Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April 30, 2008

Today was picture day.  I got a call from my youngest mumbling that he wanted to go outside when I got home.  So we got on coats (it's a sweltering 47 degrees and sprinkling) and went out back with my wife's phone.  I got great pics and wanted to share...

Here is a great pic of my spinach in various stages of growth (succession planting).  I was looking for a unit of measurement to show how big they were and my eldest found the perfect one. The biggest plants are half a head high!

Here's another pic under my hoop cover. This one's of my lettuce and cauliflower...

My radishes may be short stemmed, but the bulb is looking great!  They're growing right out of the ground!  Gotta figure out when they're ready to pick...

Here is a less blurry pic of my Butte potato bin... I can't wait for them to gain height to add a board like Judy...

Ok, now for my fruit trees in succession.  First is my plum, then my pear, apple and blueberries.  Love the blooms!

Other than that I am still in search of pallets. Seems most folks that have them in quantity re-use them.  And when they're on craigslist they're gone in a heartbeat.  I may need to find an alternative. I don't mind spending money to build one but it's got to have great airflow.  My grass is in need of a mowing so if I can't find a good solution by this weekend I'll just lay down newspaper on the ground and pile up the clippings and wood chips I saved.  Then I can build around it later. /shrug.

Enjoy your garden!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

April 29, 2008

Like the new look?  I'm still partial to the old theme, but it had a big flaw.  I recently got to look at my blog stats and found that my Build-As-You-Grow Bins page is the favorite among visitors (it's mine too).  Unfortunately with many themes including my old one, you couldn't allow comments on pages, even if you said you wanted comments allowed.  The themes just don't support them.  Weird, but what do I know.  So I chose another theme that did allow comments everywhere. It's clean but functional, kinda like my garden, hehe yeah right!  Anyway, that's why I changed.

That said, now on to gardening.  Starting with weather.  Yesterday was warm (mid 60s) and sunny. Today, it's upper 40s and overcast/wet.  No wonder my plants don't know whether to grow or go dormant.  Next year I'll definitely have hoop covers over all my beds.  This year I figure it's too late to get much benefit from them.  I'll install the holders when I get more brackets and cut more 3/4 inch pipe, and I'll probably buy and store the PVC and plastic because they're all made from oil, and I don't see oil-based products going down in price... ever.  So in a rising cost environment, buy now, use later.  Sorry this is a gardening blog, not Econ 101. hehe.

As for composting, I read a great factoid about weeds.  I knew they robbed soil of nutrients and moisture, but what I didn't know is that weeds have high levels of nutrients in them as a result.  Composting the leaves, stems and even yellow flowers is a great way to return nutrients to your soil via the compost they make.  Just don't compost the puffy clouds.  Hehe, whenever I see one I always pick it and gingerly carry it to the yard-waste container. It's funny to see.

I want to start composting this weekend since I'll mow again (weather permitting) and I have some 6 inch twigs from my cherry tree that will be a good start of "brown" material.  However, I found that most businesses re-use pallets so they're not available to use by the public.  I checked Craigslist and found several places giving them away, if I want to drive a ways.  Hopefully I'll be able to build it and start filling right away, because when GardenGirl says jump, I ask how high!

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, April 28, 2008

April 28, 2008

Good news, I'm getting excited about joining the ranks of the composting few.  I want to build a compost bin out of recycled pallets.  With the space I've got in the back of my yard I figure I can easily fit one two wide and one deep, so I'll need a total of 6 pallets. For the bottom I plan on putting down several sheets of newspaper. I read that you shouldn't use sheets with color on them so I have to surgically dig into my wife's left over papers from her route. The company wants her to recycle the paper ONLY at the distributor's site, but they won't miss the whopping two pages per issue that are 100% black and white. 

I think the only things stopping me right now from building my bins are 1) the lack of pallets, though I'm sure I can find them on Craigs List, and 2) if I can compost dandelions that haven't gone puffy.  See, I've got a neighbor that's cultivating weeds, big bushy ones.  It's impossible to keep weeds out of my yard.  Right now I'm just picking the yellow flowers off the stalks and recycling them.  But I have a question out as to whether or not I can mow them up and compost them. I wouldn't mow up any puffy clouds of seeds, but they yellow flowers would be nice just to grind up.

I don't think I can get a hot compost to work. I've got way too much "green" and not enough "brown" at this time of year.  I'll try to compost as much of the 163 Things you can Compost to keep the brown up, but I doubt I can overcome the tons of grass clippings my 1/4 acre generates. 

I just had to share more about my potatoes.  The Buttes are sprouting up a storm!  I count 5 sprouts from the Butte Bin compared to 2 in the Yukon Gold.  Problem? is that I'm getting multiple sprouts from the same seed potato.  I planted whole potatoes because I didn't want to cut them and most of them were too small to cut.  Do I have to thin these or will they just grow more potatoes just fine all cramped like that?  Rhetorical question, but I'll try to answer it throughout the season.  Very cool though!

Lastly, after I put down my little one (he's such a trooper, he's doing fine, even when I changed his bandage, though he cried when I removed the band aid), I went out to water the garden. It's too dark to take pictures but safe to say, what's sprouted is doing wonderfully!  What hasn't, hasn't.  Oh, and I planted another SF of radishes to succession plant now that they're finally growing!  Now to make dinner for myself and go read my favorite blogs and forums... maybe learn something new!  Isn't gardening fun!?!

Enjoy your garden and thank you for reading! If you enjoy or are learning from my mistakes, please pass this along to your gardening buddies!  Thanks! Sinfonian Barelytone!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

April 27, 2008

Today I started about a dozen corn seeds of both my varieties soaking, as well as 2 SF of bush beans.  I let them soak for a half-hour and then put them in damp coffee filters.  The filters are now in un-sealed zip-lock bags on top of the fridge.  I hope they don't mind being stacked on top of each other.  When they germinate I'll plant them immediately into the garden. 

While the seeds were soaking, I took the opportunity to tour my garden.  For once I went to the potatoes first, mainly because was sure I'd have something popping any day now with the warm weather and keeping the soil moist.  Sure enough, I counted not one, but FOUR sprouts!!! Three in the Butte and one in the Yukon Gold.  Sure they may not be as impressive as Judy's tower, but they are sprouting, even in this wacky weather we've got here this year.

Don't they look cute. Like little cabbages.  I'm sure more will be sprouting any day now.

Yay! I just found out my brother (who doesn't read this blog), picked up some russet seed potatoes from a nursery yesterday and is using an old garbage can to plant them.  That was my original plan, until I found the Build-As-You-Grow Bins.  I'm excited. I gave him some pointers from my research, but we'll see who gets more production. Flatlander the engineer would be proud. It's an experiment!  I've got russets, he's got russets.  Unfortunately for him the above pic is from my Butte bin, so I've got a bit of a head start on him.  Of course he's got a decade of experience on his side, just none planting potatoes.

