Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away

This afternoon was hot and windy. 80 degrees with pretty good sun. It was amazing! The lettuce tripled in size, the chard appeared, and I see a few peas which is a relief because the first planting has been in the ground 17 days and I was beginning to worry about them rotting.

I had to go back to 2007 to find photos of a dry April. Thank Heaven (and Tim) we didn't have to till and put up fence. It just wouldn't have happened.

April 3rd 2007

And the BEST part about raised beds is that it will never look like this:

April 29th 2007

Another thing I've noted is the large number of earth worms that are in the leaf layer. Remember, I dumped chopped maple and ash leaves in each bed, then covered them with an inch of mulch. Whenever I dig in the beds, I find a lot of worms in that leaf layer just chomping away, doing their thing. And, if I find a worm out in the lawn, I run it over to the beds.

My seedlings in the house have been transplanted. I've started tomatoes from seed for 6 years in a row now. Each year I am worried about their spindly little necks, and I'm sure they will never grow up, but each year I still end up with a tomato jungle. The Japs were the best with 100% germination and stout, compact seedlings. Maybe there will come a time when all I start is a flat of them. Life sure would be easy.

Anyway, this afternoon was so nice that when I got home I started dinner, then ran right out to the garden to check on progress from the sun. And guess what happened? ....it began to rain.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Alright, it didn't rain ALL weekend. It was nice for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. Sunny, windy just what we needed. After my house work was done I spent a scant 10 minutes planting onions before I headed to the front landscape beds to try to make the house look decent.

I bought the "Long Day Sampler" from Dixondale which contains Red Zeppelin (Red), Ringmaster (white) and Walla Walla (yellow). They come in a bundle of live plants which can be planted within the next 3 weeks.

I used my square foot grid and a peg which is the right size marked with the appropriate planting depth of 1 inch. All I do is poke 9 holes in each square and plug the onion plants in. It's very easy and sort of like playing tic tac toe. A few of them are smaller and need to have the soil sort of pushed in, but otherwise, round peg, round hole. Nothing easier.

Then I took a moment to plant some colorful pansies at the end of each bed. Pansies are my favorite. When I grew up in the greenhouse, the pansies were the first to flower, and were easy for little hands to pick and hold.

Vivian loves pansies too!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April Showers

This week it has rained five and a half inches. I'm not sure if you can see that on my rain guage because..... that's right Ladies and Gentleman... it has rained so much it has washed the numbers of the damned rain guage.

Sorry if I've sounded gloomy lately. My husband tells me this will be the first time in 23 years that he has not been able to/had to mow the lawn in April. To top it off, we chose this past week to have our septic system replaced. So, this is the lovely view we see out the door first thing every morning. Mud.

On a happy note, the radishes and lettuce are up. Lookey... teeny tiny lettuce still too small to thin. I am so sure this lettuce crop is going to keep us in home grown salad for a couple of months.... See, I AM an optimist.

And the chives are up. I love chives. Luxurious grass that does not need to be mowed.

And the Thyme survived the winter. I think the Sage may have too, but it's a bit too soon to tell. Who'd've thunk it?

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Plans for Good Friday

...Plant Onions..........

...or not.

Yes folks, it's a 'lizzard. In the last 5 minutes, we have accumulation...

This is NOT a good Friday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Garden Project #1 Rain Barrel

We are experiencing an unusually wet and gloomy Spring. Soooo, we have advanced on our rain collecting equipment. The barrel is a donation from neighboring gardeners Bob and Trish. The fuel hand pump was lurking about. Tim surfed the net comparing down spout diverters and watching installation videos until he settled on this model.

And he installed it on the back of the big garage. That is over 1250 square feet of collection area. The barrel filled up in a matter of minutes! Tim is considering putting a second one in next to this one because he hates to miss out on free water.

