Monday, January 24, 2011


Its normally chilly up here, but it was particularly cold overnight and this morning.  My backyard weather station showed -11*F this morning around 7am.  Not the coldest weather i remember from my childhood, but getting close.  This weather shouldn't last long.

I haven't gotten much done gardenwise. I have flipped through some catalogs, but haven't made mucvh more than a mental list.  Last year's garden was about experimentation. This year it needs to be about production.  Now i don't expect to win the combat against inflation with my garden alone, but i'm sure it will help if i try.  So its not likely that i will plant oddities so much this year. Pretty much waht didn't produce last year isn't going to be bothered with this year.

The salsify and burdock were interesting to grow, but didn't pan out to be much, so they are just not going to become part of my plans this year.  I have the perennial edible landscape seeds that will need to be gotten started.  They may be the main focus for fun and experiment this year.

  I have my Autumn Olive seedling that is doing quite well and i should be able to plant it out this spring.

An interesting development over the summer that i have noticed is that apparently Elderberries are now legal (with some restrictions) in my state.  I guess they were wrongfully accused of being carriers of White Pine Blister Rust which according to the lumber industry of the 1970's (if i remember right) was threatening all the pine forests on the planet.  I think i read that Elderberries are incapable of having much to do with WPBR, and so i guess they aren't trying to eradicate the plants anymore.  Pinetree Garden Seeds has some plants for sale in this year's catalog, i may go for it. There also has been developed in the last few years, currant and possibly gooseberry strains that are also resistant to WPBR.  Those plants have also been much maligned over the disease.  In seed catalogs i see that some companies are allowed to sell the plants if you submit a little information about your location and distance from your planting space to the nearest white pine tree.  A little snoopy of the regulations, but better than no plants at all.  I'll think about it. I wish someone would come up with a plant disease that would wipe out Box Elders.

I've been watching a new company called White Harvest, they sell Heirloom seeds and source some of the seeds they sell from home gardeners. I think that's pretty cool.  They have a handful of things i'd like to get- they have a bunch of classic heirlooms- like Moon and Stars melon and good storage cabbages, they have the radishes i like the most and some seeds for those beautiful golden beets.  I may not do much for ordering this year since i have plenty of seeds from last year's fun (which i still haven't gotten around to sorting like i planned at my last blog entry) but between Pinetree and White Harvest, i'm thinking i won't have any trouble making a nice list for this spring.

I'm also trying to find a place to get Saffron Crocus corms.  I used to see them in the Shepherds catalog, but i guess they are White Flower Farm now and in any case they are out of stock currently.  I have wanted to grow those for years and just never did. They are the reverse of other crocus,  blooming in the fall and are hardy to zone 6 by most accounts (5 by some) and if i have the promise of my own saffron to cook with, i think i can handle lifting the corms to take in over the winter.  I'll stay on the lookout.

My Meyer lemon has two fruits on it. One is getting quite large.  The plant is too big for its pot already- it really took off.  I will need to repot it as soon as i get some bagged soil.   The soil is the reason i have not started Wintersowing yet.   I simply haven't gotten out to get a big bag.  Everything else is at the ready.

I may try growing some potatoes this year.  I'm in one of the best states for it. My oldest daughter loves potatoes and is fascinated with the blue and purple types.  I learned how to grow virus-free starts from grocery store taters, so i may go ahead and try it.   You basically plant the potato indoors, let it sprout then root the sprouts. As long as the leaves don't get to touch the soil, the plant will not contract the viruses.  Not sure how accurate that is, but i got that from a site that should know what they are doing.  It might be worth a shot.

I'm going to want to start plotting the garden soon.  I go through so many revisions every spring, i guess it won't hurt to start soon.  I'm going to be running the rows in the other direction this year. They will go the longer direction instead of the shorter way.  I liked using the GroVeg program last year, its $20 each year to buy it, they gave me the free trial last year and i liked it quite a bit so i may go for it this year.

I'm considering getting the pipe bender that is sold at Johnny's Selected Seeds....expensive, but if i go with metal conduit i may have a sturdier structure for the hoophouses and they might stand up to wonter with the addition of greenhouse plastic.  I visited their blog and asked a few questions and i got the part numbers of what i need.  I'll think about it for the next couple months.

I heard back from Henry Field's about my key lime tree that croaked. They will be sending me a fresh one this spring.  It was nice to get a quick and simple email to let me know when to expect it.

I never got to the flower beds on the front and sides of the house. I was just feeling too low to manage it, i bought most of the stuff i will need for it this year, so i'm that much ahead of the plan as of now.  I'm thinking i may go with a basic hedge look. I like annuals and perennial flowers, but can't keep up with them.  I think i could fill them up with the edible landscape plants i hope to get from wintersowing.  I think a simple layout, kept neat with landscape fabric and wood chip mulch would work best. Most  of my seeds are for shrubs or small trees that can be kept at a manageable size for the front of a house.

I think for the most part, i have everything i need to start this year. I don't have to buy any mini greenhouses since i have two now. Unless i decide to upgrade the PVC hoops to metal, i don't have to buy anything for them.  I have plenty of row cover- i saved last year's and still had half left on the roll. I'll only want (not need) a few types of seed, i have all the planting trays saved from last year.  I have my sprayers and my preventative mixtures, all the garden tools- hoes, rakes....  i'm not sure if i'll need another load of manure, the parts of that that were not quite ready are pretty nicely broken down now. We have been saving scraps for the compost all year and have quite a nice pile- though its frozen right now we are still saving it in buckets that go outside and can freeze, to be deposited when the weather thaws.  All the books i bought are still relevant and i now have my grandfather's entire collection to read through.

I can't wait to see if my blueberries and grapes made it through the cold.  We have about 2 feet of snow in the yard right about now, more should be on the way. Good thing about the snow is that it is nice and insulating for the ground in this below zero cold.  I expect things to be quite fine.

I love winter but as usual, i can't wait for spring!