Sunday, March 30, 2008

March 31, 2008

After seeing Judy's lot, I felt the need to counter her situation with my own.  I'm quite proud of what I found ten years ago in a city where the average lot size is 6,000 SF.  Mine is almost twice that size.  That said, 75% of my lot is unusable space in the front yard.  I just can't see growing veggies in the front yard. 

At the bottom middle of the image it shows the triangular section on the side of my house that we transformed into Sinfonian's SFG.  It's only a tiny portion of my yard in front of my garage and right next to my property line, but it's a great spot for me to get away from my hectic life and do something great for my family.

Of course in this view the garden wasn't built, but at least the sidewalks were in, which beats Google Earth.  But what you can see is that my backyard gets great sun until the sun moves behind the 100+ foot trees that makes up the green belt behind the house on the bottom left. That's mostly concerning for my blueberries and potato bins.  They still get full sun, but it's less than optimal. Oh, and if I had my way I'd remove the tree in the bottom right as well, but that's my neighbors and he's cool.

So I'm growing everything that I can in my 130 SF of garden space.  Now if only the weather would get better and let my seeds get to it...  Now back to drool over Judy's lot...

March 30, 2008

Well, it's 36 degrees and lightly snowing outside at NOON!  I ran outside and checked on my hoop cover. Still leaning a bit but no change from yesterday.  I may make a trip to the hardware store to see if I can't figure out how to make the hoop covers easier and more "permanent" for winter gardening.

Other than that, I just can't see planting anything more right now when I just want to stay inside and keep warm.  I don't even want to go to the dump to get rid of that broken coldframe.  Today will be a day to play with the kids, maybe search the internet for interesting ways to grow my veggies via Winter Sowing, and also to create a better seal on my hoop cover.  Oh, and maybe even try to finish my taxes.  Joy oh joy.

Well, I went through the WS FAQ again. After I got through all the talk of *flowers* I found a great post on veggies that you can WS. The ones I hope to attempt rather than using an extensive light system are:


It says I could do corn and tomatoes, but I am still worried about doing tomatoes from seed and I think I'll just start corn inside in peat pucks for the early plantings and then direct sow for the later ones when the soil temp's higher.  As for tomatoes, I did actually read the FAQ for growing tomatoes from seed... Judy'd be proud of me... she's converting me one day at a time. hehe

That said, I may even be able to keep most of these very plants alive and producing throughout the winter under my hoop house (at least the ones that can tolerate partial sun, since we have a solid cloud cover most fall/winter). /shrugOh, I forgot to mention, I saw a possum in my front yard last night when I went out to check on the snow conditions.  It looked like it wanted to go into my garden area but didn't.  Of course it was cold and I didn't stick around, but it was encouraging about the deterrent I put down.

That said, my wife told me while I was making dinner tonight that she saw some cats in our yard. I went out back to shoo them away and found what looked like a family of feral cats back there. So much for the predator urine working on cats (not sure it was supposed to, but it should).  And the kittens (young cats) were so cute. Grrr, I'm such a softie when it comes to cats. *He says as he's posting this message with a droolie cat on his lap* hehe.

Did you check out Judy's blog for today?  She posted a pic from Google Earth showing her property.  OMG can you say DROOOL!  It's 2 acres with well over an acre of southern facing open space. Not that I'm advocating traditional row gardening, but WOW, she could become Judy the GardenGirl (if Patti would allow the rights to be used).  She could even change it from Urban Sustainable Living to Rural Sustainable Living.  Doesn't have quite the ring, or give the same impression as GardenGirl's, but she could definitely feed her family and many others utilizing the techniques in Patti's videos.

Note if you don't know what or whom I'm referring to, there are links on the right to both Judy's blog and site and GardenGirlTV's site.  Both are well worth as much time as you can devote to them.

Hope your weekend was more productive in your garden than mine was in mine... Have a good week!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

March 29, 2008

Oh the weather outside is frightful, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow... GRRRR

Odd though, it was beautiful out today (though a bit cold).  My father and I set up the temporary hose in lieu of the PVC pipe to bring water to my garden.  Unfortunately we got a cheap hose and it sucks.  It won't roll up onto a hose rack, so it's just laying in the gravel now.  It makes me want to do the deck now to get the runner board on the house so we can attach the PVC to it.  Come on good weather!

I forgot to mention that my hoop cover came through the snow storm in pretty decent shape.  The pipes sagged a bit toward the fence because there's no support for north/south for the structural pipes.  But it is holding well enough. I just can't fix it without taking it all apart.  I may do that if tomorrow's as good as today was, but the day got away from me today. 

