Thursday, April 30, 2009

May 1, 2009

Happy May Day.  Yes another year's gone by and I do think of May Day as a day about gardening, not the whole other thing, hehe.

Today was an even better day, a day much like San Diego is 24/7/365, you know 70 with a slight breeze.  When I got home the kids wanted to go out and play tag, and specifically didn't want to garden.  What that tells me is not so much that they won't be gardeners when they grow up, but that they're 5 and 2 right now and have been cooped up all winter inside, hehe.

So, after tons of running around and playing, I watered and took some pictures.  Mostly I wanted to get shots of the tomatoes prior to planting them out into their permanent SWC homes.  Here are some of the shots.

Notice how they're still drooping after two sunny and warm days?  What the heck are they thinking?  I know I'm not over watering, I only water every 3 days or so, and even then I probably don't soak it throughout the pot.  And I figure I'd know if I were under watering because they leaves would be curling (I've done that before).  Well, after pinging emails back and fourth with DoubleD/KitsapFG, we were at a loss, so I'm just going to plant them and expect the best. 

Of course when I plant them out I'll plant them as deep as possible in the growing chamber of the Self Watering Containers, but do I really want the tomatoes growing an inch or so off the plastic?  Look at those blooms near the tops of the plants, but the bottom once they're burried, hehe.

Anyway, while I was watering I noticed little tiny flies buzzing around the baby spinach.  LEAF MINERS!  Grrr.  I killed one, but after I watered I took the opportunity to spray them and other plants down with Spinosad.  It appears to be the same type thing as BT that EG uses so much.  Who knows, maybe it is the same thing just under a different name. 

I don't know if it will work on leaf miners, but it was worth a try.   We wash our greens before we make salads out of them anyway, so I'm not worried.  Here's to it working!

Lastly, while I was watering the greens, I noticed something growing in the middle of the mustard greens.  I have GOT to harvest them, they're getting so big I don't want them to be too big for salads, hehe.

It kind of looks like a broccoli head forming in the very middle.  I sure hope I didn't cook them into bolting so soon. It's very possible as they're under the hoop cover.  Next year I will make a note not to mix greens with early planted cukes.  One needs heat and the other can't stand it.  /sigh.

Well, tomorrow is an all-out day at the folks old house, but the weather's supposed to turn foul so I'm not too worried.  If the tomatoes don't get planted out until Sunday it won't be the end of the world.  It would do them good to be rained on.  You see, they've been outside 24 hours a day for the past three days.  They're no worse for wear as I see the temp outside is 55 degrees at 1 am, hehe.

I hope you have a great weekend.  Enjoy your garden!

April 30, 2009

Wow, another gorgeous day in the Pacific NW!  When I got home from work I wanted to vent the hoop cover because it was 65 degrees, aka 80+ inside the bed.  However, on the way, I had to take this picture so folks could see what my tomatoes are doing.  They're so droopy it's unreal!

I have no idea what they are, but when I plant them this weekend, they'll not only get the handfull of 5-10-10 organic fertilizer and epsom salt, but I'll hit them with fish emulsion before I cover them with the red plastic mulch. Maybe fertilizer is what they need.  Or maybe they need to be potted up already.  Those are only 2 quart pots.  Of course I guess it cold be a disease carried by the pot. I washed it out very well before I used it. /shrug

Well, while I was venting the bed. I heard the unmistakable sound of kids playing in the back yard (I've taken to closing the gate to keep the kids from pulling the plants out of the garden.  Last week my oldest "harvested" most of the overwintered carrots that ended up in the compost because he wouldn't eat them all.  Then today my youngest "picked" a tulip for mommy, bulb and all.  Joy!

So, after a quick game of tag, aka tire out the kids, we got down to some serious gardening.  I watered the kids bins, the potato bins and the fruit bushes/trees.  Then I decided to fill the bins for planting the corn and watermelon.  Of course I grabbed two bags of used potato dirt from last year.  Again I couldn't believe how many worms were in the sealed bags.  Incredible!  I'll take it for sure.  So the bins got mostly filled with used Mel's Mix.  Then I sprinkled a generous amount of 5-10-10 fertilizer and some bloodmeal for nitrogen in the corn bin. 

