Cat's Garden: 2012 Crop Diary

2011 Fall Planting & Preparation for 2012

See 2012 Plan for Sketches

  1. Soil Prep:

  2. I’ve experimented both with turning soil in the fall after harvest, and turning it in spring before planting (and allowing old roots to remain in soil over winter). I really don’t know which is best but the former is supposed to help retain the microbes in the soil.

  3. This year I also want to sweeten my soil just a tad, using wood ash, which I’ll sprinkle over the soil after I’ve turned manure into the soil.

  4. This year, my new plan requires cleaning out the cabbage/cauli and the kale/turnips/onions before I can fall-plant my garlic and greens for early spring harvest. So I’ll mix in chicken manure and turn that soil this fall. The rest: I’m not sure.

  5. Manure

  6. See Garden Soil: Manure

  7. The past few years, fall planting has happened late in September, but this year, Jean advises planting my greens Labor Day weekend because the weather is predicted to be perfect. I’d planned to give that a try, especially since last year, none of those crops came up in the spring. But I decided to apply manure first, which delayed planting.

  8. Sept 6: applied composted chicken manure only to areas that have been harvested (2011 lettuce/spinach E half, garlic and turnips, cauli and bush beans E half)

  9. Sept 7: turned it once, to spade depth - needs another turning.

  10. Sept 8:  My lawn care company applied corn gluten to lawn, and some got on my garden, which is problematic for sowing seeds. Can either turn soil again to bury the gluten, or push it aside, away from planting trench, then cover trench with soil (it is designed to be applied after seeding - on top of the seeds and soil).

  11. Sept 10: I opted to turn soil again, and raked it smooth. Watered well in evening.

  12. Oct 4: applied manure to areas recently harvested (2011 lettuce/spinach across row, 2010 garlic W half, and area where sage was growing; also 2010 broccoli, JeansGreens W half). I did not turn these recently applied areas. OOPs, double-manured the E half of old lettuce/spinach. Only areas that have not had manure are where cabbage, kale, chard and beets continue to grow, and carrots, cauliflower were harvested, all of which are on the south end of the garden. Applied light amount of manure to ground-level bed, & added some leftover manure to compost pile, to heat it up.

  13. Wood Ash

  14. After harvesting everything, turning manure into soil, and sowing fall garlic, spinach & lettuce, waited until snow cover began to melt, then on Feb 24, I sprinkled wood ash lightly over the entire raised bed except not where I’d already planted garlic.

  15. Planting

  16. Fall 2011: I’ve decided to move my sage plant (Salvia) to the N end of the garden, because it grows tall & bushy, and provides too much shade to those things planted north of it. Best time to divide sage is in the spring, although and Garden Gate Magazine says can do this after flowering in late summer. I’ll try that. See for good advice on how to do this. See also my page: Tips for Perennials.But first I need to move or harvest the basil that is growing where the sage will go. I might try putting the basil in a pot for growing inside through the winter - if only I had a sunny window...

  17. And I decided to revise my garden plan to take advantage of space cleared by harvesting the garlic, and so I can plant this year’s garlic right next to the cabbage that has not matured yet (rather than harvesting the cabbage early). 2012-B is the plan I will follow.

Lettuce & Spinach: After revising my 2012 plan, the lettuce and spinach will go where the garlic was harvested, with only a little trespassing onto area where kale has not yet been harvested. 

  1. Sept 11: I marked all planting sections with Bamboo stakes down center of bed, per 2012-B Plan.

  2. Sept 11: Sowed half-rows of spinach and lettuce now, in E half of row; will sow the remaining half-row after the kale is pulled. Spinach is to the south, lettuce to the north. Sowed a half-row of 2009 Bloomsdale (heirloom) spinach, then another half row of 2010 Tyee, a hybrid, savoyed leaf spinach right next to it (1/2 inch away). I should have put them both in the same trench, but I covered up the Bloomsdale before I figured that out. Didn’t get to remaining half row with mixture Bloomsdale and Tyee)- will do in spring).

