SPRING 2017 . MOTHER’S DAY

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 15-05-2017

I have several hundred registered members to this blog from all over the world.  Some I have met. Some are old friends. Some are new friends and some I have never met nor spoken with but they have just appeared on my list of registered members.  I welcome you all and encourage you to share this blog with friends and ask them to register.  What do you get if you register?  You get an email notice that I have published another entry on the blog at which time you can decide whether you are interested in reading it or ignoring it.  I never give the list to anyone.  It is just a way to announce a new posting.  So spread the word to as many of your friends that might enjoy reading about our little garden in coastal South Carolina.   We hope that some of our members will post to the site questions or answers to our questions or suggestions.  You would be surprised how informative and beneficial this has been for us in our gardening efforts.

I have heard from some who have registered that they are no longer getting alerts that another post has arrived.  I don’t understand why this is happening or how common it is.  It would be very helpful to me if each of you that are receiving a notice would send me a quick email to: seaislandman@islc.net stating “I get it”.  Thanks.

 

I can’t believe that almost two months have passed since our 7th Annual Wisteria Soiree.  It was a splendidly successful event with 61 attendees.  What makes it so exciting and enjoyable is that those who attend represent a broad cross section of friends and gardeners.  Our guest came from as far away as western North Carolina, Miami, Florida and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  We spent the better part of the afternoon and evening in the garden where attendees arrived in basically three time slots or groups.  Some came at noon while others visited during the evening hours and some stayed the entire time.  We ate our fill of shrimp jambalaya along with wonderful side dishes and had a great time visiting and touring the garden.  THIS IS AN ANNUAL EVENT SCHEDULED FOR THE LAST SATURDAY IN MARCH so put it on your calendar.

Visitors at 7th Annual Wisteria Soiree

Visitors at 7th Annual Wisteria Soiree

It has been a very busy April and May for the Fritz family as my wife, Glenda has been struggling with a serious A-Fib heart condition.  We have been back and forth to MUSC in Charleston for several ablations after which her doctor finally said there is only one way to make her healthy again and that was with the insertion of a pacemaker.  This was done last week and we are celebrating Mother’s Day with a healthy Glenda.  As we get older, we realize that our health, which was taken for granted in the past, is very important if we want to stay active, especially in the garden.

 

THE GARDEN:
Speaking of the garden, our spring garden was slow to get going this year but we finally got the multiple varieties of greens in and they thrived in our raised beds containing our composted and earthworm enriched soil.  We don’t use any pesticides in the garden so the earthworm population is strong.  It is such a pleasure to sink a spade into the soil and turn over a wiggling group of worms.  For those of you who don’t share this pleasure with me, I must describe the wonderful textured soil resulting from the ingestion of the soil by the earthworms.  One can buy these earthworm castings as an enriched manure compost by the one lb bag for $25.00 or your worms can make it for you in the garden.  It will grow anything … BIG!

TURNUP

TURNIP

We have planted 30 tomato plants of three varieties which are making tomatoes toward the four inch size already with many booms setting on each plant.  Last year, we tried to grow tomatoes in hay bales.  We followed the directions published on the web and had the most gorgeous tomato plants ever.  7 feet tall and green green green.  But very few tomatoes.  We decided that the scarcity of tomatoes was due to the required fertilizer we had to add to the hay bales in order to “predigest” the bales so they would support the tomato growth.  I love tomato plants with base stalks bigger than the width of two thumbs but the lack of an appreciable tomato crop did not justify the time and expense required to get those beautiful vines.

TOMATOES

TOMATOES

The corn is in and the first planting is in full silk with the second planting at 5 inches and growing.  We planted several varieties of super sweet corn last year with a modest crop of deliciously sweet corn but we have planted the old standby Silver Queen this year in hopes of producing a larger crop.  Corn is so inexpensive in the summer but I like to see it growing and the taste of a fresh picked ear eaten raw in the garden.  I know that many of you know exactly what I am talking about.

CORN

CORN

The spring cabbage is starting to head inside its two foot wide leaf spread, the edible pod peas are finishing up (we will plant another round of this wonderful crop in the late summer/fall so as to get another crop before a cold winter if we get one.  Collards and Broccoli are coming in as is the radish and kale.  Lots of other things being planted this week (watermelon, pole beans, peppers, okra, artichoke, etc..

