Tag Archives: Beets

Beans , Beans Good for Your Heart…

Bean Trellis

Bean Trellis

This has been an odd year for beans, at least in my garden.  The first planting of pole beans evaporated into the ether.  Planting number 2 just sat there during our extended cool spring weather.  They have started growing now but are so far behind other bean plantings at Rock Farm I’m feeling a tad bit jealous.  This past weekend they were finally tall enough for me to string the trellis.  Last year I used some netting that I purchased.  It worked well enough but at the end of the season trying to salvage it was an exercise in futility.  I ended up cutting it out of the dead vines and pitching it.  Not wanting to waste money this year I opted to do the same thing I did with the peas, wrap jute around an upper and lower cross bar, which seems to be working wonderfully in the pea row.  I already had the three vertical poles in the ground, a sturdy bamboo pole flanked by 2 t-bar posts.  I used two 1″ pvc elbows and a t to attach two bamboo poles across the top, end to end.  I ended up driving a short piece of rebar into the end of one and pounding the other onto it.  Its pretty sturdy and has works as a single unit all last year and looks just fine for this year.  Not wanting to buy anything else, I tied two remaining 6′ t-posts to the bottom of the three vertical posts about 2″ off of the ground.  I wrapped jute around the top and bottom posts at about 6″ intervals.  Should work fine and will be so much easier to deal with come fall.

Bush Beans

In other bean news, 1 row Contender, 2 rows Topcrop & 1 row Roma II went in after the garlic, arugula and lettuce came out.  The garlic wasn’t as large this year, possibly due to the extended cool spring even though the number of days in the ground was the same as last year.  Last spring seemed a lot warmer.  The tops were dying back and I needed the space so out they went.  The Inchelium was spectacularly unimpressive.  Half of them didn’t make it to spring and the other half were very small. I know they are typically smaller but these seemed reeeally small.  The Lorz Italian had respectable sized heads and all made it through the winter.  I have no experience with either of these varieties so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The Silverwhite and Turkish Giant, were a decent size but smaller than last year save one or two heads most, if not all made it through.

Garden in late June


Speaking of lettuce, I finally emptied the bed of Renee’s cutting lettuce blend.  Can’t remember the exact name right now but it lasted much long than I thought it would.  Even as the stems were elongating to form seed the lettuce wasn’t bitter. I ended up removing a lovage transplant that was taking up way too much room.  I also beat back the arugula and reclaimed the area for a row of the beans.


The potatoes are taking over the county. I’m really hoping there are actual potatoes under all of that green. I ended up having to run some stakes and jute to corral them, they were headed for the neighboring plot. I ended up having to snip back a couple of stems as the beets were complaining.

Garden Flowers

The ‘Persian Carpet’ zinnias are blooming and I clipped a few for the little multi-holed ceramic vase we picked up from a pottery shop during a recent trip to Orcas Is. The reds, yellows and oranges against the blue of the vase is striking. The dahlia’s I planted in the garden next to the potatoes are going to bloom any day now.

Balcony Garden

The parsley was sending up a flower stalk so it was time to harvest. My haul was pretty respectable given that it was growing in a 6″ clay pot. The oregano was staring to outgrow its clay pot so I cut it back too. It is on my replant list. I cut back a lemon verbena a week or two ago. I had read that lemon verbena can be used to make a lemony pesto. WRONG! While it is physically possible to do so, the result was nothing that I would ever eat voluntarily. Now I just have to decide whether or not I want to take up previous real estate and keep the plant or let it go. I’m leaning toward the latter.

In the spirit of spiffying up the balcony, I attempted to transplant one of the volunteer nasturtiums from the garden into one of the long planters that sit on the railing. It had been filled with pansies but they were looking pretty sad. The transplanting was a baaad idea. I ended up having to take so much off of the top to compensate for the pitiful roots that I was left with a bunch of empty stems. The good news is that it does seem to be sending out new shoots at some of the leaf nodes so all is not lost.