Anyway, I was going to clean up the back yard so the kids could play outside without poking themselves on a stick, but then I decided the pieces were pretty small (six inches or so) so they'd probably compost and act as some much needed BROWN material.  So I left them on my patio until I can build my compost bin and mow my lawn to get the GREEN stuff.  Unless I come up with a better container. I think I'll build my bin out of 6 pallets.  One for each end and two on each side of the middle.  That way it should be approximately 4x8, assuming pallets are 4x4. Not sure.  I've got tons of grass clippings to put in it.  For the bottom I'll use two or three sheets of news paper.  I hope that's what folks mean by layers.  I'll use the insides of my wife's extra news papers from her route.  Most of the pages have color on them, so I can only use a few inside sheets from each paper.  Maybe I can even use some the excess as brown material to get some heat going.  Plus I'll use the list that I got from of 163 items you can compost.  I may just get some hot composting in this year yet!

I also spent about an hour looking for instructions similar enough to Judy's SWC that I could remember all the steps and make one for my tomatoes.  Unfortunately I struck out, so they'll just have to wait another week. 

While I was outside, I remembered another project I wanted to get done. All of the trees that I cut back the grass around and put compost down over landscape fabric have GREAT blooms all over them. While the trees I didn't help out are looking pretty blah.  So I decided to put some compost down in front of my son's dogwood. I only had one bag of compost left so I decided to do his tree rather than my pear tree.  I'll grab another bag next time I'm at Sky.

Another 400 calories burned with my trusty pick axe and I was ready to compost.  I cut out a 4x4 piece of landscape fabric and split it down the middle.  After fitting it around the tree, I spread my compost around the tree (leaving a few inches room around the base).  Then I put a bag of mulch around it since I had extra.  My kids were "helping" me outside all day, but as I was spreading the mulch, my wife called us in for lunch.  I was not quite done spreading the mulch evenly when I heard her scream!

Filthy as I was, I ran to see what was up.  Owen (the little guy in the picture above) was going inside and tripped on the mat in front of the sliding glass door.  He broke his fall as well as could be expected for a 22 month old, but he hit his head on the edge of the vinyl door frame.  My wife was there and picked him up, only to find that he'd split a 1.5 inch gash into his brow over his left eye!  And me with muddy gloves on.   Cleaning it up we found it was pretty well filleted so we threw a huge band aid on it and ran to the ER. Poor little guy. Three hours later and 4 or 5 stitches, we came home.  He's so tough he only cried when they were stitching him up and mostly because they had him in a straight jacket and were holding his head like a vice. 

After I put Owen down for a much needed nap, I went out and finished my project and cleaned up.  Unfortunately I did it in the rain this time, but this is Seattle, so nothing new.  Anyway, here's an after shot with my wife's camera which takes much better pictures.


If it stops raining, I'll plant some more radishes. Its probably time to finally succession plant the longest maturing radishes on the planet.  Then I'll try to keep my little guy from picking at his stitches.  /sigh

Saturday, April 26, 2008

April 26, 2008

Short post... The Mariner's won!  Pitching fell apart with the bullpen, grrr, two days in a row, but we had enough of a lead for the putz Putz to hold on by a thread to get the save. Anyway, not important.

I didn't get ANYTHING accomplished off my list except to go to the game.  Instead, my aunt showed up with a dozen plants in pots that she stole from her immaculately landscaped yard. 

Here is a "before" picture of the approximately 4 by 6 area where I had to remove sod to create a rock garden.  My aunt calls them that because she likes to put decorative rocks in them.  A while ago this was a flower bed but it got overgrown with grass and grass reclaimed it, all except the elephant ears at the bottom and the tam at the top.  So I used my favorite took, the pick axe, to root out the sod between the tam, around the elephant ears.  I burned 800 calories doing it and boy was it hard work. That pick is heavy. hehe.

After getting some bags of Sky's bulk Potting Mix and some Summit Mulch, that I hope looks better dry, my aunt and eldest son planted all dozen of her plants.  I was busy so I only snapped a few shots, mostly of my son planting.  Here's my favorite showing more of the bed.

Don't ask me what all the plants she planted are. She told me, but unless it's a veggie, I jus think they're pretty.  Though the 4 little pots he's planting now are supposedly called lamb's ears because the leaves are fuzzy soft like lamb's ears.  It looks good, but it took all day and I didn't get anything else done.  Good thing I still don't need my trellis. It may get built tomorrow. And since Judy's SWC instructions are still down, I can't remember all the steps, so I may not build that either.  Grrr. At least the weather was great!  Let's hope it doesn't rain tomorrow.

Friday, April 25, 2008

April 25, 2008

Let me start by confessing to a horrific crime... I'm a seedling killer!  That's right, I took a perfectly healthy growing seedling and slaughtered it.  You see, my spinach was growing awesome... see...

Also notice the empty space between the left hand side and the edge of the bed?  Also notice how close they are together?  Well I got the bright idea to move the far left ones to the empty space.  It's worked with all my other seedlings when I had to transplant them.  Who knew that the root systems were so well developed on plants this size?  I was moving them and RRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPP!!! I left a good amount of the root system where they were.  When I packed them down they kept falling over.  GRRRRRR They may very well have been just fine if I'd left them.  Ah the first year gardening, live and learn, or kill and learn is a better term.

So I'm going to start more spinach germinating.  This time I'll try Toasty's suggestion of the damp coffee filters in a plastic bag.  That way I when they germinate I can just drop them into the ground and let them grow.

The weather's supposed to be good this weekend. Not great, but good.  Good for gardening and projects. So here's my to-do/wish list for the weekend.  I know I should have done it yesterday but what the hey:

- Buy stuff for and build my hoop covers.

- Build my trellis, yes trellis. I plan on building a single trellis to span my three beds along my garage wall for my pole beans, tomatoes, peas and cukes.  Gonna be fun. I'll use 2x4s and either twine or netting if I can find it cheap.

- Succession plant. I've got a whole section of my middle (#2) bed that's bare right now. The plan was for more broccoli and green onions there, but I think I'll be fine with 3 SF of onions and want more lettuce space, so I'll plant more lettuce and maybe spinach.  I'll have enough broccoli if I plant some next to my cauliflower in bed #1.

- Consider building a compost bin.  I think for the first year the three sides I'll try to find some pallets, but I don't know what I'll do for the bottom.  This is a wish list item since I'm not far enough along in the design or research process.

- I actually have to build a SWC.  Unfortunately, the one I stole from Toasty (Thank you again!) is 30 inches and I've only got 24 to work with.  The 18 gallon bins that we've got to hold garbage, err knick-knacks, is 24 inches. So that means I've got to build one for my tomatoes.  They're more than ready to be planted and I'm holding up the show.  Boy do I wish that Judy's blog didn't crash. Her instructions were PERFECT.  I doubt I can remember them all.  And she's been doing stuff for me and and not rebuilding her blog pages.  This needs to happen this weekend.

- Prune my blueberry bushes.  Here they are today...

