Monday, May 20, 2013

Garden prep

So,  we got the final tilling last weekend and through the end of last week and this weekend i started digging the rows.  Every year i dread this part.  Its almost as troublesome as weeding.  I always say i won't bother next year and instead of hilling up the planting beds i'll just let my feet trample down the walking rows.  Unfortunately its so much better for the plants,  but its so hard on my back.  This year seemed even harder.

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I ended up making more rows than usual...  9 this year.  I didn't feel like going through the hassle of string marking everything so i tried something new.

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I have a 3-wheeled cart for my youngest daughter.  Its the type that can be hitched to a bike.   I decided to use it to mark my lines.  The wheelbase is a little narrower than i prefer,  but it sure did save time.  I just walked it across, then dug between the tracks.

Now that i have reconfigured the rows entirely,  my original garden plan is kind of moot.  I'll be winging it again. lol

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I'm glad i got it done though.  It rained last night and that would have made the soil extra heavy to dig,  so it had to be finished yesterday.

I laid some of the black plastic down.  I was hoping to do almost every row,  but i may have only enough plastic for 4 full rows and maybe half of another.
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Its an experiment anyway.

Those Adirondack blue potatoes are quite striking. This is their actual color:
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Unfortunately many of them have some rotten spots.  I'm not sure if this is annoying or really bad.  I hope the pieces grow instead of continuing to rot.

The apple tree bloomed this weekend:
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And something is digging up our grass:
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Hubby thinks maybe a skunk digging for grubs....  but there are puncture marks all over too...  it makes me wonder if its a bird?
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Whatever it is, i hope it stops!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stanley Prune Plum in Flower

He bloomed for me on Mother's Day :o)

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We got some much needed rain over the last few days and warm temps,  its been nice.  Today (Monday) is feeling cold by comparison.  Its about 50 degrees out,  we've been spoiled by high 60's and mid 70's.

(Tuesday)  Last night we did have frost warnings.  I worried a bit about the prune plum blossoms,  but there was not much i could do about it,  so i just brought my seedlings in and went to bed.  Looks like we escaped the frost because the blooms all look fine.

The apple tree is about to bloom,  so i went for one more spraying with Bonide.   Its not easy since i had to use the hand pump sprayer,  not as efficient as the hose end sprayer.  Hopefully i gave it a good enough soaking.  I hit the grapes too.

Looks like i got close to 100% germination on my squash, melon and cuke seeds:

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And it looks like i'll get blooms from the Autumn Olive this year too:
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My dad came and tilled the garden once more:

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Hopefully this week,  i'll get the rows dug out and the black plastic mulch laid out so i can plant next week!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lessons in seed starting soil.

Because of generally decent price and constant availability,  i normally use Miracle Grow Seed starting mix.  After i used up most of the Miracle Grow i bought a bag of Pro Mix potting soil and continued seeding.  The Pro Mix seedlings look very different than the MG seedlings.

This is two seedlings of Ancient Sweet peppers growing in Pro Mix
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And these are Snapper sweet peppers and Raveena eggplant growing in MG

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Also,  my tomato seedlings have also  had a purple tinge to the underside of their leaves when grown in MG, though MG SS mix claims to have extra nitrogen in it.  I can't seem to get that color to show up well in pictures.

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Now the eggplant and peppers in the peat pots...   it could have something to do with that and the fact that the Ancients are in a paper tray,  but its pretty drastic for that to make such a difference.

So,  even though the Pro Mix was not labeled for seed starting ( i forget the exact product,  but i'll remember the packaging for next year)  i'll be using it next year instead of the MG.  I sterilize it anyway when i wet the soil in a bucket.

No more Miracle Grow.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A walk around the yard

Starting with the Stanley prune plum.  I'm really hoping it blooms this year.  I think there might be a chance,  but i don't see any signs yet. Not too sure what to look for,  i think they bloom later than apples and may not show buds until a while later.
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Autumn olive.  I grew it from seed about 3 years ago now.  Its supposed to be self-fertile and is a lot like Goumi.
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Carmine Jewel cherry.  Year 2.  After paying so much for these tiny plants last year,  i am so happy to see this one doing so well.

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Goldbeere elderberry.  This one has golden yellow berries.  It tried to bloom last year,  but it was too soon after planting.
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Nova elderberry...  lots of berries last year,  i didn't get to pick them all.  It needs some pruning.
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York elderberry.  Smaller berries than Nova,  but just as prolific.
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One of the grapes waking up. Not sure which because the vines are all mixed up.
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Apple tree greening up nicely.  I'll need to spray it again this weekend.
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Strawberry pot. I'm unsure if i'll get strawberries this year or if it takes a full year,  this is my first serious try.
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Blueberry and lingonberry bed
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The other Carmine Jewel cherry, looking good.
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Beach plum,  the smaller of the two last year, but growing.
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The beach plum that got broken from the snow.  It should recover i hope.
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Female "Titan" sea buckthorn.
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The male without a special name...  i was a little annoyed when i got this one.  The company went out of stock so he came about a month late last year. I had paid for a gallon pot and the female was definitely a full gallon plant.  When the male arrived,  i suspected it was a 6" potted plant put into a one gallon pot, then shipped. I don't expect them to bloom for the first time in the same year.
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Phoenix Tears gojiberry:
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The other Goji.  They both have flower buds but they start out tiny.
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This is the blueberry that had a rough winter:
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This is the one that looks the best:
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Warm and dry.

