|Posted on May 19, 2013 at 10:20 PM||comments (12)|
May is a crazy month in the garden, there is so much planting up to be done and regular garden maintenance needs to be kept up with as well. I am running a little later with planting out a few items this year, but all-in-all I am managing to get things done and am closing in on the finish line of the spring planted crops. I had a road trip to Spokane over the prior weekend to see my family and did not get back until Sunday night. I took the following Monday (13th) off from work as well as the actual days I was traveling, so that I could have a day to decompress and catch up in the garden before returning to work. It was a productive and truly relaxing day. I started it off by getting the trellis netting hung on the vertical support structures for the snap peas. This was on my “to do” list and it was good to get it done.
As you can see from this picture, our many rhododendron trees around the property are in full bloom right now and are simply gorgeous to look at. The snap peas are growing in this bed under the support structures, but the snap peas and the spinach (also in this bed) appear to be being eaten by birds this spring. The peas behind the lettuce in this bed are growing without pest problems and are twice the size of the rest of the planting – apparently the lettuce is keeping the birds from finding them. The rest of the peas are not so lucky. The big shelling pea patch is growing really beautifully in another location and without any bird damage because the entire bed is covered with bird netting. I just hope enough of the snap peas survive to provide us with sufficient peas for our regular fresh eating needs. I am writing off the spring planting of spinach though because they are so stunted from the bird nibbling and it is so late in the season that they have no chance of rebounding and growing before they would bolt to seed anyways. I need to come up with something else to plant in that bed area so the space does not go to waste.
In addition to getting the netting hung, I also planted the peppers out on Monday. These are all plants I started earlier this year and have been hardening off. They are rather large and really needed to get in the ground. In fact, most all of them already have peppers on them. I planted Lady Bell and Early Jalapeno.
Right next to the peppers, I planted up the corn (Bodacious) patch. Usually I start corn from seed as it gives a good jump start on my “less than warm” summer season, but this year I just opted to direct seed the patch because I was running late with the seed starting and the weather has been mild and comfortably warm this spring.
You can see my artichokes growing in the back right portion of that picture. The center plant (the biggest) has an artichoke bud forming.
I spent this past Saturday working at the Giving Garden until early afternoon and then had other commitments to attend to for the rest of the day (it was our 28th wedding anniversary!) so I did not get into my own garden until Sunday. I made good use of Sunday afternoon though. Despite some overcast and drizzling weather this past week, there actually has been no real measurable rain and everything was quite dry. The first priority was to get things watered throughout the garden and in the greenhouse. I did some light weeding in the onion, leek, and garlic patch before I watered them. It took quite a while to work through the various garden areas to get the watering done where there is not currently a soaker hose in place. Once that was done though, I started up one of the soaker hoses in the tomato patch and then set to work to grub out the adjacent bed, which was last year’s potato patch and full of volunteer potatoes. This bed is destined to be the 2013 squash patch and I needed to get these volunteer potatoes out of there. Here’s the bed before I started work.
Obviously (as usual) I missed a few potatoes when I harvested last fall! I worked my way down the bed removing the plants (using a garden fork) and salvaging the good potatoes as I went. I got quite a nice surprise harvest of potatoes for my clean-up work.
This bed is now cleaned up and ready for me to amend and plant it up with the squash plants when they are ready – which should be in about a week or so. The squash and cucumber starts are currently growing under the grow lights in the house, but starting on Monday they will start being moved outside during the day (in the greenhouse to begin with) to start their hardening off process. In the above picture, you can see my pea patch behind this bed (next to the greenhouse). The peas are getting tall and are growing well this spring. Next to the pea patch (to the right) you can see my garlic patch. They are HUGE this year. Not sure why they are so happy but they are growing with real enthusiasm. The tomatoes I planted last week are growing in the bed to the left and next to the bed I just cleared. They are settling in after transplanting very well. There is already some tomatoes forming on one of the Cherokee Purples and one of the Siletz plants.
The last thing I did on Sunday afternoon was to direct seed the pole beans (Fortex) and some parsnips (Cobham Improved Marrow) and a second round of carrots (Mokum). The carrots and parsnips were planted in the front section of the narrow vertical grow bed that I put the pole beans into.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always interesting and very inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Here’s my contribution for the week of May 13th through 19th.
I had a nice "bonus" harvest of potatoes from my work to clean up the prior year potato patch bed.
I also harvested a nice bunch of fresh lettuce on Sunday.
It was made into a large green salad to keep in the fridge for later use. Part of it was used right away on Sunday night for the evening meal, along with some of those potatoes (roasted) to accompany baked salmon seasoned with dill. I also harvested some broccoli side shoots but they did not make it into a photograph for some reason.
