THE U-Pick GARDEN will be closing August 20th. This will be the last year the garden will be open to the public. Next year I'll be operating as a CSA, supplying about 20 regular customers with weekly boxes. Thank you for your support over the last 8 years, but it's time to try something new.

To get a copy of my book, "How To Grow Vegetables In Sitka, Alaska" just give me a call....The books are $20 plus tax. If you live out of town and want me to mail you a copy, you can mail a check for $25.60 to:

Lori Adams
P O Box 6021
Sitka, Alaska
99835


Down To Earth U-Pick Garden is located at 2103 Sawmill Creek Road in Sitka, Alaska. It is open usually from mid-June through late August. Hours are Monday-Saturday 12:00 to 6:30. On Farmer's Market Saturdays I am not open until 2:00. Children are welcome but may not run through the garden or chase the ducks. If you have any questions you can contact me, Lori Adams, at 907-747-6108 or 907-738-2241. My email address is downtoearthupick@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Hard Work Is Over

Well, the bulk of the transplanting is finally done....


 Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, Brussel's Sprouts, Kohlrabi and Cabbage.

And the seeds are finally planted.....


 Radishes, Beets, Turnips, Peas, Carrots and Potatoes......


Everything else can wait for a couple more weeks.

The ducks aren't happy to be locked out of the beds. They were really enjoying that tilled soil.


Not it's time to do something else...


 I think I'll go bear hunting.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Broadfork

Let me introduce you to the newest tool in my tool shed.... The Broadfork!



Many of my beds are now built up fairly high with dirt and have nicely fenced sides, so I really don't want to charge through them with my beastly rototiller, but I do want to till my soil.  What to do? ...What to do?
After doing some research and consulting with the experts, I decided to try the Broadfork.  And let me tell you....it surpassed all of my expectations!! This thing rocks!!!  Let me show you how it workes....

First you stab it into the soil...and watch the ducks come running.....


Then you step on the crossbar with your foot and to push it down deep into the soil....


Then you pull back on the handles to start lifting the dirt....


And then rock it back and fork to loosen up all of the clods.....and release all of the slugs and worms for the ducks. These actions are surprisingly fairly easy because of the curved tines and handle design.


You work your way down the row backwards about 6 inches at a time, so you don't have to walk across your loosened soil. This thing really works!  On some of the flat beds I ran the rototiller first, and then a couple of days later I ran through it again with the Broadfork, and the Broadfork was bringing up discernible layers of sand and soil that the rototiller hadn't even disturbed. I am so impressed with this tool!

And the ducks absolutely love this thing! I was planning to attach bells to it so the ducks would learn to associate the sound of bells with soil being turned over, but that was not necessary.  All I have to do is pick it up and they come running!!!! And they all have to get in on the action.....the aggressive harvesters are right up there with their head in-between the tines taking the Broadfork ride, and the bashful gleaners are bringing up the rear sifting through the leftovers...


I'm amazed how effective this tool is...you just have to get one!

video

video courtesy of Ben Adams Photography

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pea Tunnel Version 2.0

I used to grow peas using a fence for support, but the plants would always get too tall and fall over. I tried to extend support upward using lathe and string, but it was such a pain!


So, a couple of years ago I came up with the Pea Tunnel Version 1.0.....


It was built out of sections of Concrete Reinforcement Wire fastened to fence posts.


And it works GREAT!!!


I absolutely love the pea tunnel, but there was one thing I didn't like about it..... I have to move the tunnel every year, one section at a time for crop rotation purposes, and that means that I have to dig out last year's fence posts and drive them into the ground in next year's position. This job is not for the faint of heart and it usually requires more than one person to accomplish it.



Without fence posts the tunnel would not be sturdy enough to stand on it's own, so with Mr. Adams and my father-in-law's help this Spring, we bent rebar into arches which I attached to the end of each section with zip ties. One section has 2 rebar arches on it. Now, all of the arches can stand on their own and can be moved separately, one at a time, and are attached to each other with zipties.





What an improvement!! No more fence posts!! The whole project went so well that I got inspired and cut a bunch of low tunnels out of the remaining Concrete Reinforcement Wire for the other vegetable beds. I LOVE how gently it supports the row cover!


No drooping or straining over pressure points.....no low points or high points to cause harsh dripping. And the rusty metal acts like velcro keeping the cloth in place, even where there are weak spots....


I LOVE Concrete Reinforcement Wire!

The Pea Tunnel Version 2.0 is great, but I'm already planning improvements for Version 3.0.....The sections are still hard for me to move by myself....the rebar arch makes the sections heavy on one end which makes things pretty awkward. What would it be like if the rebar was attached to the exact center of each wire section? Then the weight would be balanced and the section would be easier to move.....hmmmmmmm
One of these years I'll get it right!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Wind Was VERY Annoying Today

When I woke up this morning I was happy.....I had gotten quite a bit of work done outside in the past few days and I was looking forward to hitting the garage sales before I went to work again. But then, I sat up in bed and looked outside......and I did not like what I saw....ALL of the row covers were off the beds!


