Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's that?

After more rain (lovely thunderstorm late evening yesterday...) those pesky weeds have cropped up again! OK, someone somewhere must love them, but -

More veggies have made their appearance finally! Spring onions,

and this one (see picture) which is a little quiz for rest of you to answer - so what is it?

And here's a fingerling potato leaf bud, up close (in macro).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

a rain barrel

Yes, the real thing (not to slight Oma's container that was pressed into service) - picked one up dirt cheap from the city works centre - had to queue for about an hour since all the early birds (folks) didn't want to miss out on one. Mind you, show up 1.5 hours later and you didn't have to wait...

dropped it off at the patch (ok, in the chicrabbit pen for security, as rain barrels do cost a lot) this afternoon. Will finish assembly tomorrow or monday - no rush since it will likely rain again tuesday :)

Whacked all the weeds I could find in the beds so that will be good for next few days. Noticed some of the fingerling potato shoots have leaf buds! wowee! The cornlings are very noticeable as they are in 2 very visible rows; and more beans and snap peas sprang up. Don't think anything else has surfaced yet.

Also placed more tags (especially for the lettuce as there are so many kinds). Will need to get more tags made.

It started to rain again while PC, ToniB and I were discussing location of the rain barrel - PC was very helpful and instructed ToniB on where to place it as well as height of the "base" - they took off to the patch in the rain so PC could show ToniB what needed to be done while I sat in the car - and it really started to pour. One can hope ToniB will also fill the barrel up? First I have to finish assembly of it - as in tighten the spigot assembly (otherwise it may leak) and tighten down the screws on the lid - yep, first thing tomorrow, before ToniB gets going.

Friday, May 29, 2009

After days of rain...

The ground is soggy - my boots were thickly caked with mud - one of the joys of farming! Lots of green shoots in the beds, especially the unplanted beds (yep, weeds). The tomatoes are doing well even the leggy ones (Rooibos has company as Mr. M farmer's are in similar condition).

Being a bit impatient for the lettuce to come up (the seeded ones), decided to plant some [gasp] commercially grown ones. Red lettuce, endive, red romaine... oh, and some more peppers - long cuban reds, hot bananas, sweet ones. Even got a 4-pack of white eggplant :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

After the rain...

Lots of little green shoots coming up after wednesday's all day rain (on and off) - some are likely the veggies, mixed in among the weeds! There'll be lots of weeding to do when the rain stops.
Here's a look at the yard long beans sprouting.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's a weed - no, it's...

Watered the patch this morning (emptied the water container and wired it to the fence as it was so so windy...) and did some weeding - took a closer look and realized that they were not all weeds pushing through the soil! There was the corn (among the chopped weeds)...

and the sweet peas!

Hip hip hurrah! with the coming rain for wed and thurs, the rest of the seeds should really sprout! Of course, the transplanted spinach and tomatoes (most) are doing really well; the peppers and lettuce are so-so as with the potatoes...

Monday, May 25, 2009

New water cooler

Oma's second container made it to the middle of the patch yesterday - the transplants must have sighed in relief! They received their water rations again. Wednesday (when it calls for rain) is a long way away...

More weeds got chopped up this morning but there's a nice crop of clover starting up. Let's make sure they are before we start pulling them up - could be veggie seedlings instead!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another update on patch plan

To reiterate, the best laid plans of mice and ... More modifications to the plan.


Most of the beds got tagged this morning - here's what the patch looked like - an experimental agri station (got to avoid that "p-l-o-t" word...we've all been very good in avoidance).

Ran out of tags for the lettuces and some other ones - guess we can recall the factory worker of 1 to make some more as we do have surplus wire hangers.

Seeded some more lettuce, radish and beets, and more celeriac -realized we have a humongous bed - have left about half of that for Elzy's celeriac starts...

The plan will need to be updated again.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Oh no, a leak!

Elzy was right! The water container has a slow leak - yesterday when she pointed it out we said "nah", it was likely condensation...

They discovered the leak on a water barrel run this afternoon, so she and Mr. Z ended up giving the plants a good dousing (oh, and the seed beds too) as there was no point trucking (oops, it is a van - vanning) a less than empty barrel home... The leaky bucket (aka container) is toast as a water receptacle - it's going back back to garbage duty while Elzy calls up the back up - Oma's other container.

Not just any potatoes

This morning the "French Fingerling" potato chips (they were sectioned off into single-eye bits 2 days ago and left to dry out a bit) went into the patch. We planted them all (about 70 bits) into a full size bed that didn't get used for the tomatoes. And that finished off the water in the container...(used a wire hanger to secure it to the nearby fence so it wouldn't go barreling across the fields when the wind gets up).

