Category Archives: In the greenhouse

Twenty-eight Packages of Tomato Seed

One 8 x 4 Tomato garden. august-6-6-copy

Maybe there is enough room on our little urban farm. We start the season intending to give plants away, but we always have too many. By the time we are ready to part with our Toy Box Tomatoes, our friends and fellow teachers have already bought plants from different places. We end up tucking them EVERYWHERE

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Soil Blocks and Tomato Seed  Twenty eight packets of different tomato seeds. Twenty-six of them are either OP (Open Pollinated) or heirloom. All of them are beloved.

It starts every year , right around the 2nd weekend in March. I used to start in December when the catalogs would come. I am easily seduced.

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Every year they do what they were created to do. I’m such a sap, each season I get VERY excited …from the moment their little green leaves arch up, to the time when they are big enough to up-pot, and up-pot again… until they start spending their days out on the deck. That is when the work begins. We have jumped out of bed, Wrapped up in an old robe and sloggers when we hear the rain on the window, remembering that we forgot to bring in the seedlings!

april-1-2016-5-tomato Early in the season Ray and I carry trays of seedlings, including at least two trays of tomatoes, out for natural sunlight. We do not use heat mats or artificial lights. We get our best results without them. Everett, Washington is not tomato country. The sooner they adjust to our chilly maritime climate, the better they produce.

 

may-24-2015-12-rudy-lettuce-tomato Planting day is a big deal. We used to be SFG’s (Square Foot Garden) but are transitioning to BTE (Back To Eden). The tomatoes go into a 4’x8′ foot SFG that is in transition to BTE. In early April I like to plant a salad grid. Different types of lettuce go in width-wise every twelve inches and radishes go in length wise to make a boundary. Tomatoes are planted in the squares that have been formed by the lettuce and radishes.

may-24-2015-3-tomatoes This structure (pictured to the left) used to be for pole beans. Ray had already put it in the ground one year when I needed to find more places to plant tomatoes. It is an eight foot 4″x4″ (sunk 2 feet into the ground). On the top it has a cross made of 2×4’s. The cross is attached to the top of the post and comes out like spokes. String or wire is attached to a tent stake, goes up and loops around the end of a 2×4, then comes back down to another tent stake. I can plant eight tomatoes or 16 -ish pole beans. It works great for both… though some modifications need to be made to the string for tomatoes.

tomato-pole-4 A better view of the tomato-bean pole a bit later in the season. This was the first year. Now I spend time tying loops every 18 or so inches in the string when I use the pole for tomatoes. Beans hang onto the string but tomatoes need to be tied on. Without the loops to run the tie tthrough, the weight of ripening tomatoes accordions the vine to the ground.

I am fairly sure that there are tomatoes growing under the cold frame in the lower right of this picture. I get a little excited by 28 packages of tomatoes. It’s like finding a box of color crayons I have not used in a while. I want to try them all… again.

may-24-2015-4-tomatoes Finding more places to put tomatoes. These potted tomatoes were all my determinant (Mostly Siletz) and cherry tomatoes. They actually did quite well. The Black Cherry on the end was not happy until it started weaving itself through the picket fence. The rest were happy with a tomato cage. We save the big pots from buying fruit trees. Ray remembers buying a few of them. We found out that you can get them for free from the recycle at LOWE’s. The lady at the check stand told us they go fast because the growers of medicinal herb use them for their closet growing operations.

may-31-tomatoes-2 We still needed more space… Ray had some extra fence posts and left-over lattice from another project. We would like the lattice to go all the way to the ground, but this was all we had at the time. The 2×4 at the bottom is where I tied string from the board to the lattice. A girl can only keep track of just so many tent stakes. Tomatoes were also tucked into a ceramic pot (yielded a whole batch of tomato sauce… they really like growing in ceramic!) and in a more decorative SFG in the front yard.

august-13-2014-6 The so called “climate change” warmed up Everett’s chilly summer. Our son Chris kept finding canning jars on sale (he works with nurses, they know lots of good information) to help put them all up.

In a normal Everett Summer, I have to grow tomatoes in the Green House if I want a vine Ripe tomato. We plant them in the green house with basil (another plant that is not a fan of Everett) and had ripe tomatoes to the end of October. (the sad looking header picture shows our tomatoes in October)

august-11-2015-1-tomato Cherry tomatoes only needed to be picked once a week. They were like candy on warm days. They come in every color, yellow, red, blue, orange, even white but they all taste like sweet tomatoes. Imagine that!

The full size tomatoes need to be picked every three or so days. For some reason they go from just a bit too green to over ripe in the blink of an eye. The local wild life keeps an eye on our full size tomatoes but ignore the tangled mess of cherry tomatoes.

Last season, for the first time ever, we could have fried green tomatoes every week in September and not make a dent in the tomato harvest. I can hardly wait to see what this season has in store for us.

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Filed under Back to Eden Garden, In the greenhouse, Square Foot Garden, Urban Farm

Good by Snow Moon

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Somehow we came to the end of February and the chores are all checked off of my list.

