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Recent Entries to this Blog My Garden So Far (2008)
Posted: 31 May 2008
Need 4 Seed has helped 35 families!
Posted: 31 May 2008
Short & Sour: An Admisson from Monsanto
Posted: 30 Mar 2008
If Anyone Wants to Get Involved, or Make a Request
Posted: 18 Mar 2008
...and We're Off!
Posted: 17 Mar 2008

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Robin282's Blog

My Garden So Far (2008)

Category: Gardening for Food | Posted: Sat May 31, 2008 10:42 pm

Garden update:

purple-podded peas, snap peas, lettuce mix, carrots, radishes, watermelon radishes, onion sets (red & yellow), garlic, turnip, potatoes--Yukon Gold, red Pontiac, white, All Blue and Rose Finn--, Bott's Strain Giant Sunflowers, Mammoth sunflowers, spinach, beets, asparagus, flax, oat, wheat, corn, spelt, buckwheat, parsnips--which never came up,

This year, I am trying to grow food for our chickens. It has gotten outrageous, and prices on corn & feed has virtually doubled. I have started a corn area at one end of the field, and I planted it as a corn maze for the kids.

I started some Italian onions right from seed. I planted them in the gutters that came off the house. They are small onions and they should do well in that space. One is a small white (like a pickling) round, and the other is a torpedo shaped red.

I have been planting my tomato, pepper, and eggplant that I started indoors. I also have some nice flowers that I Winter Sowed going into beds.

I am also trying peanuts and black sesame seed this year. We'll see how that goes. I have never planted them before. I like to plants something new or a "challenge" plant every year. The challenge is usually with something that shouldn't grow here usually, or something that is considered difficult to keep. I plan to plant amaranth and safflower among other things.

My perennial veggies are doing well: asparagus, rhubarb, shallots.

Let's see... I planted gourd seeds in cups. I had a flowering plant swap with a neighbor yesterday morning. I got an order from Raintree Nursery & am trying to get all that in too. I bought all edible plants, mostly small fruit & berries.

Boy, am I tired! ...but I cannot wait to get out there tomorrow!

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Edible Landscaping... The Cloudberry Conundrum

Category: Gardening for Food | Posted: Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:48 pm

Rubus chamaemorus: Greek chamai ("dwarf") and morus ("mulberry") also known as Bakeberry, Baked-apple berry, Cloudberry, Malka, Moltebeere, Salmonberry (Not to be confused with Rubus spectabilis), Torfbeere, Yellowberry
Ahhh the cloudberry... possibly as ethereal as the name implies...

It took 2 years to get my hands on some seeds, and then I handled them the same way that I did the cranberries I had started from seed--to no avail. Hmmm...

Meanwhile, I had been searching all this time for information on the cloudberry, and at first, there were only 2 Google pages that came up in a search result. After 3-4 years now, there are many more pages. However, these pages are not particularly helpful to my cause: acquiring the plant.

My introduction to the cloudberry was late one night while watching a show called "Quest for the Bay" about 1937 Labrador. The show had a couple of families move to the Placentia Bay area and set up living like 1937: cod fishing, salting, and preparing for market; gardening, rationing food, and storing for winter; and so forth. One episode showed 2 of the women going out and picking "bakeapples".

After that, I looked for information on the fruit. After finding out what I could (which wasn't much), I decided I would like to grow it. That is when the trouble began.

As I said before, there was all of 2 Google pages. These pages included sites from Norway and others and were written in a language I do not know. Some pages were very scientific–no problem, I can read that–but I could not get into the site; I guess a university must have an account. I saw that one other person was looking for the plants and even paid someone money to find it on the web. The respondent gave a few nursery names, but the only one that actually had it listed for selling was out, and had a waiting list (I have been on that list for over 2 years). One other place that I found was a US Germplasm Bank. After writing and going from person to person, I finally was able to ask for seed. I was so happy to receive this seed! It was collected in Russia. About the same time, I was joining gardening websites. I found a very pleasant woman in Norway who had a pile of the berries in the freezer. She sent me a good amount of seed.

Well, seed is good. I have good luck germinating things. I have even germinated difficult things. Well, this is my 3rd year attempting to germinate these seeds, and I have gotten not-a-one! I have tried several different methods. I tried the ol' stratify in the fridge and then bring to warm. I have tried winter sowing outside. I have tried the warm-cold-warm stratification. The seed coats are hard and thick for a raspberry type plant, so I nicked the coat to speed aid germination. I have tried the bleach method. When I got the Russian seeds, there were some suggestions on germinating–which I followed–with no resultant sprouting.

In the fall, I met a very nice person from Newfoundland (on a gardening site). She said she would send me seeds. I told her of the hard time I was having. She said she had sent seeds before, and that person sprouted them. OK, maybe my seeds aren't as fresh as necessary. I am still hoping to work something out there.

This time, I am trying Gibberellic acid! I have read (in the new pages I can now find on Google) that this makes it possible to skip the stratification! We shall see...

Of course, I was told that I couldn't grow them here! Impossible, they said. Well, first (since this is experimentation) let me see if I can get one to sprout! Then I will worry about having the right climate. I have the perfect spot in my yard–a little micro-climate if you will.