The temperature was cool this morning, and overcast - perfect planting weather. The tomatoes and peppers weathered the heat of yesterday very well. Even the frissee lettuce and spinach have developed more leaves.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

water brigade to the rescue

For the second day in a row, temperatures reached 28+ C - the top soil was parched with fissures opening up in the patch. Dry, dry. The transplanted veggies were in pretty good shape but we watered them all this evening to keep them going! The water container is almost empty - this calls for another barrel run (how about another few days of rain...).

Elzy observed the tomatoes seemed taller...

Tomorrow should be cooler - around 17C; the fingerling potatoes will go in bright and early.

More tomatoes

Well, only 2 more tomato plants, and 5 more hot peppers were planted this morning. The soil was still wet around the plants that were watered last night as of 7:30 this morning. No droopy heads like Mr. R farmer's roma tomatoe-lings..

The basil and Tom Thumb lettuce beds were seeded as well this morning.

We also tagged the beds that have green (not counting weeds) - no, not the seed beds (what if the seeds don't sprout? how embarrassing!) - will wait until we actually get green shoots before tagging.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brilliant! (to Mr. Z's credit)

It was so hot today the heat (28+ Celcius) created cracks in the patch's pathways... the frissee lettuce looked like they were going the way of dehydrated salads - we had used up one of those large water jugs (the type at the water cooler stands you know) when we planted the tomatoes and peppers this afternoon and we were faced with a constant parade of those water jugs to the patch, plus perhaps raiding some one's water cooler stands - now that would not be good for office morale!

Mr. Z came up with the idea of letting gravity do the work - so this evening the water brigade came to the rescue of the transplants at the patch. Mr. Z ran a hose from a loaded 200+ litres water barrel (which sat strapped upright at the back of the van) down to a redundant plastic garbage container (courtesy of Oma - Elzy wanted to wash it out but was vetoed) set up in the patch (good thing the patch is lower than the driveway) and lo and behold, gravity caused the water to flow from barrel to container.

It took about 40 minutes to almost fill that up; in the meantime, the water crew went to work watering the plants. Then Mr. Z drained the barrel dry by watering directly from the hose.

We have made sure Oma can rest content her labours have not gone to waste. By this time (nightfall), the mosquitoes were having a feast (our legs & arms).

But, we do have enough water in the container for next few days... next time the water brigade comes out, it will be way earlier to deprive those pesky "zanzare" of their feast.

pictures of transplants

Here's those leggy tomatoes in the foreground, and the "normal" height ones behind them.

The hot peppers that were transplanted today - a little leggy but not overly...

Planting tomatoes...finally

It's going to be HOT over the next 2 days - today, high 28, tomorrow 30 - wow! It was time to get those tomatoes in the ground - Elzy, Oma and I got together at the patch with our plants - Mr. Z was kind enough to chauffeur Elzy's starts to there...

We planted 2.5 beds with tomatoes in about 2 hours - oh, that included those 7 hot peppers from Rooibos. Not to worry, we have another free bed for more peppers since the tomatoes did not take up that much space (got more plants than expected in each bed - in fact, Mrs. R farmer mom came over to see what we were doing and thought 12" spacing too close for them tomatoes - oh well. Also curious as to what the other beds were for - Elzy kind of side-stepped that, in case the seeds don't happen? :) )

Our plantings were not as neat or uniform as Mr. R farmer's but then he has one of those planting machines where 4 guys sat behind the tractor and dropped the plantlings into funnels that plopped each plant into the trench...they were doing gazillion tomatoes (Roma type) -

Will take pictures later today of our plantings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More seeding

Was at the patch bright and early this morning! Yesterday evening, we (Kat, Roiboos, and I) passed by to check on the transplanted Spinach and Lettuce - here they are, still doing ok...

This morning, decided to dig up the weeds and then proceeded to seed the dwarf sunflowers, fennel, squash, zucchini and melon. Oh, and the watermelon radish. It's going to be very warm this week but weather forecast calling for rain next week (timely).

We should be putting the potatoes, tomatoes into the ground in next day or 2....

Monday, May 18, 2009

frost watch

Checked the transplanted spinach and lettuce patch this morning after last night's ground frost - they looked fine, especially the spinach. The lettuce did look a little cold...

The seedings are still under their blanket of soil (smart) while the weeds are coming along nicely!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A weed by any other name...

Those green thingummies pushing up through the soil...

Here are the transplanted spinach - they look to be doing quite well!

But the same can't be said for the lettuce?

And these - wait, aren't they weeds, nice and healthy - we can always pretend they are a vegetable!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

tag, tag

Have made about 20 tags so far from those handy wire hangers - have to raid the basement for more hangers. Am conducting a little experiment on the type of tape and marker to use for the labels part - stuck a prototype on a bed yesterday - let's see how it fares with the sun & rain! materials are: duct tape, clear packing tape to seal in paper and Sharpie vs Bic markers.