Then, on top of all that, I sprinkled a bunch of (mostly) finished compost.  Then I wet it down a bit.

Notice how close the bins are to the blueberry bush.  Well that's temporary for this year only.  You see, I don't plan on letting that bush produce this year so it grows a solid root foundation and sturdy branches.  I did that last year for my first two and I can't wait to let them produce tons of berries!

Oh my word... I just noticed something writing this and looking at the picture above.  I WAS SUPPOSED TO SWITCH THE BINS LOCATIONS!  Now the corn is going to shade the heck out of the carrots.  I sure hope they get enough sun to mature because I really can't move them now Grrrr.

Well, at least the watermelon bin is in the right place.  Tonight after dark I planted four seeds of Black Mountain Watermelon (at least I think it was black), in order to hopefully get 2 plants that I'll let sprawl on the ground behind the rose bush.  Pretty nifty huh? hehe.

The reason that we didn't plant the seeds right away was that we really wanted to go for a walk.  So I decided to soak them.

My wife and youngest are under the weather, but we took it easy (no it's not the swine flu, but we did consider it... symptoms are wrong, but we're watching them).  Anyway, I still burned nearly 1,100 calories on the walk and in the garden.  Not too shabby.  Gardening and exercise.  Life is good. 

Tomorrow morning before work I plan on planting the corn that is soaking overnight.  I am trying Bodacious this time.  It doesn't look like I grew it last year.  If it doesn't work, who cares.  The kids want it and it will be a good way to show them how things grow.

Enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April 29, 2009

Man, the last two days were fun, but I realized I have been neglecting my blog.  Two nights in a row we went for a walk.  It was our standard power walk, but it sure felt great to be active again.   We were back to doing our 3+ mile walk in under an hour.  However, the second night it rained most of the walk.  Thankfully we kind of dressed for the occasion. 

It seems I'm up to my old problem again.  I've got salad makings ready in the garden (well, only greens), but for the life of me I can't seem to get up the desire to eat it.  GRRRRR. Sometimes I wish I were a vegetarian. /sigh.

I wanted to let you know that it's no use. I can't figure out which tomato plant is which.  Well, not all of them.  I still have a few options open to me, but I'm resigned to the prospect of them being mysteries.  Heck, if I like one I'll just say I do on the bag of seeds I save, hehe.

My brother called tonight to tell me that he had planted out the rest of his tomatoes in the ground, along with tons of cucumber seeds.  My cukes are not doing so well under the hoop cover.  Three of the five have survived and I've got 3 upstairs hanging out under lights.  That means I need to plant tons of seeds.  It seems my inside germinating experiment with cukes didn't turn out well.  Half didn't germinate and half of those that did didn't handle the nights in the mid 30s.  Grrr.  So much for cheating Mother Nature and starting the summer crops early.  More on that experiment come the May issue of Patti the Garden Girl's ezine.  Hope you have subscribed to it. 

Well, that's it for me.  Sorry for the short post.  Work's heating up and the garden is feeling a bit of an afterthought right now.  I can't wait for the weather to improve and it starts to thrive.

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, April 27, 2009

April 27, 2009

Man, I was out of it last night.  I hate it when I publish before proofreading.  You see, I haven't been able to edit posts for quite a while.  I had wanted to link Judy's post on the webring. Also, it seems I've forgotten to classify my posts for the last few days. That sucks because it's good to be able to search for related posts. Of course, by the looks of my reader search requests, nobody looks at the categories anyway, hehe.

Mostly I wanted to post about two small things tonight.  The first is that my potato bin page just surpassed 25,000 hits!  It's amazing that I'm still getting hits on that page.  What's even better is that I believe I've convinced around 800 people to come back regularly.  Now that's cool!

The other thing is that it seems I made one mistake when labeling my tomatoes.  I've worked really hard to keep track of them so I would know what I'm saving seed from.  Unfortunately, I didn't think of this...

When I was potting them up last, I had forgotten a pen, so I had my eldest go get one from the house.  I forgot that his pens are washable.  Watering the plants got the labels wet and presto, green smears.  Drat!

