sat, 22-sep-2007, 08:57

garden output

garden output

Many months ago we planted a vegetable garden at our old house. We got a truckload of good soil, rented a rototiller and hoped for a great growing season. All those plans fell apart when we bought our new house, started packing and moving everything. Keeping the garden watered and properly fertilized wasn’t very high on our list of things to do, so the plants were all left to their own devices.

The Weather Service was predicting a hard frost over the Interior on Friday night (and it came—it was 16°F at our new house this morning and all the ponds in our driveway are frozen), so I harvested all the above-ground produce on Thursday night. The photo on the right shows the entire output from six broccoli and six cauliflower plants. They were tasty, especially the cauliflower, but not exactly the quantity I was hoping for. I also harvested two six-inch zucchinis (also far below expected production) and the cabbage. All ten cabbage plants produced some reasonably sized cabbage (bigger than a softball, smaller than a bowling ball), so I’ll have enough for a couple gallons of sauerkraut. We’ll probably harvest the potatoes in a few days. I don’t expect to find many large baking potatoes (we grew Russets this year), but we’ll probably have enough for making hash browns on Saturday mornings.

piper on her new bed

piper’s new bed

The other photo shows Piper on her new bed. We didn’t make this one, but it was “assembled in USA” and is composed of a minimum 90% postconsumer recycled plastic. I’m not a big fan of plastic products, but creating a market for recycling the stuff is certainly better than letting it all go into the landfills and waterways. And Piper really seems to like it, which is the most important thing!

sun, 03-jun-2007, 09:41

Planting day

Start of the garden

Yesterday we planted the garden. The plan was:

Plant           Spacing    Num  Feet    Actual Number
--------------  ---------  ---  -----   -------------
cabbage (cb)    24" apart   10  20'         10
potato (pt)     24" apart   13  26'         17
greens (lt)      6" apart    6   1.5'        6
broccoli (broc) 12" apart    6   4'          6
cauliflower     16" apart    6   6'          6
zucchini (zchn) 36" apart    2   6'          2
rhubarb (rhub)  36" apart    1   3'          1

Top bed: 32' (scale: 2 characters / foot)
|   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   |           |       |     |     |
|cb |cb |cb |cb |cb |cb |cb |cb |   caulif  | broc  |zchn |zchn |
|   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   |    (6)    |  (6)  |     |     |

Bottom bed: 32'
|   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   |  |  |     |
|pt |pt |pt |pt |pt |pt |pt |pt |pt |pt |pt |pt |pt |cb|lt|rhub |
|   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   |  |6 |     |

We wound up planing the potatoes fourteen inches apart, rather than twenty-four because that’s what we’ve done in the past and we were reusing the landscape fabric from last year on that section of the garden. So we actually got seventeen potato plants in the ground. We also squeezed another cabbage in between the lettuce and the potatoes, so we were able to plant all ten plants. In past years we’ve had problems with the potatoes getting green from exposure to light, so we’re going to hill the soil around the plants as they come up. The two potato plants on the end are spaced 24 inches apart, so we can find out if a more generous spacing improves the yield.

I also got a new pair of boots to replace my Redwings. I bought my first pair of Redwings when I worked at the steel mill and I wore them every day on that job. They lasted seven or eight years. My second pair only lasted three or four years. The sole came unglued from the leather part and the instep section also separated and cracked. This time around I bought a pair of Hathorn boots, which are the economy sub-brand of White's, and like White's, they're made in the United States and are re-buildable. Hopefully they're better built than my last pair of Redwings.

tags: boots  food  garden  vegetables 
mon, 28-may-2007, 13:03



This weekend we spend a lot of time getting our vegetable garden ready for planting. The first plant date here in Fairbanks is June first, so we’ve got until Friday to get everything set up and ready to go. We spent most of the day on Saturday removing the top layer of dirt from the garden, and replacing it with a pickup truckload of soil we got from Great Northwest on College Road. They support the Dog Mushers, so we support them. We replaced five wheelbarrow loads on the upper bed, eight loads on the lower bed.

Sunday we rented a rototiller and rototilled both beds. We did three passes on each bed, and only had the tiller out for a couple hours. In the past I’ve always turned over the soil by hand, and I can say without reservation that using a rototiller is a much easier way to go. I think it churns the soil up better too, so hopefully we’ll have fewer problems with clay this year.

We got plants from the Farmer’s Market, Alaska Feed, and some from Calypso Farms. We’re growing Russet potatoes, basil, and several varieties of cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and salad greens. I had hoped to grow beets, but we didn’t see any starts for that, which may mean we need to start them from seed directly in the garden. Andrea also got some flowers that should help keep pests away from the crops, as well as improve the soil.

tags: food  garden  me  vegetables 
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