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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pictures of lettuce and other greens

Our lettuce and greens are starting to look really nice, so I thought I would take some pictures. I have already been picking some kalea and collards, and they are very good. For sure we should have a nice variety of lettuce mixes, kale, collards and spinach available for the first market at Valley City (coming very, very soon). I will be posting a complete list of what we will have available at the first market, very soon.

This picture was taken when it was getting very dark and was about to storm.

I can't believe it, but we have actually got or main crops already (tomatoes, peppers, eggeplant, beans, squash, etc.) planted. I am so happy. This is the earliest we have been able to get all these things in. I do still really need to plant some more beets and radishes along with some other things. Once it is done raining hopefully I will be able to get that done.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cold, cold, cold. Why is it so cold?

Tonight we have a freeze warning!! One week before Memorial Day weekend. Not frost but freeze warning. We are suppose to be planting all our tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, beans, and flowers, next weekend! How can it be this cold this late!! That is the thing about the weather it can be so unpredictable and you never know what is going to happen. Oh well, as long as it gets warmer fast, stays warmer, and our fruit trees do not get ruined, it should all be ok.

As a precaution I decided to cover my beets. If they were a little bit bigger I would not worry about them, but since most are still so small I figured it would be best to just play it safe. How horrible it would be to loose all my beets. I would have liked to have covered some other stuff but it should be ok, most of what I have planted already can tolerate a frost without a problem.

I think that tonight before I go to bed I am going to turn on the heater in my hoophouse. My clothes drier vents into my hoophouse, since my hoophouse is right next to our house off of our basement. So I have my drier on now to heat up the hoophouse. Last I checked the temperature was 60 degrees in the hoophouse and close to 40 degrees outside, not bad. They would probably be fine without any heat, but I can sleep better tonight if I know my plants are nice and warm and happy. I tend to spoil them.

Well, anyhow all I really wanted to do was vent. I am just itching to get those plants into the ground, but planting time will be here before I know it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wildlife Pictures

Yesterday, on Mother's Day, was the first day that I noticed that there were two ducks with about 11 or 12 babies each, they are so quick and impossible to count. Here is a picture of one of the moms and some of here babies. They are sooooo cute. They seemed to be having so much fun swimming around as fast as they possibly could, and they can move fast too.

I know that this picture does not look like much, but when I walked up to the creek about 6 goldfinches flew out of the water. They were taking a bath. I wish I would have noticed that they were there so that I could have moved a little slower, and could have possibly got a picture. That would have been a really, really good picture.

I didn't get a picture of the goldfinches in the water but I got this picture of a male (right) and a female (left) goldfinch. They are such pretty birds.


Aphid Problems
When I was bringing in my flats of plants today, for the night, I looked closely at a flat of my peppers and noticed an aphid! I hate aphids!!! They are such a pain. Unlike other bugs aphids do not actually eat parts of the plant, instead they just suck the life out of them. So if you do not look closely at the plants you may not notice that they have aphids until they have multiplied a lot. Luckily, I looked over a lot of my plants and only noticed a couple flats of peppers and some eggplant with aphids. I dealt with most of them and will look everything over really well tomorrow.

Here is what I usually do when I notice that I have an aphid problem:
  1. If you do not have as many plants as I do you can usually had pick a lot of them. I usually get a cup of water, sometimes I put a little dish soap in the cup. Then I take a q-tip and dip it in the water. You can then take the aphids off of the plant using the q-tip. The aphids will easily stick to the q-tip and you can dip the q-tip back in the water to get the aphids off. This is much easier than trying to remove them with your hands.
  2. Today I hand picked some aphids off, when I got sick of that, I took a spray bottle put some dish soap in it and filled it with water. I sprayed the plants, mostly under the leaves and in the middle of the plants (that is where they like to hang out). I let them sit like that for a few minutes.
  3. I took another spray bottle filled with just water and sprayed the plants again, holding them upside down to wash off some of the dish soap so that it would not bother the plants. If you spray them lightly with the dish soap water mix you may not have to do this but I put a good amount of dish soap in the spray bottle, because I wanted to be sure to kill all the aphids. If you spray them with too much dish soap it can hurt the plants, probably will not kill them, but could put them back a little bit.
I am not too worried about the aphids, since I will be planting them outside in a couple of weeks. I usually do not have to worry about aphids once they are outside, I think that nature takes care of them then.