I know I've got to prune off the buds to help develop strong root systems and thick canes to hold up all those blueberry clusters next year. But I don't want to hurt the leaves but don't know what to pinch.  Is it the little rose-like hard buds?  I think so but don't want to start over with THESE seedlings... hehe.  I probably should have done this already, but I didn't want to do the wrong thing.

- Finally, Saturday evening my father and I are going to the Mariner's game against the Oakland A's. He's got tickets right behind home plate, so this is also a must do... (I'm not a big baseball fan, but I'm not going to miss this time with my dad).

I'll leave you with a pic of my corn. I expect you're also reading Judy's blog for a lesson on what to do (Judy) and not to do (me).  Seriously, she's got several years experience on me, and a climate that tops ours here, but I'm going to do whatever it takes to make this work.  Sure I'll make mistakes, but I'll fix them, so maybe you won't have to.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 24, 2008

When I started my garden adventure, I looked up my zone to put on my gardenweb signature or whatever, and dutifully found that I was in zone 8b.  Then I became acquainted with Judy at and found out that she also is in zone 8b, though thousands of miles away from me.  Both Judy, a vastly more experienced gardener, and I the novice, have been mystified how DIFFERENT our climates are for being in the same zone.  While I'm sitting here in 40 degree weather stunting the growth of my tomatoes, Judy's got hers planted in her SWCs and has a trellis built for her vines.  While I'm reporting dirt cracking in my potato bins, she's on her thrid board and has to add a fourth if I see her pics right.  How can this be?  We deduced that just because both our areas don't get much lower than 20 degrees at any point in the year doesn't mean that we heat up right after the last spring frost like they do in Alabama. 

Today I read in the Seattle P-I that there are actually three different maps with zones to determine what kind of climate you're in.  Knowing all three can help to determine what plants work in your area. 

The first is the USDA Hardiness Zone, which only tells you the low point of the year.  The second is the American Horticultural Society  (AHS) AHS Heat Zone Map that tells the other end of the spectrum. Instead of the USDA's low point, the AHS map shows how many days on average an area gets over 86 degrees.  In my case we're a 2, meaning we get less than 7 days over that temperature, which is about right... it's rare.  To show a major difference between Judy's garden and mine is that she's an 8.

The last is the Sunset Climate Zone Map takes into consideration an areas entire climate.  Sunset used to be just west coast, but they've expanded nationwide.  They've got 45 zones, which is a great many.  But when you're considering the length of the growing season, annual rainfall, humidity and high/low temps, you need that many.  Seattle's a 5, which is characterized as an "English Garden Climate" which makes sense because it's always been my understanding that our climate closely matches England.  Judy on the other hand, is at the other end of the spectrum at 28, which is on the Gulf Coast and is characterized by high humidity and year-round rainfall.  Funny, I thought WE had year-round rainfall. hehe.

So after reading Marty Wingate's P-I Article I've got a better feel for why Judy's garden is so far along than mine. Though if you ask her, she'll say she's going to be reading my blog with my lush garden (hopefully) and fanning herself as she watches her plants wilt and die, pining for the fall when she can plant again. 

Other than this tid-bit, I found more cracks in my potato bins, both of them. That means I'll likely see sprouts soon.  What it also means is that the bins need more water.  For all the forecasted rain lately, I think my garden needed more water, so I watered everything.  It's already easy to forget to water my potato bins and blueberries.  They're on the other side of the yard and require a different hose.   Speaking of the BBs, I need to figure out what exactly I'm doing to remove the buds.  I wish GardenGirl had that in her video, or someone else had a video. I should research that.

Finally, I didn't take pictures today, but I should tomorrow. But I swear in one day my spinach leaves went from blades of grass to half-inch wide ovals.  AMAZING!  Ain't nature wonderful, and I'm a firm believer in the hoop cover helping along my seedlings and seeds in that bed to get growth in this anemic weather we're having. 40 degrees is NOT growing weather.  Come on Spring!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April 23, 2008

Wow, was today fun!  Dirty, but fun. It started out with taking my kids to an exotic animal farm in Arlington (Outback Xmas Tree and Kangaroo Farm).  They've got lemurs, turkeys, emus, lamas, kangaroos, wallabies, peacocks, exotic ducks and other animals.  The kids loved it, and I had fun too.

When I got home, the forecast was just as wrong today as it was yesterday. In other words, it was beautiful. 55 and partly cloudy.  So Logan and I went out and played in the garden (after I cleaned our shoes, they were muddy and manury hehe).  The garden looked good.  Things were growing and leaves were bursting out of previously unknown places.  Amazing.  Just look at how many leaves my radishes now have, and this soon after being covered by 4 inches of snow!

Look at all those leaves!  I just hope they're growing the radishes as well down below. They are root crops after all.  Also note how well the onions behind them are doing?  Funny thing about the onions. I planted some inside, then planted some more inside and transplanted them outside. Finally I direct sowed some outside.  I can't tell any of them apart at this point, and I planted them.  Seriously, I know which ones are new and which are old, but they all look the same far along.  Odd, but ok. Besides, I don't eat them anyway.  *Sinfonian's not worried about retribution, his wife doesn't read his blog*  hehe

Also note the cold frame (read window) propped up against the garage.  I'm hoping that it helps magnify the sun to warm the soil to germinate my precious cuke seeds. I've got tons of Green Slam left, but the Breeze and SMR 58s from Toasty I'm down to my last few seeds. I was hoping to save them for next year, but if these don't germinate, I'll have to learn how to harvest seeds from pickles to grow more next year, hehe.  Can you use pickle seeds to grow cukes? Doubt it.  Let's hope these still germinate.

For grins, I also took a current pic of my peas...

Gotta love all the leaves that are shooting out.  They're not growing taller, but they're very full. I hope that's good.  Also, most of the replants I did a while ago have sprouted, but I still need to fill in a blank or four.  I want to have full coverage for these peas.  Radishes I don't care if I lose some spots to germination, but trellis space is at a premium.  So I'll give them another few days and dig them up and try once again.  I guess that gives me some forced succession planting, but I hadn't planned on it for peas. /shrug  Maybe I should have germinated them inside. I'll try Toasty's coffee filter trick (no, she didn't start it, but she was the last person to suggest it to me, hehe) for any more replants.

After that we ducked under the hoop cover and surveyed my territory.  Things were growing well again, but I decided to thin my lettuce.  But I didn't want to lose those seedlings so I attempted to transplant the little seedlings that were RIGHT next to the other seedlings that were staying.  Let's just say I said what the heck and started moving them. If they survive, no problem. If not, I'll just succession plant more. I have TONS of lettuce seeds.  It was fun but my son wasn't happy that he couldn't help. It was too delicate work for a 4 year old.  He helped water though. Then we played on the swing so he was happy (I weeded a bit). I also saw the my first potato sprout break dirt!  Only one from the Butte bin, but I'm sure others will follow.