Slug - Arion rufus
I ran across an ‘Arion rufus’ or Red Slug under the nasturtiums. This one isn’t native and is quite destructive in the garden. I found the darker Arion a couple of times in the past but this was the first time I’ve seen one this color. Googling it was at first unclear if this was actually a red form of ‘Arion ater’ but further reading led me to believe it was more likely A. rufus. In either case its time in the garden is past.


  • Beets – Red Baron Dutch (6/20)
  • Chard (ongoing)
  • Garlic (6/21 thru 6/25)
  • Lettuce (6/25 final)
  • Kale (ongoing)
  • Oregano (ongoing)
  • Parsley (6/25 final)
  • Snow Peas (ongoing)
  • Zinnias (6/25)


  • Beets – Cylindrical (6/25)
  • Beans, Bush – Contender, Roma II & Topcrop (6/25)

Running out of Space

I’m typically much better in the planning department garden wise. I have a map and a schedule and while I don’t always follow it 100% I am pretty good about getting just about everything in and out if not on schedule pretty close to the plan. This year is totally different. No plan, barely a map and the garden is full well before I am ready to quit planting. Part of the problem was the many rows of garlic I planted last fall. Nobody needs that much garlic but like an addict needing a fix I just kept planting. Fortunately the kale isn’t long for being pulled. I picked one plant clean this weekend and will get to the other three as soon as we can eat what we have.

The leeks are about 5″ tall and went into the ground today. I planted about 30 for us and had barely made a dent in what had come up. I gave the extras to Anita, the owner of Rock Farm.

I accidentally demolished one of the rows of beets I planted last month. Large feet and not paying attention. Today I planted a 2 more rows of the cylindrical beets where the Roquette was. I noticed a few beets survived the winter as tiny seedlings and are sending up some seed pots. They are next to the ow kale and will come out as soon as I can get the kale picked and pulled.

I also scattered some dill in an 18″ circle. Last year I planted the dill with the nigella. Not a great idea as they look too much alike.

It looks like the birds have made off with the bulk of my peas. 3 seedlings have emerged and there are holes where the others should be. I replanted into some 4″ pots that I’ll keep on the deck till they get big enough to be able to fend for themselves.

The kale, chard and zinnias I started under lights were large enough to go into 4″ pots. The basil is suffering. Not sure what the problem is but it isn’t happy. The green onions were a bust too. I picked up some variegated nasturtiums and started 6 pods of them under lights.

Keeping it Cool


The temps are still pretty warm in the garden. Even riding out every evening to water finds the young beets wilted by the time I get there. The soil just gets to warm and dries out too quickly. Remembering how well the kale branches worked to keep the soil cool for the carrots I planted last month, I headed to the lumber yard. My plan was to go through their scrap bin looking for just the right boards to protect the young beets. At some point this Summer I had tried to start another row of beets. Between the heat and the drought, only a few remain. Today I seeded some Crosby’s Egyptian beets and Scarlet Bandit bunching onions in addition to the Bull’s Blood (great name) Beet starts I picked up at the Bainbridge Gardens. I ended up finding some scrap boards but not enough for what i needed. I purchased and extra 1x4x12 and had it cut in 2′ lengths. I placed a board on either side of the seedlings and crossed my fingers.

Fred - the Volunteer Pumpkin

The Heldas are coming on strong. I ended up roasting some of the last batch, tossing in olive oil and sprinkling some Herb’N All seasoning. They were wonderful but hardly made a dent in what was in the fridge. No room left for this bag of beans so I think I’ll end up sharing these.

Sweet Corn - 2 Phil High

The blueberry patch is next to my garden plot. A volunteer pumpkin took up residence there and has spread to cover quite a large area. Only one large pumpkin is attached to the monstrosity. I’ve named him Fred. Fred is larger than than my foot and shows no sign of slowing down his growth. Hope he doesn’t shade the blueberries.