My one hope is that I took good enough pictures when I was potting them up that I can recognize the containers for some of them.  It's a long shot, but otherwise I'm up a creek.  Grrr.

Well, this evening after work was gorgeous weather, perfect really at 65 and slightly overcast.  So the kids wanted to play outside, tag mostly.  While taking breathers I cut some more landscape fabric and placed my two remaining SWC scraps.  The big one will be used for corn and the small one will be used for watermelon.  Yes, you heard me. I'm going to follow my advice (that wasn't heeded) to EG regarding his 80 pound melon experiment.  I suggested planting the seeds in a scrap SWC and encourage the vines to sprawl over the ground around it.  Who needs dirt for them to lay on when they can get the nutrition from the vine that's sticking into perfect soil!?

Actually, the more I think about the placement I think I'll change places with the beige corn bed with the kids carrot beds.  That way, in the evening sun (which they get the most of), the corn wont shade the carrots.

Anyway, it's getting dark, so I had better get out and cover back up the bed and swap those out.

Enjoy your garden, and check out Judy's webring idea.  I sure hope at the very least my garden buddies can all join up so however it works we can be connected in some way.  It will make it easier for me to remember to get to your sites!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 26, 2009

Well, today was wierd.  I expected all day to be working over at the folks place, so I didn't jump into anything big in the garden.  It turns out this entire weekend was a non-working weekend.  I sure wish I would have known that going into the weekend.  Much more would have been done.  Still, as you can see from yesterday's post, a lot did get done.  Today I spent most of the day with the family, which is a good thing.  Doesn't happen nearly enough.  We even went for our first walk of the season.  We do a 3 mile power walk pushing the kids in jogging strollers.  It takes about an hour and it's a great exercise

Mostly, in the garden I battled the weather.  I'm not sure if it has anything to do with the droopy tomatoes, but I decided to make use of my three trays and split them up to give them some room to spread out.

We'll see if this helps.  Either way, they've got to go into their SWCs this week or next weekend.  DoubleD's got hers in the ground and I'm jealous.

Other than that, weather wise, I'm getting a bit mad at myself and my hoop cover this time of year.  Not only is it not keeping the night-time temps warm enough for my cukes, but it's allowing the daytime temps to wilt my lettuce.  Last night it got down to 38 degrees and the last temp I saw in the heat of the day (with extreme venting) was 99.  Grrrr.   I know I need to rotate crops, but next year I will ONLY cover heat loving crops, or ones that don't care (like carrots, radishes and other root crops).   Or maybe I'll build a true coldframe that I can put the cukes in and leave the rest uncovered unless it snows again.  Live and learn.

I also got a chance to see what my brother did in his yard.  I had to deliver the final piece of our joint Territorial Seed order.  His green tea plant showed up today.  Here he is modeling it.  It almost looks fake it looks so healthy after being cooped up in a dark box for days.

I can't wait to see it in a few years when it's filled out and he's harvesting from it.  Supposedly it will overwinter well here.  I'm excited.  I have no room for one here, but we drink enough tea that it would be a worthwhile investment.

Lastly, I wanted to share a few things.  First the good news.  Judy, my SFG mentor and wonderful hostess for this website, has come up with an idea for a webring for edible gardens.  Apparently there are several for ornamentals, but not for SFG or veggies.  I'm so ignorant when it comes to technologies these days (Moore's Law has left me behind big time), I don't even fully grasp what it would do.  However, if somehow I could link all my favorite gardening blogs and sites, that would be worthwhile and cool.  Thoughts?

Oh, and now for the new addition to my blog.  I've seen this widget in other blogs and got a kick out of it.  It's a spam ticker.  I see how few spams others get and am envious.  I get TONS.  I easily get three times the spam comments as I do quality ones, which is a shame.  So for grins, I figured out how to add one of my own.  I'm not sure what it says about my blog that spammers love it so much, hehe.  We'll see how long it lasts.

Enjoy your garden!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

April 25, 2009

Boy, today was a good day.  My brother and father were taking out the stumps of the trees he needs to remove to build 3 more 4x4 beds along a NS fenceline.  Anyway, because they were taking the stumps out, it meant no work today!  Yay, garden day...  Oh, and yes, the weather was good for it, overcast and 60.  And don't worry, I didn't forget to take pictures...

