Garden Report

Summer’s officially over, and we’re headlong into Autumn here on the Homestead.

Apples and pears have been picked, and the garden has been mostly tidied up for the winter. From our three apple trees (Braeburn, King Cole and Spitzenburg), we picked more than 300 lbs. of fruit – 200 of which were donated to the food bank. Our young pears, a Bosc and a Comice, provided about 30 pears total – a much more manageable amount of fruit, but still a lot for two people. Grapes have been producing (the robins loved the sweet ones!), with the Concords still on the vine and quite tart yet.

Our garden this year was really just a placeholder garden – I never did really get into the swing of gardening this year. I planted a few tomatoes ( a couple of cherry tomatoes and a couple of mortgage lifters), a few peppers, six or eight summer squash . . . . I did manage to keep up with the succession planting of onion sets for green onions for B’s salad, but that was probably the most ambitious bit. (30 bulbs planted every 3 weeks or so.) I cleared out old seed stock by planting in mini rows across the front bed: planted with radish, turnip, rutabaga, mustard, and marigold (just for fun), it was interesting to see what grew and what didn’t. While I didn’t see any rutabaga, we had some lovely turnips in there and enjoyed them in a batch of roasted veg together with some of the zucchini and peppers. Other turnips found their way into a pot of veg soup along the way, too.

A side note: the random seed stock clearing was instructive in another way, as well. We have an infestation of mountain beaver here that pretty much precludes planting tuber crops such as potatoes and carrots (’cause they eat them!) but I found that the critters don’t seem to eat turnips. Hmmm. Good to know.

The raspberries and blueberries really had an off year, as did the peaches. We had a late frost that hit the peach blossoms, so no peaches at all this year. Too much heat early in the season did in the berries: the raspberries almost literally cooked on the canes. We got enough for fresh eating, but the yields were really disappointing. I’m thankful we put by a good lot of both raspberries and blueberries last year – we will be clearing our stock by next season, I’m sure.

Late summer had me studying drip irrigation designs and learning about flow control and emitters. I really want to put in drip irrigation for the permanent plantings and then be able to focus on more consistent watering for our garden beds. Over time, I’d like to simplify the garden and yard work – there is way too much “grunt work” out there for the amount of summertime travel and camping we want to do.

Not much left to do in the garden for the season. The garlic’s been planted – a half pound of elephant garlic and a half pound of Italian silver. The bed clean up has been done and the spent raspberry canes have been cut out. The apple drops have been cleaned up (deer? squirrels? fairies? I didn’t do it, and I’m guessing B didn’t either). Things are looking pretty spiffy going into the rainy season. The grapes haven’t been “dealt with” (i.e., canes pruned and waste removed), and I’m guessing that won’t get done until next April. Which is fine with me.

Time to head for Casa Sur, and to spend the winter where it’s warm and sunny.

2 thoughts on “Garden Report

  1. Wow, it’s hard to believe that you need irrigation in Oregon, especially near Tillamook. I lived in Vancouver just across the river from Portland for 5 years and it never stopped raining the whole time. Seriously we had maybe 20 days of sun in the entire 5 years! Oh and Tillamook has the best cheese.

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  2. With the climate changing, we are experiencing hotter, drier summers with extended periods of little to no rainfall. Some rural folks in our area have had water shortages during this period. (We, thankfully, have not. Yet.) Mountain soils are very porous and do not hold water well. Without amending heavily with compost, water will run right through rather than be retained in the top few inches (where most garden plants need it).

    To grow optimally, our gardens and fruit trees need a minimum of one inch of water per week, and they can use more when the fruit is developing. Installing a drip irrigation system will help us ensure that our plants get the water they need – where they need it.

    Thanks for your comment, Olivia! I always enjoy your blog.

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