The garden planting up is progressing along. Pretty much all that is left now is the cucumbers and the squash patch and I will be done with the spring planted crops. The walkways need me to get to them with the weed whacker soon too. Once the May planting up is done, the next month will be a lot less frantic, with the focus being on light harvesting and general maintenance of the garden. I hope your gardens are coming together well for you this spring too.
|Posted on May 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM||comments (12)|
Despite the lack of blog updates, it really has been quite busy around here in my garden. Too busy when combined with work and travel commitments, which is why the blog has been rather quiet of late. I have managed to carve out time here and there to keep the garden tasks on track, but there has not been much time left over. We have been having some excellent spring weather this year and it has kick started the garden into high gear, at least to the extent that I have things planted up. The big pea patch is looking gorgeous and the snap peas that were planted later are up and growing well too. The broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbages, and brussel sprouts are all thriving and growing well. In fact, the kohlrabi is starting to fatten up it’s swollen stems and the broccoli is forming heads.
The potatoes I planted a few weeks ago started emerging over the past several days, so I hurried to get a deep layer of straw put on top of them today to encourage them to keep growing up through this next layer before really leafing out. I put a soaker hose down on the surface of the bed before I put the straw mulch on.
The lettuces have been really taking off this past week – both in the greenhouse and also in the outdoor bed. You can see the snap pea shoots growing behind the lettuces in this pic.
We are starting to enjoy regular fresh salads again. I have really missed lettuce salads. Their return to the menu is much appreciated.
I finally got around to getting the tomatoes planted. I took quite a few of the extra starts into work on Tuesday and did my annual tomato plant giveaway to my employees. I held out the best of each variety for my own garden – 20 plants in all. The remaining plants (there is 43 more of them still) will be going to the Giving Garden a week from this coming Saturday. I moved the tomato patch to the side garden area this year. I prepped the bed as per my usual routine (aerate it with a broad fork, add a layer of compost, lightly work in the compost and rake the bed smooth), but skipped putting down red plastic mulch this year because I was unable to find it and did not want to wait to plant the bed up. I know I have some in the shop but darned if I could find it when I needed it! I then marked out 2-foot by 2-foot grid squares in the bed using a 4-foot stick and placed the tomato starts where I planned to plant them. I alternate my placement of the plants so that they have better ventilation when they are mature and much bigger. I trimmed the lower branches and leaves off of the plants to ensure that after I plant them deeply they would not be touching soil with their leaves.
I dig a hole for each transplant and add to the bottom of the hole 2 tablespoons of all-purpose organic fertilizer, 1 tablespoon Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), and 1 tablespoon of crushed oyster shell (calcium). I mix the additions into the soil at the bottom of the hole and then plant the tomato start – placing it deep in the hole so it will develop more roots along the lower portion of its current stem. Once they were all in the ground, I laid out the soaker hoses and put the tomato ladders and cages in place. For the taller growing indeterminate varieties, I like to double up on the supports by using both a tomato ladder and a cage. The smaller determinate plants do just fine with a cage only. The last step was to turn on the soaker hose for the first time this year and give them all a deep drink.
Here’s a closer look at one of the Stupice (pronounced “stew peach ka”) plants. This potato leaf variety produces an abundance of small sized fruit (approx. 2 inchs) and is quite tolerant of our region’s cool growing season. They are a lanky grower but so reliable for my region that I make sure at least a few of them are in the lineup each year.
I planted the following varieties:
The pepper plants are huge and almost hardened off now. They are starting to go in and out of the greenhouse to toughen up. Here is a picture of them enjoying a sunny afternoon next to the remaining tomato starts. If you look closely you will see quite a few peppers already formed on these plants. They really need to get into the ground soon!
Next up on the garden to do list:
Last week I started the cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini, and winter squashes - indoors under my grow lights. They should be ready to transplant out at the end of the month. Once the squash family plants are in, things will slow down for a while in the garden and the work will shift largely to just maintenance and light harvesting.
I hope things are growing well in your garden too!
|Posted on April 28, 2013 at 11:50 AM||comments (8)|
As planned, I have a lot of commitments to keep this weekend so the garden is only getting minimal attention; watering of the container plants and peppers growing under the lights in the house; and moving the tomatoes in and out of the greenhouse in the morning and evenings so they can finish hardening off. Luckily, I knew this was going to be the case and having noted that the weather forecast was excellent for Tuesday and Wednesday, I took a few days off from work last week to enjoy the fine weather and do the work I would have ordinarily done on the weekend (were it not for all the other commitments).
For once the longer term weather forecast was spot on correct. Tuesday and Wednesday were simply stunning spring days around here and it was a pleasure to have work to do in the garden to be out and about in it. I have been carting all the tomato plants out of the greenhouse in the morning and leaving them outside to get direct sun and exposure to breezes etc as they finish hardening off. They really enjoyed the high 60’s/low 70’s degree weather too. Here are some of them enjoying “Sunshine Camp for Seedlings”!
