8-13-16 Blog

I know, I know,  it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  The past six weeks have found me very busy with one of my other passions- coaching 9th grade football.   I haven’t exactly been away from the garden, but I just haven’t had time to write about it.   I guess I’ve got some catching up to do with my updates so bear with me.

I’ve dug up my third row of potatoes and finally got a little more of a desired result.  They probably yielded close to 45 pounds worth of very nice sized spuds.  That was roughly three weeks ago.   Since that time, we’ve endured one of the worst droughts in nearly 25 years.  I lost all of my zucchini, cucumbers, squash and celery during this time.   In addition, my sweet corn and strawberries took a major hit but are still holding on because of the supplemental waterings I’ve given them.

Today, with the threat of rain looming,  I turned up all my cooking onions and was rewarded with a nice crop.  I though it best to get them out so they don’t rot in the ground if we got rain.  I also harvested my red kidney beans and was disappointed here.  I got a handful,  but was expecting 4 times as much.

At roughly 12:52 pm this afternoon, this area finally got to experience it’s first major rainfall in nearly two months.   It’s about to cut loose again as I write.   I’m hoping this enables everything to bounce back some so we can enjoy a fall harvest of some sort.   I’ll check back in again on a little more consistent basis once again as things progress.

7-21-16 Blog.

Today,  I’m officially declaring my garden a drought zone.  This heat is quickly becoming overbearing and I don’t see much help in sight.   Too bad I don’t qaulify for State or Federal assistance  (LOL).  I just wish I could do more for my remaining vegetables.

This morning I began to make preparations for next year’s exploits.  I received a catalog in the mail and, after browsing it’s pages, decided to place an order for a 4-way soil analyzer and a 6 lb bag of soil conditioner. I have come to believe that as my garden progresses this year that it’s lacking in areas other than moisture.   Hopefully, with these items, I can figure out the deficiencies and make the necessary adjustments this fall and next spring.

This evening, I started turning up my Kennebec potatoes.   I got a little over halfway through the row and my results are poorer than I thought they would be.  The size is better than what the Yukon’s were but the numbers aren’t nearly as good.   Oh well, it’s still better than last year’s washout where most of my crop rotted in the ground.

Looking forward, I’ll try to get the remaining spuds out by Saturday.    I’ve also got cucumbers, tomatoes, beets and jalapeños that need picking soon. I’ll report on that at a later date.  Good Evening and thanks to all my readers!

7-17-16 Blog

As dry as it’s been during the growing season thus far coupled with my summer and fall time restraints, I made the choice to dig up my Yukon Gold potatoes yesterday afternoon.   The plants were days from being completely dead anyway since there are back to back 90+ degree days in the near forecast.  My niece, 13 year old Tricia, and her brother, Toby who’s 9, were more than willing to give me a helping hand.

The crop turned out to be an average one.   The numbers were there as most of the sets produced between 12 and 20 new tubers, with the highest that I counted being 23.  Upon inspection,  you could tell that the only thing that kept this from being a bumper crop was a lack of moisture once the plants had bloomed and set new potatoes.   We did end up with a yield of close to 30 pounds consisting of 85 percent mediums, 10 percent larges and 5 percent smalls.  We threw very few out that were too small to keep. I would have liked to see the top end finish out with a little more size, but I can’t complain.  I’ll definitely take it over last year when 50% of my crop rotted in the ground due to excessive rain.

While we were in digging mode, I turned up the two end plants in my row of Russets (still very green) and 5 of my Kennebecs- which are probably a week away from harvest.  From the looks of that dig, the white potatoes are set to do much better this year than the gold.  They didn’t have quite the numbers that the gold had,  but the size and quality appears to be outstanding.   We were all very excited to see this and now can’t wait to be able to get them out of the ground also.

Once we were done with the potatoes,  we cut our first head of late broccoli along with the seconds off the early row.  In addition,  we picked another zucchini and our first half dozen tomatoes of the year.  I’m hoping for a nice yield from my ‘maters because my mother has hinted that she wants to make homemade ketchup this year.  I don’t care for the taste of tomatoes,  but I’ll eat anything made from them and I think my mom’s ketchup is to die for. I’m sorry, but it’s a secret family recipe so don’t ask because I’m not telling.

To finish up, we put some fresh grass clippings around the strawberry plants and gave the majority of the remaining garden a big drink of water. Hopefully, this will carry things over for at least a couple of days.

 

 

 

7/11/16 Blog

It’s been a very warm and dry past few weeks.  This year, I can be fortunate that I’m an early season gardener for the most part.  Nearly all of my early vegetables have already been harvested with the last head of late cabbage and last two kohlrabi taken earlier today.  My second crop broccoli and potatoes are close enough that I believe they will produce nicely.

