Posts filed under ‘Gardener’s Journal’

Six Days of Rain So Far – Only Two More To Go! Gardener’s Journal 5/19/11

What a wet week!  I have been trying to protect my seedlings and the plants in the cold frame by covering them during the downpours, and quickly uncovering them when the it stops in a vain attempt to get them to dry out a bit.  Can’t do anything about plants in the ground though – actually, if nothing rots, the rain seems to have brought on the potatoes, onions and beans pretty well (same applies to the weeds of course!).

I did manage to get out into the garden yesterday morning – I fulfilled my personal mission of converting some of my sons’ old trampoline into a low tunnel to protect the sweet potatoes from unwanted invaders.  It looks a little strange, but that’s OK – it all adds to the uniqueness of Winifreds Little Acre!  I also edged around the raspberry fence that is hopefully going to protect the other crops outside the deer fence – I had a problem with escaping raspberries into my blueberries this year, so I decided to pre-empt the problem in this new raspberry patch. 

The bees haven’t had too much chance to fly due to the rain,  but hopefully they are still busy sorting out their new home.  I’m a little worried about the baby peaches with their soft fuzzy skin – all this rain might take a toll.  I’m planning to give them another holistic spray this weekend to help them out.

I have my curcubits – summer squash, cucumber (2nd sowing – first one failed) and melons in the basement germinating as I write hopefully.  They should be ready to go out in a couple of weeks – they normally grow pretty fast.  I’m looking into how to protect them from the cucumber beetle – they were all badly affected last year by bacterial wilt – so far my plan is to plant a ring of radish before I transplant them and then to cover them as soon as I put them out.

Looking forward to a great transplanting weekend – my babies are all ready to go out into the real world!

May 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm Leave a comment

Here Comes the Rain (again)! Gardener’s Journal 5/15/11

Hi all, I’m getting back to writing my blog.  My parents have gone back to the UK after a great month-long visit.  My Dad was a star! @72yrs old he opened up ~ 200 ft2 of virgin clay ground covered in vegetation (mostly goldenrod – so not an easy task!).  It got drier and harder as the days went on, but he persevered and I even managed to plant my sweet potatoes (arrived in the mail last week)  in two of the beds before they left!  I didn’t have enough compost to mix in to make the soil really nice, but hopefully the sweet potatoes won’t mind too much (I sprinkled over some organic fertilizer before planting them). 

This morning, my sons & I transplanted some raspberry shoots in front of the beds to make a living fence to hopefully deter the deer from entering the new garden area – we’ll have to see how that works!  For now, I also cover the sweet potatoes with row cover for some insurance – they actually don’t look very tasty at the moment since they are pretty dead looking when they arrive.  (I planted them like that last year though and they grew pretty well).

It was actually a bit of a bonus gardening day today since it was supposed to rain all day but it actually only drizzled and then got quite nice by the afternoon.  I transplanted my first tomato plants – 3x Early Girls – they look pretty healthy, I’m pleased with the quality of seedlings.  I have been putting the whole lot of the seedlings from the basement out every day for about three weeks and a couple of days ago, I put them in the cold frame in the main garden and left it open at night – it is in the 50F’s now, so cold is not a problem.  I plan to transplant most of the other seedlings within the next couple of weeks into their respective spots.

Excitement on the fruit-growing front – we have baby peaches, apples, strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries and raspberries growing!  I sprayed the apple and peach with the holistic spray mixed with kaolin clay to hopefully prevent pests getting into the fruit.  So far so good on the cedar apple rust – no sign of it on the apple trees.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed and give it another spray when it stops raining next weekend!

May 15, 2011 at 7:37 pm Leave a comment

Getting Busy! Gardener’s Journal 4/27/11

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.

May 5, 2011 at 12:31 am Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 4/13/11

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.

April 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm 2 comments

Gardener’s Journal – 4/5/11

There is life in those sweet potatoes after all! 

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..)

April 6, 2011 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 4/2/11

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.

