Thursday, December 31, 2009

The year in gardening 2009/Resolutions for 2010

My plot back in early September

The past year may go down in history as one of the worst years in gardening, at least in the past decade. Above-average rainfall and below-average temperatures during the crucial months of the growing season resulted in a below-average yield, especially with tomatoes. In November, I abandoned my experiment of determining how much I benefited monetarily from planting and harvesting edibles, reporting a negative balance. And on some days, I spent more time clearing out infected fruits and vegetables than harvesting healthy ones.

The Minton Stable Garden in bloom, August

However, I still find gardening to be a satisfying act, providing physical and emotional benefits to those who participate in it. Another year at the Minton Stable Community Garden led to more friendships with gardeners and other Steering Committee members. A community of bloggers provided advice and ideas for improving my garden practices as well. And the rain had some advantages, including a lower water bill for the community garden (only $141.82, down from last year's $203.40). As long as I have my 140 square feet in JP and land at home, and Massachusetts hasn't yet disappeared under rising sea levels, I'll continue gardening. Here is my second annual set of lists, with items not in any particular order.

Top 5 successful plants:
1. Kentucky Wonder pole beans
2. Fiesta organic broccoli
3. Forellenschluss Romaine lettuce (grown in Minton Stable Garden)
4. June-bearing strawberries (before the botrytis set in)
5. Volunteer raspberries--they liked the fall conditions

Top 5 failures:
1. All tomato varieties (except volunteer cherry tomatoes)--due to below-average temps and late blight
2. Anything I tried to grow in my backyard--too shady
3. Spinach after the invasion of leaf miners
4. Irises I tried to transplant to a sunnier location in front yard--maybe they'll bloom next year
5. Zinnias--planted late and not given enough room

Resolutions for 2010:
1. Continue growing the same volume of tomatoes, trying some different varieties, but make a point of pruning them to strengthen plants and ensure that they get more light.
2. Grow more varieties of broccoli, like Piricicaba and broccoli raab, and other plants, including kale and other greens, coriander, parsley, and other herbs, carrots, and cauliflower.
3. Reduce the size of the strawberry bed to make room for the raspberries.
4. Keep trying to achieve that fall crop of greens, perhaps by planting better varieties sooner, starting some indoors in August so they can grow out back under row covers, or by some other means.
5. Be more aggressive in thinning out perennials, to avoid diseases like powdery mildew or to keep them from taking over my MSG plot. Black-eyed susans, anyone?
6. Take better photos, including sharper close-ups and documentation of the garden over time.

Happy New Year! I'd be curious to read the resolutions of other gardeners.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas day in the garden

At a gathering of family and friends that I had on Christmas Eve I was asked if I'd be posting photos of the Minton Stable Garden on Christmas day. After all of the holiday preparations, including buying gifts and getting ready for the party, I was overdue for a visit. We never host anything on Christmas Day, so it's a time to exhale, enjoy the quiet morning, and take our time making our way over to my in-laws'. I stopped by on this white Christmas, which has been statistically demonstrated to be a rarity, and took a few photos. I found few footprints past the garden gate, and though it was likely due to the cold that I didn't linger for long, I couldn't help but also feel that I had invaded a bedroom of sleepers who should not be disturbed.

My broccoli in the snow

The garden may be in hibernation, but in future posts I hope to outline the past year's successes and failures, provide updates on the possibility of keeping bees in the garden, and after the new season begins put up a few videos from 2010 garden events.

