Garden Log

The Northern Neck Historical Society posted a page of Thomas Jefferson’s garden log on their Facebook page. My first thought was, how cool! My second was, huh, between his experiments, his archaeology, his farming, his women, founding a country, and copious note taking of all of the above endeavors, when did that man sleep?

I am not good at keeping a garden journal. During Spring planting, when I should most keep a journal, I only mostly manage to write the name of the plant I’m planting on a stick and put that into the ground. I do have some occasional notes and they are always useful. Well, almost always. I cannot explain this one (from last May):


But, here I am going to try and keep something of a running journal. Maybe it will help for next year. And perhaps, one day, someone will look at my journal and say, how cool! Although, I suspect it will be, why is that chicken running from a flying saucer?

February 19, 2014

We finally got the first pallet up and planted it mostly with strawberries. Now isn’t the best time to plant strawberries, but this is when we got to it. Today, I will try and move onions around. Several are getting large enough that they need their own pots. I never did get around to planting garlic. Boo. I will also get to the sweet potatoes this week. For those, I buy a sweet potato at the farmer’s market or Mother’s, cut it in half, stick chopsticks in the sides, and put the cut part in water. Sprouts will grow off the sweet potato. I will carefully twist this sprout off and place it in water to root. The best luck I had last year was then transplanting this sprout directly where I wanted sweet potatoes. Make sure you really want sweet potatoes there. They will spread all summer long. The hotter, the better. I will see this spring if they come back in the same place. I suspect they will.

January 10, 2014

Whatever has not been dug up by the raccoon or the opossums is doing well.  Stuff always grows so much more slowly in the winter.  But, the turnips are getting pretty good sized and we’ve harvested lettuce, bok choy, and radishes.  At the Plot this week, we found an abandoned pumpkin and an abandoned butternut squash.  Evidently, they were buried under all those leaves and just continued to ripen as they sat, forgotten, at the Plot, and then, when everything finally died back, they cured.  The butternut was excellent.  I put it in eggs.  Potatoes are finally coming up at the Plot, too.  Yeah!  There are a dozen of those suckers coming up.  We have hope for potatoes this year.  One straggly cherry tomato plant continues to produce tomatoes on the roof and we have two pepper plants still going.  Due to the recent heat, there are volunteer bean and tomato plants coming up, too.  We’ve decided to let the tomato plants in the aquaponics system go and see how they do.

July 24, 2013
The tomatoes are still doing well. The dismal cucumber showing last year is definitely off set this year by cucumber mania. Why did I plant 15 plants again? Which dismally contrasts with the lack of melons this year. By this time last year, we had lots of melons. This year, they are a rare treat. I have some new seedlings coming up-maybe they will improve. The greenhouse aquaponics systems are sad right now. I think it might be too hot in there. They will improve. I just know it. August approaches…this year I plan to set up seed trays in a shady part of the yard in hopes of growing broccoli seedlings! It is time to start winter seed shopping…

July 1, 2013

85 lbs of tomatoes in June. Yay! Although, I had to pull ALL the summer squash plants at the garden plot. Every darn one of those plants failed to produce and shriveled, despite plenty of water, food, and sun. We suspect something in the soil killed all of the summer squash plants. The melons at the plot are pitiful. The melons here are just getting going. And a few pumpkins did okay-note the slightly bend wrought iron bars on our front porch where a Ute pumpkin grew and pushed the bar askew until we realized what it was doing and cut it down! But, now the winter squash is really taking off and over. Many of the tomatoes are good-the roof tomatoes have seen better days, as have the purple roof beans. We’ll keep watering and see what happens.

May 14, 2013
Harvested a few little tomatoes today. Also harvested one head of garlic to see how the garlic is doing. It is nearly there! Harvested a few onions. They are AWESOME. Even better than farmer’s market onions. Which we cannot figure. Strawberries, ground cherries, sunberries, and the occasional raspberry are ripe. Several of the sweet potato slips are pretty large, so we will likely plant a few more sweet potatoes. Trying to plant more beans tomorrow….we’ll see how that goes!

April 25, 2013
We finished planting at the plot today. Eggplant, squash, sweet potatoes, and more melon. Most of the plants at the plot are doing great and we harvested a bunch of radishes. The radishes from the plot are much bigger than anything we’ve pulled out of our raised beds. Radishes seem to like dirt. Note to self. We weeded all sorts of things from the in-ground part of the plot. Grass, unknown flowers, and stinging nettle. OUCH.

The garden plot intrigue continues…Stinky Mary put up a fence trying to block us from our water spigot. Honestly. Some people need a better hobby.

My attempts to grow cucumbers remain pitiful. My Hmong cucumbers look sad and bedraggled. I found two in the greenhouse this past weekend that looked great so I started hardening them off. I do not expect them to do well. I guess it was sheer folly to hope that cucumbers from the highlands of Vietnam, which has to be much more humid than here, would do well in a coastal desert. So, I threw Hmong cucumber seeds into the aquaponics system in the greenhouse. I have hopes!

