Posts filed under ‘April 2011’
Our lawn is full of beautiful dandelions! We do not use any artificial chemicals on our lawn and were trying to grow an “Eco-lawn” with fine fescues that have long roots and grow slowly. Unfortunately it wasn’t started in the right season (late Spring instead of Fall) and didn’t quite turn into the unnatural monocluture as it was supposed to be. It pains me to spend time and money on the lawn since it is completely non-productive. I do find it weird that we have to have this monoculture of grass – everywhere else we love flowers, so why not in the lawn? They provide food for the insects and habitat. Quick update – they do look pretty ugly once they have turned to seed and it has blown away! Must keep perspective though – diversity is always better isn’t it?
It’s getting busy in the garden now!
My parents arrived from the UK last week and I been keeping them busy digging new beds and tidying up the perennial beds out front. I have been busy repotting some of the seedlings – even though it has turned warm all of a sudden, I am not planning to put out the tomatoes, peppers etc. for another couple of weeks at least, so they needed a new temporary home. I harvested the bottom box of the vermicompost (worm), mixed it with 1/3 part coir and 1/3 part vermiculite for the potting mixture – it seemed to be a little lacking in substance compared to the commercial mix I had been using but at least it was homemade (aka cheaper) and the seedlings will tell me if its good or not. They have been enjoying the warm weather in the last couple of days (and I have been saving electricity), by putting them outside in the daytime to see the real sun instead of pretend fluorescent lamps!
I sprayed the apple & cherry trees and the grape vine yesterday with the homemade spray – molasses, vinegar, fish and seaweed. I couldn’t do the peach since it is in full bloom right now – how pretty it is! I do have some blooms on the cherry tree, but not much coverage. I did purchase some Neem oil to add to the mixture but it was solid, so I have to take it back.
On the harvesting front – we have been enjoying the asparagus – super tasty. I read in the Victory Garden cookbook, that you can peel asparagus so that the lower less tender portion is more palatable – that worked great! We had friends over for Easter lunch and we had plenty for a small appetizer. We finished the first radish crop and have been taking the odd lettuce leaf from the cold frame for our lunches. The lettuce seedlings I transplanted into the garden are much less happy than the ones in the cold frame, I think it got a bit too cold on a couple of nights and also the soil is much less rich – it was a bit of a shock to them – hopefully they will buck up and start growing soon.. I also transplanted six broccoli seedlings from the cold frame – I have them under fabric to protect them from the dreaded cabbage worm that ate them all last year.
Hurray, the peas are coming up! Despite all this cold and rainy weather (and my impatience)! The carrots also germinated under the board I had over them to stop the seeds getting washed away – but now I am worried about the effect the rain is having on them – they were a little spindly since they took me by surprise and germinated quicker than expected. Time will tell if they make it – if they can get through today, they should be OK since we have a little break from the wet coming up tomorrow.
The seedlings in the basement are doing well – even my basil has germinated, usually I have difficulty with basil for some reason, but all the new seeds are coming up, the seed from last year is being a bit more temperamental – maybe basil seed doesn’t keep well – I’ll have to look that up. I’m a bit afraid the lights aren’t bright enough, since there doesn’t seem to be a lot of growth from the plants once they get their first leaves. Mike McGrath says you should change out the lamps every year, but I was trying to save the planet (and the dollars) by not doing that. I heard on his show this week that the LED grow lights are pretty effective – I will look into those – good from an energy efficiency standpoint, probably not too easy on the pocket though.
I’m pleased with the transplanted lettuce and kale – all doing well in the garden, and the mache and other radish that I sowed last week is coming up too. The garlic plants are going crazy – I sprayed them with some fish fertilizer a couple of weeks ago, I may do that again soon since I can’t quite be bothered put compost around each one of the plants. Can’t wait to harvest the first asparagus – it is starting to shoot upwards now – I have to check my reference books to see what is the best way to harvest (first time for me) and how long to keep cutting, etc.
I had given up all hope on the moldy shrivelled sweet potatoes that I have had in water for the past two months hoping for them to sprout leaves and save me a few bucks on slips – but today I looked closely and to my surprise – there were some little shoots coming out of the sides of the potatoes!! One even has a little leaf on it.. just goes to show that patience is definitely a virtue in the gardening world..
Not much going on in the garden still – been a bit cold and rainy. I have been opening up the cold frame to harden off some of the seedlings that I will transplant into the main garden soon. Also keeping a close eye on all the seedlings growing under lights in the basement. The newspaper pots dry out really quickly, so I have to water them once and sometimes twice a day.
I did have had to do some thinning of seedlings – I always feel like the mother in Sophie’s Choice when it comes to that job – choosing between one seedling and another – which one is best? I usually clip the unlucky one off with some nail scissors so as not to disturb the roots.
No sign of the peas coming up yet – I hope they haven’t rotted – maybe I should have germinated them before planting. The garden soil temperature has risen to ~45F, so hopefully they have a fighting chance of coming up soon – maybe patience is required here too! (Interestingly – it is still only 50F in the cold frame – I thought that would have heated up more by now..)
At last! A nice day to be out getting dirt behind my nails! (My husband loves that -not!). Torri & I spent the morning picking trash from the side of roads in our township – it’s amazing how thoughtless some people are. Anyhow, it was a feel good project and we both felt pretty self-righteous afterwards!
Then, after a short break for lunch, Torri & my husband Graham went down to clean out the hive of the dead bees – sad work. A couple of the frames were starting to rot, so we’ll need to replace those, but the rest were salvageable and we put them in the new chest freezer to keep the wax moths at bay and kill anything else that might be lurking in those oh so perfect hexagonal cells.
I set to work on fertilizing the fruit trees and some of the beds I will be transplanting and sowing seeds into soon. I used the calculations I learned during the soils course to work out how much 3-4-4 organic fertilizer to put down per square foot – very satisfying! I made a spreadsheet so I will be able to repeat the process next year or whenever I have to do it again.
I sowed some mache, radish, kale, spring onion and carrot seeds. I’m a bit worried about the carrots – I think it might be a bit early for them, they are supposed to be able to germinate at 40F soil temperature, but the seedlings may not be hardy enough for hard frosts – I think I will cover them once they start to come up. I am experimenting with a short 4″ carrot since my soil is pretty clayey and has some small rocks in it.