This isn’t my corn but I did plant it during one of my help sessions. It is a sweet corn whose name I cannot remember. Phil isn’t a short man, I’m guessing at least 6′ tall. This corn is about 2 Phils high.

The spinach I planted last month is going strong. Hoping it doesn’t end up bolting with these temps.
Lessons Learned: Boards and small branches do make a good cover to keep the soil cool and moist during hot and dry times.


Garlic Braid - Silver White Garlic The garlic spent about a week in the garden after harvest. When it looked like it was going to rain I brought it home and laid it out on newspaper on the balcony. We have a rather large overhang and it worked well to keep the bulbs dry, allowing them to finish curing. I ended up with about 7 or 8 bulbs of hardnecked Turkish Giant. I didn’t realize it when I planted these but only the hard necked varieites of garlic have the flower tops. They are great cooked and purred in a milk based soup. A soft garliky flavor not to strong but very hearty.

Onion Harvest

I decided to pull the onions. They didn’t seem to be getting any larger and the leaves were starting to die back just a bit. I started out with 6, a pretty good haul. I’ll save the largest of these to plant this Fall.

On the 20th I planted two types of spinach Oriental Giant Japanese Spinach and Palco Hybrid. It is probably too early to plant fall spinach but, not knowing what the weather will do I decided to give it a shot. If we get an early cool fall it will be great. If the heat continues I’ll have a lot of bolted spinach.

Spider vs Bee

Last year and this year a nasturtium has volunteered in my plot. The leaves can get as large as saucers though they seem a bit smaller this year. Perhaps it is early or perhaps they are in need of some fertlizer. When I was taking this photo I didn’t have my glasses on. I saw the bee but didn’t see the spider till I looked at the photo later. Looking at later photos the bee seems to have made her escape unscathed.

Helda Pole Beans

The first harvest of the Helda Pole bean. I am amazed at how tender they are even when they are long. I tried one raw and I am not nearly as fond of it as I am the topcrops. They do cook up nicely though. They are advertized as only requiring 60 days to mature. Fairly quick for pole beans. I haven’t done the match so I don’t know how accurate that is in my garden. I do like the convenience of the pole bean and the little bit of real estate the vines occupy. Harvest is easy, the long beans are easy to see.

Blix Vika+

Today was all about harvest. There were several zucchini, enough beets for a couple of meals, all of the yellow potato (aka multiplier) onions, lettuce and two types of beans (topcrop bush beans and of course the helda pole beans). While I was filling my containers it had slipped my mind that my mode of transportation was my new electric bike. It wasn’t till I was overloaded that it hit me. I was afraid I was going to have to make a second trip to get everything home but I was able, with some creating packing, to get it all home in one load. Leaves flapping in the wind.

Cleanup, New Additions, Harvest and the Case of the Missing Zucchini

Recycled mango container for starting seeds.
A mango container from Costco mangos makes a great little greenhouse for starting zucchini and cucumber. Complete with drainage and venting holes.

The zucchini I seeded a couple of weeks ago had been peeking through the ground the last time I was at the garden. Now it is gone and empty shells remain. Not sure if it was birds or the raccoon whose footprints I see in my plot on occasion. Grrrr. I’m guessing the former as the remains looked a lot like what was left when I tried starting some cucumbers in a 4″ pot on the back patio. The birds relieved me of the seed, leaving the shell behind.  Needing something to protect the seed from the birds,  I fished a mango container out of the recycle bin after a recent Costco trip. The six celled contraption complete with lid and drainage should be enough to get the zucchini and cukes started out of harms way. I think once they get up and get some serious leaves on them the birds won’t be interested. At least that is my hope.

Container Tomatoes
Container Tomatoes

I potted up the two tomato plants on the balcony. One is Iditerod, a ‘dwarf indeterminate’ whatever that means. The other is….lost the tag and have no clue. :-/ Both look great and are enjoying the new digs.