I've also got to figure out a good and simple way to create a good seal between the plastic and the bed frame.  I don't need air-tight, but close would be nice.  Suggestions (with pictures or links to pictures) would be MUCH appreciated.

With all the precipitation we've gotten over the last two days, it's funny to say this, but I needed to water my seedlings today.  Being under a coldframe or hoop house means no water gets to them.  So I lifted the windows and opened the tarp to spray the beds down with a fine mist. 

While I was under there, I got to see how the seedlings liked the warmer climate under cover.  Many more sprouts were up and the seedlings looked to be thriving, so they must like it.  Even the broccoli and cauliflower seeds I direct sowed have sprouted finally. I was worried that they wouldn't and I'd have to use the seedling I started inside yesterday.

One problem came up though.  I confess that I haven't been great at labeling my seedlings indoors, and I've got a forgetful mind.  Today I came to the realization that I may have planted onion seedlings with my spinach seeds in my spinach beds.  The seeds that have sprouted look nothing like the seedlings I transplanted.  Oops.  I'm not moving them now, the seedlings have got a firm root hold by now and unless they don't play well togther, they're staying.  I'll just plant more spinach elsewhere.  Lesson learned.  Label well.  On a related note, I've got to get some stakes to write what is what where.  I'm just lazy I guess.

The last thing I did for my garden today was to sprinkle the predator urine stuff around the perimeter of my yard.  I focused on the areas where I know they go. Like where the path they've worn into my grass is, I sprinkled on both sides of the fence they climb, at both ends of my yard. I also did around my potato bins since I've seen prints in the dirt. Finally I did in my garden area because that's where I found this huge print...

Let's hope it works. I smoothed over the prints in the dirt, so if I see prints again, I know it's failed to deter them.  And if I can't figure something out and Judy comes up blank (the squash solution doesn't work because I'm NOT growing squash, hehe), then it's razor wire (just kidding).

Well that's about it. I hope you participated in Earth Hour today.  We powered down our computers and turned off all the lights and went for a walk in the snow, came back and put the kids to bed.  The hour went quick. It was disappointing to see so few houses with the lights off.  Needs better advertising I guess.  Hope you have had better weather than we have, and got out in your garden this weekend!

Friday, March 28, 2008

March 28, 2008

I'm going to keep this really short as it's actually one hour into the 29th.

Quick update: We got slushy snow all day here with about a half inch of slush accumulation on my hoop cover.  It is leaning pretty bad and heavily laiden with chunky water, but it's holding up well enough that I'll wait til tomorrow to fix it.

I've decided I'll go get 5 inch sections of 3/4 inch pipe and attach them to the inside of my beds at appropriate intervals.  That way I can use them like flag pole stands and place my 1/2 inch hoop pipes inside them for much better stability. 

As for making a better seal with the plastic (not so important to keep frost off, but it will be for the mini-green house aspect this coming fall/winter), Judy suggested something interesting that I'll have to be more awake to understand.  More on that at or tomorrow when I'm lucid.

Tomorrow is also the day when I install the Y to my faucet in the backard and attach the temporary hose to the underside of my house against the slab.  Then when I reach the garden area, I'll lock it off and coil it up for use to water until we've got the deck started. Then I'll put a PVC solution in place that'll be permanent.  I just hope my dad who's helping doesn't decide to come over early...

Lastly, while I was out tonight, I came across a great container for Winter Sowing.  It's a clear salad green container from the grocery store. It's about a foot, by 5 inches by 7 inches deep. It should hold 3+ inches of soil no problem.

Well, I'm feeling that I'm missing something, but I can't think of it, so tomorrow's another day (or later today). Night Night!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

March 27, 2008

Well, hectic day.  Work was frantic and stressful because it was a short day for me. I left at 2 to get my car and go to a dentist appointment.  Afterwards I took the kids to Sky Nursery to buy racoon deterrent, and then to Dunn Lumber to check out pricing on composite materials for the deck I'm building this spring.  Trex is cheaper, but Aztek is lighter, more stain and wear resistant and looks nicer.  It may be $400 more expensive for the project, but it may be worth it in the long run.  We'll see.

Anyway, when we got home I started reading all the comments I got today.  Thanks all! Keep them coming...

