Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Start of Gardening "Summer"

At the end of May I try to strike a balance between taking my time and enjoying the process, and hurrying up so I don't have to wait forever for my results.  The plants have their own agenda.  I seeded 5 lettuce mixes.  The Johnny's Seed All Star Gourmet Lettuce Mix germinated almost immediately.  I already have two seedings weeks apart planted.  I had one whole flat of baby romaine refuse to sprout so I tossed the remaining seed packet and put the soil back in the tub.  I need willing participation from my plants.

Lettuce and Cucumbers  I'm trying
cucumber trellis instead of the vertical pea fence I usually use.
Two weeks ago we had snow and spent a day huddled around a brush fire trying to keep warm while we made progress on outside work.  Yesterday it was 92.7 degrees here in the shade and we were praying for rain.  We spent some time under a patio umbrella sipping tea and there was an occasional cool breeze but mostly there was sun and heat.  None of this week's forecast pop-up thunderstorms have materialized.  While we are enjoying the beautiful weather, the base soil in my raised beds is cracking and we desperately need rain.  I am already tired of watering and the plants know the difference.  They respond so much better to real rain than to fake rain. I don't know if it is the vibration, duration or chemical composition but they can tell the difference just as sure as I can tell between wine and grape juice.

We had retreated to the house and turned on the air conditioning when finally we heard it on the windows.  Big luscious drops of rain.  We opened the tops of the windows and hung out them peering at the sky and willing the clouds not to clear.  We got half an inch of rain which we desperately needed with the wind whipping from every direction at once.  At one point the seed tag flags we have on the top wire of the garden fence were pointing inwards at a sharp angle on all four sides which was just weird.  After the rain we had a summer-like sauna.  I went out and did my planned planted anyway because 80 degrees is better than 90.

My cucumbers, melons and zuchini are also bull-headed this year.  Out of several dozen pots I have half a dozen seedlings.  I bought a pack of Marketmore cucumbers just to give me a head start and I might try direct sowing more cantaloupes.  Thanks to yesterday's 90 degree weather and real rain I have a few more beginning to pop today.

My tomatoes are in gallon pots under the shade cloth on the right
 My new favorite veggie is bell peppers.  I eat several a week.  Mostly just sliced fresh with basil pesto hummus, but also in salads and omelettes.  I've planted most of one bed in just peppers with room for two over-flow tomato plants at the end.

I skipped the peas this spring and it its too early for bush beans so the only thing really left to do right now is to transplant my tomatoes.  Today I did an hour of sweaty work filling 9 Rubbermaid tubs with soil for the potatoes and wash tub planters.  I start with pure compost at the bottom as filler, top it with some complete fertilizer and put a thick layer of Moisture Control potting soil on the top to regulate moisture and provide nutrients.  I also filled four large planter pots for annuals on the decks.

Repotted Wizard Mix Coleus

I planned the contents of my planters over the winter, but two weeks ago I had an inspiration which changed my entire plan.  I'll show you when I get them potted up because I have a lot of plants still to buy.  But the main theme is Coleus.  I picked up 6 cell packs and repotted them in 4 inch pots to hold them.  It is nearly impossible to keep annuals in cell packs moist enough and they always get root bound.  By the time I get home in the evening they are dry and wilting.  I can get a 4 pack for $1.89 plus tax, or I could by larger specimens in 4 inch pots for $3.99.  But guess what?  Repotted with room to grow, in the weeks it takes me to get the pots ready and get time to put it together, the little guys will flourish and grow to the size they are selling in 4" pots. Only I've spent $1.89 not $15.96  o it pays to think ahead.

The herb corner is looking lush.  There are two young toads living in here.
I have yet to get pictures of them.

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