2017 Harvest

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.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

It's pepper time

Unusually warm weather is drugging me outside of the house and giving me a perfect excuse to start seedling season. This year I decided to sow later than last year, peppers in the beginning of March and tomatoes will be sown in late March.

I've sown my usual amount of chilli peppers. For my front yard I've sown 30 seedlings of peppers that are mostly small bushy types or extra hot ones. They are Bhut Jolokia chocolate, Peter pepper, Aji lemon, Red basket of fire, Naga morich, Piri piri, Naga tezpur and unknown variety that grew 2 years ago in my garden.
In my vegetable garden I'll be planting 120 seedlings. The biggest amount of seedlings belongs to Kecskeszarv(60s) and Rapires(30s), the rest of the peppers are Bishop's crown, Pasilla bajio, cayenne purple, De Arbol and Beaver's dam.
As for the sweet peppers I'll be planting a total of 200 seedlings. With some leftover seeds of Elf Zielonki, Elefantormany and Sweet banana I've also sown Sarga Szentes, Boni and Edesalma.  I was planning to sow more but I had an unusual problem with my seeds. I didn't buy enough. I bought two bags of Boni and Edesalma pepper, but I forgot to check the amount of seeds per bag. The Boni seeds are much bigger than the Edesalma and my bags contained less seeds than I thought. Still I guess 200 seedlings should be enough.

I've also filled one of my shelf greenhouses. Temperatures are high enough to start growing my summer lettuce, cabbages and a part of my flowers.

I haven't sown lots of lettuces this year. Only Tatsoi, 2 types of mustard and Komatsuna. The rest will be sown directly to the garden this year. As for the brassicas I've sown cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, kale(Fringed and Scarlet) and cabbages. This year the amount of cabbages is slightly bigger than the lars years. Together with the Kalibos, Wakefield and Greyhound which were sown last year, this year I have Durham, Ditmar, and "Earliest of all".

When it comes to flowers I've sown the frost resistant ones, perennials that when sown early bloom the first year and few grasses.
The biggest amount of seeds sown belongs to Zinnias(Candystripe, Snowman, Imperator, Persian carpet, Golden dawn and Eldorado) and Matthiola incana(white, linght pinka nad violet).

As for the first year blooming perennials I've sown Malva Moshata, Platycodon, Verbena bonariensis, Tritoma and Coreopsis(red and Mayfield). The rest are annual flowers (Gypshophila paniculata, Nicotiana, Larkspur, Irish bells, Celosia, Cleome, Cosmidium and Calendula) and few grasses(Carex grayi, michanthus and coix lacryma).

Peppers are now heating next to my fireplace, hopefully they will germinate soon so when the time for the tomatoes comes I'll have no more peppers on germination.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Planning a new gardening year

Growing a vegetable garden involves lots of planning. Every gardener plans how much seeds he needs, when he needs to start sowing to give his plants best conditions and how many seedlings and supporting nets and poles he needs. When you also add the good/bad neighbour, crop rotation and full sun full shade plant selection you end up with a lot of February hours spent sketching and planning.

My garden doesn't change much over the year because of my limited rotation possibilities. As right side of the garden is in full sun and left side full shade I can only rotate my plants from upper to lower part of the garden.
This year on upper part of the garden(left side) I'll be sowing beans, zucchinis and lettuce. Since I've been having problems with lettuce bolts  past few years due to the extreme warm weather during the spring I will try making them an additional cover to keep them cool.
On the right side I'm planning 3 beds one with tomatoes, one with 2 cucumber nets and one mixed with chilli peppers on top and carrots and onions on the bottom

The lower part of the garden will contain 7 rows of potatoes and one row of peas on the left side.
Right side will have 4 beds. One sweet peppers bed, one tomato bed, 1 row of peas and one bed with string and bush beans.

Extra space on the beds will be filled with sunflowers, amaranth, corn and flowers.
Due to the extremely poor flower season last year this year I have to sow lots of flowers.
I have so many varieties both annual and perennial for sowing that I had to separate all my seeds to different little bags to know when to sow which varieties.

The frost resistant and the slow growing flowers will be planted in the beginning of March, the slowly growing frost tender plants will be sown in early April. In middle of April I'll be sowing all my frost tender normal growing plants and the biannual and perennial plants that don't bloom the first year will be sown in June or July when the seedling madness is over.
For now I have slightly over 90 varieties of flowers for this and next year. Let's just hope this year will be better and my plants won't freeze.