Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Harvest Life - Episode 11: Cucumber Encumbered

Year 1 - Summer Day 66

I have too many cucumbers!  It doesn't come much as a surprise but the plants continue to produce bunches of interesting bright yellow lemon cucumbers.  Twice I have brought a batch of twelve or so to work and they were nabbed up immediately.  So far my coworkers have been intrigued and delighted by the interesting, non-traditional fruit.  Just this morning, I ended up picking nine more cucumbers, and I wasn't even going out to find any!  But not all is perfect in Cucumber land, my plants are suffering a bit.

The cucumber plants are plagued with a bad case of Powdery Mildew, which is slowing down photosynthesis and killing off the leaves.  There are things I can do to help prevent it, such as next year I will build a bigger trellis for the plants to grow up on, giving them space to breathe and air out, as well as use a drip irrigation system so that I do not get the leaves wet as often.  With how I was watering the plants, the leaves would often get wet and most likely contributed to a good environment for the mildew to spread.  I have mixed up a treatment though, water with a bit of dish soap, vegetable oil and baking soda is said to help prevent the spread of the mildew so I've sprayed a bunch of that on my plants and we'll see if it helps.

Powdery Mildew

The bean plants however continue to produce plenty of beans and the tomato plants are getting very close!  Lots of little tomatoes are popping up all over the massive behemoths that are my tomato plants.  The ones that rooted certainly thrived this season.  I did not trim them back at all but perhaps next year I can trim them down a bit to stop them from getting so massive and perhaps spur a bit more fruit production.

Also the basement herb garden has had a bunch of the herbs sprout so it will be nice to see those thrive.  They're doing even better with the timed grow light than the outdoor herbs.  The light turns on at 6am and off at 9pm and gives them a nice long growing day in the basement.  Having a timed outlet is extremely nice because the herbs do not require a ton of water at this point since the basement is fairly moist, so it's very easy to take care of them.

Vegetable and Fruit production is in full swing!  I've gotten my first decently sized carrot and have had many delightful salads and dishes prepared with the beans and cucumbers we've harvested so far.  
- Level 1 Gardener: Jace -

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 -
Next Episode 11 - Cucumber Encumbered

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!