Friday, March 22, 2013

Never Had Seedlings Do This Well

This year's seed starts have done amazingly well, normally they get their first set of leaves and then seem to stop growing at all until they are planted.  This time though, all the little plants are getting huge!

Not long now until they go in the ground... I hope! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Should Have Known Better

The weather has taken a turn for the worse.  I kind of expected it though.  This morning I had to bring my seedlings into the shelter of the porch and drain their trays of a good 1 1/2 inches of water before they drowned.  The wind is blowing and the rain is pouring down.  This week is expected to be more of the same until Saturday. 

I was hoping to hold off on planting until my brother came down to visit so I could save my back some pain and get his help turning over the beds.  I think I need to get the plants in the ground while I have some sunshine though.  The beds are still completely shaded, but they won't be for long, and I have to open up some trays and pots to get the hot weather plants going soon.

So I guess my plan for the upcoming weekend is to turn, fertilize, slug bait, grid off, and plant the big beds.  We were going to get the trailer from my mother-in-law last weekend put plans got mixed up, so hopefully we'll have it this weekend and be able to do a dump run and get some bark mulch for the front yard. 

I picked up a pile of flowers and bulbs from the store last week to use for a small flower bed in front of the driveway too.  If I have the energy I'll be out there raking out lava rock, turning in compost, and getting those plants into the ground as well.

At least the blueberry seems to be happy in its spot by the heat pump.  It is putting on new leaves and I'm just hoping I loosened enough of the clay soil and mixed in enough coffee grounds and compost to keep it happy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On Target

My weekend was very productive! Not only did i get the path and strawberries cleaned up, the shrubs trimmed and fed, and some annuals planted; but I also planted the blueberry, weeded the big beds, and got started on a project to turn a triangular patch at the end of the driveway into a flower bed.  I even managed to hack back about half of the blackberries.  They were a mess, climbing over the fence from the neighbor's yard and taking root in my compost pile.

After all of that activity I checked on the weather, it looks like I can expect cool and mostly overcast days for the next week or so, but no frosts.  There's a 10% to 50% chance of rain every day this week too, perfect for keeping starts watered without drowning them.  So I moved my tray of hardy plants outside to get some (cloudy) sunshine, light rain, and cool temps.  If it gets hot and sunny again I'll move them into the shade but I doubt that will be a problem.

With the way the weather is shaping up I may even be able to get things planted earlier than last year.  It has been a rather mild March so far, especially compared to last year's pouring rain, freezing temps and snow.  just right for getting things planted, but I don't want to jump the gun too much since a hard freeze just after planting could set me back by weeks.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Finally Looking Like Spring

The weekend is looking like it might just be nice enough to get some work done.  It's supposed to be sunny and in the upper 50s all weekend, so I'm looking forward to getting outside in the sunshine to trim up the shrubs and clean out the strawberry bed.  Ugh, and mow the lawn.  If I have the time and energy I'll also get the blueberry planted and a few annuals in the front yard, and feed the cherry tree. 

The shade on my patio is now about 2 feet from reaching the garden beds, so probably about 2 more weeks before I can start planting.  They are dry enough to turn and work in some compost though, so if Mother Nature continues to bless me with dry, warm days like today I will do my best to get the beds prepped for planting. 

My starts are all doing very well, except the onions which just don't seem to be having good germination rates.  I may have to purchase a pack of onion starts again to get enough for the summer and canning season.

My fingers are crossed that we'll have a much better season for tomatoes and peppers this year.

In other news... I ordered potatoes for planting and they should be shipped sometime in the next week or two, only problem is I have no clue where I'm going to put them.  The best thing I can think of to do is clear more (newly grown) blackberries and move the finished compost into the middle of the back yard and plant potatoes in it.  That's a lot of work though and last year they didn't fare too well in the pots I put them in.  So I either have a lot of work ahead of me, or need to get bigger pots, OR somehow build some large potato growing crates.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Kicking off Spring

Well folks, I am all recovered and ready to rumble!

Got all of my cool weather starts planted February 19th.  Onions, lettuces, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, Swiss chard, basil, dill, cilantro, and leeks.  A few garlic survived the winter nicely, which is a good thing since I didn't manage to get more planted in the fall.  As soon as the sun starts hitting the beds I'll be direct sowing peas, beets, and carrots in them.

This year we're really going to need the garden at maximum production!  With the medical bills from my surgery and my husband learning he has diabetes our diet has changed to involve many more organic veggies and our costs have risen as well.  All the more reason to save on our grocery bill by growing our own food. 

Since I don't have to buy the equipment for a grow room this year, or many seeds the garden costs should be especially low.  I bought beet seeds, potato sets, and some new onion seeds so far.  I also picked up a Patriot blueberry bush to plant near the strawberries.  Other than perhaps a few flowers that should be all the plant costs for this year.  Of course, I know better!  I will likely still end up buying a bunch more plants because I just can't resist.

Last year the garden had a lot of trouble with aphids, my best guess is that the malnutrition of the starts combined with my desire for them to grow faster in a cool, cloudy Spring and Summer were major contributors in the aphid problem.  I will try this year to be more patient and cut back on my use of fish emulsion. ;)

I'm also hoping that this year I'll see some actual growth in the cherry tree, it lived through the summer and winter just fine, but didn't do much growing last year.  So my fingers are crossed that with the warming weather I'll start to see it taking off and putting on some healthy growth to let me know it's doing well.  I'll probably hit it with a foliar feeding of compost tea once it shows signs of life to give it a little boost and some protection against disease and pests.  Though I highly doubt I will actually see any fruits off it this year.

I'm getting more excited for the garden season every day, so far this year is looking like a major improvement over last year.  The weather has been warmer and drier than last February, and looks like it will be continuing on into March that way.