April 18, 2013

Planted a few melons, apple melons, along the side today. Finished chicken tractoring Biggie’s Garden. The eggplant is done being hardened off and we will transplant soon. Pulled some carrots, harvested some lettuce. Much around here needs a trim-maybe tomorrow after work? Thursdays are always nice for gardening!

And at the Plot…we’ve been ordered to return the spigot handle to its spigot. Ordered! With no indication that anyone particularly cares if our plants get water. Sad, sad, day. Just not feeling the love from the ‘community’ garden.

April 14, 2013


Today, we went to the garden plot at the community garden to check it out. Two of the plants seemed to be a bit peeked so we turned on the water to make sure water was hitting the two plants. No water. Huh? Someone had turned our water spigot off. So, no matter if our automatic timer turned on, no water would turn on and hit our plants. As we had left the water running on the timer when we left on Thursday, we KNEW it was not us that had turned that spigot off.

Suspect List:

1) Mary. Mary, our neighbor, has issues with us. We’re not sure why, but we think that maybe she is upset we’ve taken over a plot she gave up. (She had 3 until, for reasons we do not know, she gave up the one we’ve taken over.)

2) Community Garden Troublemaker. This woman, who apparently does not pull weeds or maintain her plot, first spoke to us by commenting on my lack of bike helmet. (It was in my basket and I had taken it off once we reached the garden. Unlike her, I do not need a helmet when I am walking a bike.)

3) Unknown Nefarious Persons. Random vicious anti-food growing Nazis who dislike zucchini.

I personally like Number 3, but suspect that Mary accidentally turned the spigot off watering her own garden and did not realize she’d turned off our spigot, too. We’re not too sure about these folks at the community garden, because we’ve had so much trouble with the plot, but hopefully, it will work out eventually.

April 11, 2013

Today, we harvested our meager supply of potatoes. It is getting hot and tubers stop forming in hotter temperatures. We actually had some good sized spuds! Maybe we have moved up a notch in the World’s Worst Potato Farmer race. Second to last, maybe?

April 10, 2013

Not only has it been a couple of weeks since the last entry, we have not done much in the garden in the last two weeks. All is growing well, but I was out in the desert and not much got planted. Today, we planted melons around the house as well as at the plot. Apple melon, rich sweetness melon, casaba melon, valencia winter melon, and two varieties of watermelon. We also planted more squash at the plot. The ronde de nice squash already has fruit! Caterpillars seem to be waging war on the corn, beans, and squash in Bryn’s garden and aphids continue to invade the kale. We may have to pull the kale and start again. All the peas are done, done, and done. No more peas until next winter. Things that are bolting: lettuce, red turnips, basil, bok choy, and parsley. Two incredibly confused onion plants are blooming. Several trees have small fruits. The peach tree, the grape vines, the pomegranate, and maybe the mango have little bud like fruits. The fig tree has fruit that will be ready soon. The citrus also have flowers. About half of the wine grapes have leaves. Two are still looking kind of brown. The weather is heating up fast, so the potatoes might need to be pulled.

March 25, 2013

Finished filling raised bed at the community plot. Planted more tomato plants at plot. Also, planted sunflowers and beans. Sunflowers are for the beans to climb. Carrots and marigold seeds were planted also. The cardoon and celery tub from the roof was totally full and root bound. Threw the entire thing into the end of the raised bed.

Also finished setting up several raised beds and containers here at the house. Transplanted cucumbers, largely into areas that do not get lots of sun until late afternoon. We’ll see how they do.

March 24, 2013

More soil put into the raised bed at the community garden plot. All but one of the sweet potato slips planted at the community plot were toast. We will plant more this week. The plot needs mulch-the soil dries out very fast.

Slowest growing kohlrabi was pulled from the roof-it is getting woody. More attempts at aphid control on the kale. Less aphids are present. Sort of. The strawberry spinach is definitely a warm weather plant. It is growing on the roof as well as in the front yard raised bed and actually getting larger. Malabar spinach is also a warm weather plant. Go figure. Pulled mid sized carrots from the side raised bed and planted the last of the hybrid zucchini. We’ll see if the hybrids noticeably outperform the heirlooms this year.

Noticed lots of bees today. The mulberry and the wine grapes are waking up-these are the last of the new bare roots this year. One of the wine grape plants looks rather dead-we are hoping it is just slow. Chinese lantern seems happy on the porch with some shade. Sunberry in the back is looking good, too. The berries are tasty-but seem to have no shelf life at all. They appear to be a use as you pick type of fruit.

Huckleberries and cucumbers were pulled out of the greenhouse today to finish hardening off.



  1. Tilly says:

    Excellent article. I am facing some of these issues as well..

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