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Our Senior Garden - July 1, 2015

One of the joys of getting a bit older is having the time to putter around in the garden. Below is my garden blog. This site also contains sections of recipes and features about specific, and often obscure, gardening lore.

Thursday, July 2, 2015 - A Twinge of Conscience

Like lots of folks, we'll have family in over the Fourth of July weekend. As I drove home from the grocery this afternoon after buying supplies for our cookout, I heard on NPR News that the UN's World Food Programme was having to cut back their support for displaced Syrians due to insufficient donations to sustain their current level of support. As I looked at all the groceries I'd laid in and the many goodies for the five of our nine grandchildren who will be with us Saturday, I could only resolve to send a donation today to help save children in need.

There's so much need in the world, and it's tough to discern charities that actually get support to those in need. Our major charity remains the ministry of my niece and nephew, Elisabeth and Wayne Bloomquist, for their ministry in Cambodia. But there are so many other places of incredible need.

I look at Jesus' words and feel terribly inadequate:

"If you want to complete the set," Jesus replied, "Go and sell everything you own and give it to the poor. That way you'll have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me."

Matthew 19:21 (The Kingdom New Testament)

I suspect that many of my readers wrestle with similar issues.

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Back to Gardening

Carrots and garlicBig garlicOur rainy weather continues, with another 0.65 inches of precipitation overnight. With more rain on the way later today, I got out early to empty the rain gauge and do some test digs of carrots and garlic. The carrots were all over the place in size and maturity, but the garlic is pretty much ready to dig. I was pleased to see that the new elephant garlic grown from cloves from the Territorial Seed Company had produced the biggest elephant garlic bulbs we've ever grown!

I set aside gardening yesterday, as we took delivery of a new refrigerator. Moving the frozen food to our big freezer in the garage and putting all the other stuff in coolers...and then returning it all and cleaning up the resultant mess in the kitchen pretty well filled my day. Our old fridge had a couple of parts that failed, resulting in a veritable cold swamp in the refrigerator section each time the freezer tried to defrost. Costing out the repair parts plus a service call, I opted for a new fridge, although quite a bit smaller than our old one.

As I cleared out the vegetable trays yesterday, I was again reminded that we grew way too many carrots last year. We still had over ten pounds of carrots stored in green bags. Surprisingly, they were still in pretty good shape, although pretty hairy.

If I get enough carrots when I dig our spring planting this month, I may forgo planting fall carrots this year. I seeded our fall carrots rather late last year (August 1), but we had a late fall and I was able to dig a bumper crop of them on October 25.

If you're wondering, we have a feature story about How We Grow Our Carrots.

Burpee Gardening


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Crockett's Victory GardenThe late James Underwood Crockett made an important point in his July entry in Crockett's Victory Garden (pg 126):

By the time July arrives in the Victory Garden, the soil has been hard at work for four months and it may begin to show some signs of wear. So before I put in any additional crops to fill the vacancies left by harvests, I add nutrients and, if a soil test indicates the need, ground limestone. This is the only way to keep the soil in condition for the intensive production I ask of the Victory Garden.

We'll be harvesting onions, carrots, and garlic this month. In addition, we'll be pulling down our short pea vines after they've dried pods and seed for seed saving. And we'll be clearing our failed planting of sweet corn. All of the ground opened up will need to be fed before we plant or transplant any succession crops, especially in the sweet corn area.

Full load of compostIf you're an organic gardener, adding well rotted manure or compost can add nutrients to the soil, often while improving soil structure. One does need to be careful of the source of the manure or compost, avoiding potential killer compost that contains still active herbicide residue.

Blood and/or bone meal can give ones soil a boost, as can many of the commercial organic fertilizers available. I've found that a bit of soluble seaweed, added either as a liquid or as a powder, can help restore necessary trace elements.

A good article in Mother Earth News by Cheryl Long and Barbara Pleasant, Build Better Garden Soil With Free Organic Fertilizers, gives some excellent suggestions and advice about organic fertilizers.

Buckwheat 17 days after seedingIf a plot will lie fallow for five or six weeks, buckwheat can produce a quick cover/smother crop that will improve almost any soil. We've used buckwheat after sweet corn to help improve soil nutrition and structure in our East Garden plot.

Sadly, all of our finished compost is destined for one of our asparagus patches, and our most recent outside source has dried up. So we'll be adding commercial fertilizer to each harvested area before replanting. Since all of our main garden plots have been heavily mulched with grass clippings this year, they've already received a small organic boost in fertility as the grass clippings decomposed. For now, that will have to do.

From now through July 7 (10 A.M. MST), Hostmonster is offering some very attractive rates for web hosting (12 months - $5.95/month, 24 months - $4.95/month, 36 month - $3.95/month).

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