Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 28, 2009

Well, today was a fun day all around.  I spent the morning with the kids, then while the youngest was in music class, the oldest and I went out back to work in the yard.  He helped me with my compost pile.  I flipped it for the first time since last fall.

Here's the bed about to be made after awakening from a long winter's nap.

Here's the new bed.  When I was fluffing the old bed, I found tons of leaves that weren't quite decomposed, even more corn stalks that I didn't bother chopping up into tiny pieces last fall, and some random clods of seeminly fresh grass clippings.  All that went into the new bin.  I need to get some coffee grounds to work into it, but for now I'm happy with the old bed getting pretty ready for use this planting season.

I really should build a screen to create fine compost for the garden and leave the rest to further decompose in the new bed.  Maybe when I find time to seriously shop for wicking baskets, I'll pick some supplies up.  At times like these I wish I was EG, hehe.

Here's what's left in the old bin.  It's not quite ready, though it's looking really good.  I found more than a handful of worms in the compost.  Boy am I glad they finally showed up.  I knew they should, but hadn't seen them all year.  I couldn't have been prouder of the little compost bin that could, hehe.

And yep, that's the big 5 year old in "his" compost bin.  He had fun with his tools, but jumped at the chance to pose with mine.

Then it was time to go check on the garden. I hadn't been out there in a week.  Look what the winter storms have done to the hoop covers.

I fixed those and added a stop-gap binder clip to the top of the hoop to keep this from happening until I have time to fix it properly.

But what did I find when I looked underneath?

If my eyes don't decieve me, those are carrots growing all over the place.  That's where I had my carrots planted last fall. Remember, the ones that the raccoons beat me to?  Well what do you know, more are growing for some reason.  I haven't planted more seeds.  Odd, but my son will take it.  He had to remind me again that carrots are his favorite! hehe.

The last picture I've got for you is a progress picture of my garlic.  It's clearly overwintered as promised and is growing quite well dispite snow and frost all over the place.

So one thing got taken off the to-do list.  Unfortunately I didn't do much else because my niece asked me to go play tennis with her.  She's trying out for her high school team Monday and she wanted some practice.  It's been over 15 years since I've played seriously, but I found I could still sustain a rally, even if my serve was way off. I shouldn't say that I ran my niece and her friend all over the court, but this old man's still got it, hehe.

Of course now I feel like I need to take some Alieve and a bath before bed, hehe.  What was that about being old? hehe.

We'll see what I get done tomorrow.  Busy, busy day.  I'm torn about starting my cukes inside.  The packet says not to.  It sure would come in handy to get a jump on the germination.  It's one of the slow ones at 55 degrees, per the chart I have

Though as you see, if I could get them germinating at 77 or so (like on top of the monitor, or maybe on top of the ballast of the light system) it would cut down the time considerably.  Then I could plant them out around my Last Frost Date and they'd be growing full speed ahead.  By the way, my brother estimates the LFD to be mid March this year.  I was thinking mid April, even though we had a week of snow starting April 22 last year.  I figure I can put them out early and cover with my hoop covers if necessary.  Anyway, time to hit the hay.

Enjoy your garden!


  1. I always direct seeded my cukes until last year. Last year I tried an experiment. Half of them were direct seeded, half started in newspaper pots inside (don't use regular pots as their roots hate being disturbed). The ones that I started inside gave me my first cucumbers, but the ones direct seeded caught up quickly enough and were a little more vigorous. In the end the direct seeded ones gave a tad more than the newpaper pot ones, but not buy much and the early cukes were worth it to me.

  2. You turned the compost! Well, it's about time! Ha! don't want to be me, I assure you. hee hee...There's just too much to do around here. You're a good uncle, for helping your niece with her tennis tryout. Thanks for sharing those pictures, time for me to get some shots of the snowfall.....


  3. I have great luck using an old electric blanket to heat my seedling. You have to make sure to wrap the flats in plastic though to keep water away from the blanket elements. I simply slip my seed flats into garbage bags. I wrap them up completely in the blanket (over the tops of the flats as well, they have those plastic lids o nthem). And then I monitor daily. I can usually get my warm weather seedlings to germinate in 5-6 days instead of 10-20.

  4. Hi Rich,

    I am also tempting by starting cukes early. I started some a few days ago and they have sprouted already. We have such a short warm weather season here that I have the same thoughts about getting a good start indoors. The time I have direct seeded per packet guidelines have been disappointments.


  5. I agree with Sandy, in your climate it is probably good to give them a heads start. I am going to start my cucumbers in peat pots about 4-6 weeks before my LFD like the majority of the tom's. Then plant them out pot and all to avoid disturbing their testy roots.

    It is nice to see some green in your raised beds. I bet it was exciting to find those carrots.

  6. I always start my cukes ahead of time - but grow them in peat pots and only for about 3 to 4 weeks before I am ready to transplant them out - because they DO NOT like to have their roots messed with and suffer set back stress. However I would not be starting them now even if the last frost free date is mid March - the soil and ambient temps are way too cold for the transplants to thrive and all you will end up with is a stalled out plant - or worse a dead one. They really need the soil to be much warmer and even with a cover over the bed it will not be warm enough until mid April at the soonest. Sandy's solar greenhouse that gets up to mid 70's when it is 45 degrees outside would be a suitable place for them to grow - but most of us do not get that kind of heating affect from our grow tunnels.

    Carrots are a biennial - so the starts you are seeing is the last year's carrots resurging for the second year of growth. Don't bother letting them grow on though - as they are going to go into seed production (the second year's job of a carrot) and the roots will be very hairy and tough. Best to pull them up and get a new bed of carrots going soon.