GOOD AGED COMPOST IS OUR SECRET!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 04-05-2015

WE HAVE GATHERED VIRGIN TOP SOIL FROM THE FOREST, PURCHASED BAGS UPON BAGS OF MIRACLE GROW POTTING SOIL FROM LOWES, ADDED TONS OF OAK LEAVES AS MULCH WHICH WE LATER COMPOST AS WELL AS MIXED IN CHICKEN MANURE, BUT NOTHING HAS HAD THE EFFECT THAT OUR AGED HORSE MANURE HAS HAD.

Our two horses contribute 80 lbs of raw manure every day.  We gather, pile, turn it over, keep it moist and then apply it generously to the raised beds after 10 to 12 weeks of cooking.  We know it is ready when our indigenous earthworm population appears throughout the blend.   To say that we have to step back and let the garden grow is an understatement.  Things are doubling in size every 7 to 10 days.  We are harvesting lettuce, collards and rape as fast as we can and cannot stay ahead of it.  Cucumbers, squash, sugar peas, tomatoes, peppers and carrots are soon to follow and then everything else will start.

I am not complaining.  I have had a garden for 40 years and never seen anything like this.  I think it is the combination of the raised beds, deep oak leaf mulch and the properly aged and composted horse manure.

BEES

I was not able to capture either of the two bee swarms that emerged a couple weeks ago.  I have two swarm traps in the forest but the bees found better tree hollows elsewhere.  My son and I tried to physically capture the lowest swarm but we did not get the queen so they reassembled and flew off.  I am trying to get a good swarm into the top bar hive I built a couple years ago.  Once done, we will have four hives which will be enough to satisfy our honey and pollination needs.

CHICKENS

I will pick up 12 new pullets tomorrow.  Three of each:  Silver Wyandotte, Colombian Wyandotte, Welsummer and Cookoo Maran.  All brown egg layers.  That will give us a total of 16 hens and two roosters.  NOTE:  The Columbian Wyandotte did not come in so I doubled the number of Silver Wyandottes to 6.

VEGETABLES AND FRUIT

Both the blackberries and the blue berries are set and filling out.  The figs and pears are starting to show but the citrus is not having a heavy bloom.  In fact, some of the trees are not blooming at all.  The tangerine are showing the best recovery from the winter cold.  I planted 7 new plum trees (all different varieties) this spring so that we can enjoy a plum harvest.  I cannot get peaches to grow here nor can I get grapes (other than our slip skin varieties) to live longer than a couple years.  The apples are a disappointment so I guess we will have to settle on what we can grow.

I have decided that I wanted to try to grow super sweet corn this year.  I have avoided growing it because it attracts raccoons which will go after more than just the corn.  I will fence the raised bed with chicken wire and liven up the electric fence which charges the inner fence around the garden.  We will see.

Lots of other things going on but I will save them for later.

Here are some of the photos of the garden…

BLACKBERRIES P1330060 CELEBRITY TOMATO BLOOM P1330036 EARLY APRIL GARDEN P1320539 EARLY APRIL GARDEN PHOTO 2 P1320652 FIG HEDGE P1330063 FIVE WEEK OLD GARDEN P1330031 OUR FIRST ARTICHOKE P1330040 PEAS P1330051

rape - a cooking green that we also use as a green salad

rape – a cooking green that we also use as a green salad

REDTIP IN BLOOM P1320547 SNOWBALL VERBURNIUM IN BLOOM P1320548 SQUASH TUBES P1330058 WISTERIA AFTER THE BLOOM P1320549 YOUNG CELEBRITY TOMATO P1330035

I was going to add the 14 photos one at a time and put a caption under each but word press added them all at once so I will try to caption them now.

Photo one is of our early blackberry set.  We have a moderate crop this year.  I did not water the canes enough last summer and they are weak and will not produce an abundant crop this year.  I will learn from this and pour the water on them after they finish producing.

Photo two is the tomato bloom which promises to give us a lot of tomatoes.  I am growing the Celebrity variety this year because it is supposed to be the best one to grow here in South Carolina and it is resistant to most tomato pest.  Photo number 14 is of a new set Celebrity tomato.  I have also started 24 cherry tomato plants of 4 varieties and have placed them in the garden.  They are 1 1/2 foot high and will give us an explosion of little tomatoes.  In addition to these two, we have 6 Roma and 6 Cherokee Purple plants.

