2017 Harvest

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The same old story every year

 Past few years spring has been a mix of very moody weather starting unusually warm and by the middle, bringing a few very cold mornings. The worst possible combination for plants and trees.
Seedlings start growing too fast and then are stopped abruptly or even killed by below 0°C temperatures.
By the looks of it, this April won't be any different. First 2 weeks we had very warm weather and then on the Easter day weather started changing. Now the new forecast is saying we'll have next few days with very low daily temperatures and below or around zero morning temperatures.

This, of course, means a lot of trouble with frost sensitive plants, especially with seedlings. Many of them stop growing at temperatures below 5°C and freeze on 0°C.
This means that I had to rearrange my seedlings one more time.
Greenhouse is filled with frost senistive flowers and some of the tomatoes and the rest of less sensitive flowers will just be covered with agrotextile.

I still have some tomatoes that were sown late and are small. They have been moved to the house again.

Other tomatoes have overgrowen my greenhouse and are now beeing moved on daily bases in and out of the basement.

Most peppers haven't moved from the windows yet and will be staying here until this frost days pass.

The only seedlings that are strong enough and frost tolerate to be outside are cabbages. They should be transplanted outside but they will have to wait for a few sunny days first.

Now all that is left is to hope this will be the last frost date wel'l have this year.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Growing strawberries where they want to grow

A few years back I've had a big garden bed full of strawberries. They were the type of berries that gave fruits throughout the summer and we've had plenty of them the whole year.
then something happened and they started disappearing. Feeding them with fresh soil and manure didn't help, using different methods of weed protection didn't help either and after a while, we were left with no fruits.
Then my mom bought other strawberries but they were not the same variety and this new one gave fruit only once a year.
Also, the new strawberries didn't like our garden so they also started disappearing so we did the only sane thing to do. Took them out and planted them in pots.

For the past 5 years I've had strawberries only in the pots, but past year something changed,
First I've noticed that on my old strawberry bed there were lots of new, young strawberry plants. I thought it would be a good thing not to touch them and see if they will produce any fruits.

Then I thought why not try transplanting my potted strawberries to the garden too. So I made a little experiment. I planted 2 strawberry bushes on one part of the garden. I didn't even make a bed for them. I just removed the grass and planted then in a first shaded place I could find.

When the flowering time came I was really surprised, both self-grown strawberries and my planted ones had plenty of flowers and soon after that, they were filled with fruits. They gave fruits only once but they were still delicious and very very large fruits.

So this year I decided to transplant the rest of my potted strawberries to the same spot where I've planted my strawberries last year.
They grew over the last year so now I got plenty of new strawberries.

I did the exact same thing like I did the last time. I didn't bother with bed preparation and weed removing. I just prepared a hole, placed some manure and planted my strawberries.
It seems that the less I mess with them the better they grow.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Moody March

March is usually one of the moodiest months in a year. It's weather can variate from extremely cold and snowy to warm and rainy. Usually, we are used to this changes, but after this March I can safely say that this has been one of the weirdest months in a long time.
After a very long period of very low temperatures with the beginning of March summer came storming. In just a couple of days from below zero temperatures we jumped to very warm 20°C (68F) and the temperatures stayed the same almost whole month. The coldest morning was in the beginning of March with -2°C(28.4F) and the rest of the mornings were over the zero and freezing point.
The warmest days brought us temperatures around 25°C(77F) which is very unusual for our country in March. In many places, century temperature records were broken many times over the month.
Besides being the warmest March it was also a very dry one. There was almost no rain in March. We got two days with 2mm of rain in the beginning of March and later not a single drop.

Did this kind of weather affect my garden? Yes, it certainly did.
Although this warm weather brought good sowing conditions the lack of rain is delaying the germination of plants. It has now been three weeks since I've sown my carrots, peas and onions and still no plants. Today I've noticed that the peas are finally showing.

Warm weather is doing wonders for all the trees and flowers. Still, even here the extreme heat is visible. Everything is blooming at the same time. The Bleeding heart which usually blooms here around the end of April is already in full bloom together with all the trees and summer flowers.

