Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weather and seed starting

Forecast for Friday.... 6-12 inches of snow.  Happy April Fools? We did get snow a few days after April first last year.  But this just isn't right.

Oh, almost killed the Cherokee Purple seedling. I moved the stuff around and set up the light shelf and somewhere in that time it wilted. I don't know if i smacked it by mistake or what, but it did look a tiny bit dry so i watered it and in the last 3 hours it has perked up better. Still not sure its ok, but it does look better.

I caved about starting the tomatoes. I went ahead and did it. I still think its too early, but i've been brainwashed by what i have been reading.
I have them indoors and under a double set of lights (two double shop lights = four bulbs) and its in one of the cooler rooms in the house. They don't need the light yet, but the peppers and eggplants are sharing the same shelf and lamps. That is pretty much all i will be starting indoors this year.

I planted:
Sweet Chelsea - large cherry type
Pruden's Purple- Brandywine type
German Orange Strawberry - oxheart type
Banana Legs - yellow paste
San Marzano- red paste

I thought i still had Roma seeds, but didn't find them so i didn't go crazy looking.  Five types are plenty for my garden. I have paste types and salad types so that will work and if one variety goes kaput i have redundancies.

Ok, so hopefully this storm for Friday ends up being a rain storm and not snow. 

gotta go, toddler is trying to eat Playdoh

Some seasonal notes

The angle of the sun is shifting just enough that the grapes at the left side of the fence are just starting to get the rays directly on them.  Its part of my learning curve that the grapes don't get full sun all winter because the shade of the neighbor's house and partly because of the fence itself. When i planted them, the area got most of the sun all day long.  About half of the grapes and two of the blueberries are in the light shortly before noon.  The rest are in shade- though not too deep and so is the Ben Alder.  I'm charging the camera battery so i'll try to get a reference picture as close to noon as i can get.

About 11:50

Right now we have about 37 degrees, so its not warm by a long shot.  I guess we should be in the 40's & 50's for normal years.  Maybe we'll make it today. Its not windy today like it has been for the last 3, so it feels a bit warmer.  According to forecasts this past weekend, we were hopefully going to have 40 degree temps with maybe a rain shower - but they are now saying the rain may end up being snow though they haven't changed the likely temperatures much.

I'm arguing with myself about starting tomatoes this early. I want to do it, but every time i start tomatoes indoors i end up with leggy creatures that gain little time on the season because i have to lay them down and bury them to the top 5 inches. The strength of the seedling light seems to make little difference. I think its the house temperature that is the main factor. The lights give off heat too.
If i do start tomatoes indoors, i'll have to put away the tank and drag out the white plastic shelves.  The tank does not have enough room for 2 plastic trays and with the white shelves the lights can be raised and lowered.  I'll need help with moving the tanks and it will have to be done during a nap time- but those haven't been happening much lately.

I have houseplants that need tending too. I killed my Meyer Lemon. Its really too bad cause it was doing so well.  It was getting big so i repotted it. I had to put it in another room to keep it safe from my toddler who likes to pluck leaves ( you should see my poor grapefruit tree). Well i forgot to water it too long and it is very definitely dead.  I might try one again sometime.
Now or soon, i need to pot up my little fig. Its going to need more than a 5 inch pot soon.  Even my sweet bay could use an upgrade. One of my clove seedlings has been repotted, the other from Horizon Herbs could use it too- though it came in a much larger pot than the eBay one. Its doing fantastic, the eBay one is much smaller.
I'm still waiting on the Hoya flowers to open, the buds are getting noticeably larger each day.

I might go out and try removing some of the snow on the grapes, like i said before- if a nap happens. Once i get the chance to do that, it should warm up quickly since there is a black weed block surrounding them.

After taking a closer look i realized there is too much snow for me to move easily. So that's out.

There is a nap happening now so i'm going to see if i can move those tanks. I move things by sliding them or "walking" them corner pivot to corner- so if i'm lucky i may get it done without too much trouble.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Seedlings up

Looks like the Hoya is very close to blooming.

Yay!  It also looks like my very last and very old Cherokee Purple seed was viable and even vigorous. The seed leaves are well formed. When they are shrivelly , i am told, it means that the seed was essentially no good.  If i don't accidentally murder this seedling i hope to save the seeds so i can have some for next year.  They are suppsed to be a very sweet tomato, even better than Brandywines perhaps.  I can't wait to find out.


Snapper, a sweet bell pepper is up.

 Slim Jim eggplant is just starting out.  I got no fruit from this last year- i think wintersowing is not beneficial to eggplant. I think exposure to so much cold does not allow them to get in gear soon enough. This flat of seeds was germinated with bottom heat from a 60 watt incandescent bulb.  I hope to get sturdy plants by planting time.

 Below is another eggplant i am trying. Like Slim Jim, this one is a long , slender type, only green rather than purple.  The entire Slim Jim plant is a velvety purple- the two of these plants with or without fruit should be an interesting contrast in colors.  This variety is compact, can be container-grown and is described as being suited to my cooler climate.

 One of the Stocks are up...but that's it so far.

I'm still waiting anxiously for the durned snow to melt.

 It really is giving way, though slowly.  Along the roadsides, the snow is all but gone. Many yards are free of snow. The last few days of cold has not allowed the grass to green up yet.  Its been in the 30's and very windy. After Monday the weather forecasters are saying we should have 40's through the remainder of the week. I wish i had enough black plastic to cover the whole garden and absorb that sunlight!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Seeds arriving


My last and second seed order came in this morning. So i have my Provider green beans,  their radish mix, Pruden's Purple tomato, Early Butternut winter squash, Ailsa Craig onion and Nutri Bud broccoli.  The only problem is that two of what i wanted were unavailable-  the Golden Zebra summer squash and the Southport Red Globe onion.  They had to be substituted with 49er F1 summer squash and Red Burgundy  onion.

I'm not sure how well this substitution  is going to work since Southport is a long-day Northern onion and according to what i can find about Red Burgundy is that it is a short-day onion which is better for Southern areas.  I still have some  Southport  seed from last year so i guess i'll have both to compare.

Golden Zebra sounded so good. Described as having a more appetizing flavor than regular summer squash, i was looking forward to it.   But i looked up 49er F1 and it sounds good too, so i think i'll be fine.

So, i'm feeling pretty good about not having gone hog wild with seeds this year (compared to other years) and i have been studying seed saving- finding out what plants i can save seeds from year after year without degrading them with a small gene pool.  I don't have even a half an acre- so some things won't work.  But i'll be good for tomatoes and maybe even the provider beans.  But i get to do more reading throughout the next few months before i need to know for sure.

Still snow on the ground out there and i expect it to be there for some time.  I did take a few pictures of how the garden is melting off.  The way its going makes a strong argument for my slightly raised bed system.  The tops of most of the beds are appearing much more quickly while the walking rows are still full of snow.  Since i am switching the direction of my rows this year i won't be able to take a lot of advantage of the beds  as they sit, but some patches of warm soil will be tilled in with the colder stuff and it just might get things a slight bit warmer faster than if all the surface was at the same level.

I found a lone parsnip waking up before most everything else.  I may save and replant this one to try and get some seed from it.

The Brussels sprouts look like they still might be alive in there.

I got the table upright and on the driveway/patio. Hubby won't like it but i'm going to start seeds on it in a later-than-it-should-be wintersowing session.  I saved a lot of milk jugs for this.  Later when things sprout, they will go in the mini greenhouse.

Rose Orach seedlings.  I mistakenly thought they were the Midnight Red Amaranth, but a check of the lable corrected me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Snow pics.

I wish i had something to do time lapse photos with- that would be cool. Set the camera on a tripod and leave it there and see what happens...  but since i don't i have to play with it this way.