Tonight I spent time helping my wife re-image her computer (EEK!) and spent time on the boards.  We've got some new members, one of which posted here a few days ago, Hey Joe! Welcome!  We also had some vibrant discussion about composting. I'm trying desperately to start composting. I had pretty much given up after deciding that I couldn't get the proper composting materials in sufficient quantities to hot compost, and cold composting just took too darn long.  But I do have this great space in my yard for a bin if full sun isn't a prerequisite, and there's still the ton of grass clippings that I send off to Cedar Grove.

So when a co-worker's father suggested I just pile my yard waste in a corner and let it compost over the year, I decided to check it out again.  Too many people told me I should.  After several posts from many helpful folks, Joe suggested I use a cat litter bucket with the lid on for a bokashi bin-like device.  Apparently it works using a starter (like a sourdough bread mix) of wheat bran and sugar, to break down kitchen scraps into compost under your sink.  The cool part is you can use the dregs from the bottom of the box of mini-wheats as a starter. I can do that, and my brother uses that type of kitty litter, so I may do that.  The pile is still under debate, but it looks like cold composting is the best I can hope for unless I want to buy or manufacture "brown" compost waste to offset mountains of "green" grass clippings.  More to come on this for sure.  Heck, I may just bite the bullet and get a worm bin. But then what would I do with my mountain of grass clippings?

Lastly, I just wanted to say hey to my garden buddies in (on) Long Island, New York!  I've been emailing a garden buddy for a while to chat about gardening, and then I realized that she lives near Alberta, who introduced me to winter sowing.  Pretty cool!

Enjoy your garden and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!  Though I must say it's grown into Earth Month, at least around here.  We're kinda green like that.  Reflecting back, I can't say I have ever celebrated Earth Day better than this year with my own garden. Everything's natural, green and for the most part either recycled or designed to last forever.  No I'm not perfect.  If I was there'd be nothing to strive for.  My garden is at a good point for me, with just enough projects to keep me busy this year.  Next winter I'll tackle more projects when I get bored, especially if over wintering and winter sowing don't take up much time.

The forecast was for rain today, not showers, but rain.  Instead, we've had overcast to sunny skies all day.  The tomatoes were out for a long walk and I removed the cover from my radishes and onions.  I did that by propping the window against the house to create a steep lean-to over the cucumber squares.  It won't insulate but it will magnify the light.  That's got to count for something.  It was the only thing I could do since my onions were bumping up against the window. I don't want to fry the tops. 

I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not, but I plan on building hoop covers for at least three of my beds, though probably all of them.  I would have to water by hand, which flies in the face of Earth Day, but the seedlings LOVE the green house environment of a hoop cover.  I had hoped to go tonight to get the supplies, but my wife is out tonight with the van, so I can't go anywhere.  Ah well, I've got tomorrow off.

Tomorrow I get to go to an actual Kangaroo farm and hold joeys and other baby animals.  My kids will love it!  Then I can hopefully spend some time in the garden.  I'd really like to get the hoop covers installed so I can put away the cold frames that aren't working with big seedlings anymore.  Of course I could just build up the cold frames, but then they'd be even heavier than they already are. hehe.

Lastly, in my 5 minute garden tour today after work, I found the start of a potato plant breaking the surface.  It was cracking the sun hardened Mel's Mix so I dug down a quarter inch and found a stalk about the size of a pencil.  Can't be anything but a potato plant (Butte).  Good, because now I can remove the little lettuce looking weeds that are growing up from the bins.  Hehe I didn't know if they were potatoes so I left them.  I know they floated in because they wiggle right out, root and all. They are all over that area. Not sure what plant they are but I'm sure they're not dandelions.  Ah well, out of my bins!

I hope you thought about what Earth Day means to you and what you can mean to the Earth.  I really believe that just one family growing their own garden can make a sizable dent in the challenge of turning the environment around!  Please join me!


Monday, April 21, 2008

April 21, 2008

Let's just start right off with April 1 was NOT my Last Frost Day!  20 days later I get a frost. Not a heavy one, but one that would have killed my tomatoes if I had them out.  I'm glad that I kept the covers over everything and plan to do so for a few more days at least.  I'm also glad that my potatoes haven't broken the surface. I was disappointed that they hadn't yesterday. Today I'm glad they haven't. hehe.

Ok, that part was written this morning while I was eating breakfast. I admit I hadn't been outside, only looked out my window.  What I got was not frost, but instead was frozen hail. It was in sheets on our cars.  Still not good for plants, but not precisely a frost.

While I was at work I had a little blog panic.  I got an email from wordpress saying my password and login had been changed.  Funny since I NEVER access my blog from work. I may talk gardening to the interested parties there, but never give them a chance to say I'm mis-using company property.

Needless to say after talking to my wife and finding out I was no longer logged in at home and she couldn't log me back in, I was stressed. But it wasn't ALL I could think of on the bus ride home.  I was thinking how beautiful the day was. It was partially sunny and in the mid 40s... balmy really hehe.  I was also thinking that only half my front yard was mowed.  Part of having a garden is keeping up the rest of your yard work.  Something my allergies and I do not agree on. 

So knowing that my wife had a class tonight, I raced home changed clothes and ran out to mow.  I got 20 feet and ran out of gas.  Filled up, got going and found that the grass wasn't any easier to mow than before the snow.  Every 15-20 feet I had to stop and unload the bag because it jammed.  I got less than half of it done when my wife informed me she was late so I had to come in and watch/feed the kids.  Eek, the yard looked even worse with an island of tall grass on half my yard.  So while I was making dinner I called my brother. YAY! He's just down the street watching my niece at Tae Kwon Do.  He'll come right over to watch the kids eat.  Back out I go.  It takes another half hour and it starts sprinkling but I finished! WHEW. 

Two completely full yard waste containers, one for each half of my yard.  I'm not supposed to have two out but maybe they'll make a first spring exception.  Now you can see just how much grass I go through. At least one of these gets filled every other week during the season.  If I had a compost bin for all my grass, I'd have to have it be half the size of my back yard!  I'm still wondering about that.

A co-worker's father told me to do cold composting with my grass clippings. Just put them in a bin and mix them up every week or two and in a year I'd have great compost.  hehe That's where he suggested I plant my potatoes, in the bottom of the compost bin.  I didn't have the heart to tell him I've already got the perfect system set up.

Oh, and my manic from this afternoon was for not.  Judy was just updating my blog at my request.  I kinda figured it was her, but I wasn't sure.  Can't wait to try out all the new functionality.  Hope you benefit from it as well.

Lastly, when my brother was leaving, I gave him the quick tour. He was impressed by my hoop covers and how well my garden was fairing.  He has been reading on companion planting so I'll send him my two links... Country Brook Farms companion planting site and Wikipedia's Companion Planting entry  He's still trying to figure out how to get more out of his 80 SF when 32 SF is used up for garlic and 32 is still covered by an overwinter crop (the last 16 SF is herbs).  He's hoping to interplant onions between the garlic. I should think that's ok since their both Alliums. /shrug.  I keep telling him to expand and build more boxes. He's got an entire side yard that would be perfect.  My guess is he doesn't want to have it out in the open.  I can't blame him, it is a concern of mine too. Though I must say, it looks amazing in everyone else's yard (including Toasty's and my neighbor down the street).

