Posts tagged ‘peas’
Wow, what crazy weather this is! It is a little scary that is only the beginning of spring and it is forecast to be 80F at the end of the week. I’m sure we will be paying for this in some way.. in the meantime though, I guess we should enjoy the weather and get busy gardening!!
I planted my cold frame in mid Feb and have some nice lettuce mix coming up and some healthy looking brassicae transplants – cabbage, broccoli, mustard greens and kale. I also planted in my new raised bed at the bottom of my deck – I got some Japanese greens seed from a friend and so am trying that out.. The first peas I sowed at the end of February got eaten by a resident vole or mouse – hopefully with the hot weather it has now abandoned its winter home.
Today was an exciting day for the chickens – we put their coop onto wheels and now can move them around the garden, so today was the first day they were moved. They seem to be enjoying digging themselves pits to sit in to keep themselves cool and to clean their feathers. I love watching them, they are very interesting and they always have something to say when I go by them.
I have been using the “deep litter bed” method in their run – mostly leaves with some straw and of course lots of their poop! Occasionally I throw a little wood ash into the coop to neutralize the ammonia – this seems to keep the smell under control. So today after the move, I shoveled all their litter bed into a compost heap at the back of my new garden area. That is going to be some nice compost!
I haven’t been blogging very much since I started teaching a gardening class at Northampton Community College – I am doing one per month until October. Luckily I found I love teaching gardening! I am enjoying sharing my knowledge and meeting lots of enthusiastic gardeners! This season I am also going to work part-time on a small CSA farm called Shooting Star Farm near Easton. I am working for a share in the CSA and so have decided to grow mostly storage crops in my garden.
I ran out of potatoes in late January, squash in February and my onions didn’t grow so well anyhow. I still have garlic, canned tomatoes and kale in the garden. This year I decided to purchase onion plants instead of sets – they arrived last week and so I go them in the ground already. I will purchase some seed potatoes very soon. I wanted to plant them later, but don’t really have anywhere to store them under ideal conditions – probably in the basement is the coolest place right now. In the potato class I went to, the teacher suggested buying them as soon as they come in since when they are stored at room temperature they lose some vigor.
My compost piles that I made last year didn’t do very much over the winter – I just moved a couple of them and they were really dry and had hardly started decomposing. I added some water and made a bigger pile, so hopefully by the mid to end of the season they will be done.
How satisfying it was (and just a bit sweaty) to dig up 96 great heads of garlic yesterday! I had to fight through the weeds to get to them, but it was worth it! I attended the Easton Garlic Festival last Fall and purchased a bulk load of garlic – mainly Turkish Red, but also a variety pack that included German Red, Music, Elephant, French to name but a few. My son and I planted the bulbs late last October, we mulched them with pine needles and waited… I cut the scapes off in May (although some escaped – resulting in smaller heads) and treated them to some fish fertilizer in Spring and that was pretty much it – they are a very low maintenance crop! The yield was pretty impressive – about 90% of the bulbs produced full heads. (A few of them had gone too far and were splitting at the top – but I will use or trade these ones early).. I made a screen from hardware cloth and an old window frame for them to lie on to cure (out of the sun, dry place) for a week or two.
This week has been hot but productive, I can last until about 11:30am in the hot sun and then I have to retreat inside – how do those real farmers do it? I sprayed my fruit trees with the homemade beneficial spray again – this time it included Neem and Bt for insect control as well as the usual molasses, vinegar, soap and seaweed extract. I got really annoyed though, I had purchased a new gallon sprayer and after 10 mins of spraying, the handle (on/off switch) failed and it was such a pain to keep fixing during the spraying (luckily only my dog was the only witness to the expletives being muttered!). Whilst I was dealing with the trees, I decided to prune them – the peach tree was getting a bit tall, cherry that I am training in a fan against the fence had a center branch that needed to come out, and the apple had two central leaders that I had to choose between. It was tough, but it had to be done!
I started on the new raised bed for the carrots this week and also decided to where I am going to locate the new raised bed for my fall/winter produce – I thought it was going in or near the fenced garden but realized it needed to be nearer to the house (to make it more usable in the winter), so it will go by the back deck where the cold frame is currently. I think I am going to use concrete blocks to frame that out too – the ground is not level there and so I was worried about using wood or plastic lumber.
I sowed some more green beans and a few peas – just to see if they would work this year (I planted them too late last year and the flowers didn’t survive the cold weather). The various squashes are doing very well so far – the butternut is flowering and we ate the first yellow summer squash last night – no signs of squash bugs or cucumber beetle this year.
Hurrah! I have harvested 10lbs of delicious strawberries over the last week or so. Some are sweeter than others but all are sooo much better than those Californian strawbs with all their associated air miles.
I made my first ever strawberry jam last night – I can’t believe how easy it was! 4 cups of mashed strawberries, 1oz of low sugar pectin and 2 cups of sugar – stir the pectin into the strawberries, heat it to boiling, stir in the sugar and boil for 1 min and voila – 2.5 pints of strawberry jam. So much easier than pasta sauce – none of that stirring for 4 hours. The jam even passed the Marcus test!(Never did get the homemade tomato ketchup passed by him).
What else is going on in Winifreds Little Acre – well, I sowed my beans today – I am trying red kidney beans and garbanzo beans (since those are the two beans we eat a lot) and there is no pressure to harvest them since you let them dry out before picking.
The peaches are in need of thinning and there are signs of oozing from bug penetration in some of them, but not a majority like last year – maybe my homemade fruit tree spray is working a little.. The apple tree has baby apples but is showing signs of cedar apple rust, so the fruit spray was ineffective on that disease. The peas are coming but there aren’t enough of them to make a meal, so mainly they are for snacking in the garden.
I spotted (and squished) a couple of Colorado Potato beetles a week ago and haven’s seen any since, but my poor asparagus is suffering under the strain of asparagus beetle larvae – I sprayed it with Neem last week, but that didn’t have any effect. I’ll try spinosad this week – there are too many to hand squish.
We’re in for some hot weather this week, so I have to get my watering system organized – I need more soaker hose and I think I’m going to get some drip irrigation for the new (straight) beds outside the deer fence.
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..)
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.