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Archive for the ‘Victories!’ Category

Amazing!

Last night I got home late from work and went to do my usual scan through the garden walk.  I was shocked- shocked– to discover that five of my full-size tomato plants had ripe fruit on them!  First of all, pretty crazy that 5 plants (and 4 varieties!) all ripened on the same day, but y’all- it was on July 15th!  This is so early for us.

Most of the fruits were pretty small, and since we got something like 3.5 inches of rain the day before, all but one of them had split, but I’m still pretty psyched!

Here are the ones that ripened:

Black (Which had lovely striations on it and was quite large)

Black Sea Man

Arkansas Travelers (these were the ones I predicted would ripen first, as they set a really remarkable amount of fruit early on, but they have been very slow to redden.  The one I picked was very small- about the size of a ping pong ball.)

Azoychka (Which had two plants with fruits on them.  One was small but the other was the size of the palm of my hand and pristine- no cracks, no ugly bits!)

I guess something can really be said about the Russian varieties in our cool climate, eh?  I wish I could do a taste test for you!  Maybe I’ll get Chef Jeff to come over and taste them so I can do a writeup of the taste differences!

And my Sungolds are going to be gangbusters in another week or so.  Fruits are starting to ripen on multiple sprays off of the same plant now, and holy cats are they rambly.  I’ll have lots of those soon!

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Well, I actually forgot it was monday until I checked my feed reader and saw all of the Harvest Monday photos out there!  Whoopsie!

Not too much to report this week except for one big victory:  Dah da da dahhhh!

Yup.  I got maters!   These are, of course, Sungolds- the ever reliable.  But I picked the first handful of them on June 29th!!  Tomatoes!  In June!  Amazing…

Everyday I get a handful.  I have yet to summon up the courage to try one.  I have a feeling this year will not be the year of the tomato for me, but apparently it will be the year of the tomato for my garden, which is producing early.

No blushes of ripeness on any of the others yet, though about 70% of the Arkansas Travelers have turned a gorgeous, buttery yellow.  Soon!

There were some berries- mostly of the blue variety- but a terrifying incident with a snake (more on that later) has kept me out of the berry patch for several days now, so I have nothing more than a few handfuls to show of those.

But!  Tomatoes!  Victory!

Care to share what you’re harvesting?  Go visit Daphne!

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Wow guys- sorry about that !   I just vanished with no explanation- and I actually have a REALLY good one!  I was in Wales!

I went with my parents.  We were there for two weeks and it was incredible.  I’ll post a few picture from my trip that I took just for you guys, but first I wanted to drop in and just let you know I’m still around!  One of the best things about the trip was getting home and seeing this:

Oh yes, that is a freshly plowed (and tilled!) field, just itching to be chock full o’ plants.  And it is getting there!  I’ve busted my hump since Tuesday (my first day back) and almost everything is planted now!  Still got lots of work to do- but my garden is finally getting started.  WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

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Observe:

 Somewhere in there is an asparagus patch.  A good one too!  About 12 years old and much neglected for a few years, but still produces an impressive amount. 

Even through the thick weeds and tall grass, shoots were still springing up joyfully all down this row.  You can see one right there in that picture, at the very bottom on the left.   I knew that with a few hours of hard labor, there would be a good reward with these guys.  So, Saturday morning I lathered on the sunscreen, threw on my favorite hat, and spent a few hours in the garden for the first time this year.  It was a GLORIOUS day- very sunny but not too hot with a nice breeze, and it felt good to get my hands dirty. 

The soil here is magnificent- dark and loamy and FULL of earthworms.  You can tell it was well cared for.  Ann told me when they bought the place about 20 years ago, it was terrible.   You can see it is under the powerlines, and the power company had done everything they could to keep the land clear of growth.  She said it was basically gravel.  But her husband worked hard amending the soil.  They had animals- horses, sheep, and cows, so lots of manure was turned in every year.  It took a long time, but the quality of the soil now speaks to the ability for it to build back up eventually.  Nice to know you can turn anything into a productive plot with some good old fashioned horse poop. 

Ann and I spent a few hours out there.  There was, at one point, a row of strawberries along the asparagus, but it had been lost to the weeds.  Lucky for us we found a number of little plants that have been fighting the good fight, so we dug them up to transplant to a better location.  We left some in among the asparagus that looked well-established, so maybe I’ll get some bonus strawberries this year!  There were certainly some casualties:

but in the end we had a much prettier plot:

And much happier asparagus!

They were tough weeds, a strong enemy, but we won the battle.  The war marches ever on (does it truly ever end with gardeners?), and I sure hope I can keep on top of them this year (HA!).  The weeds did get one good dig in- in my eagerness to get out in the garden, I forgot to put sunscreen on that little stripe of skin between my shirt and my pants, so I came away with an impressive strip of sunburn- Doh!  Won’t make that mistake again…I hope…

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Victory!

Finally!  I have had a successful harvest in this difficult year.

On Monday, I left work a little early to head over to the farm and dig my potato plants.  They had been hit relatively hard by blight, so I was expecting a pretty sorry harvest, but I pulled up what was the most satisfiying, exciting haul I’ve ever had as a gardener. 