Most of the day was actually spent weeding.  Spring has sprung in my yard, and unfortunately, it seems the weeds got the lion's share of the growing in.  The main culprit seemed to be shock weed.  At least that's what my Aunt called it.  Then of course we had the standard dandilion infestation, the occasional morning glory panic attack and even removing some over-grown blue bells (I think).  Frankly, if I can't eat it, I could care less about it, but that shock weed had completey taken over the rose garden.  And in case you didn't know (I didn't), once those little stalks shoot up, they've got seeds all over them, so when you pull them, they release their seeds all over the place.  Great!  I've been pulling them and tossing them into the yard for the mower to pick them up to compost them.  Oops.  So, this time, when we were gutting the rose garden, we put everything in the municipal yard waste container.  Let Cedar Grove deal with it.  I'm not getting anything from them anytime soon.  Sure that's an awful way to think of it, but I do believe they superheat their piles with canvas and innoclants or whatever.  Maybe they can kill the weed seeds better than my measly piles.

Particularly difficult was the dandilions that grew up around the base of the roses and throughout the iris islands.  It was a painstaking process, but in the end, we got the garden looking like this...

As my Aunt said though, it will look good for a week, until the weeds grow again.  My only hope is that it isn't nearly as bad in the future.

After that, I finally got to mow the back yard lawn...

Much as it was slow going due to the length of the grass, it didn't generate nearly the grass clippings as the front did last week.  So when I composted it, I needed more material.  So what did I get to compost... the green onions gone to seed.  They sure smelled good.  I also yanked out the bolting over-wintered spinach from my beds.  However, since they had minor leaf minor damage, they went into the yard waste container.

Notice that I ddin't chop them up before I composted them.  I figure I'll see what Mother Nature does with them first.  Besides, I didn't feel like breaking out the lawn more or the chipper for some onions, hehe.  Now for some browns.  I didn't feel like using my wife's paper route left overs, but she had a better idea.  One of the less known browns for composting is dryer lint, and we seem to generate a ton of it.  Or maybe it's just that I never think to empty the garbage can in the laundry room, hehe.  So when she was gathering the kitchen compost, I had her throw a big handful of lint into the kitchen bin. 

So after aerating the existing pile (note that after two weeks it was still steaming hot in the middle of the bin (good compost!), I layered the onions, some lint and the partially completed compost.  Then I topped it off with the fresh grass clippings.  It's getting to be a really big pile all of a sudden!

I should mention that the kids were constantly asking to help.  They had no interest in playing with their toys, or on the swings, or anything a normal kid would want to do.  They wanted to help.  So aside from helping to dig in the rose garden, whenever we found a worm (we found several), we would let my kids transplant them to the blueberry bed (don't ask me why, they wanted to put them into their gardens, but the soil was solid so the worms couldn't dig in). Here's a picture of a particularly large one that my youngest was having fun relocating him.

While we were out there, we saw a half dozen bumble bees doing their things.  I kept trying to convince them to move over to my blueberry bushes and my fruit trees, but they weren't listening to me (much like my kids, hehe). You see, spring has sprung and my fruit trees are finally blooming, so they could really use some bee support.

I sure hope whatever happened to this pear tree to make it not produce last year doesn't happen again.  If there is no production this year, it's coming down.  Much as my oldest really likes pears, there are plenty other candidates for that space, all of them dwarf so they don't shad most of that section of the yard. 

Anyway, here's a close-up of my plum tree flowers, they're beautiful white ones.

Now I wanted to finally show you the peas under the cold frame, share the evidence of tomato lethergy and also my gardening at night.  I hate it when I think to talk about something when I'm posting late at night, but can't get a shot in the dark.  Oh well.

Note the gravel in the bed.  That's my youngest.  I can't seem to convince him that putting gravel in the garden beds is a bad thing.  Grrr.  Hehe.

And now the droopy tomato plants...

See EG, not everything works for me and tomatoes my first year growing them from seed, hehe.

Lastly, not sure if REM would be proud, but Ciscoe likely would, but here's what I did last night at 10:30 after watching his show on TiVo (see yesterday's post).

