Construction


I have been very busy outside over the last week, not just in the garden but around the yard. I took a vacation day today to give me a four day weekend and really focus on cleaning up and preparing for the garden to take off. OK, so maybe my busiest week can’t hold a candle to my friend EG’s slowest, but I feel pretty accomplished!

Let’s start with last weekend. I planted the first round of broccoli plants outside; two Packman and two Fiesta. Those yellow leaves are dying off, but the plants seem to be okay otherwise.

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I’ve got two more younger plants of each under the lights for second planting next week, along with Snow Crown and Cassius cauliflower plants.

I’m happy to say that I see most of my seeds sprouting out there. I was concerned about the possibility of the squirrels having moved them around, but they seem to be coming up where I planted them for the most part. Here are some Harmony spinach seedlings:

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I can also see seedlings emerging of Space spinach, and Valmaine, Little Caesar, Victoria, and Buttercrunch lettuce. I’m still waiting for American Flag leeks, Evergreen Scallions, and Sweet Salad and Sugar Snax carrots to emerge.

The Sugar Snap and Blizard Snow peas have set deep roots and are starting to break the surface. I expect they’ll really start taking off this week.

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After getting all of these things in the ground we set our sights on setting up the PVC/string trellises for the peas and beans, and the metal trellises for the vining plants that will go in later. We also *borrowed* the idea to construct a PVC frame to hold bird netting and anything else we need to prop up over the plants. It looks like a boot camp training course out there now, but everything will eventually serve a purpose.

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Now on to this weekend. I started some zucchini seeds, and I have to high tail it to the store to get some yellow squash seeds, since I seem to have missed them when I placed my seed orders. I’ve potted up some more tomatoes and peppers, and now the only seedlings left to pot up are some small Orient Express eggplants and a couple Black Cherry Tomatoes that I had to start over after poor germination. There is absolutely no more room under the lights right now, so I’ll have to wait until I get the second batch of broccoli and cauliflower out into the garden to make room for the others.
I hate having to throw away perfectly good plants but I had too many tomatoes that germinated, so I had to thin things out. They all looked healthy too. It’s a shame.

The crappy plastic two tier 4×8 bed that I bought last year has 40 garlic plants in traditional soil on one side which are doing extremely well. I hit them with some liquid seaweed fertilizer today.

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Today, I cleared out the other side that I used last year for zucchini. I amended the soil with compost, and it is now waiting for the onslaught of onion plants I should be getting next week from Dixondale Farms.

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It’s hard to do much during the week after work, so next weekend the plan is to do some more yard maintenance and fine tune the bird netting setup, as right now it’s pretty hard to get access to the plants. I think what we’ll do is attach the netting on the long sides to 8′ 1×2 boards so we can easily lift up an entire side all at once. I also plan on planting the second round of broccoli, all the cauliflower, more carrot and spinach seeds.

Spring is in swing!!!

On Friday we were finally able to locate the rest of the compost and vermiculite we needed to fill the beds.  It’s not much fun mixing Mel’s mix, that’s for sure.  Poor Al had to do most of it….I couldn’t even lift the bags of compost because they were left outside and were frozen solid!

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At least I was able to open the bag of straw and lay down a few more inches of mulch on the garlic to keep them nice and insulated for the winter.  I couldn’t help but do a little investigating before I added straw, though……

Sprouts!

Sprouts!

Well, this is the beginning of my serious organic gardening adventure. This past season I did plant several things, but because of poor placement and excessive rain almost everything succumbed to powdery mildew. We have mature trees surrounding our yard, and getting full sun is an issue. I did have great success with my tomatoes grown in a Self Watering Container (SWC), however, and it made me realize that if I can control the moisture and drainage levels I might have better luck. While I’m going to make a few more of my own SWCs to add to the one I bought, I decided that for my next try I was going to focus on Square Foot Gardening, using the techniques developed by Mel Bartholomew. I have gone against his recommendation to keep it simple (I never do!) and came up with a plan for 4 boxes. We bought the lumber yesterday and Al constructed the boxes today.

The two main boxes are 4×8, and the narrow ones are 2×8.  The narrow beds in back will be for vertical climbers. We’ll need to put up some trellises, but I figured I’d wait until things were planted. There will hopefully be squash and beans growing in those next year.

I’m doing some calculating and I think I know how much of each component of “Mel’s Mix” to buy. I should be able to do that next weekend. Instead of pulling the grass out in the spring I’ll line the insides of the boxes with newspaper and lay the mix down to let it sit through winter. By spring the newspaper should have smothered the grass and broken down, allowing for the multitude of worms we have in the yard to move in.

Obviously there won’t be too much going on here for a while….this winter I’ll be making my final seed selections and placing some orders, which I’ll catalog here, and I may be doing some indoor growing to get a head start on the season. I’m using this site for my own documentation as much as for having other people check in and help me out if I get stuck.

A side note: I planted 40 cloves of garlic in traditional soil in my existing raised bed next to the shed on Columbus Day weekend (October 12th). It’s an experiment….but isn’t everything?….to try 4 different kinds and see how they fare. I should probably see some growth before winter which will tell me if they’re surviving the first stage. Then I’ll bury them with mulch to keep them warm, and I won’t know until spring if they made it through winter. If all 40 cloves grow, I’ll end up with 40 heads, so my family should be prepared next summer to receive the extras.