Monday, April 28, 2014

These Are The Dorkiest Zucchini Starts

These are the dumbest starts I've put out this year, and I have put them out.

I had too many seeds germinate in some of the little starting pots. I was thinning them. And I thought, "Hey, why waste them?" So I stuck them in the ground outside.

And they haven't died.

We'll see if these do better than the ones in the greenhouse, or if they even survive.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

State of the Starts, Mid April

Just documenting some things going on at this point in the process:

There are a handful of potted things on the patio:
* Several apple trees
* Fig tree
* Bay laurel (bay leaves)
* Olive tree
* Two pots of catnip
* Tarragon and a couple other perennial herbs.
Got a load of white onions in the garden. They're over-crowded, but they seem to grow well that way in this tiny garden.
Somebody anonymously dropped a couple of nice wide flower pots on my back porch this weekend. So I've filled them with flower seeds.
You know how you can put an avocado seed in water, and it will sprout? Well, I'm taking it to the next level.

This is a young avocado tree. I haven't a clue what to do with it.
I broke down and bought a tomato start. This is a Black Krim: they're yummy. It's already got flowers on it.

Last spring, I started tomato seeds March 3 and more on March 13, thinking I was too early. Now I believe it was too late.

I'm going to aim for a February start for tomatoes, and probably brassicas.
I planted a bunch of corn seeds to set out mid May.
These are melons! I'm going to grow melons again this year!
First lemon cucumbers into hanging pots. These are a summer staple!
Leeks were a terrific success last year. Going to do more of that. Here are some more leek starts. They may not go into the garden until a year from now. A long time, in any case.
This is a mystery pumpkin. It started as a weed among the peas. I think it's a German pumpkin: the leaves match, and I saved a lot of those seeds this year.

I started pumpkins and squashes about the same time. I suspect that's too early for doing it again. Maybe end of March next year, beginning of April.
Schizanthus on the right.
Pumpkins, tomatoes and some asparagus starts on the left.
Main starts bed. Lots of tomatoes, peppers, onions, marigolds, and such.
This is the sweet potato that looked like it wasn't going to survive. Looks like it's doing well.

These are up-pottings. Cucumbers, tomatoes, some sage.

Note: Growing a fair bit of sage and marigolds for bug control this year. Not sure if it'll make a difference, but the garden should smell pretty and be colorful.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Making New Dirt

Making dirt for the planter pots:

2 large shovels full of garden soil.
2 large shovels full of fresh compost.
1 large shovel full peat moss.
1 large scoop perlite (a pint or so)
1 large scoop builder's sand
1 cup dolomite lime (counteracts peat's acid)
½ cup bone meal.
½ cup blood meal
½ cup epsom salts (magnesium helps blossom end rot specifically, and supports flowering and fruiting in general.)

I'm thinking I want to add a little potash, but I don't have any right now. 

Stir it all up and use it for planting stuff.  I ended up making (and using) three of these bins full this weekend. Five gallon pots use it up pretty fast.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Square Foot Planting

Some gardens, smaller ones, usually, like mine, measure plant spacing differently.

Instead of rows of plants, and so many inches between plants in the row, they measure how many plants per square foot of space. That works better for my garden.

Here's that reference chart.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Waay Too Early to Transplant.

Yep. It's waay too early to put frost-sensitive plants out.

No pumpkins (like these). No tomatoes (like in the next bed). None of that sort of thing. They'll die.

Well, I did it anyway.

Partly: I have more starts than I need. I can risk a few in an experiment. (What? Me experiment?)

Partly: It's been an awfully mild spring, and they suggest a warm summer. Let's give a shot for an early start.

Partly: They'll be covered in tiny cold frames: milk jugs or 2 liter pop bottles, with the bottoms cut out. If we get another night down to zero, they're all dead, but if it just barely drops below freezing, they should do fine. So I'm testing the milk jug cold frames, too.

And partly, I just have difficulty not trying to stretch the rules.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Preparing Soil for Tomatoes & Peppers

I had a real problem last year with "Blossom End Rot." The fruit rots from the blossom end. What a creative name.

Apparently, it's a lack of calcium. When they grow fruits, they need rather a lot of it.

So I supplement the soil with crushed eggshells. I roast them first, to kill any nasty bugs, and to keep the smell under control.

Then I crush them with a potato masher, and mix it in with the soil that I plant peppers and tomatoes in.

Bone meal is also supposed to help. But it takes longer to metabolize.

Well, we'll see how it works.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Tomato Experiment

Trying something new.

This is a "Sweet Millions" cherry tomato plant.

Last year, I did several tomatoes in pots, dangling over the side. That's kind of a pain.

This one is entering through the drain hole in the bottom of the pot: might as well grow it straight down. It was easier to plant than I expected.

On top: a sage start, and a little cilantro seed. Shallow roots. Might as well make use of the rest of the dirt.

Update, 4/20:

That experiment was doing so well, I added another. These are my own starts, a purple cherry tomato famous for its flavor, called Chocolate Cherries.

We're going to hang this one by the house, for snacking. 