Photos 3 and 4 are of the garden in early April.  Compare it to photo 6 which was taken 3 weeks later.  It has got to be the horse compost.

Photo 5 is of a fig plant in the fig hedge which should be ready to prune next year.  Remember that I am going to trim it to 4 feet high and 4 feet wide so we can harvest the figs from both sides of the hedges without using a ladder.

Photo seven is our first artichoke.  We now have 12 plants which will produce 3 or 4 chokes each next year.

Photo eight is of our sugar snap peas.  They started blooming yesterday so we should start harvesting in a week.  What a sweet pleasure they are to eat in the garden.  I have to force myself to take some to the kitchen.  (By-the-way, no asparagus gets to the kitchen).

Photo nine is our crop of rape which is very tender and has just a hint of fire so it blends with the lettuce very well.  It is primarily a cooking green but I like it fresh.

Then we have photos 10: flowering red tip, 11: flowering snowball Viburnum, and 13 which is the wisteria arbor two weeks after the soiree without a bloom.

Photograph 12 is of our squash tubes.  We cannot grow squash here because the squash bore (a moth) destroys the vines just before they start to produce so I found a parthenogenic zucchini squash that is self pollinating and can be grown under a cover.  If this works, we will have all the squash we want.

Last but not least, we are mulching the beds and the walkways with live oak leaves to inhibit weed growth.  It has worked well in the past.  All areas now are getting ample water coverage so are ready to start enjoying our harvest.

We have several new members this month.  I welcome you all. 

Gordon

 

5TH ANNUAL WISTERIA SOIREE WAS THE BEST YET!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 10-04-2015

Sorry it has taken me two weeks to report on the soiree but the demands of getting the garden in have been very pleasurable though time consuming.  What a great gathering we had this year.  Thirty gardeners showed up and enjoyed the Frogmore stew and steamed blue crabs under the wisteria.  The weather was perfect and the midges did not get the invitation in time but one of our swarm of bees showed up and gathered above us.  The wisteria arbor was at its peak in all its glory.

I am pleased to announce that a couple new members joined our team and will help us immensely in our gardening choirs.

5th annual wisteria soiree

5th annual wisteria soiree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5th annual wisteria soiree

5th annual wisteria soiree

 

 

5th annual wisteria soiree

5th annual wisteria soiree

5th annual wisteria soiree

5th annual wisteria soiree

5th annual wisteria soiree

5th annual wisteria soiree

When you get two economics professors together ...

When you get two economics professors together …

 

 

 

 

bee swarm

bee swarm

5th annual wisteria soiree

5th annual wisteria soiree

 

The late group photo - only half remained.

The late group photo – only half remained.

 

I will continue our garden progress in the next blog.

 

Gordon

 

5TH ANNUAL WISTERIA SOIREE COMING TOO SOON!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 23-03-2015

WISTERA

WISTERIA

THE WISTERIA IS REALLY STARTING TO SWELL.

I already have open blooms with a load more to come.  Last year we had it on April 4th but I think that will be too late this year.  Our weather forecast is for sunshine on Saturday and Sunday.  I am going to schedule the event for Saturday,  March 28, 2015.  I know it is again short notice but the bloom and the weather determine the time and date.

All readers of this blog are invited as well as any guest you want to bring.  It is a great time to sit in the garden and enjoy the wisteria, each other and good food.  You will have to bring something to sit on.  I provide the shrimp, soft drinks, plates, etc.  You have to bring your beverage of choice – wine is great as the wisteria blossoms fall into the wine glasses.  Please bring a cheese or fruit or casserole or dip or what ever you think others will enjoy in the garden.  PLEASE CALL ME AT 843-524-9649 IF YOU ARE ATTENDING SO I WILL HAVE ENOUGH SHRIMP.

We  usually start around THREE  in the afternoon and go till dusk.  BRING OFF OR SOMETHING TO DISCOURAGE THE MIDGES in case they are out.

