Sunday, June 30, 2013

More Plants!

Costco had some perennials on sale this weekend, so we bought six different gallon pots. On the way home, we stopped by Egg|Plant and picked up two honeyberry bushes as well.

The plants from Costco are going in a partial shady spot that was recently tore up by heavy machinery. It seemed like a good opportunity to get some more plants versus replanting more grass.

The honeyberry bushes will go in the full sun of the front yard next to the blueberries. We haven't eaten a honeyberry before, but I have read they taste like a blackberry crossed with a blueberry. Sounds great to me. I can't wait to try one.

The eight plants we bought:
  • tundra honeyberry
  • borealis honeyberry
  • autum fire stonecrop (sedum)
  • first frost hosta
  • sentimental blue balloon flower
  • gallo fire gaillardia
  • plum pudding coral bells
  • siberian bugloss

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Garden Destruction

Last weekend we had a massive storm with very strong winds. It felled my neighbor's tree and took out power for half a million people. We only suffered a few downed tree branches and a short power outage.

A few days later, some guys started taking the rest of the neighbor's tree down. Uninvited, they let themselves in our gated backyard and trampled half our garden. It also appears large logs were dropped on the poor plants. The bed I had just dug destroyed, and the transplants squished. They even stepped on the kiwis we planted a few weeks ago. Grr. There is a shiny new lock on the gate now.

The biggest hit was our giant iris patch. I hope it can recover. The leaves are all brown now. The garlic chives will recover. I am worried about the kiwis.

The neighbor says he's sorry. The only upside to all of this is that my backyard will get a lot more sun. A small consolation. The plants can be replaced and regrown.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Vermicomposting Video

I found this video on TEDed yesterday. It does a nice job explaining what Vermicomposting is. I’ve been tempted to try it for a couple years now, but my wife isn’t fond of a bin of worms living in the basement. Have you tried it or would you?

YouTube: Vermicomposting: How worms can reduce our waste

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Growing A Pineapple

Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. I've known you can restart the tops after cutting them, but never gave it much thought until recently. I watched a video on youtube which showed how to start one in water, and around the same time I read about a guy fruiting one in Minnesota. I thought I'd give it a try. Sure, it'll likely take a year, but what the heck.

  1. Twist and pull the top off of a fresh pineapple.
  2. Pull the brown leaves off the bottom, row by row until the little brown roots are showing.

  3. Trim the brown leaves with a scissor.
  4. Place in water and let sit in sunny location for a few days changing the water each day until little white roots form. Some more leaves will likely turn brown, just trim them back.

    Pineapple Growing Part2
  5. Plant in some soil and leave in a sunny spot.

    Pineapple Growing Part2
  6. Wait. It will take months before you get a pineapple to eat. 
Related Post:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tilling And Planting

I mentioned to a friend I still had more things to plant. He offered his garden tiller. I've never used one before, so I thought I would give it a try. I was curious how it compared to double digging. I guesed it wouldn't loosen the soil as deep. However, the ease of planting was very enticing.

The tiller and next bed ready to till up.

It went pretty fast. I was able to till an eight by four foot bed in about fifteen or twenty minutes. It would have taken me two or three hours to double dig the same size space. Tilling loosened the soil only half as deep as double digging. A compromise I'm willing to make right now given the exertion and time savings.

I was able to transplant early squash, kale, and chard into the bed. I also tossed in some extra red onions I had laying around. I still have some amaranth to transplant too.

Once I plant the amaranth, I can start the next round of greens to continue my succession planting. Most of the things I have been planting have a 60 day harvest time, so I should be able to keep planting until August 1st.

Thanks for letting me use your tiller Paul!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mushroom Growing Update

The shiitake from the log outside was delicious. The squirrels agree and ate our last fruiting before we could. I purchased some wire mesh which I hope will protect our next fruiting.

The pink oyster kit in the house turned from bright pink to white in ine day, and then it started to smell fishy. I need to do some reading to figure out what I did wrong, but I am guessing it got too wet. Maybe I watered it too often. I took off the humidity tent, and pulled off all the mushroooms. New pink ones are growing now.