The work plan for the current week was to get the back bed that was really weedy attended to; weed the strawberry and cranberry patches; and to plant up carrots, some cabbage, and the potatoes. I started out by doing the berry patch weeding and then moved to the back garden area and tackled those beds. This is what they looked like before I got started. The front section of the top bed has the broccoli, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, and some onions in it. The center bed is one of two garden beds that seemed to get exceptionally weed filled over the winter. I already cleaned up the other one, but this one really needed some attention.
I started the job by doing an initial hand weeding of the larger items in the beds. The idea is to clear out the worst of the weeds before getting in there and doing the bed cultivation. Some weeds spread by rhizomes and chopping them up with a hoe while cultivating just creates a mess of tiny pieces that will produce even more weeds in the bed in the future. This task actually took most of my time on Tuesday, as I was trying to extract whole roots where possible. Here’s the beds after I did that hand weeding. I think it already looks MUCH improved.
I then added a layer of compost and aerated the top bed using my broad fork. The next prep action was to broadcast some organic all-purpose fertilizer (3-3-3 NPK) on the bed and use the hoe to cultivate the top few inches. The final step is to rake it so that the bed is ready to be planted.
I planted about 2/3rds of this bed in carrots (Ya Ya and Mokum) using my 3-inch planting jig to mark the seed spacing. The other 1/3rd was planted with a few direct seeded Ruby Ball cabbages. They take up a huge amount of room so there is not that many of them planted there, as I was leaving them plenty of room to grow into. Here’s the bed after it was planted up.
All that work was accomplished on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I focused in on the second bed in the back section. It was prepped in exactly the same manner that I did the upper bed on Tuesday. This particular bed is going to hold the potato patch and also will be where the cucumbers will grow. I went ahead and put up the slanted cucumber trellis on the first 8 foot by 4 foot section so it would be ready when the time came to plant them, but for now nothing is growing there. The remaining 16 feet by 4 foot section was then planted up with the potatoes. I am doing a hybrid experiment this year with my potato patch. I am using a deep initial planting depth for the seed pieces (7 to 9 inches down from the surface of the soil) and spacing the seed pieces using the John Jeavon’s method (9 inches apart in all directions) using my planting board to note the location to plant. I am not following the full John jeavon’s method though in that I did not do a double dig of the bed and plant as I went. Instead I prepped it as noted and then used a narrow hand trowel to plant the seed pieces by drilling a deep hole at each planting spot and dropping the seed piece in. It is a very similar process to planting flower bulbs. My intention is to use a thick mulch of straw on the potato patch this year to give the tubers more room to develop spuds, since I did not double dig. This back section of the garden is the newer area and the soil is not nearly as nice as the side section of the garden. The beds are quite full though and it is difficult to add very much organic matter at any one time because the amended soil tops over the bed edging and is in jeopardy of soil erosion during heavy rains or irrigation as a result. I thought using the deep layer of straw mulch would help with that because the lower portion will decompose and add good organics to the bed in addition to protecting the potatoes from sun exposure. Using natural mulches in my garden is always a risk though. It provides a lovely home for slugs which are abundant in my maritime northwest garden. I think the benefits will outweigh that negative though in this instance. So that is my plan. Here is the potato patch after being planted up. You can see the cucumber trellis in the foreground.
I planted a few new potatoes this year (Rose Finn Apple, French Fingerling) as well as some old standbys (Yukon Gold, Kennebec). The area I planted in potatoes (16’x4’) is exactly half of what I have been planting for the past many years. I am trying to adjust to our family’s smaller size now. When I had a hungry teenager at home we needed the larger potato patch, but the past several years, I have not used nearly as much of our stored potatoes with only the two of us now at home, and so I need to recognize that and back down on the amount I was planting. I think half is going to be just about right, but I may have to fine tune it over the next several seasons.
The back garden area is quite tidy now and largely planted up. The lowest bed is open at the moment, but will be planted in the corn patch a little later this spring. I also have the cucumbers to plant yet too. The artichoke bed in the corner area is really coming to life with the warmer weather. No sign of buds developing yet, but I don’t think it will be too long. The vertical bed at the bottom has snap peas (Cascadia), lettuces (mix), and spinach all planted up. I do need to get the trellis netting hung, but since the snap peas have not emerged yet, it can wait until the next weekend when I will have more time at my disposal. Here is how the back garden area is looking after the work I did on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Next up on my “to do” list, is planting out the tomatoes; starting the squash family plants (indoors under lights); and starting the hardening off of the peppers. Things are coming along quite well actually, and the garden is starting to look productive and tidier once again. Did you have a good week in your garden?
|Posted on April 21, 2013 at 9:25 PM||comments (9)|
The past week a real transformation has been occurring in my part of the world. Birds and frogs are singing with enthusiasm in the early morning hours. Trees and vines are leafing out and blooming. And when we are fortunate enough to have the sun emerge from our numerous days of wet and cloudy coastal Pacific Northwest weather, it actually feels quite warm on the skin. To put it simply, spring appears to be well and truly here. Our property has many beautiful specimen-sized tree rhododendrons and spring time brings a cascade of successive bloomers such that there is something dramatic to look at well into early June. Two of our many (I think there is well over 100 of them over the entire property) have launched the 2013 bloom season. The first to go was a wild red one in the front section of our property. It is still showing beautiful dark red but the blooms are starting to look a little shop worn. The second one is at the very back edge of our property, almost lost to the woods it sits at the edge of. It is approximately 12 feet tall and covered in beautiful pale pink blooms. The pink blossoms look almost luminous set against the dark of the adjoining forest.
