Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Update

It's going to be a good gardening year.  I can feel it in my bones.  Or that could be the arthritis in my left knee.  One of the two.

We've made a good start on the landscape edging and mulching.  I figured up one time that we have over 400 feet of edging.  That must be cut 8 inches at a time with an edging shovel.  That's 600+ stomps.  Then you get down on your knees and pull up the scalped turf, picking the weeds out and raking the remaining mulch to break up the hard crust.  Next comes the fresh mulch and more knee work as we smooth it all.  At the end of the day you know you did some work.  In the past we could get the landscaping done in a long day.  We now have too much and we don't try to get it done all at once.  We just start back at the beginning or at the most desperate spot and work our way through it over the weeks or months.   Whatever it takes.  And some parts need to be edged twice in a year if its a spot we walk by daily.

The landscape beds run into the planting beds outside the garden.  On the left are two hills of zucchini inside protective cages and on the right the bank is prepared for rows of sweet potato plants.

I have four hills of cantaloupe and watermelon.  I cut supports of clothes hangers and crisscrossed them over the hills to keep the floating row cover off them until they get a bit bigger.  The white ring is hydrated lime which is supposed to kill or deter stink bugs.

 Inside the garden the lettuce is about ready for thinning for use in "micro" green salads.  That's a tangle of nasturtium in the center.

The peas are growing and I have plants hardening off under the shade cloth.

Inside the cold frame extra tomatoes, eggplants and peppers in various stages await new adoptive homes and flats of cucumbers, melons and zinnias wait to be planted out. The second planting of tomatoes are just getting their first true leaves.  I've proven in the past that tomatoes started May 1 and transplanted at the same time as the larger nursery transplants  will catch up and produce at the same time or earlier than their larger counterparts.  Most of the younger plants will be given away but I will plant at least two varieties.

Memorial Day is a bit early this year, but the forecast shows 7 days of 50*+ night time temps so the tomato/eggplant/pepper bed is amended and planted.  I also have an early row of bush beans in and the two beds are prepared for the black beans and cucumbers.

I didn't plant the egg plants yet because just as I was going to I realized that I was not in the mood to dig out and arrange the eggplant covers today.  The upturned pots are place holders for plants to be planted later. We're supposed to have scattered rain showers tomorrow which would be great for the newly planted plants.

All my annuals are in.  I have several whiskey barrels and planters filled with Verbena and Lantana and a flat of marigolds has been distributed from one end of the property to the other.  Besides being a nice plant, the marigolds are pretty much guaranteed to be unmolested by wildlife because of their strong smell so they are the first choice for unprotected plantings.

And garden season 2014 is off and running....

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Question: When do eggplant seeds germinate?

Answer:  When they're good and ready.

I still have eggplants coming up.  What... fifty+ days later?  Off course at this point I have no idea what kind they are.  I'd given up on them and reused the pots for transplanting doubles.  So now I'm digging them out of those pots and transplanting them into other "failed" pots.  At first I thought they were peppers but some of them are putting out little round eggplant leaves.  So we have half a dozen Mystery Eggplants to give away.  I'll keep a couple myself.

The second batch of tomato seeds in the cold frame are coming up as are my okra.  I have two flats of nice cucumbers, and melons.  The nematodes have been applied to the beds, the lettuce have been transplanted and the peas are doing great.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tonight... from the Asparagus Patch

 Oh you little bastards!  That's MY dinner not yours.

All aboard?



Saturday, May 10, 2014

Great Art

I've always been attracted to Seed Art.  I love the vintage catalogs and seed packets and magazine covers.  And there were some really great artists and themes used by the large seed companies.  For instance... the Ferry Morse Seed Company

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater
Peter Piper

And now a word about Spring Gardening from the great Maxfield Parrish....

More on My Pinterest Boards:
Ferry Morse
The Three Seedswomen
Seed Art in general

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Another New Variety

The tomatoes, peppers and eggplants have graduated to the cold frame.  This is also the time when I can start tomato seeds in the cold frame and have them ready to plant by Memorial Day.

Two varieties, the Dr. Wyche's Yellow and the Paul Robeson are, for the second year in a row, acting very sluggish.  I have an empty flat of pots ready in the cold frame so I decided to go ahead and use up some of my older seeds while they are still viable.  I planted some old favorites that I've moved away from, Ananas Noir, Pineapple, more Paul Robeson, more Dr. Wyche's Yellow, and because the Dr. Wyche is so lazy I rummaged through my seed collection looking for another yellow or white tomato.  Voila'!  I found the Jack White sent to me a couple of years ago by a blog reader as a seed trade!  Thank you Thank you!!!

This variety fits the bill.
Jack White
Indeterminate. Regular leaf. 80 days. Stabilized cross between White Beauty and Tomesol White.  Extreme producer of excellent flavored fruits with the best traits of both parents. Average size is ten to sixteen ounces.  Nice flavor with a creamy consistency.  

Exactly my sort of tomato.  I'm looking forward to seeing how they will turn out.

Gardeners in my area are embarking on another growing season.  Although my peas have sprouted, the benchmark Forsythia, whose blooming marks pea planting time, has yet to make a show.  There are a few yellow flowers here and there, but in general, the Forsythia population is still hesitant about the weather.  Some gardeners are ready to go.  My Dad's little plot is tilled and waiting.  But others are discouraged by last year's poor tomato season.  The neighbor's brother, who usually starts many plants on his own and generously hands them out to friends and family did not start any.  On one hand, it's reassuring.  I know that I was not the only gardener to have trouble last year.  On the other hand, hope should spring eternal.  It's time to get planting!  Surely something will grow well this year.

Also started in the cold frame I have two flats of cucurbits, my old standby cucumber, Marketmore 76, as well as a new experiment, Moon and Stars Watermelon and a redo on last year's experiment with another variety of cantaloupe.  I have some onion sets and I'm setting those out as they begin to sprout, timing my crop in increments, and I have potatoes chitting in the garden shed.

In the garden 10 days apart, I have two plantings of peas, carrots, lettuce (with backups for fill in waiting in flats) and garlic.  And the bad news is... on Friday the Flea Beetles hatched.

Peas Sprouting.  They were planted  16 days ago

This mini hoop house covered with shade cloth makes a nice hardening off spot for my lettuce replacements

It's so hard to wait!  This is Ruby & Emerald Duet

The garlic is doing well.  This is planted in the fall.