All that said, I would still need to have plenty of plants going to get anything because the plants are dioecious (male & female separately)! I am still determined.

I also met a nice fellow gardener from Alaska. He has sent me seeds of other berries that are tough to get going–I have them all going. He plans to send me cloudberry seeds when he makes jam. The seeds he sends are a by-product of making jam (prior to heating of course!). He will strain them out and mail them to me.

Well, I have fresh seed pending; that is a good sign. I hope to get plants pending. I would like it if I could get 2-3 plants just to see if I could keep them going here. I will continue my experiments with the seed, and learn what I can from my failures.

It will be a great & surprising thing if I do succeed.

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Edible Landscaping... Organic & Sharing the bounty

Category: Gardening for Food | Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:23 am

Each year, I add more edible landscape items to our property. I am all organic. With this, I have to share with others who call our place their home: animals.

I have found that some years are better or worse than others. two years ago, the catbirds enjoyed my black-caps to the point of my daughter getting less. Other than that, a squirrel ate our first alpine strawberry or two (the only ones that got to grow that first-year-planting). Bunnies have enjoyed the first bean leaves. I have to put my foot down there. All I did was set the next bean patch in a high traffic area and that was it. The skunk digs up the grubs, so frankly, he works here! One year, I planted peas very early. The sparrows dine on the leaves until spring finally arrived and there were other greens to munch. As soon as they left the peas alone, the peas grew and produced as usual.

Otherwise, it has not been bad. I do not mind the animals helping themselves. We do feed the birds, and I do plant things for them. They give us hours of pleasure and are educational.

I do not appreciate the bugs the same way. I must admit there too, the damage has not been bad. I got a bad squash bug infestation, but luckily, my summer squashes were pretty much done anyway. I brought my hens out and set them upon the bugs, and, well, they work here too.

I have had bean beetles, but got plenty of beans. I had potato beetle arrive at the potato patch, but they were so easy to pick off and fling to the chickens. I cannot complain.

This one is just a rambling. I like being organic here--even if I have to share.

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Edible Landscaping--Edibles on Memory Lane

Category: Gardening for Food | Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 4:55 am

I lived on Cape Cod, Massachusetts (USA) for most of my life. The flora is a bit different than most of the rest of Massachusetts (MA). Some alpine type plants are there: short, low, hardy. The Cape is a sandy place so soil is poor in many places. The pines and oaks are mostly scrub-type, and some places are not very green at all. Amidst this landscape of sand and scrub you will find beautiful pink Lady Slipper orchids growing under the rough and rugged looking trees.

I used to take walks with my older sister when I was a pre-teen child. We would walk through the woods and find "Checkerberry" (Gaulthera procumbens), and taste the minty leaves and comment on how it tasted just like a gum that was out at the time: Teaberry. You could also buy Checkerberry Popcorn at an ice-cream stand at the beach. The popped corn had a glaze over it with that delightful sweetly mint (not "hot" at all) flavor on it. That was my grandmothers (Ma) favorite. We would go there when my grandparents came and stayed for a few days every other weekend.

My sister and I would walk in the scrub woods near our home, and along the edges and in clearings were patches of blueberries. We picked what was ripe and returned home to give them to my mother who would put them in pancakes and muffins for my Grandfather (Papa). There were also a few raspberry/blackberry plants around. They were prostrate & trailing an were themselves rather rough with their spines and imperfect fruit. Papa still loved them. I loved picking them, the smell of the woods while I was there, and the smile on Papa's face when we brought them home.

I believe Papa really enjoyed the idea of us going out and gathering in such a way. That is a lost art around here now. Housing developments have replaced many of these places, and others have been paved over with highways. Papa used to tell us stories of growing things when he was younger. We were 2 generations farther away from the dirt, but this brought things back. My Grandfather and an elderly neighbor taught me how to garden starting when I was 8. When I harvested, Ma would snap the peas or beans for dinner while she sat on a chez lounge in the sun.

One of the great things about life on Cape Cod was abundant seafood. When I was 12 I used to go fishing by myself and sometimes with a friend at the bay. I brought home at various times squid, snapper blues, crabs, and clams. Although not landscaping, edible nonetheless.

I miss those days. Recently, while trying to pass on the joy of a ramble through the woods to my kids, the harsh reality of its dangers hit us. In 2006, my daughter and I got Lyme Disease--it was awful. Luckily, we caught it quick, and after treatment are both recovered. The thing is we caught it on the edge of our own property! Certainly the woods would have more ticks! I have ventured out around here when things are colder (October for "Autumn Olive" picking), but I have picked up a tick on a February walk. We are no longer on the Cape, and this location is closer to the epicenter of Lyme disease.

I think this Spring (early) I will go back to the Cape for some walks in the dunes on the beach. Maybe we can spot some whales while we are there. I hope my kids get as much out of walking and browsing the landscape for food as I did.


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Edible Landscaping--Cranberry Bog

Category: Gardening for Food | Posted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:51 pm

Some interest has arisen about my cranberry bog, so I will post what I did here.