However, with all the vast experience helping me out, the verdict is still out on the impact this cold snap will have on my seedlings.  Judy thinks the cool-weather crops will be fine, but GardenGirl put the fear of dead seedlings in me.  Funny thing is that Alberta stopped by and commented today.  She's the one that recommended I try winter sowing.  Not sure what the difference is between winter sowing and direct seeding with a cover over it, but I decided to err on the side of caution.  It's forecast to get down to as low as 28 degrees in the next few days with a chance of snow.  In late March in Seattle... Mother Nature is not on my side right now.

So in the middle of answering a comment, I panicked and raced out to Lowes.  It was 6 pm and sundown is 7:30.  I really don't like Lowes, but they're closest and one of two megamarts open.  So after a while found the PVC in the plumbing department and got help from an electrician that worked there (/boggle).  We determined that the thinnest walled 1/2 inch pipe was 315 PSI, and he was nice enough to bend it for me into a "C" that would work.  10 feet was the way to go to give me the heigth to go over mature plants down the road (optimism speaking here).  I grabbed 5 of them and headed to find more materials.

After finding a cart that would fit 10 foot poles at the opposite end of the store I was directed to the tarps.  Well, I could choose from blue, brown or silver, but no clear...  So I head to the concrete isle and see nothing.  In garden supply at the other end of the store, a very nice employee that ended up being from paint, walked me all over the store to finish up my order. 

First off, the clear plastic WAS in with the concrete, go figure.  It was in rolls and boxes rather than flat bags.  Nothing was perfect size for what I needed.  I had figured I needed 15x20 to fit my bed and drag on the ground so I could weigh it down with bricks.  The best I could find was 10x25 in 4 mil plastic.  Actually I could have gotten 6 mil plastic for twice as much, but I went cheap since everyone has said go 3 mil or better.  4 is better... Problem was that 10' would just barely cover my beds if I made my hoops out of 10' poles.  Well, it was going on 6:45 and I didn't feel like putting this up in the dark, so I figured I'd just staple it down tonight and figure out something better later.  Lastly, I picked up zip ties to connect the top support pole to the Cs.  I didn't feel like pre-drilling and screwing them together tonight.  Further, I decided, at least temporarily, that I'd just dig them into the soil and let the walls of the beds hold them in shape. 

Before racing home, I had to pick up teryaki for the family. I dropped it off and ran outside at 7.  The PVC pipes went in easily and nicely, but unfolding the 10x25 tarp was a b*tch.  Trying to get the tarp over the frame caused it to collapse when working alone. Though after a mini-argument with my wife, she graciously came out and helped me with the tarp. Note, she was right, she shouldn't have left the kids eating dinner alone to go help me, but everything worked out and I appologized for my panic.  She loves me :)

It only took 5 minutes to do this with her help, and another five minutes to locate my stapler and staple the tarp to the bed with about 2 inches of overlap.  Note that I left the extra 5 feet on it because I didn't want to try cutting it off in my waning light.  But the more I think about it, since I don't plan on touching this set-up for several days (until the cold snap is over), I need a way to water under it, so I can just remove the bricks I used to keep the excess down and spray the bed down. 

I don't like using staples to hold it down, but the wind would whip it up and I didn't have the time or the creativity to solve the problem for the long term.  Ultimately, I'd like to be able to remove it quickly, be able to store it easily and put it back up solidly.  This isn't permanent, but it hopefully will hold up to whatever nature throws at us over the next few days and protect my carrots, cauliflower, lettuce and spinach. When I use it for extending my season and fall/winter gardening, I hope it can keep my tomatoes producing and give me 40 SF of gardening space to harvest healthy, home-grown produce in January!

So here is what my garden looks like in preparation for some cold and possibly snowy weather...

I used my last coldframe big enough (in this case slightly too big) to cover my middle bed, which has my peas and broccoli.  Since neither is very tall at the moment, I won't cook them in the sweltering 50 degree heat of the days.  Note I have left the duct tape on in case I have another oopsie.

The smallest bed got one of my 4x2 windows that could cover 2 SF sections of my beds if need be.  It's covering tiny radishes and unsprouted onions.  Again I don't think the glass is too close. 

Well, it's 10pm and a roasting 38 degrees. It may or may not snow, may or may not frost over, but I'm ready.

Lastly, after seeing Judy's Yukon Golds (they're beautiful!), I had to go up and check on mine. They're in a storage room upstairs that's currently unheated but will eventually be one of my kid's rooms.

They're beginning to sprout from the eyes, but as you can see, there are very few Buttes in a pound, so I may cut some of the bigger ones in half.    Sorry the picture's so dark. Part of the remodel will include better lighting, and it's dark outside.  I would love to plant them this weekend but with the potential for 28 degrees, I think I'll wait.