I hate to complain though,  its actually too dry.  We have had no rain for over a month if i remember correctly. Its been windy also...  not breezy...windy.  Anyway,  its so dry that authorities have asked people to not even use gas grills for outdoor cooking.  Unfortunately,  this weather just screams out for grilled food...  luckily we don't have  a water shortage,  its just the old grass and dry brush in the woods that have them worried. Once things leaf out  and green up, it won't be so risky.  We have a 50% chance of rain for Thursday and a 10% for Friday.  I hope we get some.  Luckily the majority of my plants are drought tolerant.

As far as the plants go,  things are looking great.  They are pushing out leaves and sizing up.  The goji already have tiny flower buds about the size of this o.
The rough looking blueberry at least looks like it will recover.  The others are getting ready to bloom.  I think i'll cover them with something this winter.

The Sparkle strawberries came in on Saturday and were planted in the big terracotta looking pot.  I ordered 10 but got 11,  so that was nice.

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The Ancient sweet peppers on the right look so good compared to the ones i sowed weeks before.  Basil and borage on the left:
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Older peppers, eggplant and parsley:

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Tea hibiscus and green shiso.  the red never came up.
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Small asparagus harvest
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Still having to bring the seedlings in at night.
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Its supposed to stay in the 40's tonight so maybe i won't have to take them in.  Supposed to be in the 70's today,  yay!

I got the cukes, squash and melons planted on Sunday
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Friday, May 3, 2013

Freshly tilled garden

Yesterday,  my dad came and rototilled the garden.  Is there anything better at this time of year than to see the fresh soil all smooth and ready for planting?

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He suggested one more load of manure and another tilling which he said he's do for me this Sunday.

First picking of asparagus and rhubarb.

This year is the fourth year for my asparagus from seed.  The shoots are large and strong enough for me to pick a few.  While not much for a meal,  they are nice for snacking on while wandering in the yard.

Since i learned if from Mal's Allotment,  i have been blanching my rhubarb.  It was definitely a very nice thing to have discovered. The stalks are more  tender and not so acidic and the colors are lovely.

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My Aunt Molly's ground cherries are a big disappointment this year.  Out of 6 pots, 5 sprouted. One never developed leaves, another died of damping off. The surviving plants are tiny and stunted.  I was hoping to share them with my mother and father,  but it looks like i'll only have enough for my own garden.  I really wanted to try canning and dehydrating them,  but it looks like it won't happen.

I actually had a very disappointing spring with seeds so far.  Many things refused to sprout or have grown so slowly.  The brussels sprouts were a total disaster.  Of six pots, not a one sprouted.  Old seed...  but i didn't think they were that old.

The only thing excelling are the tomatoes, broccoli and the Ancient sweet peppers.

Maybe all new seed next  year?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Getting ready to finish starting seeds and using the greenhouse.

I have put my seedlings into the greenhouse to acclimate to outdoor conditions...mainly the cool nights.   It sure heats up in there and i have an old sleeping blanket covering the top to shade the seedlings from the strongest sunlight.  In a few days i'll be able to take the blanket off and only use it to try and keep heat in if  we get a really cold night.  So far for the long term forecast the night temps are expected to stay in the high 30's and lower 40's.  So its time to go for sink or swim.  Of course if frost is expect, the plants will spend the night in the house.

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So far the plants are all leafing out and the lilacs are showing flower buds.  They usually bloom about Memorial Weekend,  which is in about 3 weeks.

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Everything is really leafing out nicely,  looks so far like everything made it through winter,  two of the blueberry plants took it hard though.  They got some sort of frost bite and the tips of their branches are dead,  but they are resilient and should recover even if they bloom a little later than their buddies.

The beach plum that got broken from heavy snow seems to have survived the break and is getting leaf buds,  though it was also later than the other beach plum.I can't wait until things are fully leafed out.  I' was hoping the Stanley plum would flower this year- its third year here,  but it does not look like it has flower buds on it so far.

Still no strawberries in the mail....  i wonder if they are coming at all at this point.  No big deal either way,  there is always next year.

I need to get the seeds started for the cukes and Minnesota melons.  I also need to replant some of the pots where nothing came up with nasturtiums.

I was thinking about something when our mail carrier went by.  I'm hoping planting flowers near the mail box won't cause a problem.  I have heard of mail carriers getting stung by bees while delivering because the homeowner planted something like morning glories to grow up the mail box post.  My flower box is about 4 feet away,  so i hope it won't be a problem.  I usually have a smaller  pot out there where i would plant petunias,  but the pot was small and didn't attract much.  The bigger pot should have way more flowers,  so its something to keep in mind.

There. Got the nasturtium seeds put in.  It was easy since i didn't have to fill pots with soil.

I just got done talking to the Nice Neighbors and she's going to give me two pots like my large terracotta looking one.  Yay!  Looks like i'll have a place to put more things soon...  i just need the soil for it.