We have red, white, yellow, peach, purple, and multi-hued rhodies that surround the property and give us a stunning show each year. What is even better about them, is that they are almost nothing to care for. I do a pruning of the front trees about once a year to keep them from taking over the adjoining flower beds or walkways, and I give all of them a light sprinkle of fertilizer after they are done blooming for the season and that is it. Unfortunately, not all my flower beds are so fuss free. I do try to keep them simple and naturalized to the greatest extent possible in order to avoid a lot of landscaping work. We have a lot of perennials that are happy growers in this kind of climate, which makes my landscaping relatively low maintenance. Columbine, Hardy Fuschia, Astilbe, Daphne, and Bleeding Heart all seem to do well here and require very little work on my part to keep them healthy and happy. It’s a good thing as I tend to devote all my garden efforts to the vegetable garden and ignore the landscaping areas for the most part. The columbine plants are getting ready to flower soon, and the bleeding heart is a riot of flowers at the moment.
While all my front flower beds are planted with low maintenance perennials, I do use annuals every year to plant up containers in the front entry area of the house. I have several planters and a very large shepherds hook (made for me by one of my very talented brothers-in-law) which holds four good sized hanging baskets. Now that spring has arrived and settled in, it was time to plant those up for the year. I used impatiens predominantly in the front containers with sweet potato vine and other foliage plants to give it height and color contrasts. I planted them up Sunday morning. When they fill out a bit they should look really nice. I used similar colors and plants last year and really loved how it looked and how well the colors displayed for the entire summer season.
The hanging baskets were planted with super petunias - a showy trailing variety - in rich dark purples, red, salmon, and light pink colors. It will be a while before they begin blooming, but I am hoping to get a nice splash of color in this corner area that is right next to the front gate going into my vegetable garden.
While I was at my favorite local nursery picking up the annuals to plant in the containers, I grabbed a couple of packs of lettuce starts. I have been intending to get another round of lettuce seedlings going and have just not gotten around to it. On Sunday, I prepared the back vertical grow bed by aerating it with the broad fork; adding a layer of compost and a sprinkle of organic all-purpose fertilizer; and then cultivating the top few inches with a hoe and raking it smooth. I planted the back length with snap peas (Cascadia), and in the front portion I planted the lettuce transplants and direct seeded spinach (Bloomsdale Savoy) using my 4-inch planting jig for the spinach. I still need to hang the netting for the peas, but it won’t take me but a moment to get that taken care of.
I added the final layer of soil to the new asparagus patch Sunday as well. I have lots of shoots emerging so it looks like this bed might be a success. The peas I planted two weeks ago (Dakota) are all up and growing strongly. In fact, everything planted out so far is looking good and thriving. Unfortunately, in the greenhouse I have something eating my napa cabbage as fast it puts out growth. I may have to actively intervene and do some pest management in the coming week. On the seedling front, I am moving the tomato plants out of the greenhouse on a daily basis now to get exposed to direct sun and wind etc and then putting them back in at night. They will be ready to plant out very soon. Once they are out of the greenhouse, I will move the peppers in to do the same slow process with them as well. I need to start the squash family plants soon and I need the peppers out from under the grow lights to make room for more seed starting.
The forecast is for gorgeous weather this coming week. I am planning to take a day off from work just to enjoy it and get some more planting done. The potatoes need to go in and it is time to get the first of the carrots planted. A day spent in the garden soaking up sun and puttering around sounds pretty heavenly to me.
|Posted on April 14, 2013 at 7:15 PM||comments (12)|
GARDEN WALKWAY CLEARING
Those of you who have followed my blog over the past many years, know that one of my least favorite garden chores is the periodic tidying up of my garden walkways using a weed whacker to mow down the grass and weeds. It is not my favorite job because it takes a couple of hours to do the whole garden area (factoring in several breaks to replace heavy duty strings and give my back a rest) and it is a messy job. I wear safety goggles, a long sleeved shirt, jeans, and sturdy shoes, and by the end of the job I am usually covered from head to foot with tiny bits of dirt and grass. During the summer, the long sleeves and jeans just add to the discomfort by making me hot and sweaty, but the protection is necessary because my weed whacker is a heavy duty one that throws debris everywhere. By the time I wrap up, I am usually such a mess, that I just strip down in the entryway to the house and take all my clothes directly to the washing machine to avoid leaving a trail of garden debris through the house.