I tried a cut-and-come-again type harvest on the Palco Spinach. I was able to get 3 cups of cooked frozen spinach and enough fresh to last us for a while. It wasn’t showing any sign of bolting but the leaves were large and tender and it was time. This was my first time growing this variety. Love the flavor and lack of bolting as quickly as the Bloomsdale. I’ll grow it again.

I pulled two of the three overwintering broccoli. I needed the space for the pole beans and we weren’t able to keep up with the harvest. The one I left is located on one end of the bed, tied to the tbar and leaning out of the bed somewhat. There are a couple of shoots coming up at its base. For now all are staying.

I planted Hulda pole beans. I opted for pole beans this year in addition to the bush beans. The idea was that the bush beans would give me a larger initial harvest to allow for some dilly beans while the pole beans come on more slowly, allowing for beans over a longer season. I planted them very thickly as the birds tend to like bean seed about as much as they do seed of the zucchini. I scattered some radish seed along the row of beans, they should be up and out before the beans need the space.

If the fridge wasn’t packed with lettuce, spinach, broccoli and kale I would thin these beets. Holding off till there is more room. No sense in pulling them and not eating them.

Beets in need of thinning.
Time to thin some beets.

I picked up another basil plant at the local garden center. One cannot have too much basil… At the same garden center I found a horse radish plant. I planted it in a clay pot that I sunk into the garden. As I understand it this will help insure no bits of root are left behind to regrow when it comes time to harvest.

Much of the garden time was spent cleaning up. This year I started burying anything that isn’t diseased back into the garden if there is bare space. The garden is a few ounces lighter when it comes to slugs too. In addition to the ones I found lurking about I applied another application of Sluggo. Bwahahahaha!


I don’t know if it was started too early or if it was the days getting longer fast this time of year or both but the Pak Choy has bolted. Anita said the same thing happened to her last year. It was pulled today. Guess I’ll plant some broccoli transplants in that spot this weekend.

2015-04-30 19.10.13Had my first big harvest of the first planting of spinach. The lettuce is ready to harvest some leaves and the second planting is in desperate need of thinning, another weekend project. The perennial kale is on the way out. It looks like a root issue, perhaps some maggots. A couple of cauliflower are showing the same wilting symptoms and will be removed in the net day or so. The carrots, beets and some flowers (can’t remember what they were right now) and peas are up and looking good. The dill is coming along nicely as are the radishes. All in all it looks great.

Catching Up

April 12th saw a planting of a kale/Brussels sprout hybrid thing and  some broccoli-raab I found at the local garden center.  The broccoli-raab I attempted to start from seed never came up.  The 12th also saw the second seeding of spinach (Palco), radishes, carrots, Early Wonder beets and a beginning of the harvest of the purple sprouting broccoli.

2015-04-12 14.19.12

The lettuce transplants are doing wonderfully as is the spinach. The dill is coming up thick but the pak choy isn’t heading.

The peas seeded for the Helpline rows had spotty germination and what did come up was finished off by cutworms. They were reseeded today. Hoping for the best.


Seed haul from Bainbridge Gardens
Seed haul from Bainbridge Gardens

I hadn’t been to the garden since right before Christmas so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was getting the ‘bug’ to get some seeds and plan out this year’s garden so I decided to stop by Bainbridge Gardens to see what they had available. I was also hoping they might have a small Desert King fig tree. Those are supposed to do well here. I did bring some cuttings with me and 3 have rooted but am not sure if those are Brown Turkey or Petite Nigra. Unfortuantely BG only had a couple of beautiful 6 footers. The smaller ones won’t be in for another month or so. I’m hoping to keep mine in a pot so the 6 footer would be overkill.

Perennial onions aka 'potato' onions, garlic in the background.
Perennial onions aka ‘potato’ onions, garlic in the background.

I did end up picking up some seed. I decided to try some flowers this time. I picked up a packet of Persian Violet Nigella and Persian Carpet Butterfly Zinnias. I also picked up some ‘Cut and Come Again’ baby mesclun lettuce, baby pak choi, edible pod peas, bush zucchini along with some Japanese Spinach, green onions, garlic chives (for a pot on the deck) and Litt’l Bites Cherry Windowbox Tomatoes (also for the deck). The trick in all of this will be to figure out how I am going to start the tomatoes.