Signs of aphid problems
There are some things that you can look for that could give you an idea that your plants may have aphids. Here is what to look for: Stunted growth and sometimes leaves may curl or turn yellow. Usually it is a lot easier to notice these signs in very very young seedlings, larger plants may just not seem to grow or become stunted. Look under the leaves and in the middle of the plant, they do not like to just sit out in the open. You can easily see the aphids on the plants if you look often. I tried to get a nice close up picture of them but was having a hard time getting my camera to focus on the plant, and just wanted to get rid of them so I gave up on the picture. If I have anymore aphids left I will try again tomorrow, but hopefully I got rid of all the aphids. Really when you think of it aphids are probably one of the better bad bugs to have, because once you get rid of them your plants will be just fine, they are just a pest.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My soil making experiment (Part 2)

Well, there were some things that I did like about my soil mix, and some things that I did not like. So I have decided to modify it a little. I have done some more research, and this is what I have decided that I will try:

2 parts organic humus and manure,
1/2 or 1 part perlite,
1/2 or 1 part vermiculite,
and 1-2 parts peat moss.

I have decided to cut out the top soil completely. It is just too clumpy for my little seedlings. At first I wasn't sure if it would be good to use the organic humus and manure in a potting soil, but after reading up on it, it seems like there shouldn't be a problem. I picked up a bag of vermiculite today, so I will be adding that to my mix.

I have plans to do a lot of experimenting this winter with different potting soil mixtures, so that I can come up with a mix that I am very happy with. What I will be doing is growing a bunch of the same type of plant under the same conditions except put them all in different potting mixes and see which ones do the best. I figure that the best time to do this is the winter because not only will I have the time but, will have the light space to grow them under. I plan to experiment with different fertilizers also, and I will be sure to post all my results. I am excited that I will actually have something to look forward to during winter (I do not like winter very much).

Tomorrow I will try my new mix. I hope that I like it better than what I was mixing before.

My soil making experiment (part 1)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pictures and what I did today

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes

Red and White Scallions



Today we finally got to cleaning up the branches that we cut down from out fruit trees. Boy was it a mess back there. Branches, branches everywhere. That being said our monster brush pile is growing. I do not think we could ever get rid of it. I think it would take us the rest of our life to do so.

On my way home from work today I stopped at Gales Garden Center, I had to pick up a few things. One of which was some seeds for bitter melons. I have been looking at these with interest for awhile now, and finally decided to grow them. I was looking for information about something else, on the garden web forums, and just happened to come across some threads about bitter melons. They are suppose to have many health benefits. I may just have to make this a vegetable variety of the month, because it is a very interesting vegetable.

Tomorrow is going to be transplanting day. Yes I still have a lot of things that need to be transplanted. Some of those include: basil, zinnias, asters, and coleus (lots and lots of coleus). I am very much behind on transplanting and I have many things that need to be transplanted very badly. Hopefully, if I spend most of the day down in the basement I can get most things transplanted.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Extra Dwarf Pak Choy

Aren't they cute? I took some pictures of these Extra Dwarf Pak Choy when I was taking the pictures of the Red Russian Kale for the Topic of the Month. I am not sure exactly how much more they have to grow but I think they are getting close to being ready. They are only suppose to get 2" tall. I planted a small section the same time as I planted the kale, collards and some other things, so that I could see what they are going to be like. This is my first time growing these and was really curious to see how they were going to work out. I just had to post these pictures because they look so nice and are so tiny and cute.

As soon as I am able I will be planting a bunch of these for the market, it should be about time soon to get them planted. Hopefully I will have a lot of these available for market as long as I can keep them form getting eaten.

May- Vegetable Varitety of the Month- Red Russian Kale

The topic of the month for May is the vegetable variety, Red Russian Kale. My little kale plants are still small but are beginning to grow quite quickly now. They are starting to look very pretty.

The picture to the left was just taken yesterday, and shows what my Red Russian Kale looks like right now. I am keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that I will have some available for the first market of the year, and as of now it looks like I should.

Red Russian Kale is an old Heirloom kale. This kale is just as tasty as it is beautiful. It is good either steamed, sauté, stir fried, roasted, boiled, used in soup or in a salad, and can even be frozen.

I should have Red Russian Kale available for most of the season. During the summer I plan to use it for my salad mixes and stir fry mix of greens. Unlike most lettuces, kale can tolerate the heat much better.

Once again as mentioned above kale can be prepared many different ways such as steamed, sauté, stir fried, roasted, boiled, used in soup or in a salad. Baby kale can make a very good addition to salads, and mature leaves are a great addition to many of your favorite meals.
Here is a link to what sounds like a very good recipe that I will have to try as soon as my kale is large enough to begin picking. Red Russian Kale and Red Onion Savory Breakfast Squares

Health Benefits
Kale is low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol, and also contains phytonutrients that can help to prevent cancer.

It is a very good source of:
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Protein
  • Iron
  • Manganese
And there are many more. If you are interested in detailed nutrition facts about kale, both raw and cooked, check out the links below from Nutritiondata.com.

Below are some links to some good websites that explain the health benefits of Red Russian Kale.
Link to Nutritiondata.com for kale, raw
Link to Nutritiondata.com for kale, cooked

*Just in case anyone has birds, I thought I would mention that they love kale too. Small birds such as parakeets, canaries and cockatiels are especially fond of kale. Best of all it is very good for them also.