As much as I hate doing this chore and procrastinate about doing it, it is so worth it in the end. I can get by with doing this on a monthly basis so my actual time commitment is not really all that significant in comparison to so many other garden chores I do regularly and yet the rewards are significant. First, the garden always looks so good afterwards. Having the overall garden so tidy and well maintained makes it a lovely place to spend time.
Second, it is my best defense against pests in my garden. Dense areas of weeds and grass are primary hiding spots for slugs and other pests. Slugs are my worst pest in this maritime coastal pacific northwest garden. And finally, third, I don’t have to mess with laying down bark (or other materials) and weed barriers. It is the least expensive and most minimalist solution to garden walkways that I have found. However, it does mean I have to fire up the weed whacker every four weeks or so during the growing season and endure the mess and bother for a few hours. The first time in the spring is always the worst too, as I make a run at the blackberry brambles that encroach from the back and sides of the garden and knock them way back. The extra work of the bramble management makes it even more time consuming and messy than usual. Luckily, I only really have to do this jungle push back the first time out in the spring.
I spent Saturday morning working at the Giving Garden and then had errands to run in the afternoon, such that I did not get any time in my own garden until Sunday. When I did get into the garden Sunday, my primary focus was to get the walkways cleared for the first time this year. However, in addition to getting that chore done, I did empty out the rest of the containers on the deck - recycling the potting soil from them into the new asparagus patch. The newly planted asparagus bed is sending up shoots so it was time to add another level of soil to the wide trench I created when I planted them. I will need to add a final layer of soil to it very soon. I am pleased to see the asparagus roots sending up some vigorous new shoots and am encouraged that this bed will do better than my prior one did. In addition to doing the walkway clearing and tending to the asparagus bed, I also watered all the plants in the greenhouse. I have quite a jungle in there of tomatoes, greens in containers, and my basil plants.
I am leaving the greenhouse windows and one of the doors open now 24/7 as the temperatures have been moderating and I need the cross ventilation this provides. This week, if the weather cooperates, I will begin moving the tomatoes outside for some exposure to wind and direct sun so they can finish hardening off. The pepper plants in the house (under the grow lights) are huge and beautiful and need to move out to the greenhouse soon to begin their slow hardening off process too. I need them to move so that I have some room under the grow lights to get the squash family plants going soon.
What I did not get done yet that desperately needs to be completed soon, is to plant the snap peas, potatoes, and spinach. I am behind schedule on all of these things. Now that the walkways are all tidied up though, all I need is a weekend of decent weather and I should be able to get caught right back up quite easily.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always interesting and very inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Here’s my contribution for the week of April 8th through 14th.
We are still using frozen and stored produce primarily for our meal preparation but I did harvest a colander full of young spring lettuce on Friday which made a nice salad to go with our chicken and herb tortellini with puttanesca sauce.
On Sunday, I also harvested some fresh kale. I have so much of this that was overwintered and is now growing lush with new spring growth. The kale and the swiss chard are both winter and early spring work horses in my garden.
I am still finding bits of grass and dirt in my hair this evening, but it feels good to get the garden walkways all tidied up. Getting this chore done makes it easier now to focus on catching up on the early season bed prep and planting. Now if the weather will cooperate with me and quit raining so much I will be all set.
|Posted on April 7, 2013 at 9:20 PM||comments (12)|
At long last, I had a weekend with virtually no commitments to keep and consequently available time to get to the buildup of spring tasks that have been accumulating. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate very much. There was a fair amount of rain - particularly Sunday morning through early afternoon. Despite the less than cooperative weather, I did get a dent made on my list of “things to be done”, just not as much as I had hoped to achieve. The garden (and weeds) is (are) really coming alive in the past few weeks thanks to the bright warm sunshine over Easter weekend followed by the refreshing spring rains of this last weekend. The rhubarb plants are up and growing with vigor. There is something very beautiful and cheery about the first production of rhubarb each year. It’s probably the bright splash of red in the garden when everything has been muted browns and greens for so long.
The walkways desperately need me to do the first weed whacking of the season and I have a couple of garden beds that are particularly weedy this spring for some reason. Typically I stay on top of the weeding such that it never gets to be too serious of a chore, but I have two beds that have had a particularly aggressive growth of weeds this spring and apparently I must have ignored them last fall and over the winter. I got one of them weeded this weekend, but I still have the other one to get to soon. Most of the other beds are in good shape or even planted up at this point. On Saturday I planted up about half of the onion sets next to the onion plants I put in a few weeks ago. I also watered all the plants in the greenhouse and growing under the lights in the house. The big task that I got to on Saturday was putting in the shelling pea patch. I prepared the soil in my usual manner (use a broadfork to loosen the soil, add a layer of compost and a dusting of organic all-purpose fertilizer, cultivate the top few inchers and rake smooth). I then seeded the peas using a ½ pound of seed (Dakota) and did a block planting of the patch. If you click on the link you will find a lot more information on how I prepare the soil for planting and how block planting works. For the last many years, I have been using a horizontal pea trellis to grow my big annual shelling pea patch. If you would like to see how it works, just click HERE. If you would like to see how you harvest the peas from this system, click HERE.