 

 

I AM REPUBLISHING LAST YEARS INVITE IN CASE I MISSED ANYTHING:

Last Thursday I checked the Wisteria in anticipation of scheduling our 4th Annual Wisteria Soiree.  The bloom had just started to swell.  I checked again today (or should I say panicked) when I noticed that we had a 10% bloom underway.  That is quick.  Five days and the rush to make up for the delayed Spring has begun.  I am scheduling the Soiree for FRIDAY, APRIL 4TH AT 3:30 TILL   and hoping that there will be many blooms and that the weather is sunny.  I know this is short notice but the rain threat next week forces my hand.   For those of you who don’t know about this event, we hold it each Spring when the Wisteria is in bloom and invite all who get this blog to attend.  It is always a delightful late afternoon/evening gathering where we all enjoy each others company, the garden and the food brought by our guest (wine, soft drinks, cheeses, fruit, , horsd’oeuvres, and whatever else along with boiled shrimp which we provide.  Please let me know if you plan to come { (843) 524-9649 – or email at seaislandman@islc.net} so that I have enough shrimp.  Also bring a chair so you won’t have to stand in the garden.  The swings under the Wisteria arbor as usually full.  We look forward to seeing you there.

 

GORDON FRITZ and the SeaIsland Garden Group

SPRING IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA LOWCOUNTRY HAS ARRIVED!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 18-03-2015

KEEFER PEAR IN BLOOM

KEEFER PEAR IN BLOOM

Wow! What a winter!  Cold!  Cold! Cold! And now the rain starts.  It could have been worse.  We could have been up North where they are still wondering if Spring is going to arrive.  It was cold enough to give the climate warming skeptics something to chew on.  I suggest they come south and enjoy the July and August afternoons here if they have any questions as to the warming of the climate.   But that is another topic so let us move on to our garden story.

I believe the last entry on this blog was in September.  Much has happened since then but not in the garden.  I could blame it on the weather but that would be incorrect.  Although a small fall and winter garden was planted, most of my time was spent on the construction of a barn and tack room to house the two new horses my wife, Glenda, got.  You may ask what that has to do with the garden but let me tell you that the 80 lbs. of raw compost that they produce each and every day has a lot to do with our garden.  Besides the many hours of scooping, turning and hauling there is the spreading and mixing.  We have great expectations for a very green spring garden.  It is good to move a healthy, natural, indigenous population of earthworms along with the compost into our raised beds.

NEW BARN

It is early in the spring process so I will copy the email I sent to our garden co-op yesterday to bring everyone up to date.

 

