Spring is in the Air

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Planning for our garden has begun.  We are pulling back the reins a little this year.  Last year we had a huge spread in the ‘way back’ but it took an event to get out there to work it.

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We’ve revamped our raised beds and are planning most of the crops to be there.  I love projects where the kids can take charge.  A little direction and they were ready to go!  It also means I can actually get pictures of the action.

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And even though it is only February Zeke is working hard in his shorts!

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This will all happen in our “middle yard” as Zeke likes to call it so we will be able to make it out there more often.  The only thing planted in the way back will be squash that won’t need much tending.

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Little boys with power tools are about the cutest thing ever.

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We made eight boxes total.  Three of them are half the height for those taller crops.  Another plan of the garden this year is to work the area we have as efficiently as possible.  One bed in particular will have three crops planted at the same time with different harvest dates.

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We also found this great purpose for the beds!

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Ok, well, we thought it was funny 🙂 We love you Charlotte!

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Spring is in full swing around here

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We have quite the list of things happening around here. Yesterday it was the planting of the outside garden.

Earlier this year Greg put together a little greenhouse to get our feet wet in the greenhouse adventure. So far we are loving it and I don’t see that changing.

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We put our starts out here and they grew beautifully. Inside we have tomatoes, watermelon and a red pepper.

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Those starts have now entered the big boy garden.

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The trellises will be holding the beans and peas.

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Our corn patch.

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And since taking these pictures we have also added rows of carrots, radishes, cabbage and pumpkins. Please excuse the pictures. I decided to capture and record these days as quickly as possible I would just use the iPad for pictures. Things move fast around here 🙂 Stay tuned!

Around The House

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Our chickens have finally started producing.  I was getting really tired of feeding 16 chickens and getting nothing in return.  We had even started giving most if not all the scraps to the pigs.  I know, poor chickies but the pigs are more fun.  So, now we have our eggs and they are producing more and more every day.  Soon we will have more than an dozen EVERY DAY!  I need egg recipes.  I was bummed to discover quiche recipes only use 4 eggs.  I was excited to find one that used 8 eggs, then I noticed it made 2 pies.  Today we got our first green egg.  Zoe was so excited the whole neighborhood knows too.

We didn’t do many veggies this year but we couldn’t resist a few things.  In front of our shed there was already wood attached for something to climb.  I immediately saw peas growing there.  All I had to do was add string.  The kids LOVED the peas.  I always laugh when someone mentions having a hard time getting their kids to eat vegetables.  I have been blessed with children who love them.  I think 5 peas made it into the house and that was just because Zoe really wanted to have them with dinner.  Zeke had a hard time understanding why I wouldn’t let him pick the peas that were only a 1/4 inch long.  He still doesn’t understand but, oh well.

I love his chubby little fingers!

Hope you are enjoying your summer!  How does your garden grow?

Gardening Tips for Growing Tomatoes

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Every year we have been blessed to be able to grow a garden.  Maybe it was little and dear eaten as in our home in Sudden Valley or large and in charge as we have now.  As I said we have been blessed to have a garden to grow.  And each and every year we learn something new…  And this year is no different but I thought that I would nice to share some of the things that we have learn over the years, with that said I still feel as if we are novices or at least are learning to grow our green thumb.  Today I wanted to share the little that I have learned about growing tomatoes here in the pacific northwest (West of the mountains).

There is millions of site online and books written about the subject and some of the info is useful but most of it is the same thing over and over again.  Here are a few important points that every northwest tomato gardener should know.

  1. Choose the right variety.  You want to choose varieties that take more than 85 days to mature.  Here is a list of one’s that work for our climate.  Slicing Tomatoes: Stupice, Kootenai, Siberian, Oregon Spring, Celebrity, Slava, Salspring Sunrise, Seattle’s Best, Yellow Brandywine, Black Krim, Green Zebra, Tigerella, Persimmon, Dona, Muskovich, Gregori’s Altai, Early Swedish, Golden Treaure, and Glory of Moldova.  Cherry Tomatoes: Gardener’s Delight, Sweet Million, Yellow Pear, Galina, Sungold, Peacevine, Rose Quartz, Gold Nugget, Principe Borghese.  Pasta Tomatoes: Monix, Almetia, Viva Italia, Oregon Pride, Milano, Oroma. 
  2. Tomatoes Like Heat:  No matter what variety of tomatoes you get they still like heat.  If you are going to plant a tomatoes around your house in small flower plots, choose the flower plots nearest to your house that faces south because the heat from your house will heat up the soil and the heat from the outside of your home will help keep the tomatoes warm at night.  Or you could use those Wall-o-water things. The Wall-O-Waters look like water filled teepees and they act like mini solar greenhouses. The water absorbs energy from the sun during the day and then releases heat at night, which helps keep the tomatoes warm and growing fast.   I think it would be hard to use as your tomato plants got larger but I have heard that it does work.tomatoinwallowater
  3. Tomatoes don’t like to get wet:  This is the hardest thing to do here in the northwest.  Don’t misunderstand me, they like water but really only on their roots.  Extra water on the plant can cause the tomatoes (the fruit itself) the get blight, or Late Blight.  If you are able to plant them near your home you can use the roof of your house to provide some relief from the rain.  If you plant your garden in a garden like ours you should use one of those mini green houses that covers just one plant or you could do like one of our friends a use a temp. car carport (the ones made out of PVC pipe and vinyl). Or you could use a barn cloche pictued below.211
  4. Prune as it grows:  If you are trying to grow well fruiting plants you want to prune unproductive leaves away as it grows.  What this does is put all the plants usable energy into producing fruit (tomatoes) and not into leaves that you won’t be eating.  Again don’t misunderstand me when I say prune “unproductive leaves away” I understand you do need some leaves so that the plant is able to get sun light but you don’t need leaves on the bottom of the plant when all the fruit and flowers are at the top.  042027016_xlg
  5. Tomatoes love fertilizer, but not too much:  I am still working on this mix I just know when I increase the amount of compost I use they grow better then when I use less but, I am not sure how much is to much and how much is to little.  Maybe I will figure that out this year, We will see. :- )
  6. Extending the season: Near the end of the season you will start to notice that there are still large green tomatoes on your plant and you are nearing the end of the season you can pick those green tomatoes and do two things make fried green tomatoes (which are very tasty) or place them in a brown paper bag with a banana in a cool dark place like a cabinet because the gases containing enzymes escaping from bananas will finish ripening the tomatoes.

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I hope this helps you have a better tomato experience this year!

~Greg T

As the Barrel Turns

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Our compost bin is up and running! We put this together from recycled (mostly free) items. We bought the hinges for the lid and the pole it spins on from the RE Store. So for around $3.00 we have an awesome large compost bin that’s easy to manage. I am happy to report it works great! It gets nice and warm in there (most of the heat is self generated since our spring/summer weather is NOT) quickly breaking down. Just a spin a day and the black gold is on its way. We are hoping to have our first batch done in about a month.

Its coming together

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This last week some friends came over to help out in the garden. I loved it! I didn’t get any pictures of us working but the garden looked great afterwards. They planted onions, broccoli and cabbage and weeded the whole garden! They made quick work of the weeds in raspberry patch which can sometimes be a daunting task. I am especially grateful to the boys for going on their slug hunts :o)