I used rough finished compost and did not bother to screen it so it had some bigger pieces in it, but by the time I had done the cultivation and raking it was a nice bed to plant seeds into.
I firmed the scattered seeds into the soil using my 2’X2’ board that I keep on hand for this (and for use as a standing board when needed in the garden). I then recycled old potting soil from the deck containers to cover the seeds, and did a second firming in with the board.
I then moved the horizontal pea trellis from the bed area it was located in last year, to the 2013 bed location. I have to swap out some of the side pieces when I switch beds due to the variation from bed to bed, but I keep a supply of varying PVC pipe lengths and it is quite easy to set this up from one location to another. Once the structure is in place, I roll out the wire fencing and secure it on the two horizontal areas using simple tie wraps.
The last step is to put some bird netting over the structure as the birds love sprouted peas and will decimate a newly germinated bed of peas if they are not protected. I did not even bother to water the bed after it was planted, because the rains were starting up as I quit for the afternoon and I knew nature would do the job for me.
On Sunday afternoon (once the rains let up a bit), I got to one of the garden beds that was so weedy and took care of it. The weeds were dense enough that I actually had to use a garden fork to loosen them up before I could do a good job of pulling them out.
Once the weeds were removed, I prepped the lower half of the bed in the same manner I did the pea patch the previous day. I left the top end alone for now because I am not ready to plant anything in it just yet. In the lower half, I transplanted the celery starts that were desperately needing to go into the ground. They were more than thoroughly hardened off and were extremely root bound as I had kept putting off getting them into the garden due to various schedule conflicts. They were looking a little pale as a result of this lack of prompt action on my part, but I think they will rebound quickly and be fine despite my less than stellar care of them. Plants can be quite forgiving sometimes. Thank goodness!
I had intended to plant the rest of the onion sets and get the snap peas planted this weekend as well, but the weather confined what I was actually able to get done. The soil is warming up enough that I should be planting spinach soon too. Maybe next weekend will grant me both time AND good weather so that I might continue to catch up on the spring planting and garden prep chores. How are things going in your garden this week?
|Posted on April 1, 2013 at 10:30 PM||comments (6)|
This past weekend was absolutely gorgeous weather in my part of the world. Unfortunately, I was tied up with commitments most of the day Saturday and away on a road trip all day on Easter Sunday, such that I actually got to spend almost no time in the garden actually enjoying that fine weather. I did manage to carve out a bit of time late Saturday afternoon to move all the remaining tomato plants from the grow lights in the house - out to the greenhouse. They will continue to grow on out there and start their gradual hardening off process. Moving them was necessary as the pepper plants were in serious need of up potting to bigger containers and once I did that they would need more space under the grow lights. I had two large flats of peppers containing 36 Lady Bell peppers and 36 Early Jalapeño peppers that needed attention. They have been growing along beautifully and are very healthy plants.
After I moved the tomato plants out to the greenhouse, I then sat outside in the sunshine and potted up all the pepper plants. They were getting quite root bound, so it was definitely time I got to this chore. They enjoyed a little time outside but were whisked back into the house under the grow lights once I was done with the job of potting them up.
I have been struggling with my schedule the past few weeks and am getting a little behind on my garden tasks as a result. I have the rest of the onions (sets) and the peas to plant, and the strawberry beds need some tidying up and thinning out. Not to mention the potatoes should go in soon; I have more seeds to start indoors; and the garden walkways need a good weed whacking. I am going to have to do a better job of managing my time in the coming weeks so that I can make some headway on these things. The plants growing in the greenhouse (lettuce, napa cabbages, and pac choi) and the items I have already planted out in the garden beds (broccoli, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, onions, and leeks – are all growing along nicely. The weather has been really good to me this spring, but my time availability has not been as great.
Are you getting through your spring list of “things to do” in the garden in a good fashion or are you also juggling an overfull schedule at the moment?
|Posted on March 24, 2013 at 9:35 PM||comments (13)|
PLANTING LEEKS & ONIONS AND POTTING UP TOMATOES
I had on my “to do” list this past week, the chore of potting up the last group of tomato starts. I had hoped to get to it in the evenings after work, but that just did not happen. On Saturday afternoon (after I got home from the morning Giving Garden work party) I finally was able to get to the job of potting the remaining tomato starts up into larger containers. The ones I did a week or so ago (Paisano, Legend, Siletz, and Stupice) are inside under the grow lights and doing well. These remaining plants (Cherokee Purple and Amish Paste) have been outside in the greenhouse for the past week (due to lack of room under the grow lights) and have been doing surprising well there despite some rather cold nights of late. They definitely needed to be repotted though. It took me a while to get them all done, but once I had the assembly line going I did not quit until they were finished. Because there is absolutely no room under the grow lights at the moment, I just put them right back into the greenhouse again once finished. Here’s how they looked the next morning (Sunday).