I’ve made it a habit -with the help of my father – to water everything at least every other day.  So far, so good except for my poor sweet corn.  I just can’t seem to be able to get it jump started this year.  I’m going to apply some 24-8-16 fertilizer on both sides of each row tomorrow.  It won’t be long before I start getting tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini in large quantities.  I’m still hoping for normal rain activity to find our area soon or we may enter into drought status.

6-27-16 Blog.

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My summer picking of the early vegetable varieties is now in full swing.   I’ve been able to harvest 4 heads of early cabbage, 8 heads of cauliflower, nearly 2 five gallon buckets of turnips, 2 zucchini, 4 heads of early broccoli along with some radishes, kohlrabi, cucumbers and strawberries.

Outside of that, I had a very productive weekend.  I managed to get the majority of the weeding done along with a couple of badly needed waterings.  The only thing that went wrong was that I broke a belt on the rototiller after only completing about a third of what I wanted to get done. I’m hoping it’s not a hard fix.   Now if we could get a few more of those showers they’re calling for, all should be good again for a while.

 

What’s in my Rows- An in depth look at Potatoes

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Per reader request, I’ve decided to start a row by row series on how I go about raising my produce.  In this, my first edition, I’m going to talk about my favorite vegetable to grow and one of my favorites to enjoy at dinnertime- potatoes.  Based on my experience, there are four very important factors to consider when attempting to grow quality, high-yielding spuds.

The first item to consider and, in my opinion, the most crucial is that of proper seed selection.  I’ve found it wise to choose only varieties that grow well in my region and to plant only the largest seed (whole) that I can get my hands on.   This is most likely to be accomplished at your local garden center and not from a catalog.  You may pay a bit more, but you’ll usually get better service and all your questions answered.  In addition, you can see their display and often times dig through and select what you want.   I grow both yellow  (Yukon Gold ) and white  (Kennebec and Russet ) potatoes.   The whites do well enough for me to keep me coming back, but it’s the yellows that are my best producers.  That may simply be due to the fact that they have a have a longer growing season and thus, can get bigger and more plentiful over time.

Once you’ve picked out what you want to grow and it’s time to plant, both seed and row spacing need to be considered.  Once my trench has been dug, I measure from the center of the first seed to the center of the next seed.   I want this distance to measure approximately 18 inches.  After that, I simply repeat this process down the row until I’m done.   As for row spacing, if I’m planting potatoes side by side, then 4 to 5 feet in between is usually enough.   However, if my potatoes are next to anything else, I will small down my row width to 3.5 feet or a bit more than the width of my rototiller to allow for growth and the subsequent “hilling” that needs to occur.

Proper row spacing provides me not only with room to work but also access to the what I need to hill effectively.   You guessed it- dirt!  We all know that we have to have dirt in order to grow anything.   However, when raising potatoes, plan to double or even triple what you use for everything else or else you may find yourself bringing it in from elsewhere.  As your potatoes begin to shoot upward, a good rule of thumb is to provide 1 additional inch of dirt to the hill for every 4 inches of plant height.   This allows for the maximum number of new crop potatoes to form and develop underground.  Not only is having enough available soil crucial, but having the right kind will help you grow more and larger potatoes.   Potatoes like a slightly acidic soil that is loose so that both the plant grows well and the small spuds have room to grow large.

Finally, in order to achieve the results you desire,  it only makes sense to maintain proper upkeep.  By this, I mean timely watering when needed, preventative dusting and keeping things weed free.  This will also help to protect your investments of both time and money. If you, like me, desire huge yields of large potatoes,  then I hope some of the tips that I mentioned here can help.

6-11-16 Blog.

Although there isn’t much to report on at this time, I thought it would be a good idea to check in with everyone.  Everything appears to be bug free and in excellent health right now.  The warm weather we’ve had the past two weeks paired with some small, yet timely showers has really been a boost to the vegetables.

After three plantings, I’m happy to see that my sweet corn has emerged and is doing well.  I haven’t had very good luck with seeds purchased from catalogs the past three years.  I got lucky and found some organic sweet corn seed at a nearby Menards and they have germinated quite well.  I think I’m done ordering those small, shrunken seeds through the mail from now on.

Also, my early white potatoes are now in full bloom, the tomatoes have been caged and I’m all caught up on the weeding that had to be done.  I guess now all I can hope for is that we get some of the showers that Mr. Weatherman is calling for later this evening. Gotta keep rolling along!  Ya dig?