  • Soil Blocks made. I can see broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage sprouting
  • Winter Sowing didn’t get to those, but we did plant artichokes, and parsleys.
  • Fava Beans were the last to go in , but they are in!
  • Potatoes were beyond Chitted, we found our seed potatoes had sprouted.
  • Onions had a hair cut
  • Fruit trees pruned

Just made it! I had to put our yellow potatoes into dirt. There is a huge pot of yellow potatoes in the green house and a tub of potatoes growing just off of the deck. As I write this they are being snowed on. Last hurrah for the Snow Moon.

2february-23-2017-1 Late start on the greenhouse salad because of rat wars. YUCK They are not gone yet, but they seem to be out of the greenhouse. Thanks Ray! If I look closely I can see mixed Asian greens from Botanical Interests. Grab a pack if you ever come across them. They make a lovely spring mix. We like them while they are still tiny. I also see French Breakfast Radish from seed I saved a couple of seasons ago. Still waiting for winter Spinach and Scallions.

2february-23-2017-5 Artichokes and parsley are doing a nice job, Onions have had a hair cut, even the Tarragon has been divided and repotted. I was worried about my Tarragon. I’ve had this plant for as long as we have lived in Everett. If I had to buy a new start it would not be the end of the world. I guess it is a matter of pride that I’ve kept it alive and fresh all this time. Wa-hoo Creation!

2february-232017-3 Outside, under our kitty kover, the garlic and shallots are doing great! Every time I flip the lid off for the day the scent of the herbs inspires me to make soup. Yes, I see weeds, but they are not ALL weeds It looks like the chamomile is already coming back. I think it liked wintering under the kitty kover.

2february-232017-1It was late when I pressed the last Fava Bean into the chilly loam, but I promise the day was clear and bright when Ray and I went out to putz in the garden. Ray pruned our trees. There is a video but I have not tackled that yet. The new plum is covered with buds. On the espaliered apple tree I think he might have removed as much wood as he left. We still need to tackle the the different cane and vine berries, they are waiting for us. I planted my Fava beans near by that day. Now and then he wanted my opinion on what did I think about what he is cutting. Isn’t he awesome! Look at the beautiful soil under the chips. Sadly, the rows look a little red neck (I r redneck). There are not many open spaces for the dogs to run in the garden. The mini fences and blue bailing twine is to discourage the dogs from running through the new bed of beans.

2february-25-2017-1 Just a hint of whats happening in March, under the Worm Moon. Why Worm Moon? It is going to start warming up enough to make happy worms!

  • Choose your tomato seed
  • Get a bed ready for peas
  • Choose pepper seed
  • Get ready to plant onions
  • Are your early potatoes ready?

Now, Whose going to teach me about Dahlias?

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Filed under Back to Eden Garden, In the greenhouse, Urban Farm

February 13th, January check-list done

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I hope doing January in February does not describe my season! Usually I am so anxious to get out and get dirty, but I’ve been hanging back a bit this year. FINALLY got things checked off of my list.

2february-14-2017-5 I did manage to get my onions started, even put up a video! They are doing what they do. Joy! What I am late on is moving them out to the green house. It isn’t horrible when onions stretch for the light of a window, I’m going to clip them off anyway. And it has been freezing the first couple of weeks of February. It will not be long before they stand up straight in the light of the green house.

2february-13-2017-1 Next on the list is Winter Sow. Pretty sure I missed that window. Instead I just started small trays of both curly and Italian leaf parsley. I also started a small tray of artichokes. My big, beautiful, three year old artichokes froze to the ground last season. Just in case it was more then just the tops, I started a new tray.

2february-13-2017-3 By this time of year I am usually looking for that first tiny radish or micro green for my bento. This year I am just introducing baby seed to soil.

There are scallions, spinach, mixed Asian greens, radishes and cilantro. C’mon spring!

I am ending with an older video on what to do with those onion plants once they are a little bigger then threads. By the way, I googled the nameless dandelion tool mentioned in the video. It is called a Fishtail Weeder. I find it useless for weeding. (I have a hand shovel with a “fishtail.” The curved blade provides leverage to lift up tap-roots) The video features leeks but leeks and onions are planted the same way. Hope you have some raisinettes on hand. This is too short for popping corn.

1january-30-217-journal-2 Next: It is already February 15 as I post this and I have started checking chores off of this list… but that is another post.

Now, get out and get muddy! …unless you have a greenhouse. February 15, 2017 in Everett: the few days of sun and warm weather disappear again. We are back to rain with occasional showers. 52/47 F, 100% chance of rain. If you need to go out, you WILL get wet. 10 hours, 17 minutes from sun up (7:14 AM) to sun down (5:32 PM) The Snow Moon is waning. Remember to pray for the farmers and families in the Sacramento Valley who may be loosing everything! Maybe we should all plant a bigger garden this year.

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A New Garden Toy and Video

img_3037 England seems to have all the best stuff.

Thanks to Amazon for getting it here after Sean shows it to me on his video.