HI GUYS:
NOW THAT THE BARN IS FINISHED AND MOST OF THE CRITICAL PROBLEMS WITH GLENDAS HEALTH HAVE DIMINISHED, I AM ABLE TO START WORKING IN THE GARDEN AGAIN.
I AM ADDING SOME OF THE 80 LBS. OF COMPOSTED MANURE THAT THE HORSES PRODUCE DAILY.  I AM MIXING IT 50-50 WITH TOPSOIL FROM THE FOREST AND ADDING IT TO THE RAISED BEDS AS WELL AS TO ALL OTHER PLANTS AND TREES AROUND THE GARDEN AND HOUSE. 80 LBS. A DAY IS A LOT OF MANURE. I PLAN TO AUGMENT THIS WITH A GENEROUS ADDITION OF 10-10-10 THROUGHOUT THE GROWING SEASON AND WILL GET THE WATERING SYSTEM HOOKED BACK UP. THIS SHOULD ENSURE A FANTASTIC GARDEN WITH AMPLE PRODUCTION. AS WE HAVE LEARNED, OUR HOT SUMMERS LIMIT WHAT WE CAN GROW IN JULY – OCTOBER BUT WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET A GOOD SPRING GARDEN GOING. THE PEPPERS, MALABAR SPINACH AND OKRA WILL CARRY US THROUGH THE SUMMER TO THE FALL GARDEN.
LAST WEEK I PREPARED BEDS AND PLANTED 6 TOMATO PLANTS, 9 BRUSSELS SPROUTS, 16 LETTUCE PLANTS AND A BED OF COLE PLANTS (EITHER COLLARDS OR BROCCOLI).  THESE WERE ALL PLANTED IN REFRESHED RAISED BEDS.  DAVIS HAS ADDED COMPOSTED MANURE TO ONE OF THE BEDS AND IS PLANNING TO COVER THE MARY WASHINGTON ASPARAGUS WITH MANURE AS WELL AS PREPARE THE BED NEXT TO THE FENCE INSIDE THE GARDEN NEXT TO THE GATE SIDE. I WILL TRANSPLANT THE JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES IN THIS REFRESHED BED AS THIS SUNFLOWER IS TALL AND WILL SHADE THE GARDEN IF LEFT WHERE IT NOW IS.  BY THE WAY, THERE ARE A LOT OF ARTICHOKES IN THE GROUND THAT NEED TO BE HARVESTED. THEY MAKE GREAT PICKLES AS WELL AS BEING GOOD COOKED LIKE POTATOES OR EATEN RAW IN SALADS.  IF YOU HAVE NOT TRIED THEM, YOU SHOULD.  I WILL BE HARVESTING THEM LATER THIS WEEK AND PLANTING A FEW SEED TUBERS BACK IN THE NEW BED.  IT LOOKS LIKE WE GET ABOUT A QUART AND A HALF FROM EACH PLANT.  LAST YEAR I PLANTED TWO $6 BAGS (ABOUT 8 BULBS EACH) THAT I PURCHASED FROM PUBLIX.  AFTER BREAKING THE BULBS APART, I GOT ABOUT 30 PLANTS.  THIS IS A VERY EASY CROP THAT THEY SAY ONCE YOU PLANT THEM, YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE THEM.
I ALSO PURCHASED TWO BAGS OF NEW JERSEY ASPARAGUS (A VARIETY THAT IS 4 TIMES AS PRODUCTIVE AS THE MARY WASHINGTON TYPE WE NOW HAVE.  I PLANTED THESE OUTSIDE THE GARDEN FENCE NEXT TO THE WIRE ACROSS FROM THE BLACKBERRIES.  I ALSO AM TRANSPLANTING ALL THE DAYLILIES TO THIS AREA NEXT TO THE FENCE.  WE ALL NEED TO START EATING THE DAYLILY BLOOMS (BUDS) AS THEY CAN BE EATEN AS A FRESH ADDITION TO A SALAD OR BOILED AS A COOKED VEGETABLE.  THEY ARE QUITE GOOD AND A STAPLE VEGETABLE IN ASIA.  COOK AS YOU WOULD ANY VEGETABLE.  WE HAVE ABOUT 300 PLANTS NOW AND THE NUMBER IS GROWING SO WE NEED TO DISCOVER OUR DAYLILIES.
YESTERDAY AND TODAY, I PREPARED THE BED AND PLANTED OUR SUGAR PEAS.  I THINK I FOUND THE ORIGINAL PEA WE GREW TWO YEARS AGO THAT WERE SO GOOD.  I WILL PLANT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BED (ACROSS THE TRELLIS) WITH THE SMALL CHERRY TOMATOES I AM GROWING UNDER THE ROOTING BENCH.  THIS IS THE LONG RAISED BED BETWEEN THE GARDEN AND THE BLACKBERRIES.  WE NEED TO WEED THAT SIDE AND TRANSPLANT THE REMAINING DAYLILIES TO ANOTHER LOCATION. THEN WE NEED TO ADD A LOT OF MANURE IN PREPARATION FOR THE TRANSPLANT TOMATOES IN THREE WEEKS.
THAT BRINGS ME TO THE BLACKBERRIES.  THEY NEED TO BE WEEDED (NOT MANY WEEDS) AND I NEED TO CUT THE OLD CANES OUT LEAVING THE NEW CANES TO PRODUCE BERRIES THIS YEAR.  WE NEED TO TOP THE BED WITH 4 TO 6 INCHES OF COMPOST AND THEN ADD 2 INCHES OF THE NEW DROP OF OAK LEAVES. WE CAN THEM COVER THE CANES WITH THE OLD NETTING AND REPAIR ANY BREAKS. THESE CANE ARE STARTING TO SPROUT THIS WEEK SO WE SHOULD HAVE BERRIES IN 3 WEEKS.
I HAVE FIXED THE WATERING SYSTEM FOR THE FIG HEDGES SO WE SHOULD SEE A LOT OF CHANGE WITH THEM THIS YEAR ESPECIALLY AFTER WE MULCH WITH THE COMPOST NOTE: FIGS LIKE A BASIC SOIL AND THE COMPOST WILL BE ACIDIC SO WE WILL HAVE TO ADD LIME TO THE COMPOST OR CHEAT AND POUR CONCRETE RINGS AROUND THE PLANTINGS. (FIGS DO WELL NEXT TO CONCRETE FOUNDATIONS).