Oh, and if you see the clumps of espresso cakes, they're gone.  One of the chores I gave the kids when they were clamoring to help today was to break up the clumps (they had gloves on).  Besides, according to some research I was doing on coffee grounds, apparently they're good for your skin, hehe.  Don't worry, I only use them in my garden.

I truly hope you had as good a day in the garden as I did.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April 24, 2009

Well, I THOUGHT we had our last frost day last week, but the clear skies yesterday resulted in a cold night.  It got down around 35 is my guess, but it was enough to give us a light frost.  And to think it was bed time when I remembered that I hadn't brought in the plants.  Whew!  Sure the tomatoes probably would have been ok, but I'm not sure about the stevia, which is the only other plants I'm hardening off.

Here's a shot from the kitchen window...

In case you're wondering the yellow funnel in the lower left hand corner is the family chipper shredder.  Since I was the last to use it, it resides here til someone else needs it.

Then, as I was leaving for work, I couldn't help but snap this shot of my coldframe covering the peas germinating in bed #4.  I plan on using my string and 2x2 trellis for that bed since the other bed will get my big trellis again this year.

I must say, I'm happy that the coldframe is really working well.  I planted two rows of squares with peas this spring, but only the peas under my coldframe have germinated at all. 

Well, I took a break from posting and went outside to play with the kids with the main purpose of taking a picture of the sprouting peas.  Didn't happen, daddy was outside so I got distracted.  However, between pushing the little guy on the swing forever, and having the kids help pick their toys up off the grass so I could mow tomorrow, I did take some picks of my blueberry beds.  Here they are, starting with the garlic rows shooting up something fierce once the sun came out this spring.

Now, since Sandy commented on my blueberries, I thought I'd share them getting the afternoon sun.  The first is my favorite from my originals.

And here is other one that is an evergreen that grows in small clumps rather than grape-like bunches.

Now for Sandy's blueberries...

I love how this guy has the arm going over it's head.  Not sure if I should tie them up or not, they seem to be doing fine on their own.

Now for my new favorite...

I am really impressed by this little guy.  It didn't look so good a month ago, kinda like I planted it wrong.  Speaking of which, I was watching Gardening with Ciscoe tonight (TiVo recorded it), and he talked a bit about blueberries.  Apparently if I had planted any of these 1/8th inch too deep they would have died.  Thank goodness I got lucky four times, ROFL.  However, he did say in the PNW that April is the time to fertilize your blueberries with Azalea food for acid loving plants.  I also read last night that mulching with coffee grounds helps blueberries.  So at 10:30, I grabbed a flashlight, my fertilizer and a bag of Grounds for your Garden and went out to fertilize and much my blueberries.  Hehe, you should have seen me.  I would have taken pictures, but they would have turned out horrible.  So take my word for it, it was funny.

All I did was sprinkle a bit of fertilizer around the dripline of the plants, then covered with a bunch of coffee grounds.  Then I watered it all in.  I hope they like it.  Oh, and of course I had to hum REM's Gardening at Night. I'm wierd that way.

Enjoy your garden!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 23, 2009

Ah, the weather started out horrible today.  The rain clouds chased me all the way to work.  Fortunately for me, they only caught me running from my car to the bus at the park & ride.  Good thing too, because it was a downpour.

Last evening there was no post.  I know, duh.  It was because I went to the Mariner's game and didn't get home until 11.  Boy was it cold, but we had GREAT seats!  We were in the front row, third base side over the visitor's dugout. 

In case you're wondering, that's Ken Griffey Jr., who started his career here back in the early 90s and has chosen to end it here, coming back for one year.  Of course, you can probably guess, but the game didn't interest me in the slightest.  I was FAR more impressed by the pre-game show.  I was excited to see that the first pitch was thrown out by none-other than Seattle's very own Ciscoe Morris!  Sure, he's a plant gardener by trade (one of the nation's first Master Gardener's from one of the first classes), but his potato page is linked to my potato page.  Silly, I know, but I'm a gardener.

Anyway, back to today.  The weather started out horrible, but around 2 the clouds cleared, the sun came out and it got up to 55 degrees or so.  When I got home, the kids and I went out and pulled some weeds from the blueberry beds.  Then we had some SERIOUS fun.  It was time for the kids to start their very own gardens.