We moved here about 4 years ago. The first year I had a veggie garden and a "watch and see" for the rest of the yard. Well, I noticed a portion of our yard held water when it rained a lot. It was wet, I thought, because the ground was still frozen underneath.

The following year, my daughter (7 at the time) was rescuing worms from the flooded area. These worms told me it had nothing to do with frozen ground. The poor things were trying to escape because the soil was wet all the way down. The worms weren't there the time before, but this was definitely a clue. I was pretty excited--unlike most people I would imagine--to have an opportunity there. My daughter and I saved literally about 4000 earthworms! She was so adorable saying, "Help! We have to save them!" We put them all in gardens on higher ground.

The next year, I started to prep the area. My son was helpful, thank goodness. I chose the lowest spot, turned over the nice black dirt. I made a drainage hole next to it (where we pulled out a stump) because cranberries like to be raised up above the moisture. They can be soaked for a period of time in cool/cold weather, but not during growing.

On top, I mixed peat moss and sand--with a little garden solid for nutrition (not much at all). I also had to dig a trench at the other end of my field because road run-off would get into the yard and work its way across to the bog area. That worked out pretty well.

We also made a rock wall (one row of big rocks) behind the bog and planted azaleas there. I put violets around the bottom of the flowering shrubs.

My brother worked for a cranberry growing company, and I was hoping to get some vines from him. He procrastinated and then moved to Florida! Well, I had decided earlier to start cranberry from seed.

Cranberry germination: I cut open fresh cranberries, put them on a damp paper towel, and put them in the fridge. They were there for over 30 days, but I do not recall exactly how long). Then I brought the paper towel baggie out, and started watching the seeds. Each day, I would unwrap, and return them to the moist (now warm) place in the plastic bag. Then, I saw sprouts, and planted them in flats. Since it was an experiment and I hoped to get vines from my brother, I had but a few. They did quite well.

You do not need a bog to grow cranberries!

I wanted a bog for other reasons too. I have a Jack-in-the-pulpit to one side of the bog, and am studying about other plants that like that sort of situation.

Well, my brother moved back last year, and got me a big bag of vines. He told me to plant them, and not to be concerned if they drop all their leaves and look dead. This is what happens when you cut the vine and it has no roots. The moisture in the bog keeps the stem from dying. Well, I decided to toss a little rooting hormone down before I laid the vines everywhere and sprinkled sand all over. I could see parts of the vines, and if any ends were sticking out or showing, I tucked them into the dirt. Well, things looked bad as he said it would, and then after a long time, I saw little green cranberry sprouts!

The worst part of it last year was to weed it without pulling out the delicate little plants. We also have chickens, and a couple are good at getting out. Now, where did you think they wanted to go and play? The bog of course--but only those nice soft-soil weeded areas! So, I decided to leave the rest of the weeds to protect the little plants from the chicken scratching and see what I had this year. Maybe by the time things get going again, I will have a stronger vine when the weeds are removed, and they can fend better for themselves.

We will be building a special chicken coop for Houdini chickens.

Cranberries need a little sand on them now and again to produce more roots as the vines grow up and old are replaced by new. I do not think much fertilizer is needed. I am organic here anyway, but I think they do well in nature in fairly poor soil anyway. I will check, and post about that in the future.

Near where I used to live, there was a swath of wild cranberries growing amidst a big blueberry patch. The whole thing was above an aquifer (underground water). The ground actually had a bounce to it. It was dry on top and and it is hard to describe: not squishy, just bouncy as if you were on something fairly solid, but that it was on top of something not. Well, when we picked blueberries one year, we got about 3 gallons in an hour or so. The cranberries there produce too, but not much, and at a different time. The following year, the town put in a water-pumping station, and the blueberries were never quite the same. I never saw any after that. After the birds got the few that were there, I never saw another blueberry. Fortunately, I saved a couple of the bushes, and I have them growing in my yard now.

Feel free to ask questions, if I do not know the answer myself, I will ask my brother. I do hope I get some berries this year; I would like to make sauce for Thanksgiving dinner from my own cranberries!

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Edible Landscaping

Category: Gardening for Food | Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 5:11 am

Last year I began to plant perennial food plants. I have been a veggie gardener since I was 8 years old. Now that I am just "older" I need to put in plants that won't have to be replanted year after year.

Last year, I put in a cranberry bog. My brother works for a local cranberry company, an he got me some nice vines that I believe were making a break for it.

I also planted low-growing plants such as Usa-Urvi, Salal, Gaulthera procumbens, Michella repans, blue berry (I had planted some in previous years too), and some others. I hope to add to this list.

I have an Amish pen-pal that swapped with me and sent some very nice Rubus: wineberry, dewberry, tayberry. He also sent some nice Saskatoon, JuJube, and some seed. We also swapped eggs, an he sent some eggs for Guinea fowl. They are interesting birds, but are not as good for company as chickens. Since we have ticks & deer here with Lyme disease (and my dauhter and I had it in '06), I wanted the Guineas for the ticks. Supposedly, they eat them.

Since this is my first blog, I am not sure what to write about.

Last edited: Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:36 pm

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