I HAVE PURCHASED ABOUT $60 WORTH OF NEW SEEDS. THINGS LIKE ARTICHOKES, SEVERAL INTERESTING CUCUMBERS, A SQUASH THAT WE CAN PLANT UNDER A COVER TO DISCOURAGE THE SQUASH BORE AND GET SQUASH BECAUSE INSECT POLLINATION IS NOT REQUIRED (PARTHENOCARPY), OUR FAVORITE POLE BEAN (GARDEN OF EDEN), RED MALABAR SPINACH AND CELERIAC. I WILL PURCHASE BELL PEPPER PLANTS FROM LOWES AS WELL AS ROMA TOMATO PLANTS. THESE SEEDS WILL BE PLACED IN THE GARDEN BEDS AFTER WE REFRESH THEM. I PLAN TO COVER EVERYTHING WITH THE 2 INCH LAYER OF OAK LEAVES AS IT REALLY CONTROLLED THE WEEDS LAST YEAR AS WELL AS KEPT THE ROOTS COOL AND MOIST. THE DRIVEWAY IS COVERED WITH THE LEAVES AS IS THE HORSE PADDOCK SO WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET ALL THE MULCH THAT WE NEED.
THINGS TO DO NOW:
RAKE LEAVES INTO PILES TO BE HAULED TO THE GARDEN.
WEED THE HALF BED ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PEA TRELLIS AND ADD COMPOST IN PREPARATION FOR THE CHERRY TOMATOES.
WEED COMPOST AND MULCH THE BLACKBERRIES.
REFRESH WITH COMPOST THE MARY WASHINGTON ASPARAGUS BED.
HARVEST THE JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES AND TRANSPLANT THE SEED BULBS TO THE NEW ARTICHOKE BED THAT NEEDS TO BE WEEDED (MINT) AND COMPOSTED.
COMPOST THE OLD ARTICHOKE BED AS THIS IS WHERE MORE LETTUCE IS GOING TO BE PLANTED.
ADD COMPOST TO THE HALF OF THE TOMATO BED IN THE CENTER OF THE GARDEN IN PREPARATION FOR THE 6 ROMA TOMATO PLANTS.
MULCH EVERYTHING WITH OAK LEAVES AS THE BEDS ARE REFRESHED AND PLANTED.
THIS WILL GET US GOING IN A BIG WAY. WE WILL ADD OTHER ITEMS AS SPRING PROGRESSES.
THE BLUE BERRY PLANTS THAT I PURCHASED LAST YEAR AND WE THOUGHT WERE DEAD ARE STILL ALIVE AND WILL SURVIVE WITH WATER, COMPOST AND CARE.  THAT WILL GIVE US A FULL ROW OF BLUE BERRIES THAT WE WILL EVENTUALLY HAVE TO NET TO GET BERRIES BEFORE THE BIRDS GET THEM.  WE HAVE ABOUT A DOZEN NEW BLACKBERRY PLANTS THAT I WILL PLANT IN THE NEW BERRY ROW BY THE FIG HEDGE.  I AM GOING TO KEEP THESE PRUNED SHORT AS MY. FIELDS SHOWED ME BEFORE HE DIED. HE JUST KEPT PLANTING VINES AND CUTTING THEM INTO 4 FEET CLUMPS AND FED THE BIRDS BUT HAD ENOUGH LEFT TO SELL TO HIS DATAW CUSTOMERS.  WE HAVE ONE NICE ARTICHOKE PLANT.  I AM GOING TO TRY TO GET A BED OF THEM GOING THIS YEAR FROM BOTH SEED AND YOUNG PURCHASED PLANTS. ONCE WE GET 12 TO 16 PLANTS GOING, WE WILL HAVE ALL THE ARTICHOKES WE WILL NEED (CAN YOU TELL THAT I REALLY LIKE ARTICHOKES).
THE CITRUS GOT HIT AGAIN THIS WINTER BUT WE MAY GET A BLOOM SO CROSS YOUR FINGERS. WE WILL BE SPREADING COMPOST UNDER THE TREES ONCE WE FINISH WITH THE GARDEN AREA.
I PLAN TO GET 12 NEW PULLETS TO RAISE FROM CHICKS TO BRING THE FLOCK BACK TO 20 OR SO. WE ARE NOW GETTING 6 TO 8 EGGS A DAY.
THAT BRINGS ME TO THE BEES. WE HAVE 3 GOOD HEALTHY HIVES. I WANT TO PUT SUPERS ON THEM THIS SUMMER AND HARVEST THE HONEY AS COMB HONEY. WE WILL GENERATE 4 TO 6 SWARMS THIS YEAR. I HAVE PURCHASED AND INSTALLED A SWARM TRAP IN THE WOODS AND WILL GET ANOTHER ONE NEXT WEEK. THIS SHOULD ENSURE THAT WE GET A COUPLE NEW SWARMS. I WANT TO GET THE TOP BAR HIVE STARTED WITH ONE OF THEM. PEGGY HAS INDICATED THAT SHE WANTS TO GET BACK INTO BEES SO IF WE GET THE SWARMS, I PLAN TO GIVE HER ONE TO START A HIVE. OUR BEES ARE VERY SPECIAL. ASIDE FROM BEING VERY EASY TO WORK (DO NOT STING) THEY ARE GENETICALLY RESISTANT TO THE VERONA MITE WHICH IS A MAJOR PLAGUE IN A HIVE AND WILL WEAKEN THE HIVE WHICH THEN LEADS TO HIVE BEETLES AND WAX MOTH DESTRUCTION. ALL OUR SWARMS ARE OF THIS GENETICALLY SUPERIOR VARIETY. OUR BEES WERE COLLECTING POLLEN AND NECTAR THROUGHOUT THE WINTER WHEN IT WAS WARM ENOUGH TO FLY. I GUESS THEY WERE GOING TO THE PORCH FLOWERS IN COOSAW POINT. WHO KNOWS? I WAS ASTOUNDED. THESE ARE VERY PRODUCTIVE BEES.
ONE LAST THING. I AM WATCHING THE WISTERIA. IT LOOKS LIKE THE BUDS ARE STARTING TO SWELL. WE ARE PROBABLY WITHIN TWO OR THREE WEEKS OF THE SOIRÉE. PLEASE START THINKING ABOUT PEOPLE TO INVITE. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE 30 OR MORE THIS YEAR. YOU ALL KNOW A LOT OF INTERESTING PEOPLE THAT WILL MAKE FOR A GREAT EVENING.
THAT IS IT FOR NOW.  JOIN ME IN THE GARDEN ANY TIME YOU GET A CHANCE.
GORDON
EMPTY GARDEN

