I left them outside and then I covered them for "just in case".

 This year I decided to plant tall plants all over my garden to protect my vegetables from heats we have during the July and august. I have planted corn, millet, sunflowers and amaranth. Some of them are in my greenhouse waiting to be transplanted and some of them were sown directly to the garden.

Amaranth was one of the directly sown plants. Last year I bought some amaranth seeds and planted them in front of my house. I got huge amount of seeds from just one plant so I decided to plant it in the garden.

While I was sowing the bag containing Amaranth seeds slipped from my hand and seeds fell on the ground. I collected as much as I could but as it seems I did a very lousy job.

I can't wait to see how this bed will look when all of my amaranths grow a meter. I'll have a forest in the middle of my garden.

 I finished my todays work with planting my zucchinis. They couldn't wait anymore. They started to make flower buds and I don't want my zucchinis blooming in small pots.

Since I know that there is a possibility of low temperatures for this weekend I prepared a plastic covering to cover my zucchinis if necessary. All I have to do is open the covering and secure it.

When I was finished my eyes spotted 2 small pink flowers. My blackberries started to bloom.

This made me take a walk down my orchard and I was surprised by what I found.
I must have done an excellent job with my apple pruning. There is enormous amount of apples on every branch.

There are also lots of cherries. 

and plums.

While I was walking around I heard that thunder started roaring on the other side of the woods. I thought we will have another thunderstorm and went home.
I was tired but happy. I did more work  than I thought I would and most of difficult garden tasks were completed.

My luck didn't last long. We had a storm...a hailstorm.

Hail the size of hazelnuts started falling little after 6:00pm. Ice was falling for about 5 minutes and then it mixed with rain. Storm was ravaging for about 40 minutes. Garden was first white and then flooded.
I waited until it stopped and then carefully went to check it. It's difficult to see the damage on peas and carrots since they are still small, my freshly planted zucchinis look like Emmentaler cheese. Leaves are filled with holes, and the ones that don't have holes have broken stems. I didn't have the courage to check my lettuce and cabbage seedlings. I saw that our neighbors seedlings have lots of damage.
I just turned and went home.

I feel frustrated, angry and disappointed. I was so happy, my garden was growing so well and now this. I know that it's early and all my plants will recuperate and still give fruits but still this just pisses me off. Our country doesn't do anything to prevent hail. Before we had hail cannons and yes we still had hail but it was smaller and didn't do much damage. Now we have no protection and hailstorms are getting more frequent and more devastating.
I'm scared to think what will happen in summer when temperatures reach +30°C.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Almost swimming

This morning was sunny but still wet from yesterdays rain so I decided to wait a bit before going to the garden. I planned to try to make holes for my cucumber poles and get some lettuce for dinner.

While I was waiting I had other smaller tasks in my yard. But like always one task here, one there and I spent my whole morning working on my yard plants and seedlings.
Yesterday our neighbor took her seedlings away so I gained some new free space in my front yard. You can already guess that I used it to plant some more.

I used my new free space for my chili peppers.

The rest of the free space was used for my Cannas.

Usually I empty the pots in the fall and plant bulbs in spring, but last year my mum suggested that we leave them in pots during the winter and separate and plant in spring.I thought once the soil dries really good it would be easier to separate the bulbs.

Noup... it's the same poop like separating them in the fall.
It's like trying to separate concrete blocks with hands.
Cannas have very invasive and strong roots and bulbs connect together so it's almost impossible to separate them. Every year I start separating them with hands and in the end I just cut them with knife.

They don't mind it at all. They still grow like mad. The worst thing is that every year I have more and more bulbs and I came to a point where I have no more room to plant them. Sure I could plant them directly to the garden and not in flower pots, but cannas can't survive our winters and once I plant them in ground it's impossible to pull them out. It would be like a death sentence. As much as I hate Canna bulbs I'm not that cruel (for now).

With my lettuce and cabbages transplanted to the garden I was able to turn my greenhouse to the other side and make room for my Ipomea curtain. Ipomea is already starting to climb so I had to quickly make some climbers for it.
I decided to tie some strings to a pole above my bedroom window and let Ipomea climb on it.

Since it grows quickly it will cover this ugly strings very soon and I will have a green curtain.

But like always I can't work in the garden without messing around my tomato seedlings. The tomato seedlings I planted and left outside whole time are growing nicely.

Well, one variety "Campbell 1327" didn't germinate. I guess my seeds were too old. I had it's bag for more than 5 years so it's no surprise. But my Costoluto and Giant Belguim grew some extra seedlings.

They also grew some green marbles.

It's amazing that even in protected space, with controlled substrate I still have to deal with annoying bugs. Of course I removed all this bug eggs and transplanted my extra seedlings to my empty pots so I'm back to 160 tomato seedlings.

Since I was messing too long around my seedlings it started raining again so I had to slide down my garden while it was raining to bring us lettuce for for our dinner.

I didn't even clean the lettuce bed after picking it. I just cut down lettuce heads and ran to the house. I will clean up the mess when I get the chance to be in the garden without getting all muddy.
I got home just in time. Rain turned into another thunderstorm. Water was pouring down the road like there was a river instead of the road.

And my garden..my very unable to walk downhill garden has big water puddles.
Guess soon I'll be able to make a new swimming pool in my garden :)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Jungle sowing

Last few days I really feel like I live in a jungle. We are not used to this kind of weather. Our temperatures are over 20°C and it's raining every single day. The result is that humidity is over 90% and it's hard to breathe and work in this conditions. I'm used to gardening in extremely hot, cold or windy but this is little too much for me. I really don't like being covered with sweat as soon as I start working.

