Monday, April 26, 2010

Carrot Seed Mats

Several weekends ago when the weather was cold, rainy and snowy, I made some carrot seed mats using Granny’s home made seed mat method (Annie’s Kitchen Garden).

I created a template out of a 1x1 foot cardboard square. I measured my 16/square spacing with ruler and marked the seed placement a sharpie:

I spread my napkin on this template. The napkin was see through enough to see the dots on the template and mark them with Elmers glue:

I added the carrot seeds to the glue dots:

The carrot varieties that I am planting in the SFGs are Nantes and Little Finger. I wrote these names on the corner of the napkin and allowed the seed mats to dry. Then I folded them up and stored them until ready to plant:

I prepped the squares in the SFG by fluffing up the soil, leveling it off with the trowel, and spraying it with water. Then I laid the seed mats in each square and sprinkled a mixture of vermiculite and compost to hold it in place:

After covering the seed mats, I tamped the soil down with the trowel and watered it in:

Thank you Granny for the inspiration for planting with seed mats!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some Onions, Swiss Chard Planted, Other Seedlings Hardening Off...Busy Weekend in the Garden

There is so much that can be accomplished in the garden this weekend that I am almost giddy with excitement. The weather is also supposed to cooperate.

The first batch of Copra Onions seedlings were planted out in one of the SFG:

There are four onion seedlings growing in each soil block. At first I was going to multiplant the onions by planting 4 soil blocks of 4 onions per square, but now I worry that growing so close together may reduce their size.

For this SFG, I ended up breaking the soil blocks and teasing the onion seedlings apart to plant individually at 16/square. More onions will be planted in other parts of the garden. I may keep one square of multiplanted onions just to see how they compare in growth.

Bright Lights Swill Chard seedlings were planted out in one of the SFGs. They are a bit floppy, I hope they strengthen and straighten out:

More seedlings are hardening off this week and hopefully will be planted out soon.



More Onions:

and Celery:

Celery and Broccoli will be planted in Self Watering Containers (SWC) that will be assembled over the weekend. It's time to weed whack around the garden too as the grass is getting long. It's good to be busy in the garden.

Friday, April 23, 2010

One 4x4 Square Foot Garden Planted!

I had opportunity to do some gardening after work several days this week. It is nice that the sun is setting later and later. Since the overnight temperatures are a little warmer this week, I decided Wednesday evening was time to plant out the seedlings that have been hardening off for several weeks now.

I found this 2-inch masonry trowel in a hardware store last week for about $3. It works perfectly for digging 2-inch holes to transplant soil blocks:

The rest of the spinach transplants were easily plopped into the holes made by the trowel:

And the lettuce:

Some bunching onion transplants were also placed into the garden:

The pea pods planted back on April 4th have sprouted:

The Red Barron Onion sets also planted on April 4th have sprouted too:

I now have one 4x4 square foot garden completely planted with spring crops:

The seedling tray was set in the empty spot in the SFG so it could spend the night under cover with the rest of the newly transplanted seedlings:

The seedling tray contains parsley, onions, and Swiss chard which will be planted in another square foot garden over the weekend. When planning the garden layout, I tried to keep all the spring and cold hardy crops in one or two SFGs so I only had to worry about covering one or two beds at night.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Raspberry Canes Planted

The Heritage Raspberries arrived last week and were finally planted into their permanent location in the reclaimed area at the edge of the lawn.

The raspberry canes were placed in water to soak while we prepared the planting area:

It was easy to till up the soil in the recently weeded area. We had to remove a few roots, but overall the soil was in pretty good condition.

Five holes were dug approximately 2-feet apart. I added some compost and all purpose fertilizer to the planting holes and mixed it in then planted the bare root raspberry canes. I built little motes around the planted canes to hold water so it will drain down to the roots instead of running off the slope.

