New Banana Trees

March 22, 2013 Leave a comment

2013-03-22 18.53.27

Categories: Fruit Trees Tags:

Seedlings 1-24

January 26, 2013 Leave a comment





Tried Soil Blocks this year. Loved the quick growth. Less problems than flats. Next year would prefer smaller blocks and pot up to next size. Johnny’s has some good soil blockers.

Planted around 2/14/13. Lost a lot of seedlings to a last cold frost first week in March, strange weather for this area. Trying to  grow Nastaruims, Cosmos, sunflowers, cucumber pickling and full size, Peppers, Yard Long Beans, Peas.

Categories: Uncategorized

Early Feb 2012 Update

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

New raised bed finished,perfect functional shape for us, really maximized the growing space.



My soil/seedling tray got too wet, and caught a  “dampening off”  fungus, a common problem of seed starting.  It “ate” seeds – literally. It “attacked” the plants and really stressed them out, a few died. Gardening is a lot about learning from mistakes, and there’s a lot of mistakes to be made. To combat the problem, I transplanted all potential surviving seedlings to bigger pots, cut back on watering,  washed out the seedling tray. I bought some new sterilized soil, and then it was time to plant 3 week (before last frost) crops – watermelon, cucumber, cantaloupe, squash and zucchini. I added some bell peppers and a row of royal hillbilly tomatoes too. The second round was great, and many round 1 plants survived they might be behind a week or so from the stress though. Planted English Peas (Sweet Pea) Green Arrow in new raised bed  1/22. Used bean inoculant(a soil bacteria) as recommended to assist in the Bean plant’s nitrogen fixing feature, with this bacteria it’s supposed to grow a lot better. For my own notes – (3) 3 inchfurrows, separated by 8 inches on both sides. They are looking great now. Planted Potatoes – 2 Fingerling Varieties – Rose Finn Apple and Kipfel. Pulled up the old Braeburn apple tree and planted the new Gala Apple tree 1/22.We’re hoping it does better than the last apple tree.


My Peas in the new bed started out looking nice and neat.


Early March

Now to the mushrooms- I have 40 Shiitake logs or so, one or two have succumb to other competing fungus.  We want to expand that just a little to make sure we continue to have steady harvests.  I took down an oak and ordered a warm strain of shiitake(named Night Velvet) to help cover the hot summer months. I have 2 strains, West Wind (a wide range strain), and a unknown strain. Ordered a thimble spawn sheet with 600 plugs that have a styrofoam lining on top to make it as easy as drill a hole, and insert the spawn plug no hammer required. image I made up 4 blue oytser bags of straw last week, and they are “pinning” meaning the mushrooms are “here”. image

Categories: Uncategorized

Goodbye 2011, the 2012 Garden Begins

January 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Last Harvests

A mix of perfect weather and rain caused the shiitake mushroom logs to go into production overdrive.  I even had my first successful oyster fruiting.  Despite using several pounds of mushrooms (the pictures below is only a tiny sample) in multiple tasty omletes, mushroom bread pudding, mushroom dressing, mushroom/egg salads and even drying a batch, some were sadly lost to overabundance.  Next time there is a plethora we hope to get a batch together to sell to Windmill Market or Everman’s before they are past their prime.

Then the first frosts came around, very late this year, and I pulled up all the remaining peppers, even a few not pictured here but yellow and edible. And I cleaned out the garden, put some straw down to keep weeds down.

New 2012 Garden 

Even before the new year starts, my thoughts roll to the garden. Jan 1 is the jump start time for things down here. First, I need to get some transplants going – tomatoes and peppers.  I had to have some sterile soil for seedlings. Research tells me it’s important and if you don’t, you could catch “dampening off”  fungus and other  diseases that weaken the seedlings. Making my own was very easy actually, I put some “good” garden soil in a oven pan and cooked it reaching 180 degrees for a consistent 30 minutes.  We affectionately named it the dirt brownie.

Luke helped fill in the potting tray with dirt and plant the seeds (impressive, he actually did it all and was careful.) Then they were off to my growing area which was already setup from last year and in a few minutes the light, seedling heater mat were all going again. It’s so much easier when you’ve done it once.


Focus on higher production of favorite varieties that we cannot get in a grocery store or farmer’s markets, and/or tastes better when homegrown. (Last year we had too many varieties, not enough of any one thing, and we didn’t know how to care for it all.)