And now, I can fill my watering can here instead of from the garden hose, cutting my walk to the far side yard landscape area by more than half.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Asparagus Bed

This weekend I put in my second asparagus bed. The first one has been abandoned to lawn, sadly, in year 3 when I would just be seeing some decent sized spears. The new asparagus bed is on the slope between the garden shed and the garden with the other "perennial" foods such as rhubarb, strawberries and horse radish. There is a clump of horse radish on each end of the asparagus row. Well, actually there was a clump on one end, and the first thing I needed to do was get a second clump started. The big clump of horse radish is on the back corner of the house. This batch I salvaged out of what was the chicken yard, and is now lawn. Since then, Tim has tried to get me to get rid of that clump, and I keep digging it up and transplanting it. But, in typical horse radish fashion, it only comes back bigger and thriftier. It likes the corner of the house. Sunday I examined the new shoots, and found two or three off to the side. I began digging, got two small roots, and then hit on a 3/4" root that seemed to disappear under the house. I dug about 20" out before I gave up and broke it off.
Because I don't want this thing heading off in new directions already, I broke that in half, put some in the fridge for later, and planted the more manageable remaining foot long root at the end of where I want the asparagus row to be. I got out a string line, drove a spike in the existing clump, measured from the edge, and drove a spike in the second clump. Then I began raking the thick mulch away from my new row.

They say you should make a ridge down the middle of your "trench" so you can set the crown on the top of the ridge and arrange the roots down the sides, encouraging them to grow down deeper. I did this, then spread a cup or so of bone meal down my trench.

The asparagus crowns had been soaking in water for a day, and were ready to plant. I laid out a tape measure, and spaced them along my trench about 18" apart.

Then I placed each one on top of my ridge, arranging the roots.

Each crown should be covered about 2" to 3" initially, with more soil or mulch being added throughout the season. Interestingly enough, I've read that the depth of the crown is what determines the thickness of the shoots. The more shallow crowns produce the thinner shoots, and the deeper crowns produce the thicker shoots.

While I was diddling around in the asparagus bed, Mike and Tim were scraping and regrading Mike's driveway. There was quite a buildup if gravel, dirt and moss which required the box scraper to remove, and the bucket to redistribute and level.

Then Mike got the priveledge of using Tim's "Two Ton Rock Crusher". Actually, it's only one and a half tons. But I affectionately call it Two Ton. When you roll it down the road, any gravel in it's way explodes into smithereens. Tim fabricated Two Ton in response to being gravely disappointed in all commercially available lawn rollers. He bought one a couple of years ago, and after using it once or twice, returned it's mangled fragments to the dealership in disgust. He then set about building a more usefull version. But you have to be careful. If the lawn is too wet, it will crumple it up like a a throw rug.

Only Mike and Tim could turn driveway rolling into recreation. They look like they're having a good time don't they?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

S'getti and Meatballs

It's a sugar-coated ice cream world
It may have dumped 6 inches of lake effect snow on the garden today, but we can still enjoy meat balls and home made tomato sauce

Mmmm... summer....

Friday, April 1, 2011

Am I behind already?

I find it rather boring to blog if I don't have a colorful picture to talk about. So, here is a photo of my lovely vintage general store seed box and some of my favorite garden themed collectibles. The seed box sits on top of my pie safe and that's where I keep all my seed packets from year to year, so I've been in and out of it daily this week.

I had in my mind that April 1st was plenty of time to start Peppers and Eggplants, with Tomatoes Mid-April, and then I read my blog from last year to find I am now two weeks behind. I guess this means hibernation is over. March was rather dismal this year. No warm temperatures or Spring rains. Just cold and snow, but finally the sun has come out. The daytime temps are still hovering around 40, but the ground is firm enough to walk on.

We spent last Sunday raking and tidying up the yard. There are still a few oak leaves lurking about, but the sticks are rounded up, the beds are tidy and the driveway has been raked and gravel added where needed. We had A LOT of mole damage in the lawn, so I will be setting a lot of mole traps.

This past weekend I planted some lettuce and chard directly in the garden. I used my home made version of this gardening grid that I had neighbor Mike fabricate for me out of shop scrap.

The rhubarb is up.

Mike and Shelly's Parsnips left in last fall are being dug, along with a few carrots. My seed orders are beginning to arrive. Time to get a flat of peppers and eggplants started. This year I decided to try something a bit different. Usually I plant directly into individual pots, but that means I am skipping one transplanting step and I could be getting my tomatoes planted a bit deeper and giving them a chance to develop a better root system. So this time I started with a flat of seed starting mix and no pots.

It can be hard to get the mix to absorb water. I solved this by slitting open the bag, adding hot water, and letting it sit over night. Then I glopped the damp mix into the flat and squished it around. There is a lot of extra room in this flat! When the seedlings are large enough to be transplanted into individual pots, I'll reuse the mix for some other potting project.

So right now I only have one flat of gardening going. By next week there will be two flats, lights, timers, the works.