  3. Sept 11: I made a 1”-wide shallow trench, half row, and mixed 2009 mix (Irish Eyes, Organic, 2009 Encore mix from Johnny’s, all across the trench, mixed up. Didn’t get to remaining half row with mix of Red Sails and Rouge d’Hiver - will do in spring).

  4. Only the spinach sprouted, so I did another sowing of lettuce seeds in late October (these probably won’t sprout in fall but may do so in spring - I hope). I covered the lettuce/spinach as well as garlic with leaves the afternoon before we got a hard frost, to protect them through the winter

Garlic: see Plan 2012-b. However, both this plan and the earlier version, have cabbage family items where the same family were in 2011 - not good, but I don’t know how to fix it... I planted:

  1. Sept 14, I trimmed all 2011 garlic, then separated out 20 large cloves and 5 small cloves (a red or purple variety), and 7 medium cloves (all white), all hardneck, to fill 3 rows across, 32 cloves in all. Have not yet separated out softneck.

  2. Sept 16: Beginning from the south, I planted 34 cloves in all (what are the 2 xtra?):

  3. -2 rows across of 11-each hardneck, carefully moving the still-growing cabbage out of the way on the western half-rows.

  4. -2 half-rows (E-end) of 6 smaller hardneck cloves.

  5. However, I accidentally nicked one of the smaller hardnecks, so I moved the center-placed clove to take its place and put a softneck clove in the center-of-row position. Also I mistakenly started to move soil where I’d recently planted a half-row of spinach, so I replaced it, then added another batch of seeds in that row, just in case.

  6. Then I watered the garden.

  7. Sept 18: Finished W-end of garlic half-rows per plan:

  8. -Between 2 rows of kale, planted 6 smaller hardneck cloves in southern half-row

  9. -North of N-most row of kale, planted 6 softneck cloves, right next to a row of kale.

  10. When I harvest the kale in a few weeks, I have to remember to cut it off at ground level and leave the roots in the ground.

  11. Soil is quite damp, so I didn’t water it again. It will get watered early morning of 9/19.

Sage move:

  1. Sept 16: As planned, I moved the sage. See 2011 journal for more detail. Then I watered the garden. In future: get expert help to divide a sage plant!

  2. Sept 18: large sage in raised bed is doing well; the small branch moved out of the garden is not doing as well, but may still make it.

Learnings from 2011

Carrots & Beets: Again, carrots did well, albeit a bit slow, and beets did better than 2010 but still not many grew beyond the size of a dime. So for 2012 I’m going to try adding wood ash to the garden, as beets like a sweeter soil.

Radishes: These grew well but we had such a cold spring that they grew slowly and were quite woody.

Snow peas: Moving these to North end of the ground-level bed was a good idea; now they don’t cast shadow upon other garden veggies. But the chicken wire wasn’t sturdy enough and tended to collapse under the weight of the pea vines.

Turnips: Had a little better luck with the turnips in 2011 than in 2009-2010, with only minor problem from those pesky maggots. Planting them early was the key. However, like my beets, they didn’t grow very big, probably because of the long cold spring.

Lettuce, Spinach: Again, the seeds planted the previous fall didn’t come up, so I had to sow more seeds in the spring. I think the problem has been that after sowing the seeds in fall, I cover them with thick compost mulch - they like to have a thin cover. Also in the past I probably put them in the ground too late, so in fall of 2011 (for 2012 crop), I sowed them earlier, after turning manure into the soil, and didn’t cover them with mulch until after the shoots were showing. However, only the spinach sprouted, so I did another sowing of lettuce seeds in late October (these probably won’t sprout in fall but may do so in spring - I hope). I covered the lettuce/spinach as well as garlic with leaves the afternoon before we got a hard frost, to protect them through the winter.