The John Carroll Memorial in the snow

One of the wildflower gardens in the snow

Monday, December 14, 2009

Still harvesting

"Why are you always taking pictures of broccoli?" my daughter asked me today. Anyone who has followed my Monday harvest updates (as well as the links at the mother lode, Daphne's Dandelions) knows by now that's all that remains in my Minton Stable Garden plot. I visited the garden last Thursday, the day after our snow/rain event, expecting to pull up the plants entirely, but the sideshoots are still loving this weather. We'll see how long that lasts as nighttime temps start dipping into the twenties. For tonight at home, I'll roast this week's harvest along with a chicken, potatoes, and whatever else in the fridge I can throw in the pan.The community garden is now in winter mode. Brassicas are mostly what remain. Mainly kale. The topic of many of the emails going back and forth among Steering Committee members has shifted from who hasn't completed their work hours to who has signed up for snow shoveling; we won't even convene again until late January. There will be many gardeners I won't see again until around April, when we have our general meeting. In some ways I feel a little sad about this, but I've gotten used to it. Spring will be here in no time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gifts you may or may not want

For the past week I've been chipping away at the holiday gift-buying expectations, and I must admit that up to this point, nothing I've purchased has had anything to do with gardening. Perhaps this is because the gardeners in my life are outfitted with everything they need--all the tools, grow lights, and references on their bookshelves to supplement their already-expansive working knowledge. Not to mention that my daughter and most of my eight(!) nieces and nephews are at that awkward age between curiosity about nature and mature reconnection with it, a period that can sometimes last more than ten years (okay, that might be a cynical exaggeration). And if someone mysteriously leaves you a garden gnome working on a laptop, which really happened to my parents right before Thanksgiving (they found it on a stone wall near their garden, but my father took it inside tonight to take this photo), then what else could top that?Having read an article in today's Boston Globe about the best and worst holiday plants, I got to thinking about what I might or could give that special gardener if the opportunity arose. Here is a very random selection of ideas. But first, I want to make it clear that there is no possibility at this time that I would need to disclose that I'm getting paid in any form by any of the vendors or manufacturers offering these items described below--not that anyone would suspect I'd be getting a kickback for my humble musings.

Winter is the time for planning next season's garden. A novice might need a hand in determining what to plant and when to plant it. For those with an iPhone or iPod touch, and if you are extremely cheap, you might want to check out the Garden Guide application; only 99 cents puts information about plants and their growing conditions at a gardener's fingertips. For the Luddite grower, there is the Clyde Planting Chart and its sliding adjuster, no computer required. Or better yet, pick up one of my favorite books, The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch, which I often consult first for basic, straightforward advice.

Got a depressed gardener on your list? Maybe a Full Sun Grow Lamp is the answer. Not only does it offer a full spectrum of light, but could be used to prevent the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's a little small for starting lots of seeds but if you place it on your bedside table, it will be near enough that you can roll over and stick your head under it on those mornings you are so despondent that you can't get out of bed. And when a foam pad or folding stool just won't do, there's the Tractor Scoot. For $89.95, you can pull a swiveling seat around like a wagon. I predict a motor in the next version.

It's amazing what new accessories are available these days. I often find that what I grow is beautiful enough on its own. However, we have recently acquired a loved one who is deserving of a gift, and have found just the thing for him. Because everyone could benefit from a garden.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Another unhealthy tradition

Let's face it; every year there is some new revelation about the dangers of the holiday season. For a while, we were told to buy artificial trees to save our forests, only to learn later about some issues around their manufacture. In addition, stopping the flow of catalogs can require more effort than merely recycling them. This season, environmental officials in Massachusetts have issued a new warning: a couple of our most festive-looking plants are invasive and should not be used for decorating.

I remember taking the advice of a friend during my early lean years of living in Jamaica Plain: the bittersweet that grew freely on the fence of a nearby tennis court could be cut and made into a wreath or stuffed in a vase for some instant color. It was the perfect time of the year, as the red berries had popped out from their tannish-yellow casing, a nice two-toned effect. Well, in the process of using cuttings, those berries can drop, and spread across fields, forests, and yards, choking out other plants.I should know this by now. Although I haven't decorated with bittersweet since moving into our current home, we have been battling this nasty knot of it that has been clinging to the roof and side of our garage and along the driveway fence on and off for years. The problem is compounded by the difficulty in reaching some of it. Those branches hang over our neighbor's yard, and because our driveway is about 8 feet higher and the fence unstable, anyone trying to cut it down risks falling a dangerous distance. We tried to stay on top of it when our neighbors grew tomatoes in that part of their yard, but when they moved away and rented their house to non-gardeners we let things go.

