Tag: thyme

Herb Garden On the Move

Thank you to you if your loved one did not return from service to our country.  Memorial Day is a time to remember and to hold those lost close in our hearts.

The roller coaster of temperatures has been an interesting challenge this week.  Monday was hot and humid.  Friday we had frost through out the area.  Monday is supposed to be 85 degrees.  We have had some rain, but sunny and windy weather means the soil is drying out and more watering.

I did re-locate the herb garden.

Left - cilantro; Top middle - thyme; Middle - winter savory; Bottom middle - oregano; Right - basil
Left – cilantro; Top middle – thyme; Middle – winter savory; Bottom middle – oregano; Right – basil

It took a good portion of the day, but the herb garden was moved.  Many of the plants were large.  So I only took a small section of them.  If the re-located plants do not make it then I will try another part of the plant.  I really like how this new garden bed looks.   I also added a toad house.

The toad house a cool place to hide
The toad house a cool place to hide

Toad’s eat a lot of insects.  The also tend to eat the insects I do not want eating my plants.  So I like to find ways to encourage them to hang out in my garden. One way is encourage them is to create a shelter where they can go if the sun is intense or they need cover.

Earlier this week on a Micro Farm inspection walk.  I noticed my grapes had been chewed down.

Chewed down grapes
Chewed down grapes

I suspect rabbits ate my grape vines, but I have no proof.   I have added protection so the grapes can recover.

I planed about 150 onion sets.  It took some planting plan changes but I got them all in.

The home of almost 200 onions
The home of almost 200 onions

I have written for several weeks about my rain barrels.  Last week I painted them to help improve their appearance.  One disadvantage of using rain barrels is the low flow pressure.  Raising the height of the barrel uses gravity to increase the pressure.  I have my barrels raised up on cement blocks.  Hopefully, a few flowers and plants can help mask the blocks.

Flowers to mask the cement blocks.
Flowers to mask the cement blocks.
The coleus is no doing so well
The coleus is no doing so well

I was hoping to use coleus to cover these blocks.  It is not doing so well.  I am afraid there might be something in the soil they do not like.

This week I have a bunch of seedlings to transplant.  I also need to start some new seedlings for second crops.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

Springing Forward

The Micro-Farm is really starting to take shape after winter.  I have removed 90 per cent of the old plants.  I have enjoyed taking a few minutes to enjoy the hard work that has gone into the micro-farm over the past four years.  While ever farm is a place of constant change there are goals I have hoped to achieve.  This spring I feel good about where the micro-farm is and where the next steps will take it.

I attempted to sift the compost piles a month ago.  After removing the first layers on both piles I ran into two compost ice cubes.  After stabbing both piles with a shovel I quickly realized I needed a few warm days before any sifting was going to take place.  Two weeks later I took the weekend and dedicated it to compost sifting.  I do not enjoy the sifting very much but the end product is great.  I filled almost two lawn tractor trailers.

I have also been doing some planting.  It may seem crazy, but there are some really crazy plants that do not mind the cold.  I planted over twenty-five pea plants, beets, a few leafy greens, onion seedlings, and turnips.   Many have sprouted and are, slowly, growing.  The garlic planted last fall has come up and is about six inches tall.  A couple of frosts have slowed the garlic down but it is still going strong.

The garlic a couple of weeks ago.
The garlic (37 plants)  a couple of    weeks ago.

We have a very tall pine tree near the garden beds.  In the fall it sheds a lot of needles.  Without a better plan last fall, I mounded the pine needles around a planter box.  I have been spreading the needles around and using them for mulch in my garden walkways and paths.

The other side of the growing beds
The growing beds when I was beginning to put down needles and before compost
Beds with new compost and needles in paths
Beds with new compost and needles in paths

I like the way they look, feel, and smell.  They also do a good job with keeping the weeds down.  Possibly most important the price: free, all around pretty good.

Last growing season the grass and weeds took over my pea bed.  I fought them for a while, but eventually they won.  I worked hard on last year’s pea bed, this year’s cucumber bed, to clean out the weeds and grass.

Now it is cleaned out and ready for cucumbers
Now it is cleaned out and ready for cucumbers

When I was in middle school NASA gave students tomato seeds that had spent time either on the Space Shuttle or on the space station.  I totally loved it. Seeds from space!  They even came in a Mylar seed packet.  I asked to keep information on how they progressed.  I have no idea what happened to those plants.  Most likely, they dried up or were choked out by weeds.  I have felt a little guilty for those plants.

Now I have a sense of redemption.  I am growing turnip seeds for Seed Savers Exchange’s M-Gen program.  I am asked to keep details and records on how they are doing.  So far I have been keeping everything up-to-date.  I planted twenty seeds a week ago.

The bed on the left has been planted.
The bed on the left has been planted.

This weekend I have seen a few seedling popping up.  Next Saturday I hope to plant another twenty seeds in the bed on the right.  I am really looking forward to this project.  You will see further reports as the season goes along.

You can see a lot has been happening.  I also should report that I lost my second thyme seedlings.  For the third try I moved them to the kitchen where they get southern sun and have a higher, and more consistent, temperature.  I have about five times more seedlings and they are growing well.  The third time is the charm.

I hope you are enjoying your spring clean up and planting.  Please share what you are doing it motivates me.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

Not This Thyme

Waking up to snow covering your lawn this time of year is a bummer.  It will melt quickly, but it is tough for those of us who want to be playing in the soil.

The weather this week looks promising.  So I will get outside and do more clean up from last year.  If I am really lucky the ground will thaw enough for me to pull some of last year’s plants from the ground.

