Saturday, July 18, 2009

Garden Harvest

I haven't blogged in a week! Eeek! Sorry readers, it's been a busy time. I'll try to make up for it today with lots of pictures and garden news.

Today we did a lot of work in the garden. It has been decidedly cooler for the past few days, and this morning presented the perfect opportunity to battle our way through the jungle of weeds in our vegetable garden to see what we could find. I'm afraid it's rather gotten away from us this year and the weeds have been overwhelming. I think next year I may try more drastic measures, like landscape cloth. Mulch and occasional hoeing does not work. I avoid herbicides, so physical barriers are more attractive to me.

In spite of the weeds that want world domination, we managed to harvest our garlic. This year we grew 6 varieties: Chrysalis Purple, German Extra Hardy, Siberian, Shvelisi, Broadleaf Czech and Georgian Crystal. All of these came from the Seed Savers Exchange and grew very well. They still have those varieties for ordering for this fall, so why not give one a try?! We'll let the garlic dry for a few days and then I'll braid some of it.

This is the broadleaf Czech - it is large and has purple hints to it.
Here is the German Extra Hardy garlic. Smaller bulbs but very white!The chrysalis purple variety was not very interested in staying attached to its plant when dug, so those won't be braided. It's such a rich colour though.
I noticed that our acorn squash are progressing very well and have gained weight in the past couple of weeks!
In addition, I've got some butternut squash progressing nicely, although they are still quite small.
We also managed to hack our way through the 4 foot tall redroot pigweed and velvetleaf patches to get to our rows of potatoes. We had planted 8 varieties this year, also from the Seed Savers Exchange. Today, we dug some Yellow Finn, All Blue and Red Gold. Here is today's harvest. The Red Gold were particularly productive. We only dug half rows of the Finn and blue potatoes and will pick more later. Tonight is definitely a night for fresh new potatoes on the dinner plate!
I spent some time wandering around the flower beds and looking at the progress of things. The echinacea has done exceedingly well this year. I noticed that the bees were very busy with it today.
I do love to watch the bees. If you "biggify" the picture below, you can see the bee's proboscis coming out of its mouth to take the nectar. They are so important in our garden as pollinators for our fruits and vegetables, as well as our flowers. I try to give them lots of preferred plants to encourage them to enjoy our garden and help our crops in the process.
The daylilies are still blooming. Here's a pale peach one that caught my eye today.
One of my favorite named daylilies that I have is this one - Bela Lugosi. I'd love to spin some yarn in these colours.
I took a look at the apple tree - here you can see the ducks hopefully watching for apples to fall into their path. I think they've got a while to wait.
The Stanley plum is also showing colour on its fruits now. That plum was planted last year, so this is the first year to fruit. It has about 8 plums on it, which isn't much, but it's nonetheless exciting for me!
One of my favorite clematis vines is "Avant-garde" and it is a later flowering one, so right now it is just covered in blooms. The blooms are smaller than many varieties but so pretty and there are so many of them. I need a bigger trellis for this one!
Finally, I have also been busy with spinning this week as usual. I spun a wool-soy silk-sparkle blend in rich gold, navy and turquoise tones.
I learned to Navajo ply last night at my spinning guild meeting last night. That is a plying method that allows one to keep sections of colour together in the final plied yarn. I was a bit slow at learning this technique, but it came out quite well in the end. I had deliberately spun this into a thick-and-thin style yarn to try for interesting texture in the final product.
I'm really quite pleased with how it worked out, although it's only about 80 yards, so I'm not sure how I'll use it. Maybe for trim on something in a solid colour. Or maybe I'll save it and sell it in the Etsy shop that I eventually plan to open. In any case, it's finished, and so is this blog post!


Lola Nova said...

What a wonderful harvest! Do you plant your potatoes in mounds at all? The yarn is so lovely, I really like the color combinations. I would love to see some yarn in the colors of that Lilly, so rich.
Today we found ourselves with 2 flats of Marionberries and made some gorgeous jam (32 jars), with weather in the mid-90s it was seriously hot work, but totally worth it.

Flartus said...

I can see why you haven't blogged in a little while! You are forgiven...I think all of us gardening types should establish an unspoken agreement to cut back to one post a week during the summer. I was going to post some garden pics tonight, but left the camera in Miss Chef's car.

I am very gratified to see the weeds in your garden, too. Although I think I would rather have a few more weeds, and less of a fire ant problem in my own.

I wore my Iowa farmers' market shirt today to the Matthews market. Full circle!

Jenny Holden said...

Good work! We really miss our veg patch this year, hopefully we'll have a new spot by autumn to get set for next season. Your garden flowers look fabulous too :oD

BlueGate said...