EMPTY GARDEN

 

 

 

APIARYSHYPEAS WAITING FOR LEAF MULCH

THE MAY GARDEN

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 29-05-2014

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The garden has really impressed me with its growth since the last blog.  The plantings in the new raised beds are doing very well.  I did not crowd the plants this year and it is proving to be the correct strategy.  We have only 18 tomato plants as opposed to the 30+ we had last year but they are tall, strong plants.  The egg plant are in full bloom and look like they came off a seed catalog cover.  My grandson planted carrots and radish in his 4 x 4 bed and it is going to give us a good crop of carrots as well as will the 5 volunteer tomato plants that have appeared.

THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN 4 WEEKS AGO.  THESE PLANTS ARE HUGE TODAY.

THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN 4 WEEKS AGO. THESE PLANTS ARE HUGE TODAY.

 

Three weeks ago I went to a friends garden on Saint Helena where I had purchased plant before.  My friend, unfortunately, has Prostrate Cancer and has been dealing with it for the past 7 years.  He could always be found in his garden – rain or shine even in the heat of our summers.  I have been interested in some of his growing practices because they were contrary to published procedures but he seemed to always produce a good crop.  He would cut his blueberry bushes and blackberry vines back to 4 feet whenever they rose above that level.  He said they were easier to harvest that way.  I am a witness to his abundant production as are the many neighbors who come from Dataw Island and other areas on Saint Helena to buy and pick his vegetables.  His health is declining and he finds it difficult to go to his garden so he offered to sell me some of his parent plants.  I purchased ten of both his blueberry bushes and his thornless blackberry vines.  They are now in our garden and doing very well.  The blueberries are very mature shrubs and will give us bumper crops.

BLACKBERRIES IN MR. HOLMES FIELD

BLACKBERRIES IN MR. HOLMES FIELD

 

MR HOLMES BLUEBERRIES IN OUR GARDEN

MR HOLMES BLUEBERRIES IN OUR GARDEN

 

Last year we grew a vining perennial spinach (Malabar)  which preformed very poorly as compared to the year before.  We had enjoyed the spinach flavor during our hot summer but were disappointed with it last year so this year we ordered new seed and planted them in both the garden and in a seed tray.  So far, we have good growth in the garden and the seed tray is doing well  I will plant them next week in one of the new raised beds.

