Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Getting ready for the 4th of July. This is for you Clint

Click to enlarge and print

This music is old. I hate to say very old because that would date me and I'm younger than you think. But for music printed on a mimeograph it's really very old! When my son learned this song in Primary he was a little person and he sang every word with gusto, ableit incorrectly. His favorite line was 'The rivers run from mountain peaks.....' But he always sang it 'The rivers run from mountain pigs........' He wanted to know why the rivers didn't like those mountain pigs. I played the piano for the Primay and I'd laugh so hard I couldn't keep my fingers on the keys.

Your turn to enjoy a couple of the songs we love to sing for the 4th of July celebration.

My flag, my flag is a good song for flag day which passed a few weeks ago. I got engaged on flag day so I still hang my flag and celebrate but I notice no one even knows what it is any longer. How very sad! It's just a flag but it stands for our country which is everything!

Have a good and safe holiday week-end and be thankful you have such a wonderful county.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

making Bushy Basil and Full Fuchsias!

A basil plant on it's way to tall and leggy

Basil is wonderful to grow and great to eat but if you don't learn how to pinch it all you will have is a big tall leggy plant. Fuchsias will be full and lovely if pinched as will many plants you love.

Here is how to do it.

Of course it's best when done with a young plant or starting in early spring for Fuchsias.

Find the center two leaves. Pinch them out.

Yes, good-bye, gone!

Do this all over the plant.

The plant will grow two little branch offs in that spot now.

Leave it be to just grow for a while.

But when those new two branches form their inter double leave, PINCH IT TOO.

Here is a test run, where would you pinch in this photo?

If you keep this practice up every few weeks you will have nice bushy plants with lots of nice Basil to eat!


This is one of my pinched fuchsia. See the two red stems at both east and west. Inside these stems I pinched out the two leaves as in the Basil. Now two week later you see two new stems starting. Two new stems. The branch now has four instead of two. That makes a fuller bushier plant.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

how long before you can harvest your veggies?

My salad table and my harvest chart

The gardens are growing, at times it seems slow. Remember the heat units and the hours of sunlight and all those things I covered in the other gardening blogs? They are the issue that determine when I can eat my veggies. But here is a general list. I made my first copy of this list back in 1974 in the Ukiah Valley. Growing was a different project there so I've looked up in my sunset books and in the square foot gardening book and made a new chart. Adjust it to your weather and growing conditions. Did you note the date you planted? Did you use seed? This chart is from seed, if you used plants you will harvest sooner!

Another important thing to note is the regional seed types. These are developed to produce BEST in the area you live in. Maybe you know the names of these varieties. Here the names all say "Early" that tells me they have a shorter growing season which may work better for my frost dates. Seasoned gardeners know these area friendly varieties so ask! And note when you plant and when you harvest and see if it makes a difference.

From seed to harvest unless noted

growing season

Asparagus spring/summer 3 years to harvest

Beans summer 50 to 90 days bush 60-90 snap

Beets spring, summer, fall 55-80 days most in 60

Broccoli spring/fall 112 days(plants sooner)

Brussels sprouts summer/fall 120 days

Cabbage Spring/fall early 90-125 days late 125-150 days

Carrots all growing seasons 65-75 days

Cauliflower Spring/fall 98 days/ purple head another month

Celery hard to grow 120 plus

Chard all growing seasons 60 days

Collards summer/fall 75 days

Corn summer 75-90 days

Cucumber summer 55-70 days

Eggplant summer 133 days slow to sprout

Lettuce cool seasons 49-65 days approx

Kale cool seasons 60-80 days

Melon summer 75-95 early 110-120 late

Okra summer 60 days

Onions spring/summer 95-110 all onions sprout slowly

Garlic " 90 days

Leeks summer/fall 100 days

Parsnips 120 days

Peas Spring, fall 60-80 days

Peppers summer 65-85 days

Potato spring/summer/ fall 84-120 days use seed potatoes

Radish spring/Summer/fall 22 early 30-55 late

Salsify 150 days

Spinach spring/fall/winter with protection 40-50 days New Zealand 70 days

Summer squash Summer 50-65 days pick when small!

Winter squash Summer 84-120 days

Tomato Summer 60-120 days

Basil Summer 84 days

Cliantro summer 84 days

Chive Summer 112 days


Now remember lettuce, chard, kale and Basil can be taken a leaf at a time

Onions don't care when you eat them they are still onions, drying onions are ready when the green leaves droop and they begin to flower. Fold them over to stop the flowering (eat those pretty flowers Yummy!) When leaves are dry gently dig up the onions. Chives grow better if you keep cutting the tops or the amount you want to use. Leeks need the soil pulled up around them as they grow or make a cardboard collar you can pull up as needed. Dig before your first hard frost, like an hour before dark when you hear frost is coming, he he.

carrots, broccoli, lettuce, beets and all the cool weather crops can be grown way into the fall and winter if you protect them! bails of straw stacked up and a plastic cover works, more later.