Happy gardening all!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April 20, 2008

Wow, I had just about written off the day and most of my seedlings.  But with both the sick kids down for naps (abnormal for the eldest), I decided to go out and take a peek under the covers. 

The first thing I noticed when I lifted the plastic curtain off the front of my bed #1 was that my old spinach plants have done quite well, despite the cold and snow.  For comparison, here's what those same seedlings looked like right after I realized I'd planted onions next to them and moved the onions. I should really move them to space them correctly and give them more room to grow.  But can you believe that was only 15 days ago?!?

Now for the seeds I planted 15 days ago when I transplanted the onions away. I filled in the final three spinach for the row and direct sowed one and a half more SF.  I do not remember there being any sprouts when I covered the bed for the most recent snow.  Now look!

They're small but they sprouted when the entire garden was covered in 4 inches of snow!

Farther into the bed, I wanted to show how my lettuce and cauliflower were growing in their confinement and cold.  Remember that the temps ranged from 32 to 40 for three straight days.  I must say that when I was surveying my domain, I noticed the tell-tale condensation under the hoop cover (that's a good sign).


The foreground is the lettuce, and though I didnt' take pictures, even the new direct sown seeds have sprouted.  Behind it is my prize cauliflower, the other survivor of my failed indoor seed starting.  I didn't want to climb all the way into the bed, or take the clamps off, so you can just barely see the green of my carrot seedlings.  They're doing quite well. Though how would I know?  I'm new at this. 

Lastly, I pried up one side of the corn bed coldframe. Boy is it heavy. And it's tough to take a picture with one hand, but look at the growth of the corn seedlings!

Of course I took a picture of the best looking ones, but these guys have definitely grown, and starting to get leaves or whatever corn get.  Ahem, if you recall, I didn't put the coldframe over the bed until AFTER 4 inches of snow covered the bed.  It may kill the seeds that didn't sprout, but the seedlings are doing well.

I'll probably try the damp coffee filter technique that Toasty (and others) use.  That way I can wait until the corn seeds sprout, and drop them right in the ground. That way I know they've germinated and don't have to worry about transplanting corn. I hear they don't like that.

So early indications are that the seedlings under the covers thrived through all that snow and freezing temps. And the ones I couldn't or didn't cover survived.  I dodged a bullet with this one.  And after I've seen what the hoop cover can do in freezing temps, I may just leave it up until the weather really turns, giving my plants a jump start. Something to think about. I'd want to get materials to do all my beds with hoop covers.  Probably cost me another $40 or so due to all the 4 mil plastic.  The PVC and clamps would be pretty cheap.

April 19, 2008

Well, I didn't do much yesterday.  A bit bummed about the weather, and the snow still hasn't cleared.  Yesterday was rain/snow/hail showers all day, though no accumulation.  I did get out and take some pictures and cover the snow-covered radishes with clear plastic held down by bricks.  A real down and dirty cover.  Hopefully it's not a case of closing the barn door after the horses are gone.   The reason no post yesterday was that my wife was out all evening and she had her phone with the pics on it. hehe.  I was in bed before she got home.  So today is a combined post.

Here is my rush job to put back up my hoop cover.  Looking at the picture I just noticed that the second PVC is crooked.  Ah well, it's holding it up.  You can't see it, but the far left PVC isn't connected to the top beam because the twist tie fell off and I couldn't find the bag to replace it.  It still holds up. /shrug.  Also note I followed Judy's advice and put large binder clips around the plastic, connecting it to the PVC.  Before I added the next one I pulled the plastic taunt, creating a decent seal.  All except the far right where I ran out of binder clips.  Ah well, there's nothing growing there, that's where my pole beans will be after I get the SWC set up. 

Glad I didn't follow through with doing the SWC and tomatoes this weekend.  My tomatoes are currently back upstairs in 55-60 degree weather with full sun.  They seem to be doing fine with it.  And I must say, this time Mel's Mix is holding moisture very well.  I soak it once a week and it's still moist 7 days later.

Here's bed #2.  I couldn't cover all the peas with the coldframe due to the trellis being in the way, but I covered the bean seeds (if they'll ever sprout). I've got 2 SF planted, but if they don't work, I'll start the next set inside and plant them once they've sprouted.  Hehe I think I'll wait until the weather changes before I go through the trouble.  Oh and the peas do seem to be holding up. They've really begun to unfurl tons of leaves on the largest seedlings.  Finally, the little knife sticking up from the field of snow is where my broccoli is.  When the snow melted, it looked ok.  It's a cool weather crop but I didn't expect much from the snow.

The small bed #3 got covering over the cuke seeds and the onion seedlings.  The radishes were left out in the cold. After I took this picture I did throw a piece of clear plastic over the radishes. I put two steaks down into the dirt to hold the plastic off the seedlings and then weighed the plastic down with bricks.  The radishes appeared to weather the storm well enough.  We'll see.

Lastly comes bed #4, or the corn bed.  With my wife's help yesterday we lifted it on top of the bed and raked back some of the snow with our fingers to uncover the seedlings.  You can see that the relative heat under the coldframe melted the bit of snow we left but not the pile of fluff over the unused portion of the bed.  We'll see, I'm not holding out hope for the corn seeds that hadn't sprouted, and maybe the seedlings won't make it.  Live and learn.  I knew I was jumping the gun.  The book may say when to plant corn, but our specific climate is too cold for that.

I raced outside in the cold and snapped a few pics.  Here is my best broccoli plant (the sole survivor of my indoor seed starting. Can you believe this guy used to be leggy? Of course you can tell it's not huge yet (compare it to the plastic knife in the ground next to it. hehe)


Oh, and since Judy shared pics of her magnolia, I felt inclined to do the same.  This is the one that the cherry tree fell on, forcing me to hack it back.  Then the snow weighed it down. Odd how the trunk will reshape to fit any position you move it in for an hour or 24.  The cherry tree flattened it for a few hours and it stayed that way. The snow moved it into my yard area and it's still there.  I may need to tie it up to get it off my patio.

This is a shot from inside my garden area. It looks better from the east looking west due to the sun exposure.  My neighbor loves it and it provides shade for my patio/deck, so it stays. 

Well that's about it for my lazy weekend inside.  The family's sick and I'm taking care of them while trying to take care of my plants outside.  Can't wait for the real spring to arrive and stay.

Friday, April 18, 2008

April 18, 2008

Let it snow let it snow let it snow!  Last Saturday it was 80 degrees. Six days later it's 34 and we have 4 inches of snow!  On April 18, 2008 we broke a record.  The last time it snowed this late was April 17, 1972.  I was just over a month old and recently home from the hospital.  I can only imagine my mom carrying me on her shoulder telling me how pretty the snow was as my brother was out making a snowman.  He was 4 at the time.  Today, my 4 year old played in the snow and made a snowman all by himself. 

