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August 29th, 2011

Good Night, Irene

Well, the storm rolled in, as we knew it would. The wind wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, but it was the rain that did my corn in. I can’t be too upset. Things could have been much worse, indeed. My wife and baby girls are safe and sound, and that’s what counts the most.

Sure, I’m a little sad—about the popcorn especially. But maybe it will bounce back?

Here are the “After” pictures that I anticipated in my last post.

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How did your garden fare?

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August 1st, 2011

Navigating the transitional time in the garden

I’m in a transition. My bush beans are about done—I pulled them out on Saturday morning. There are just a few ears of corn left in the corn patch. My potatoes are dying back, so it’s time to harvest them. My zucchinis were huge, but have since withered and died. I harvested the garlic, and most of the onions have been dug up and put to good use. The peas are long gone.

What does this all mean to me? A few things….

First, it reminds me how fast time goes by these days, how fleeting a summer can be, how if you blink you might just miss the season completely. I remember how summers used to last forever, how a day was so long, how a week down at the shore as a kid was nearly a lifetime in and of itself. I’m sure it’s just a function of growing older and the general relativity of time. A year is a seventh of your life when you’re seven. But when you’re 38, a week at the shore is hardly any time at all. I guess that’s why it’s so important to live in the present moment—to be in the now. Let me coin a phrase: To be in the Now is to be in the Know.

(Yes, I tend to get a little philosophical here on my blog)

This transitional period of my garden also means that there’s a whole lot of real estate coming up for grabs soon, and I need to be on the ball in order to get my fall crops in the ground in time. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Kale, more beans, more kale, more peas, maybe some more zucchini, I have a packet of quinoa seeds, spinach, more kale. I might even try a late crop of potatoes, but that’s more of an experiment. I’ll let you know what happens.

In the meantime, we are enjoying the steady onslaught of tomatoes. My family’s favorite thing to eat is tomato salad: tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, salt, and lots of olive oil. Some good crusty bread, and maybe a little fresh mozzarella if you have it. So good.

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I wish I could train my dog, Chester,  to sniff out garden pests. Maybe someday.

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July 5th, 2011

Stupid Deer, New Fence

Those stupid deer had to go and prove me wrong. For a while now, when people ask me if I have trouble with the deer eating my crops, I say no, they generally leave my garden alone. I have a fence, a dog, and some wind chimes. Plus there is enough other good stuff nearby (4 acres of alfalfa, 4 acres of feed corn, etc.) that a deer shouldn’t have to pilfer from my humble little organic garden. Maybe the deer appreciate that my corn doesn’t have that chemical aftertaste that the feed corn has.

Anyway, I went out to the garden Saturday morning to find most of my newly forming ears of corn neatly nibbled down to the stalk. Stupid deer. It’s my own dumb fault because my corn patch wasn’t fenced in. But it is now. I spent all day Sunday doing reconstructive surgery on my fence. I had to relocate one of my compost piles, to open up a path to the newly fenced in area. My next step is to mulch all the new inside territory with straw.

Otherwise my garden is doing very well. The bean teepee is growing according to plan. My peas are almost finished. I took out half of theme and will be planting another tomato or tow and some delicata squash on the trellis. I’m definitely a convert to vertical gardening.

We’ve been eating tons of zucchini. I’ve been harvesting onions and garlic as we need them. My lettuce still looks good. The basil and parsley look and taste great too. My self-seeding calendula look amazing. And the volunteer cilantro looks good too. My pop-corn is well on its way, and I decided to plant some more sweet corn in the bed where my turnips were.

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And the corn that the deer ate seems to be recovering OK. It’s starting to grow silk. I think I might get some good corn this year after all.

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May 26th, 2011

Delinquent blogger, busy gardener

Hello. It’s been as while. Please forgive my absence from this blog. I’ve had a lot going on lately. We had a baby last month and I was home for a few weeks helping around the house. I am extremely thankful for the generous paternity leave Rodale gave me. It made such a huge difference to my family and me. Besides being around to help with the new baby, I was also lucky enough to get to spend an unprecedented amount of time with my almost-3 year old daughter. Together, we spent a lot of time working and playing in the garden.

I’ll give you a quick tour:

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You can see the pea trellis in the foreground and the bean teepee in the background. In a few months that teepee will be a cool and shady hideout for my daughter.

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The zucchini we started indoors finally made it’s way to the garden. This is our first blossom. Fresh zucchini is right around the corner.

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And our potatoes are starting to push through the straw mulch.

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This is what I call strategic volunteer cilantro. After last year’s plants went to seed, I broadcast the seeds along the fence on the southwest corner of the garden. It should make a nice herb border that attracts lots of beneficial insects.

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We also planted four rows of corn and two rows of bush beans on the east side of the garden. I tried the three sisters here last year, but the squash bugs were terrible and they seemed to have their way with my corn too. So I’m not planting any winter squash this year.

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And finally, here are the turnips I planted last September, gone to seed. The turnip roots were awesome in the late fall, and the turnip greens were tasty in early spring. It’s amazing what will survive over the winter with a good layer of mulch.

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