Darn it all..... (3-22-11)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Perspective on dates

I have been going through my past entries here and there throughout the day and i want to summarize my actual planting dates.
Last year we had very warm weather. We were snowless at this time last year.
I had begun wintersowing by March 9th- tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower.
The next day i had sown cucumbers, squash, more tomatoes, watermelon, eggplant and peppers (the eggplant and peppers were not helped by being wintersown- a good point to remember).

March 12, i had drawn the outline of the garden with marking tape.
My crocus were starting to bloom on the 17th.
We were having temps in the 60's and my broccoli seeds were sprouting outside in their peat pellets.
On the 24th we got down to 9 degrees at night.
March 25, daffodils were blooming, lilac leaf buds were swelling and rhubarb was beginning to poke through the soil.
By the beginning of April, the wintersown tomatoes had sprouted- which is a good indicator that it is not too late to start tomatoes indoors or out by even as late as April.  Most garden guides tell me i should have started them a week ago.
April 15, the Jerusalem artichokes had emerged, rhubarb was really coming along.
April 17, snow happened.  No real harm done.
It was 65 degrees out on April  22

May 18th, i had the hoops up and row cover on.
I began to plant cold weather crops...the lilacs were in full bloom and beginning to go by.

May 21, i had gotten the tomatoes planted and under the covers.  The next day the summer squash were planted out.

May 23, the beets, rutabagas and bush beans were direct sown.

The weather through the 24th was in the 80's and watering was needed.
 May 25 was 98 degrees for the high.
By the 27th the seed tape carrots were sprouting.

I planted out the ZsaZsa peppers by May 31st. The first seeds i planted had refused to sprout so i had to try a second time. It was so late to get going that my plants only ended up with one fruit that never ripened.

I'll spare the details of last June 'till when they become important to remember, but i'm finding this blog to be very useful right now in helping me see how different this year will likely be.  This is more like i can remember it is.  Often we have snow on the ground until Easter.  I got an early start last year, and it probably could have been even earlier. It looks like our last frost was that night my seedlings got nipped in the mini greenhouse  on May 11th.

Always, i have been taught that planting happens Memorial Day weekend- or the last full moon of May- they are usually within a few days of each other.   Last year i planted a bit earlier than that. This year the full moon is on the 17th. he last full moon in May 2010 was on the 27th.

That's the next reason i blog.  The hyperanalitical part of me really gets into this. I hope to be recording these things for a number of years to see if it is either changeable or dependable. I want to eventually get a good feel for exactly how far i can push the season. 

Depending on how things look later on, i may use that last full moon as my starting date,  i can always delay if things look bad.   Since i hope to buy a few extra degrees upward of soil temps with the row cover and hopefully cheat any late frost the same way- i might learn to push the date even earlier.  I just have to go through the cycle for a few years and record it.  So as long as i don't get bored with blogging, i won't feel silly about the number of seemingly inane details i record almost daily from February to November. :o)

Spring is experiencing a slight delay...

Or maybe its not.  I'll have to look back and see what i complained about last year in regard to snowmelt and temperatures.  I'm sure i'm just being impatient.  The forecast is for temps in the 30s through the rest of the week.  We got about 5 inches of new snow that turned out to be less slushy than expected.  If the sun is strong it might melt quickly but if it stays cloudy it may not.

The Rose Orach sprouted- i noticed this yesterday. All the other seeds are still sleeping.

I'm still in the process of deciding what i will grow this year. I'm considering crossing the leeks off the list.  I'm not sure my method of planting would suit them.  Their need for a long growing season is discouraging.  I tend to plant in wide rows and leeks need to be 'hilled', and this will be difficult in wide rows because the soil i would need to use to build up around the leeks will be inhabited by more leeks.  I won't have a spare spot in the garden to dig out soil to hill them up and then i'm not sure how much yield...  They are expensive at the store and because of that i don't use them much- which means i can technically live without them. Also, if they don't size up to what i see in the grocery store i'll be disappointed- and its unlikely they will grow that large.  In the recipe i use them in, i use 3 at a time. My garden planner allows for 50 plants in the space i intended for them.  Not sure if i'll ever use that many before they go bad- and i don't plan to overwinter any plants in the garden, and and and i don't know if hubby will get on board with using the cold side of the basement as a root cellar.

I think i should stick to what i know- tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, summer and winter squash, green beans, brassicas, herbs and some lettuces.

Experimentation will be limited to  houseplants.  Speaking of which- the buds on the hoya are sizing up:

Maybe not dramatic, but i noticed.

I took a look at the garden the other day. It had melted enough that i could locate where the kale and chard had been and other things too.

I've read that kale can sometimes overwinter- but i don't think it happened for me, lol.

But it looks like at least one of my Comfrey crowns did ok. Of course its way early to expect much, but i found a bit of green

I can't wait to see how my asparagus does this spring.  According to Steve Solomon, asparagus from seed can be harvested as soon as the second year as long as the spears are 3/4 of an inch in size.  But i don't have any idea if they will be that large and anyway i'll need to let them grow freely so i can locate and remove the female plants.  Doing this prevents the plot from going to seed, the seed germinating and leading to overcrowding- which leads to the demise of the plot.  With only male plants left and good fertilizing a plot can last about 50 years.

I never did try harvesting the horseradish i planted last spring.  I have tried planting it before in my parents' garden.  When i dug it up it was full of holes from soil bugs so i'm curious to see what i'll get this fall.

Yesterday i heard robins for the first time this year. It sounded like they were squabbling over some territory.  Despite the snow it shouldn't be long until the weather fits the part of the season i like so much.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First day of Spring

So even if i don't have anything to babble about, i think i should write something.
Weatherwise we are in for a slush storm. Apparently throughout tomorrow and tomorrow night we are expecting about 4 inches of mess. It's not likely to stick for long and the wetness will soften the snow underneath.

We had  fairly windy weather the other day. Gusts of over 50 Mph.  It blew down one of our fence panels, it was the front corner on the not-so-nice neighbors side.  Hubby fixed it when he got home and checked on a few others that may have loosened in the wind.  Anyhow, the wind didn't melt the snow but it sure dried it away a quite a bit so that was worth putting up with.

No word from the seed flat i sowed the other day. I think i'll start a flat of leeks soon.  Everyone else seems to be doing it around now. I love leeks, they aren't very common up here and they can be a little expensive. This year will be my first time trying it. I'll have to drag the mini greenhouse(s) up from the basement because i'll be wintersowing them and the other cool weather crops.

So hopefully the slush we are expecting won't stick too long and we won't have one of those late springs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A little sad

Today i woke up to a saltwater tank that didn't look right.  I had just topped it off the night before and it had evaporated overnight almost an inch of water. At first i thought "leak"  but when i put my hand to the glass it felt warm, very warm.  My heater had malfunctioned and my tank had a meltdown. My leathers were sagging, mushrooms had snotted away and the zoanthids were closed tightly.

So i spent much of the day breaking it down and separating the live rock out. I decided that after 12 years in the saltwater hobby it was time to quit- at least for a while.  My leg does not allow me to care for a tank the way it should be and its an expensive hobby at any rate.   I called PetCo to ask if they'd take in the last of my corals that looked like they could have a chance at surviving, i also packed up about 20 pounds of live rock to give them as a thank you.   When i got there i was waiting and got into a conversation with a man and his wife about what happened.  He asked the store manager how much it would cost for him to take home what i brought and the store manager said it would be fine to just give it to him if i agreed--and i did.  So they got a super deal, 5 different corals for free (if they survive and its worth a try ) and about $100 worth of live rock.   They were getting a tank set up that week and the rock would boost the project. They were very happy that our timing was perfect for them and i was glad to know who was the enthusiasts that got my corals.  They had been keeping fresh water fish for years and salt water for a small handful of years.

I'm going to miss my tank, the living room is so quiet without the gentle hum of  powerheads and mini fans blowing the halide lamp to keep it cool.  There is no more trickling water sound.  Its been close to 20 years since i have been tankless....  I do still have Alpha the beta, so maybe it isn't over quite yet.

In a way its a relief because i hadn't been able to keep it as sparkling as i always tried to do and it was definitely in decline. So as much as it is disappointing to lose, its one less thing to worry about.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I'm going bonkers. That is all.


If only for a day or so. Yesterday was a nice and warm day, highs in the 50's. Today is expected to be in the high 50's but i expect it to make it into the 60's. Its still been at or below freezing at night and cooler weather is again coming back in a few days.  I;m enjoying it while it lasts.
I haven't seen any open crocuses yet, but the green leaves are poking up so it won't be long.

The snow in the yard has melted enough for some of last year's kale and maybe cabbages to poke through. They are still sort of green.  I can't get out far enough to see if my grapes are starting to wake up, they are still under many inches of snow- so i assume not.

This is like watching grass grow.  Yes, i have done that.  The winter rye before the garden was dug.  Yes, i even took pictures. lol

I'm really fighting back my impatience. I have done virtually all that i can up to this point. But waiting is making me go crazy.  I love winter, but when its time for winter to be over i want it over! :o)

I have tried a couple online garden date planners. The ones that calculate times to plant based on your last frost date. But most of them assume incorrectly that the snow is gone and my soil has been worked over already. I'm not planting peas and even if i were,  i still have a few inches of snow to deal with.  Even on early spring years there is usually plenty of snow left on the ground about now. So it hasn't done me any good.

I'm also getting to the point around the house where having a toddler makes it an extra challenge to get things done. Also the routine of trying to keep things clean is getting dull.  I get up, make coffee, serve breakfast, pick up scattered toys, vacuum, do dishes, pick up wayward toys, serve lunch, hope to get a break if she naps, but end up using the break to get some mess figured out, do the dishes again, pick up the oldest from school,  try and come up with an idea for supper.  Its just endless and gets boring. Sometimes breaking up the boredom is getting online a few minutes now and then throughout the day- but during the day most people i know are at work, so its not often very exciting.  I'm so slow at housework that going someplace as a diversion means stuff doesn't get done and its more work the next day.
So i'm in a rut and that is another reason i am so obsessed with looking forward to spring! 
When school is out i'll have my oldest to give me a hand in things so i can get garden work done. By next summer the youngest will be old enough to be more independent and should be less likely to do heedless things like run out into the road or get into trouble in the yard.

The weather right now is gorgeous, its 1:30 and its 65 degrees out, but very windy (hopefully drying up that snow!)  we have a wind advisory- up to 50 mph gusts expected. I have windows open all over the house, just enjoying the freshness to the air.  The tar in the driveway is warm enough to walk barefoot on.

I sure wish this weather would hold, but its supposed to get cold again through next week.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Started seed starting

I got the peppers and eggplant started. I'm using an old 30 long glass aquarium as an hot box, I have lots of spare aquariums. I'm always changing my mind on what i like for fishkeeping.  Having worked at a pet store and specializing in aquatics i gathered a large collection of various tanks and stands as well as equipment.

I planted in cleaned-out 9 packs from last year.  I hadn't realized that i'd want to fill out all 6 sets of 9packs in the flat, so i did plant some extras.  Most of what i intend to plant has to have cool conditions (brassicas) or be direct sown (corn, beans) so i had to pick some unplanned extras.
I have some orach and amaranth which are good leaf plants that are nice additions to salads and i remembered to buy some seed for Stocks flowers.  I got those cause they were the only thing that made me feel like smiling at my grandfather's funeral service. He was a gardening man so i think he'd appreciate it if i use those flowers to remember him by.

So, this is my just-sown list:

Midnight Red Amaranth
Rose Orach
Mammoth excelsior mix Stocks
Raveena Eggplant
Snapper sweet bell pepper
Zsa Zsa sweet pepper

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I can almost feel the snow melting

Rain, rain,
come today,
Come and take
this snow away...!

I can't believe i'm about 80% ready to plant. Just waiting for time now. That last 20% is waiting until the last frost date is closer, getting in the final order of my seeds and starting some of them.
I may have already written this down somewhere, but i decided that i'm starting peppers and eggplant indoors under lights and will be wintersowing the broccoli, bok chois and kales outside in the mini greenhouse.
Not sure what i'll do with the tomatoes yet.  In the past i have started them so early that they have gone leggy and i have had to bury about 8 inches of stem. Last year i wintersowed them in cell packs but got caught by frost  March 11th. (See this entry appropriately titled "Ouch").  Had i read my Old Farmer's Almanac  email newsletter for that week i might have been more cautious.
Newsletter for May 11, 2010
So whatever i do with the tomatoes, i'll not take the chance and will bring them indoors on such nights.
The main reason i start seeds in cell packs at all is because if i sow them direct in the garden, i'd be scared to weed around them until they are recognizable size. After how many years doing this, and i still forget every spring what most seedlings look like?  So planting a leafy, 3 inch seedling is easier for me to do than direct sowing.  I don't think either give me an advantage on harvest date- a day or two at most.  But maybe a bit against the weeds.
Of course our ancestors didn't grow their kitchen gardens with plastic trays under fluorescent lights. Its hard for me to imagine my great-grandfather mucking about with plastic cell packs and shoplights...  but i'm sure he used sod strips, cold frames and manure-heated hot beds. I have read a bit about those in some old and free ebooks that Amazon.com offers and in other places. I have never used a classic cold frame, i suppose my mini greenhouse could be considered one. I don't have a source for fresh manure to run a hotbed- although Molly does produce an awful lot of waste for a dog that eats once a day....but let's not go there.  My mini greenhouse does make hardening-off so much easier and it keeps the seedlings in the sun- i don't have enough suitable windows for this even if i jettisoned all my houseplants.

So, at any rate, i'll keep re-reading my garden books, probably revise my planting plan a hundred times from now and then get started with the seeds. Pinetree is on a 10 day backlog so i'll be patient.  I have my pepper and eggplant seeds form Johnny's so they may get started by the end of the week.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Second seed order-

I managed to submit my order last night to Pinetree.  I tried to be good about not ordering extras. I was mainly intending to get only Pruden's Purple tomatoes, Golden Zebra summer squash, a large packet of radish mix and Provider bush beans.  But i caved a bit when i remembered i didn't have a short-vining winter squash. I have never grown Butternut squash myself, though it is my favorite squash at the grocery store. I was happy to find a seeds for a compact growing  Butternut simply called "Early Butternut", so i added a packet to my order. I also found another open pollinated broccoli besides the Waltham 29- which i read may have universally degraded. I love broccoli, so i don't mind trying more than a few types so i added Nutri-Bud to my order.
I also ordered 'refills' of my two types of onions i planted last year- Ailsa Craig Exhibition white onions and Southport Red Globe.  I'm pretty sure those were the only extras so even though i did add those i think i still did well!

I also have printed my stash list and highlighted only the seeds i intend to use this year. Its a reasonable handful i think.

Mostly Final List 2011

Bush Bean- Provider
Bush Bean- Jacob's Cattle

Beet- Crosby Egyptian

Broccoli- Rapa, Spring Raab
Broccoli- Nutri-Bud
Broccoli- Purple Sprouting

Brussels Sprouts- Bubbles

Cabbage- Krautman
Cabbage- Mammoth Red Rock

Collards- Vates

Corn- Hopi Blue
Corn- Oaxacan Green

Cucumber- Beit Alpha
Cucumber- Boston Pickling
Cucumber- Spacemaster
Cucumber- Specialty White

Eggplant- Raveena
Eggplant- Slim Jim

Greens- Longevity
Greens- Arugula
Greens- Pak Choi, Red Choi
Greens- Pak Choi, Brisk Green
Greens- Rose Orach

Kale- Chinese Kai Lan Queen
Kale- Red Russian
Kale- Starbor

Kohlrabi- Early Purple Vienna
Kohlrabi- Kossack

Leeks- American Flag

Onion- Ailsa Craig Exhibition
Onion- Southport Red Globe

Radish, mix of Pinetree's mix and last year's French Breakfast, Hailstone and Round Black

Rutabaga- Laurentan

Shallot- Ambition
Shallot- Picador

Summer Squash- Golden Zebra

Tomato- Banana Legs
Tomato-German Orange Strawberry
Tomato- San Marzano Lampadina
Tomato- Sweet Chelsea

Winter Squash- Early Butternut

Herbs- assorted culinary herbs tucked among plants with Companion Planting theory in mind
Flowers- Nasturtiums and marigolds tucked here and there as above

From my experience last year, i think that by the time the Purple Vienna and Pak Chois are ready to harvest, it will be time (soil nice and warm) to plant the eggplant and peppers.  I'm hoping to get a good grasp of succession planting this year. The rows will also run North to South instead of East to West this year.  I think i should put the corn in the Easternmost row and cucumbers 2 rows forward, the cole crops can go between, i'm hoping this will keep them cool when the heat comes in.
I still have a good half row to fill in, likely with kales.

The number of cucumber plants is no mistake, my family loves them and i hope to learn to pickle as well.  I love my green veggies so the makeup of the garden is mostly cool, green crops that will hopefully freeze or can nicely. I also want to try making sauerkraut.  Not sure where the potatoes might go if i decide to plant any. Radishes will be sprinkled here and there as early as i can get them in.

Its sunny and warm outside, i can almost hear the snow melting!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The weather teases...

Its funny how you notice that spring is coming. The almost imperceptible change in the angle of the sun, the scent on the breeze, the way the tree branches begin to look almost plump with barely swelling buds...   The sheltered side of the house, the side that catches the sun and keeps the snow from getting too thick for about 8 inches, stays bare and widens; and tulips and crocus begin to push up through the mulch. The rain and warm air are doing further damage to the snow and the (relatively) warm temperatures are expected to continue through this week.  I'm hoping the rain that is forecast for Wednesday will finish off what is left of the snow and the soft soil and mushy grass will dry out a bit and be ready to putter around on.

Snow receding from the house and green just starting to pop up.

It would be nice to be able to reach the compost heap again too.

My hubby and i checked our balances and i was able to get a large bag of seed starting/potting mix today. I'll also be able to get my small order of green bean and summer squash seeds. Compared to last spring's excitement this year i feel quite sedate. I don't have that March hare feeling of urgency to get everything, do everything, order anything that looks or sounds fascinating.  This year (thanks to the superfluous activity of last year) i am pretty much settled at this point.  Its kind of nice.  Both ways are fun though.

I also have an actual garden to work with this year.  Last year i had a bit of area that needed to be turned into a garden.  I had no idea how it would work and exactly how it would happen.  There were many "ifs". 
If it will be ready in time, if i'll be able to make the hoops work, if the actual size will be close to the dimensions i calculated,  if the loam gets here, if the manure is rotted well enough.
All those were answered for last year as things went in and thrived.  This year, my "ifs" are more like if i can juggle my toddler and garden chores.  I may have to wake up at first light while everyone is asleep (toddler in particular) to get anything done or have my hubby or oldest daughter watch her for me in the evening after school and work. The usual ifs of frost and weather...i'm going to try and get the hoops up to warm the soil for an early planting with luck..the last if has to do with the woodchucks.  Still its so nice to not be worried that i'm on a fool's errand.  For some reason my personality expects failure- good thing about that is if things do work out its a pleasant surprise! Last year's garden was one of those.

So now i'm waiting for a reply from Pinetree about their coupon that came in their catalog. I can't tell if it can be used online (how i usually order from them) or if it has to be used by mail. Its $2,  which cuts the shipping charge in half- and that is a high percentage when its only a $10 order.  So i hope i can use it.   They are on a 10 day backlog according to their site so i need to order ASAP so i get the seeds i want with no substitutions.

I'll be filling flats with soil soon and then putting in seeds.

Meanwhile i'll be re-reading Gardening When it Counts by Steve Solomon- its a very good book.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hoyas and melting snow

My hoya shepherdii looks like it will finally bloom!.... eventually. 

I bought my collection of hoyas in the spring of 2008,  i got 6 of them, an assorted mix from a company called Glasshouse Works.  They sell neat things like this as cuttings so they are quite inexpensive.  Full size potted hoyas can run $30-$50 each, but these plants were an assortment that cost me maybe $30.  All i  had to do was wait....and i do that anyway.

So, i'm excited to get a chance to get the smell of these flowers.  Hoyas each smell different, most are very pungent, some don't smell at all.  The ones that do are pretty spectacular and the scents can resemble various fresh fruits, musky perfumes, all the way to  buttered kettle corn.  Hoya shepherdii  has been described as smelling "fresh" or "clean".....so i hope i get to experience what is meant by that soon.  I'll be able to get pics to share but i'll have to describe the scent in words.

Like i'm ever at a loss for those!

Oh and the snow is melting fast...   i took a picture, but it is foggy out and my camera picked up on the droplets in the air, but i can see how much the snow has gone in the last few days.

i'm going to do the time lapse spectacular in pictures.....well not quite.  Just the big snow, less snow then even less snow but lotsa fog pics:

less snow:

lotsa less snow

foggy night
I even got to the shed and dragged out the seed stuff-

Its 40 degrees out at 11pm.....


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Zee Johnny's Order comes in

I behaved myself!

Not much else to report for today.

I'll be adding these packets to my list soon.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cleaning up drafts list

Today i went through my blog entries and found a few entries i thought i submitted but had remained as drafts.  I decided to post them because they had some info i wanted to remember- like my description about the results of the summer on my gardening.  I had done a roundup of tomatoes and root veggies and wrote up some research i did on the amole soap lily seeds i bought from Bountiful Gardens.  I don't know if some of them might have been rough drafts of other posts, but it doesn't look like it . I don't have much to write about today except that i got the sent confirmation on my order from Johnny's Selected Seeds yesterday.  My Oaxacan Green corn is in it as well as a type of white cucumber.  I intend to plant two types of non-sweet corn this year and i have 4 types of cukes this year.  I have three broccoli types and lots of assorted greens seeds.  In the Johnny's order i found some $1.00 a packet varieties on sale,  you can hardly beat a buck a pack for good Johnny's seed.

  I don't think i went too nuts on the tomatoes, four or 5 types should be plenty for fresh use and canning.

I'm going to try celeriac this year, its a good low carb root veggie that sounds tasty.

I have been messing with the planner for a few minutes at a time and i'm enjoying it.  But now i have things to clean and put away.

Perennial Vegetables *originally written July-8-10

I was buzzing around the Amazon bookstore hoping to find a decent priced copy of This Book (it is unavailable now but it was a book outlining the fallacy of invasive plant species, yes some plants do invade but letting nature work was the focus of the description. Supposedly the earth has gone through many changes in its existence why do we expect it to stay the same now, just because we decide its time to keep it the way it is?  I thought it was an interesting proposition considering my state's ridiculous restrictions on some plant species)
One of the recommendations listed along the page was a book on perennial veggies.  It sounded interesting so i went to the site. Here.  The site gives you a list of edibles that should be perennial in the area you choose from the left column, under the "Resources" heading.

Here is the list for my area:

 Cold Temperate
Cold Temperate: East, Midwest, and Mountain West

This is a large and highly populated region covering much the eastern and central United States, as well as much of the warmer parts of Canada. This region corresponds with USDA Zones 4–7, and Sunset Zones 2–4, 6, 11, and 32–43.

Perennial in all of the Cold Temperate zone:

Allium fistulosum Welsh onion-- have

Allium tricoccum ramps --plan to get

Allium tuberosum garlic chives

Apios americana groundnut

Aralia cordata udo

Asparagus officinalis asparagus --have

Bunias orientalis Turkish rocket

Camassia cusickii Cusick’s camass

Camassia leichtlinnii Leichtlin’s camass

Camassia quamash camass

Camassia scillioides wild hyacinth

Chenopodium bonus-henricus good king Henry

Cicorium intybus chicory

Crambe maritima sea kale  --have been looking for

Dioscorea japonica jinenjo

Dioscorea opposita Chinese yam

Helianthus tuberosa sunchoke  --have

Hemerocallis daylily

Laportaea canadensis wood nettle

Levisticum officinale lovage --have

Malva moschata musk mallow

Matteuccia struthiopteris ostrich fern  --have

Nasturtium officinale watercress

Oenanthe javanica water celery

Oxyria digyna mountain sorrel

Petasites japonicus fuki

Phytolacca americana pokeweed

Polygonatum biflorum canaliculatum giant Solomon’s seal

Rheum rubarbarum rhubarb --have

Rumex acetosa French sorrel

Rumex acetosa ‘Profusion’ sorrel

Rumex acetosella sheep sorrel

Rumex scutatus silver shield sorrel

Sagittaria latifolia arrowhead

Scorzonera hispanica scorzonera

Sium sisarum skirret

Stachys sieboldii Chinese artichoke

Taraxacum officinale dandelion -- who doesn't have this?

Tilia spp. linden

Urtica dioica nettles --have

Some of them i have, some of them sound interesting and some are...uh?  Like Linden. Flowers i understand are good for tea... but the nuts, i have never seen listed as edible.
I don't quite consider tea a vegetable.  Dandelion....  yes i know it is edible. I have eaten it and i would try making wine from the flowers if i dared to allow it to grow that far.  I have seen seeds for a garden type, the leaves are larger, more tender and less bitter, but i think hubby would call me crazy.

Amole- Soap Lily

Another interesting plant i got from Bountiful Gardens- (and they are the only seed source i have yet to find) is the Soap Lily.  At their site they list it as simply "Chorogalum spp".  But a bit of searching based on their somewhat basic description leads me to think that the seeds they sent me are for  C. pomeridianum since that is the type with the hairy bulb.

Ok,  its called a soap lily because the bulbs make a great soap substitute. Its different than the Saponaria flowers- aka Soapwort (though looking those up for comparison, i learned that soapwort s used in making Halva!)
The bulbs are also edible when cooked, raw they can be a soap. Apparently Native Americans used the leaves as fishing aids since they release a substance that stuns fish in the water .

I'm hoping to get some planted for summer 2011, but i'm not sure where they should go, maybe in the flower garden? Maybe they'd make a good container plant?

Using the dehydrator *Originally written late summer 2010*

So far i have dried about 4 pounds of frozen peas, 3 pounds of frozen corn and about 3 pounds of frozen, sliced carrots.  I really get a kick out of how much room it saves.  Each vegetable in quantity fits in a quart jar. The peas filled the jar completely, the corn only filled about half and the carrots shrunk so much they actually went in a pint jar.
I made some yogurt taffy yesterday afternoon. I simply took two containers of Yoplait yogurt and made dollops of it (like cookie dough) in the 2 Paraflexx sheets that the machine came with.  I think it dried for about 6 hours at around 115*.  My kids loved it.  The strawberry flavor seemed to dry faster than the blueberry flavor,  and the strawberry tasted better i am told.
So, now i know what to do with the yogurt that just sits in the fridge waiting to expire.  My kids love yogurt, and sometimes we go without it for quite a while, and then we buy it by the dozen....  at those times it will get eaten 3 cups a day for a few days,  then they tire of it for a bit and the last 5 or 6 containers linger on in the fridge and end up expired.  Other times we will try a different brand with a better price- but the texture on some of those is not too pleasant.  I think making them into a taffy seems like a great solution.

I was going to make jerky this weekend, but i have lots of tomatoes coming...  I have to use some to make fresh salsa, but i think i'll dry much of them that are left over from this.
Watching the Dehydrate2Store videos, i learned that you can dehydrate thin slices of tomato and then powder the slices in a food processor or blender, then use the powder to make a sort of instant tomato soup- herbs and spices added as well.
Speaking of herbs, i have basil, rosemary, peppermint and sage that need drying. So, there's plenty of things to be using the dehydrator for!

The dill and the cilantro i planted a couple weeks ago has come up nicely,  i don't know how fast they will grow.  The spinach seeds don't seem to have been viable,  at the very least i was able to eliminate another packet from my Ridiculously Large Seed Stash.

Tomatoes, tomatillos *Originally written fall of 2010*


Yikes in some ways good and in some ways not so good.
I got great yields.  I expected the most from the Romas, but was pleasantly surprised by the Pruden's Purple.  The Pruden's were juicy, sweet and firm in the right way. The vines behaved and though the ripening was on the late side it was well worth the wait.  It made some lovely- if a little watery- salsa.  I did counter the wateryness by draining it a bit and adding some of the dehydrated sweet corn i made and then let the salsa wait over night in the fridge. The dehydrated sweet corn reconstituted itself by drawing in much of the excess tomato juice and it added another sweet flavor to the recipe.

The two Roma plants produced enough to get almost a dozen pint jars in the pressure canner.

I didn't get the time or anything to get anything else canned, but i might experiment with some meats this winter...  another subject for later :0)

The 'yikes, not so good' was the absolutely insane growth of the yellow pear tomato plants.  Next year one will be more than enough. I had forgotten that cherry types are more like wild and crazy vining plants than anything else- though it produced lovely tasting yellow, pear-shaped fruit in avalanche-like abundance, it took over the space so much, i couldn't harvest half of its fruit or the fruit of the two types closest to it. So it really caused problems in the end.

The Siberia tomato was nothing special for me this year. I kept thinking it was Black From Tula and i mentioned that i was growing them a couple times here and there (even at Seed Saver's Exchange) but it turns out that those seeds didn't germinate and i just kept getting it mixed up in my mind.  Anyway, they didn't do well for me. They grew to the size and shape of an over sized salad tomato, they weren't particularly sweet and were rather acid, toughish skin and tended to go bad on the vine quickly...produced slow and the plant just barely got anywhere.  I think the seeds were too old and had suffered in a way that the plants that grew from them were lacking severely.

The Empire Hybrid were nice. It continued to produce and most of the green tomatoes i just picked were from the Empire.  Its not a bad tomato, not superb though. Sort of like grocery store fruit- only with a real garden fresh flavor instead.  If i have more seeds hanging around i'll plant some for next year, but if i don't wi won't order them in particular.  I have plenty of new tomato seeds for next year right now.

Polfast.  It just wasn't spectacular i guess.  I barely remember it doing much. I think it was supposed to be ready earlier than some other types, but i don't think it was anywhere near the first to ripen for me. I'll have to check back to be sure.  I guess it was kinda unremarkable in the end.

Tomatillos...  I had gotten the purple type and the seeds to my amazement, germinated after being stored for about 10 years. The plants did well, took their time to flower, then suddenly started taking off as if overnoght.  Right now the plants are still covered with numerous lantern-like fruit.  I have gotten a lot of what i think are ripe ones, at least one mixing bowl full.  I tasted one and it must not have been ready even though it was purple all over and the husk had split.  It was pretty astringent.  Maybe it was overripe?
I have grown these tomatillos before (the year i bought the seeds in the first place), but they produced so late all those years ago i never got to try them at all.  The green ones at the grocery aren't astringent and flavorless like this,  so i guess i'll have to look into what is up with these purples.

The other root veggies, 2010 *originally written fall of 2010*

Things like Burdock, parsnips, salsify, sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes....

Well, for the most part its too early for most of these.  I did dig up the sweet potatoes out of curiosity, but we haven't tried eating any of them. They are kind of 'fingerling' size if you can call it that.

I pulled op a Jeruslaem artichoke stalk the other day and there were a couple medium sized roots attached,  it looked like Stampede.  The flowers on these plants are really quite nice. It was rumored that they may have a chocolatey scent, but i can't detect that at all when i tried. They are quite striking though, on stalks almost 10' high at the back of the garden.
I did taste the roots, they were crisp, somewhat like a water chestnut- as they are often compared to,  with the same earthy flavor of a raw potato.  I only ate the one root that was about radish sized.... actually i think the texture is more like a radish than a water chestnut now that i think of it. Maybe as the inulin changes over they get the water chestnut texture more.  But it had a crisp and bright flavor, and the skin was not thick at all, i wiped off and ate it whole within seconds of being pulled.

I yanked a salsify the other day, just to see what was up and i think there may be a problem. It had multiple thin roots instead of a single, thick taproot.  This might be because they were transplanted as seedlings. They may not be right for that method.  I didn't try eating it because the pencil-thick roots looked more stringy than tender.  I have read that they can be edible in the second year or allowed to go to seed....  i might let them go to seed and collect it and try again in 2012. The seed source for these has dried up and i don't know that i would consider these roots a priority for planting since they aren't expected to produce much.  The plants didn't get very big at any rate,  they weren't as interesting to look at as i had hoped.  There  isn't a whole lot of information out there for these plants, so troubleshooting best growing conditions might be harder to find. I might try again.

The Burdock i did pull one, but it wasn't big yet either.  I'll wait a bit longer before i check again.  Of course i did test-pull the smallest leafed plant in the group.

The leaves on the parsnip roots are filling out again. They had been nibbled by the last woodchuck and i guess parsnips don't like growing fast in warmer weather because they have grown more noticeably since it got cooler.  I won't even try a test-pull until well after first frost.

Monday, March 7, 2011

All done...!

With the list.  I realized that i don't have any summer squash seeds. Oh the horror.  I'll have to watch for them at the seed racks.

Before and after shots of the snow:

Before the rain, Friday i think.

Today, a few minutes ago, after about 2.5 inches of rain

Soon i'll be able to drag the mini greenhouses out and begin seed flats for the cool weather crops.

Maybe, just maybe....

During today's toddler nap i will get to the rest of The List then get a bit more done on the garden planner. I decided also that another priority besides seed saving will be to redo those neglected flower beds. The ones i was determined to do last summer and fall.  With the cost of groceries expected to raise drastically over here, it may save us some funds in the long run to not waste prime growing space on just ornamental plants. There are plenty of veggies and berry plants that can be ornamental. Some with bright and unusually shaped foliage.  I think Seakale is a unique plant. Burgundy okra is a striking red and has some lovely flowers. There are types of leaf amaranth that are showy and of course Bright Lights chard is pretty enough to look at though i have decided that the muddy scent of it is too much for me in large amounts.

Maybe things in the world will calm down, maybe it won't. Hopefully my attempt to think of these things early to avoid panic will make me look silly. I'd rather look silly than be caught unawares.  The idea that food and gas prices will rise dramatically has been bandied about many times before- we have seen a rise though not too drastic in some ways. I think that these warnings that don't come to pass as much as feared are only lulling us into a false sense of security.  At the bottom of it, i don't see any reason why becoming more self-sufficient isn't a good thing on its face.  It is practical and not a sign of abject fear or an excess of caution.

The book i am reading, The Joy of Gardening, was written during the energy crisis of the 1970's and leans heavily on the concept of self-sufficiency and responsible use of resources. I'm kind of thinking that mindset should return to us in this country. Of course i can only speak for myself.

I have more than enough seeds of fruit and berry plants to fill those side gardens if i get a good germination.  I'm hoping to have an abundance of  "leftover" plants that i can share out to interested friends and family.
The fun part is that i get to spend more time playing with my garden planner program.

I was reading something, maybe an article or a blog i follow about how people go about planning their gardens. It bemoaned the notion that people over think their plans, use complicated programs and spend hours tweaking their lists and figures.  I sort of laughed at this because it is one of my favorite things to do.  I love to pour over seed catalogs, read gardening books over and over, try to implement new techniques, plot and plan spacing, configuring location, rotating, doublecropping.  Oh and don't forget- i love to ramble about my plans, thoughts, ideas and experiences as i go.
Right now, since i made so many entries last summer, i have plenty of reading materials to remind me of what went on last year so mistakes can be avoided (planting birdhouse gourds in a tiny garden, is one- lol).  I also get to look at the pictures of things growing and greening up.  Its nice to look at them and daydream of warmer temperatures, the flavor of sweet tomatoes and fresh kale and the texture & snap of fresh green beans. Its just plain nice. I get to learn something new every year.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ridiculously Large Seed list for 2011

I'm working on it right now. Its looking better already. (see the left column)
 The drawer is looking neater too:

I realized i still had remaining seeds of things i thought i was out of.  This means i will be less likely to make another order. I only have half a packet of Provider bush bean left, so i'll look out for more of them on the seed racks at the usual stores.  I also noticed that i have things that i forgot i had- i was glad to see i had plenty of cabbage for this year. I have hardly any carrots left, but i might not plant them anyway.  I'll see how much room i have with the garden planner program.

I'm starting to get spring fever, i'll start reading Dick Raymond's   Joy of Gardening this evening most likely.  I've been paging through his  Down To Earth for the last couple days.

I'm hoping to be able to do what i did last year- planting the entire garden from seeds myself, its cheaper than buying from a greenhouse- even a good local one. There's more satisfaction in it as well.  Someday i'll maybe manage to plant the whole thing with my own saved seed.  I tried to find some non-hybrid varieties when i shopped last year- i do have a few good ones.  Instead of kinda playing around like i let myself last year, i'll concentrate on saving and storing seed.  It should be fun.  I own a copy of From Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth  so i'll have good information to start.

I wonder how thick the Jerusalem Artichokes will come in this year.  I harvested a few small baskets of them in the fall and they were delicious roasted with butter and herbes de provence .

Still getting lots of rain this evening. There are flood watches in most areas,  so far no major puddles here but the snow has really gone down in the above 40 degree weather.  Tomorrow i'll get pictures of the remaining snow to compare the ones i took the other day- its already quite a bit melted.

Meanwhile, here's a picture of Caper enjoying a heating pad while he watches TV.

And i'll copy my seed stash list here because i'll be needing to remove it from the sidebar for 2012 so this post can keep the record of it.  Its about 85% complete:

Ridiculously Large Seed list for 2011

  • Annual Flower- Stocks- Excelsior Mix- 2010- Pinetree
  • Annual- Amaranthus Caudatus- Love Lies Bleeding- 2008- Pinetree
  • Annual- Burgundy Frillytunia- 2008- Pinetree
  • Annual- Convolvulus- Blue Enchantment-2010- Burpee
  • Annual- Convolvulus- Ensign Red-2010- Burpee
  • Annual- Cosmos- Bright Lights mix- 2010- Bentley Seeds
  • Annual- Four O' Clocks- Kelidoscope Mix- 2010- Burpee
  • Annual- Marigold- Dwarf double mixed colors- 2006- American Seed (5 packets)
  • Annual- Morning Glory- Clarke's Heavenly Blue-2010- American Seed (4 packs)
  • Annual- Morning Glory- Pink Star-2010- Burpee
  • Annual- Morning Glory- Sunrise serinade- 2010- Burpee
  • Annual- Nasturtium- Burpee's Tall Mix- 2010- Burpee
  • Annual- Nicotiant, Only The Lonely- 2008- Pinetree
  • Annual- Scabiosa, House Hybrids- 2010- Hardyplants.com
  • Annual- Schizanthus- Angel Wings- 2000-Pinetree
  • Bean- Provider- 2008- Pinetree
  • Beans- Jacob's Cattle- 2008- Pinetree
  • Beans- Kentucky Wonder Pole- 2005- Ferry Morse
  • Beet- Crosby Egyptian-2010- Pinetree
  • Broccoli rapa- Spring Raab- 2010- harts
  • Broccoli- Gypsy- 2010-Pinetree
  • Broccoli- Purple Sprouting- 2010- Pinetree
  • Broccoli- Waltham- 2010- Pinetree
  • Brussels Sprouts- Bubbles- 2008- Pinetree
  • Bush- American Blackcurrant-2010- Bountiful Gardens
  • Bush- American Elderberry-2010- Bountiful Gardens
  • Bush- American Elderberry-2010- eBay Seller
  • Bush- Bush Cherry- 2010- Bountiful Gardens
  • Bush- Chinese Wolfberry (Goji)- 2010- Richters
  • Bush- Gooseberry, Pixwell- 2010- self prepared
  • Bush- Nanking Cherry- 2010- self prepared
  • Bush- Seabuckthorn- 2010- Richters
  • Cabbage- Early Golden Acre- 2002- American Seed
  • Cabbage- Krautman- 2010- Pinetree
  • Cabbage- Mamoth Red Rock- 2010- Pinetree
  • Cabbage- Point One- 2010- Pinetree
  • Carrot- Cosmic Purple- 2010- Pinetree (very few)
  • Collards- Vates- 2010- Pinetree
  • Corn- Hopi Blue Dent- 2010- Pinetree (2 packs)
  • Cucumber- Beit Alpha- 2010- Pinetree
  • Cucumber- Boston Pickling- 2010-Pinetree
  • Cucumber- Spacemaster- 2010- Pinetree
  • Eggplant- Ornamental Chinese mini Pumpkin- 2010- Amishland
  • Eggplant- Slim Jim- 2008- Pinetree
  • Gourd- Birdhouse gourd- 2010- Ferry Morse
  • Greens- Aurgula- 2010- Harts
  • Greens- lettuce- Buttercrunch- 2008- Liberty Gardens
  • Greens- Midnight Red Amaranth-2008- Pinetree
  • Greens- Red Shiso- 2010- Pinetree
  • Greens- Rose Orach- 2008- Pinetree
  • Greens- Saltwort- 2010- Pinetree
  • Herb- ANise- 2009- Richters
  • Herb- Chives-2010- Park
  • Herb- Curled Chervil-2010- Richters
  • Herb- French Thyme-2009- Richters
  • Herb- Garden Sage- 2009- Richters
  • Herb- Genovese Basil- 2009- Richters
  • Herb- Greek Oregano-2009- Richters
  • Herb- Monarda Didyma, Panorama Red Shades, 2010- Hardyplants.com
  • Herb- Oregano, Italian- 2010- Park
  • Herb- Parsley, Italian flatleaf- 2010- Richters
  • Herb- Roseroot-2010- Richters
  • Herb- Rue-2010- Pinetree
  • Herb- Sweet Marjoram- 2009- Richters
  • Herb- Welsh Onions- 2010- Pinetree
  • Herb- Winter Savory- 2009- Richters
  • Houseplant- Hypoestes- Polkadot Plant-2000- Pinetree
  • Kale- Chinese Kai Lan Queen- 2010- Pinetree
  • Kale- Flowering- Fringed Formula- 2010- Pinetree
  • Kale- Flowering- Peacock Red- 2010 - Pinetree
  • Kale- Red Russian-2010- Pinetree
  • Kale- Starbor- 2010 - Pinetree
  • Kohlrabi- Early Purple Vienna- 2010- Pinetree
  • Kohlrabi- Kossack- 2010- Pinetree
  • Leeks- Large American Flag- 2010- Pinetree
  • Okra- Cajun Delight- 2002- Johnny's
  • Okra- Cajun Delight- 2008- Pinetree
  • Okra- Clemson Spineless- 2002- Ferry Morse
  • Okra- Clemson Spineless- 2003- Ferry Morse
  • Okra- Red Burgundy- 2010- Pinetree
  • Onion- Ailsa Craig Exhibition- 2010- Pinetree
  • Onion- Southport Red Globe- 2010- Pinetree
  • Ornamental- Job's Tears- 2010- Amishland
  • Ornamental- Pod Corn- 2010- Pinetree
  • Ornamental- Teasel- 2010-Pinetree
  • Pepper- Ornamental- Habanero- 2001- Johnny's
  • Pepper- Zsa Zsa- 2010- Pinetree
  • Pepper-Hot Jalapeno CChile- Early Jalapeno- 2001- Johnny's
  • Peppers- Ancho 101 hot- 2000- Totally Tomatoes
  • Peppers- Fooled You jalapeno- 2008- Pinetree
  • Perennial- Amole, Soap Plant- 2010- Bountiful Gardens
  • Perennial- Leonotis Leonurus, 2010- Hardyplants.com
  • Perennial- Pleurisy Root (orange milkweed)- 2010- Richters
  • Perennial- Rudbeckia Hirta- Autumn Colors- 2010- Hardyplants.com
  • Perennial- Shasta Daisy- Alaska- 2008- Liberty Garden
  • Perennial- Siberian Motherwort- 2010- Richters
  • Perennial- Yellow Echinacea, paradoxa- 2010- Richters
  • Perennial-Nettle, stinging- 2010- Richters
  • Radish- French Breakfast- 2010- Pinetree
  • Radish- Hailstone-2010- Pinetree
  • Radish- Round Black- 2010- Pinetree
  • Rutabaga- Laurentian- 2010- Pinetree
  • Salsify- Sandwich Island Mammoth-2010- Pinetree
  • SeaKale- Lily White- 2010- Bountiful Gardens
  • Shallot- Mirage-2010- Pinetree
  • Sorghum- White Popping- 2009- Pinetree
  • Soybean- Beer Friend- 2009- Pinetree
  • Swiss Chard- Bright Lights- 2010- Pinetree
  • Tomatillo- Purple- 2002- Johnnys
  • Tomato- Banana Legs- 2010- Pinetree
  • Tomato- Elberta Girl- 2000- Totally Tomatoes
  • Tomato- German Orange Strawberry- 2010- Pinetree*
  • Tomato- Heirloom Tall Vine Cherokee Purple- 2002- Johnny's (only ONE seed left)
  • Tomato- San Marzanl Lampadina- 2010- Pinetree *
  • Tomato- Sweet Chelsea- 2010-Pinetree *
  • Tomato-Siberia- 2000- Totally Tomatoes
  • Tree- Hawthorn- 2010- Bountiful Gardens
  • Tree- Mulberry- 2010- Richters
  • Tree- Serviceberry-2010- Bountiful Gardens
  • Veggie- Pak Choi- Brisk Green- 2010- Pinetree
  • Vines- Schizandra- Chinese matrimony or magnolia vine- 2010- Bountiful Gardens
  • Watermelon- Pony Yellow- 2010- Pinetree
  • Watermelon- Tom Watson- 2010- Pinetree
  • Winter Squash- Long Island Cheese- 2010- Pinetree
  • Winter Squash- Red Eye- 2008- Pinetree

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring rains....

Now they aren't spring rains because they happen in spring, but because they usually mean spring will somehow come again this year.  With about 3-4 feet of snowfall and drift still hanging around in the yard it is hard to imagine that all that stuff will melt and the ground will be visible again- warm even!  The forecast for this weekend is rain, heavy at times.  Forty degrees.  This will get things melting right quick and lead to backup and large puddles. I'm glad the town finally did something about the huge puddle that accumulated in the road at the front of the house- a puddle so large we facetiously called it a lake and named it after our eldest daughter.

I wonder how my grapes and blueberries are doing.  They have had plenty of insulation under the deep snow- much better than cold and dry weather, the snow is a good thing.  We did get some very cold weather this winter,  but not as cold as it can and has gotten before.  As long as i gave them enough time to get established last summer and fall, they should be fine because i am pretty hopeful and sure i did it right.

I think this was our first big snow of this winter

 Now it looks like this. 

I went ahead and paid for a subscription to GrowVeg.com, it was very useful for me last year.  I have begun to map out my garden with it, just the planting zones and pathways so far. I still have to decide  which things to plant this year.  I only made one seed order this year, it may be the only one- i won't say i went overboard last year but i sure did gather enough seed packets to last me a number of years if i stored well.  The drawer they are in stays cool through all seasons. I'd rather get a minifridge to store them in, but i simply never got to it. 

I also never got to do the gourmet mushroom garden i hoped to keep indoors this winter. Simply not enough time and though money isn't exactly tight, we had the extra costs of higher oil bills, repairs to my truck, medical bills and some maintenance on the house.  We are at a point where we could easily be in trouble if we choose to ignore self-imposed and necessary restrictions.

Anyway- having gotten my bunch of seeds form past seasons and this under $25 order (and with free shipping) to Johnny's Selected Seeds, i am quite fine for a while.  I have not spent as much time delving and pouring over seed catalogs-- so the temptation to buy has been kept under control.  I have planted enough fruit and berry plants to satisfy me for now- unless i trade for more- and i have seeds for the rest.

This is what i ordered:

307.11 Oaxacan Green-Packet
Vegetables > Corn > Ornamental & Dry Field
1 $2.95

1201.11 Trailing Nasturtium Mix-Packet
Flower Seeds > Vining flowers
1 $2.95

201G.11 Nira (OG)-Packet
Herbs > Chinese Leeks/Garlic Chives
1 $2.95

2736.10 Red Choi (F1)-Mini
Vegetables > Micro Mix
1 $2.95 $1.00 $1.95

2724TE.10 Longevity (F1) (Treated)-Mini
Vegetables > Greens > Asian > Leaf Type
1 $1.00

2148T.10 Ambition (Treated)-Mini
Vegetables > Shallots > Seed Grown
1 $1.25

317.10 Raveena (F1) Eggplant-Mini
Vegetables > Eggplant > Green
1 $2.95 $1.95 $1.00

2940.10 Miniature White-Mini
Vegetables > Cucumbers > Specialty
1 $2.95 $1.95 $1.00

2702T.10 Picador (Treated)-Mini
Vegetables > Shallots > Seed Grown
1 $1.25

2751.10 Snapper (F1)-Mini
Vegetables > Peppers > Sweet Bell > Green-to-Red Bells > Hybrid
1 $3.95

Order Notes:
Regular Shipping:

So far i have not gotten to the wintersowing-  i have not had the spare dollars or the time to get the potting mix i need, but could use the fridge again i guess. lol 

Seed drawer still remains largely unsorted but i'll prioritize it soon.  Usually i can get things done while the youngest naps, but lately i have been so totally exhausted that i have been napping too- something i never, ever have been able to do whether i needed it or not.  I tried adding another cup of coffee to my morning routine but it didn't make a noticeable difference.  I did get very sick last week, so i thought it might be because of that- maybe i was fighting it off and now the sleep is part of the recovery effort.  Either way, i'll be glad to see the backside of it so i can return to normal.

I haven't begun reading many garden books this year- yet. I'm sort of waiting until spring fever becomes acute. This year i am armed with my late grandfather's entire arsenal of garden books- which i cherish, so i should be all set when the time comes.

I may or may not have said it before, but where last year was a fun year to play and just try a few new things, this year is hopefully going to be more about production.  Now that i have a better idea of how much space certain plants take up in my compact garden.  For example, the indeterminate yellow pear tomatoes...  in my parents' garden such things look so small. Their garden was at least 8 times the size of mine, so the sprawl of indeterminate tomatoes was easily contained.  In my garden this does not work even if i did have a good support structure.  There was hardly any room to move by August and though i love the smell of tomato branches, shoving through them jungle style was too much. I should have had a pith helmet.

Yellow Pear will go one at a time instead of side-by-side in the row. I'll have to check if San Marzanos are as crazy indeterminate as the yellow pears. If so they will be placed one plant in a single file row.  Field corn will get its own row at the back this year.  The raised bed rows are also going in the other direction this year. This should maximize sunlight (with the corn at the back) and take advantage of the slope to absorb the rain as it runs down it.

I'm also letting the melons go by the wayside.  They take up too much space and simply don't grow well enough to make it worth it.  Last year it was fun to play with, but this year i'm not going to bother. Sweet corn is another thing i will forgo.  We actually live within 10 miles of a small family run farm that grows corn, they supply most of the area grocery stores and due to proximity and volume the prices are very good. So good that its not much worth growing a few small ears for my own.  I am going to let myself play by trying out some heirloom grain corns. I have Hopi Blue Dent and Oaxacan Green, both make a great corn meal from what i understand and do well growing in most places.  Since they are a grain corn, i don't have to worry much about picking them at just the right stage like with sweet corn.  Basically they get planted and that's it until fall.  If grain prices go up at least we'll have cornbread.  Good stone ground corn flour isn't cheap up here.  My older daughter also has braces now, so corn on the cob will be a tease.

I'm planting more paste tomatoes this year because they can be stewed or sauced as well as be used in sandwiches and salads. I will plant Pruden's Purple, it made an incredible salsa.

  I will plant, use and dry more herbs this year.  The onions will be planted closer and more will go in as well as shallots.  Cucumbers.  Those will be given much more room.

Green beans will be a priority, kale varieties will replace things like burdock and salsify- which i never got to do anything with last year.

I'll really try to get ahead of the cabbageworms, slugs & snails with BT and DE.  I will have to use Sevin Dust on the striped cucumber beetles, nothing else worked last year except the row covers- but this year i may end up with emerging adults right from the soil under the row cover.
I hope to plant earlier this year without worry- using the row covers to heat the soil faster and earlier this spring- that is if i can get the soil tilled and the rows prepped that soon.

I also need to get sweet peppers and eggplant seeds started soon and kept under bright light and warm air. Last year was a poor start and a sad season- the Slim Jim eggplant never even had a chance to flower (IIRR) and the Zsa Zsa sweet peppers took so long to sprout i don't recall seeing a fruit on them at all.
I saved some Job's Tears seed from last year, not enough for many bead projects so i might plant most of them in the flower gardens- they are nice looking plants just as they are.

Summer squash and zucchini  will be grown and eaten small or sliced, blanched and vac-packed for the freezer- similarly with green beans. 

If my artichoke roots survived cold, dark storage in the bulkhead, they will find a spot for themselves in the garden- the strawberries i stored with them will too.

I might even grow potatoes.  I had some sprouters in the pantry, they are enjoying being exposed to sunlight now.

That's the plan now at any rate, i'm sure i'll come up with more as winter comes to a close.

Well,  here's to the chance of not being snowbound by Monday!