The unusually warm weather is giving me troubles with my seedling too. It's been too warm lately so we stopped heating the house.
The moment we stopped heating my seedling started getting leggy so even though is too early I've moved them into my outside greenhouses. If the temperatures drop I will bring them back inside but for now, tomatoes are staying outside.

Flowers had to give the greenhouse room to tomatoes

Peppers are also not too pleased with this weather. Temperatures are prolonging the germination time since I don't have the temperature over 25°C indoors. I've moved them to the window which is in full sun during the day hoping this will help them grow.

Now my main concern is that the weather will change drastically during the April and that we'll get frost temperatures again. Let's hope the moody March weather will continue during the April but with more rain.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The beauty is in details

Spring is finally here.
Although we had a very warm March nature can't be fooled and there were no blooming trees or flowers until this week. Now that the spring came nature is showing it's first signs of awakening.
Orchard is filled with Alpine squills, Primroses, Lungworts and Sweet violets.

Wildflowers aren't the only ones waking up. Bergenia, Forsythia, Hyacinths and Daffodils are bringing the much-needed color to our still gray gardens.

Trees are also slowly waking up, although there are still no green trees in the woods, fruits have started forming their first flowers. Apricots, Pears, Plums and Peaches are starting to dress our trees in beautiful and gentle petal dresses

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Busy 24/7

The beginning of a gardening season is always the busiest time of the year. With all the sowing and planting there is an issue with fixing the damage winter left behind.
Luckily this year we had a nice and warm beginning of March so all the work was done on time.
I managed to finish all the orchard work. Pruning was finished in a week and a half and raking and cleaning fallen branches were done this week.


I've also managed to do all the garden sowing. Peas ( American wonder and Villo) were sown this Tuesday and carrots, onions and lettuce were sown on Wednesday.

The only problem with this weeks sowing is the fact that we desperately need some rain. The soil is extremely dry for this time of the year.

Before winter I left some covered lettuce and carrots that were too small to be harvested. I covered them with agrotextile but I was a bit skeptical with the result of the covering, mainly because we had a very cold winter.
But still, most of my lettuce and the carrots survived.

 I'll leave the lettuce another 14 days and then I will have to harvest it to plant potatoes and carrots will be harvested until May when it will be the time to transplant peppers.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Azoychka - the yellow queen of high altitude gardens

Azoychka, also known as Golden borage(Zolotoy Borago) was first discovered by an amateur gardener Kruglova in 1980. The name of this Russian heirloom has been a big debate during the years.
Russian word "Азоюшка" (meaning Azoyushka) has been incorrectly transcripted to "Azoychka".
Although the rest of the world now knows this tomato as Azoychka in Russia you will still find it under the name Azoyuska or simply as "Azochka".

Unlike other yellow varieties, Azoychka doesn't have a strong sour taste. Its flavor is a mix of mildly sour, meaty and fruity taste. The firm skin of the tomato makes it ideal for making salads, using sliced in sandwiches and transporting.

The plant itself is no different than most of the tomato plants, regular leafed, indeterminate and grows up to 1.8m (5.9oz). Its height depends on the climate in which the tomato is grown.

Azoychka likes colder climate, it's ideal for high altitude gardens but it can be grown in almost every environment. In my garden, it is grown in summer temperatures that can reach over 40°C(104F). The difference is that the plant is usually a bit smaller, less bushy and produces smaller fruits.
When it comes to diseases Azoychka puts up a pretty good fight. It is resistant to most of the diseases and can battle late blight very well. Of all my varieties last year Azoychka was one of the few that didn't show signs of late blight.

Azoychka fruit is medium-sized, round to oblate beefsteak. The weight of the tomato is approximately from 150 to 300gr (5.2 to 10.5oz). If the plant is plucked at the top fruits can be up to 450gr(15.8oz). Its color varies from bright lemon yellow with green patches to slightly orange or even orange-red if the fruit is fully ripe. One plant grown in perfect condition can give up to 50 fruits per plant.

This variety has a very short maturing period of only 60 to 80 days. It can be sown indoors a month before the last frost date and then transplanted to the garden. If sown for greenhouse cultivation the variety can be sown in February and will be one of the first tomatoes to give fruit.

Azoychka produces lots of seeds in its meaty middle and one fruit should contain enough seeds for every hobby gardener.