So today was very hectic, but I got a ton done, and I'm ready for anything that comes my way. Now I'm going to go outside and make sure its still standing. hehe

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March 26, 2008

Wow, and I thought I had nothing to post about tonight.  Work was hellish. I've been hitting a wall about 2 or 3 in the afternoon (8 hours into my long day), probably because I've never been a morning person, but to spend time with my family, I'll do anything, including getting up at 5 to start my 10 hour day.  Ok, enough about my day.

I've been checking the weather forecast a lot lately because we've been having a cold snap.  Mother Nature telling us that Spring doesn't mean spring quite yet.  I was just sitting down to check the boards and my brother calls. It's SNOWING a mile from my house.  Now I haven't checked outside since he called, but I don't think it's snowing here... yet.  According to the news, for a change, the snow is falling south of Seattle, not north.  Odd.  The southend of Puget Sound got 2-3 inches of snow!  Yikes.  Thank goodness since my wife's still out.

Thank goodness Judy and others have said my cool weather crops can handle mild freezes, and since it's getting to almost 50 during the day, any snow accumulation (at most an inch) will be gone by noon, providing more water for my beds that are getting quite a bit lately.  I stopped watering when I found the dry top inch or so was a brief respite from the spring rains.  I think the beds may be getting a bit too much water. One cauliflower seedling is yellowing a bit but I can always replant if necessary. 

In fact, I may start some seedlings indoors and plant them immediately when they get some leaves.  That way I won't care if they would have gotten leggy, they'll be transplanted.  My seeds aren't germinating well in the beds and cauliflower germinates in about 5 days inside on the fridge. 

After I read that 4 broccoli plants was enough for 3 adults for a season (on GardenWeb), I began to rethink growing 8 of each plant for little old me (I can't guaranty my kids will like either since I didn't as a child).  I'm kinda trying to find more space for lettuce since I miscalculated the square footage in my tomato bed. 

Anyway, I figure if I have maybe one viable seedling of each out there, and two seeds that may or may not start, I'll grow one of each inside and transplant it outside every two weeks.  If I have too much, maybe I can try Alton Brown's method of quick freezing some of it for the winter.  If it works for blueberries, why wouldn't it work for broccoli.  Birdseye does it.

So as you can see above (sorry for the blurry pics, my wife's out on a girl's night out with her nice camera phone), I planted two peat pots. Full this time, with Mel's Mix with Miracle Gro potting soil mixed in with the compost, I didn't like the look of the peat pots sticking out of the bed with my spinach... (sure hope the peat pot tops break down soon)

I digress, hehe, so I planted one peat pot (I'm still chicken to try out the peat pucks I bought to mimic Judy) with a seed of each and marked it so I don't plant them in the wrong place.  It actually took two attempts because I spilled a bunch of dirt out by accident when I was watering the seeds in and couldn't be sure if the seed was lost too, so I dumped the dirt and started from scratch. 

That's enough for tonight, and thanks Jen for stopping by and posting... You really are my muse, in more ways than one. You've got an amazing voice and incredible yard!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 25, 2008

Wow, more sprouts!  I have at least a few of each variety of pea sprouting now, and nearly all my lettuce has poked up also. 

So, let's see, what hasn't sprouted... Onions, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower seeds.  The seedlings of those veggies are doing well though.  I have removed the plank from the carrots to try it a bit without the cover.  We'll see what happens. 

Today I got a comment from GardenGirl.  Among other things, she mentioned that I need to put more pictures in my blog.  Hehe, I haven't put them in because for the last few weeks, all I could report was "nothing's happened." Since I already had pics of nothing happening, I didn't want to clutter the blog server with more of the same.  So today when I got home I grabbed my wife's phone and snapped some pictures.  I'll do my best to show you what I'm so happy about, though the sprouts are tiny right now. Enjoy!


First let's start with the radishes.  You can see they're almost all germinating.  Not bad for my first try at direct sowing...


Next is a great pic of a healthy broccoli seedling holding it's own.  Remember this was the only viable seedling out of 16 indoor starts...

As you can easily see above, I just stuck the peat pots in the ground that had my spinach seeldings in them.  But what is more difficult to see in the foreground are the multiple spinach sprouts that I direct sowed for my first succession planting.


This was fun to see.  I've got two SF of lettuce sprouting.  One of the three varieties hasn't sprouted yet, but these took a while so I'll be patient. 

We've had two straight days of 50 degree days and frosty nights.  Thankfully all the plants I planted were cool-weather crops and haven't appeared to be hurt by the mild frosts.  I expect a few more with even a slight chance of snow in the forecast, but these little guys are tough.  And since my favorite coldframe is out of commission, they're going uncovered.