This was the first time that I’ve ever grown potatoes, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but when I stuck my fork into the ground and gave it a heave, I literally whooped with joy as several big, perfect fingerling potatoes came rolling out of the loose dirt.  When I scrabbled around a little bit more, I pulled out a good many more, several overflowing handfulls- and that from only one plant!  I was expecting to dig them all, but I ended up digging up less than half because I had so many that I couldn’t carry them all home!   If anyone was watching me, they probably would have though I lost my mind.  There I was on my hands and knees gleefully digging through the soil grinning like and idiot the whole time.  It was great!  (And thank goodness my garden is on an isolated hillside with no neighbors!)

I grew two varieties- Russian Bananna and French Fingerling.  The Russian Banannas were all very large potatoes (for fingerlings) and entirely mature.  I got between 5 and 6 per plant.  The French Fingerlings varied wildly by size.  Many of them were quite large, but there were still a lot of little baby potatoes on the plants as well.  I wonder if I had left the foliage up longer if they would have grown more?  Or is it just normal to have lots of little ones?

I don’t have  a scale, but I estimate that I probably dug between 15 and 17 Lbs. of potatoes out of the garden, and I’m hoping as many more are still waiting to be dug up.  I can’t believe how wonderful these were to grow.  And honestly, I planted them a little late and shallow and was pretty remiss about hilling.  I guess those first couple months of loads of water and cool weather was good for them?  Who knows…but I will always grow potatoes again.  What a satisfying harvest!

(Oh yes, and they are delicious!)

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I have a garden!

Hooray!  I confirmed this weekend that I will have a garden!  My CSA is letting me have a plot for myself, so I’m thrilled to be able to have something to post about again.

The location is at the top of a hill, so the drainage will be excellent.  I haven’t actually been out to dig around in the soil yet, so I’m not sure what the quality is, but last year it was an area used for peas and squash, so it can certainly support life.  The location is full sun, but I’m concerned about how early it will be up for planting.  There isn’t a windbreak or anything in the vicinity.  Has anyone ever grown on the top of a bare hill before?  Anythign you noticed about grown in a location like that?

 It’s supposed to rain today, but I’m going to go over soon and take some pictures so I can do all of my planning with you.

Yay! 

Now, if only I can find some potatos and onion seedlings!  They all seem to be sold out everwhere!

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This is very, very exciting!!

From the good people at Kitchen Gardeners International and Eat The View:

“Obamas to Plant White House Vegetable Garden”
On Friday, March 20th, 2009, 23 third graders will join First Lady Michelle Obama on the South Lawn of the White House to break ground on an 1100 square foot kitchen garden that will provide food for family dinners and formal dinners. 
 
According to the New York Times:

The Obamas’ garden will have 55 varieties of vegetables grown from organic seedlings started at the executive mansion’s greenhouses.
 
And better still:
 
Almost the entire Obama family, including the president, will pull weeds, “whether they like it or not,” Mrs. Obama said laughing.
 
Ok, you can stop pinching yourself: you aren’t dreaming this and an off batch of sauerkraut hasn’t caused a rare case of lacto-fermentation-hallucination.
 
THEY ARE REALLY GOING TO DIG THIS GARDEN!
 
AND WE HELPED MAKE THIS DAY POSSIBLE!
 
Those of you who have been part of the KGI community for a while know that this is a long-term project of ours, started in February 2008.  It was back in the middle of the presidential primary season when 99.9999% of the population was focused on who the next president was going to be.  We were the .0001% of the population that was thinking about what his or her family was going to eat and where it would be grown. 
 
It’s been quite a ride for KGI as an organization and for me personally since then.  For those of you who are new and weren’t with us for the trip, we had some fun along the way. We started following a hopeful little web project called OnDayOne.org in February 2008, read about ourselves in the New York Times in April, began putting our names on a White House Food Garden petition in June, hummed along to This Lawn is Your Lawn in July 2008, read about ourselves in the International Herald Tribune in July, placed bids on the White House Lawn which we had put up for sale on eBay in August, watched with wonder as two young guys inspired by our work set off in a funky bus to take the edible White House idea across the country and back, chuckled our way through September watching the Garden of Eatin’, read Michael Pollan’s “Farmer-in-Chief” article with great interest in October which also spoke of a new garden at the White House, voted “This Lawn is Your Lawn” onto national TV through the Climate Matters video contest in October, got swept up in the energy of the November elections, leafed our way through the Washington Post in January, pushed hard to get out the vote in the OnDayOne.org contest later that month (and won that too beating out 4000 other ideas), began inviting more people to sign our petition on our campaign site and on Facebook also in January, spoke with and e-mailed various members of Michelle Obama’s staff in February (me, in this case, but maybe you did too? They said they were hearing from a lot of people.), and here we are in March 2009 reading the headline above and vicariously walking our way through the delicious garden paths of the future South Lawn.

 
What more can I say besides thank you for all your support and patience with this project.  Many individuals made this great day possible: – Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, John Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Barack and Michelle Obama – but we can feel pride in being the community that pulled together and made a difference. 
 
So let’s celebrate that.  The seeding or the weeding can wait.  Tomorrow’s about savoring a moment that was a long time in the making.

_______________________________

By the way, I totally miss you guys!  I may have some gardening news soon!

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