Green beans did great this year - tall and lush with lots of beans. The deer got the leaves of the later sowing so they didn’t do as well as the first sowing, but they still did OK.

Kale also had a good year except the slugs tended to chew them up. I think I watered my garden a bit too much - this was the first year with automatic watering and I let it water 15 minutes long, 3 nights a week. I got lots of mushrooms in the shade of veggie crops, and lots of slugs too.

See my post on ESP website: Gardening: Sequential Planting Through the Seasons.

2012 Seed Starting Indoors

In past I’ve not had much luck with starting seeds early indoors; instead, I buy starts from a local greenhouse for cabbage family, lettuce (if fall planting doesn’t come up), and squash. 2011, the cabbage family things did fairly well; I sowed lettuce/spinach in spring on top of the fall planting that failed, and they did fair; the squash didn’t do much at all, but then it was a very strange year, weather-wise. Also, I think I put them in the ground too early, so in 2012 I’ll try keeping those starts in my garage under a light for a couple weeks to let them grow a bit before transplanting.

Pre-sprout peas in ragdoll: have 3 varieties to use this year: snow peas, sugar-snap peas, and pea-sprouts to eat as young plants. Started April 17. 2012; see Spring Planting, below

Watering system

As of last year (2011), I now have underground lines to all my beds, controlled separately from my underground lawn sprinklers. In past I’ve used overhead sprinklers in my beds because the soaker hoses I tried didn’t work well and developed leaks.

But this year I bought a Gilmour Flat Weeper hose, 25 foot (#27025G). It is not a porous round hose, but rather a nylon flat tube with something more solid inside, and is way more flexible than
DFFe]\\df the old round soaker hose. I’m trying it out in the raspberry bed and will get more for veggie beds if I like it. In meantime, I will continue using overhead sprinklers in those beds.

2012 Spring-Summer

Garden Planting

Photo: Chive, Basil, Lettuces, Garlic & Sage (2011)

  1. This has been a warmer, drier winter that average, in the valley, but March has been cool. I do hope to get cold weather crops in the ground in early April, tho.

  2. Mar 28: Lots of rain today with high at 42 F.

  3. Mar 30: I brushed the leaf mulch off the spinach and lettuce that I’d sowed last fall; the spinach has its first set of true leaves, tho less than half the seeds are up. No sign of lettuce (yet)

  4. Apr 7: Charlie got my raspberry bed turned 90 degrees, and we discussed where to put my new honeycrisp apple and Italian plum trees.

  5. Apr 14: I’ve been  ill. Charlie planted the new honeycrisp apple in front yard (rather than trading places with the crabapple), and Italian plum in the E-side yard near the property line for future espalier, then put up a welded wire cage around each to keep the deer away. I raked off the leaves from my raised bed garden. All the garlic are up about 3”. Some of the kale from last year are growing new leaves - they are in the space where I put the garlic for this year - so they will probably have to get pulled. Charlie brought out my tubs of soil for the potato pots.

  6. April 22: still ill but a beautiful sunny day so I turned soil in the ground level bed where peas will go, and in S-end of raised bed, where root crops will go. Also turned the compost pile. There are lots of twigs/small branches that have a long way to go, but in general the pile is doing well with LOTS of worms. Set out seed potatoes in west window, to warm.

  7. April 23: Arranged for David Zavala to mow my lawn. Planted the 6 not-mouldy sprouted snow peas and 2 partly-mouldy ones, on NW side of teepee; put another 8 to sprout in ragdoll. Got out my hoses. Put soil in bottom of 3 potato pots - used 1 tub-full of potting soil. Cut seed potatoes and returned to window to dry and cure.

  8. April 25: bought Whitney Farms sulfur and all-purpose fertilizer 5-5-5 for raspberry bed (and can use the fertilizer for veggies, too. Will read up on how to use these... Also priced clump of white birch ($170) and red cedar ($120).