All of that work!!!! All those little tender seedlings, exposed to the wind!!!! I was not a happy camper!!!!!
So instead of going garage saling, I put on my gardening gear and crawled around in the garden for 2 1/2 hours covering things back up and bulking up on weights to hold the row cover down better.  FYI, the pots of rocks didn't last 15 minutes....


What worked best was buckets of water, and, we all know they will stay full!!!!  The ducks will like mucking around in them too...they'll probably be full of dirt and water by the time I empty them.

The only thing good about today's irritation is that it happened while I was home....too many times it happens while I am gone and the garden-sitter has to do it. The wind is expected to keep blowing for a day or two....how will I get things done?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fresh Spinach

I had fresh Spinach from the garden yesterday....no really! .......I't's true!!!!

It's transplanting time....


All the seedlings are getting tall and leggy, and they're just screaming at me to put them out....trust me....they are....I even hear them in my sleep.





So yesterday, I transplanted the Lettuce and the Spinach....it's a very labor intensive job. As I was planting the spinach I was tidying them off by removing the cotyledons.


cotyledon

 noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

(Top) Monocotyledon (internal structures of a corn seed with stages of germination). Nutrients are …—© Merriam-Webster Inc.
Seed leaf within the embryo of a seed that provides energy and nutrients for the developing seedling. After the first true leaves have formed, they wither and fall off. Flowering plants whose embryos have a single cotyledon are grouped as monocots, or monocotyledonous plants; embryos with two cotyledons are grouped as dicots, or dicotyledonous plants. Unlike flowering plants,gymnosperms usually have several cotyledons rather than one or two.

It's very difficult to pinch off those tiny leaves when you have gloves on...I was afraid of breaking the fragile plants in half...but then I got a great idea.....


Just EAT them off!!!!! It worked great.....and they were SO YUMMY!!!  The first fresh spinach of the season!!!


I'm going to need more pants..........

Monday, April 14, 2014

Duckscapades

The ducks have been feeling their wild oats lately....they're not being terribly naughty, just funny and annoying. They are everywhere, underfoot, and into everything!  And I'm their absolute favorite person....when I show up with a shovel or a bucket or a tool, they just come running, because everything I do in the garden is FUN!!!



One day they noticed that I had the net gate open and they ALL charged out and attacked the coveted inaccessible rhubarb patch.....



Yum, Yum.....fresh diggings....


Eventually they wandered way too far from the garden...excited about new territory.  It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye, so.....back in you go!



If I leave anything.....and I mean anything, out in the garden, they are into it...




But I forgive them, because they are laying LOTS of eggs!!!


16 hens laid 16 eggs, 2 days in a row!!!!


Most of them are laid conveniently in the hutch......although, what is with this nest formation?


 Some of the sneakier ducks are still waiting until I let them out and then they try to hide their eggs from me...


Every day is an Easter Egg hunt.


And someone is being especially accommodating... although I love the colors of their eggs, I've always wished that they were brown.....so someone started laying brown eggs for me!


 -Well, brownish anyways!

Silly ducks.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Boat Work Is Over.......

For me it is, anyways......but for poor Mr. Adams - it never ends!  The groceries are on board, the bunks have clean bedding, the paperwork is in order (I think and hope), and last week we hauled the boat out of the water for annual maintenance. Fortunately, Ron and my father-in-law Lyle helped with the haulout this year, so I didn't have to work as hard as I usually do.


Check out who's running the haulout yard now....


It's Carl !!!! He was on the swim team and went to school with Levi....What is the world coming too?
Would you let this kid pick up your boat?


YES!! We would!!  Carl is an alright guy.....very competent and good to work with. Thanks, Carl!

My official duty during the haulout this year, besides meals, was to help dry and mask the waterline for painting.


Now, you may think that is an easy job, but if you've ever hauled out a boat in Sitka during the month of April, you'd understand how difficult it can actually be. It almost ALWAYS rains or snows on us, which makes painting a real challenge. 

First, we dry a short section with a towel, then we dry the same section completely with a hairdryer (while still holding the towel in place to catch more rainwater as it runs down the side of the boat), then we run a line of masking tape about 3 inches above the area to be painted. We put a crease in the masking tape lengthwise so it's stuck to the boat along the top edge, but not along the bottom edge. The creased tape then forces the water to run and drip off the edge of the tape into the air, leaving the boat dry.


(In case you attribute this ingenious technique to me as my own idea.....it's not....I saw another woman do this in the yard years ago and it blew my mind, so we have just copied her amazing idea ever since.) Once the tape is channeling the water away from the boat we can dry the hull more fully with the hairdryer and apply paint. The hull dries quickly because it's fiberglass...if it was wood it would take much longer.

It's interesting to note that our hairdryer has never actually been used on our hair.......


Now that the boat work is done I'm all about planting the garden........There's tons to do, but that's okay....I'd rather work in the garden for a week than one day doing boat work.