Nevertheless there are some thing in the garden that have to be done even in this crazy moist weather. I managed to get to my garden somehow to plant my lettuce and cabbage seedlings. I couldn't keep them in the yard anymore. They started to turn yellow and it's a sign they need to be transplanted to the garden.

Also I had to plant my beans. I planted 1 kilo of Trešnjevac kidney beans and Berggolod wax beans.

I buy my kidney beans on our local market. They are much cheaper than the ones that you buy in stores. But my wax beans have to be from the store, they are really expensive too. One little box of wax beans is around 5€. Another problem with wax beans is that you can't find untreated beans. Our law says that every bean and pea sold in stores has to be treated and that is why every bag of bean seeds we buy has that lovely pink color.

I said we buy our kidney beans in our local market, so why don't we buy wax bean seeds also?
There aren't any. It's really difficult to save wax bean seeds and be sure you will get the variety you planted. Wax beans mix really easily and to take seeds they should be really far from every other bean. I remember that my grandma tried many times to collect wax bean seeds. She had a big field and planted wax beans in one corner separated from all the other beans and still next year she got every other variety but no wax beans.
So I'm stuck with our treated seeds. To be honest when I started gardening I was bothered with that but now...well not so much.
I never considered myself as an organic gardener.  Sure I watch how I plant, I don't spray my vegetables, I use organic fertilizers. But living where I live and considering the fact that we live whole winter mainly on vegetables I preserve during the summer I just feel I don't have the luxury to deny my family peas and beans just cause I can't buy untreated ones.

My bugs don't seem to mind my treated seeds since they ate a nice big part of the rows I planted a few weeks ago. Who knows how many would be missing if peas were untreated. :(

They would probably end up like my parsley seeds. Every year I can play a game called "Where did my parsley go?"

 Bugs really love my parsley and carrots. Every year I try different tricks to stop them from eating and every year I fail. Again they ate at least 80% of my parsley. Carrots had better luck this year but they still have the time to eat them.

 I planted 17 short rows of wax beans and 5 long rows of  kidney beans.

 By the time I finished this I was wet like somebody threw a bucket of water on me, also mosquitoes ate every part of my body they could reach . The rain started soon after I finished and it was raining whole afternoon. I really feel somebody took my garden and landed us somewhere in the middle of Amazon jungle

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Seedling troubles

This past week has been cold with very strong winds and very rainy. Strong north wind did some damage in our garden. My lilac tree was in the way of the wind and it has some broken branches. Last year strong wind pulled out my other lilac tree so if this continues next year I'll end up treeless.

Wallflower shrub and Dame's rocket plants are all crocked and torn from the wind gusts.

This strong wind was also very cold so my oleander plant got frost bites.

My seedlings were well protected so they didn't get any frost bites. But because they were inside the house they grew like mad.

So now I should transplant them to the garden but I can't get inside. The rain made my vegetable beds into muddy pits. It will take at least 2 sunny days to be able to plant and we will have at least 5 more rainy days. 
So I decided my peppers will not go in the house anymore. This next few days I will keep them outside and maybe they will grow more slowly.

My kohlrabi, cabbages and lettuce should also be transplanted as soon as possible. They are also getting too big for my pots. 

So today I used 3 hours of sunny weather to tend my seedlings. I moved my greenhouse tomatoes outside of the greenhouse. They got big enough to keep them outside.

Again I had to use straws to make little poles for my seedlings.

I separated my seedlings and placed them in plastic crates to give them enough room but also to be able to move them if we get more stormy winds.

Zucchinis were also expelled from my greenhouse. They are huge.

I said that I will stop sowing but I just had to sow some more. One of the ladies that sells seeds had a big seed sale (50¢ a bag) and I just had to buy some seeds.
I got some chili pepper seeds: Jalapeno green pepper, Habanero brown pepper and Tabasco pepper seeds. They are usually 2€ a bag(one bag contains 10 seeds) so this was really cheap.
I also bought Cornflower, fizzy Cosmos mix, Broccoletto and some Welsh onions.

I finished sowing just in time to clean everything up and another rainstorm started.
Now I'll wait and hope that this rain will stop soon and I'll plant all my poor seedlings.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Somebody's trash is someone else's treasure

Today I planned to make a post about my pepper jungle which grows so quickly that it should transplanted to the garden as soon as possible but then Nero and I found this beauty.

While we were taking our usual walk in the forest we came across a big pile of freshly cut grass. Our neighborhood is full of people that own small vacation houses and come here only on weekends. While they are here they pretend to garden. Why do I say pretend? Because no serious gardener would throw their leftover grass, weeds and trash it to the forest. It is just disgusting.
Between all that trash I saw something that made me even more angry. I recognized pointy leaves.
I took them out and as I suspected it was a beautiful Yucca plant.It had some damaged and sick leaves but the root was untouched.
I didn't doubt one second, I took a plastic bag from my pocket(better known as poop bag), wrapped the roots and took it home.

As soon as we got home we started looking for a place for our new yucca. I decided to plant it in front of our house. Yucca has two plants on one root. One had flowers last summer. There is an old woody stem in the middle of one of the plants. I suppose that ex owner believed that absurd myth about yucca dying after blooming and threw it out. But even with this I can't believe somebody would pull it and get rid of it especially when the bigger one is young and healthy.

I hope this poor yucca will like it's new home. Even Nero helped me with digging and planting.

 We had to improvise a fence for it so it doesn't end up with a bone between roots or pulled out and chewed. Since this plant wasn't planned I had no idea what to use so in the end I used old roofing tiles.

Remember the unexpected storm that our meteorologists didn't see until 2 days ago? Yes, it started. We are experiencing strong north wind, thunder and lightning with heavy rain. It's so ugly outside even Nero won't go out. He is spending his time in front of the window watching the wind. I think my brave dog is a bit scared(hint his face expression in the window).

I just hope there will be no hail.