Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Seedling Progress

The peppers and eggplants have already been moved to larger pots. I hope they continue to look this healthy, though one of the eggplants is looking a little wonky (upper right). Time to research when to feed and when to start hardening off. I hope it is worth the effort to have Tunisian hot peppers, as I'll likely be coddling these things until May.
Though these things are all better suited to direct sowing, I also started a couple flats of kale, broccoli, lettuce, arugula, and spinach. The problem is my grow light is not wide enough--there is only one bulb, so I do some moving around to try to prevent them from getting leggy.

Going daffy

Waiting for spring is making me crazy, especially after the brief burst of warm weather we had a couple weeks ago. Now we might even get snow. Make it stop. I ordered a mix of heirloom daffodils and I feel ridiculous for saying this, but buyer beware, as I got none of the daffodils pictured on the package--the small-cupped, orange ones I wanted. These will have to do I guess!

Leek Out

Le leek, tres chic:
They were small, but I figure they did pretty well since they were relegated to the flower bed sometime last year, where they mingled with irises.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Big Bed

The "big bed" is 4x6, compared to my existing 3x6 beds and new 3x8 beds (plus a tiered 5 ft square bed that I am still deciding what to do with). It is somewhat difficult to reach the center, so 3 feet wide is the way to go.
Big bed has the smattering or parsley and cilantro that all of the beds have, plus spinach and arugula and the self sowing mesclun, plus rows of roots that I planted in fall: carrots, radishes, beets, and parsnip--the latter two had sporadic germination, but I am noticing the beets taking off now.
This bed did not have okra last year, so that rotation is planned. I am thinking of planting winter squash (another dinkydo first) in the center.
Behind big bed sits my asparagus patch, strawberry bed, and (on the fence) blackberry.

I get to harvest asparagus this year!

The mystery continues

I am fairly certain the mystery Brassica is broccoli, but no signs of heads yet. The kale seedlings I so painstakingly transplanted after starting them inside under lights were devoured when I was out of town. It looks like slugs, but my beer trap has not ensnared any yet. The dreaded cabbage worms are out already, so I'll be using row cover this spring.
Soon this bed will sprout green onions, carrots, radishes, and golden beets. Here it is getting its spring feeding of compost. I also added some organic fertilizer.
The bed was primarily okra last summer, plus cucumbers that were bitter and yanked immediately. This might be a good bed for peppers this summer.

Salad Days, Here Again

Here are the latest picks--after an arugula pesto last week and a spinach salad, we're getting flush again with arugula (the overwintered stuff is bolting), and the mesclun is taking off on its own (from last year's dropped seed). I'm leaving the straw piled high because we have cool nights ahead (not that the greens seem to mind, but there are fragile seedlings below) and it is just so nice to not have to contend with the greenhouse covers anymore.
This bed seems problem free, so I'm not rotating yet--I'll stick with the spinach-arugula-mesclun combo through spring, adding a pea trellis over the top. (Peas are planted around the periphery)
Last summer and fall, this bed held okra, eggplant, peppers, and beans, so this might be a good bed for squash--a dinky do first!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Seedling Surprise

I was about to write off my pepper and eggplant seeds. I was probably not keeping them warm enough for quick germination, and my ever present anxiety about damping off fungus made me pessimistic. Then all of a sudden, a tiny spot of green! I won't make the mistake I made with the kale and let them go a day without light. The timer is set for 16 hours a day.

New Garden Beds Arrive!

I like my raised beds from just fine, but I wanted to try something different, and was having a 20% off sale plus offers a lot more variety in bed sizes. Their cedar planks are really thick, plus the installation could not be easier. You line up the pre-drilled holes and slide the provided metal poles through. You can see the poles in the photo. I'll be hammering them in some once I finalize the bed--don't want to poke my eye out! The best thing about the poles is that they can be used to install row cover on flexible pvc tubing bent over the bed.

Because the beds are 8 feet long, they come with a metal stabilizer that runs across the bed. I'll use this dividing line to separate my plantings for rotating crops. Once the bed is filled and planted I don't do much digging in to it anyway, but it will be easy to remember not to plunge a shovel in at the halfway mark. Could I have purchased cedar planks at Home Depot? Certainly, but I like supporting this small business, and I like having the ease of installation a kit provides.

I placed cardboard over the grass to weaken it--it will make it a lot easier to dig it up in a couple of weeks when the soil dries up a little. Then I top it with purchased top soil and compost and plant away!

Salad Days

Having a greenhouse means a jump start on salad season. Today spinach, tomorrow arugula, next week lettuce--look how the purple mesclun pops against the straw.

Seedlings Graduate

My kale seedlings were doing so well that I went ahead and transplanted them early. Since they are cold tolerant , I figured they would be fine, but they will be protected by the greenhouse covers. They joined the broccoli, in a bed I will have to protect from cabbage "worms."

Bulb Fever

I chose varieties poisonous to squirrels, but I was a little worried our clay soil would result in rotten bulbs. With the additions of lots of compost, all is well, even the Fritillaria:
Tons of daffodils in front of a lilac:
If you buy potted bulbs from the grocery store in spring, plant them! These daffodils and crocuses are doing fine.
Of course these will be a lot more impressive when photographed in bloom, but I am excited spring is coming!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

True Leaves Emerge!

After a shaky start, the kale seedlings seem fine. Some parsley has germinated, but no signs of eggplant or pepper yet.