A question for anyone who has a suggestion.  We have an entire 6 x 12 foot raised bed filled with wonderful soil and mulched as instructed containing the poorest example of an asparagus garden that I have ever seen.  I have planted Mary Washington and male New Jersey plants (roots) in this 7 year old bed and my spears are seldom ever larger that 1/4 inch in diameter and sparse at that.  It is so bad that I rarely even pick a spear.  I decided a couple years ago to dig the roots up and use the bed for another crop but the roots were huge and almost impossible to dig out so I abandoned the effort.  Can anyone tell me why I am getting so small and few spears?  I have planted roots in other areas in the flower garden by the house and they seem to be flourishing.

The blueberry and fig crop is going to be a good one this year and if I get a bird met over them, I might get a few.  Despite neglecting the blackberries last year, we are going to get a modest crop this year.  I will rework the beds and do it right this year and make for a bumper crop nest season.   For some reason, the pears are scarce this year which will disappoint the squirrels who usually get the lions share.  I find watching a squirrel scampering across the garden balancing a heavy pear in his jaws a very amusing sight.  Sort of like a miniature unbalanced bulldozer.

BLUEBERRIES

BLUEBERRIES

 

I must mention our citrus bloom this spring.  About the time of the Wisteria Soiree, the trees were in full bloom which scented the air with heavy “orange blossom” fragrances.  My first thought was that we were going to have a great citrus crop.  As the weeks have passed, I am reassessing my prognoses.  It seems that most of the tangerines, navels, grapefruit, kumquats and mandarins did not set.  There are some on the trees but not loaded as I first expected.  The juice orange and the five Myer’s lemon trees did not disappoint me as they have set thousand of fruit.  We did not have any heavy rains during the bloom period so I don’t know why we have such a modest set ratio on some of the varieties.

MYERS LEMON

MYERS LEMON

Some of you have learned that we place my discarded day lily crosses in the garden as a food crop.  All parts of the day lily are edible including the roots.  I particularly like to cook the unopened blooms as they are like a mild asparagus/bean when smothered in butter with spices and covered with a cheese (there are several ways to prepare this plant including in a salad cut up raw).

Dinner

Dinner

Ingredients

Ingredients

Cooked Day Lily

Cooked Day Lily

We usually grow sweet potatoes in the garden and scattered across the open areas outside the fenced vegetable garden (we have a fenced three acre old English Garden with hedges and fruit trees which includes a second smaller fenced vegetable garden).  I have not grown a lot of regular potatoes except as an experiment several years ago inside a barrel.  This was marginally successful but to harvest the crop, we had to turn the barrel over and dump everything out.  We therefore had our entire crop all at once and could not space its consumption over a longer period.  This year, I decided to design a system where we could control the harvest timing and decided to grow specially potatoes (French fingerlings, small reds, American yellow and small butter potatoes).  I built four beds (or should I call them expandable racks) 2 x 4 foot squares each made up of five 5 inches high racks.  As the potatoes grow I add compost and rotted hay to within three inches of the tops and add another rack.  I continue this until I have all five racks placed around the potatoes back filling with the the compost/straw mixture.  This makes an approximately 30 inch high raised bed which can be harvested as needed(once the blooms are finished and the tops dried back) in five inch sections by removing the top rack when potatoes are desired.  They will keep in the ground/racks throughout most of the winter avoiding the necessity of storming them under the house.  I currently have the little reds at the five rack level and they are starting to bloom which means they are making potatoes.  the other three beds are delayed because my first plantings were of potatoes purchased at the Publix grocery store and they were sprayed with something to keep them from sprouting.  I had to obtain planting set from the Potato Lady in New England (search online).  These potatoes are starting to sprout and will soon fill their five rack “barrels.

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four potato barrels

four potato barrels

LITTLE RED POTATO BARREL

LITTLE RED POTATO BARREL

This is enough for now.  Don’t forget to let me know if you are receiving this post and send it to you friends with the suggestion that they register.

Come see me in the garden.

GORDON

 

 

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