SPINACH SEEDLINGS

SPINACH SEEDLINGS

 

I have just planted Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans which are up and going for the supports as well as Sweet Potatoes next to the Jerusalem Artichokes.  I will plant a companion planting of Okra next week.

 

We purchased 6 new pullets this spring to replace some of the hens that have died.  Our original flock is now 5 years old.  I chose six different varieties but they are all brown egg layers.  They are adjusted and starting to lay the prettiest shades of brown eggs.

 

OUR NEW HENS WITH THE SURVIVORS OF OUR FIRST FLOCK.

OUR NEW HENS WITH THE SURVIVORS OF OUR FIRST FLOCK.

 

More garden talk later.

 

THE GARDEN PANORAMA

THE GARDEN PANORAMA

 

 

SPRING IS LATE BUT IT IS RUSHING IN NOW!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 02-04-2014

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Last Thursday I checked the Wisteria in anticipation of scheduling our 4th Annual Wisteria Soiree.  The bloom had just started to swell.  I checked again today (or should I say panicked) when I noticed that we had a 10% bloom underway.  That is quick.  Five days and the rush to make up for the delayed Spring has begun.  I am scheduling the Soiree for FRIDAY, APRIL 4TH AT 3:30 TILL   and hoping that there will be many blooms and that the weather is sunny.  I know this is short notice but the rain threat next week forces my hand.   For those of you who don’t know about this event, we hold it each Spring when the Wisteria is in bloom and invite all who get this blog to attend.  It is always a delightful late afternoon/evening gathering where we all enjoy each others company, the garden and the food brought by our guest (wine, soft drinks, cheeses, fruit, , horsd’oeuvres, and whatever else along with boiled shrimp which we provide.  Please let me know if you plan to come { (843) 524-9649 – or email at seaislandman@islc.net} so that I have enough shrimp.  Also bring a chair so you won’t have to stand in the garden.  The swings under the Wisteria arbor as usually full.  We look forward to seeing you there.

PLUM BLOSSUMS

Our pear and plum trees have already bloomed but the citrus is just now starting to regrow green leaves as they lost everything this winter.  I was afraid that some of the trees would not recover (one has not – a grapefruit) but it looks like most will come back.  I don’t know what kind of a fruit load they will carry this year but anything is better than I feared.   Our 20+ trees can usually handle a quick drop into the mid teens but we had 36 hours at 18 degrees followed by 24 more a week later at 18 degrees.  We did loose all leaves and fruit but they are now greening up with a few lost branches.

 

This winter we completed our building project to convert the entire garden into raised beds.  The practical results are that we can manage our soils better, control the weed growth in each bed and along the walkways between the beds, better organize our rotation plan and apply our drip irrigation more effectively.  The beds are supposed to warm up faster in the spring for earlier crop growth.  We will see.

The most difficult part of creating the beds after the actual construction which was completed by Davis, my son, Cam,  my grandson, Keegan and myself is to fill the beds with a rich soil from which we can build a better soil.

PA PA !  PLEASE  650 PIXELS

Keegan and Katie working the new beds.  Keegan is a real farmer and has claimed a 4 x 4 bed for himself.

 

Sketter’s Seedlings

I have know Frank Gardner (Sketter) for 40 years.  He is a fine cabinet and furniture maker as well as a builder.  Several years ago, he built a swiveling greenhouse (moves to follow the sun) in his back yard and he sprouts many of his own vegetables which he grows in his garden.  This year he had extra plants and offered to sell some to me.  I jumped at the chance because they are non-GMO seedlings and much nicer than I grow myself or purchase from Lowes.

SKETTER'S ROTATING GREENHOUSE

Sketter’s greenhouse

 

SKETTER'S TOMATOES AND EGGPLANTS

Part of Sketter’s garden.

 

SKETTER -OUT STANDING- IN HIS GARDEN

Sketter “out standing” in his garden.

 

I have planted the plants I got from Sketter in our new raised beds and have jumped back to watch them grow.

PLANTED  NEW BEDS

Eggplant and tomato plants in new beds.

