Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 12, 2014

Spring is officially here and the days are slowly stretching their way towards April. Let's take a quick look into the March garden.
Aji Amarillo. There must be 40 peppers hanging on this plant right now! Crossing my fingers that they ripen before the fruit flies return.
The main bulb was harvested a few weeks ago. Cut and come again fennel!

Asparagus shoots. Literally. They can grow 6-12" a day.
 
Kale side shoots after the growing tip was destroyed. Perfect for baby kale salad.  

Purple peacock broccoli with Pumba onion transplants in the background.

Pickle worm damage on cucumber.

More pickle worm damage, entry hole with frass.

Here pickle worm damage has extended from the fruit to the stems. Damage was swift with persistent and heavy pressure This is a rural area and i doubt there are too many other curcurbits in the neighborhood. There must be a local host although i have not seen it mentioned in the literature.   

Bad picture of a great little vegetable, extra dwarf bok choy. Thirty days to maturity, fun to float in a hot bowl of ramen. 
Another bad picture! This is a patch of Runway Arugula. Less bitter but retains a nice peppery bite.

More Romanesco, sporting a purple haze.


Here is a busy picture. Taiching 13 sugar pea climbing the trellis in the background. Jaune du Doubs and Purple Dragon carrots loom over a second planting of Atomic Red.

Golden Sweet Pea. A four foot planting (6' spacing) yields two generous pickings a week.

More Chard. Pink Lipstick mixed with Prima
Rosa.
Blush tomato on the left, Indigo Rose on the right. Blush is putting out a LOT of leaf in comparison to fruit. The Indigo Rose has less leaf, a good number of unripe fruit. Height is about the same, maybe 5', with the first fruits just ripening.


Indigo Rose 
Blush

New lettuce planting from Wild Garden Seed, lost track of the variety.
 Lots and lots of rain this month. The peas are pumping, tomatoes are slow to ripen. Zucchini and cucumber have been pulled out. Chard looks great but the cabbage moth butterflies have found the garden and are hitting the Lacinato and cauliflower starts pretty hard. The wild red kales are holding up great. Harvested the last of the broccoli, should have planted a second, succession crop. Should have planted cauliflower starts sooner. Transplanting onions and leeks like crazy. The un-transplanted ones are just starting to bulb up. Red Coach seeds did not arrive until January so too small for transplanting or bulbing. Harvested amazing, technicolor beets.Garlic looks like crap.  Asparagus coming out of our ears!

How's your garden coming along?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mid February 2014

MoH, one of my favorite blogistas, recently wrote about 'condiment gardening'. A little basil to sprinkle on your pasta, a green salad for dinner, a tomato slice on your sandwich. All very, very nice but not a significant contribution to your daily calorie needs. 

Almost ready!

Upon reading her post, i first thought i might be a 'condiment gardener with aspirations'. But now i have a new idea.

Stem borer on Lacinato Kale. Every once in a while i see this kind of damage. The caterpillar burrows down from the growing tip and into the stem of the plant, opening it up to rot. Seems to affect mostly brassicas and large stemmed radishes.  Not such a big problem that i have bothered to research it.
I think i am a 'supermarket' gardener.

Ethiopian Kale. Growing nicely, not much else to say right now.

In Hawaii the growing season can be year round. There is no reason to plant large quantities of storage crops to tide us through the winter.

Wild Red Kale from Wild Garden Seed catalog.  I especially like this frilly leaved, pink stemmed one.  It's Girlie Kale ; )
So 'supermarket gardening' works for us.  A few plants of this, a few plants of that to provide small harvests of a variety of food plants.

Fennel has been on my mind this spring. I somehow ordered fennel from three different vendors (blush).

It's how i shop and how we eat.  But it's better than shopping because some food stores best in the garden.  And if it won't store on the vine, it will last longer in the crisper when it's picked fresh.


Kale, beets, hot pepper, broccoli. A little kapakai to confuse the bugs.

Kale keeps much longer in the garden than in the vegetable bin. And fresh from the garden lettuce lasts longer in the crisper than store bought.


Broccoli side shoots. I planted a mix of early, mid and late season broccoli from Rene's this year for an extended harvest from one planting. Unfortunately not all of the varieties seem to want to make side shoots.  Disappointing! We enjoy the side shoots more than the initial head and the side shoots often make up the bulk of the harvest. 
No way my tomatoes last as long as the ones you can buy at Costco but i'm not sure i want that. What do they do to those tomatoes to get them to last for weeks stored on a countertop anyway??

