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Entries in Garden (2)

Monday
Jul022012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I came back from my weekend downstate to find the garden in full vigor. Mr. UpCountry built up the trellis while I was gone and also did a little weeding (although it was pretty minimal, our conditions are great for keeping them out). 

He also replanted whatever didn't come up and transplanted some that were a bit too close together (or had somehow moved way off track). 

Everything's coming together and I really owe it to Mr. UpCountry for applying his wisdom, muscles, and time to this project. I'm grateful for his tutelage. I know it wouldn't look so healthy and lush if it wasn't for him. 

No strawberry fruit yet; but where there's flowers, there's hope!

We had one set of three-foot stakes with string pulled taut across them for the end where our peas are growing. No good! Not tall enough! Our peas have high aspirations, so Mr. UpCountry replaced the three-foot stakes with six-footers, and added a second row of them so the peas had more room to move up.

The garden looks so tiny, doesn't it? Well, it's my first year (and Mr. UpCountry's first year working in raised beds), so keeping it small is probably better in the long run. With the sheer amount of growth going on, though, I'm thinking that we're going to get plenty of veggies and herbs out of this little space.

I'm not a fan of beets myself (and we sure planted plenty). However, a lot of folks up here like them (including a slew of family members and Mr. UpCountry), so I'm going to get my hands dirty in canning and pickling them over the summer to give out as gifts and keep my man happy over the winter. 

It's weird to me that I don't like them. They're colorful and have been called "candy of the earth." I love candy! But not candy of the earth, I suppose.

The cabbage is taking over! (Not really, it's filling the space that it's supposed to, but it sure looks crazy anyway.) We planted spearmint because it acts as a natural insecticide. Also, it smells good (and is a garnish for mojitos).

Our cukes have given us a run for our money, but they finally look like they're gettin' it together. I'm excited; when it comes to my future pickling endeavors, these are the real gems I look forward to handling.

My parents had peas in their garden while I was growing up, but I'm guessing my nose was buried too far in a book or I was just too unobservant to notice how awesome they are. These guys steal the show when it comes to impressive growth tactics: reaching out their little pea "hands" and grabbing onto our trellis string is super-neat. (Like, in the way trapper keepers were super-neat. And penny candy, back when that used to be around.)

Our beans are finally looking good. We had to pull out all our original seedling transplants because it was too cold and they died on us. After replanting, we battled the cold again and had to deal with the seeds rotting out during germination. It took too long for them to pop above the surface and they looked leperous once they came above the soil surface.

We planted a third time and 'voila!'. They finally love us (or the sun) enough to stay alive.

My new problem child is this broccoli baby. What's up with that leaf? I haven't asked Mr. UpCountry yet, so I might know the answer to this within moments. But, I'm curious: in your gardens, have you come across this?

Here's a bigger-picture tour of the beds:


And here's the hat I bought at Old Navy a few days ago to keep some of the sun off my face (and, let's face it, the horseflies and black flies off my scalp). 

That's where my garden's at. 

How about yours? If you don't have raised beds or an in-ground garden, do you have anything growing inside on windowsills or in sunrooms? Where do you flex your green thumb?

Wednesday
May162012

How To Thin Seedlings

How's about a garden update? Yeeeehawww! :COUGH:COUGH: Man. I have to stop trying to be cool...

In the last week, Mr. UpCountry and I have done quite a lot!

We finished our raised beds. By "finished," I mean: we added organic compost, some other super-awesome amendments (think FoxFarm and HappyFrog), earthroom castings, ProMix (etc.), and perlite. I got the best upper body workout of my life, moving and mixing all that soil and stuff around. 

Now the raised beds are ready to rock. Or, actually (and more preferably), grow.

We thinned out our kohlrabi and mini-cabbage seedlings. Each cell had two, three, or four seedlings in them and we pared it down to one in each. We sterilized the finest-tipped scissors we could find and cut out all those seedlings that were, well, voted off the island. 

That vote was decided based on the strength of the seedling (does it have a nice, sturdy stalk?) and its stage of growth. Some seedlings have a nice hearty pair of true leaves. Those are the ones we kept.

We snipped the seedling's stem right above the soil line. Now our seedlings won't have to compete with their brothers/sisters for nutrients, light and warmth. It's a green light for supergrowth for those left behind (hint, hint, seedlings. You better be awesome. Those sanitized scissors aren't too far away...)

We also started the rest of our seedlings: carrots, bush beans, peas, spinach, beets, and lettuce. They ran out of those handy little coco-pots I used a few weeks ago, so I had to use a seed-starting kit. I definitely don't feel as good about pouring warm water over little dry pellets and waiting for them to expand. It somehow doesn't seem as fool-proof as pulling a handful of soil out of a bag, but it must be. It seems to be marketed that way, anyway.

We discovered a new greenhouse in the area, about 8 miles from home. Northern Breezes, in St. David, has some beautiful greenhouses filled with healthy veggies, flowers and herbs. They also had a surprise supply of ProMix BX! (Trust me, up here, that's up there with the big discoveries. Y'know, lightbulb; wheel; ice cream). 

In addition to a hefty purchase of ProMix to fill in the remainder of our raised beds, we bought some strong, stocky jalapeno plants. Basil and strawberry too!

That's basil. Here are the strawberries!

We had to travel over 20 miles to find perlite (which had to be ordered in larger bags). Corriveau's in Wallagrass was able to get us some; we also bought some banana pepper plants from them (first place we found them and I've looked). 

Finally, we transplanted my tomato seedlings from the flat trays into individual cells. Those flat trays really didn't work that well for me. Moving them was an issue, as the soil tended to crack whenever they shifted. Also, since I didn't add any drainage holes to the bottom (because I have my dumb moments), I wasn't able to water them properly. I was afraid to ever water them with confidence, because I didn't want them to stand in it. Thus, I under-watered them. Oh, you finicky soil, you. They aren't growing very well. Hopefully transplanting them will help them along.

All in all, my entryway/sun-room is starting to fill up quite nicely will little green seedlings. As much as the world outside seems to be balking at growth, my seedlings are being true to the nature of spring (something has to. sheesh.).

The weather around here has been in the 60s. Humid. On my short walk to the raised beds this afternoon, my face got wet and it wasn't raining. :smirk

Over the past weekend, the buds started popping out on the trees. It's beyond-wonderful to drive around and see the hills smudged with light color. 

I spotted my first bees (let the "running in terror" begin). At night, the treefrogs' peeps are louder than the hum of the refrigerator, which is (of course) a good thing.

At this point, Mr. UpCountry and I have to settle down for some planning. We're going to graph out "what goes where" in the raised beds and brainstorm some new plants to bring in that'll help our existing veggies defend themselves against pests (think cilantro and rosemary). It's called companion planting and we both have our noses in books (or, in his case, eyes on screen) researching it lately.

And, with all that research, comes note-taking. Good thing I love my handwriting.

Tomorrow the weather's supposed to clear up and I'll be able to get my hands dirty again. I'm letting the soil in the raised beds sit for at least a week; that way, it'll develop a nice, friendly, local little ecosystem (as in, make friends with compost and other amendments). 

On a scale of 1 to 10, how cliche is it to hum "Here Comes The Sun" right about now?

 

You might also enjoy:

Earthworm Castings

How To Start Those Seeds