Oh, and in case you're interested, I edited yesterday's post to add a pic I took of the coon print and the broken coldframe.  I didn't have time yesterday to take pics as I was only out there for a few minutes total and most of it was after "sunset." 

Also, I added a sprouts section to my Seed to Table page, continuing that all-in-one-place saga for a quick resource guide.  For some research tonight, I tried to find out how to build a SWC or Earthbox from scratch.  I may be tired, but the instructions I found online led to more questions than answers.  After hearing about Judy's, I got excited that I could use the wall area at the north end of the two pathways to grow tomatoes, either more varieties or maybe even use them to give me more space in my beds by moving them entirely to SWCs.  If only Judy could help me build them. They look so confusing. hehe

Monday, March 24, 2008

March 24, 2008

Boy, lots to say tonight, and I worked all day.  Go figure.

Let's start with SPROUTS!!! I see sprouts!  In a day I got sprouts from my spinach seeds, peas and maybe lettuce.  I only got a quick glance when I got home because we were late for heading out on a power walk.  As it was we had to cut it short for lack of light and falling temps.

Yes, I now have peas sprouting, but only a few snow or shelling, I honestly can't remember which I planted in that SF.  I just know the snap are in the middle. I also know that I need to build a trellis this weekend. 

All three of the pea varieties say they max out at 30 inches, so I'm toying with just building a 2x2 trellis about 30 inches above my bed.  Anyone think I should go higher?  Since they're untreated pine, they won't survive to next season so I don't worry about permanence.

Back on the seedlings, we had frost today, and are expecting frost all this week, so I wonder if I NEED to cover my new cool-weather seedlings for a light frost? 

I sure won't be using the coldframe pictured below.  It cracked on me Sunday so it's out of commission, permanently.  My next best option for my windows is one that will take my wife and I to move... it's 4x8.  I may have to start looking on Craigslist for a 4x4 window from a remodel.  It was a good size since I could manhandle it myself.  That said, if I have to remove those staples for my grids ever, I'll put the next ones in the sides so the frames slide along the bed frame.  Live and learn.

My weekend is filling up with projects.  Not only will I be doing some succession planting and building a trellis for my peas, but I may be planting potatoes early.  Apparently they can be planted before the LSF but frost will damage any above-ground growth.  To solve that, I may do up a clear cover for the bins.  I could either do a simple cover that goes a few inches above the tallest level, or something more complex where I create a square clear plastic bag that fits over the 2x2s.  Create a little hot-house.  I bet my mother could do one for me. She made something similar out of tarp for everyone's plastic stackable deck chairs so they stay clean during the winter.

Another project is getting water to that area.  I'm sure my front yard looks trashy with a hose wrapped around the entire house.  The front hose is much longer than the backyard hose so it actually reaches the side/backyard better.  Unfortunately it's haphazardly laying in my front yard because it's not quick to uncoil and drag it around the house.  Boy will it be nice when I get a hose in the garden.  Since it's PVC, if I decide I want to create a PVC-based irrigation/drip system, I could do it off of that spot.

Finally I still need to get the predator urine to detract the raccoons.  I left the one paw print in my tomato section to remind me that they're bad for the garden. Don't they know NOBODY walks on Mel's Mix once it's down?!? hehe

Well, that's about it for tonight.  Thanks Tim, GardenGirl and Toasty for all the great comments lately. I really appreciate the advice.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

March 23, 2008

Ok, I wasn't sure what to call this post.  22nd part II or early 23.  I decided on 23 because "today" is Easter even though it's just past midnight.  We were at a Party Like a Rock Star birthday bash where we played Rock Star on the X-Box.  Now I know what the kids these days are talking about with their Guitar Hero and the like.  Hard, but fun.  Anyway, not gardening related, but why I'm posting so late.

In stark contrast to last night's frigid 35 when I dashed out to put up my coldframes near midnight.  Right now it's a balmy 50 degrees!  What a change.  Tomorrow is rain, so Mother Nature's doing my garden a favor but making my kids and I pay when we go hunt Easter eggs.

I wanted to post because the birthday girl's house we were at was my gardening muse.  No, not Judy, though I've learned so very much from her.  The b-day girl was the one that directed me to read Mel's book when she found out I was going to turn my dog-run into a garden. 

