Monday, April 30, 2012

Harvest Mondays: April 30, 2012

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 his or her gardens in different areas.

When I lifted the row cover protecting the greens, I saw that one Pak Choi had begun to bolt and others are not far behind. I haven't had much luck growing Pak Choi. Luckily it still tastes good at this stage. One was harvested along with some chives and added to a stir-fry. 

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

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Frosty Nights

Frost has been predicted for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Friday night, I covered the newly transplanted onions. I found no cold damage the following morning. In fact the Rouge D'Hiver lettuce has turned a brilliant red from the cold:

Rouge D'Hiver Lettuce

Transplanted lettuce along the edge of the bed on April 19

After some cold nights 

I didn't worry about the other greens on Friday night because temps were predicted to hover around freezing. The Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, and Pak Choi in the same bed are more established and have already experienced cold temperatures. All are also under row covers which gives them a little protection. 

However, last night and tomorrow night the temperatures are forecasted to be low 20s. I covered them all last night and will cove them again tomorrow night. Better safe than sorry.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Onions Transplanted

Green is bursting out all around the yard and garden after this weekends rain. We gave the lawn its first mow of the season and I will need to trim the paths between the garden beds soon.

Onion, Leek, and Celery seedlings have been hardening off for the past few weeks. I was waiting for the expected rain before transplanting them to the garden.

Now that the ground was damp from the rain this past weekend, the onions were the first to go in. I mass plant my onion seeds to save room under the lights.

To plant, I remove them carefully from the container:

Most times the root all breaks apart like shown above. If the onions were more densely seeded in the containers, the roots would have held the soil together more firmly. Now, I gently tease them apart for planting. I do this one at a time so the roots don't dry out.

I use a fork or small tool to pull the soil forward, place the onion seedling in the hole, and gently push back the soil. No patting or tamping in. 

Pull the soil forward

Place the onion seedling in the hole.

Gently push the soil back.

When the onion seedlings are transplanted, the bed is softly watered in. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Carrot Seed Mats and Some Onions Planted

It has been raining for the past two days. Heavy at times, but mostly a gentle sprinkle. The temperatures are much cooler, more seasonable for this time of the year. I can almost see green sprouting before my very eyes. The grass is ready for its first mow and the leaves are beginning to unfurl among the trees surrounding out property.

Last weekend, K helped me prepare one of the in ground gardens for planting. We removed one of the trellis supports that the pole beans grew on last year to make space for the San Marzano Tomatoes that will be grown on the remaining trellis this year.

Two New Semi-Raised Beds

The garden was amended with compost and mixed in with the Mantis cultivator. K also helped by building two 3x8 foot frames out of 2x4s. These were filled with garden soil amended with compost. Carrots and onions will be grown in one of the new beds and peppers will planted in the other.  

Carrots were the motivation to actually frame in a few beds this year. I have difficulty growing carrots and I am hoping that the slightly raised bed and deeply dug and amended soil will result in a happy place for carrots to grow. 

The carrot seed mats (Granny's method) were made earlier in the season one day when I was dreaming of gardening but the weather was not cooperating. I found some cheap napkins that measured exactly 12x12 inches. I folded the napkins into quarters and glued a couple carrot seeds along the top and left edges and at the crossed creases. They were folded up and stored in zipper bags until ready for planting.

Carrot Seed Mats

After a long workday on Friday, I was able to plant out the carrots and some onion sets into the new bed. The soil was really dry, so I spread out a soaker hose watered the bed well in the morning then again after planting.

Scarlet Nantes and Imperial carrot seed mats planted with Red Baron onion sets in between. Danvers carrots were planted after the photo was taken on the very end. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Finding Seed Potatoes Locally

I was thrilled to visit a local farm and garden center and find a good variety of potato seeds for much less than I was paying for online sources. I sorted through the seeds and weighed out five pounds of Kennebec and five pounds of Red Norland potatoes. I have grown both varieties the past couple of years and feel they have served us well.

New potato seeds spread out to chit

I should have taken inventory of the stored potatoes in the basement before shopping. The potatoes stored really well all winter, much better than last year. The last time I dug through the box for potatoes, I found them sprouting a little and getting a bit soft. I didn't check on them again until this week.

Most of the smaller Kennebec potatoes from last season filtered down to the bottom of the storage box and have sprouted. I planted them in the dry soil yesterday. We are supposed to have some good soaking rain over the next few days and I wanted to double dig the bed while the soil was easier to work. There are about 7 pounds of small potatoes in this box top. Luckily, I have the room to plant the extras.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Lettuce Seedlings

I was covering the newly transplanted kale, spinach, bok choi, and swiss chard with plastic protection for the first few nights after they were transplanted to the garden. I forgot to cover them last Thursday night and was a little freaked to see some frost the following morning, but the plants were fine the next day.

The lettuce had been spending some time outside hardening off over the past few weeks. It was ready to transplant into the garden last weekend, but I wanted to wait until the temperatures cooled down a bit.

Lettuce Soil Blocks in Tray

Yes, I did say cool down a bit. In fact the lettuce had to come INSIDE during the daytime because were near 80s for a few days in the early part of the week. Normal temperatures for us this time of year are usually in the mid 50s. I returned the lettuce outside at night to continue hardening off during this hot spell.

The lettuce was finally transplanted this week.

Mixed Lettuce

Mixed Looseleaf Lettuces and Arugula

Unfortunately, the lettuce seedlings are much larger than I like. The larger size made it difficult to transplant as both the foliage and roots were tangled together. Some are looking pretty limp. I hope they recover.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mud Season MIA in 2012

Spring rains and melting snow usually combine into a muddy mess this time of year for most of us in New England. I am used to dealing with muddy dog prints in the house and waiting for things to dry out before digging in the garden. Not this year. The good news is the garden beds are almost all cleaned up, but bad news is the soil is dry, dry, dry.

Expanding the garden area by removing the grass in between the beds was easy both because the soil was so dry and the grass has not begun to grow yet. It was almost effortless to scrape away the sod and shake the soil out. These beds have been double dug, amended with compost, and will be framed out with pinewood. The frames will help to both to contain the soil and make it easier to trim the grass in between the beds. 

Kale, Swiss Chard, Pak Choi, and Spinach have been enjoying the outside sunshine to the past two weeks and were transplanted to one of the SFGs under protection yesterday. I had to break out the hose and soak the bed first.

Some fencing serves as a hoop to hold a row cover. The whole bed is covered in plastic at night since temperatures are still below freezing.

Spinach, Swiss Chard, Pak Choi, and Kale Under Cover

Swiss Chard


Pak Choi

The garlic bed was also in need of a good soaking: 

Garlic Bed
The shelves in the seed starting area in the basement are filling up:

The lettuce will be next to spend some time outside:

Peppers are taking their sweet time to germinate. Here are a few early sprouters:

There were predictions of rain this week, but we only had a few sprinkles here and there. The wind too has been pretty fierce the past few weeks drying things out even more. We are in great need of a good soaking rainstorm.