The Garden Harvest - Summer 2012

This summer has been full of gardening with my family, outdoor adventures with friends, and starting a new job on an organic farm.  The way things went this summer, if I wasn't too tired from working, the beautiful summer weather just wouldn't let me sit at a computer to post an update. Well the rains have finally set in and I am more inclined to human hibernation (actives such as wrapping up in blankets while reading or blogging).  

CAUTION: When summer schedules get crazy, night watering and wedding sessions by headlamp and while barefoot can occur. (see below for more)

For weeks I have felt almost overwhelmed with where to start the updating. It was a shameful and needless source of internal stress, so I decided to start with my garden, since working in the garden has been my long time source of stress relief.  I promise to post about starting a new job at Oxbow Farm and a recap of my outdoor summer adventures soon. 


We had two gardens this year. We had garden boxes and potted tomato plants at our house and we had a larger garden at our friend's house on the other side of town. The advantage of the garden at our friend's house was that they have less tree cover, which means more sunlight. 

Picture of Garden in May when Alex and I transplanted the tomatoes

Picture taken in August when everything was in full swing
In Garden Solitude at Sunset... In my top 5 best things about summer. 


We planted about 15 different varieties of tomatoes and over 60 plants between our two gardens.  You may ask why so many varieties? Why so many plants? To that I would reply...why not?  I had a bunch of seeds that I acquired while working at Seed Saver Exchange last year and my dad and I were curios about what some of them were like. We also did not know what would grow well in this new foreign climate that we found ourselves in, so we did a generous sample. The Northwest is not the best place for growing tomatoes. It can be done but it's not as easy as it was for us in California. 

We had a great harvest and my mom has been canning tomatoes like crazy this fall. It's going to be a really tasty winter!!!

Crazy deformed tomato

Tomato trellis with Nasturtium (edible flower
that has sweet peppery taste)

Cool yellow spider that was chilling on a tomato leaf


I grew cabbage because I love to make homemade sauerkraut. If you've never had traditionally made sauerkraut, prepare to have your world rocked!   It's nothing like the stuff they sell in jars at the store. 

"Copenhagen Market" Cabbage
Me and one of my "Premium Late Flat Dutch" Cabbages 

What a Crock... that I am making Sauerkraut in!


This is a crop not a lot of people are familiar with. Before they brought potatoes from the "New World" turnips and rutabagas were the starchy white crop of choice. I grew them because I love the way they tastes pickled. I laco-fermented some a month ago so they should be getting really good pretty soon here.  

Jaccamo helping me thin the rutabagas 
Guess the thinning worked.... 

... because these things are bigger than my head!!!


Sometimes the best time (maybe the only time) to water and weed is at night. We had family in town at the end of July and after going out to dinner for my sister-in-law's birthday one evening, we realized that no one had been up to water in a few days. I made a quick run up to the garden at dusk which turned to night quickly. I was no prepared for a trip to the garden so I rolled up my jeans, took my shoes off and slapped on a headlamp (yup...I keep one of those in my purse). I love the way mud feels in my toes. Always have, hopefully I always will.  

Things got really crazy for me at work in the late summer so my mom, dad and little brother pretty much took over caring for the gardens at that point. But lets be honest, it was mostly mom with our trusty dog, jaccamo at her side. Go Team!

Watering the Collard Greens

Night Weeder!

Watering the Beets

While I was weeding by headlamp, the flies started gathering around my head.  I was just starting to reach my breaking point, when I discovered that I had drawn one of the flies into this spider's web. The three of us had a moment.


The Mud Run!

 A few weeks ago I did a 5k Mud Run with my friends.  This is the before shot....

....and this is the after


Transplanting Tomatoes with Alex

Last Friday I spent the day transplanting my tomato plants with my little (bigger) brother Alex (who is also known as Goobie). The weather was sunny, beautiful, warm and we got about 50(ish) tomatoes in the ground, which is the very definition of a good day in my book. 

Me and a tomato plant, and we couldn't be happier. 

Goobie hauling T-post and fencing for the tomato trellis.  I decided used the trellising method that I learned last year while working at Seed Savers Exchange.  I feel like it is a good use of limited space, which I probably created by planting too many tomatoes. I am not complain,....but I might be bragging just a little. The "Tomato Greed" is bad this year! I can't wait to eat fresh tomato sandwiches, homemade spicy tomato soup, dried tomatoes, and fresh salsa. Yum!  

Trellises are set up and all ready for transplanting. Our friends, the Carlsons, were kind enough to spare us some garden space up at there place. 

We ate our lunch snacks while going back and forth from the car to the garden for the transplants. We ate apples and trail mix. I got apple in my teeth and used my hair as floss while Goobie needed more than a handful of trail mix so he used his hat as a bowl . . .  

. . . and YES, we are our parents disgusting children. The other two didn't turn out so bad. 

Apple trees in the orchard 

"Don't Tread On Me"...tomatoes man!

Mariana Transplanting 
Jaccamo chilling in the shade

Mariana's gardening action shoot 

Goobie's gardening action shoot 

Jaccamo's gardening action shoot . . . or rolling in some kind of stank. 


Take'n a whole lot of crap for The Backyard Garden

Well you move the farm kids to the suburbs and you can bet they'll find the tallest pile of steaming manure that they can. 

Me and my Pa have been doing some backyard box gardening this spring. We've been using a layer of  potting soil for the top layers and filling the bottom layers boxes with compost and horse manure. This save a ton of money and the soil critters and plants seem to love it.  

We made four garden boxes using scrap wood we got from our neighbor who is a cement worker.

We talked to some people that have a horse ranch down the road from us and man, did they "gave us a whole load of crap" 

This pile of manure had a rank stank! It's gone anaerobic (without oxygen).  Granted manure is stinky, but you'd be surprised the difference that oxygenation and the right carbon (plant matter) to nitrogen (food waste and manure) ratio will have. 

So we took that "rank stank" home, mixed it with some of our compost and straw to balance out the carbon and nitrogen issue and churned the thing a couple times a week to get it oxygenated.  

 With how strong the ammonia smell from that manure was,  I was really worried that the high nitrogen issue was going take a long time to correct. (If the nitrogen is too strong then your plants will basically burn in the soil, not good) 

Alas, I found hope while churning the compost a week latter. There it was a little volunteer seedling from the compost coming up.  Getting closer to done than I thought.

I came home one day and my dad had made this portable greenhouse. He designed it to be able to fit over a garden box if needed, but so far we have kept it in the driveway where we can maximize the sun and heat for our tomatoes.  (Jaccomo stand in the pictures as a scale reference) 

We have been putting the trays of our tomatoe starts out there during the in the day. We have about 60 plus pots of tomatoes. I am hoping in the next week or two we can get some of them in the ground. 



Last July my sister-in-law in Kansas sent out to to the family this cute photo of my nieces   

 I was visiting my sister in Utah at the time so we sent back a copycat sisters picture, . . . not as cute  

(Little sisters and brunets on the left, big sisters and blondies on the right.) 


Tomato Seedlings

Me and my dad started tomato seedlings and few weeks ago. We might have gotten a little carried away, as we have planted about 12-15 different varieties.

I just transferred them to bigger pots last week. Assuming the Washington weather is agreeable this summer, we will have just a few tomatoes on our hands.

There they are, the whole gang. Thus far have 69 pots of tomatoes.