Thank goodness I prepared my beds last night.  The peas, broccoli and radishes were uncovered and will remain that way. They're tough, they can handle it.  But my corn. There's the problem.  As I said before, I couldn't lift my 4x8 cold frame by myself without breaking it.  I figured I had tonight to put it over the corn because snow wasn't forecast until tomorrow.  Boy was I wrong. 

As you can see, the bed's got 2-3 inches of snow on it.  We raked back most of the snow from where the corn was planted, then placed the cold frame over it.

Funny how the frame is being held up by the snow-pack underneath. The frame is not even touching the bed.  Hopefully the snow will melt soon and make a seal.  And hopefully the corn is hearty enough to survive.  If not I will need to replant. Then I will run out of corn seeds and need to buy more. 

Here are a few more shots taken at 9:30. Sorry, the flash isn't that great on those camera phones.  Enjoy and hope for Spring to come to Seattle...

Back yard 4-18-08

Here's my back yard, minus a cherry tree with my plum tree next to my shed.

Collapsed Lilac Bush

Here's a collapsed lilac bush that I'm toying with getting rid of if it causes a shadow on my corn.  Now it's IN my garden, hehe.

My front yard. Even the dogwood is drooping due to the weight of the snow.

Well I'm going to change into dry clothes and watch a movie.  Night all. Hope it's warmer where you're at!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 17, 2008

Wow, we're not in Kansas anymore Toto!  Not sure where we are, but this isn't Seattle.  The latest I recall getting snow is late March, and that was insane.  Now we're sitting in mid April and they're forecasting SNOW for this area.  Not just in the mountains, but the lowlands as well.  The temps are also supposed to get into the low 30s at night.  If it weren't for the precipitation I think we'd get frost!  And I've planted warm weather crops!

So after hearing it from several people at work that either garden or know I do, I rushed home and started mowing my front yard.  It was sprinkling, so I had to mow tall wet grass. Insane I know. But my front yard looks horrible, and I'm the only one in the area that hasn't mowed multiple times.  It's just never been good weather when I had time.  With the forecast we've got this weekend. I knew tonight was my last chance (and it wasn't forecast for rain today).  Just shows you how bad the forecasts are for good weather this time of year.  So I got half my front yard mowed. I chose the half that is next to my picky neighbor to stay on his good side.  My 80 year old neighbor is too cool to care.  Maybe Sunday if I get a clear hour. It'll be crazy again, unloading a jammed bag every 15 feet, but worth it. 

So after I filled up one whole yard waste container (50 gallon I think) with half my front yard (yep, I make TONS of grass clippings a year).  I broke out my hoop cover. It was stored behind my shed for the season, but it went up pretty fast.  Then I had to find my tarp.  It was of course in the garage, not where it belongs (bad Sinfonian!).  It actually went up fast alone. This time I used the jumbo binder clips I got to clip the plastic to the PVC.  I would have taken a picture but by then it was pouring rain and pretty dark.  I didn't get home until 6:15.  I'd say it took all of 5 minutes to set up the hoop cover after I found all the stuff.  It'd go faster if my wife wasn't under the weather and in her PJs and bathrobe inside gamely watching the kids. 

Then I pulled out my cold frames.  I couldn't lift the 4x8 by myself, so I put the small windows over my bean seeds and my cuke seeds.  Neither have sprouted but I'd kind of like them to. hehe The big cold frame will go over my corn bed  Unfortunately it won't cover all the seeds and seedlings as I planted one row of two varieties, so even though it doesn't take up all 10 feet, it takes up more than 8 feet because I planted all my seeds then moved down to half-way to start the next variety.  I'll take my chances.

I also noticed that my gutter leaks or my roof doesn't completely drain into my gutter in one spot.  That means that I have a puddle on the side of my corn bed. It's only 4 inches around but that'll kill any corn plant there.  Not sure what to do about it since the roof in question is two stories up.

All this time I've been looking and wishing my potatoes would sprout, I'm glad that I couldn't see anything poking up in the twilight as I was heading in for the evening.  That and the only veggie that didn't get covered (besides the corn that will be covered tomorrow) that isn't a cold weather crop (broccoli) are my radishes. They're already breaking the world record for days to actual maturity, so what's another weekend?

My SWC is still sitting outside.  It needs some interior clean-up, but I'll do that this weekend.  There's only a little dirt in the bottom, but there are weeds growing in it, so the dirt's got to go.  It's actually built slightly differently than Judy's design. There's no pond basket. It uses 3 inch corrugated pipe with two pipes with holes in the "bottom" to allow dirt in to soak up the water.  I've seen that design on the internet before. Six of one, half dozen of another I guess.  Thank you Toasty and Mr. Toasty for letting it go to good use!  I don't think with the weather we're going to have this weekend that I'll actually plant them, but the SWC will hopefully be ready.

If you're a reader of Judy's blog (link on the right), she's got a HUGE to-do list for this weekend. I normally use Thursday to list my to-do list, but this weather's got me bummed out, so aside from the SWC and hopefully getting the rest of my yard mowed, I'll likely rake my back yard to get up all the small branches and twigs from the cherry tree demo last weekend. Other than that, I'll take it easy.  Work is stressful, and the weather's not allowing me to relax in the garden. Grrr.

Well, time to get ready for bed.  Rough night and the family's sick. Add that to not sleeping well and it's time to take some vitters and hit the sack.  Enjoy your garden and hope your weather's better than here!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

April 16, 2008

YAY, I finally had the time to pick up Toasty's SWC! Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Toasty! Amazing house. I'm jealous of their all southern exposure lot!  Now I have to get it ready and plant my tomatoes. They're ready. I did keep them under the eave today but it didn't really rain. Anyway, they've been hardened like steel. And my brother says they're fine to go out.  Good enough for me.

I may build a second one. Not sure. Pear tomatoes would be nice!  May have to find some seedlings of those.

Today was another late night getting home. I had to stare at my dirt looking for green in twilight.  I just found out I'm not alone though. All gardeners stare at dirt for sprouts.  Normal people must think we're crazy. I know everyone at work thinks I am.  I like talking about my garden to the few people that care, and others hear me.  Ah well. I know I'm doing what's right for my family and sustainability. 

Speaking of sustainability. Ron from posted this great video link. Story of Stuff  Even a child can understand most of the points in this eye opening video.  Makes me think growing my own veggies is a better and better thing all the time!

Lastly, I love having people comment on my blog. When I started this I really thought nobody but a few friends would read this.  I hope you enjoy yourselves. I'm having so much fun with my garden and love to share.  Even when it means spending a half hour typing an email to help a grandmother build extra tall raised beds like mine so her husband can garden without bending over so much.  Gotta love emails like that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April 15, 2008

TAX DAY!  Hope you got yours filed, because if you didn't, you won't get your freebee money this summer that nobody's going to spend so it won't do bubkus for the economy.  I actually filed today because I was worried I had an error and needed to check something.  Part of my refund will be used for the deck...

