Welcome to our 2013 Garden

We started 2013 with 3 weeks of zero degree weather.  The temperatures dropped into the negative numbers a few nights.  I had just run a natural gas line and electrical circuit out to our "Harbor Freight" greenhouse on December 3.  The Fackrells let me use a 10,000 btu blue flame natural gas 99% efficient vent free heater.  It worked great to keep temps above freezing until the 2nd week of January.  I used the $10 remote thermometers from Harbor Freight to monitor the greenhouse.  When the night temperatures got down to 0 degrees, the greenhouse pulled down to 24 degrees.  The snapdragons and all but 2 of the artichoke plants survived that night.  The next day I changed out the 10k btu heater for a 30k btu heater that I bought used off of Craigslist.

The Fackrells blue flame heater turned on and off with its thermostat and operated at the 5,000 btu level most of the time.  When the temperatures dropped down in Janurary it operated at the full 10,000 btu level and couldn't keep up.  The 30,000 btu heater I got was a ceramic plate infrared style 99% efficient vent free heater.  It works great but I couldn't tell when it was running at full or half speed.  So I found another blue flame heater with a 30,000 btu rating.  I really like being able to see where the level of the burner is.  Since I put this heater in the greenhouse the day temps are in the 40s and the night temps are low and high 20s and the heater has only ever operated at the 15,000 half speed burner.  It turns on and off at night to keep the greenhouse at 50-60 degrees.  It doesn't turn on during the day when the temperature in the greenhouse is 110 degrees on a sunny day mid afternoon.  It does come on occaisionally on a cloudy day if the temps are cool.

I initially used 2 remote sensors - one about 12 inches off of the floor which is the level of our lowest greenhouse shelf and another at 4 feet.  I was using a 21 inch box fan to help circulate the air in the greenhouse horizontally.  The upper temperature sensor was reading 60 degrees while the lower sensor was reading 30s.  The Fackrells brought over some 1 inch thick 36" tall styrofoam panels that I used as insulation against the walls at ground level all around the greenhouse.  That did help.  The Harbor Freight greenhouses are not well sealed.  I have not used duct tape, silicone, or anything that didn't come with the greenhouse to seal the panels in better.  Duct tape rots off in no time.  Silicone may be affective but is too permanent for me at least for now.  I haven't decided what to do to better seal this greenhouse.  After I insulated the lower walls with styrofoam I hung a 52" metal blade industrial style ceiling fan with adjustable speed control to the roof.  Now there isn't 4 or 5 degrees difference in the lower and upper temperature sensors.  I couldn't use the lower shelf of my greenhouse with the styrofoam 36 inches up the wall. It is warmer on the upper shelves anyway.

It is now the end of February and I have removed the styrofoam insulation panels from the south side of the greenhouse so that we can use the lower shelving for plant starter trays.  The temperatures are in the mid 40s during the day and mid to upper 20s at night.  We have had a lot of sun.  It has almost been too hot in the greenhouse for the romaine lettuce.  When I am home and think about it I'll turn off the heater and open the doors so the temperature can back off from 110 degrees to the mid 80s.

Here is a National Weather Service weather history chart for the month of January for Boise, Idaho.  This January about zero degrees for a week.

January 2008     January 2009    January 2010     January 2011     January 2012    January 2013 

15 March 2013
The Fackrells offered their 1 acre side lot to the African refugee farmers to use for vegetable gardening.  They had hired a tractor to till the area last fall and again earlier this week.  Then they came out today and planted onions, beets, and carrots from seed.  They started setting up some irrigation tubing for sprinklers but haven't finished.

21 March 2013
I finally found some angle iron for bracing the ends of the new greenhouse I got from Mountain Home and put the ends together a couple of weeks ago.  I bought a package of foam rubber weather stripping used to seal between a pickup bed and a camper shell to use as a seal for the gap between the 2 greenhouses.  The weather stripping cost $5.50.  It was 1 1/4" wide and 30' long.  I used scissors to cut the stripping in half lengthwise.  Then I applied the one half to one greenhouse end and the other half to the other greenhouse end.  I bought a 10' x 15" sheet of thin galvanized steel flashing from the recycle center for $2.45 that I cut into 4 1/2" strips.  I laid the flashing strips over the gap between the greenhouses and screwed it down with small sheet metal screws.  It wants to buckle between the screws because of heat and cold expansion and contraction so I'm going to have to place a sturdy slat over both edges of the flashing to hold it down and stop the buckling.

