Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lessons Learned

So it's been a while. Almost a month. I kinda wanted to wait till lots more started happening and I started having something to write about.

First of all, even though I have written down a list of everything I've planted in my handy journal, here is a list for everyone else to see what I've planted.

The official planting list of 2011:
Sweet basil
True Greek oregano
Extra curled dwarf parsley
Sweet marjoram
California Softneck garlic
Calabacin (Summer) squash
Glacier tomato
Black Cherry tomato
Sweet Treat Hybrid carrot
Alaska peas
Tendergreen bush bean
Greyzini Zucchini (Can I just say that I love that name?)
Waltham 29 broccoli
Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach
Quinalt strawberry
Ozark Beauty strawberry
Yellow onions/scallions
Detroit Supreme beets
Russet potatoes
Pontiac Red potatoes
Melting Sugar snow pea
Kiwigold raspberry bush
Brandywine raspberry bush
Latham Red raspberry bush
Heritage raspberry bush
Darrow blackberry bush
Ebony King blackberry bush
Ground cherry
Winter thyme
Long Green Improved cucumber
Healing Hands lettuce mix (Burpee)

Let that list sink in for a minute. Man, I don't know how I managed to find space for all that stuff. Granted, I've "added" 5 more beds in the area where the original bed was, and all those spices and the lettuce are in pots right now. And some of that garlic in containers as well, and a few strawberries. And even though I could very easily let myself get carried away, I've only planted a few....transplants....of the squash, beans and cucumbers. (and some extra seeds, just in case.)

I'm already thinking of my second planting of things once a lot of this comes out of the ground, and fall planting. But, where are we now? What's been happening since I posted last? Well, I'll tell you. The cucumbers flowered on 4.18.11, and were planted outside on the 30th. The week before, on the weekend of the 23rd, I transplanted my squash (Greyzini), beans and tomatoes outside. These aren't looking so hot, but I think it's because I didn't harden them off, and it's still a little too cool, and they'd already started flowering. Not the tomatoes, but they're looking pretty puny. Pretty sure one of the Black Cherry tomato plants has died. Should've listened to Cindy. But, on the bright side, it looks like they're starting to bounce back.
While the flowering parts of the squash and beans (and the beans themselves!) died, new parts of the plant have started to grow. And to cover my ass, since I don't want to call myself a failure, I stuck some seeds in the ground too. At the best, it'll be a decent attempt at succession planting. At the worst, I'll be buying the frozen sliced zucchini from Giant all summer. In the middle, where I think I am right now, I've gotten sprouts from both the beans and squash within 10 days.
Apparently I also planted some yellow squash seeds too, forgot about that part. So far I know that only the zucchini has sprouted. I did the same thing when I planted the cucumbers outside, I stuck some seeds in the ground also. No sprouts there yet.

My cold weather crop bed is doing great, but it makes sense since it's still barely getting to 80 degrees out. The potatoes are huge, beets leaves are probably about 4 inches long (and based on leaf height and planting dates, I should have some beets in a couple of weeks!), broccoli sprouts are big but no crowns yet, and I think all but one of my carrots seeds is growing. Those should be ready to eat soon, I think. Carrot and beet salad? Yes, I think so.

With the raspberry bushes, I planted the two I'd bought several weeks ago, along with the blackberry bushes, but I think those died...probably because I left them in my car after buying them. So, I bought some more, ones that already had buds on them- the Kiwigold and Brandywine. The blackberries haven't done anything, and there were none left at Lowes that were thriving. I keep getting suckered into buying more strawberry plants. I've given up on the seeds, but I feel like the plants are growing either....I'm hoping they just take a LONG time to pop up.

My peas and snow peas are growing magnificently, and I'm really excited to grow those again. Actually, one of the peas started flowering a couple days ago, and they've gotten around a foot tall. I rigged up some teepee  trellis type things for them. The peas should be done around the same time as the beets, but the snow peas will take a couple more weeks after that. And I was wrong. Just checked my notes, the carrots take about 70 days, the beets are 59, and peas are 58 days. So.....beet and pea salad?