I know now that simply cutting it back won't suffice, as the berries will fall and spread. Carol Stocker has recommended applying an herbicide known as Brush-B-Gon on cut stems, and as much as I have avoided using chemicals, I may have no other choice. Time to stop procrastinating and get up on that ladder.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Harvest Monday and reflecting on the broccoli crop

It's harvest Monday, and two weeks since I reported on mine and linked with the others at Daphne's blog. Late November is officially here and I'm pleased that there is still a broccoli harvest to report. Here is what I picked last Thursday, though the side shoots are getting smaller and smaller. I filled a 9-ounce cup, and for dinner later I stirred some into some leftover chicken soup. Just reheating the soup for a few minutes cooked the broccoli to the right texture. I haven't been to the Minton Stable Garden since then; I hope to make it today. I need to cut back the raspberries, which are done producing desirable fruit, and may be able to pinch off a few more sideshoots, though some are starting to produce yellow flowers, a signal that the end is near.Along with the pole beans and romaine lettuce, the Fiesta organic broccoli seeds (from Fedco) I had sown back in March have grown into my most successful crop of the season. This was likely due to several factors: 1) the sunny location in the Minton Stable Garden (the ones in my back yard failed to produce), 2) the well-drained soil with added compost, and 3) the cooler-than-average conditions prevented the plants from bolting sooner. Starting and planting them out at the right time, and using a potting medium with fertilizer also played a role, of course.

This morning I poked around online to determine what I could do next year to improve my broccoli growing practices. Some sites, including this one, stressed that crops should be rotated every few years to avoid diseases, and instructed me to cut stems at an angle when harvesting. I had done the quickest thing by snapping off sideshoots with my bare hand, which probably wasn't such a big deal, but had I cut off the initial heads at an angle I may have been able to avoid this. Leaving a flat stump allowed rainwater to pool up and cause rot, though it didn't harm the whole plant and I was still able to harvest side shoots. Broccoli roots tend to be shallow, so mounding soil around the base of the plant may help. One of my plants became uprooted and died, but I didn't bother to check for clubroot, which could have also been a culprit.

I'll definitely grow it again next year, and perhaps try some Romanesco or Broccoli Raab for more variety. I may also save the seeds of what I have grown, also highly recommended. I'd be curious to find out what other gardeners took away from their growing experience this season.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Last work day

What a wild weather weekend as usual...another work day postponed as 1-2 inches of rain soaked the Boston area yesterday. Certainly not ideal conditions for hauling compost. Today's temperatures in the 60s made up for it, that is, if one doesn't worry about whether or not the neighborhood will be underwater in a few years from all these possible effects of global warming.Having finished up my work requirement earlier in the season and experiencing some back problems, I chose not to participate, but I stopped over at the Minton Stable Garden to harvest more broccoli sideshoots (see above) and see how the work was progressing. John, who along with Todd from the Steering Committee was running the work day, filled me in on who managed to show up to finish up their hours. They had finished loading this truck, but because Apple D'Or Tree, the composting business and destination for our yard waste, is closed on Sunday, it will spend the night here. Hopefully the tires won't sink deeper in the mud overnight. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to compost all our waste on site because it doesn't get hot enough in our receptacles for it to break down. Although Apple D'Or is nearby and not expensive, what to do about our composting still remains an issue; a few people on the Steering Committee are interested in developing a workable on-site system.After I picked the broccoli I also noticed that the garlic I planted a few weeks ago is coming up.As I lingered to take photos of the garden Ralph and Karla showed up to begin the next phase of their work contribution: fitting the shed with hooks and other fixtures so our tools and supplies can be stored efficiently. Ralph is a woodworker and Karla designs cabinetry configurations (the Steering Committee was duly impressed with her blueprints), so the project is in good hands. There had been a bit of complaining among us about tools being left around the garden and difficulty maneuvering around the shed to retrieve needed items. These improvements will give items their proper place and free up some more space for storage.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Harvest update; the indoor season begins