  9. April 25: Zavala mowed today. Planted half-row each white & yellow onions; 2 varieties of beet in same half-row, Russian kale in remaining half-row; half-row each rutabaga, pink radish & turnips in raised bed. Noticed mustard coming up near where I’d planned to plant mustard, so I moved the tiny plants to the E-half of that row; I hope they survive. Planted Cipollini onion, Shallots & red onion in ground-level bed. NOTE: I need more kale - try a different variety than Red Russian - perhaps Lacinato?

  10. April 26: Planted two half rows carrots and 1 half-row cherry-belle radish in raised bed. Planted 6 yellow & 7 red potatoes in their respective pots, then covered with more soil. The russets aren’t ready yet - can barely find the eyes. Looks like the mustard babies I moved will survive the move; I moved a few more. Supposed to be cooler with rain tonight.

  11. April 28: Added 8 more snow peas to the row; 3 of the ones planted earlier are up! Put 8 snap peas to sprout in kitchen. It’s been pretty rainy - my grass will need mowing next Wed.

  12. April 30: Still rainy and much cooler. The mustard babies I moved are doing well, but none of the other stuff is up (except for a couple peas).

  13. May 1: Bought lettuce mix starts and rosemary start at Hoopers; will keep in garage for a few nights, setting out during day to harden-off before planting. Also bought seed packet of lacinato kale (black kale) for fall planting (around Aug 1 - since planted last of Russian kale in its spot last week). Still cold, drizzly with sun breaks.

  14. May 3: none of the seeds I planted at the end of April are up yet, except for some of the peas. I think it’s been too cold, so I put up my agribon hoop cover to help warm up the raised bed. My lettuce starts are still in covered seed-starter tray, in the garage. It rained yesterday and will likely rain more this afternoon.

  15. May 7: warmer finally so I tied up the hoop cover. Radishes & turnips are up, perhaps some kale; mustard doing well. 3 onions up in raised bed and one in ground bed. Set out lettuce start and rosemary to get sun and water.

  16. May 11: sowed the latest batch of snap peas I’d sprouted, and transplanted the lettuce starts I bought. also transplanted the new latham raspberry canes; that is, I got 2 but only 1 was still alive and the only one I planted. I need to buy 2 more, and also a boyne, as 2 from last year have not sprouted. Gorgeous sunny day in upper 50s today, but it was cold last night.

  17. May 13: It’s been warming up slowly but nights are still cool. Nothing new is up, but my pear is in almost full bloom. This morning the sun had warmed the east side of the tree and it was just teaming with bees and wasps of all different types. I noticed: mason bee (blue orchard, a native), bumblebee (also native), wild honeybee, sweat bee (green, native), and a tiny pollinating wasp (I forget what it is called). When I got home from afternoon brunch, the west side of the tree was sun-warmed and had even more bees. So I should have a good crop of pears this year if we don’t get a horrible storm. My apples are showing pink bud tips amongst the young leaves, so they will be blooming soon, too. No blooms on my new plum yet.

  18. May 16: Bees still buzzing around fruit blooms. Serviceberries are also blooming. More peas are up in my garden, as well as more onions in ground-level bed (but not shallots yet). One of the spinach is trying to bolt. Sowed another bunch of sprouted snap peas on S side of teepee and put another 8 snow peas to sprout (for the N side of teepee) I’ve been watering with hoses from spigot but Charlie is supposed to turn on my sprinklers soon.

  19. May 18: bought 2 more Boyne raspberry canes and transplanted them, so now have 6 viable plants at S end of bed. Still need 1 - 2 more everbearing for N end of bed. Also bought 2 cauliflower starts that were very root bound. Set them out to harden off, then forgot to bring them in after dark.

  20. May 19: the cauli had tipped over and were totally dry and wilted. So I put them in the ground and watered them well, then covered with clear plastic seed-starting cover, to protect from cold night. I note that the Russian kale sown in April are not coming up so will plant some of the Lacinato seeds I bought earlier. also haven’t seen chard - oops, I never planted them. Have not needed to sow mustard, as I’m getting oodles that seeded from last year’s crop; I moved another batch to a row next to carrots and turnips.