Of course, they had to do the really hard parts...

No, Logan wouldn't be planting THOSE yellow flowers.

But aren't they cute?  In case you're wondering, those are the scrap pieces left over from our SWC build party a few weeks ago (see instructions link in the upper right hand corner of this blog).  Here they are posing with their chosen gardens!

As you can see, I just set them on top of some landscape fabric.  Notice that I placed them lid-side up, the opposite of EG's method.  It doesn't matter what side is up, but this is safer for the kids.

It took nearly two bags of re-used Mel's Mix from last year's potato bins.  Recall that after the potatoes were out of it, I heavily amended the mix with Starbuck's Grounds for your Garden (note that I've read that coffee grounds are actually 12:1 CN ratio, not 20:1, which makes them near perfect, free, fertilizer).  Anyway, one of the bags was much wetter than the other, and had tons of worms in it.  The kids loved that.  Here they are playing in their gardens...

 Notice in the foreground one of Sandy's blueberry bushes is blooming.  It is the first of my blushes to do so, and the leaves came on so quickly.  As with my other blueberries, these two will get pruned back such that only a few berries mature (for taste tests).  That way, the root systems and branches can get strong and healthy for the next 50 plus years.  Can you imagine these two lifting their kids up to pick blueberries from the top of these 5 foot high plants?  Ok, enough of that.

After they had their fun, we spent about a half hour planting individual carrot seeds into roughly 15x6 rows, square foot method style (the interior measurements are 20 by 13).  Logan got Solar Yellow carrots and Owen got Atomic Red carrots.  Those are their favorite colors.  Of course I've got tons of standard orange and some Purple Haze for variety. 

Here they are proudly standing next to their planted and watered gardens...

 Aren't these junior gardeners cute?  They had a blast and they'll be able to water, thin and watch the carrots grow!  Maybe Logan will keep a journal of the growth.  He loves doing that.

One of the two carrots needs to be picked young or they get tough.  The other tastes better cooked (what carrot tastes better cooked?!).  Alright, they're gag carrots, but the kids will have a blast.  Oh yeah, and I had to mention this.  When I opened the flap, tucked underneath was printed that they were Seminis seeds.  /Sigh.  I knew Ed Hume Seeds got some of their seeds from Monsanto, but I was really hoping that these weren't them.  Ah well, they got my $5.  Hehe.  If it makes the kids happy, cool.

Enjoy your garden, I know these two do!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April 21, 2009

Well, it's late and I'm beat, so this will be a short post.  However, there's a ton to talk about, so let's get started shall we?

First off, this morning was beautiful weather, so I got out and snapped some pics while I was getting the plants out to harden off/grow.  This first is of my "perfect" compost pile.  I am still proud of it even if I built it in the dark.

I haven't had time to check the temperature on it, but I may need a bit more water.  It was tough to tell in the dark how much was the right amount.  On the way back to the garden, I noticed some odd markings in the gravel.

It's tough to tell from these, but I swear a raccoon has been using my path through my garden to get from the wetland to the street.  Grrrr.  Time to use the deterrent.  I think I'll try putting it in a cup with a lid over it so it smells, but doesn't wash away in the rain.  Worth a try.  I hate to keep rebuying the stuff.

This next shot is of my wilted Salad Bowl lettuce plant.  Remember how dead it looked, and how I hoped it would eventually bounce back.  Well, 24 hours later, it looked like this...

Tons of new growth!  It's amazing, I could eat of it already.  Man Mel's Mix is amazing, and my compost from last year must not be too shabby either.

Right behind the lettuce row however is a different story.  The cukes are a mixed bag for surviving the spring frost period, despite being under cover.

In case you can't tell, there are actually two cukes in this picture.  The one in the back is holding it's own, but the foreground plant is pretty much toast.  Grrr, and the seeds in the soil blocks on the fridge are germinating slowly.  So far, only two of the moldy blocks germinated.  I need tons of cukes.  It's about time to resort to direct sowing.

Well, looking over my tomato plants, I noticed something odd about the potato leaf plant.  The leaves seem to be splitting into multiple leaves.  It's tough to tell in the picture, but one leaf is becoming three!