I picked all of the rest of the spinach from our greenhouse yesterday.  We also got a handful of radishes to use in the salad last night.  The artichokes that we planted 1/31 are up 6-10".  The "little Finger" carrots we planted 1/31 in the greenhouse are up 12".

22 March 2013
We have had an amazingly dry March this year.  The soil has been dry enough to plant for 2 or 3 weeks.  It rained a little on the 20th and there was a skiff of snow on the ground yesterday which had melted off by mid day.  There is a 30% chance of rain for next Saturday.  Other than that there is no rain, 60 degrees during the day and upper 30s at night for the next 10 days too.

25 March 2013
The daffodils have been blooming for a week or more.Ryan pruned the top off of the front Apple tree.  Neither of the apple trees were fully pruned last year.

1 April 2013
The apricot trees are blooming. Our plum tree now has small leaves.  There has been no rain since 20 March.  Temps are day-70 and night-40.  We have hesitated to plant our greenhouse broccoli, cauliflower, onions, carrots becuase of the lack of rain in the forcast. There is one day this coming Saturday (6th) that there is a 30% chance of rain. Otherwise no rain in the forcast still. Our pressurized irrigation from the NY Canal will come on in mid April. Tom brought over some of Kathy's family tomato seeds.  Her maiden name is Kennington.  Her dad gave her some seeds from the family Kennington Big Red tomato this week.  I planted 76 seeds today.

2 April 2013
The canal must be filled with water now because I saw sprinklers and irrigation in the feilds all over the valley today.

We sprayed all of the terribly obnoxios Bur Buttercup weeds today.  They are mostly blooming.  But some are beginning to make their burs.

We bought a Harbor Freight 7hp gas engine (212cc) last Wednesday. We installed it on our Troybilt Horse tiller.  By Saturday we decided to take it back because after running it for a while, it would shut off every 3 feet of tilling.  I told the store that we had a probllem with the engine and that it keeps shuttin off. They said it must be a faulty sensor.  We put the new engine on the tiller today and it did the same thing.  So we pulled apart the little green wire crimp next to the on/off button and now it keeps running just fine.  My thought about the sensor is that it must provide some overload protection for the motor.  But if I can't till, what good is the engine.  We were tilling with a 5hp engine before and it worked ok but you could tell that it was overworking the engine some with the tines all the way down into the soil.  I don't think that the 7hp engine is that overloaded though.

16 April 2013
Most of the Bur Buttercup weeds that we sprayed survived our spray.  So we used a propane torch this morning to burn them.  From now on I will pick them manually if I see them. Our neighborhood irrigation turned on today.  We still haven't mowed our lawn but many of the neighbors have.

23 April 2013
Frost on rooftops and the ground last night with the forcast of 30 degrees for a low at the airport.  I'm not sure what the temperature got down to at our house but I did see frost on the ground and on my artichokes and broccoli sitting outside the greenhouse.  The pear trees are in full bloom.  The peach trees and cherry trees are just finishing their blooming. The plum tree has been done blooming for a couple of weeks.  The weather has been very mild with only 2 days of rain in the last month.  It rained pretty good last Friday.  There is no rain in the forcast out 10 days and the temperatures are going to be in the mid 70s. with night temps at 50. 

4 May 2013
There has been no rain and there is no rain in the 10 day forcast. They turned the NY canal pressurized irrigation on for our subdivision on 16 April, the day I left to go to Seattle and Spokane moving pianos.  Then the NY canal needed repairs so they drained it until this week.  The pressurized water turned back on yesterday.  I watered for the first time today.  It was tough waiting to water the lawn because there has been no rain.  But I don't like using the water until May to help conserve it. We've only mowed once and will be cutting the lawn higher this year to conserve water.  The new irrigation newsletter received yesterday says we get 2 days water this weekend and then the water will be off for 2 weeks.  We will then have water for 2 days on the weekend of 20 May and then the water will be off again for 2 weeks.  Then they will be rationing the water at 2 days every week during June, July, August. The pump will be off Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday instead off just on Thursday.  There is very little water in the resevoir this year.  Everyone is having to cut back. 

There are plant sales everywhere this weekend.  Prior to this weekend there were only 2 or 3 people selling a few things.  The Gardners had their greenhouse sale this weekend.  Her plants look amazing. I stopped by the greenhouse at Victory and Five Mile.  Their prices are all up.  They want $16 for a blackberry.  Fred Meyer wants $7.99 for gallon raspberries.  I found my best prices this spring at the D&B plant sale that they had earlier this week. 4pak veggies were $1.28 and gallon plants were $2.00. Those prices will only be this week.