It all looks great, Claire! And congrats on conquering the Navajo plying, its a bit of a challenge to learn, but a real boon of a skill to have in hand.

Christine P said...

Hi Claire,
I enjoy reading your blog and thought that I would share something that I use in my Iowa garden. I save my newspapers all year long, especially during the winter time (they are collected in big plastic tubs). When gardening time comes around and the plants/seeds are in the newspaper is laid down in the walking paths and covered with straw from the animal stalls. It really does wonders and I have started new raised beds using the newspaper layering technique. I do have to replace it every year since it breaks down, but it takes much less time for me to lay down the papers and straw then it does to weed. :)
Have a good day

Mom L said...

Good morning, Claire! My computer goes on the truck tomorrow, so I have an extra day with it. I'm going to have a lot of posts to catch up on when I settle in Iowa. I'd love to see your garden, your critters, AND your yarn - you are doing a fantastic job. The close-ups are amazing, and I was in awe of the bee photo, especially after I enlarged it.

Nancy (soon to be in Iowa)

Christy said...

Your harvest and all your plants look lovely! My echinacea isn't doing well, I'm not sure why. The yarn you made is beautiful.

Holly said...

It is always fun to spin something new. The most unusual things I've tried is my cats fur(not hair, fur). She is a half Norwegian Forest cat. I also spun the downy winter under hair of an Angus steer, it is called poor mans wool and was used when the USA was just being settled and sheep were scarce. It isn't a project I'll repeat as the yarn looks kind of cool like a woolly caterpillar but is real poky. Bison hair is kind of fun to spin also. Don't you just love all the myriad of things to try with spinning?

Claire said...

Hi Lola. No mounds! I plant in trenches about 8 inches deep and lightly cover with soil. Then as they sprout, I keep covering with soil and leave just the top leaf or two showing. Slowly the trench fills and then it begins to mound. I have never heard of Marionberries...maybe you could blog about them and show a picture?

Flartus - I am so behind on garden tasks it is laughable. I seriously need to get it under control for next year. The weeds are ridiculous. Yay, I'm so glad you wore the shirt! I wear mine so often. What fun!

Jenny - hope your veg patch is not as weedy as mine!!

BlueGate - oh, the Navajo plying is going to take some more learning, but at least I have the concept down. Now to actually do it well...

Hi Christine! Thanks for your comment and "unlurking"! I don't think I've seen you comment before (unless I'm just very forgetful, which is entirely possible.) A great idea about the newspapers. I will think about asking my coworkers to collect them for me. I don't get the paper (I read my news online) but a lot of people do, so that would be great if I could get theirs and recycle them into my garden and prevent weeds at the same time!

Nancy - can't wait to have you and Di visit! Best of luck in the journey and enjoy the trip!

Christy - is your echinacea only in its first year? It will need a year or two to come on properly.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Your navajo ply looks very good. I learned to do boucle at the Midwest Fiber and Art Festival last weekend. What fun all this is, eh?

Earthenwitch said...

I can't wait to have a veggie plot again - your pictures make me very keen! And the echinacea looks just lovely - I love those downward-drooping petals, and the brightness of the flowers; it's no wonder the bees are fans. I also love that yarn - gorgeous colours. I for one would come and drool at your etsy shop... :)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

OH! So muc going on in the post. I don't know if I'll remember to comment on everything I wanted to. lol!

Your daylilies are all so pretty....and your clematis...WOW! I would love to grow all those beautiful flowers, but flowers have no faith in me. I need flowers that are tough and can fend for themselves most of the time.
My neighbor thinned out her daylily garden plot and gave me a huge plot. She promised me that they are easy to take care of and basically thrive on their own. Well, we shall see! lol!
I'm not even sure what is the best time for me to plant those bulbs. I'm embarassed to ask her. lol!

All those interesting garlic varieties. I can't wait until you try them and give your review on each variety. I'm curious as to their individual flavors.
Oh...and alook at all those taters! Yummo!
I could survive on just potatoes, with just a few condiments to go with.

Congrats on the plums. That's awesome that they produce fruit the very next season. What variety is it?
I know what you mean about being excited about your produce harvest. My peach and apple trees are just so heavy with ripening fruit. It's so exciting!!!

Got any great tips on using them now and processing some for later in the year?

Weeds...bah! I remember reading somewhere where a family used cardboard and newpaper to control the weeds in their garden. It's biodegradable and 'green'.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh! And why is that plying process called Navajo?

Your yarn is lovely...and I like the thick and thin.
I'm in the process of hand-carding all of my wool now.