A Very Rainy Day in Everett. I love that sound when I have a safe place to be out of the rain. All kinds of new micro-greens planted in the new boxes. Meanwhile we are eating the first wave of mixed micro-greens from Botanical Interests. Yum

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Micro Greens Update day 3

November Project 2; day 3

I have no idea why, after over forty years, I still get excited when seeds do what they were created to do. I even take video of my babies!

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November Urban (Subsistence) Farm Projects

  1. Spring Bulb Lasagna
  2. Micro Greens
  3. Planting indoor Amaryllis bulbs 
  4. Two Frog Cranberry Sauce

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November Project 2: Micro Greens

Late Autumn on an Urban Farm. The garden has been canned, dried, or frozen and we are ready for our long winter rest. At least that is the theory. Fresh greens are still possible with micro greens. The first batch of the year was recorded on a two minute teacher (I’m a little loose with my time)

When the light is low and you need a little bit of time in the word, let this word from Mark kick start your day.

Mark 2:19 and Beauty for Ashes

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Rats!

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Generally I find a way to live with God’s creatures. Slugs eat stressed plants but my chickens happen to love both slugs and slug eggs. Ants, spiders, squirrels and mice, even snakes find places in my garden. I do not enjoy any of those creatures the way I enjoy birds but we manage to coexist. Rats are a different kind of pest. They are as smart as they are hungry. And those tails! creepy!

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Bomber the Jack Russel on Patrol

It did not take long to realize that there were all kinds of wildlife, including rats, living on the unkept bluff behind our property in Everett. We stopped feeding wild birds to keep the rats away. After we got chickens, we would occasionally see rats, but usually it was because Bomber, our Jack Russel terrier had killed one and left it laying. Sadly, Bomber is getting older, and while he still loves to hunt, he is not as fast as he once was. Rudy, our Rat Terrier-Chihuahua mix, does not have the jaw strength of a Jack Russel. Bomber bites them once on the neck and they go down. Rudy bites them multiple times and  nothing happens. The rat just gets irritated. I’m pretty sure that Rudy believes that if all he can do is irritate them then he should do a really good job irritating them. He yaps loud and proud… which brings Bomber running to put them down.

Two very mild winters and an older Jack Russel has given us a plague of rats. I hear it is a problem all over western Washington. Ray cleans up the chicken yard every evening. The chicken food is removed from the pen, replaced by an identical feeder with pellets that look a lot like chicken food but are actually rat killing pellets (Ray assures me they are not poison, but something that stops up the digestive system) Rats are VERY smart. Ours will not eat peanut butter because they have seen other rats die in peanut butter baited traps. They will not eat the bait that goes in the big black traps anymore (but they will nest in those same traps), they disappear when they hear the back door open, knowing there is a good chance Ray will be out with pellet guns to shoot them. I’ve dropped the rocks left from sifting the chicken yard soil into the holes they dig. The next morning I see those same rocks thrown all over the place and the hole looking like it was never touched.

tomato-in-greenhouse I still believe in live and let live, despite the battle of the rats I have been describing. But I do not grow fruits and vegetables as a hobby. I am a subsistence farmer… an urban farmer, but still a subsistence farmer. In the summer of 2014 and again in 2015 out “farm” kept us off of food stamps. We grow what we eat and put up the excess to get through winter.

This summer, while checking our apple tree, I noticed some of my Yellow Transparents had big chunks missing. I wasn’t too upset. I tithe to nature. I plucked that apple off the tree and tossed to over the fence for the wildlife. I could not pick enough apples for a pie, every one had a bite out of it. Gurrrr! By seasons end, not a single ripe apple could be picked, they were all eaten by rats.

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Ray set up his game camera in the greenhouse

In my greenhouse, my sanctuary, I’ve been watching a beautiful Brandywine start to ripen up after all the other garden tomatoes had been tossed into the compost for winter. I went in one morning and found that the ripe section of the tomato had been eaten while the green upper half lay on the ground, discarded by some creature. There were also remnants of ripe red peppers laying on the ground. A feast… but not our feast. OH! ITS ON! Traps were set, even the game camera was put up. I couldn’t believe it was a rat who ate whole tomatoes and peppers. The pictures confirmed that it is a rat. I’m sure I even caught one. The soil around the trap was disturbed (and when I say disturbed I mean there was evidence of such a struggle that I felt sorry for the rat) but the trap was empty. I did notice that what was left of the peppers had been gathered and returned to the pots they were picked from. How strange was that! They no longer eat peanut butter, not even the expensive coconut oil peanut butter I gave them (it was Jif that they quit eating before) I thought they had moved out, but the camera caught them again a few nights later. Last time I checked, the tomatoes in this post were still hanging on the vine to ripen. Today there is a truce, but I doubt the war is over.

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Jenney e il Piccolo

Debs at the Toy Box subUrban Farm in Everett, Washington, waking up to a pink sky and wet feet this November 6, 2016. Did you remember to set your clock back? Me either. (thank you Mr. Gates)

Morning devotions on Rainsong. The meaning of words and how one Greek word changes the flavor of Mark 2:18. I think you will like it.

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