We have been giving raspberries and strawberries to people for a week.  I have just about run out of Albion strawberries.  They have been the most popular.  So it looks like we will be ordering more.  Tonight I dug up all of the Sequoia strawberries.  We started  12 plants last year and trasplanted them just now out to fill an entire 40 foot double row.  There were over 150 plants.  This year we will cut off the runners so they will make friut.  We planted 17 Albion starwberries last year that we got from Andersons. We have given away dozens and have about 2 dozen left.  We also planted 6 plants of the Fort Laramie strawberries, Quinalt strawberries, and Tristar strawberries which we have done before but didn't keep good track of them.  They are planted in the side of our garden that has been most amended with sand.  The Sequoia didn't fruit at all last year.  The Albion were my favorite. They made tons of runners and produced fruit every month until frost.

16 May 2013
Only 3 mother plants left of the Albion strawberries and a few daughter plants in our garden.  I'll keep those original plants. We received a 1000 plant order of Albion strawberries from the nursery a week ago.  They were in great shape.  I planted 250 in our garden tonight.  We've given a lot of strawberries to people coming to our greenhouse and piano shop.  We also ordered 50 Heritage Raspberries from the same nursery.  They were "tissue culture" plugs from a 6 pak planting tray.  They removed the plugs from their trays, placed all of the plants in a plastic bag on top of each other and then placed the plastic bag in a styrofoam box inside of a carboard box for shipping.  They came separate from the strawberries.  I pulled them out and put them back in 6 pak plastic trays as soon as I got them and watered them and rinsed the dirt from all of the leaves.  They were in terrible shape.  They were shipped 5/7 and arrived 5/9.  The weather this spring is way to warm now to be shipping this way for this type of plant.  I will only save less than 1/2 of the raspberries.  The nursery also ships cane stock and sells root by the pound.  I tried "tissue culture" which is something new for me and I'll not do it again.  The cane stock or root sold by the pound would be a much better option.

21 May 2013
We got some raspberry plants from the Wilsons in Meridian.  They got their plants from Ross Hadfield.  Since Ross is no longer with us, I called the Ada County Extension Service. He worked very closely with them so I thought they might know what he had in his yard.  One of the master gardeners called me today and said the Ross Hadfield planted the following varieties of raspberries: Heritage, Polana, Caroline, and I thought he said Avery - not sure.  Both Heritage and Caroline are fall everbearing.

22 May 2013
I decided to get some raspberries from Edwards nursery here in Boise.  I bought 4 Caroline Red (ripens Aug-Sep), 2 Polana Red (ripens Aug-Sep), 2 Willamette Red (ripens in June), 1 Jewel Black (ripens early July), and 1 Bristol Black (ripens late July) raspberries.  I wanted some Tulameen Red which produces a high yield of large berries for 50 days starting in July but they were out.  I'll keep looking.  I am also going to look for a local source of Concord Seeded juicing grape plants.

23 May 2013
There was frost this morning.  Some of the grape plants got nipped.  I knew that the frost was a possibility because the weather forcast predicted 35 degrees last night. The weather service actually recorded 33 degrees.  We plant most of the garden on Memorial Day weekend to eliminate the risk of losing things to a frost around the 25th of May every year. Notice from the charts below that you could have planted after May1st in 2008 and after the 13th in 2009.  Sometimes we get frost near the end of May. At our house when the temperature at night is 44 degrees or colder, we chance getting some frost.  We are a Five Mile Rd and Amity in Boise with an elevation of 2750 feet. Some parts of town are lower in elevation and may have a slightly more mild climate.  The area south of Lake Lowell, for example, gets a lake effect protection from frost more than some areas of the valley.  The books say that the last average date of frost in Boise is May 10.

I put all of the 20 polycarbonate panels back on that I removed a week ago.  Then, with no more frost in the forcast, I spent this morning removing all of the polycarbonate panels from the greenhouse.  There are 30 roof panels and over 40 wall panels.  I planted the cana lilies tonight.  I can fit about 30 plants in a double row with the irises. I'd love to plant them earlier because the roots dry out so bad by now but they can't handle the frost and we haven't had enough irrigation water.  The irrigation water will return to a weekly schedule next week.


May 2013 Weather History Chart  

2003  2004  2005  2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011 2012

22 June 2013
Planted 4 rows of corn in the shorter rows alongside the back shop.

24 June 2013
Planted all of the locally purchased raspberry plants, the Heritage raspberries from the CA nursery, and the Kennington Big Red Tomatoes.