I took a planting calendar and circled the days to look for harvest items. I've reached the first dates with the lettuce and am waiting for the next planting I made.

questions? Ask them. I love answering them!

Looks like dinner tonight!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What do plants need to produce food

I'm moving on in my garden conversation. I know there was a lot to take in with my last posting about heat units and frost dates and micro climates. But just by reading it you will know something helpful about your growing issues and one day it will come in handy.
I love Sunset books.
Mine are really old but they have wonderful drawings. Look at the drawing above.
Looks like we are growing a crook neck squash.
It's looking like a scientific experiment.
Yes every time we plant something we are playing mad scientist.
See all the tubes coming off the plants beaker? The tubes are taking in fertilizer and soil nutrients and moving them to the plant
Another tube is pulling in the water and above it all the sun is blazing to make the experiment happen.
All those nice things being pulled into the plant makes it produce those tasty squash.
Looks easy enough.

Do you have seasons where you live?

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter?

Maybe just warm and cool?

Plants grow foundation growth in cool weather

They put down roots to find what they need and branch out with green etc.

Plants increase growth, produce food, food ripens in warm weather

Plants stall growth in cold and burn in Hot

Click to enlarge the seed packets above. Each company does this differently but the important information should be there. How long does this plant take to sprout (germinate) How long does this plant take to produce food. How deep should I plant these seeds and how far apart. Some seed companies even suggest where to plant and what to do to the soil. All of this very helpful

1) How long does it take to become food. This helps me play 'trick the weather' by allowing me to plant sooner and harvest longer.

These carrots take 65 days

The Lettuce takes 45 days

The Beets take 60 days

Why is this important? If I plant tender plants early I might have a freeze when the plants are just young and they would die.

If I plant too late then my plants might have green food on them when the season cools down in the fall and nothing will ripen. Happens here in the Pacific Northwest all the time. We eat a lot of green tomatoes

These seed packets say plant carrots as soon as the soil is workable (not frozen or soaking wet), beets plant from March to August, and Lettuce start early indoors, mid spring and again late summer to early fall.

With that in mind I think a planting calendar would be fun for everyone!

1) find out your last frost date

2) take a piece of printer paper and divide it by your growing seasons. For me it's May-Sept. but I will add a couple of months at the beginning for early starts

3) Draw a red line through the month with your frost date

4) check seeds you'd like to plant, how many days can they be planted before a the end of frost?

Here is an example of what I'm thinking you could do. Even if you only chart three plants or four it will help you plan for next year or your fall plantings

Carrots can be planted as soon as soil is warm......3 weeks after last frost, 4 weeks? count those weeks and put plant carrots on the time you can plant

Beets seems happy with most anything so it says anytime between March and August

lettuce can be put out after danger of frost....start it in doors 4 weeks before your last frost or start seed after your frost date. Put that on your chart

Here is a chart to give you an example. It comes from the "Square Foot Garden" book where you will find many helpful planting charts. However it is just as easy to take the things you want to grow and make your own chart.

Click to enlarge and see chart key

The other helpful thing I'd do for my garden is learn how to plant for continuous harvest.

If my carrots take 65 days to harvest and I want carrots each week I'd start threes weeks before the last frost and I'd plant 1/3 of my area in carrots, in three weeks I'd plant another 1/3 or my area for carrots, and I'd keep doing that every three weeks, planning the last harvest just as we go into the fall freeze.

I've harvested carrots even with the snow coming down they are so hardy.

Let's do it for the lettuce which I really do want some salad every week, every day even.

I'd plant the first seeds outside 7 weeks a head and then every week I'd plant another group. It feels funny at first leaving some of the planting area bare but as each group grows the space fills up and you collect leaves or whole lettuce bundles from the back are that you planted first. When the back area is harvested you can add some compost and re-plant as long as your calendar allows for the 55 days. It's like singing a round where one group is done singing they start the verse over again...Row Row Row your boat!

Lettuce will die with the first freeze of fall if left un-protected. Guess I should stop planting 45 days before the first frost of the fall.

Here is another chart to give you an idea of how to do this. If you really love these charts you can buy the book at


So make a chart, it's a useful way to grow food.

(If you are puzzling over the seed packets please know I plant heirloom seeds when possible and hybrid seeds only when it's something I won't want to collect seed from but would like to eat)