Utilize harvesting timelines and what I would call succession planing to get more out of this year – common in the south is to grow tomatoes and pull them out around July, then start fresh. As I’ve seen 2 years now on my own, by July the tomatoes get diseased and don’t produce well. Peas will give way to new bean plants, and then later a cool season plant for a fall garden.

2012 Garden Expansion

My personality drives me to be bigger and better. And this year, we’re taking a few steps further. The bed to the left is new, to be build this week. It will be a pea/bean bed this year, maybe we will rotate a few crops out too.  I map out my designs in Excel. Excel has been very useful in gardening planning, with dates and designs.  Also, we are expanding with a melon/watermelon patch across from the pool and trying to decide the best location for an asparagus bed.

Spring/Summer Plants

Potatoes – Rose Finn Apple Fingerling, Kipfel Fingerlings

Bell Peppers- Nardello Sweet Pepper

Squash – Success Yellow Squash, Striata D’Italia Zucchini

Peas – Green Arrow English Shelling Pea

Beans – Dragon Tongue, Chinese Red Noodle (yard long beans (pods almost 2 ft long, thrives in the summer)

Tomatoes –  Reisentraube (cherry type), Sun Gold (Cherry type), Royal Hillbilly(big slicing type)

Beets – Yellow and Cylindrical

Carrots – Parisienne Carrots

Garden Spring 2012


"Dirt Brownies" - Sterilized seedling soil


Last Peppers


Shiitake Christmas Harvest


Blue Oyster Mushrooms

Categories: Uncategorized

End of year wrap up

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment






Yeah it’s been a while, but without a true fall garden, I have not had much to post that’s new. Gotten some great bell peppers, some left ripening now, couple are almost red. And the garlic and strawberries will be left over the winter.

We’ve been having  HUGE Shiitake harvests  with the rainy weather. It’s been great, Nancy dried some just today and used some fresh. I’ve got a huge box full of them I might have to give some away. Anyone want some?

Looking back we’re happy about the garden, but a lot of this year was experimenting. Beets, Carrots, Lettuce, Corn, Eggplant – all didn’t do well enough for us to enjoy, and they ate up a bunch of garden space. The wide varieties was also very challenging to figure out is it ready? How do I know? The plant looks _____(pick a word). It’s this color or that – is it dying? What’s wrong with the plant? It was a lot to research on at one time, and we lost some harvests and plants because our attentions were spread. This next year we’re focusing more on what we really want, so hopefully our harvests will be bigger.

In the works-

  • Fruiting 2 bags of Blue Oyster Mushrooms – they are developing and will post soon.
  • Bought a Gala Apple Tree, looking for a spot to plant it.  Our Braburn apple tree didn’t make it.
  • Planning spring garden and browsing Seed Catalogs for 2012 Garden.
  • Looking at redesigning the raised bed – shrinking the width and adding another one to add space and room to work/harvest. 18 inches between the beds was way too small. 3 feet wide is my goal.

September Garden and Shiitake Updates

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Fun couple weeks. We got 6lbs or so of ‘volunteer’ Shiitake mushrooms off the logs in the back just from the rains. Luke loved being a helper harvesting the mushrooms.  We got a Nesco dehydrator and now have dry mushrooms ready for meals. We ate a lot of meals with Shiitakes while they were fresh.  Probably not my favorite mushroom but depends on the dish.  Nancy’s best creation was sauteing Shiitake and bacon as a topping for homemade macaroni and cheese, it really went well together.

Got a container of purple pod beans, a nice red pepper.

Bought a pound of  Nootka Rose Garlic, an medium garlic that has won awards for taste, it’s supposed to be in the middle of the taste spectrum of garlic, close to what most think Garlic should take like. Most of the garlic we’ve gotten has been very mild from the store, but WOW we got some from Whole Foods that really stood out. Nancy said every time she used it she had to cut the recipe in half and it still stood out well. We have no way to identify that variety though. Haven’t tried Nootka Rose yet, but we’ll see. My first round of garlic ended poorly, but I planted in the wrong season too, Garlic is usually planed in Sept/October. I knew that going in but it was rumored to work down in the south. I like the idea of  growing garlic because it’s a Fall and Winter Crop – less work, I can let it sit till next June and it should be ready then.



Giant Marconi and Purple Pod Beans


Jar of Dry Shiitake


Dehydrator Prep Work


Fresh Shiitake - Just a single nights harvest


Categories: Garlic, shiitake, Uncategorized

1.5 lbs shiitake harvest tonight.

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment


After 1 lb over the weekend there’s even more ready today.

Categories: shiitake