The Lions Mane is coming along nicely. They should get to softball size before we pick them for eating. The black stuff is tape to keep the plastic tight against the growibg material. I found it strange the mushrooms are growing around the skewers to hold the humidity tent, and not out the side of the bag. The mycelium must like the taste of the bamboo.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Busy Weekend of Planting

All those plants I bought a few days ago needed to go into the ground. I spent several hours on both Saturday and Sunday planting them. I also double-dug a new bed for some seedlings I had started in the house.

Plant Shopping

Double-digging is hard work, but it is great for the plants. It loosens the soil up ~18 inches down. The basic sequence is to dig a trench, and then put that dirt into the wheelbarrow. Then make that same trench twice as deep, and replace the soil. Then dig another trench next to it and put the dirt into first one. It should mound up above the level of the ground since it has more air. Think of it as fluffing the dirt 12-18 inches down. I like to take logs from the rotting wood pile to serve as a border. It keeps the dirt from washing away.


This bed is for “cattle beans” a type of bush bean, and some purple string beans. I’m going to try to train the purple beans to crawl up the fence.

This is one of the newly planted hardy kiwis. Once they get bigger, I will also train them to climb the fence.

Issai Hardy Kiwi

This is the newly created strawberry patch in my front yard with five different varieties. I bought a couple more at the farmers market. I couldn’t resist. Strawberry patch

Finally, the three blueberries and rhubarb. I ran out of mulch, so I’ll need to get some more. You can see the apple tree we planted last month in the background.


Digging is great exercise. I can’t wait to taste all the goodies these plants will produce!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Our First Shiitake Mushroom

Our first Shiitake mushroom

Our little mushroom log has finally fruited with our first Shiitake mushroom. It looks like something took a little nibble out of it too. darn.

Our first Shiitake mushroom

It grew quite quickly once the little pin popped out the side. It went from nothing to this size in less than four days. The recent rains must have helped it along. I’m excited to see if it tastes good.

Friday, June 14, 2013

More Plants!

Plant Shopping

I stopped by Egg|Plant on the way home today to pick up some straw, and I ended up with plants instead. Funny how that happens. What happened to the straw? They ran out. They’ll have more next week, so I guess I have to go back again. Oh darn. hehe.

Plant Shopping

My Ural motorcycle sidecar had no trouble swallowing all the plants. They were comfortably snug for the short ride home.

Plant Shopping

All of them spread out, so you can get a good look at them before they go into the ground. I purchased: three varieties of blueberry, three varieties of strawberry, two hardy issai kiwis, and a rhubarb.

Time to tear out some more grass and get planting!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pink Oyster Mushroom Kit Arrived

The pink oyster mushroom kit from Fungi Perfecti arrived today. It is a tropical variety we can grow in the house innoculated in some sawdust.

Next, we put it in the humidity tent aka plastic bag, spray it with water, and wait ten days for bright pink mushrooms to appear.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Greens are Growing

Kale, Chard, and Spinach

The greens in the backyard are coming along nicely. They are a treat to graze on while working in the yard. The above is some curled kale, rainbow Swiss chard, and spinach.


My favorite snack has been the cilantro though. It is growing like a weed and is towering over the neighboring plants. It has been so tasty to dash into the backyard and snip off a couple leaves to add to our cooking. The cilantro was delicious on my walnut tacos.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Yeah! The first peony from the front yard.  Mmm... what a sight and scent :-)

Shiitake Mushroom Log

Shiitake Mushroom Log

Last weekend, we bought a shiitake mushroom log from the farmers market. It’s a chunk of hardwood about six inches across and about a foot tall. It was previously inoculated and fruited. We were told it would fruit again several times a year for the next several years.

We put it in a shady part of the backyard and have been watering it regularly. We’re hoping it will fruit soon. My wife loves to eat mushrooms.

Shiitake Mushroom Log

The log came from a local mushroom grower: Cherry Tree House Mushrooms.