Indigo Rose tomato on the left, Blush on the right. 
So that is all i have to say today. Please enjoy the rest of the garden tour.

Weed? No.  Rhubarb! Experimenting with growing it as an annual this year. It will not perennialize in Hawaii at my elevation because we do not get enough chill hours.

Alpine strawberry 'Pineapple' is a pale yellow when ripe. I hope the unusual color will fool the other critters long enough for me to taste a few.

I hoped the fruit fly population might be low enough to grow cucumbers without cover. No problems with fruit fly so far but surprise! the pickle worm is out in full force.   This 'Green Fingers' variety is prolific enough that i am able to get a small harvest anyway. It is also self pollinating so i may try covering it later.  Flanked with 'Wasabi' arugula, Pumba onion in the foreground, waiting to be transplanted.

More confusion planting. Nasturtium, asparagus, broccoli, kale, carrot, pepper, mustard.

Baby 'Golden Sweet ' snow pea. It takes me a few days to get the photos uploaded and posted which means that the pea in this picture was picked and eaten today!

Zucchini pulled out due to intense Pickle Worm pressure. I'll order some self pollinating Cavili and replant under a tunnel later this year.


This bed was in full sun when it was installed a few years ago. It's pretty shady these days. The 'Gator' chard has been growing beautifully here but the other greens are a little slow because of the reduced sunlight. 
A hui hou!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sweet, rain tender broccoli

Garlicky Sesame Cured Broccoli Salad  Pure broccoli goodness, courtesy of the gifted Melissa Clark. 


Even more wonderful with sweet, rain tender broccoli plucked from the February garden.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Just not ready to go there...

Have you tested your soil lately? These are the results from my latest test.


Three years ago the test results were very different. I lost the hard copy to a trade shower last spring so i don't have it to post as a comparison. The pH started out around 5.3-very acidic. Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus were also very low. Potassium, interestingly enough, was sitting right about where it is now. I added lime, dolomite, gypsum and bone meal as directed in the 'fertilizer recommendations' section of the test when i completed the initial bed preparation.  I have continued to add horse/rabbit/poultry manure and fish scraps during replanting. It's not a good idea to randomly add inputs without knowing what your baseline levels are but that's exactly what i did after the initial amendment, using azomite to add micro nutrients and/or a variant of Steve Solomon's complete organic fertilizer to replace outputs from time to time. I plan to do more extensive soil testing next year and hope that i haven't mucked things up too badly.

The big test surprise for me is the very high phosphorus result. It could mean that i went a little crazy with the bone meal, but it might also mean that a lot of phosphorus was bound up with aluminum at the lower pH. When the soil was limed, calcium replaced the aluminum creating calcium phosphates which are more water soluble and readily available.  (I love that soil science is mostly chemistry but it does make my head spin a little.)  So what to do about it? Many of my garden favorites are heavy phosphorus users so i expect the levels to correct themselves over time as long as i don't keep adding more. My main input this year will be nitrogen in the form of expensive blood and feather meal. There is a readily available and free source of nitrogen available to each of us but i'm just not ready to go there.  Yet.

An option to be aware of, just in case.
If you are in Hawaii and are curious about how your soil stacks up, basic soil testing is available through the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) for around $12.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fifteen tiny miracles

Fifteen wrinkled peas scratched into the damp earth with a whispered prayer.  A day, a week, and then...fifteen tiny miracles, stretching towards the sky. 

Golden Sweet Peas.  Mahalo Jane!

Gardeners know that a seed is just a promise with an expiration date. Time, light, and moisture all conspire against the fulfillment of that promise. So how did these seeds, saved in 2012, beat the odds?  Skillful storage and a pinch of luck is my best guess but i'll have to ask the gardener who stewarded them to know for sure. Maybe she'll share her secrets in the comments section.

Germination rates from my own stored seed have been terrible this year. Probably because i moved the plastic snap lock storage containers out of the refrigerator and into the hall closet. I've been working off bad seed karma ever since.

On the up side, it's been a merry time supporting favorite seed companies by replacing all that failed seed. And quite a few new varieties have found their way into my cart. Silver linings, everywhere you look!

How are you storing your seeds this year?