I wanted to share some observations about her yard.  I didn't take pictures, but her yard is immaculate.  She doesn't have raised beds, but her back yard was recently completely transformed by a landscape designer and contractor.  Her terrace pathways are in flagstone slatelike rocks and intricately laid brickwork, with a hot-tub hut.  All around the paths are mulched garden areas with a great mix of local plants, a couple blueberry bushes, a few soon-to-plant tomato plants, no fewer than 4 trellises for peas. 

And you should see her seedlings.  She's got multiple flats of jiffy peat pucks with all sorts of herbs, veggies and companion plants growing.  She's even going to save a red and green basil seedling for me to plant in between my tomatoes.  She's got almost as many seedlings as you see in those pics on GardenWeb where you wonder how many thousands of SF they have of space to plant all the seedlings. 

Oh, I just remembered, I am supposed to succession plant tomorrow. Let's see, I'm going to plant more lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, green onions, maybe radishes and carrots.  All the peas are in the ground so no need to succession plant them.  However, I'm not sure succession planting now is a good idea since nothing but my radishes are sprouting from the last planting two weeks ago.  It's possible that anything I plant tomorrow will sprout at the same time as my other seeds if the reason the old ones haven't surfaced is weather related.  Regardless, next time I plant I'll poke my finger in shallower so they don't have to worry that I planted them too deep and smothered them with too much dirt.

Well, that's enough for tonight, the kids will be up and ready to go way too early. 

Happy Easter all!


Well, instead of a new post, I thought I'd edit this one.  Its raining as I expected, so no planting today. Besides, we've got about an hour to get to my brother's house for Easter.

Today, after checking the boards, I went through and set up categories for my blogs and edited nearly every post to categorize them.  It was also good to re-read some of my earliest posts to see how excited I was one day and dejected the next.

About the only thing I did in my garden was to remove the coldframe like GardenGirl suggested, as well as the plank.  Now all the beds can get good natural watering.

Silly me, before we went over to my brother's for Easter, it was  almost flooding in the streets it was raining so hard.  So I ran out and replaced the plan and put the coldframe back up.  One problem though. I was in a hurry because I was in my nice clothes and without a jacket in pouring rain.  So I kinda went fast on placing the coldframe and the frame got caught on a staple.  I tried lifting one corner to get it over the staple and tweaked it too much.  Crack!  Thank goodness I didn't remove the duct tape because it kept the window from shattering and scattering broken glass all over my bed.  It's still holding together, but I'll need help to remove it tomorrow.  It shouldn't hurt anything to be on there another day.

March 22, 2008

Wow, thanks Tim! (See comment for March 21)  I don't know what I was reading?  I just re-checked the SFG book and it says wait until the soil reaches 45 degrees.  Guess I will have to dirty up my digital roast thermometer.  Boy, Alton Brown would be REALLY proud of my multitasking of tools.  So I guess no potato planting today. 

Now I just have to find a place that's around 65 degrees and well lit, but not sunny in my house to store the 2 pounds of seed potatoes I got.  My upstairs is currently used as storage so we don't heat it (getting heat up there is a project for when the kids get older and move up there).  I'll stick them out of direct sun but in the room so it will be well lit area until after April 1, which is the historical LSF date for Seattle. 

I would hate to have to wait until after May 1, though I know Portland weather's nearly identical to Seattle's.  I wouldn't get bakers until October or Novemberish.  /shrug Maybe that's when you're supposed to harvest them in mid-late fall.  I sure hope they store well to last through the winter and maybe into spring.

What I don't think I've ever read in my research on potatoes is, do you plant the sprouted seed potatoes with the sprouts up or down?  Are the sprouts the vines or the roots?

Ok, I checked the soil. I've got a great meat thermometer that is designed to clip on a shirt for cooks.  I took it outside and it was reading the air temp at just under 50.  I poked it into the ground in my Build-As-You-Grow bins and the soil temp averaged 42 degrees.  Not quite the 45 that Mel suggests.  If I were a betting man I'd plant anyway, but we've still got a week or two before our LSF, and I don't want to worry about frost with my potatoes also!

While I had the probe out there, I checked my beds, and they were the same soil temp, about 43.  However, I still had the coldframe over the spinach and cauliflower, so I checked under the window.  There's condensation, but I didn't expect almost 50 degrees soil temp. 

Not bad for an unsealed coldframe (I turned it to fit the "creative" angle of the beds).

The spinach really likes the coldframe, the stems straightened up overnight.  I'm not sure if I'll remove the duct tape that I put on to keep them from shattering when we yanked them out.  Kinda seems like a good idea when I throw them around.