  21. June 2: It’s been cool and rainy, but things are growing. I’ve been thinning radishes,s turnips & rutabagas; radishes close to harvest. Beets are also doing well - better than previous years (I attribute that to the wood ash I sprinkled on the snow last winter, but may also be due to being sown away from the carrots). On the other hand, carrots (sewn with radishes) are not doing as well, and not many have come up. Spinach plants are doing great; one started to bolt, so I pinched bloom stem right it emerged from the leaves, and no new bloom has formed. All my onions are up except scallions. Volunteer mustards are going strong; I’ve been pulling several so I can add the leaves to my salads, but more need to be pulled or transplanted, as they are growing where I want to sow the beans soon. Should have sown chard & kale weeks ago, so will do that soon. The latest raspberries from the nursery are starting to set blooms; the ones from last year are slow at growing the new canes; these will not bear this year.

  22. July 7: Gosh its been a month since I last made an entry. June was very wet - the wettest on record for our valley. I’ve been harvesting lettuce and spinach; the spinach is bolting now. All radishes are gone - most were woody males, darn. I pulled most of the mustard before it went to seed, but left a few. Still haven’t planted chard & kale and now its too late, tho I can plant some in late summer. Garlic is producing scapes and I’ve harvested most, but not all. Some onions are producing blooms. I added more soil to the 3 potato pots and could probably do that again, as they are growing. Today I harvested snow and snap peas - the first of the season but more promise to follow. I need to plant beans. One of the cabbages is producing a head, but the other not yet. Carrots are growing but are too shaded by garlic, mustard and lettuce. Beets are growing good leaves, as are turnip and rutabaga - the latter need more thinning (I’ve been thinning all along).

  23. July 13: I weeded the ground bed; it had a lot of clover that was beginning to bloom. Checked the cippolini onions while I weeded around them, but they are only about the size of a 50-cent piece; however, their lower leaves are turning yellow. Peas are really coming on. Red potato plants are starting to turn yellow - will be ready soon. I’ve harvested all the garlic scapes. Beets were thinned last week and are doing great. carrots are finally starting to get tall. Turnips and rutabagas are really tall and full, but only the turnips are growing the root - they’re about the size of a 50 cent piece. The green lettuce is really big and full; I need to start harvesting it more quickly

  24. July 31: peas keep coming. I pulled all but 2 cippolini onions, to dry. Also pulled the fitrst mature beets; these were the cylindra type; they are about 2-3” long and an inch in diameter and very delicious. More are coming. Also pulled a couple mature turnips and thinned out some that weren’t growing. More to come. Rutabagas are growing great leaves but so far the root isn’t growing. Garlic will be ready to pull soon. I missed one scape, so it is now forming a bloom. Both cauli have been harvested. Instead of growing tight heads, their blooms are on skinny stalks, but that’s OK because the stalks are good, too. I had to trim off the leaves on one side of one of them, because they were overshadowing the round beets. I want those babies to grow well, too. Added more soil to the yellow and russet potatoes; the red spuds are almost ready to harvest - leaves are turning brown.

  25. Aug 9: Garlic leaves are turning brown; time to harvest. I set up the drying screen, so am ready. Harvested more beets. Only one of the round-type beets is getting big; the others had been blocked from sun by the cauli leaves. I pulled the spent cauli yesterday so hopefully the beets will grow now. Red spuds are ready to harvest - all the leaves have browned and the stems have died.

  26. Aug 12: Pulled about half the garlic and the rest of the onions. Onions didn’t get very big but garlic is gorgeous. Rinsed all an brushed off most of the dirt, then laid them to dry on a screen in the garage. Need to dig up red spuds soon.