2 July 2013
Our first picking of Albion strawberries today is 1 pound.  I also picked about a handful of raspberries from the Ranch plants.

4 July 2013
Put 1st ad on Craigslist for used carpet for garden weed control.  A lady with a 4500 sq ft house responded. She will have more in a week but I brought some home. We picked 1 1/2 pounds of Albion strawberries today.  It looks like we will have no Sequoia strawberries again this year. Our first Rainbow Loveliness Lace Dianthus bloomed today and it smells heavenly.  It is a white blossom.

5 July 2013
I used the Troybilt tiller to weed between all of the rows. Gabe helped me hold the bigger plants back but there weren't too many of those yet.  Our garden is still young.

6 July 2013
Weeded in the row by hand

8 July 2013
Finished weeding in the plant row for all tomatoes, peppers, squash, and raspberries.  Used the hoe to weed the 4 rows of corn.  Watered whole garden tonight.  Water shuts off in the morning for 3 days.

10 July 2013
Brought another 5 or 6 rolls of carpet home from the July 4th lady.  The Ranch raspberries are in full production. The berries and big and tasty.  The main patch of original thornless raspberries are beginning to be ripe but the berries are small this year.  There are tons of berries on the plants - just small and they are ripe enough to start picking today.

12 July 2013
Picked 2 pounds of raspberries.

20 July 2013
Picked 2 pounds of raspberries and 2 pounds of strawberries.  Picked 3 or 4 ripe blackberries today.  They are loaded but are shorter because of winter kill on the outer ends of the branches.

27 July 2013
Picked 2 pounds of raspberries and 3 pounds of strawberries.  We'll be picking or 1st blackberries tomorrow.  I just didn't get to it today. Most of todays strawberries came from the Quinalt(planted last year) patch.  They are loaded with fruit. The Tristar (also planted last year) is as loaded and the fruit has the same bell shape as the Quinalt.  The Albions are a more uniform cone shape and are easier to pick.  You have to more careful when picking the Quinalt and Tristar because the stem pulls off of the top of the berry more easily.

1 August 2013
Picked 1 1/2 pounds of raspberries form our "original" no name patch. I picked my first oriental cucumber today.  It was long, bumpy on the outside, and very sweet.  The Rainbow Loveliness Lace Dianthus are in full bloom and the garden smells wonderful. Picked 1 pound of Albion strawberries.  Picked 1 1/2 pounds of Quinalt strawberries (best flavor) and 4 oz of Tristar.  Picked 9 Hecker strawberries and picked 1 large Honeyoe and 3 large Eversweet strawberries. We still have no strawberries this year from the Sequoia, Ft Laramie, Ozark Beauty, or Earlyglow. The wind blew over David and Miriam's corn. David and Miriam picked 2 pounds of blackberries a couple of days ago. The power went out.  I had just mowed the lawn and then the storm front wind covered the lawn with twigs and leaves from the neighbor's Elm trees. 5 plums fell from the plum tree.  We didn't think there were any plums up there.

5 Aug 2013
Picked 1/2 pound of raspberries.  There will only be enough left out there to eat while playing in the garden from now on.  We picked 1 1/2 pound of strawberries and 8 pounds of black berries.  There are tons of cucumbers on the vine and we have picked boxes of zucchini.  We are losing 2 of the zucchini plants and I can't see why. As far as I can tell there are no squash bugs.  The Alborz Flame Seedless grapes are filled out and colored and taste like they will be ripe soon.

10 Aug 2013
Picked 2 1/2 oz of Canby Thornless raspberries and 3 oz of original raspberries.  Again, I can't believe that there will be any more to pick. They are done for the season.  I also picked 1 1/2 lbs of strawberries - mixed varieties.  We had 4 Peregrine Falcons in our yard for a few days.  Today there are only 3 hanging around.  I noticed this morning that there are no doves cooing - normally a constant.  There have also been no squirells visible in the yard lately.  I saw one of the falcons attack an adult dove in the air.  It hit the dove but the dove flew away.  Not sure if the falcon will attack the birds and squirells to eat them or not.  We started picking lots of cucumbers this week and there have been lots of zucchini and yellow summer squash.  The 95-100 degree temps have been constant and continue to show the same in the 10-day forcast with zero percent chance of rain.  I noticed tonight that it was too dark to really do anything by 9:30.  On the longest day of the year it didn't get dark until just after 10:30.