On the topic of my raccoons, I called Sky Nursery and they have predator urine. It works on dear, raccoons and armadillos, hehe.  The guy on the phone (you'd be crazy not to let your fingers do the walking with gas prices this high... I digress) gave me a good tip on predator urine.  Once you use up a 20 oz container, switch brands.  That way they don't get used to the sent.  I guess you can cycle through them every so often.  I'll pick it up and see if it works. Not sure if I could tell, other than the absense of paw prints in my dirt.

Friday, March 21, 2008

March 21, 2008

Tomorrow I plant potatoes.  I hope you don't have to have sprouted eyes to plant them. I've heard it's not necessary, but I wonder.  The weather's supposed to be mid 50s and mostly sunny, followed Sunday by rain, not showers, but rain, so I don't have to worry about the potatoes getting enough water, hehe. But the Easter Bunny's fur is going to get wet and matted.  Note to self, bring rain gear for the kids.

I just read that chill hours is the number of hours below 45 degrees.  I'm not sure what that all refers to, but if you're counting hours, we've got to be in the thousands right now.  It's been under 45 for several days now.  I bet that's why my garden hasn't sprouted.  Or maybe I planted the seeds too deep.  I just poked my finger in and had my son drop a seed or two.  I didn't measure.  Maybe I should have.

WHOOOOT! I went outside for the first time in two days and I found 10 radish sprouts!  Yay!  I must say I was really getting discouraged.  Nothing else sprouted and I found a dead worm in one of my pea squares.  I have NO idea what's wrong with them.  Maybe they were sick when I got them. I sure hope my "dirt" is ok. 

I got worried when I saw the worm and varying health of my transplanted seedlings.  I could just see it being the compost, or the vermiculite, or whatever and needing to replace 6.5 yards of material.  See what an active mind on a novice gardener can do to you?  And they say this is relaxing.  Hehe. It is, just not when you're used to things happening much faster than they go when asking plants to grow. 

Do experienced gardeners every run into this kind of anxiety?  I sure hope not, because it would give me something to look forward to in a few years.

Late night addition:

I was shutting down for the night and decided to check the weather for tomorrow because it can literally change overnight on the coast here.  It's 41 now, feels like 37.  Oh crap, it has a low for the night of 32.  I get a flashback to Judy's late-night insomnia weeks ago when she was panicked that it would freeze with her fragile seedlings outside in the cold.

I've got two SF of seedling spinach, two cauliflower, one broccoli and one SF of radish seedlings in three separate beds.  Should I run out at 11 pm and cover them with my nifty coldframe windows, or risk it not getting there or having the cool-weather seedlings survive the freeze?

What I did was err on the side of caution and go out and place a 9 oz cloudy translucent plastic cup (that I used to pot up my seedlings), with holes in the top, over the single broccoli seedling in my middle bed.  Then I pulled out a 2x3 window and placed it over my 3x5 bed, covering the fragile new radish sprouts.  Finally, I took a 4x5 coldframe and placed it at an angle over my second largest bed to cover the corner and the square on the other side where I transplanted the spinach seedlings.  The frame also covered the cauliflower seedlings and rested comforably on the carrot plank. 

Maybe it saved my seedlings, maybe it was too late for any heat to be trapped under the windows, and maybe it wouldn't have mattered one way or another.  Only time and will tell.  Gotta love late March prior to the Last Spring Frost...

Now I'm going to bed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March 20, 2008 Part II

Yay! I finally got my seed potatoes today!  One pound is six smallish potatoes.  Glad I didn't know that or I'd have bought two pounds. If I recall correctly you only need an eye or two so I can cut some of the larger ones in half. 

The instructions say for optimal yield, plant 12 inches apart.  Hmm, I don't recall where I got the idea for 6 inches but I will plant how many I have and space them out accordingly.  It will probably end up being about 8 inches if my mental math works out.  I'll do it tonight if the rain stops.  Don't worry, I'll take pictures.

Check the comments for the 18th, Garden Girl tries to call me out.  Ok, to be fair, I started it, but I'm all for a little friendly competition.  Anyway, she's actually looking to ME to see if my Build-As-You-Grow bins succeed or not.  THEN she may try them. 

Let me just say I am really glad that the dozens of folks at and GardenWeb that have said they're using the idea didn't wait for me to succeed before they tried it.  Besides, the article I got the idea for the bins came from the Seattle Times in 2005. I'm sure they've been in use for far longer than that.  So if you're thinking about doing it this year, go for it! 