First, a harvest update; better late than never, I suppose. These last few days we've been enjoying sunshine and temperatures in the sixties. Not only has the weather extended the harvest, but has coaxed my first season raspberry plants to continue producing new berries. Only one of my four plants has quit, leaving pea-sized dried-up remains. Fortunately for me, the other fruits have retained their sweet flavor, which is not always guaranteed to happen this late in the season (the berries in the communal patch at the Minton Stable Garden taste bland and are lacking in juiciness in comparison).Now for some not-so-scientific estimates of the value of my harvest (for more impressive numbers and other gardeners' harvest updates visit Daphne's blog). Based on all of the nearly identical photos I've taken since my last tally, I've yielded the following:

Previous benefits total: $143.18
1/2 pound (estimated) organic broccoli at $2.50/lb.: $1.25
1 package (estimated) raspberries at $3.59: $3.59
New benefits total: $148.02

Current cost total: $171.57
New balance: -$23.55
I have this nifty grow light that has put me in the red this season, so I may as well keep using it. Under a layer of leaves in containers out back, I was pleasantly surprised to find a few German thyme plants still thriving and new parsley rising up over the stumps of what my husband had picked and used in pesto. I potted them in containers I could bring indoors, and plan to keep them alive for as long as I can under the grow light. I placed another thyme plant under a kitchen window; we'll see which fares better. I would like to start some rosemary from seed, maybe some other herbs, as well as lettuce. In a comment she made earlier to my blog Emily mentioned that she was going to sow an indoor garden, and since I still have soil, light, and lettuce seeds, why not?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Brief harvest Monday and plot update

It's been two weeks since I posted a harvest update. To my surprise, there continues to be a yield about which to report, and the list of Harvest Monday participants over at Daphne's Dandelions is growing again. Thanks to an amendment to the Minton Stable Garden rule that states that plots must be winterized by November 1, plants that are still producing can stay in the ground. In my case, it's still the broccoli sending out sideshoots (a nice addition to last night's stir fry) and a few more raspberries. I think by the end of next week I'll have enough raspberries to fill a package and add that information to my tally. After I filled my tiny baggie with the goodies I snapped a few photos to show off the compliance of most MSG gardeners. Luckily nasturtiums count as edibles and add some color.Tomorrow's a busy day, and I have to squeeze voting in there somewhere. We'll see which man--Menino or Flaherty (with Yoon)--will be at the podium at next year's Gardener's Gathering. Whoever it is, I hope he keeps the free compost coming.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Winterization bearing down

The deadline at the Minton Stable Garden for winterizing one's plot is November 1. By this date gardeners are expected to cut back perennials, clear out annuals, and remove all of the fencing, tools, supports, bags of soil, and other items. The water has been shut off for the season, and only one more work day has been scheduled for the unfortunate few still needing to fulfill their four-hour requirement (or else their plot will be given to one of the thirty people on the waiting list).However, my raspberries and broccoli haven't received the memo. The rainy fall conditions have prolonged the growing season for both, with new berries for the former and the continued production of sideshoots for the latter. Otherwise, most everything else is ready to go. I had forgotten (or have been too embarrassed) to take a photo of my bean supports that fell over weeks ago. The tomatoes and peas are gone, and the perennials have been deadheaded but ready to be trimmed back completely. In about another week, material to be composted offsite will probably overflow on this tarp.One of my post ideas for earlier this summer was to showcase the elaborate supports built by my fellow gardeners. Some have been taken down already while others have the skeletal remains of whatever they supported clinging to them. Grotesquely bulging and overripe beans. Blighted tomato stems rotting against metal rings. If not slimy to the touch then crinkling from dryness. It's a shame I never got around to executing this idea, but there's always next season.

