Tag Archives: garden


Digging potatoes

Got home from work at a decent time (after an hour commute and only having to stop for gas) and went to pick up Boobock. We got home, changed and immediately went out to set the chickens free. We keep the chickens locked up during the day, but in the evening, we let them out. They have learned that when we open the gate and start clapping at them, they can run out and over to the apple tree…which has fallen over, but still produces good fruit. There are a lot of branches on the ground, so it is hard to mow under and hard to chase chickens out from under, but they go in there and clean up the fallen ones for me and help control the apple worms. Last year, almost every apple had a worm in it, and then I got chickens. One rooster and one chicken escaped and I could not keep them in, so when the garden was done for the winter, I just let them stay out. They spent most of their time under the apple tree or in the garage, and they really cleaned up under the tree. This year, we had significantly less trouble with the worms. (I know it’s a baby moth. Still annoying.) I have been letting the chickens out when I am outside so I can herd them away from the garden, but now they pretty much stay under the tree, so I am getting more adventurous and letting them out earlier and earlier. There is nothing funnier than watching a little 3 year old boy with his “running shoes” on chasing after chickens, scattering them every which way, him wheeling around and running just as fast as his little legs can carry him, and getting the chickens to where they need to go. He feels so accomplished.

After herding the chickens, it was on to potato digging time.

This is only my third year of planting potatoes. I tried them in tires one year, and got nothing. I think that it was too hot in the black tires and I didn’t water them enough. I didn’t get one potato out of that experiment. Last year I had them in the part of the garden where I have trouble with bermuda grass, and my water hose was just not quite long enough, so again, watering didn’t occur like it needed to. I also think I put too much dirt on them when I hilled them up. I basically killed them with dirt. I didn’t know I was only supposed to hill it up 1/3 of the way…I went way way way higher. I got like 3 potatoes. It was pitiful.

So this year, I didn’t have high hopes. I only bought 2 pounds of seed potatoes from the local nursery, and I had some on my counter that sprouted, and so I thought, why not? And cut them up and planted those as well. I put them in two rows in a newish part of the garden that hasn’t been amended as heavily as other parts, but I was able to water more evenly.

The tops had died back maybe a month ago, but I had just let them stay in the dirt. They were beside the beets and onions, and so that part of the garden didn’t need watering any more, so I just left them. But I am ready to put in my fall seeds, so I knew I would be planting in that area and watering, so I needed to pull them.

With my trusty, though flighty, help Boobock, I started digging. I actually used a hoe and a three pronged rake instead of a potato fork. I would dig/scrape the soil and he was poised over the trench, yelling “I see one” every time we found one. He would pick it up and try to toss it in the bucket. Until he was intentionally missing and there were potatoes everywhere. Oh well, they are easy enough to pick up. The soil was pretty hard and clay like, and the drought has done a number on it. Some of it came away in large hard chunks…but there were potatoes in there!

I hilled up a few of the potatoes with dirt, but that didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I used straw on the rest, and I think that the straw did a better job. I definitely saw a difference where the straw was. The ground was very hard under the potatoes, but I had a lot of them right on top of the ground under the first layer of straw.

We ended up with about 15 pounds of potatoes.

10 1/2 pounds were blemish free, and 4 1/2 pounds had a cut mark or bug bite. I put the blemish free ones in the garage to dry out a bit and let the skins toughen up, and we have the 4 1/2 pounds in the house. I washed 2 of them, and sliced them up. We grilled tonight, so we put olive oil down on some aluminum foil, then potatoes, a little Tony Chachere (a very excellent Cajun spice) and some butter, and put it on the grill.

Due to my Whole 30 diet, I couldn’t eat them (sad panda). I had one bite and it tasted amazing, but then stuck to my approved food. The rest of the potatoes better wait to spoil for a few weeks at least so I can have some…

I don’t know if it is worth it to try to can them up or not. I’ve never canned them before, as my first 2 years yielded 3 potatoes total. I think we will get through them before they start to go bad, but I might try it anyway.

Oh yeah. The chickens started coming in by themselves, and Boobock chased them round and round and round, and the all eventually found their way back inside the coop. He then filled their water, drenching himself in the process, of course. I hauled more straw in for them and shut them up for the night.

A productive evening after a full day’s work and hour commute, I would say!

Garden update July 2014

Ok, is it really an update if you have never seen my garden before? Let’s call it a Garden Introduction.