They seem to be doing just fine with the transplanting and being out in the greenhouse. The other plants in the greenhouse are doing very well too. The celery starts are in serious need of being hardened off and planted as they are definitely outgrowing their cell packs.
I also have the basil plants out in the greenhouse right now because of the lack of room under the grow lights. They seem to be holding up well. The lettuces are growing well in the large planter in the greenhouse. I have been harvesting lightly from them recently and am enjoying having some fresh lettuce back on the menu again. I really need to start some more lettuces this coming week for the next succession planting.
On Sunday, I finally got to the task of planting out the leek (Lancelot) and onion (Ailsa Craig) starts. I will be also planting some storage variety onions as sets too but these were the most pressing thing I had to get done this weekend. I put all the leeks and a few of the onions into the bed next to the garlic. This bed already had compost added to it last fall, so I only had to loosen it with a garden fork and rake it smooth. While I was in that bed, I also did a quick weeding and light cultivation of the garlic patch after first broadcasting a light covering of all-purpose organic fertilizer over it (and the adjacent area to be planted up). I then used my 6-inch planting jig to mark the planting holes and then planted the leeks and onions. The bed is now full up with various alliums.
The majority of the onions were planted in two other locations. The first planting was in a bed adjacent to the garlic bed and the others were tucked in next to the broccoli and brussel sprouts in one of the beds behind the house.
The bed next to the broccoli and brussel sprouts had been previously amended with vermicompost and only needed raking and marking with the 6-inch planting jig before transplanting. The bed next to the garlic needed compost added before I loosened and raked it in preparation for planting. The onion starts are fairly small and hard to see but here are the finished beds after planting up.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always interesting and very inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Here’s my contribution for the week of March 18th through 24th.
It was a seriously busy week for me and I was glad to rely upon the various items in the freezer and in storage for meal preparation – for convenience sake alone. I did do some harvesting on Sunday though in that I cut some tender young swiss chard leaves.
This was lightly sautéed in butter and served with a little dribble of good vinegar and salt as part of our Sunday evening meal – baked wild salmon with dill sauce, cooked sliced carrots (frozen) , baked potatoes (storage) with sour cream and chives (snipped from the front deck container), and the sautéed swiss chard.
Not sure what I will be able to get done in the coming week due to other commitments on the calendar. However, in addition to routine seedling care, I am hoping I might be able to get a start on prepping the pea patch for planting and get another succession of lettuces started too. I hope you all had an opportunity to spend some time in your own gardens this past weekend, or at least start some seeds indoors.
|Posted on March 17, 2013 at 9:40 PM||comments (12)|
PLANTING ASPARAGUS (AND OTHER GARDEN DOINGS)
I mentioned last week that I needed to pot up the tomato seedlings and by mid-week I had all but one flat of them done. I had every intention of doing the rest this weekend, but unfortunately did not get to them. Not a problem though as it’s a good job to do in small increments during the evenings after work, as I can do it in the shop where there is some protection from the weather and good lighting. Hopefully I will get the rest of them done this coming week, but I have a busy work week ahead so it might be a challenge.
I bought some brussel sprout starts from my favorite local nursery early this past week. I forgot to get them started when I did the broccoli and kohlrabi seedlings, so I opted to just buy two 4-packs of them. They were hardened off this past week, and on Saturday I went ahead and planted them up next to the broccoli and kohlrabi planted last weekend. I would have preferred to start them myself but sometimes you have to go with plan B. The other chore I did on Saturday was to take down the pole bean vines (yes they were still there from last fall!). The support netting was so old and fragile that it essentially disintegrated as I took them down. So down the netting came too. I will need to stretch some new netting on the supports before planting the snap peas which are destined to go in that vertical grow bed. This will need to be done soon as the peas could be planted any time now.
The big garden chore this weekend was planting up the new asparagus patch. The crowns arrived on Saturday, so this became the priority work item for Sunday. I had originally intended to plant some onions on Sunday and finish potting up the tomatoes, but those will all have to wait. The asparagus bed is going into the far back garden bed which also holds the rhubarb plants. I had done an initial grubbing out of this bed quite a few weeks ago so it was pretty much ready without further fuss required.
Notice the rhubarb plants putting out the first shoots of the year in that picture?
I ended up covering these with some additional soil as I planted up the asparagus patch but they will reemerge in short order. They look like they are ready to provide some good eating in the not too distant future.