14 Aug 2013
Picked 1 1/2 pounds of strawberries.  Picked 16 pounds of blackberries and put 13 pounds in the freezer.  The Hatchers made us a strawberry rhubarb pie with the rhubarb that they got from our garden.  So I took them some blackberries when I returned the pie plate. We bought a 2000 gallon water tank this evening that we will be using for rainwater collection.  We probably need a lot more than 2000 gallons to operate at full speed but this is a good start. The tank is over  7' wide and just under 7' tall.  It will save us having to use as much metered city water in the greenhouse and will help us start our early garden peas, broccoli, etc. in the spring before the irrigation water turns on in April.

22 Aug 2013
Picked 8 pounds of blackberries. A thunderstorm passed by and dropped some rain today.

30 Aug 2013
Picked 5 pounds of blackberries.  Ryans family picked 1/2 and Peggy brought the other half in
. Also picked a pound of strawberries.

2 September 2013
Processed 14 quarts of pickles. The Alborz grapes look nice and taste so good.   The Neptune grapes are still too tart to eat.  And I don' think we have any Emerald Seedless yet this year.  I made a swiss chard smoothie today with chard, grapes, and apple.

5 September 2013
The New York canal turned off their water feed from the river and began to drain.  Our subdivision turned of the irrigation water this morning for the last time this year.  My 2000 gallon water tank is full but I still need to fit a faucet to it and hook up a pump for it.

9 September 2013
Picked 1 1/2 pounds of strawberries tonight.  After a number of rainy days there were a few strawberries that had molded on the plant - sad.  They are so big.  I am still getting Albion, Quinalt, and Hecker strawberries.  The Albion are the largest. There are sill no Sequoia.  I made another swiss chard smoothie today with apple and banana.  Our annual neighborhood potluck dinner was held in our yard last night.  There were 38 people there from up and down Reutzel Dr.  There were 2 barbeques going for hamburgers, hotdogs, sausage, summer squash, and corn on the cob.  Tracy Skidmore ran both barbeques like a pro.  There were 20 salads, jellos, and fruit dishes.  There were hot dish caseroles - amazingly good. There was a pan of delicious apple bars and hot peach/oatmeal crisp, and Peggy's cookies. We did a garden share table and sent people home with tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers, green and red table grapes, and summer squash.  We picked a ton of Juliet and Principe Borgese red grape tomatoes.  Tonight I picked 10 pounds of early girl tomatoes.  The Early Sunglow corn is all ripe and starting to get a little over ripe.

26 September 2013
Yesterday we picked about a pound of Albion and Hecker strawberries.  All of the strawberries have stopped producing.  I have been picking Caroline, Polana, and Heritage raspberries for about a week.  There aren't very many because all of our plants are new but we can see that they ripen now.  On the 21st we picked a box of Amana Orange tomatoes, Legend, and Celebrity tomatoes for the church share table.  The 2 previous days we had people come pick over 200 pounds of various types of tomatoes.  The Pink Brandywine, Romas, etc are also all ripening.  We have received some rain over the last 3 days. And tonight will be the end of the rain for a while.  The clouds will clear and the temperatures are forcast to be in the upper 30s.  I covered the cucumber row and about 1/2 of the tomatoes and peppers.

We routed the rain gutters from both sides of our showroom piano shop into the top of our 2000 gallon water tank.  The irrigation water shut off Thursday 5 September.  Then there was a little rain the following week.  Thursday 19 September I watered our whole garden from the 2000 gallon holding tank. We drained it to about 1/2 full that day.  After collecting rain the last 3 days, the holding tank is back up to 1500 gallons.  The rain has helped the garden but did not soak deep.  All of our Neptune grapes are ripe enough to eat but not too ripe yet.

I ate some of our Pablano peppers left over the church share table.  They were barely spicey.

2 October 2013
There is heavy frost on the ground this morning at 7:30  . Temp is 36 degrees at the Boise airport according to Weather.com.  There was frost on the roofs 9/27 and barely any frost on the ground that day.  The cold nights are forcast for a couple of days here. Then the night temps go back to 44 degrees.  We'll see later today how heavy the damage was.  The frost is thick on the strawberry leaves.  The frost was thick enough to freeze on the car window.

18 November 2013
We dug our potatoes.  Grandpa Lott was here to help.  There actually wasn't that many but it still took a few minutes.  We planted them really late this year and many of them didn't germinate.  Then again in Augsust I planted some of the left over potato seed where the plants were missing and in the new section of garden that we made to square off the front of the garden.  So we dug 20 pounds of red potatoes, 14 pounds of Ucon Gold potatoes, and 68 pounds of Russetts. Expecting 21 degrees this week.