2017 Harvest

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Barlow columbine

Two years ago I bought Barlow columbine seeds, "Black Barlow" and "Rose Barlow" to be exact. Now after 2 years they are finally blooming.

European columbine(Aquilegia Vulgaris) can be found as native plant in many gardens in Croatia. That was not the case in my garden. My garden was built on previous forest ground so I had to plant them to spread. I got my first Columbine bush almost 15 years ago from mums colleague. Columbines were always a part of her garden and she gave us one root. Out of that root I now have whole field of columbines.

Old columbines with new ones in left corner
Old columbines on lower part of hillside
I thought it would be the time to bring a new variety of columbines in the garden so I bough seeds of Black and Rose Barlow.
Black and Rose Barlow and cultivars of Aquilegia Vulgaris.

Both Rose and Black Barlow are a bushy plants with flower stems that can reach from 60-90cm. Like full sun to part shade and clay to sandy soil. Don't require a special soil pH. They grow equally well in neutral, acid or alkaline ground.
Like every columbine they are mildly poisonous so deer and rabbits won't eat them. They can survive hard and long drought, will not bloom but the rosette will remain healthy. Columbines attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Pests that can affect them are aphids, caterpillars, sawflies and in very moist springs they can develop leaf fungal diseases.

My columbines:
I grow my Columbines on our house retaining hillside. The hillside was built out of residual materials(sand, stones, small bricks) and then covered with clay soil. May not be the perfect place for many plants but Columbine seem to like it. They get good amount of clay soil and under they have good drainage.

Rose Barlow
Black Barlow
I noticed that my Columbines aren't really the size written in characteristics. Stems are much taller. Some reach 1.5m(59in). Also instead of ultimate spread of 0.5m(19in) mine are 1m(39in) right now, so if you plan to plant them have in mind there is a possibility they will take much more space than written in characteristics.

Dog for scale 
I also noticed that my columbines are full of bumblebees, but no bees. There are plenty of bees in my garden right now, but they seem to avoid them and concentrate on blackberries and black locust. Bumblebees on the other hand pick only columbines.

Stems have a nice amount of flowers, each 5-8. Rose flowers have nice colour, but I expected black ones to be a bit more darker.
Rose Barlow flower colour
 The colour looks like purple actually and comparing them to my previous dark purple ones seems they are the same. Flower shape reminds me of small Dahlia flowers.

Black Barlow 
Dark purple European Columbine
The conclusion:
As much as people prefer Barlow Columbines for their fluffy flowers I have to say that I like more my old European varieties. Colours of flowers are much stronger, and for some reason Columbines with "a little skirt" on them look much more elegant to me.

Little skirt on European columbines

 Another thing that bothers be a bit is leaf size, A meter spread is using much space in my garden and it kills that thick flower veil I get when leaves are smaller.

Now I can't wait to see what combinations I'll get next year when the two varieties mix with my old columbines.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Garden report- week 8

I decided to make some changes to my blog. I planned to do it from the beginning of the gardening year but my health issues kept me from realizing my ideas. Now that I feel a bit better I decided that it's time to bring the changes.
I thought about turning part of my posts in small herb/vegetable/flower encyclopedia. I'll be making posts about different varieties with all basic information, planting advices together with my opinions about each plant after testing it. I'll be posting only varieties I have personally tried to grow. My plan is to make a gardener help blog that will contain all necessary information for easy gardening. Everything in one place.

I've also thought instead writing posts about garden progress every couple of days, I'll make a weekly report of all my vegetables.

So today it's time for a weekly report of week 8. It would be logical to start from week 1 but since my first vegetables were sown 8 weeks ago I'll start with week 8.

Last week we got the rain we needed. Instead of one day we got whole weekend of rain, so now we are back on average rain amount. This rain made my vegetables double their size in just couple of days.

Peas have grown enough to cover them with more dirt. Soon they will start blooming.

Carrots are growing nicely...well part of them are growing and part is still hardly visible. I have 3 different varieties this year. "Deep purple" variety I'm growing for the first time so I'm hoping this poor growth is the result of slower growing variety and not bugs.

Onions were looking good until few days, now they started falling. Our onion fly is back.Few years ago I tried fighting it, then I stopped growing onions to get it out of my garden, but since my neighbor constantly grows them she just survives there. So now I just gave up. I sow more than usually and collect good ones.

This year I'm growing 2 varieties of vax beans.
Wonder of Piedmont is growing excellent with strong bushy plants.

Berggold is smaller and has grown less, also this were organic seeds and my bugs seem to love it. Around 30% has been eaten.

All potatoes are out and have been earthed up.

My seedlings have all survived, except one pepper I broke while I was planting it.
I removed pepper shade and now both sweet and chilli peppers are growing freely.

Tomatoes also look good, few were rolled by the wind but after tying them they are all back up and slowly growing.

This week I need to clean up my shallot beds, flower beds and if weather allows me I'll be transplanting my second round of tomato seedlings. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Transplanting time part 2

After my pumpkin adventure it was time to plant my tomatoes. I could plant only half because this moody year kept some of my tomatoes from growing and they were too small to transplant them. I'm hoping that with some sunny days they will be ready in a week.

