Saturday, May 30, 2015

Videos of my front walk and the ebb and flow set-up - May 2015


I am going to post 2 videos here for you to look at. The first one is the new set-up in the greenhouse with an official "Ebb and Flow" grow bed over the larger fish tank. I say official because that was it's purpose for which it is made, unlike the mixing troughs from Lowe's that I have been using. 

Video #1 - Ebb and Flow Grow Bed

The other video is of my front walk with the wildflowers and the bees..the bees are really happy and very non-aggressive.

Video #2 - My front walkway 


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Onion planting and harvesting from November 2014 to May 2015

For this post, I am doing full summary on the process of growing onions since it is spread out over so many months, and a couple of posts. You plant onions in my area in early winter, just before the frost hits which was the first week of November last. You can plant onions from seeds but I just think that is too much work and I wait to plant from "starts" which are juvenile onions. They are pretty cheap (and ugly!) with a package of them costing about $5 for 50 starts.
Starts - bundle of 50 red and 50 yellow

I planted them in rows and filled up 1 bed completely and the other halfway

You have to plant them at least 4 inches apart to give them room to grow. My raised beds are 4 ft x 8 ft and I used 1 and 1/2 of them for 100 onions. Onions need water of course, but the nice thing about a winter garden is that you can use the rain to water them, if you are not in a drought. I had to water them in Dec and January because we got very little rain. Still, you use less water because it isn't as hot as when you plant in the summer. It makes them a very drought friendly thing to plant. In spring here is what they looked like..
The little plants are looking great!
A lot of people wonder when you are supposed to pick onions.. well here is a secret, you can pick them at anytime when they are the size you want. I was picking 1 or 2 a month to use in cooking as either a scallion or small onion. They will tell you when they are ready to finish because the tops start flopping over.. then you can go push them down and stop watering.
Stems falling over

see how the stem is collapsing? that is the sign they are almost ready

I helped them along by pushing over the stems
When I saw them starting to "flop" I helped the process along by pushing them all over. Then I left them like that in the dirt for a week. After that I pulled them out, gently, and laid them out on the dirt for a couple days to start to cure. "Curing" is the process that the onion goes through to create the outer tough skin which allows them to store so well. It is takes a few weeks but it is the only way to get them to keep. (Once again, you can eat some at any time, this is the process to cure them for storage.)
Onions curing on the dirt

The onion when you pull it from the dirt only has a small part of the outer skin toughened up. It needs to cure to get better storage time from them.
After they sat on the dirt I shook them off a bit and moved them to a wire shelf in my greenhouse to continue curing.

That's a lot of onions! 77 to be exact..
Now this weekend I cut off the stems and the roots and left them on the shelf to continue curing.
All cleaned up

You can see the papery skins starting
Next week they should be ready to take inside and store in a cool, dark place until I need them. I have a lot of onions! I planted 100, left about 5 in the dirt to keep growing, and picked some as the time went along. On the shelf I counted 77 of them, which is a good harvest yield for your investment.(I see onions in the market selling for $1.99 a pound right now, and they are not organic like these are!)  I really think the winter garden is overlooked because there is a misconception that it is too much work, and people don't want to be out in the cold and the rain. But the reality is that there is less water needed, fewer bugs and diseases, and it is pretty easy to get a decent crop of winter veggies before you need the space for summer planting. (I can't plant this year because of the drought, so once again it will be all the stuff I can grow in the aquaponic system, which tends to be quite a lot!)
So next fall, think about a winter garden and if you want something super-simple, plant garlic and onions!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Garden Update May 16th, 2015


You know for mid-May in a drought year, I am making things work in the garden. I don't have my big veggie garden for the 2nd year in a row because it seriously didn't make sense. My area is on a mandatory 32% reduction in the use of water and I can't justify watering vegetables to feed the deer. But I have the greenhouse and the aquaponics system and that is putting out lettuce and kale like you wouldn't believe! The kale is finally going to seed..
Kale.. this is 2 plants that have made more kale leaves than I can eat some times!

Only 6 weeks to harvest this "Tom Thumb" lettuce, and that is my garden calendar in the background.

The onions I planted last November have been pulled up today to cure. Last weekend I bent down the onion stems to get them started and today I pulled them from the ground and laid them on the dirt. Before I go home, I will move them to a rack in the greenhouse to cure for a couple of weeks. I have left some of the smaller onions in the ground to see if they will continue growing. I sure have a lot of onions!
Last week bending the stalks over

Last week

Today before pulling, this is what onions look like that are ready to pull

Yellow onions

This one is really big!

View of both beds with the onions pulled to cure

The brown skin is because I started it last week curing by bending the stalks down.
 Onions and garlic are a favorite because you can grown them over the winter. And if you have any rain at all you really don't need to water them until the spring time. These beds would be vacant without these bulbs! The garlic isn't ready yet and will probably be a month or so at least.
Tomorrow before I leave for home in the bay area, I will gather up the onions and put them in the greenhouse to cure for a few weeks. Then I can give them away or store them in a cool place for a long time... did I mention I bought 100 onion sets???