April 2, 2011 at 11:20 pm Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 3/31/11

OK, so now I’m getting a little frustrated by the weather.. I had been wanting to get out and sow some cold weather plants this week (and last week) – but it has been so cold that I thought it may be a little premature for them to be able to germinate – plus it is going to snow again this weekend! Arrrgh!  I expect soon enough we will be complaining about the warm weather..  I think I’m going to take the extra lettuce seedlings from the cold frame and plant them out in the garden instead of eating them!

On the side of progress, I did manage to sow a good variety of seeds indoors last week – the rest of my tomatoes (4 more varieties – I’m trying out a determinate this year – Marinara – as well as the indeterminate heirloom favorites Amish Paste and Brandywine and Peacevine cherry tomato).  I also sowed some celery, some companion plants – borage, calendula, four o’ clocks, dwarf sunflowers and some herbs – cilantro and summer savory.  I now have two shop lights on and I use christmas lights to provide a little heat to aid germination – seemed to do the trick!

March 31, 2011 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 3/22/11

After a short break to pull together the final pieces of organization for the Lehigh Valley Green Home & Building Expo and to work the event itself, I was back in the garden this afternoon – and what a beautiful day – 50F and sunny! (Snow is on the way tonight though). 

I did manage to plant my peas last Monday (3/15) – I needed to get them in, in order to hopefully have them ready before my trip to the UK in June.  I put in a total of 100 seeds of four different varieties – I soaked them all first for about half an hour and then rolled them in innoculant to help them fix nitrogen from the air. 

I started today by harvesting compost from a tumbler composter and my “Darlek”-like container.  I got a wheel barrow full and spread it under my fruit trees and around the asparagus – and guess what – there are some tiny spears starting to come up!  Hurrah! The compost adds some nutrients but also helps fights any diseases lurking around the base of the trees. 

On the seed starting front, I did sow some Early Girl tomatoes last week too – they have germinated already, so we are on the way to having tomatoes by July 4th!  (That’s the plan anyhow).  The cosmos and marigold seedlings are doing well, but the beets are not looking very happy and the parsley has not shown any signs of life.  I fed them using a weak solution of fish emulsion.  In the cold frame, things are going a bit better – pretty much everything I sowed is coming up – I thinned the seedlings out (by snipping off the weaker seedlings with scissors so as not to disturb the roots), but may have to transplant some of the lettuce into the garden to give everything enough room.

March 23, 2011 at 2:21 am Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 3/11/11

The big news from the garden this week is that the ~80 garlic bulbs my son & I planted last October are poking their little heads above the mulch!  How exciting!  At the same time though, I am a bit worried about the asparagus – I thought that might be showing some signs of life by now, but alas not.. I always remember that scene in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” where they rush out to uncover and cut the first asparagus.  This is my asparagus’ plants third year – I grew them from seed in 2009 and haven’t tasted one bit of them yet – you have to wait to let them get established – can’t wait to have our first spears coated in butter and ground black pepper – ummmh! 

This weekend I am going to sow some onion seed, pot on my seedlings and sow some peas – can’t wait – it is supposed to be a good weather weekend! Oh and we still have to finish off harvesting the honey (we just received our new freezer to store the frames in!).

March 12, 2011 at 1:27 am Leave a comment

Gardener’s Journal – 3/1/11

Well miracles do happen!  The marigolds I sowed only 3 days ago have germinated already!  I didn’t use any heat under them – only a fluorescent shop lamp over the top.  Once they come through, if they have any signs of fungus (damping off), I sprinkle a little peat on them and that seems to do the trick.

The warmer temperatures also have kicked things off in the Cold Frame – I checked in there today and the kale was poking its little head through and some other seedlings (but I didn’t have my book with me so I’d forgotten what I sowed there – really should get some markers!

In the garden itself, I covered the area where I will plant peas in a couple of weeks with black plastic and a spare window I had lying around!  Hopefully that will warm the soil up so that the pea seeds don’t rot.  I may try germinating them in the house before setting them out – I heard that tip on Mike McGrath’s radio program this week I think.

March 2, 2011 at 4:17 am Leave a comment

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