Looking towards the future, I'm thinking I'm going to plant all this stuff over again, depending on how much actually grows- beans, zucchini, squash and cucumbers in a month or so, and then near the end of summer, mid August I guess, I'm going to grow the rest of the veggies- beets, broccoli, spinach, peas/snow peas, carrots, onions and garlic.
Definitely going to put some garlic in to grow over the winter, because I think those are doing really well. (When are they going to be done?? When will the leaves turn brown and fall over??)
Also think I'm going to go with a "less is more" philosophy. One of my biggest problems is that I thought I'd be able to easily reach everything in the 5x5 bed, but the plethora of weeds has proved me wrong, and I'm only really able to get the biggest ones out of the very middle. So, we'll plant along the edges and leave the middle alone. Good plan.

I haven't been very happy with the spinach. When all was said and done, I only had two growing. I'm sure I pulled out some of the others as weeds since I didn't know what they looked like, but they took so damn long to show up that it's their fault. And finally, the lettuce mix. Slow growing, but there. I'm irritated. I want some cut and come again salads. But I'll probably buy them again. Too tired however to post pictures, or write in complete sentences.

Monday, April 18, 2011

First fruits

I've got beans growing! They started about a week ago. Actually, I need to go through and document dates with my pictures that I've taken so I can get approximate growing times for next year. Clearly I started to early, but still, I'm excited. I want the weather to get much warmer so that I can plant them outdoors. 
The berry plants have been bought, and I'm hoping to get those into the ground next weekend, and the first week of May I'm gonna plant the tomatoes outside...cucumbers....squash......beans. We'll see. 
Everything has sprouted, except for my strawberry plants. 
I guess I should just get to my listing. This blog is slowly disintegrating into a list essentially anyway. There's so much to list now! (And I'm still wanting to grow more) Maybe I'll start writing about all the stuff I'm doing. 

4.5.11~ At some point, probably a week before (?) buds started showing, the first picture that I have shows those buds flowering is around 4.15.11. I'm irritated that I didn't document this better, but it seems to take about 2 1/2 months from seeds to flowering. 
4.5.11~ The cucumbers start sending out suckers. 
4.7.11~ Beans flowered
4.11.11~ Beans started growing fruits!

I'm really not sure at all about the outside stuff. 
I planted one of the strawberry plants and some lettuce pellets maybe 1 1/2 weeks ago, around the same time the beans and squash flowers started showing up. The I noticed lettuce sprouts a couple days ago, we'll say on the 15th-ish. 
And I planted some strawberry seeds, those took about 2 weeks to sprout. 
I still can't tell if my spinach has sprouted, there's a lot of little weeds coming up in that bed, and I don't really want to start pulling them out if I'm not positive what they are. All my potatoes have sent up greens, but that definitely took at least two to three weeks. 
I'm also almost positive that at least some of my beets, broccoli and carrots have sprouted, but not sure how many considering there a bunch of small weeds, and for some reason it looks like I've only gotten seed in the "back" (being edge closest to the fence) half of the raised bed. Cindy wants me to have the boys put in another bed. Bryan suggested in the fenced in area so the deer don't get to it; I would love that!
Lastly, my peas and snap peas have sprouted, that took a while, but they're growing really well now. I even tied a couple of the pea sprouts (and suckers have formed on the peas only....in the last few days) to a pole. Out of the 4 seeds I planted of each kind, only three sprouted. And of my three pea plants that were coming up, one vanished. Not sure if was eaten by a deer or not (I've started spraying the deer and rabbit deterrent.)

And that's about it. And now for some uninterestingly placed pictures. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Well hello spring, nice of you to finally show up.

Guess I'm just showing off a little bit, hence the pictures post. The random summer-type-temperature day that we had yesterday was wonderful, and I think my veggies got all excited. Almost everything has started sprouting, although I'm not completely sure that the spinach has started popping up yet; theres a lot of little weeds, and I can't differentiate yet. 
Anyway, so I cleaned out this flower bed that sits on the edge of our house, and I'm going to plant some perennials. Actually, I already planted two, some Dianthus hybrid Cheddar Pinks Eastern Star and Columbine Cameo Mix. I need to get paid before I buy some more. Depending on if the government gets their ducks in a row and Bryan and I can go to DC this weekend, I want to get some more plants this weekend. 