Here are a few photos of what's still up. A lean-to that the creator had intended for cucumbers (notice the nice brussel sprouts next to it).One substantial setup that once had peas climbing up strings, and still supporting the highest cosmos I've ever seen.One of several pea trellises made from pipes, broomsticks, and chicken wire.And one of my favorites: the arch connecting two raised beds designed for the handicapped. As in previous years, that will stay up throughout the winter, poking out from the snowbanks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Super Colossal gin-soaked garlic

Many of us gardeners are just not ready for our plots to go to bed. We know it's October, but we want to stay up a little longer. I'm no exception, and a post in Dark Creek Chronicles reminded me that October is the perfect time to start garlic. So I put "plant garlic" on my to-do list for the following week, and not long after, a post in Daphne's Dandelions explained how to prepare garlic cloves for planting. I was intrigued by this approach because a) of the mixed results my husband had in the past with growing garlic and b) she had success with this in the past.

The beauty of garlic is that you don't need to order bulbs, though some gardeners do to grow particular varieties. I just headed over to my local supermarket and bought a couple of bulbs. "Super Colossal Garlic" was written on the sign. I bought two for a total of 69 cents, took them home and googled "super colossal garlic," but didn't find much. One site described it as "the whimpy cousin of the California garlic in flavor if not in size." Ouch. But it also added that it was a "nice addition to soups, salads or to a roast." "Super colossal" is also a name used for types of olives and shrimp.Yesterday I soaked cloves from 1 1/2 bulbs in a baking soda/water solution as Daphne did, and today I peeled the cloves and soaked them some more. Daphne had used vodka, but I didn't have any, though I did have some really old gin left over from my wedding reception over 12 years ago, so I used that for a quick soak. I also found some information from Garlic Central about planting the bulbs. Because it contains the antifungal compound allicin, there can be benefits from planting it near some other crops, such as lettuce where it can help keep aphids away. However, it doesn't do well near peas, potatoes, or legumes.I planted my cloves in four different places. At home I'm short on sunlight and at the Minton Stable Garden I'm short on space. I planted around 14 cloves, 6 at the MSG (above), 6 in a backyard plot where I can usually get in a spring crop of lettuce and peas before the leaves shade things out, in a box along a fence behind my house near a spot where basil grew successfully, and in a couple of pots on the front upstairs porch. We'll see if by next August if there will be any garlic ready to add to that first batch of salsa.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday harvest tally and frost casualties

In past years, no matter what else was going on, I had always kept up with the forecast, ready to grab the last pine nuts at the Harvest Coop and fire up the salad spinner and Cuisinart to get the pesto factory going. It was a family project that kept us up late, and the sharp aroma from bags of uprooted basil plants waiting to be "deleafed" would take over the kitchen.

Didn't someone mention frost last week? Maybe I read it in some other blog post or even wrote about it myself. In any case, the concept seemed far off in the future. Then on Wednesday morning I had to scrape ice from my windshield. Oops. Later that day in the Minton Stable Garden my fears were confirmed when I discovered what had happened to my basil (see below). Karen, another gardener, thought that I could still dry it and grind it up, so I pulled up and bagged the plants. I left the bag on the kitchen counter at home and got busy with other stuff, and the bag disappeared...That was the bad news. Luckily, there were no herb casualties on the home front, which was fortunate considering that the six basil plants in containers had grown taller and greener than their MSG cousins. Four had come up from seed while two had been purchased at the farmers market. For most of the summer I had thought that the German thyme I had sown next to the basil was a failure, until I realized that what looked similar to the low, scraggly thin-stemmed weeds taking over in my shady perennial beds was the thyme itself.The damage to these herbs was minimal to non-existent, probably because the trees, house, and garage near and around them provided some protection. I picked them in no time. My husband was in a pesto-making mood, so I left the task to him and I curled up under the covers with a book. After all, I was the one who had grown the main ingredients. However, I fell asleep before capturing a photo finish. The container of the green stuff is now in the freezer hanging out with the leftover containers from last year's more bountiful season.At the farmers market I noted that a bunch of basil that looked similar in size to our healthy harvest cost $2. I couldn't find any fresh thyme, but found a package with about the same amount at the supermarket for $2.49. Not enough to close the earnings gap, but anyway:

Previous benefits total: $138.69
1 bunch (estimated) basil at $2/bunch: $2.00
1 package (estimated) fresh thyme at $2.49/package: $2.49
New benefits total: $143.18

Current cost total: $171.57
New balance: -$28.39

Sometimes I wonder: if I had decided against investing in a grow light and bought flats of tomatoes and broccoli instead, would I have reported a profit? Probably, but the point of gardening for me has not been to save money on food--it has been to enjoy and face the challenge of growing better food, get exercise and fresh air, and be part of the gardening community. Besides, I still have a grow light. I don't want it to keep gathering dust until February. Any ideas (aside from cleaning it)?

And don't forget to check out the other harvest posts linked to Daphne's blog, if you'd like.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October

I love these traditions in which I could be lazy on words and let the photos do the talking. It's the 15th of the month, time for the GBBD post, started by May Dream Gardens. To check out the floral treasures from other bloggers, click on their links at the bottom of the MDG post.

Despite a frost two nights ago that nearly killed half my basil, there is still color to be found, not just from the turning leaves. The zinnias at left, growing in my Minton Stable Garden plot, sustained a few battle scars but continue to persevere, but most of my blooms can be found in my gardens at home. One lone daisy remains, as well as a few cosmos that are growing along the sidewalk.
Most of the action can be found at one end of my front yard, where the maiden grass has sprouted red tassels,and these Lady in Black asters, which required extra watering and TLC last season, seem to thrive under the cooler, rainier conditions. The profusion of colorful blossoms is as intense as a fireworks display.Meanwhile, along the side of the house, the other deliberately-planted asters are preparing to call it quits for the season.However, the weed asters are taking over in a few areas, but that's okay. If kept at bay, those along with smartweed are among the most attractive invasives around.In the backyard, a few morning glories remain, but the highlight is the sedum; I am assuming the name of this variety is Autumn Joy because it resembles the one at the end of Daphne's post.More about herbs in the next post, out by Harvest Monday if not sooner.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A slightly more scientific Monday harvest tally

Here we are again on Harvest Monday, and here are my photos of the usual suspects. Had I really thought through this harvest reporting business, I would have raided my friends' seed supplies (to save money) and grown a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. If you finding this bounty rather limited or just simply interested in seeing how other gardeners are doing, you can visit Daphne's post and the participating links. However, there are two new developments in my tally update. First, after weighing and buying more broccoli to supplement my dwindling yield, I reviewed the last several weeks of photos in an effort to make a reasonable estimate, which is a pound. More or less. Also, enough raspberries to fill one of those small containers you get at the supermarket.I had forgotten we had a scale until the other night, when I wanted to weigh some chicken bones to determine how much stock I could make. My husband uses one for his work (trust me, it's all legal), so yesterday I tried to weigh the few green beans I picked. Since the scale is designed for heavier items, the numbers didn't budge. However, two Rose de Berne tomatoes that had reached redness (yet still in a state of punyness) tipped the scale to a whopping .2 pounds. And no signs of blight! Considering the other times I weighed tomatoes at the farmers' market, this seemed about right. So with a little more accuracy I can update my tally as follows:Previous benefits total: $132.00
1 pound (estimated) organic broccoli at $2.50/lb.: $2.50
1 package (estimated) raspberries at $3.59/pkg.: $3.59
.2 pounds of organically grown tomatoes at $3/lb.: $0.60
New benefits total: $138.69

Current costs total: $171.57
New balance: -$32.88

I don't know if I'll have enough basil to close the gap, or, given tonight's falling temperatures, any at all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The silver lining

Rain again. This has been the weather word, the takeaway from this growing season. A few years from now we'll be saying to each other, "Remember that awful summer of 2009?" Hopefully, we won't be saying, "Remember when it all started to go downhill?"