Cilantro on top again. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The State of the Garden

It's getting to be Spring! But there's a whole bunch of life left over from the winter. I'm limited in what I can plant and where.

Lots and lots of garlic.

The kale was off-the-charts incredibly successful! I have more when the snow is gone than I did when winter first came upon the garden. Now they're trying to go to seed.

I'm pulling these as I eat 'em. Got some kale starts planted in front. 
I tossed some onion starts into the dirt where I'd harvested onions before. They are trying to go to seed.

By the end of the week, I'd left a couple to go to seed and pulled all the rest out. 
Raspberries, of course, are cool.

I pulled out loads of dead stalks: business as usual for raspberries.

Rhubarb is starting nicely. I'm looking forward to some really good rhubarb goodies this year!

And I've got a couple of things started outdoors. (I've already discussed the Pea Patch.)

This is the beginning of the salad garden. There's garlic on the end, and a row of carrots (top row) and mesclun [lettuce blend] (second row).

And the gutter is getting started.

Milady is experimenting with what appear to be some flowers.
Both ends of the gutter are planted with radishes; they're sprouting nicely.
In between, I just planted some mustard greens. Never done much with those before.

And I've put out my first pumpkins. The greenhouse is getting over crowded, and the weather looks to be awfully nice for a week. Maybe we're done freezing. Besides, I have more starts.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Upgrading the Garden Soil.

This is just a reminder to myself: this is what I did to improve the soil in the garden this spring: 

  1. I grew "Winter Rye" all winter. It got up over a foot tall in most of the beds. I chopped it down a week or two before turning the soil.
  2. I added a wheelbarrow full of compost to each bed: horse manure, LOTS of leaves, chicken coop sawdust & straw, grass, produce, coffee grounds, turned every 3 weeks all winter.
    It's pretty stuff!
  3. I added a large bag (40 pounds? of Starbucks coffee grounds. Long term nitrogen, as this particular bed is going to be the home for the salad greens.
  4. Then I dug it in pretty deep. I have a 12" long square shovel, and I used it all. 
This is what it looked like before I started: 

I chopped the rye down, and added compost & coffee grounds:

Same spot after digging it in and a quick rake-out:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Down the Garden Path

This walkway is turning out nicely.

We started it some time back, and have been letting it age to mature. Made from cement and a $20 mold we got at Home Depot, and a day in the spring overcast. 

Keeping the weeds down between the stones is the real trick. I've found a secret. 

I'm sure there are more efficient means. Please keep them to yourself. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

First Transplants

Yeah, it's too early.

But I had too many starts, and a couple of the overstocks were in too small of pots (why did I ever buy 2" pots?).

So I put them out. This is a carnival squash; seed that I saved from dinner a year or two ago.
And this is an "organic beefsteak tomato."

We may or may not be past the last actual frost; it was a gloriously hot day today, and the next week is supposed to be above 60 every day (that's hot for us!). Maybe we're done with frost. But they're protected just in case.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Clematis is Blooming Well This Year

This is about 10% of the plant. It's swallowing the front of the house.We think we like it that way.

We have the best smelling front porch in the city!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Recording Assorted Starts

Left to right:
Thyme ("Mother of Thyme")
Peppers ("Hatch peppers")
Wild Garlic (from Ireland)
Lots of marigolds
   (for pest control in the garden, later)
The first batch of schizanthus flowers seems to have started. These have to start in the dark, but are not covered by soil. Kind of tricky in a greenhouse.

And I planted a whole envelope of perennial wildflowers. It's a 2012 package, so we'll see if anything actually comes up.

Here's a bunch of tomatillas:

Assorted cucumbers: slicing, burpless, lemon & Armenian:

Assorted starts: German pumpkins are doing well. Sage is just poking its head out. Trying some hatch peppers again (none started last year) and some wild irises (not sure they're stratified yet: encountered a winter).

Sage is getting going, so I started some more. Thinking I'll spread it around the garden. It's supposed to make things do well.

Here's a row of Roma tomatoes (top) and bunches of peppers:

Asparagus, from seeds:

We grew some purple tomatoes last
year ("Black Krim"). They were fantastic: flavorful, juicy, and strikingly beautiful!  These are a whole load of purple tomatoes, including cherry tomatoes ("chocolate cherry").  

And these are assorted red tomatoes. I'm particularly excited about "Giant" (up to 1 pound tomatoes!) and the "San Marzano" (indeterminate sauce tomatoes, like the [determinate] "Roma"):

We can't have summer without basil:

Several varieties of basil (and some "assorted herbs" from an advertising event):

And I've just up-potted some of the squashes. The two on the left are German pumpkins; the top right is carnival squash. I don't know what the bigger one is; it's a volunteer.

(Also in this pic: catnip at the top, "Dukat" dill, left & right of the big one, and a "chocolate cherry" right next to it.)

And last, but definitely not least, I kept a chunk of sweet potato vine ("Georgia Jets") last fall when I harvested the sweet 'taters. I stuck it in water, and then in dirt, and it's growing! How cool is that!