Saturday, August 19, 2017

My Harvest Life - Episode 10: Growing the Herb

Year 1 - Summer Day 59

Finally got my basement grow light set up to grow some...

Basil! and Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary, Spearmint and Oregano.  Also I have some Lemon Mint getting shipped to plant as well.  What did you THINK I was growing?  I decided to start a basement setup so that I can prepare plants for transplanting outside before the last frost of spring next year as well as grow herbs throughout the winter.  I've since bumped the planter up on some buckets to get closer to the grow light but the setup remains generally the same.  The planter has some holes drilled in the bottom to allow drainage so having those over buckets works better anyway.

The garden has been progressing nicely, I've harvested another seven or so Cucumbers and continue to pick a handful or two of green beans every 3-4 days.  I'll need to start giving cucumbers away by the baskets because I just cannot force myself to eat this many cucumbers and drink this much cucumber water.  They are very delicious though.  In fact my dog tried to grab them out of my hand!  (Disclaimer:  I may have baited him into the picture).

The garden continues to teem with life, from little frogs hopping around beneath the shady cucumber canopy to crimson dragonflies sun bathing on broad leaves, many insects, spiders and amphibians have made the garden their home, and the number of bees keeps increasing!  There are now four to five bumblebees when I go check on the cucumbers in the morning as well as two to three honey bees.  They generally leave me alone unless I dump water on their head in which case they buzz around in a frenzy.  

Soon I should be able to pick some carrots and potatoes as the flowers have already bloomed.  I've also picked up a few skill books to help level up and hit level 2:  The Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques and The New Vegetables, Herbs & Fruits, An Illustrated Encyclopedia.

I bought them from Barnes & Noble as impulse purchases as I was browsing, but they're a bit cheaper at the Amazon links above.

I'm very excited for my new basement herb garden and the potted herbs I have outside have started to sprout already (the cinnamon basil at least).  It's very fun and exciting (and delicious).

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -

Sunday, August 13, 2017

My Harvest Life - Episode 9: Cucumbers and Herb Planting

Year 1 - Summer Day 53

The first two Lemon Cucumbers have been harvested!  I wasn't sure if they were ready since on the vine they look very green, but once I picked them and sliced them they were perfectly ready to eat!  They're milder than your average cucumber with a very slight tang making them tastier than a store bought cuke.  These are just the first two of hundreds to come, but it was fun to pick them and get some harvest out of the giant tangle of leaves that's taking over half my garden.  Max, my cattle dog mutt, also found the cucumbers to be very enthralling.

In addition I also picked and stripped the leaves off of the last spinach plant.  I had picked some of the lower leaves before and what happened was that new stems grew out of those leaves and instead of giant leaves like the plant had before, I had a bunch of stems with tons of tiny leaves.  In addition the bean plants were pushing the spinach plant over and it wasn't faring well.

I did get a ton of leaves off of it though and once they dry from rinsing I'll be able to store them.  I continue to get a couple handfuls of green beans every 3-4 days and the tomato plants have bloomed so there should be tomatoes as well in a couple weeks.  Also the potato plants have flowered with pretty purple flowers that dangle from the stems.

I'm also working on a basement herb garden and have a grow light and a table ready to set up.  This will help me get it started so next year I can sprout my plants in the basement before transferring them outside.  The two pots that the tomato plants used to be in have now also gotten repurposed for a bunch of herbs to grow out in the backyard as well.  I've planted Cinnamon Basil, Rosemary, Spearmint, Oregano and Parsley and I have some Thyme to plant in the basement once I get that set up as well.  This should give us a nice little herb garden for seasonings and it should let us grow plants in the basement throughout the winter.  Overall the harvests are starting and it's exciting to see some profit from the work put in.

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -
Next Episode 10: Growing the Herb

Sunday, August 6, 2017

My Harvest Life - Episode 8: Beans, Bees and Baby Carrots

Year 1 - Summer Day 46

Beans!  I was able to pick twenty or so green beans from the garden today as well as snap a few photos of the bumbling bumble bees scurrying from flower to flower amidst the cucumber jungle.  The green beans are a bush type and are the first to start producing vegetables, and although the harvest is small, they should continue producing throughout the summer and I'll need to harvest the bushes twice a week.  I also attempted to pick one of the carrots since the plants were getting very large, but that was a mistake and I lost one of the few carrots I actually am growing in the garden.  Just goes to prove that I'm still truly a level 1 gardener.

I did eat the carrot though after cleaning it and gave a small bit of it to my dog who gladly chomped down on some fresh veggies.  It was not a very filling meal being as small as it was, but nonetheless it was good to taste it to get an idea of what the future holds for the rest of the carrots.

While out and about there were many bugs, butterflies, bees and spiders roaming the garden and I was able to snap a few pictures of the bumblebees as they noshed on some nectar.  The little fellows have been out there all day roaming from flower to flower and have brought more friends to feast on the plentiful flowers.  It's pretty funny to watch them stuff their head down in the flower with their legs splayed out on the petals.

 It's an exciting time in the garden as the plants start giving back for the work put in!  I'm also getting ready to set up an herb garden in my basement to continue growing a variety of herbs for use in the kitchen throughout the year.  I've ordered a bunch of Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, and a few other herbs to put in a planter under a grow light.  This will let me set up a system that I can use for sprouting my garden plants next spring as well.