The awful effects of the rainy, cold summer, which seems to have transitioned to a rainy fall, have been numerous. Below-average harvests. Late blight, botrytis, powdery mildew, and other infestations. Plants failing to thrive. A breeding climate for mosquitoes. Lingering seasonal affective disorder. Ruined plans, and the list goes on. As a heavy downpour kept me indoors on Tuesday morning, I decided I had enough doom and gloom, so I considered the positive and started this list, easier now that most of my problems have been cleared away. And today I took some pretty photos of rain on some of my plants outside. I know many of you out there may find this a cruel joke, but there are reasons to like the rain:

1. The rain extended my lettuce harvest. What has been in past seasons a 2-week spell of round-the-clock salads and giveaways lasted about twice as long. I was able to keep some of it in the ground and harvest it as needed, and when it was all over, only a few heads had bolted.
2. Fewer weeds. No invasions of pigweed to slave away over. Not that the gardens were invasive-free--they just didn't take over as much.
3. I wasn't inundated with too many tomatoes that I had to foist upon my friends and family, who would in turn foist theirs upon me.
4. Less sun meant that a slowdown of my skin's aging process. Also money saved on sunscreen and beach parking.
5. With few weeds to pull and vegetables to haul, I had fewer back problems, thus spending less on ibuprofen and reducing my risk of needing physical therapy.
6. How could I almost forget this one? Lower water bills! Not to mention fewer times driving over to the Minton Stable Garden to water, so I reduced my carbon footprint.
7. A chance to see if the waterproof camping equipment lived up to its promise. For the most part, it did.Feel free to add to this list or throw a few blighted tomatoes at me for even suggesting it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday harvest/plot update - The cleanup continues

As expected, my harvest is dwindling in a few areas, particularly my stunted snap peas and my Kentucky Wonder pole beans. The latter aren't crazy about the advance of fall and nighttime temperatures in the 40s; the only beans that didn't turn limp in protest were buried under the plants' leaves. My raspberry plants are still new and few, and that was reflected in the amount of fruit I picked. The amount of broccoli side shoots remains constant, and although I pick only a few every few days, the combination of those and the pole beans have been a sufficient contribution to my small family's balanced diet. To see how other garden bloggers are doing with their harvests, check out the list at the bottom of Daphne's post.

I spent an hour and half at my Minton Stable Garden plot today, primarily pulling out my blighted and finished tomato plants (as you can see in the before and after photos below). Although I've read and heard reports that spores of diseased plants can travel through the air and infect other plants, the plant matter can be composted. Only blighted potato tubers should be disposed of separately, and since I'm not growing any potatoes in the MSG, I'm not concerned. Nevertheless, I bagged up the plants and weeds I pulled today to put out with yard waste at home, since the MSG bins are over capacity and won't be cleared and taken away for several weeks. Other chores I completed included weeding, harvesting, cutting back more of my spent perennials, tying up my raspberry plants to keep them upright and safe from being choked by my pole beans, and clearing strawberry runners from my raspberry patch and other areas of the garden.I still need to figure out how much broccoli I have harvested since my last tally, so I'll just add in the beans:

Previous benefits total: $131.80
1/5 pound (estimated) pole beans: $0.20
New benefits total: $132.00

Current costs total: $171.57
New balance: -$39.57

Short on time this evening. More totals to come in a future post.