Will leave the test tag in the bed for another day or two for weathering :)

Ok, these tags are about 6x2 inches 'cos we don't want to have to go up that close to see what veggies are where! mind you, the tags are about 14 inches length (including stake part) so will be close to the ground (about 8-10 in) - hmm...guess we'll be tilting the label part.


Went by the patch this morning (the rain was coming down gently - perfect!). Ah, the smell of freshly turned soil...

There were little green pushing up through the soil in the beds - not referring to the transplants of yesterday - yes, the weeds are coming up faster than the seeds!

We may have our first weeding party this weekend -

This coming Sunday looks like cool, around 10 which likely means frost overnight. But, it can change... Maybe we can seed the rest of the veggies on Monday? - zucchini, squash?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

staking out the beds - photos

Here are some pics (courtesy of Kat) of the group measuring and staking the beds on Sunday May 11/09 with those handy wire hangers and some hemp string. Oh yes, also working the soil a bit... our Lilith Patch on the farm!


Here we go again - just can't stop 'seeding' (I have an image of Johnny Appleseed aka me walking up and down the paths sowing the beds...nothing like that of course) - decided to get the beans, cucumbers started so spent about 1.5 hrs this morning sewing (oops, sowing) them. And the corn too on the north side for windbreak. It had better rain overnight into thursday.

Then went back to the patch again about 2 pm (after the 'doggies' emergency - they got out of the backyard because gramps left the side gate open...) to transplant the Spinach and "frisee" lettuce into the beds. Elzy had decided that we should experiment - if they make it past this sunday's potential frost for surburbia... It went pretty fast and we were done in about 30 minutes!

Then we watered them - am counting on that rain happening! My voicebox got quite a workout yelling at those truck drivers to slow down - it was quite windy and so dust was blowing from that long dirt fact, there was a fine dusting of dirt on our vehicles. Went home and showered (after mowing the "chicabbit" yard...with help from Elzy in starting the mower - the height thing, plus and my bum shoulder).

So that's it on planting until friday. In the meantime, I have started on the tags - will do a "show and tell" when they are done :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


So being eager to get going (fabulous weather for most of the week, with rain forecast for thurs - excellent!), I returned to the patch monday morning (yes, next day May 11) and finished outlining the 2 beds left, then seeded the sunflowers - Ring of Fire and Velvet Queen (a dark red) for windbreak on the west side.

Then, back to the computer to revise the plan (which had expanded to a 36x68 ft area on account of those tomatoes and oh yes, hot peppers). Basically worked on it ALL day (and into wee hours of night) trying to take into consideration things like multiple seeding, height, etc.

Tuesday morning, woke up cranky from lack of sleep - back to the patch for about 2.5 hours in afternoon in a rush to get those seeds that can go into the beds when the soil is workable (aha, no need to worry about frost) - our party of 3 got together and raked the beds, divided them up, and then got going. Yep, got all those plants seeded (there were like 49 plant types for the whole patch; we likely got 2/3 in).

we have lettuce galore (no, not a varietal but many varietals!)... someone likes their greens.

Hmm...we decided we would seed in their final spots instead of following the package info (less work we think as will not be doing mega thinning - we hope).

Alright, I don't think we want to risk starting the rest of the seeds (that are not frost resistant) until the last week of May (note to self to check long range forecast for next 10 days). Our precious tomato and pepper seedlings will wait until June - or not - that's up for debate among the group.

Rain, rain - tonight we hope - but thursday for sure (fingers crossed)... now if it can be arranged for it to rain every 3rd night - a gentle, long period.

Ok, next on the list - tags for the beds - but that's another day. That's it for today.

patch preparation

Wait! it was suppose to be a small one like those you find in the typical backyard... then dimensions of 30 ft x 25 ft was suggested. But a quick tally of those seed packages came up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 ft x 40 ft.

So I staked out an area of 25 ft x 60 ft (give or take a couple), collected those seed packages, and started to laboriously mark out the beds, spending 3 days figuring out what went where and when to sow/plant. Good thing I have Illustrator (as you'll see by the diagram) to lay it out and used Excel for number crunching.

Sunday May 10/09: It was off to the patch to actually set out the beds for real - yes, by the time we were done, the patch was 36ft x 68ft... It was those tomatoes that had been started indoors, about 100 of them of quite a few varietals!

We ran out of wire clothes hanger stakes (used with hemp string to outline the beds) so that was it for the day as by that time (about 2 hours later) we were feeling nippish. Hot chocolate, latte machiata and coffee with yummy pastries at the bakery cafe down the street went down very well; picked up a cream caramel cake for desert for Mother's day dinner too. Called it a day.

Here's the diagram of the patch as of May 12 (subject to changes of course).