I went with a hybrid all male variety (Jersey Supreme) of asparagus for this second attempt at establishing a patch on this property. I am hoping this bed location and the variety selection will yield better results for me this time around. The 25 crowns were planted in 3 long trenches down the length of the bed, next to where the rhubarb is currently growing. I did it in sections to keep it manageable and so that I could use the soil from trenching one section to fill the prior section just planted. The extra soil dug out was placed in the end with the rhubarb in it to top it off. I used my square garden spade to dig the trenches.
I then put some rough finished compost into the bottom of the trench and used a garden fork to loosen and mix the soil in the bottom.
The prepared soil at the bottom of the trench was then formed into small hills, over which the asparagus crown roots were spread - much like a strange octopus.
This was then covered with loose soil from the next section of trenching that was done.
The middle trench required using a standing board to work on – to avoid compacting the garden soil yet allow me to reach to do the digging comfortably.
When I was completed with all three trench plantings, the rhubarb end of the bed was filled to level with the bed edging, and the rest of the bed was covered but had lots of room for more soil/compost to be added as the asparagus began emerging. The intention is to keep adding soil and compost until that portion of the bed soil level is also flush with the top of the edging boards.
I watered it all very well before declaring myself done for the day. It was nice weather and we wanted to go for an afternoon walk on the beach to enjoy it, so the onions and potting up the rest of the tomatoes just have to wait for another day.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always very interesting and inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Here’s my contribution for the week of March 11th through 17th.
On Wednesday, I harvested a bunch of basil from the plants I have been growing indoors under grow lights. It smelled heavenly and tasted even better.
I picked some lettuces from the greenhouse plants on Saturday but never got a picture of them. Not a lot was picked, just enough to really load up our blue cheese burgers that we had for dinner that night.
On Sunday, I picked some kale from the over wintered patch.
This was stir fried into some sautéed mushrooms, onions, and garlic and was served with stuffed chicken breasts and rice pilaf for Sunday dinner.
In addition to the rhubarb putting out new shoots, the artichokes also have new growth emerging, and the raspberry canes and apple trees have buds swelling and starting to leaf out. The garlic is really growing vigorously now too.
Spring officially arrives this coming week, but in my garden I think it is already here.
|Posted on March 10, 2013 at 7:15 PM||comments (8)|
Spring is arriving early and gently this year. We did not have much of a winter really and there was every indication that a mild start of the season was in the offing. Typically I plant out hardy brassicas by the end of the first week of March, but often I must give them a grow tunnel cover for protection due to continuing frosts and light freezes. Some years though (like this one) I am able to dispense with the protective covers.
Over the course of the past week I finished the hardening off process of the broccoli, kohlrabi, and pac choi starts. Half of the broccoli plants went to the Giving Garden on Saturday morning and were planted up there, but the rest of the plants were for my own garden.
The pac choi was transplanted into a container in the greenhouse. The rest of the seedlings were destined for the garden though and it was time to do my first garden bed prep of the 2013 growing season. I started out by using my broad fork to loosen and aerate the soil in the bed area I was going to be planting up. Then I emptied out the left side of the worm box which had fully finished vermicompost and loaded it into the wheelbarrow.
The right hand bin of the worm box is very full so I really needed to use all of this vermicompost so that the left hand bin could be opened up allowing us to shift over to putting the kitchen waste and vegetable trimmings into it. I am amazed at how fast the worms work rotting material into finished compost and how much each bin yields when done. I really did not need all this compost for the area I was going to be planting, but I spread it out over a wider area to put it to use immediately. It was enough to cover half of one of the 4’X24’ beds with a very thick blanket of compost.
This was then lightly cultivated into the top few inches of the soil and raked.
I then used a 4’ stick to imprint a grid of 1 foot squares (approximately as I am not super precise about it!) to provide my plant spacing.
I then popped the broccoli and kohlrabi plants into their respective spots in the bed, planting them deeply so they will develop more roots along the buried stem area.
I chose to do this on Saturday as the weather was lovely and the forecast was for increasing cloud cover and light rain for the next few days – which will keep the nights warmer due to the insulating cloud cover and also keep the new transplants nicely moistened.
This coming week, I need to pot up the tomato starts. There is a lot of them, so it will take me a few runs at it to get them all attended to. Sunday, I thinned them and the pepper starts down to a single plant per cell and gave all of the seedlings a thorough bottom watering. My basil plants (that will be staying in the house as houseplants) are really getting big. I repotted them a week or so ago and they are happy with the additional root room. They will need to be pinched back this week, so I am going to have to make a meal this week that highlights fresh basil – maybe pasta Bolognese with a creamy tomato and basil sauce, served with a garnish of chopped fresh basil (yum!). Can you tell I have been missing have fresh basil around?!
Soon the onions will need to be planted and the pea patch put in for the year. Spring approaches and the garden beds will steadily start filling up from here on out.