Anyway, I've got 3 minutes to finish this post before it's the 16th, so I'll make this short and sweet.  I saw sprouts!  Very few seeds have sprouted, but it's a start.  My new spinach, replant peas, and lettuce are all showing itty bitty green.  Very cool. 

The tomatoes are too wet, so when I got home I moved them to the dry spot under the eve where my water hose is going.  It still gets light, but not all the rain.  If they need water I'll water.

Really short. Night all.

Monday, April 14, 2008

April 14, 2008

Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day.  After I've mowed and finished cleaning up the yard of tree debris.  My tomatoes spent the day outside in the 45 weather and rain, because they'll be in that sooner or later.  I just brought them in at dark and they're looking a bit droopy.  Probably a bit much water. Maybe tomorrow I'll stick them under the eve of my house where it stays dry but gets sun and wind. 

Tonight was a blog reading night.  I don't have much to say other than gardening friends of mine have been just as busy as I have been.  Spring is here and gardeners are out all over. 

When the weather improves. I'll take my kids for a walk for a few blocks to see a house that JUST built 4 or 5 raised bed boxes.  Can't wait to talk gardening to them!

Lastly, I noticed that I hadn't shared my brother's newly weeded garlic bed.  It's growing nicely!  If only he could harvest now so he could replant more veggies.

Notice his over-winter cover crop in the other bed?  He' just cut it down and will till ALL that into a 6 inch bed. He's going to get a LATE start this year.  Of course my beds are planted but doing squat.  What we need is a few more days like our 80 degree one.  Not going to happen. /Sigh

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 13, 2008

Boy was I exhausted this morning.  I had hoped to wake up early and tackle mowing  front yard and then do clean-up, but between the soreness and late night, I didn't get up in time.  And the weather's not going to hold.  Grrr.  My grass is getting really long.


Clean-up was just my dad and I, and his hip was killing him.  Enough said. I worked my tail off.  This pic represents about 1/10th the amount of green material we took down Saturday.  It was insane.  I had toyed with the idea of chipping up some of this as brown material to work with the tons of green that I had just mowed.  Unfortunately my folks' chipper is on its last legs and they didn't want to use it on this cherry blossom tree.  Besides, every square INCH of sunny area in my yard is being used for something.  So any compost bin would need to be in at least partial shade. 

So we ended up taking the branches to the dump. They have a clean green section that goes to Cedar Grove where I get my compost.  It costs the same as the dump, but at least it doesn't go to a landfill and I get the opportunity to pay $28 a yard to get it back... hmm. 

In the end, we took 0.83 tons, or 1,660 lbs of branches to the dump.  The trunk and thick branches we bucked up.  Cherry wood burns slower and safer than alder, so my 80 year-old neighbor that came over to "help" after I warned him that a huge branch we were topping may crush our mutual fence.  Thankfully a huge magnolia branch cushioned the fall, but it bent it 90 degrees and it wouldn't go back, so unfortunately it was gone too.  Now my neighbor is the only one that gets the benefit from the magnolia tree as there are no more trunks or branches leaning my way.  I kind of feel bad because it and my pear tree are both growing over the fence into his yard.  That's because of the southeast exposure.  He doesn't mind, he likes the flowers and the pears.  Hehe.

I did get a chance to talk to him about our mutual blackberry patch.  Again, he's got the southeast exposure.  So he wasn't worried about the poor harvest because he didn't have a poor harvest.  I've got to pick from his side, hehe.  He wasn't opposed to the idea, but we'll talk more later. 

In case you haven't been reading my blog for a while, this is a mature Himalayan blackberry bramble in my back 40.  With blackberries, once a cane has produced fruit, it's dead and should be removed. News to me.  It's never been done here.  So my goal is to mow down 1/3 of this bramble every year so that we get the most harvest. 

I also took this great picture during one of our breaks. The sun was bright and the neighbor's fence was of course causing a shadow into my garden area.  I immediately noticed that the shadow was doing exactly as I had designed it to do. MUAHAHAHA! I control shadows, they bend to my garden design!  It's really a great picture of what my garden currently looks like. It's not much but spring has just sprung...

Well, the rain started earlier than I had hoped it would so my front yard is STILL not mowed.  And my other neighbor was away this weekend and still got his yard mowed.  I'm so bad.  It's just so tall now that any dew or rain makes it impossible to mow.  I never let it get this high, but we've been soooo busy and it's such an ordeal to mow a quarter acre.  It will get done, maybe tomorrow.  But I've also got to get the SWC from Toasty, and my wife has a class in the evening.  Goodness. 

Well, it's late and I've got to get up early for work.  Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

April 12, 2008

True to my word, I didn't post yesterday.  I'll summarize the Friday's events to give perspective for today.  I went to work early to go home early to help with the auction.  Early means leaving for work before 6.  Then around noon my wife calls to say that her mother fell at work and broke her foot, messed up her back and hurt her knee.  So she's heading out to go take her dad to go get her mom (she can't drive with a cast on her right foot).  So I end up leaving really early to help watch the boys.  I end up helping prepare for the auction, scrambling to put everything together at the last minute.  The auction went very well, we doubled our initial Kentucky Windage guess for money for the school and we got the garden basket for the kids (paid nearly retail for it, as opposed to the adult garden basket that went for $5 over the cost of the gift certificate in it!).  Late night.

We started early today.  I mowed the back yard and checked the garden.  Everything looked great, including my tomatoes that I left out overnight because the forecast was for 70 today and it was 60 when I went to bed.  Good weather to harden off the plants for transplanting this weekend (if I can get the SWC from Toasty that is). 


We ended up starting to cut down the tree and bush (in the top pic with the white flowers)at around 11 and it took until 5 before we wrapped up.  We filled the truck with branches and stuff, but bucked up the big stuff to use or give away (my 80 year old neighbor wanted it and he "helped" so it was cool).  Boy was it hard work because my dad's not physically healthy and my aunt's not particularly strong, so I ended up doing most of the heavy lifting.  I ended up burning 1,500 calories!  Boy was it hard work, but we did take several breaks. I didn't get around to mowing the front yard, shame on me.

I guess it's a good time to mention that the temperature actually hit 80 degrees!!!!!!!!! EEK! That's August weather for here.  And I was out in the yard the whole time.  The plants loved though!  I swear that the spinach, lettuce and radishes ALL started to grow their second set of real leaves TODAY!  And the peas are really growing after that heat.  Oh, did I mention that I watered three times today?

The last time I watered was when my eldest and I went out and gardened after they got home from a day away from the dangerous trees and saws.  He helped me plant another SF of beans, 3 SF of cukes, and 1 SF of broccoli.  Finally, we actually planted corn today!  We planted all 16 peat pucks whether or not they'd sprouted.  About half of the ones that didn't sprout had mold growing on the pucks. GRRRR.   Anyway, in addition we direct sowed another 16 seeds to succession plant my corn.  I almost got a full row of corn at 3 inch spacing.  That spacing is awfully tight when using peat pucks.   It looks great though!  Too bad my wife's camera phone ran out of battery life after one shot. 