I hope these guys sprout, grow and spread. Not much can be done with this area of the yard. It is on a slope and is usually covered in tall grass and weeds. It will be nice to have it producing food instead.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Harvest Monday: Salsa from Preserved Peppers

Each Monday, Daphne’s Dandelions hosts “Harvest Monday” where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. It’s fun to see what everyone is harvesting from their gardens in different areas.
Not much gardening was accomplished this weekend. I ended up working most of the weekend in order to finish a catalog design that has to be at the printer mid-week. It was probably for the best as the weather wasn’t cooperating anyway. It stayed pretty cold and rainy most of the weekend. The snow that coated the ground on Saturday morning was gone by afternoon. The snow was a reality check for me. Although we did have some warm weather earlier this spring, lately it has returned to more normal conditions. April in Maine can be quite unpredictable.
I didn’t have an actual harvest, but I did use some of my preserved harvest from last season.
We were out of salsa. So I made another batch using the chopped, frozen peppers from the garden (salsa recipe here):

It was a shame that I had to use canned tomatoes for this batch, but it still came out great. I can’t wait to make this salsa completely from my garden vegetables.

Be sure to visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others are harvesting this week.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April in Maine

I want to transplant some of my seedlings out…I really do. However, this past week has been rather chilly, 50s during the day and down to the low 30s at night. I didn’t want to have to worry about my transplants in the garden even under cover. So I thought it would be smart to wait a week. Each day I place the lettuce, spinach, onions, and swiss chard outside. And each night I take them inside again. I was really hoping that I could plant them this weekend.

There is a lot that needs attending to in the garden this weekend in addition to planting out some transplants. My raspberry plants came in during the week and should be planted in their permanent location. The new Square Foot Gardens still need their grids. Unfortunately, it looks as though the weather will not cooperate. It is supposed to rain most of the weekend and this is what we woke up to on Saturday:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Weekly Update: Tomato and Pepper Seedlings are Growing

Our temperatures have returned to more seasonable levels mid 50s during the day, down to 30s at night:

EG’s germination method that I began last weekend was a complete success. By the end of the week, every tomato seed germinated. Each day I checked the containers for moisture and signs of radicles growing from the seeds. Once the radicle sprouted, the seed was carefully placed in a soil block, and lightly covered with seed starting mix. These soil blocks were kept on the heat mat until the first sprouts emerged, then they were placed under lights.

The Earl Girl Tomatoes are ready to grow their first true leaves:

I only wish I had used this method with the peppers too. I’ll know better next year. About half the peppers (seeded 3/28) have sprouted. I am still patiently waiting for the remainder.

I spent most of the morning rearranging the soil blocks once again. I needed a shelf under the lights for the newly sprouted tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. It’s time to begin hardening off the parsley, some onions, Swiss chard, more spinach and lettuce. So these soil blocks were combined into one flat and a few smaller containers making it easier to carry in and out of the house:

The rest of the soil blocks were condensed into the remaining flats still under the lights.

Out in the garden, the spinach that was transplanted out last week has held up well with minimal protection:

There is a little yellowing on the bottom leaves of some of the youngest plants, but still more growth forming at the top. More spinach went out today. I wanted to plant out some lettuce too, but decided to wait another week or so because of the frost like temperatures predicted overnight for the next week.

The peas planted last week have begun sprouting:

We purchased some wire fencing and will be putting it up this weekend to keep Bradie and hopefully deer out of the garden:

Once the fence is up, I can determine the placement of the SWCs and begin building the four new 18 gallon SWCs that will be used for growing celery, broccoli, and tomatoes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I had some old Early Girl hybrid tomato seeds. I was unsure of their viability, so I used EG’s germination method to see if any would sprout.

Following EG's instructions, I layered a small plastic container with a paper towel and placed several seeds on top:

I dripped water on the paper towel until it was saturated. Then closed up the container and placed it in a warm place:

I checked it daily for sprouting and made sure the paper towel didn’t dry out. After several days, I added the rest of the seeds to the container. There were eight seeds in all, I was hoping for at least 50% germination out of these old seeds.

After a while, I gave up on these seeds. Assumed they were too old to germinate and placed the container aside. Last Sunday, I thought I would use the container to germinate some newer tomato seeds I recently purchased. When I opened the container and looked at the old seeds, I spotted some growth! Upon closer inspection, I found four seeds sprouted!

I carefully placed the sprouted seeds into soil blocks and misted them with water. I checked them later in the day and found that the sprouts almost doubled in size:

I think I am going to like this germination method. However, I need to be more patient and allow the seed to germinate before giving up on them.

I started the rest of my tomato seeds this past weekend using the same method.

Wish me luck!