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Archive for the ‘Gardens’ Category

Vegetable Garden Update, June 9, 2011

In Daily Munge, Gardens, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story? on June 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Rain, rain, rain. That was the main melody this spring, and all of that rain delayed planting vegetables. But as Lake Champlain‘s devastating flood of 2011 begins to subside, virtualDavis turns to the garden. The latest Rosslyn Redux video update takes a look at what’s been planted in the garden including lots of tomatoes: Beaverlodge 6808, Cherry Buzz, Cuore Di Bue, Green Zebra, Kellogg’s Breakfast, Sweet Seedless Hybrid, Fourth Of July, Tye-Dye Hybrid, Brandy Boy, Orange Wellington and Steak Sandwich.

In addition to the organic and heirloom tomatoes, Rosslyn’s 2011 vegetable garden includes Casper Eggplant, Prosperosa Eggplant, Millionaire Hybrid Eggplant and Fairy Tale Organic Eggplant.

On to the peppers: Felicity Pepper, Pizza Pepper, Créme Brulée Pepper; Ancho Magnifico Pepper, Ascent Pepper and California Wonder 300 Pepper.

Then there are the melons: Fastbreak Cantaloupe, Petite Treat Watermelon and Ruby Watermelon.

Last but not least there are Franklin Brussels Sprouts and Dimitri Hybrid Brussels Sprouts.

But that’s just the new transplants. Onions, radishes, peas and Swiss chard are already underway! And many more seeds will be planted over the next couple of weeks including zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, lettuce and beans…

What are you planting in your garden this summer?

Soggy Soil Delays Planting

In Champlain Valley, Daily Munge, Gardens, Lake Champlain, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story?, Where's Rosslyn? on April 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm
Doug Decker tilling the vegetable garden

Doug Decker tilling the vegetable garden

With some Champlain Valley residents being evacuated by boat and the Wesport Marina totally flooded, we’re feeling fortunate that a submerged boathouse and waterfront is the extent of our flooding problems.

Although we have our work cut our for us when Lake Champlain water levels drop, another short-term challenge is the super saturated soil. Tilling the vegetable garden has been out of the question, planting more grape vines, fruit trees and shrubs likewise has been suspended lest we drown the roots. Last year, I planted spinach and radishes in the garden in mid-March, and my bride and I had been gorging on succulent baby spinach for weeks by this point. Not so this year. Some onions and leeks wintered over, but nothing new has been planted in the vegetable garden yet.

The 7.88 inches of rain that fell in April in Burlington is of course a record, and is a full five inches more that what normally falls in the month… The soil is saturated and completely unworkable for farmers, gardeners, vegetable growers and others… To let farmers catch up, we really need at least a couple weeks of warm, dry, sunny weather… (Burlington Free Press)

I received a call from Mr. Murphy, the gentleman who — with his son and sometimes his grandson — has done an unbelievable job of maintaining our lawns for the last two years. He wanted to know when to start mowing lawns for the season. He agreed that the ground was far too saturated and suggested we wait a couple of weeks. I agreed.

Frankly, I’ve agreed with almost every decision Mr. Murphy has made over the last two years. He’s a lawn master. And a weather master. He keeps track of the forecast and works around it, advancing or pushing back our lawn mowing each week per the rain forecast. And so far we’ve never once had an unmowed lawn for the weekend! And he’s nice as can be, always smiling, always ready to let me in on an amusing story or anecdote. He’s famous in these parts for his tomato plants. He raises many hundreds of plants and then sells them to friends and neighbors, donating the profits to the local animal shelter.

In short, I’m a big fan of Mr. Murphy, and when he told me that his greenhouse was flooded, I was sympathetic as only a sunken boathouse owner could be. Water, water everywhere! We’re all ready for a drought…

Blooming hyacinth perfume the air

Hyacinth perfume the air outside our breakfast room

Actually, today I took matters into my own hands. Despite the notion that a couple of dry weeks would be needed to till and plant, I jumped the gun. Rising lake water had gotten its talons into my spirit, so I decided to ignore the flood and enjoy the first balmy spring day in a while gardening, pruning, landscaping. And you know what? It worked! I only wish I’d tried this approach a few days ago. Maybe Lake Champlain wouldn’t have risen so high.