This year I planted 42 varieties of tomatoes, 6 determinate ones, 7 vigorous ones and the rest are indeterminate. I'm not sure about the amount of the tomatoes in each variety because in some pots I had 4 seedlings, in some just one so I did some pot transplanting, but I hope I will have enough poles for this years tomatoes.
I've planted many new varieties to test them, I have some old ones that proved excellent for my climate, and some that I absolutely adore for their taste(like DeBarao and Black seaman)

In fear of lacking planting space I planted lettuce and cabbages between tomatoes. I'm hoping that tomatoes will give them much needed shade in hot days. I've also sown some borage between tomatoes to keep the diseases away and give more taste to my tomatoes, not that we need better taste...when sunny summer hits us tomatoes are always tasty.

Planting was done like every year, dig a hole, add some bunny manure, place tomatoes inside, sprinkle with crushed egg shells and cover with soil, get up move to next tomatoes and sit back down...I've perfected the sitting down planting technique this year, with my sore foot I'm always searching for ways not to stand much, now if I could only find a way to dig while sitting down that would be great :D

After the planting all that was left was to drag watering can around in almost completely dark garden. By the time I have finished planting it was already 9pm. I always water well the pots before transplanting and the soil immediately after they are in ground. That way with a decent rain I don't have to water my seedlings after transplanting them.

And  indeed I won't have to water them because rain came today. It's raining since early morning. Although I feared we'd get a thunderstorm this rain came very calmly and in decent amounts. 20 liters in less than 12 hours is just what we needed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Transplanting time

Summer weather is continuing. Temperatures are constantly over 27°C and we haven't had any rain in over month. This end of the week should be rainy so I decided it would be a good idea to transplant some of my tomatoes to the garden. Only half of my tomatoes is ready for transplanting the rest of them are pretty small so they will wait another 10 days.
Together with my tomatoes I decided to plant my zucchinis and pumpkins.

This year I have some new pumpkin and zucchini varieties and they require more space so last fall I prepared a new bed inside my orchard. Even with new bed I had to give up sowing Black Futsu, Boston marrow and Triamble. This pumpkins I will sow next year when I make my bed bigger.

Once I got to my bed the fun begun. Well if you can call walking up and down the hill having fun. The orchard bed is on the lowest part of the yard and to get to it I have to walk down the hill through my whole garden. That's not so hard if you are going empty handed. But carrying things you need for planting not so easy.

And it's even harder if you are forgetful like I am. So in my first trip I took down seedlings and bucket of water, then I remembered that I need some manure and had to get back up to get it. And once I got all that down I realized that I will have to use my hands to dig because I forget my hoe. That meant another trip back up. By the time I got everything I needed I was tired of everything.

When the digging started things got even worse. Soil was as the concrete so I had to dig hard, I felt like I with one of the hits with hoe my brain will pop out of my head.
Then I felt something crawling up my legs and biting me...of course I stepped into an anthill. The little pests chewed up both my legs. While jumping and getting rid of the ants I rolled over my water bucket so now it was half empty and that meant I'd need to fill it up again..do I even have to say my water barrel is in the middle of the garden?
 By this time I was pretty much angry and got and incredible desire to fly all the way to Poland and suffocate Dewberry for sending me all this wonderful, pumpkin seeds. :D
When I finally started planting things just got to it's place and I was happy again. This year I will have whole bunch of delicious pumpkins. I planted
Tondo Chiaro Ni Nizza, Gagat scallopini, Baby boo pumpkin, Vegetable spaghetti pumpkin and Genovese zucchini. I'm still waiting for my Sweet dumpling and Miranda pumpkin. They were a bit too small.

Having a bed in the middle of the orchard brings out the weed control problem. I first planned to put a black foil under the soil to prevent it from growing on my bed but then I remembered our strawberry disaster few years ago and gave up that idea.
On a downhill garden all the water drains down the hill and placing the foil prevents the soil from getting directly wet from rain. In out dry summer climate that can be a real problem, especially to the zucchinis that like water. So I gave up that idea and decided I will place the foil around the bed to keep the weeds from spreading on the bed and the ones that are in it will eventually stop growing once my pumpkins cover the soil.

When I was done with my pumpkins I still had to plant my tomatoes, some corn and some cucumbers and it was already 7pm...it was going to be a long night.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Pepper planting

Although we're still in our frost date danger, after very cold spring May has started to look like summer is here. Morning temperatures are over 15°C and daily temperatures are reaching 30°C. In this conditions I decided that it's safe to transplant my peppers.
Usually I would wait until 15th but my peppers have grown very big and if I leave them too long they will start turning yellow.

This high temperatures are burning my peppers so after transplanting them they got a shade tent to keep them from getting burned. I improvised it with agro- textile and some sticks I collected from apple pruning. It should hold until the first rain and wind :)

I planted Tomato shaped pepper, Zlata, Violet bell and Soroksari. Since I'm not sure of their height they got their own little support nets like last year.

My chili peppers have been transplanted to the pots, depending on their size they each got their size pot...and in lack of pots some got old buckets and canisters.

From upper left: Habanero Burning bush, Black cuban, Tasmanian Black
                           Habanero chocolate, Explosive ember, Filius blue,
                           Piri piri(black bucket), Aji Lemon drop(blue)
                           Trinidad moruga scorpion, Naga Jolokia

Upper left to right: Zimbabwe black, Bhut jolokia, Naga morich,
                               Black namaqualand , Bishops crown, 7 pot white
                               Cayenne purple, Rawit red
                               Japaleño, Red basket of fire

 They also got textile protection against sun

For my Peter pepper I chose a special place in front of the house, easily visible from the street. I have a feeling my wee-wee pepper will be very interesting when it starts to have fruits :)