mostly ok so far

all organic gardens, some amended with leaves, shredded bark, plant debris from last year, a few (onions, beets, chard) had a layer of worms/ worm poo put underneath them. rotation planting. some cover crops and green manure used.
the lack of rain is a challenge but most things are coming along fine.
the multicolored swiss chard is very nice to look at and the eating it tastes pretty much like spinach to me. which is good because last year when we tried spinach it bolted as soon as it could. some of the swiss chard (the darkest red) has tried to go to seed (in the first season). i pulled those and ate them. :)
almost all the beans sprouted (only one type was a problem) and almost all the gardens are looking nice and green now. one of the bean patches is being raided by a family of muskrats/groundhogs/ woodchucks, but i gave the largest one something to think about the other day with the air gun and i haven't seen it since. the rest of the children are probably still around though. at least these don't eat the entire plant back to the ground so many bean plants have resprouted. i just need to keep an eye on them... funny, they have a few thousand square feet of mixed legumes to chomp on that is back further closer to the ditch and i wouldn't care much, but they decided to eat the beans instead. it doesn't help that we have a highway installed for them to come up into the yard (covered trench for drainage) -- i think i'll be redoing that next year to fill it in.
the chipmunks have had a major population boom this year. after all the snakes i've been seeing i was hoping they would not be quite so many. and while i didn't have as many strawberries this year i still did have some, but the chipmunks have also been feasting on them. the everbearing strawberries are on their second round of flowering/fruiting. for the chippies i'm putting out rat traps and plinking with the air rifle has thinned a few. however, it is very funny to watch them eat the poppy pods climbing the plants and flipping around. yet Ma was not happy when 98% of her sunflower sprouts/seeds were eaten.
the 2nd and 3rd strawberry patches had some production this year, but the multiple early frosts and the chipmunks have kept me from harvesting much. perhaps 10lbs of berries from them total (and about 40lbs from the first patch). i have bags of shredded bark and leaves to put out into the back strawberry patch as soon as i can get to it. in this heat, i'm not doing much heavy work in the middle of the day. get some light stuff done in the morning and whatever watering needed and then it is siesta time until 2pm, weeding bouts in 30 minute chunks for the few gardens i have left to do. not much weeds, but i like to keep after them.
at the moment i'm more tied up with fixing broken stuff and patching the roof (again, i sure hope i found the leak this time -- no rain lately to test it out). no tree froggy up there...
the onions i planted with a layer of worms/worm poo are doing really well and the tomatoes are also growing quickly and flowering. the first roma is on one of the plants. with the lack of rain we've been filling up the buckets every three or four days. with the recent heat (mid to upper 90s) i'm watering frequently enough to keep everything from wilting, but hoping for some actual rain. we've had less than two inches of rain the past six weeks. i think the average around here is about three inches a month. not much forecast, but i'm sure hoping for one of these "chances of a thundertorm" to actually happen soon.
still many of the flowers are doing fine as they are natives and do ok with the periods of drought we can have. that lets me keep up with the veggie gardens and the other ornamentals that we don't want to lose in the heat (mainly the clematis since those are the most expensive to replace).
the garlic i should be able to pull for curing/drying in a few weeks. some relatives stopped over the other day and one of them hadn't ever seen garlic growing before so i randomly pulled garlic for him to take with him to plant this fall. all first season bulbs, a few were quite small, and one was four inches across. an interesting survey of soils and starting clove/bulbule sizes. when i harvest it will be fun to snap a few pictures of these.
the early planting of peas went well. harvested a few rounds and now they are looking sad because of the heat and the broken stems from harvesting. next time i'll snip them instead of pulling, but i think i'll just leave these now to get more seeds to replant.
turnips, being eaten. i'll keep growing these. Ma doesn't like them, but at least she'll tolerate me cooking them. to me they are close enough to a brocolli or cauliflower stem (peeled and diced). i like them fried and browned like potatoes or onions. i'm trying to cut back on cheese lately, but i could imagine they'd be really good au-gratin with a nice layer of browned cheese and buttered bread crumbs on top. dang, that's making me hungry. :)
onions from seed, gradually getting smothered as i keep forgetting to trim back the trefoil i planted next to them. still they are there and i should have starts for next season from them. the seed source was a clump of three leftover onion plants that grew from a leftover a few seasons ago. i harvested seeds from them last year. this year, from that same spot three more plants and blooms have appeared. looks like i will have a seed source again for next year's plantings. :)
beets, hmm, the first planting i had trouble keeping evenly moist and i suspect i had too old of seeds for a few rows as almost nothing in those rows sprouted. i have a few plants from that planting that are doing very well (more worms/worm poo under those). the second planting, i have more sprouts from and they are doing ok. still behind on these for growing/harvest. the plants themselves (especially the big ones) are looking the best they ever have here. the soil they are going in gets improved each season as i add more worms/worm poo to it and any other organic material i can scrounge up plus planting beans/pea pods in alternation with the beets. we'll keep at it. it's been fun to watch the transformation.
green, red, jalapeno peppers, all coming along, plenty of blooms. i suspect the spacing is a bit too much, but we'll see how they do. last year they were all planted very tightly and did very well. i think this season we have about the same number of plants in three times the space.
cucumbers, alive, flowering, surrounded by wire cage to keep the deer/etc. from eating them, with the wilt going around i'm not sure we'll see much from them this year, but so far they look mostly ok. once they have a core of growth then they can grow out of the cages and sprawl where they like. i may need to trim back some of the surrounding cover crops (buckwheat and birdsfoot trefoil).
new for us this year: cucumber, swiss chard, turnips, dill, large leaf parsley, red onion, white onion, roma tomatoes, okra, and many types of beans (fresh, shelling and dry), peas/peapods and soybeans (edamame).
the green manure source is looking great with all the bright yellow flowers. i'll be trimming it and the alfalfa back eventually and harvesting garlic. the clay makes the garlic harvest a challenge... if i miss some i'll be there for next season.
well i hope this long and windy post has found all of you keeping busy in the gardens and enjoying the harvest. until next time... :)
peace,
songbird
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Gigantic SNIP