Doug and I spent part of the morning changing over the tractor from snow plow to backhoe, and then proceeded to rip out a lumber retaining wall at the southeast corner of the old clay tennis court. I suspected that the area contained objectionable refuse (a battery and part of a garden hose had floated to the surface) and the wall had been built altogether too close to the carriage barn resulting in sill and framing rot. I’ll tell the story of what we discovered in another post.

Then we tilled the garden under for the second time, adding plenty of sphagnum moss to help lighten the soil. We were premature. The tines clogged repeatedly, but we made it through which will help the soil dry out. Tomorrow I’m hoping to make another pass and possibly — I dare not pronounce my wish lest I tempt the rain fates — just possibly I’ll be able to plant some spinach and kale. I’d hoped to have the vegetable garden so much further along by now because of some ambitious plans. We’re relocating the asparagus patch from south of the carriage barn to back by the vegetable garden. The strawberry beds will also be moved. And the rhubarb. And blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are arriving in a couple of weeks to be planted. None of these beds have been prepared yet.

But today marked the first major step forward in preparing the vegetable and fruit gardens. And tomorrow, weather permitting, I intend to continue full steam ahead! Fingers crossed…

New Grapes: Neptune and Reliance

In Daily Munge, Gardens, What's Rosslyn?, What's the story? on April 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Doube A Vineyards grapes

This spring one of my gardening priorities is developing the long term fruit production. I’ve spent the last couple of years salvaging long abandoned apple trees, and this spring I’m planting additional fruit trees, shrubs and vines. Sounds factory farm-like… Not at all what I’m gong for, so let’s start again!

On March 28 I placed an order with Double A Vineyards for two Neptune grapevines (a seedless white grape variety) and two Reliance grapevines (a seedless red grape variety). Taking advantage of today’s beautiful mid-70’s weather I planted all four grapes along the garden meadow fence, filling in some of the gaps between the grapes I planted last year. The grapes arrived at the end of last week, but I was unable to plant them before heading down to Montclair, New Jersey to celebrate Easter with my in-laws. Fortunately the grape vines were well packaged in damp, shredded newsprint wrapped in plastic. I left the package sealed in the carriage house to avoid drying out the roots, and they were still damp (but not moldy) when I opened them up today.

So, why’d I pick these two grapes? Why not! Actually, all of the grapes I’m growing are primarily table grapes (as opposed to wine grapes) and because it’s a lot more enjoyable to eat seedless grapes, I’m mostly narrowing my variety selection to avoid seeded grapes. Although I may later add in a small wine grape vineyard, my short term priority is food, not wine. We planted a vineyard of wine grapes in Rock Harbor in the mid-1980’s and it’s done surprisingly well over the years. Unfortunately wine productions has been limited by the incredible efficiency of the wild turkey and deer who consistently gobble the crop as each variety ripens. I do have a few bottles of our own foxy Dry Gulch Vineyards wine in the wine cellar, and I’d be remiss not to offer a hat top to my parents who actually made two delicious wines last fall, one a lively red from a wide range of grapes from the vineyard supplemented with plenty of native wild grapes. The second was a popular dry apple wine made from fruit purchased at one of the orchards in Peru, New York.

I’m meandering. Back to Neptune and Reliance. I chose these seedless grape varieties to supplement the existing grapes I planted last spring: Himrod, Catawba, Concord and Mars. According to the good folks at Double A Vineyeards, Neptune/101-14 (Seedless) will afford us a not-too-late crop of super sweet fruit!

A mid-season variety with medium sized berries on a conical shaped cluster. Fruity berries have high sugar solids with good resistance to cracking. (Double A Vineyards)

And Reliance, another mid-season ripener, also offers a sweet alternative to some of the tart fruit I’ve already planted. And melting flesh!

Produces large clusters of round, red, medium-sized berries. The skins are tender and the flesh is melting in texture, with a sweet flavor. Coloring may be poor in some years, but cold hardiness is among the highest of the seedless varieties. University of Arkansas Ontario/Suffolk Red cross. (Double A Vineyards)

Rain is predicted for the next few days. Heck, with the exception of this weekend, the forecast for the next ten days is rain, rain, rain! So while Rosslyn dock house submerges, the grapes will prosper. There’s always a silver lining!

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