  27. Aug 15: Pulled remaining garlic. Had to reset pea trellis for 2nd time, after wind blew it over.

  28. Aug 17: Dug up the red spuds. Got 14 plus several tiny ones (less than 1/2” diameter).

  29. Aug 20: Jean came by with raspberry canes that she had thinned from her beds. They are June-bearing. There are 4 good-sized plants, 1 mid-sized, and 1 very tiny (less than 1” high & has only 1-2 leaves per cane and is pretty wilted). Jean also sowed some of her saved spinach & lettuce seeds in between canes, after we augmented the soil with some compost and soil. Watered them for 30 minutes and repeated over next couple days, in addition to the automatic night-time watering. It has been very dry weather.

  30. Aug 24: I sowed spinach and lettuce (in main bed) in hopes of getting a harvestable fall crop. (Will sow more in a couple weeks, for overwintering). Two half-rows of spinach, at east end of row: Bloomsdale variety to north and Tyee (savoyed) to south. The other half-rows at west end of those rows are lettuce: To north: 1/4 row each Irish Eyes Organic blend (toward east) and Rouge d’Hiver (toward west); to south: 1/4 row each Red Sails (toward east) and Romaine (toward west). Then watered well. also watered the raspberries, which are pretty much faring well except for the really short ones.

  31. Aug 26: Jean’s lettuce & spinach seeds are up.

  32. Aug 29: My lettuce & spinach seeds are up.

  33. Sept 1: Susan Muellner brought some composted horse manure, enough for 1/3 of my raspberry bed. I worked it into the soil and watered well. She’ll bring more by this next week. Not sure what I’ll do where the baby lettuce/spinach are.... and I need to get some chix manure for main bed.

  34. Sept 2: Noticed my new apple tree had wilted leaves, also one of the volunteer soapberry shrubs. So I watered each about 40 minutes. Problem solved, for now.

  35. Sept 5: harvested more beets, but some are still small so left them in ground. Deer keep eating the leaves but the plants grow more.

  36. Sept 6: I see it’s time to plant garlic. Yesterday I trimmed more than half of the garlic I harvested and will do other half today. But not sure where I’ll put them. I should have put fall spinach & lettuce where garlic was because where I did put them is where the new garlic is supposed to go. I might try moving the spinach/lettuce seedlings. And I’ll pull up the oregano that has taken over that end of the garden - it is all the spicy stuff that I really don’t like. and I’ll move the rosemary to a pot. That should make enuf room for garlic.

  37. Sept 7: Cleaned and trimmed garlic & onions. Got 21 large white heads plus 1 that was damaged; 10 smaller-cloved stripe heads plus 3 that were damaged; and 4 soft-neck heads. Also got 5 yellow onions and 3 white onions (got more yellows but they were soft and would not keep). Now I need to sort out garlic cloves for planting; need 44 cloves total, probably evenly divided between white and striped. I dug out the oregano plant - that was a chore and I’m sure I left some roots behind; I hope they don’t grow into new plants. I left the rosemary in place, for now. I think I have enough room for the garlic without removing it.

  38. Sept 9: Worked compost into soil in garlic area, then planted 27 cloves of hardneck white garlic and 10 cloves of hardneck stripe garlic. There’s still one row of 11 garlic to plant, hoping to get some from CSA. Otherwise will be 5 softneck and 6 white hardneck.

  39. Sept 10: harvested remaining potatoes. Turns out there were some yellow and red spuds in the container with the russets. Got 21 Yellow finn-types (plus several tiny ones), and 10 russets (one of which is huge). This is in addition to the 14 red spuds (Aug 17). The cool weather is here - mid 60s for the highs.


photo: Cat’s Garden, July 23, 2011

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  2. Cats Garden Menu

  1. 2011 Fall Planting & Preparation for 2012

  2. Learnings from 2011

  3. 2012 Seed Starting Indoors

  4. Watering System

  5. 2012 Spring-Summer Garden Plantings