I have waited till I had a slow morning to read through your post, I like to know how others are faring, this may explain the binoculars trained on the neighbours swimming pool :D. I have read and digested and am pleased things are heading in the right direction for you. Down here, currently, all I have growing are lettuce but plenty of variety and I can see most of them turning in to a green mulch in the future.
The one thing that, in my mind, amused me was all weather forecasters must go to the same school or at least read from the same scripts, we also get the chance of a thunder storm as well as possible late showers and considering all of our weather comes off the Indian ocean and there is nothing but a few small islands between us and South Africa I would have thought they could have got it closer than "chance" and "possible"
Thanks for the read.
Mike
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Bloke Down The Pub wrote:

One ought to always have concern for the welfare of neighbours if they wear bikinis. More if they don't.
I have read and digested

Lettuce is annoying that way, it grows better in the season when you don't want it so much.

Weather forecasts are subject to the same limitations everywhere (and probably always will be) so it is no surprise that forecasters tend to sound the same. Weather systems are chaotic and so they are inherently unpredictable. With the increase in data from satellites and automatic data recorders, and the increase in understanding and computing power weather forecasting has got better over the last 30 years. Even if such resources were increased tenfold the accuracy of forecasts would only increase slightly. There are some aspects of the natural world that we can never master even in principle. I think it is better to accept this reality and act accordingly rather than blame the 'experts' for not being as expert as we wish.
David
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Not really blaming the weather forecasters as I have always worked on the principle that if I want to know what the weather is like I will look outside and most of the time here its a matter of it being warm and dry or, as now, cool and not so wet. I have been known to get out in the cold and the rain so I can dig in to the sand an help the water penetrate a little better a little earlier.
Mike
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Your garden soil shouldn't be more than 10% (by volume), or less than 5% (by weight) organic material.
Garden soil should be 30% - 40% sand, 30% - 40% silt, and 20% - 30% clay. You can check your soil by scraping away the organic material on top of the ground and then take a vertical sample of your soil to 12 in. (30 cm) deep (rectangular or circular hole). Mix this with water in an appropriately large glass (transparent) jar. The sand will settle out quickly, the silt in a couple of hours, and the clay within a day. The depth of the layer in relationship to the total (layer/total = % of composition) is the percent that fraction has in the soil.
Garden soil needs a constant input of nutrients, i.e. carbon, e.g. brown leaves, and nitrogen, e.g. manure in a ratio of C/N of 25. This is the same ratio you will what in a compost pile. -----
Let it Rot!: The Gardener's Guide to Composting (Third Edition) (Storey's Down-to-Earth Guides) by Stu Campbell
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)94901182&sr=1-1>
p.39
Compostable Material Average C/N
Alder or ash leaves ............................ 25
Grass clippings ................................ 25
Leguminous plants (peas, beans,soybeans) ............................. 15
Manure with bedding ........................... 23
Manure ....................................... 15
Oak leaves .................................... 50
Pine needles .............................. 60-100
Sawdust................................. 150-500
Straw, cornstalks and cobs .................. 50-100
Vegetable trimmings ........................... 25 Aged Chicken Manure  ........................  7 Alfalfa ................................................ 12 Newspaper........................................ 175 -----
http://www.composting101.com/c-n-ratio.html
A Balancing Act (Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratios)
All organic matter is made up of substantial amounts of carbon (C) combined with lesser amounts of nitrogen (N). The balance of these two elements in an organism is called the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio). For best performance, the compost pile, or more to the point the composting microorganisms, require the correct proportion of carbon for energy and nitrogen for protein production. Scientists (yes, there are compost scientists) have determined that the fastest way to produce fertile, sweet-smelling compost is to maintain a C:N ratio somewhere around 25 to 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, or 25-30:1. If the C:N ratio is too high (excess carbon), decomposition slows down. If the C:N ratio is too low (excess nitrogen) you will end up with a stinky pile. (cont.) ------
