Member gardens, now

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Fri, May 9, 2014 - 6:18am

Here is a place to share your current plantings, crops, harvests, upgrades and struggles. Please shorten the learning curve for all of us by sharing what you do and learn!

28 Comments

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1982
June everbearing strawberry harvest

One of the nicest things about perennials is how they can be harvested early. Asparagus season is over here in Zone 8, but our June-bearing Earlyglow strawberries started to ripen three days ago. We have a 22-ft by 2.5-ft by 6-inch (shallow roots)  raised bed full of strawberries. It started with 24 plants three years ago and the box is now full; we've been giving the extra plants off the runners that thrust out of the box to our neighbors since last fall.

So far we've gotten over two cups of berries a day, so we've already beat last year's record - and the plants are still loaded with ripening fruit. They are not as big as the supermarket berries, but like most homegrown, organic things they taste incredible - in part, I think, due to being more nutritious due to all the natural organic fertilizers in their soil.

Lessons learned:

  • Pine straw makes a great mulch for strawberries.
  • Water them during the fruiting season every day; it really increases yields.
  • We've lost very few berries to birds or squirrels, whop are MUCH more interested in the fruiting mulberry tree I planted to distract them.

We've been very lucky with our plants, in part because the variety was recommended by our local agricultural cooperative extension. Strawberries are subject to many diseases: fruit rots (gray mold, anthracnose), leaf diseases (leaf spot, leaf scorch, leaf blight), crown diseases, root diseases (red stele, black rot) and viruses. Root weevils, aphids, mites, and slugs and snails are among potential pests. We've only had a problem with slugs, last year, and solved that by putting out tuna-can sized pans of stale beer.

GM_Man's picture
GM_Man
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Waiting to plant...

Due to a North-facing lot, and crazy weather we are holding off planting later this month.  All our plants are still growing in-doors including: tomatoes, arugala, swiss chard, broccoli, etc.  I am sooo jealous of your strawberries; however, having said that, our apple, grape, raspberry and blueberry harvest last year was so good that I still have fruit (kept frozen, dried, or canned) for breakfast, on toast, for dessert, you name it.   

We are extending our grape vines this year by planing additional vines along our corral where our sheep/goats/cow will be.  I am still pushing for sheep and the boss (aka wife) wants a cow.  Our raspberry patch is in the process of being moved from the original location near the barn to the sunny side of the property for a more consistent harvest year-after-year.

I want to give non-GMO wheat a shot, but I'm not sure I can even locate seeds for that effort.  I don't think wheat is planted this far North in New England.  Any suggestions?

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1982
The Kusa Society

GM_Man,  Kusa Society has seedstocks of various non-GMO grains. That far north I'd also consider barley.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1982
Mulberry harvest

Four years ago our mulberry tree was a two-foot tall bare root sapling twig. Year two it was 6-ft tall, no fruit. Last year it was 9 ft tall with a tiny bit of fruit. This year it's 15-ft tall by 10-ft wide and producing gallons of berries. Mostly, we leave them for the bids, but today I harvested some for a pie. Next year there should be enough to juice some, too. Great in oatmeal.

The bad part about purple mulberries is how they stain your clothes and hands...and those little green stems are unattractive. And if they are on a path you can even track in the juice and stain your floors. But ohmigod, are they good!

You can pick them by hand; just be ready to wash your hands with bleach when you are done. Or you put down an old, clean sheet you don't care about staining, and shake the tree.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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gotta love the critter

squirels etc. know the nutritional value and if they are attracted,,,,its gotta be good

GM_Man's picture
GM_Man
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Many Thanks! for the Kusa Society Ref

Thanks Wendy,

I'll check them out this morning before I get going on chores. 

Happy Mother's Day!

 

Tall's picture
Tall
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Wendy S. Delmater wrote: Four
Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

Four years ago our mulberry tree was a two-foot tall bare root sapling twig. Year two it was 6-ft tall, no fruit. Last year it was 9 ft tall with a tiny bit of fruit. This year it's 15-ft tall by 10-ft wide and producing gallons of berries. Mostly, we leave them for the bids, but today I harvested some for a pie. Next year there should be enough to juice some, too. Great in oatmeal.

The bad part about purple mulberries is how they stain your clothes and hands...and those little green stems are unattractive. And if they are on a path you can even track in the juice and stain your floors. But ohmigod, are they good!

