Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Master Plan 2011


Instead of rows this year, I'm doing beds and making them densely packed.  I'm also doing a smaller garden this year.  A total of 4 beds side by side, 2 feet wide by 12 feet long, with 3 feet of hardwood mulched path between each bed and around the garden.


This year, instead of soaker hoses, I'm using sprinklers.  The soaker hoses break and leak too easily, don't lay exactly where you want them, and only water a narrow area.  Some parts get soaked, some stay dry, and it takes just long enough to water that you forget to turn the water off in time to avoid flooding the garden.  Soaker hoses beat hand watering, but I wanted to try an alternative this year.  Since a single sprinkler doesn't quite cover the full garden area, I'm using 2 sprinklers.  One between the first two beds and the other between the last two beds.  It seems to be quick, easy, and effective so far, with the only downside being that the placement of the sprinklers needs to be adjusted based on wind speed and direction at watering time.


So I thought the fence didn't do much last year because the rabbits could squeeze through and hop over.  However, since the peas, spinach, and lettuce have already been decimated this year and I've been forced to replant, I am seriously rethinking my no fence decision.  Stay tuned.


In Bed 1 we have a double row of peas (1/2 pound Early Frosty, in keeping with tradition) climbing a 12 foot long section of (ironically) rabbit fencing.  On either side of this double row is spinach, planted about 4" apart in each direction to fill the bed, and with beets and turnips interspersed.  I planted this year's Bloomsdale Longstanding (one packet was not enough) on one side of the fence and last year's Melody Hybrid on the other.  Beets are Baby Ball and turnips are last year's Purple Top White Globe.

In Bed 2 we have half the bed devoted to zucchini (Garden Spineless) to be interplanted with nasturtium, and the other half of the bed reserved for bush lima beans.  I went with Fordhook 242 (1/2 pound), although it was a close call between those and the Burpees Improved Bush variety.

Beds 3 and 4 each have two rows of corn (Argent, rows 1 foot apart), intermingled with head lettuce and leafy greens.

Bed 3 includes Paris Island Cos Romaine (transplanted) and Swiss Chard (Large Ribbed Dark Green, direct sown).

Bed 4 includes Buttercrunch (transplanted) and Mesclun Salad Mix (1500 seed packet containing arugula, endive, buttercrunch, black seeded simpson, grand rapids, and prizehead lettuce), with a few feet devoted to last year's collards instead of mesclun.

And in the flower bed out front, surrounding the trees, I planted strawberries.  24 plants of the Everbearing Quinault variety.  Purchased cheaply as roots from Wal-Mart.


The asparagus are on! 

We've had asparagus soup already, as well as a new recipe.  Rather than boil or steam the asparagus and serve with cheese sauce, I fried it up in butter with onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Yum!  Today Ann did some in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper - another winner. 

So far all but one of our stalks has come from the asparagus we started a few years ago, and only one stalk from the plants we planted last fall.  But I suppose that's to be expected.  Looking forward to lots more asparagus this season!

Tree Update

The peach tree bloomed beautifully recently.  It's really taken off recently and seems to be thriving.

The dogwood we planted last year has shown no signs of life since last year, so we're discussing replacing it.

The Norway spruce seedlings we planted last year are clearly long gone.  They were shipped at the wrong time for planting so we didn't expect much from them.  However, Ann got some free Norway Spruces for Earth Day last week and there happened to be exactly the right number we needed to replant, so we did.  Here's hoping second time's the charm!

Spring Planting Timeline 2011

The spring planting season has only recently begun and I'm already behind on recording the details.  Here's a recap so far.

March 21:  Planted peas, spinach, turnips (experimenting with earlier than recommended), and beets (earlier than recommended) in a single 2' x 12' bed.  Started first batch of Romaine and Buttercrunch head lettuce indoors.

April 9:  Peas were sprouting.  Filled in gaps in peas, beets, and turnips.  Transplanted first batch of head lettuce.

April 21: Spinach and peas were ravaged by rabbits.  Replanted both.  Sowed leaf lettuce, swiss chard, corn, and zucchini.  Still early for corn and zucchini but extended forecast calls for no frost between now and May 1.

April 23: The rabbits moved on to devour most of the head lettuce.  Perhaps I need to reconsider my decision to skip the fence this year.

Apparently I forgot to note down exactly when I started the second batch of head lettuce (sometime after March 21 and before April 9), or when I transplanted them (sometime between April 9 and April 21).  Oh well.  Things are going well so far, aside from the rabbit damage.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Busy Garden Week

Tuesday I spent 2 hours in the heat of the day weeding the part of the spinach and pea row where the rabbits have taken care of the peas, and I've decided is the best place for the lima beans to go.  The rush is that I just realized the lima beans will need to go in the ground soon.  They're about ready whenever the spot is ready.  Which means buying posts and hanging the concrete wire Bill had left over from his bean support system.

I wound up with sunburn on my thighs and on what would be the tramp stamp area from weeding bent over for two hours in the midday sun.  This serves as a good reminder that sunblock goes everywhere.

Then Dave came home early and had time to work with me in the garden.  We added mushroom soil, store bought topsoil, and slow release fertilizer to the new flower bed we're making out front.  Then we (meaning my man-beast) tilled the flower bed to be and the area of my veggie garden where the corn goes.  There was also weed whacking and lawn mowing that went on.

Today (Thursday), I planted all 4 rows of corn and Matthew helped me.  He played with the dog, he watered his feet, and he played in the new sandbox Dave built, among other interesting activities.  The nearer half of the rows are planted with the earlier variety of corn (Seneca Snowshoe) and the farther halves have Argent which matures later.

Did I mention there's a dogwood tree temporarily residing in my veggie garden?  Yeah, it belongs in the flower bed to be out front.  It's sitting where the melons will go while they grow a bit in their peat pots.  The cantaloupe and honeydew are all up, and I just thinned them to one per cup.  And the first melon is peeking out of the dirt today, hopefully followed by at least one per cup in the other three cups.  :)

I have some spare tomatoes and eggplants, and some basil and oregano still upstairs too.  Everything, except maybe the oregano is about ready to be transplanted to a bigger pot... if not to the great outdoors.  Those basil are getting big and beautiful (relatively speaking).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Flower Pot & Strawberry Pot

It has come to my attention I've been negligent in blogging about some recent plantings.

1 - A strawberry planter that is thriving.

2 - My first large scale flower pot.  It contains pink geraniums, purple wave petunias, and diamond frost euphorbia all in an 18-inch diameter blue glazed pot that we got on sale last fall.

I love how both are turning out, and can't wait to harvest some strawberries.  Here's a picture of the flowers.

Early Planting

So, it's been warm, and the eggplant & parsley seedlings looked like they really wanted to go play in the garden, so I planted them yesterday. And staked the tomatoes. And planted some marigold seeds near the tomatoes & eggplants.

Today I decided it was time to plant some generic-no-name zucchini and yellow straight neck squash seeds in hills. And a bunch of nasturtium flowers in the hope of fending off the squash bugs this year. Also some basil and oregano from seed between zucchini hills.

The cantaloupes and honeydews are sprouting already, and some of the limas, but the watermelons haven't yet. Still time. And oops, I've mixed up which pots have cantaloupes and which have honeydews, so I guess I'll just have to see which plants grow which. It'll be a surprise.

That leaves the melons and lima beans to transplant and the corn to plant. Corn should be any day now. Just need to till up that area again first. Then the fall crop.

I've gotten a bit ahead of myself in outdoor planting, but so far I've been very fortunate that we haven't had late frosts. Here's hoping I don't come to regret the early plantings yet....