No reason to till after the first preparation of the garden (no reason to till the first/last time but it does speed up soil development). Spread out your soil amendments: € N: € 18.37 lb. chicken manure/ 100 sq.ft. (2.88 oz/sq.ft.) € € P: € 3 lb. / 100/sq.ft. (.48 oz/sq.ft.) € € K: € How much wood ash should you use in your garden? The late Bernard G. Wesenberg, a former Washington State University Extension horticulturist, recommended using one gallon of ashes per square yard on loam to clay-loam soil, and half as much on sandier soils.
<http://www.plantea.com/manure.htm € Manure Chicken Diary cow Horse Steer Rabbit € N 1.1 .257 .70 .70 2.4 € P .80 .15 .30 .30 1.4 € K .50 .25 .60 .40 .60 € Sheep Alfalfa Fish Emulsion € N .70 3 5 € P .30 1 1 € K .90 2 1
€ Sources: Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, An Illustrated Guide to Organic Gardening, by Sunset Publishing, and the Rodale Guide to Composting. <http://www.plantea.com/manure.htm € Manure Chicken Diary cow Horse Steer Rabbit € N 1.1 .257 .70 .70 2.4 € P .80 .15 .30 .30 1.4 € K .50 .25 .60 .40 .60 € Sheep Alfalfa Fish Emulsion € N .70 3 5 € P .30 1 1 € K .90 2 1
€ Sources: Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, An Illustrated Guide to Organic Gardening, by Sunset Publishing, and the Rodale Guide to Composting.
Cover this with newspaper (to block light from weeds and provide a barrier to sprouting weeds). Cover the newspaper with mulch (up to 6" in depth). Spray the garden bed with water, and wait 6 weeks before planting (if you can).
A dibble can help with planting. The dinky little ones from the nursery may be of some help, but I prefer a sharpened, old, shovel handle for making a hole through the mulch and paper for planting seedlings.
Adding drip lines takes a little time, but saves a lot of time during the season.
With heavy soils, cover crops of buckwheat or rye are good for adding more organic material and loosening the soil.
--
E Pluribus Unum

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Thanks for the info Billy and little by little I am building my sand up to something that resembles soil. The basic "soil" where I am is sand with about a 2 inch layer of organic material mainly from burnt gum trees (eucalyptus) and although it may appear nice and dark it is very water repellent, the first few rain downpours of the year washing right off the top.
Mike
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Bloke Down The Pub wrote: ...

the things we do for science. to make good experiments and hypotheses we must observe nature in all her glory.

thanks. i'm always interested in what others do as actual gardening practices and what they find to be workable for their soil/site/setup and what doesn't work.
like when planting onions from sets this season to try things out we have planted onions from seeds and also onions from sets (small bulbs). among those sets were several bulbs that looked rather icky or completely dried out. normally i would throw those away or chop them up, dry them and then feed them to the worms in the bins. this time i took those rejects and planted them in a spot a hundred feet away from the other onions (in case of disease possibilities) and most of them have ended up growing -- even as bad as they were they still had some germ of viable plant in there and so now i will have plants to use as possible source of seeds in the future... i love it when something so simple works out like this.
today i was weeding and thinning a few beans, it's very hot here, knowing i may not keep a transplant alive i still took some of the thinned plants and stuck them in a few bare spots and then watered them in. gotta check them in the morning to see if they're crisped or not and if not give them another shot of water. if they look to be making it i'll probably take some other thinnings and move them to a few other bare spots. more than likely they'll end up wilting and being worm food.

i watch the forecasts and the weather itself all the time and notice directly because of our microclimate that we are significantly dryer here than places just a few miles in any direction.
we did get a bit of rain at last. the roof patching might have worked. won't know until we get more rains from different directions... two buckets of collected rainwater to be used in the tomato patches.
no signs yet of muskrats coming back again.
tomorrow is an early day.
songbird
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