Welcome to my greenhouse! Everything is growing up nicely. My bush beans are flowering, showed up a few days ago. I really need to get them into the ground outside, but the weather is still changing too much. But I still feel like a master gardener. Maybe in about 2 weeks, it will be hot enough........................

In the left picture, you can see one of my cucumbers coming up and then off to the left are my bush beans. The red planter has my spices and the white planter has my squash. That one is budding too. I'm pretty sure squash flowers, but.... it's my first time. 
The Chia Pet spice collection Janice gave me has finally started sprouting. I think I need to transplant these into larger pots, and I hate the stupid soil sponge. It's so difficult to water it- the water sits on top for a minute before it gets absorbed. (Ok, maybe I'm just being lazy)

 Of all the planters I have with cucumbers in them (3) this one is doing the best. I think the one below it just needs lots more sunlight. Not sure what's wrong with it's sibling. This one is doing the best. I think the one below it just needs lots more sunlight. Not sure what's wrong with it's sibling. 
I'm a little surprised at just how well the Black Cherry Tomatoes are growing. I guess because they're cherry tomatoes, I expected them to be very small plants. My other tomatoes (Glacier) that aren't doing as well, in my opinion. 

Basil. I want to get some more small pots to transplant those into, and plant another one of my quinault strawberry roots in there. 

To update more..............
My potatoes have started sprouting, but I'm thinking of digging up the front yard and planting some more, I planted one set of strawberry roots in a container, and I bought these lettuce mix pellets from Burpee, which I also stuck in some dirt. 
The other veggies I planted: beets, carrots and broccoli have sprouted, it's been about a week now, but I've forgotten which was where or where the lines are (I think I might need to put up string rows with labels next time.) 3 of the 4 pea seeds sprouted last week, but none of the snow peas :( I like snow peas better than regular peas, but I'm going to be happy with whatever manages to grow. 

Squash. You can see it budding!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Winter's final laugh

I doubt anyone is stumbling upon this from various warm countries across the world, or even the US, but just in case you don't know, there's one (final) deep freeze/snow storm coming. Damn it! I was hoping that the groundhog would've been right, that spring would come early, and that all the don't plant seed naysayers would be wrong. I'm not too worried, I got my tarps and trash bags out there to cover up all my seedlings. Most of my scallions/onions and garlic have sprouted, and I think maybe my spinach is slowly starting to peek out from the ground.
Nothing seems to be showing in my other bed yet, but I'm not completely sure. I think I might see the potatoes slowly coming out. I don't know. I'm just hoping that they'll weather this storm.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More preparations

I know, I know, I know, I keep doing all these things waaaay to early. Maybe not way too early. I only planted one thing, and I planted it inside...I hope that makes it ok.
In exciting news, (Or at least exciting to me) the ground cherry seeds that I planted all the way back in February (actually, a month ago!) randomly sprouted. I had given up on them, really. Even stopped watering them. I learned my lesson, I guess. I would guesstimate that 5 of the 9 seeds I planted sprouted on the 16th. I keep reading that sometimes it's good to let herbs "suffer" a little bit because it makes their flavor stronger, but I didn't think it would work for ground cherries. So, I guess we'll see if they manage to keep on kicking.

3 Glacier tomato (heirloom!) and 2 black cherry tomato plants were transplanted into bigger containers today.

I think next year instead of trying to fit each of my various seedling/transplant planters into small crevices on 2 tv dinner tables in front of one window to be warmed by 2 strategically placed and angled desk lamps, I'm going to buy cheap shelving, and rig up some lamps on each level. I am amazing. I also plan to rig up my own trellis for my peas and snow peas. I'm surprisingly more hopeful for the grow shelves than the trellis.

So yeah, I transplanted those. I'm out of space really. I still have one planter to fit in front of that window. It's the only safe place from the kitties! Anyway.

The only thing I planted were my strawberry seeds. I'm pretty sure it's been 3 weeks since I took them out of the  freezer.....I always thought that was a really interesting concept- freeze the seeds so they think they're in the ground, then thaw them out before you plant them.