Speaking of tomatoes, today was the last day they were all together.  This evening I parted company with 9 very healthy plants.  They went to their new home, and our teacher was very appreciative.  They're ready to go into the ground with minimal protection on cold nights, or wait a few weeks and don't worry about protecting them.  Now I've only got my 6 left, and they'll likely go into my SWCs this weekend.  To protect them from 35 degree lows, I'll use the tomato cages as supports for plastic bags that will fit over them, creating a make-shift cover.  Of course they'll have to be removed in the day to allow sun to get to the plants, but it'll be worth it to not have to cart those plants inside and upstairs every day.  Actually, not tonight though.  I am leaving them outside since it'll be another low 40s night.  Toughen them up some more!

So long tomatoes!  Fly, be free!  hehe

Lastly, I had to take a pic of what appears to be tons of stevia plants that miraculously all germinated.

At least I hope these are stevia.  If so, I'll have plenty to give away since I only need one for myself.  I've got the pot all ready for it. I'll just dig up he seeds that are trying to germinate in it and plant this best one.  I think I have takers for most of the rest.  Oh, and for grins I planted one in bed #4.  Not sure if I'll let it stay, even if it takes hold and grows.  They can get pretty tall.  Judy's got 3 feet or so last year, though that was on the Gulf Coast of Alabama.

Anyway, it's midnight here and I've got work in the morning.  Enjoy your garden!

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 20, 2009

WOW! I just can't phathom it.  In a little under a week I've gone from 15,000 hits on my potato page to over 20,000!  I'm averaging just over 900 hits that page a day, and it's not even my best work.  /shrug.

Well, I came home a bit earlier from work than I normally do so I could take advantage of 70 degree weather to mow the lawn.  It was so bad that it just HAD to get done.  Unfortunately for me, my wife had other plans.  Off to a movie with the kids at the local community college.  It was fun.  Lots of kids, pizza, popcorn and juice.  Great fun.

Thankfully we got home around 7:30, so that gave me an hour to mow the lawn.  So I raced though the front lawn at record speed.  In fact, I used my blackberry to play my workout playlist.  I think it helped.  I ended up filling one and a half huge 96 gallon yard waste containers of grass clippings and leaves mixed together.  It was completely dark when I finished. 

Then, much to the chagrin of my sick wife, I had her go out with me and help me to aerate and add to my compost bin.  Ah, I wish you could have seen it.  I may be a compost snob, but it was a thing of beauty, even if it was dark out.  The existing pile was moved to the corners, the uncomposted pumkin remains were at the bottom with some newspaper and grass clippings, dampened, then I proceeded to add my kitchen compost, some coffee grounds, grass clippings and newspaper.  I kept going with that basic mix until I was out of coffee grounds and grass clippings.  I swear the pile is now 3x3x3, and I didn't even use the half-bin of grass clippings.  I figure that may just go to Cedar Grove.  They need all the help they can get, hehe.

Oh yes, and I've got pics to share again.  The first come from this morning.  You see, my plants had their first camp out last night.  It dropped to 41 degrees as a low for all I can tell, and here's how they looked when I was heading out to work.

As you can see, they're happy as clams.  And look at my pride and joy.

It may not be blooming like the Bloody Butcher, but it is huge and healthy.  I don't think I can bear to even burry those lower branches (I will anyway to not let branches drag on the ground), the plant is so pretty.  This weekend I need to plant them out, even if it means protecting them.  I figure I can put a garbage bag over the tomato cages at night if it looks like it'll be too cold.  I'd want to remove them in the day since I don't have clear plastic bags big enough to cover the cages.

What I didn't do while I was out there was open up the hoop covers.  I should have thought of that when I saw the temperature go from 41 degrees at 7 am to 61 at 8.  Unfortunately by the time I asked my wife to do it, she was out for the day.  When I got home I quickly remedied the situation, but not before this happened...

As you can see, my best Salad Bowl lettuce plant is wilted something fierce.  I drenched it in water, hoping to revive it, but I'm not holding out hope.  Grrr.  I have to be more careful.  Right now the cover's down and it's 52 degrees in there at 11pm.  I will NOT forget tomorrow to open it as we should get great weather again.