Many of the seedlings are doing well.  True leaves are starting to appear on everyone. Even my tiny strawberry plants have started to develop true leaves.

The second crop of peppers
The second crop of peppers
My first rosemary seedling
My first rosemary seedling

It was exciting to see the rosemary seedling this morning.  Rosemary takes a long time to germinate.  So after almost a month one plant is up.  Maybe there will be more, but I am pleased to at least see one.

Last week I show how well my thyme was doing.  You can see and read about it here. Somewhere in the middle of the week the thyme dried up and almost all died.  I was really surprised because the soil looked damp, but I did not look close enough.  A few are still surviving so that will be ok.

The surviving thyme.
The surviving thyme.

I also planted a few Pruden’s Purple tomatoes.  Pruden’s Purple is an heirloom tomato.  It is similar to a beef-steak style tomato but bigger and meatier.  It has become one of my favorite varieties.

The Pruden's Purple seed trays.  They should be up this weekend.
The Pruden’s Purple seed trays. They should be up next weekend.

Until everything thaws most of my work is watering seedling and making sure they are doing well.  Quickly re-planting if I make a mistake.

What are you doing?  How are your seedlings?

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

Taking Care of Thyme

Friday was in the low 50’s.  So I was adventurous and looked underneath my pine needle mulch to see find out if my garlic was there.  Sure enough I saw a small green spike poking up through the soil.  So I have, at least, one garlic plant for Spring.  If we can get consecutive warms days they can stretch out of the soil.

The seedlings are growing well.  I had a few more pepper plants show themselves.

A few pepper seedlings
A few pepper seedlings

I have about ten pepper seedlings with more planted a week later.

Last fall the thyme plants in the herb garden looked like they were struggling.  I am not sure if it was my timing or the plants.  Going through my seed packets I found I had a few thyme seeds that needed to be used.  I figured the long and hard winter may have done in my thyme in the garden.  I took the old seed and filled on cell in a four pack.

My "old" seeds doing very well
My “old” seeds doing very well

I did not expect the germination rate to be so high.  In the other cells there are thyme seeds I purchased new this year.  Will I have enough time for all my thyme?

On our front porch we have a couple of hanging baskets.  A friend has graciously given us flowers each year.  Last year the flowers were impressive.  Now we are just left with two hanging baskets.  So I am experimenting with a variety of strawberries called “Gasana” from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  Gasana is an ornamental strawberry that works well in containers.  It is day-neutral so it will produce small to medium fruits.  If everything works.  So my plan is to sit on the porch, read, and snack on strawberries.

Gasana seedlings.
Gasana seedlings.

I have found it challenging keeping my seedlings watered this year.  They are drying out quickly.  Heating from below really improves germination, but it makes it difficult to not dry out young seedlings.  To challenge myself more, I have been starting seedlings at different times.  So there are different needs all under the same light.  I think everything is good now, but it has been challenging.

What are you seed starting challenges?

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

 

Green to Red. Red Means Go

Mid-July I had received an email informing me late blight was in the area. (You can read the post here.) I decided not to use spray on my tomatoes.  In last week’s post I showed how the blight had killed most of my tomato plants.  On Monday night we picked all the tomatoes, ripe or not.  Regardless of the blight I think it was a successful tomato harvest.

Tomatoes just picked
Tomatoes just picked
Tomatoes almost a week later
Tomatoes almost a week later

Can see a difference in the two pictures?  You may notice a few tomatoes missing because we have been using them.  Mostly, we have been canning this week.  We made ketchup, Swedish Chili Sauce, and salsa.

Some of you canned products from the past week.
Some of you canned products from the past week.

I grew all heirloom varieties this year, and was impressed with their production.  One new variety I grew was Mr. Razz.

A Mr. Razz Tomato
Mr. Razz Tomatoes

Knowing little about these I was excited to see what the fruit would look like.  My opinion is that it would make a very nice market tomato.  It is medium-sized with a wonderful shape and flavor.

Last year’s big producer proved prudent again this year.

A Pruden's Purple Tomato
A Pruden’s Purple Tomato

This is its ripe color.  Not a deep red or purple just a faint, mellow color.  These are really big tomatoes, typically about half or three-quarters of a pound.

All the heirloom tomatoes are meaty and are excellent for how we use them.  I think both Mr. Razz and Pruden’s Purple would be great for slicing.

I am glad I picked all the tomatoes.  I am not sure I can handle more tomatoes than we already have.

My volunteer sunflower is now facing down.  Taking pictures today I notice someone has been enjoying the sunflower seeds.

Suspect sunflower seed shells
Suspect sunflower seed shells

Whoever has been eating my seeds certainly has done a good job.

Half the seeds. Gone.
Half the seeds. Gone.

This evening I will cut off the flower so I can enjoy a few of the seeds myself.

Tomatillos in their husks
Tomatillos in their husks

Mostly neglected this year have been my tomatillos.  They require very little attention and are very productive.  Inside their husk is their tasty fruit.  I gently squeeze the husk to find out what size the fruit is inside.  After I get enough, a delicious spicy salsa will be made.

Back porch basil
Back porch basil

Thinking about all the tomatoes spurred me to start some basil on the back porch.  It looks really good so far.  My plan is to try to keep the basil going as long as I can.  I will probably bring it inside when the nights get too cold.  I also have some cilantro and thyme started as well.  The thyme seeds were several years old and have not germinated well.  The cilantro is on the second planting which is going much better than the first.

What do you do to preserve your bounty?  What do you grow in excessive amounts?  What did you enjoy eating at your Labor Day picnic?

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.