And then the Weekend Seedling Sprouting Update:
Oregano, basil and catnip sprouted on 3.15.11, which meant I thought everything that was gonna sprout inside had sprouted UNTIL
Ground cherry sprouted 3.16.11 (probably)
One or two each of the garlic and onion seem to have sprouted around 3.17 or 3.18

I dug up part of the ground approximately 1'x7' directly in front of the fence, and then worked in some garden soil. I was gonna plant my tomato transplants in the first two weeks of April, but then I realized I was dumb and tomatoes need HOT weather. So, if I can keep them alive maybe.... May. I also think I might hold off on the fruit bushes. I'm really worried about the availability of copious amounts of sunshine once the trees get all their leaves in, and I would much rather focus on growing veggies that will produce in one season versus a berry bush that would take a couple years. Maybe next year. Or once I see how much sun is actually gonna be there.
So, I guess we'll see what happens during this coming week!

(This is garlic I stuck in a half barrel planter last November. I keep waiting for the stalks to turn brown and fall off, but I really just want to dig one up and look at it now!)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Taters, et al

A new weekend, a new round of planting. I'm a little bit worried I might be a little bit behind; maybe I shouldn't have planted just seeds, but bought transplants. Or started them inside back in January....I don't think I have that much dedication.
Anyway, onto the lists. I'm good at lists. And this way I can keep a better record of what happens when.

Some of the herbs have started sprouting- Dill on the 10th, Parsley (sorta) on the 11th, Thyme on the 12th, Sweet Marjoram on the 13th. I say sorta because the parsley that I planted was from a Chia planter set/herb garden thing that Janice gave me. It comes with these soil sponges that you soak in water (hence, sponge, har har har) and then sprinkle the seeds on top. Seriously. I thought it was kind of weird, but I went with it. I mean, the company that can help me grow a Chia Sponge Bob should be able to help me grow herbs with their exclusive soil sponge, right? But really it looks kinda like the sprout is growing backwards, pushing out of the seed and the into the soil. I'm a little dubious as to how this will work well, but I'm willing to see what happens.

And then yesterday I took advantage of the lovely weather to plant in my new fangled raised bed:
2 Pontiac red potato sets
2 Russet potato sets
11 Beet seeds
9 Broccoli seeds
13 (? 12?) Carrot seeds
And then in one of the piles of dirt, the only one of the three that I could dig down more than 3" and not find clay, I planted 4 pea seeds and 4 snow pea seeds. I got some round cage supports, and more garden soil to put along the for planting of warm weather crops.


See, boring. It's not going to be very exciting, I imagine, till things start sprouting (fingers crossed. I'm really nervous) and then I get to harvest them and make yummy food (Zucchini and carrot jam anyone? My bread maker has a jam setting!)

I guess the only other thing that is vaguely interesting is we...well, Bryan...got the water sprinkler set up. Meh.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Scallions, garlic, spinach and onions

It's been a very productive few days, not just with gardening. I'm slightly knee deep (more like ankle deep now) in a redecorating project of the guest bed room. That is really in it's final stages, since everything has been painted, all that's left are the little accent parts: the night table that I'm stripping and repainting (hurray for chemical strippers!), the lamp I got from Salvation Army that I spray painted to match the sconces, buying a lamp shade for said lamp, buying outlets (the outlets in that room were black. And I have it on good authority, since we pulled off the cable connection cover, that the room was originally painted a light neon/pastel pink. I'm not a fan of how that room probably looked before the house was sold) and outlet covers, buying a fancy cover for the light switch and spray painting THAT to match the sconces and lamp, and putting on the drawer knobs that I am also spray painting to match. That's gonna be tomorrow. 

But since I deemed this to be a blog primarily about gardening, I will now discuss gardening progress. And what progress it was! 

Friday I cleaned out the raised bed that had been left behind by the previous owner. My guess is that it's about 5x5. I cleaned out the last of the weeds and worked in some manure/humus that I'd gotten from Lowes, so it would be ready for the onion sets that I bought. I also wanted to plant the last of my garlic, and try again with my spinach. 

Like I said back in November when I was trying to grow anything and everything indoors, and bought a bunch of seeds that I couldn't plant yet, I did try to get some spinach started in a self-watering container, but those didn't even try to sprout. I'm a little dubious about it this time, but if it doesn't work, I'm going to just buy some transplants. Bryan's not a fan of spinach, so there's no point in growing a ton of it. 