Lastly, after I mowed the lawn and did the compost, I remembered that tomorrow is the pass off day for the 10 seedlings for my teacher friend.  Perfect timing as they are basically ready to be planted out.  Unfortunately, the two smallest plants were not growing fast enough to need potting up.  Too bad, I wasn't going to pass them off without being potted up, in case they needed to hang around for a while before she has time to plant them.  Besides, the bigger of the two was showing signs of being root bound.  So I potted up the last two tomatoes.  The bigger one did pretty well, but the little one did very poorly indeed.  The dirt clump basically desintegrated in my hands trying to get it from the cup to the pot.  I sure hope tomato plants REALLY like to have their roots disturbed, hehe.  I'll be disappointed if it dies.

Doesn't the one on the far left look bad?  Ah well, the ones on the far right look great.  They've grown so much they don't even fit under the lights.  In fact, none of the other tomatoes do either.  That's why the light system is temporarily off until they're outside for the day.  I haven't been turning it on during the day because there's noting left up there.  However, tomorrow there will be. Two of my moldy soil blocks of cukes germinated so far, so they'll hang out under lights until they've grown a bit more.  Then I'll harden them off and plant them out.  Gotta plant more cukes!  Not sure all the ones I planted out earlier survived.  Gotta remove the hoop cover to check.  Maybe tomorrow.

Well, it's very late, I'm beat, and I want to wrap up my article for Patti's newsletter and get it off to the publisher. 

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 19, 2009

Well, I must say, I am extremely exhausted, but not in a good way.  My sore arm is on fire and I'm dead on my feet.  Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with gardening.  Nothing at all on my to-do list got done.  About the only thing I did for my garden was to take the plants (my wife won't let me call them seedlings anymore) for a walk.  Oh, and I've decided since we're supposed to have a mild 40s night, the plants are staying outside for their first camp out!

While on their walk, I noticed something quite surprising and unexpected.  The only potato leaf variety (I think it's a Bloody Butcher) is blooming!

So much for burrying that stem too deep when planting it out.  It wouldn't look right to have tomatoes growing on the ground.  Of course I couldn't help but shake it a bit to try to pollinate them, hehe.

Also while I was out there, I knew it was going to be a hot one, so I opened the hoop cover.  I didn't want a repeat of the 100 degree weather under there.  While it was open I couldn't help but take a snapshot of the salad greens.

Notice the green leaves on the right... I just noticed that three of those plants are Italienshier rather than Salad Bowl. That's great because I have four Salad Bowls elsewhere in that row.  Now I will have a great variety of greens for my salads!  I can't wait to harvest them. 

Speaking of which, I am serious, no Southerner can post a comment without telling me when I should harvest those mustard greens for my salads.  They're an experiment and I want to like them in my salads... hehe.

The weather was great, in the upper 60s for sure.  I'm positive the plants loved it.  I was of course, inside sanding drywall and priming the walls of my folk's den.  As necessary as it was to do, it was heartbreaking watching their former neighbors working in their yards and tending their gardens.  /sigh And to top it all off, we are nowhere near done.  Such is renovating an entire house with three people, two of which are gimpish, hehe.  I will be so happy to see that house done and sold!

Actually I did do some gardening, just not vegetable gardening.  My Aunt went with us to work in the yard to boost curb appeal, and to get some more plants out of there for their new house.  I got to help dig up a few plants, including one for me.  I've wanted it since we knew they were going to move.  It is a shade loving plant with beautiful big purple flower bundles.  Don't ask me what it's name is, plant names go in one ear and out the other with me. 

When I got it home, the kids and I planted it in the middle of the island in my front yard.  I sure hope it likes constant shade, because I'm not sure it gets any sunlight, but I need something there.  I have two rhodies on either side of the island and nothing in between.  I sure hope this works.  It was good to use some of my new compost to plant it.  I just love not having to buy compost!

So, I just KNOW you all had a great day out in your garden.  Try not to rub it in too much, but tell me about your weekend so I can garden vicariously through you (oh, and tell me about the mustard greens).

Enjoy your garden (I can't wait to enjoy mine)!