Now we're talking!

on Monday, May 14, 2012

Here come the squash!
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Can you guess...

... where the bird is?
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First pea bloom!

on Sunday, May 13, 2012

The first bloom in the pea patch! It seems every year we whine and worry things aren't looking good because, for some reason or another, things in the garden aren't "normal" or "on schedule". We just have to remember each year is different, whether it's hotter or colder, wetter or dryer than the previous couple of years, and maybe SOME of the plants aren't happy with it (like the fruit tree blooms this year), overall the plants are gonna grow. We were worried that the cool weather crops were going to freak out or die off (like some of the spinach and lettuce this year) with the crazy hot and cold weather, but it seems to all work out. It's just different each year...
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What will things look like later this week?

on Tuesday, April 17, 2012

With temps dropping down and getting frosty this week, I wonder how all the flowers and buds will fare. The clematises and rose on the arch look like they want to bloom soon.
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Snug as a bug in a...

Frost is in the forecast on and off for the next week, so growies are either crammed in a corner up against the house on the deck, or tucked away in the greenhouse, and in both cases covered up. The blueberries, which have flower buds on them, have also been wrapped. Fingers crossed everything makes it through ok!
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Don't judge us!

The tomato seedlings I just potted up this weekend are looking pretty wimpy right now. Give them a week and I think they'll be looking much better - they just need to settle in and put out some new roots. They just got moved from the deck to the greenhouse - nights have been in the 50s and 60s but we're supposed to frost tonight. Blah!
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Vampires beware!

on Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sure hope you guys like garlic!
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Waste not, want not

on Sunday, March 18, 2012

I try not to produce too much waste that can't be used in the garden. Don't worry, I'm not being all hippie freak about it... But when paper isn't too glossy or includes plastic, I'll often shred it and then add it to the worm bins for bedding. I have to say I feel particularly good when I can shred something like empty seed packets - I'm not worried about the tiny bit of glue used to seal the packets, they're not glossy, very little ink, and these don't have little plastic windows so you can see the seeds. Heck, maybe I'll shred the invoices that came with them!
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Who's hungry for fresh veggies?!

on Friday, March 16, 2012

Ok, I admit it - that offer might be a bit premature!  This crazy warm weather has all us gardeners chomping at the bit - should I already have stuff growing out in the garden, can I put warm-weather crops out much earlier than usual!?  What to do!?

Here's two pictures of seedlings in the basement - all started less than a week ago.  The first is a mix of broccoli varieties, and they're not something I've normally started from seed before, especially not in the spring.  I'd been turned off growing broccoli years ago due to numerous problems with temperature sensitivity, pests, etc.  But the last two years have been great broccoli years for me, so I'm planning to dedicate a bit more garden space to them this year.  I'm a bit disappointed that I got a bit of a late start in seeding them for a "normal" year, and now that it's so warm out, there's risk of them not doing well this spring if we don't go back to cooler temps.  Broccoli is a cool weather crop that does best in spring and fall.  We'll just have to see how these guys do - fingers crossed!

And check out that one big sprout in the foreground - I'm not sure yet if that guy is a really eager broccoli, or if I got some other seed in the packet or in the soil.

Next are the tomato seedlings - they don't look like much yet, eh?  And if anything, the sprouts look a bit sparse, with some of the Jiffy-7s (those little "peat pots" holding the seedlings) are loaded with several sprouts, while others have none.  I'm not too worried about that - some seeds were purchased new this year, while others are up to a few years old.  Tomato seeds are pretty hardy and are usually good for at least a few years.  It could be any number of factors including age of the seeds or quirks of the variety causing some of these seeds to sprout so much faster than others.

You can also see that some of the sprouts are really crowded.  Assuming I have plenty of seeds to work with, I'll usually sprinkle 2-4 seeds in each Jiffy pot.  That way, if you have some dud seeds, you have a better likelihood of having at least SOME sprout.  Then later, as they mature, you snip off all but the strongest, healthiest looking sprout.  In the case of tomatoes, that'll be in a month or two, and then I'll stick the little Jiffy pots into a slightly larger pot (I've actually started using the red party cups with holes poked in the bottom for drainage).  And, if it looks like it's going to be much longer before the tomato plants are actually planted in the garden, they might get potted up once more, sometimes into a pot as large as a gallon.  Each time they're potted into a bigger container, most of the plant is buried, with just the top few inches sticking above the new soil line.  This is because tomatoes will actually grow roots along the side of their main stalk once it's buried, which results in more nutrient intake and better stability on windy days.

Mmmmm...I can just taste the broccoli and tomatoes now!  Unfortunately there's still quite a bit of time before harvest.
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Safety net

on Sunday, March 11, 2012

Most of the seeds are new enough and of good enough quality that I probably don't have to plant so many, but it's sort of a paranoia thing. Better to have more started and then snip off the weakest looking plants in each pot, keeping just the single strongest plant. I have been known, at potting up time, to split apart all the plants (rather than cutting off all but one), and then pot each of them. I'm sure I'm causing unnecessary shock to the roots/plants when I do that...
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It's planting time!

Well, technically this would be seed starting time - planting comes later. It's tough doing this part, deciding which seeds don't make the cut this year. Even harder - deciding which plants go in the garden later!
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Getting started on the growing season

on Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I started leeks, bunching onions and shallots from seed about 2 1/2 weeks ago, and tried working some "homegrown" worm castings (aka worm poop) into the seed starting mix. Wow! I'd have to say this is the darkest green my alium seedlings have ever been. I remember previous years where they had decent size but were very pale green. In addition to the worm castings mixed in, they also got some very diluted worm pee in their watering the other day. So far they're looking very happy!
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Every season has one!

on Saturday, January 21, 2012

There's always at least one thing on the garden plan each year that has me the most excited to taste test. This year it's most definitely the Indigo Rose tomato, which popped up in several of the seed catalogs. You'll be hearing more from me about Indigo Rose later!
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Helpful tip for the gardener

on Tuesday, January 17, 2012

As you begin to accumulate new seed packets before the gardening season starts, check the packets to see if they include a "packaged for" type date on them. The month isn't all that important, but the year sure is. If there's no date on them, as is the case with Tomato Growers each year, write the year on the packet, at least if it's for something you know you won't use up completely this year (like maybe annual flowers, bean seeds, radishes, etc - something you sow a lot of at any one time).

Many seeds are viable for a number of years, and it helps to know what year the seeds were intended for. I don't have the best luck with lettuce seeds more than a year or two old. Tomatoes and peppers? I've had good luck with seeds I've had five years or more!

But if you have a packet of old seeds with no year on them, it's hard to know if you might want to save them another year, or if it's the same packet you keep saving "just one more year", and yet they're six year old duds!
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