Purple sprouting type of broccoli?
Purple sprouting type of broccoli?

Last fall, some time in October, I planted some Silverwhite garlic I picked up at the farmer’s market along with some Turkish Giant garlic and yellow multiplier onions (we used to call these ‘potato’ onions) from a Territorial Seed order. As I drove to the garden this morning, I wondered if the garlic and onions were up and was quite pleased with what I found. The garlic are about 3 inches tall and the onions are up about 5 or 6 inches. I didn’t expect them not to make it through but it is still nice to see them starting their journey.

One of the broccoli plants didn't make it through the Winter.
Winter fatality.

Last July or August I picked up some purple sprouting type broccoli and possibly another variety from Bainbridge Gardens, a local garden center. The end of the garden I planted these in became shady too early and I didn’t get any harvest from this planting last year. I decided to leave them in the ground to see if they could make it through the Winter and possibly reward me with something this Spring. It looks like all but one has made it through the coldest part of the year and is looking lanky but healthy. I may cut one or two back and see how they fare. Probably something I should have done last year but what he heck.

Overwintered Russian Kale
Overwintered Russian Kale

At the same time I planted the purple broccoli I put in some kale. The idea was to have it ready for this Spring. I had seen that other gardeners here had done this last year and I wanted to give it a shot. Tho the plants were fairly small, most overwintered fine.

Overwintered beets
Overwintered beets

Early last Spring I planted beets. There are probably half a dozen or so still in the ground. One or two are little piles of mush, the one on the left of this pic looks like a mouse or slug may have had a small meal.

I am amazed at how quickly moss can cover anything standing still long enough. This stone was fairly clean last Fall.


A New Garden in the PNW

I had lived on Bainbridge Island, WA for about 3 months when I started looking around for a community garden spot. I love growing things and living in a condo severely limited my ability to garden. One can only fit so many pots on a balcony before it is either full or you or the people you live with start to complain. Though I had grown up in central CA, I learned most of what I know about gardening in the Midwest. Hot and humid Summers were the norm and watering was a must most years. I would have to relearn gardening here in the PNW. The climate was practically the exact opposite from where I had moved from. The pests I was used to dealing with were, for the most part, not an issue here.

Rock Farm, Bainbridge Island, WA
Rock Farm, Bainbridge Island, WA

After digging up some contact info for local community garden spots on the island, I sent out half a dozen or so emails in mid March of 2014. I had several responses offering to put me on a waiting list. Just when it started to look like any gardening I would be doing was on the condo’s tiny balcony, Anita of Rock Farm emailed me back to say that a spot or two was available at Rock Farm. Things were looking up.

A New Garden Spot - Rock Farm, Bainbridge Island, WA
A New Garden Spot – Rock Farm, Bainbridge Island, WA

I drove over to survey the garden plots and learn a little bit about Rock Farm, Anita and Phil Rockefeller’s gift to the community. An unbelievable amount of time, sweat and money have gone into providing a garden space for islanders that need one and providing food to the local food banks. When the economy tanked a few years back they wanted to do something to help local families and decided to devote some of their land to a community garden. They have built a beautiful garden with 12′ high deer fencing, wooden sides to contain the soil, running water, tables, a shaded spot to sit and enjoy the scenery and an herb garden for all. Each garden spot that is rented comes with an additional row that gardeners tend for the food bank. Anita orchestrates the planting and harvesting of the food bank rows so that the produce is staggered and arrives in a timely manner.

First Planting - Broccoli, Kale and Swiss Chard
First Planting – Broccoli, Kale and Swiss Chard

Fast forward a couple weeks after that first meeting and I was planting kale (Toscano and Red Russian), broccoli, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, peas, beets and radishes in my 10’x20′ garden spot.

by: kerry