After mowing the back yard, taking down the trees and gardening with the kids, we went for our walk. Exhausted, we tackled finishing up taxes for this year (Tuesday's the deadline if you're procrastinating like me).  Our taxes were done except for my wife's paper route and another small business she has.  I hate schedule C's.  Anyway, it's midnight and I can't think straight, so I'm going to bed.  Tomorrow is clean-up.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April 10, 2008

I got to thinking on the way home about my hardening off project with my tomatoes.  I had called home and begged my wife to take my eldest upstairs to have him "help" bring down my tomato plants and put them back outside at 5. That way they'd have 2 hours of outside time before 7ish when it starts to get dark.  What I thought about is that at least in this area, the high temps for the day are always in the later part of the afternoon/evening and never in the morning or early afternoon.  So since Judy told me that I should put my tomatoes outside only if it's 50, it's a good thing I wait until after work to put them out.  They actually got a bit of rain on them because I was busy posting on Ft2Garden at the time and didn't see the weather change.  I just watered them last night so they didn't need the water, but hopefully it toughened them up a bit.

I hope I'm hardening them off correctly.  I'm increasing their time outdoors one hour a day in a partially secluded spot with as full a sun as overcast skies can give.  My hope is to get my SWC, get it ready and plant this weekend... Sunday maybe.

I look forward to Thursdays.  In my hometown newspaper, the Seattle P-I, they have their garden section on Thursdays.  I am partial to Chris Smith's Edibles column (I've talked about it before) mostly because he talks fruits and veggies and that's what I grow.  Sorry Ciscoe, but I'm less interested in pruning my rhodies. That's what I have my aunt for.

Anyway, it got me thinking. They publish their garden section on Thursday for a couple of reasons I think.  First, people are too busy on Friday getting their weekend started to read the paper. Second, gardeners plan their weekend to include Friday, so they're planning on Thursday.  Perfect timing to have Ciscoe's To-Do List column. 

I say this because I too have a busy weekend planned, and will likely be taking Friday off of posting.  I've got to leave work early to help set up for an important fund raising auction for my son's co-op preschool.  They're likely losing their lease so they'll need funds to find a new location and relocate.  It's my wife's first time running such a thing so she's enlisted my help along the way.  Busy Friday...  Speaking of the auction, there are a couple of cool items to bid on.  A kids gardening basket with tons of great real tools for kids (Logan's got plastic ones now), plus some seeds.  Another gardening item is 2 hours of expert pruning help.  I've got my aunt who's decently experienced so I don't need that one.  Finally, there are few gift certificates to nurseries.  Gotta love it!

With no post Friday, it's all the more reason to post my To-Do List for this weekend now.  Ciscoe would be proud :)

- Mow my lawn.  I've been putting it off due to the weather and being busy in the garden.  Unfortunately I'm the last person in my neighborhood to mow this spring, so it's got to be done.  Saturday morning's the time for it because starting early Saturday I'm busy...

- Take down a 30 plus foot cherry blossom tree.  I'll try to take a picture before we take it down to show you, but it's monstrous!  It's also destroying the patio right next to it, creating a dangerous hazard for one and all with the patio slabs raised up a few inches. Tripping on concrete is bad news.  So it's got to come down before we build our deck over the ruined patio.

- Get the SWC from Toasty.  Maybe my wife can pick it up when she's in the neighborhood going to the zoo Saturday.  She's got the mission to keep the kids out of the way while we fall trees.

- Clean up SWC and prep it for tomatoes.  It's currently got weeds in it since Toasty and her husband haven't used it for a few years. 

- Plant my tomatoes.  My brother says I should get them in the ground so it's time. And with the weather planned for in the upper 60s, early 70s, the tomatoes will LOVE IT!  Let's hope it stays nice for a while. My anemic seedlings could sure use some sun and heat.

I was thinking, if I had a way to chip up that tree, there would be some great brown matter for a compost bin, since I'll have TONS of grass clippings tomorrow. And even if there are dandelions in the mix, they're not close to seeding so I shouldn't worry.  Too bad my folk's chipper is on it's last legs so they only use it for little jobs so the wood's going to the dump to be composted by others and bought by me at $25 a yard. hehe  Some day I'll compost. /sigh

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April 9, 2008


Sinfonian mourns the loss of both Judy's blog and  Thousands of hours of blood sweat and tears went into the creation of those two sites..  And to think it was all because some server guy wanted to clean things up or something.  If you do that, don't let the backups be overwritten.  Seems a no-brainer to me.

(Yes, I was an EQ guy, EQ1 that is, back before kids... fun times)

I've since backed up my blog using the "view source" feature and pasting it into Word. If I crash, hopefully my wife can recreate it using Front Page.  Not my area.  I just hope we can continue to build on trying to help new gardeners to not make the same mistakes I made.

Oddly enough, gardening continues...

Today was a good garden day.  The weather held when it wasn't supposed to.  We had a high of like 50 today, but it didn't rain (much).  This weekend could be as high as 70, but like Toasty said, we'll believe it when we see it.  That said, I took advantage of the weather when I got home and put my tomatoes outside to harden.  The wind isn't so bad in my little cubby-hole of a garden, but they did flicker a bit.  The temp was 47-50, so not bad.  Not a bad change from the upstairs which is 60 degrees.

I took my tomatoes out for a stroll for the first time.  They were so excited to see their new home... well the lot where their home will be built in the near future.  They spent an hour outside and they seemed to enjoy themselves.  Now they're back upstairs having some "alone time". hehe

Before I get to far ahead, the real reason I had such a good garden day was that I got my pickling cucumber seeds.  Thanks to Toasty, we both have new seeds.  We met up for lunch downtown and traded pickling cukes for slicers.  We had a nice chat about gardening over sandwiches.  This week or weekend my wife and I'll swing by her place and pick up their SWC.  She showed me a picture.  It's gone to the weeds, so I'll clean it up and put it to good use.  Thanks Toasty!  Hope you like those cukes. I know my wife will like yours!

Lastly, while my kids were having the time of their lives playing in the back yard, I took down my hoop cover, betting on good weather from here on out.  Of course I can put it back together in about 10 minutes if need be.  Anyway, here's a pick of my beds now.

I like the way the PVC holders turned out. They stick out less than the 2x4 supports do and don't quite come up to the top of the bec so I can put my coldframe or something on top if I want.

You can't see it in the picture above, but the big bed on the left is teaming with sprouts.  I'm happy with the progress everything's taking, despite the fact that Judy's eating out of hers now and I'm a long ways off that.  About the only sprout you can see above is my best cauliflower.  I'll end on a close-up of it and the peas unfurling in the right-hand bed... then I'll go see if I can help rebuild

Midnight update:  I was getting a drink of water before bed and checked my corn seeds just to see if the sproutlings I saw yesterday had improved.  Not only are they about a half an inch tall stalks, but they are shooting out roots left and right from the peat pucks.  They grew an inch plus in a day!  No pic today because I'm tired.  Night