You can pick them by hand; just be ready to wash your hands with bleach when you are done. Or you put down an old, clean sheet you don't care about staining, and shake the tree.

 

What variety of Mulberry? I have an Illinois Everbearing (M. alba x rubra) but it bears over such a long period, that I rarely get a large amount. I consider it a grazing tree. I agree about the taste, it is my favorite flavored fresh fruit.

Tall's picture
Tall
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Trialing "chinese okra"



So called Chinese okra is really a member of the squash family. It is also known as "angled luffa" Its 6 -8" long fruits are very good as a zucchini substitute, and unlike zucchini, it is not bothered by squash borers and bugs, so I get a longer harvest season without resorting to pesticides.

It is a vigorous climber.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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what kind of mulberry? who knows...

Tall -

I did not get it from a reputable grower. I ordered a White Mulberry, and got this thing covered with purple mulberries instead. So I have  no idea what kind it is, except that it's not the Morus alba I ordered. The fruit still tastes great but the potential stains are a problem.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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resistant to squash bugs FTW!

We would LOVE to find a reliable zucchini substitute for our garden! Will try Chinese okra.

For a cucumber that's squash bug resistant try West Indian Burr Gherkins

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jgritter
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Cool, rainy weather

The cold, snowy winter is segueing into a cool, rainy spring due to how cold the Great Lakes got.  The early brassicas don't seem to mind but I may have put my corn in too soon.  I'm experimenting with Jerusalem Artichokes this year with a wary eye, sustainable, permaculture, starchy tuber vs invasive nuisance.  Mulberries and raspberries are an invasive nuisance were I am.  Keep an eye on them as the birds will spread them far and wide.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, are

Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, are invasive, yes, so the best way to grow them is in a raised bed. That way their roots are separate from everything else. We may dedicate a bed to them: edible tubers, pretty flowers - and low maintenance!

Birds my spread them to your neighbors, just like they spread the mulberries, your raspberries and my blackberries. But bear this in mind: right now we consider things like those a nuisance. If the SHTF, we will be grateful for every one nature planted.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1982
bush beans - harvest

Just a note to say that this past week we've been harvesting wax and green bush beans. Today is the first time I've managed to keep them out of meals ling enough to blanch and freeze some.

I've tried many varieties and really like these: Pencil Pod Black Wax Snap Beans.

They are stringless, and heirloom., so you can save the seeds

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Quercus bicolor
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upstate NY garden in late May 2014

In upstate, NY zone 5-6 - lettuce, arugula (past 2 weeks), bok choy (that's done already), kale, broccoli and spinach real soon.  Lots of dandelion greens, violet leaves (starting to get tough), garlic mustard and various herbs to mix with the lettuce in salads or use for 100% of the salad if you're so inclined like me.  I leave the dandelions under the fruit trees as they are decent dynamic accumulators (subsoil mineral pumps) from a permaculture perspective.  I grew most of my own plants for a few years, but lately many of them as seedlings at my local coop.  This removes a good chunk of labor - helpful with my full time job and 2 children.  The cost for 6-packs is about 15-20% of the retail price of the vegetables I end up growing from them.

My plum trees set a decent amount of fruit for the first time.  The mulberries too.  Apples are sparse after last years bumper crop and the peach tree took a big hit from the winter and broken branches from last years big crop (should have thinned more).

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Sewer sludge?

It was recently suggested to me by an avid gardener to try Milorganite, a sewer sludge based fertilizer. I looked at the Milorganite website and it seems like a good option. Anybody have any opinions on this or experience with it. Any info would be helpful. Thanks in advance.

David

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Thrivalista
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Noooooo.....don't do it!

Sewage sludge contains heavy metals and other toxins. I would strongly discourage you from paying to have your garden become a dump site for this stuff.

>>>...chock-full of pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, industrial waste, and gender-bending, hormone-disrupting chemicals<< 

 

Coupla relevant links:

http://www.rodalenews.com/compost-sewage-sludge

http://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/05/10700/dont-be-duped-sewage-sludge-in...

 

Tall's picture
Tall
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White mulberry

You may have received the correct tree. You can look at images of white mulberry (Morus alba) on line. It is an Asian mulberry some consider invasive here in N America. The 'white' refers to the species name, 'alba'. The fruit quality varies, but can be colored black, red, purple or white. Our native mulberry (Morus rubra) red mulberry, also can have red or purple or black fruit. Quality varies.

I hear the tastiest mulberries are the 'black' mulberries (Morus nigra) but most are too tender (prefer zone 8  and up) for where I live.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1982
I agree - no sludge!

What Thivalista said about sewage sludge is absolutely correct. It's very bad for your plants - especially if you are growing edibles!

earthwise's picture
earthwise
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Whew!! Dodged a bullet there....

Thanks, folks!  At first blush it seemed like a good idea, based on the notion that this is just processed "humanure" which would contain all the micronutrients being lost to resource depletion. The obvious never occurred to me, that it would necessarily contain all the pharmaceuticals and other crap (pun intended).

Oh well. Back to composting.

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Adam Taggart
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This Is Exactly

This is exactly the sort of utility I'd hoped these Groups would provide when we launched them.

Kudos to earthwise for tapping the hive mind here. And kudos to the hive for steering him straight!

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
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mulberries

You're post has me eagerly awaiting the ripening of our mulberries in this more northern climate.  Our 2 trees (one dwarf by the driveway, one full size) are about in the same place as yours with a few berries this year and perhaps 10-20x that amount this year.

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1982
Planning a monthly fruit harvest

Pre-planning a monthly fruit harvest--and how to store and use that harvest until the next one--is easier than it sounds. Just find out what fruit perennial grows in your area, and when it matures. Your local US or national agricultural cooperative extension service is a good resource to research what to plant, as are farmer's market growers.

Here is our plan.

April - Strawberry harvest. We make it into jam, and freeze them. If yields increase we may also dehydrate some. This overlaps with

May - Mulberry harvest. Ate 'em fresh and in pies. We froze some this year, the first really good bearing year for our 4-year-old tree. This overlaps with

June - Blueberry, fig, elderberry & blackberry harvests. Blues are not so hot this year, but this is when they're ripe. Our blueberry bushes are badly sited, so we will move them or get new ones and until then we live near a HUGE blueberry farm. This will be the last year we forage for wild blackberries (jam, freeze, pies) since we planted thornless canes. We don't have a wet enough yard for elderberries (so we forage) but plan on transplanting wild ones to the pond in the woods behind our property. BIG crop of figs coming; these will become fig/lemon/walnut jam or be dehydrated. Excess will be sold to the health food store. These harvests overlap with

July - Peach harvest. The good news is I knew our white flesh peach was nearing the end of its life and planted a Redhaven peach two years ago. The bad news is the older peach tree just died. RIP to the bonsai peach tree. It'll make dandy firewood and we'll have to buy local peaches at the farmer's market, in July. This tapers off around the time of the

August - Grape harvest. Don't laugh; we have so many wild scuppernog (muscadine) & concord grapes on our fences we've learned to prune them with a chain saw. There is also a formal arbor in the front yard and we added more concord grapes this year. We juice the muscadines and make jam from the concords.

September - technically, a tomato is a fruit, right? This is when I can my tomatoes for the year. We don't eat pasta, so I make tons of half-pint jars of pizza sauce. This is so much work I'm glad that's the main focus since next month is

October - Apple and pear harvest. Bushels and bushels and BUSHELS of pears. I home-can pear sauce with ginger, sliced pears, pear halves, and sliced apples & apple butter. It takes most of my spare time. The pears are foraged from a nearby tree but we are buying compatible semi-dwarf rootstock and grafting that with branches from our forage tree and planting it in our yard. The apples are from a neighbor, but we have two 3-year old trees that will start producing next year.

November through March - We use up the fruit harvests, knowing we saved money and are not eating food from God-knows-where, contaminated with mystery chemicals. We put the dried figs in salads with goat cheese, make peanut butter and various jelly/jam sandwiches, pork chops with sliced pears and cranberries, and hot spiced peach halves. The elderberry tinctures/juice and grape juice don't last long but we are ramping up production. I still have dried blueberries from last year we reconstitute to make blueberry muffins.

Think about the growing-season months your garden is not producing and consider filling the gaps. Fresh fruit is the sweetest reward of home gardening.

Sans's picture
Sans
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Zucchini substitute

Tatume squash is a great zucchini substitute. When they are small, they are like round zucchini. If you let them get big, they are more like spaghetti squash and store for months. Squash bugs don't seem to bother it, drought tolerant, and produces even in high heat. It's a monster plant though, so give it room to sprawl. 

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sand_puppy
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Robbie: Weeding tool?

Robbie,

About a year ago you mentioned a narrow hoe-like tool for weeding without needing to bend over or crawl on your knees.  What was that tool called and where can I find it?

After crawling around the garden this evening it dawned on me that I need to find a better way.....

Thanks,

sand_puppy

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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Sand_Puppy?

This tool is the bomb,,,I've had a Heron for a couple years,,, it was in my hands only minutes ago,,,its the only hoe my wife lets me,,,well just fill in the,,,,here is the link

http://holdredgeenterprises.com/

 

 

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sand_puppy
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Surveillance Drones for Agriculture (and Fun)

Video Shows Farming Drones Already Affordable And Efficient

Though most of our gardens are not large enough to require these, they sure could be fun.  A company is marketing surveillance drones to farmers with big fields that need inspection.  The cost is about $1,200 plus the cost of an android smart phone (if you don't already have one) which attaches to the Radio Control base station.

Flight time:  20 minutes (limited by battery life)

Range:  ~1/2 mile

Camera:  HD with anticipated compatibility with Thermal and UV

"Fly Home" feature:  if the drone loses contact with the base station it automatically flies home.

 

Here is the base station with the android phone attached.

The article linked above has a cool recording of a farmer inspecting corn fields with the drone camera.

 

----------------

An aside:  A characteristic of smart-phone systems is that the phones continuously report the phone's location to the wireless network.  Furthermore, the CCC hackers conference also reports that each phone keeps a GPS time-location log that an "insider" can query without the owner's knowledge or consent to get a report of where it has been, even retroactively.  It seems that every smart phone functions as a tracking device on its owner.

Here is A TED talk on the social implications of stored location data from cell phones.  This talk was given by a German Green Party political candidate, Malte Spitz, (and reported also in this Huffington Post article). Spitz obtained his phone records and analyzed it with the help of a computer software company.

Here is a map of his physical location over a 6 month period.

http://www.zeit.de/datenschutz/malte-spitz-vorratsdaten

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1982
Herb & Cabbage harvest

We are about to enter the hottest part of the summer, and for gardeners that have planted spring veggies and tender herbs, the time to pick them is now. Today I bunched and hung fresh dill, oregano, parsley and basil for drying. would be picking fennel but I want that perennial vegetable and herb (the leaves, seeds and pollen are all spices!) to get established first.

The cabbage is so incredibly green compared to supermarket cabbage. I use the large leaves for stuffed cabbage or cut them into strips and saute them with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper. The heads can make slaw. Small cabbage leaves go into salads. They taste nothing like supermarket cabbage leaves, so they are delicious that way. I will pull the rest of it when the summer veggies I have started indoors are ready to transplant.

Speaking of leaves, the muscadine grape leaves are not good for stuffed grape leaves but it looks like the concord grape leaves will work for that. It's another item to pickle for winter eating.

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jtwalsh
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Posts: 263
Relief

Wendy: Thank you for your continuing posts about your garden. After I get through reviewing the posts about the horrors of the world news I always turn to your postings to see what's happening with the garden.  What a relief!  Even with its ups and downs, insects, diseases and bad weather it's still so much more enjoyable and relaxing to hear what you are up to.

I have planted my first real vegetable gardens this year.  I have tended perennial flower beds for years and have made some attempts at small vegetable plots and containers the past two years.  This year I have potatoes, garlic and onions in both the city and our north woods cabin. I found some rhubarb and beautiful strawberry plants at a non-chain, non-big box garden shop.  We have pots of green beans, tomatoes, peppers, kale and some spices.  I also planted some zucchini and summer squash vines.  We are a good six weeks behind you in development.  The spring was very cold, and very wet until recent weeks.  

I usually plant the flowers and then let them fend for themselves to see what happens.  Over the years I have cultivated beds of perennials  that come back every year with minimal tending. Even after the horrible winter, I have beautiful plantings coming up on both properties. For some reason I am much more attached to the vegetables and legumes than I am to the flowers.  I have to check them every morning and night and when I come home from work.  I feel way more responsible for the food crops than I ever have for my day lilies, lavender and irises.

Thanks again and keep us posted.

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