 

The fig hedge rootings are sprouting new growth and I expect them to grow into the hedge this year.  My experimental plants have attained heights of 4 feet (where I prune them off and have spreads to 4 feet wide.  Once grown out, the hedge will be easy to net and pick unlike harvesting and protecting the 15 foot plants they usually grow into.  Our hedge is the Brown Turkey variety but I am rooting the Celeste variety to make an additional hedge and hopefully extend the harvest time.

BROWN TURKEY FIG ROOTINGS

One year old fig rooting.

 

I pruned the blackberries back as the literature suggest and set 100 rootings under large bell jars (made from 5 gallon water bottles).  I plan to plant them along the inside of the garden fence where the birds and gardeners can get their fill.

ROOTING BELL JARS

Rooting bell jars for the blackberries.  Note the spearmint invading the bed.

 

BLACKBERRY ROOTINGS

Blackberry rootings.

 

FRESH BLACKBERRY SPROUTS

New growth on existing blackberries.

 

I can’t wait until the berries come in.  It is a joy to pick a couple gallons for morning breakfast and an afternoon cobbler not to mention the fresh garden snacking.

Bees are flying like crazy – all three hives.  I will probably have to split them mid Spring to avoid swarming.  Anyone want to take up bee keeping?

Gordon

 

 

WINTER DID NOT FORGET OUR GARDEN THIS YEAR!

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 26-01-2014

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A GARDEN AT REST

A GARDEN AT REST

I guess I can stop bragging about our winters without a frost.  I have heard from many or our subscribers in the Northeast and Central Plains states complaining of their hard freezes and snow cover and asking about our citrus.  I know they will not commiserate with me about our winter weather here but it is still hard to go out and look at the garden in its present state.  I was out cutting back and trimming many of the freeze damaged plants today and was reminded that Spring is just around the corner by the spring calls of the Northern  Cardinals,   Mourning Dove and Red-tailed Hawk.  I also watched a Bald Eagle fly over (these birds are already nesting in the ACE Basin across the Coosaw River from the house.  We have a rare forecast for snow next week but it will probably be a mix of snow and ice.  At any rate,  Spring will get here at some point and the garden will come alive.

We had a 48 hour period of below freezing temperatures going to 18 degrees.  We also had several evenings where it dipped into the high twenties.  We are promised several more “clippers” that will take the temperature below freezing before things start to warm up.  The wind has been very strong during several of these fronts reaching into the 50 to 60  mph range  in several of them.  I know this is nothing to those of you who live in the northern half of the country but it is cold for coastal South Carolina.

My grandson, Keegan, helped me pick up several hundred citrus fruit that had fallen off the trees.  They are still good but once off the tree, citrus spoils quickly so I will be squeezing a lot of juice.

MYER'S LEMON

MYER’S LEMON

 

 

TANGERINE

TANGERINE

While we were out in the garden, we created Skyler Morrison as a companion for Jack Dexter who has lived in our garden alone for several years.  They are separated by about 20 feet but their branches move together when the wind blows and Keegan swears he saw Jack’s eyes lift up when the wind blew…  Anyway, our garden now has two guardians to watch over it.

SKYLER MORRISON

SKYLER MORRISON

 

JACK DEXTER

JACK DEXTER

I did plant a couple dozen Jerusalem Artichokes at the edge of the garden to re-establish a planting after the gophers dined on our previous planting.  I am warned that once established the Artichoke will spread and populate a garden much like our spearmint has but I don’t think I will have to worry about that.

 

ARTICHOKE PLANTING

ARTICHOKE PLANTING

I still have to build the 4 new raised beds to finish our garden improvement project – just too cold – and clip back the blackberry bushes before they sprout.

 

BLACKBERRY CANES

 

THIRD HIVE (NEWEST SPLIT) IN A WARM SUNLIGHT

THIRD HIVE (NEWEST SPLIT) IN A WARM SUNLIGHT

 

HIVES ONE AND TWO IN A SHADED LOCATION

HIVES ONE AND TWO IN A SHADED LOCATION

 

All three of our hives are active gathering nectar and pollen (although I have no idea where they are finding it).  The number three hive is in a warmer location and the bees are really active while the other two are doing ok but will do better (even than the number three hive) once the summer heat arrives.  Notice that all the feeding jars are empty.  We should have a good honey flow this spring as the hives are strong and getting ready.

 

LAST WEEK

LAST WEEK

 

THIS WEEK

THIS WEEK

 

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A WEEK MAKES!