Then, today we made another raised bed. A few weeks ago, along with a rototiller from the 1950's, my parents gave Bryan and I some 8' long boards to load/unload the tiller with. This morning, we went over to his parents house and dug up a bunch of "virgin soil", loaded it in his dad's truck, they grabbed a 12' piece of scrap lumber they had, and brought it back to our house. 
While they assembled it, I worked on cleaning out the 3 piles of dirt we found after getting rid of all the leaves. I haven't decided what exactly I'll do with those. Bryan's mom suggested vining crops, like melons. I have some zucchini growing, so I might put a couple of those plants there. Or I thought it would be good for potatoes/carrots/beets. We'll see. I might have gotten in over my head.

 All filled and ready to plant! Now to figure out what to put here. My biggest problem are delusions of grandeur. I want to plant a ton of veggies so I never have to buy them from the grocery store again. But where do I keep them all? And where to plant everything? How many potatoes will I really get from each seed potato? I love potatoes, maybe I should plant 80 of them and eat potatoes forever? I work 40 hours a week, how will I have time to weed and water and chat it up with my plants about my day at work? How much of this is gonna be ruined by bugs and pests and animals? Do I plant more to make up for the possible loss? I should start small but I really want to go BIG. (That's what she said)

Here you can see the 3 dirt piles. I kinda wish there were about 7 more.

 So once everyone was gone, I finally started planting. The 4 rows you see here are onions, but the first two rows I planted the sets closer together so that I could used them as scallions- 40 in all. And the other two rows have almost 30 onions.
After that I planted 2 rows of garlic equaling almost 30 cloves, and 2 rows of spinach. Since those have to be spaced out more, I only planted 13 seeds in all. 

Where to go from here? Guess we'll see. My plan is to plant several berry bushes (blue, black, rasp) along the fence (at least 2 of each for cross pollination), and then since it was such a good suggestion from Bryan's mom, I'm going to follow through with it: farther along the fence I'll plant my tomatoes, cucumbers and the pea and snap pea seeds I just bought at Home Depot tonight.
On my list of veggies left to plant are beets, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, various herbs, and strawberries. I bought some strawberry seeds last fall, but I'm half considering buying seedlings and scraping those seeds all together. Part of me feels like I need to give it a go anyway, especially considering I spent money on it....
Since it's raining tomorrow, I'm gonna work on redecorating things, so I won't have to think so much about how many/what/where/when to plant. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Inaugural Post

Here I am, back in the world of blogging. But instead of boring post about my life, I go with a themed post.
All about gardening.

I spent most of the winter reading Gardening for Dummies, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegetable Gardening, various gardening forums, planned and re-planned my garden layout on Gardeners.com and many other things after getting a bug up my ass for some reason about gardening. Over the course of several weeks, I bought a ton of self-watering containers and ordered seeds in the middle of December.
I tried to start all these plants inside; I had big grandiose ideas involving way more vegetables than I could ever cook...
Yeah, I started too early. And I discovered the hard way that you should never plant basil and rosemary together. But it's finally March. And I can finally really start to plant things that will go outside and grow and make lots of food! I'm never going to have to go grocery shopping ever again.
Ok, I know that's not true, but still. I'm super excited.

Last week I planted summer squash, cucumbers, glacier tomatoes, black cherry tomatoes, bush green beans, bush wax beans, ground cherry and....corn.... in those little jiffy planters. (I know right? Why did I put corn in the jiffy planters? Why am I planting corn? I don't know. I was caught up in the moment) I put the plastic piece over top of it, stuck it under a window on a table, and placed a desk lamp on a timer over it.
In 5 days, almost everything had sprouted!
I'm a master gardener.
Today, I transplanted them.

And this weekend, Bryan and I are tearing up the front yard (just a little bit) and putting in a raised bed, and I'm gonna plant onions, potatoes, and maybe some of the other cold season crops.

Bush green beans

Corn...(I know)

Cucumbers (front) and summer squash (back)

More summer squash

I amuse myself. But to be fair, those are all my real nails, just with the acrylic stuff on them. 


All my seedlings <3