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Amparo Bertram

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06:27 am: Producing produce
I was lucky to have wonderful weather this weekend. I got all my summer transplants started and planted an entire raised bed of potatoes. This year I'm covering the bed with chicken wire in the hope that will prevent wildlife from digging up the tubers as happened last year. I potted ten of my oca tubers for planting out in late spring. They can easily be planted out in the ground directly, but like the potatoes, animals tend to dig them up. I divided my yacon crown into different sized pieces and potted those as well. I wasn't sure what size would be optimal, so I made 5 large pots and 16 smaller pots. If they all survive, not only will I have plenty for my garden, I will have surplus to hand out to any neighbors who might want to try growing it. After that, I replanted any of my spring vegetables that either didn't sprout or were eaten by slugs.

One of the things I did this week was buy a Japanese grass sickle. Up until now, I had been using grass shears to trim the tall weeds. The sickle is VASTLY easier and faster. The shears would make my hand tired and give me blisters after a few minutes of use, but the sickle just whips through all the weeds with hardly any effort at all. I wish I had bought one a year ago. (It is razor sharp, though, which I found out by accidentally nicking one of my knuckles with it.) I may actually be able to keep the grassy weeds trimmed this year.

Elsewhere in town, even just a few blocks away, the cherry trees are already in full bloom. Mine are just starting to show a little bud color. I suspect the delay is due to all the shade in my backyard from the house and the fence. It is fun watching all the fruit trees start to wake up, though.

I harvested a handful of blueberries this week. The bushes are loaded with fruits and flowers, so I should get a significant harvest over the next few weeks, particularly if the weather stays sunny.

I'm going a little crazy ordering different kinds of beans to try growing this summer. I won't have enough room in the raised beds; I'll have to plant them in various spots all over the yard. I think I must have at least two dozen varieties by now. I'm really looking forward to seeing which ones do best here.

I read a lot of gardening books, and this past week I've been reading a couple by the author Carol Deppe. She writes about how to breed and select vegetable crops to develop varieties or strains adapted for your own growing conditions. I have a degree in plant breeding, so a lot of it was information that I already knew, but there was still a lot that I would consider inspiring about the ideas she discusses. I had been hoping to breed potatoes (my crop from grad school), but after growing them for two years, I have yet to get them to flower. No flowers, no cross-pollination. Perhaps a different crop would be a better option. This year I'm hoping to do a small experimental project (in pots, rather than in the garden) crossing some of the top tomato varieties from last year's trial. We'll see how that goes.


Date:March 2nd, 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
The only wildlife I get is squirrels, so I can't even plant flowers any more; I shudder to think what they'd do to veggies. They dig up the pots to stow their peanuts, mostly, and don't really care what else they dig up in the process. If you have any ideas on how to keep squirrels away, I'd love to hear them. (I've tried chili powder-- which works when planting bulbs-- and pinwheels that make noise and move. No dice.)
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Date:March 2nd, 2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
They dig up the pots to stow their peanuts, mostly, and don't really care what else they dig up in the process.

They've done that to some of my potted flowers. They also eat the carnations. ~_~

If you have any ideas on how to keep squirrels away, I'd love to hear them.

Right now, I'm putting chicken wire flat on the ground over the top of anything that I plant. They can scratch around the edges, but they can't get under it. If it's something with skinny stems, like beans, I just leave the chicken wire there and let the plants grow through it. Otherwise, I pick it up after the plants get a couple inches tall.

For plants that I want to protect until they get larger, or for things that are vulnerable to bigger animals (like cats or skunks), I use hardware cloth and either fold it into a cage or roll it into a cylinder around the plant. It's a lot more expensive than chicken wire, but so far it holds its shape well, and I've been able to use it for multiple years.
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Date:March 3rd, 2013 11:03 am (UTC)
That is a kick-ass (and somewhat morbid looking) sickle.

Good to know how much better it does actually work.
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Date:March 3rd, 2013 02:24 pm (UTC)
That is a kick-ass (and somewhat morbid looking) sickle.

I was a little worried as I carried it home from the store that someone might report me for wielding a weapon...but on the other hand, I didn't worry about being robbed.
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