I had a very late start to my garden due to personal circumstances this spring, but we are really rolling now. First is a section of tomatoes, and a few eggplant, because some of the tomatoes I started died. DH (dear husband) wanted some eggplant, and I thought that all the ones I started indoors had died…they didn’t so we ended up with 6 eggplant, 3 in 2 different sections of the garden. Oops. Got to pick up some tahini and make some baba ganoush. (Or order it on Amazon…our little grocery stores don’t stock tahini.) We made 6 new tomato cages out of some wire mesh we had on hand this year, but got the rest of the mesh too late to put them around the other tomatoes. I’ve only so far got yellow tomatoes and a few grape tomatoes, but most of them are loaded with green fruit.

Next to the tomatoes is two rows of cucumbers. I put two hog panels out and lean them towards each other so they are self supporting (I wire them together) and then plant one cucumber seed in each “hole”. The cucumbers grow up the panel and out on either side. I thought I had left enough room for this growth this year, but it looks like they need even more space next year. My brother is a fiend for my bread and butter pickles, so we will make a bunch to give him for Christmas. And my father in law put in a request for some bread and butter pickles today, as well. Looks like I’ll be canning this weekend!

Next is the summer squash section. I’ve got 12 plants here (or more…I planted two seeds in each hole.) What was I thinking? Well, that’s why I had two zucchini recipes in my first three posts.

Next is a row of okra and different types of green/wax beans, and some dill, cilantro and carrots. The okra package said to plant one seed every 2-3″ apart and then thin to 18″ apart! Wow, that’s a lot of wasted seed. I instead planted every 6″ or so. Once they came up and I was supposed to thin them, I just couldn’t kill all those little baby plants. So I dug about every other one up and transplanted them…and it worked! Okra is notorious for not transplanting well, but hey, I was going to kill them anyway. Might as well try. I think I only killed 1 or 2, and came up with a whole other row of okra.

I grew beans for the first time last year, and we just loved them. Couldn’t get enough. I only planted 1 row of wax beans last year, and decided this year to plant 6 rows of green and wax bush beans and more pole beans. This section only has the bush beans.

I have never before successfully got carrots to come up, but there are some growing now. I have also never tried dill or cilantro. The cilantro was a success, as I was able to come up with some good recipes, and of course guacamole, but I didn’t know what to do with the dill and it pretty much just grew and grew and I didn’t use any.

The next section had the transplanted okra, peas, potatoes, onions, kohlrabi, beets and strawberries that escaped their earthbox-type containers. They are all done and this section is ready for me to till and put more stuff in it. I made the containers last year out of mineral feeders and they worked so long as I kept them watered, but with so much else going on in the garden, I let them dry out and they didn’t work so well this year. I had never grown beets before, and I found I really liked them. Definitely a repeat grower. The onions did well and I am now trying to figure out how to store them all.

Next is broccoli, cabbage, and different kinds of peppers, along with the 3 eggplant that I grew from seed that I thought had died. I got the broccoli and cabbage in too late, and it is past time to pick the cabbage. I got no broccoli. It is just too hot. The corn is in its own little section beside the main garden. It isn’t tall and is tasseling. Hopefully we get corn this year without that awful fungus we’ve gotten the past 2 years.

Next is sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, pole beans and butternut squash. I grow the squashes and beans on more hog/cattle panels the same as the cucumbers.

Finally, we put in a great big arch for some cucuzzi and oriental yard long beans. DH suggested we use some hog panels and pipe he had cut and welded to make corner posts for our fence, and so those suckers are 9′ high in the center. One panel was curved and one was straight, so the arch itself is a bit off kilter, but if these two plants actually fill it out, it will look awesome. Hopefully it will be filled in by the end of August, as we have a town festival across the street and I want to sell some vegetables during the day…that would be a great attention getter. I planted some toy choi on one side underneath and need to plant something else under the rest of it. To the north of the arch, I planted 6 Hopi Pale Gray Squash from Jackie Clay-Atkinson with Backwoods Home magazine. Only 2 survived, but I think it was because I let them get overcome with bindweed and didn’t water enough. The remaining two are growing strong. I bought 25 seeds from her, so if this doesn’t work this year, I can always try again next year.

I got the cucuzzi from http://www.livereadynow.com. She had offered 6 seeds and requested a few dollars for shipping, but I offered 6 of the Hopi Pale Gray Squash in return and she was happy with that trade. I planted 3, lost 1 in the yard (seriously…that’s what happens when you try to plant things after dark with a flashlight), and kept 2 for next year in case I was too late this year to get one to mature to keep seeds out of.

Welcome to my garden!