It was a very relaxing day watching the wildlife and harvesting in the garden.

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -

Saturday, August 5, 2017

My Harvest Life - Episode 7: Overgrown and Flowering

Year 1 - Summer Day 45

I'm going to have a LOT of cucumbers.  The plants have grown incredibly over the past few weeks and are sprawling over everything nearby.  I never expected they would grow so big!  Hundreds of pretty yellow flowers are tucked away in the jungle of foliage as bumble bees dart from flower to flower, straddling the petals with their splayed out black legs munching on the nectar inside.  If I knew from the beginning how large my cucumber plants were going to grow, I would have built a much better structure for them to grow up on and would have given them much more room.  As it stands now the plants can barely fit in the raised garden and have sprawled out into the yard!

Above is just one small view of the myriad of flowers that will all turn into delicious fruits (of the vegetable-y kind).  I'm going to have to give away a lot of these cucumbers, but it's very exciting to see them thrive and grow large.  In addition to the cucumber plants, the bean plants have also begun flowering and growing beans.  They're small so far, but there are lots of little white flowers dotting my bush beans.

And the tomato plants?  Well I put them on those twisted poles and they've already topped them!  Soon my tomato plants will be as tall as I am!  I'm very excited for the multitude of tomatoes, beans and cucumbers that I will have, even if my other plants aren't doing quite as well.

All in all, it's very exciting to see the garden come alive with bees and flowers and everything growing so big!  I thought I was spreading plants out too much when I originally started the garden, but it turns out I didn't give them enough room!  Next year I will definitely plan a little more space for my plants (especially the cucumbers).  I've also harvested some of the basil as well and it smells amazing!  I haven't used it yet, but I'm looking forward to drying it or crushing it in a beverage as it has a wonderfully fragrant smell and I'm sure it's delicious.

I've learned a lot so far and it's fun being a newb farmer!  As my skills level up I'll be able to keep my entire garden flourishing and produce even more vegetables than I have currently growing and that's really exciting!  Soon I should have a cucumber and tomato harvest to share so stay tuned!

Monday, July 24, 2017

My Harvest Life - Episode 6: Lush Rebounding Growth

Year 1 - Summer Day 33

It turns out that I did not in fact, murder my cucumber plants, as they are bigger and lusher than ever!  It was a delightful rainy day out and the plants are just cheery about all the wetness.  Thankfully the railing is containing them a bit and they are not sprawling across the entire garden anymore, but only barely.  Even with the wire frame I looped them through they are still crawling over the side of the raised garden and into my yard.

The tomato plants are also getting very tall and some of them are nearing the top of the twisty poles.  Flower have also started dotting the bean bushes and the potato stalks are springing up.  Looks like everything but the garlic and onions are growing very well and I'm looking forward to the buckets of veggies I'll get to pick soon.

Cucumber Plants

Tomatoes, Carrots and Basil

Bean Bushes, Spinach and Potatoes

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -

Sunday, July 16, 2017

My Harvest Life - Episode 5: First Harvest!

Year 1 - Summer Day 25

The first fruits of the garden are picked!  Well the first-leaves of the garden at least.  The spinach plants were doing well and were large enough to pick some delicious spinach leaves!  This breed is called Noble Giant and their leaves get quite large!  I'm not sure how big they would get but I picked a few of the lower, larger leaves to make a salad for lunch!  And boy was it good!

I used some leftover salmon and whipped together a dijon vinaigrette (which I put way too much on, it was very strong flavored) and added some tomatoes and romaine from the store.  It was fun to eat the first leaves from my garden and I'm excited to harvest more as we get later into the summer.

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -

Saturday, July 15, 2017

My Harvest Life - Episode 4: Angry Plants

Year 1 - Summer Day 24

I think I pissed off my cucumber plants.  They were getting massive and needed to be reigned in and grow upward instead of sprawling across all my other plants so I bought a plant rack to have them grow on, but I think all of the jostling really ticked them off.  Hopefully they rebound, I killed a few of their giant leaves in the process.  

Lesson learned:  First, next time I am going to build something like this earlier, I didn't realize just HOW much they would sprawl, and second, I'm going to build my own wooden rack next time.  The little metal one I bought barely stays together and might not even hold up the plant stems.

My tomato plants are doing well though, as are my Bean plants.  And finally I have some Potato sprouts!  I wasn't sure if the potatoes would grow because I had used store bought potatoes, but I finally see sprouts along the edge! Also my spinach plants are getting to where I could actually eat the leaves!  They're getting very large so I may make a salad soon with them.

As you can see above, I also got these little twisty things for the tomato plants to grow on, you have to train them up it as they grow, but unlike the cucumber plants, I've been working on the tomato plants from a much earlier stage.

The Bean plants are also doing well.  They're still trucking along, and they're bush beans so I don't need poles to train them up.  All in all, the garden is coming along nicely.  I put down a bag of cow manure we bought from a local garden shop and it seems to have spurred on some of the plant growth.

The onions and garlic don't seem to be doing amazing, but that might be due to pests.  I did see some digging marks near my garlic plants.  I might try putting down some cayenne near them to keep pests away.  Still learning a ton, I have a feeling year 2 will go much better than this year.

- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -