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, 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!