Actually, another reason GardenGirl may not be growing potatoes that they don't cost very much at the store.  I was reading about that issue today in the Seattle P-I today in the Edibles column by Chris Smith, a retired WSU Master Gardener. He suggests 10 crops to grow in a "small urban space" aka SFG to my ears.  Turns out I'm growing 7 of his ten and don't eat the other three or I'd grow them.  Turns out I'm pretty smart huh?  Not bad for a newbie gardener.  Anyway, in the article Smith says he didn't pick potatoes because they're cheap in the store and don't taste much different, but the rest do taste better.  Oh, and corn takes up too much space... sure does, it gets 44 SF of my 130.  Anyway, I am growing what my family eats, even if other folks (my family included) think I'm silly to grow certain crops.

As I've said many times, I expect to make 100 mistakes this year, but it will all be worth it as I take that bowl out to the garden and harvest a salad. Or maybe when I boil some water and go shuck two ears as I'm walking back to drop them in 30 seconds after harvesting them.  Let's see the sugar content drop in 30 seconds!

Finally, to anyone that came here because GardenGirl suggested it. Thank you for visiting.  If you're a novice gardener like me, stick around. Maybe I'll stumble rather than you and when I pick myself up, you can learn how in case you falter as well.  If you're a veteran, you can read all my challenges and recall making a few of them yourself in years past.  Oh, and if you comment and help me solve an issue or provide some patience to allow nature to take its course, then all the better for everyone!  Go ahead and sign up and comment away.  I hope to get more genuine comments then spam.  Finally, check out the Blogroll links.  Judy is building an incredible one-stop-shop for all things SFG at, and GardenWeb is a great place for just about everything garden related. Thank you again for reading. I seriously did not expect anyone to ever see this, but Judy said hundreds of new gardeners would come here and relate to me and learn from my mistakes. It is all worth it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March 20, 2008

It seems I've got a lot to learn about blogging, as well as gardening.  I essentially constructed a massive 8' deer fence around my blog and nobody could get in.  Sorry about that.  I tried to keep the spammers out by making it a process to post.  What happened was that very few people could get to that point. 

So effective immediately, I've made it so anyone could post and you don't need to log in.  Now I just hope I get more useful comments than spam. hehe.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

March 19, 2008

Ok, wow, I'm shocked.  First I found out I was mentioned in a newsletter.  The very next day I find out a truly famous gardener not only found my site, but reads it regularly (and Judy's of course, but that makes sense), and even put it in her newsletter that probably goes out to thousands (even if my name's spelled wrong).  Note to Judy, boost the bandwidth or whatever, just kidding, nobody's going to come here.  In case you're still wondering who it is that graces my blahg... three words for you... Urban Sustainable Living!  That's right, none-other-than the one, the only, GardenGirlTV! Patti Moreno of Boston.

I remember staying up until the wee hours of the morning the night I found her videos.  I must have watched them all that night.  And in my sleep deprived stupor, I remember thinking it would be really great to build my own chicken tractor.  Forget the fact I don't have chickens, not sure I'd want them and don't think I can have them where I live.  hehe  Yes, her videos are not only well produced shorts, but they're extremely addictive!  I find myself checking her YouTube site almost nightly.  Sick, but not wrong!  I also admit to (on occasion) checking her friends sites to see if or Judy's or my blog made the grade.  Never expecting that we would, but I checked anyway. 

Well tonight I went out and lightly moistened the ground (please someone comment to stop me if I'm watering too much) before it started raining and I had this redundant feeling. Nothing's changed, but this is teaching me patience even better than my 4 year old.  I guess it's probably good for me.  Well, something did change I guess. I found a 3 inch diameter paw print in the dirt. Just one, but the raccoon probably crawled across my carrot plank. Guess it's time to try out that coyote urine this weekend.  That's one big coon!

Then I went upstairs and hung out the window overlooking the garden and sprayed a second round of wasp killer into the eve there.  I've got 737 wasps there and I don't want them killing the bees off.  I actually saw a big bee about two weeks ago.  I felt bad that I had nothing to "feed" it, but it was fat so I didn't feel too bad.  I just wanted it to come back when I had something to pollinate.

Speaking of seeing bees early. I read an article today that mentioned that a scientifically demonstrable effect of global warming is that Spring is coming earlier and earlier.  Hay fever sufferers like myself will note that the Claritin was pulled to the front of the medicine cabinet about a month ago due to the insane tree pollen floating around.  The article went on to state that a special type of honey back East has always had a reddish tint to it due to the flowers that the bees took pollen from.  Now the bees are out earlier and thus, taking pollen from different plants that are blooming now. So the honey has a completely different tint to it.  Guess one more effect of global warming is that whichever company markets that honey has to change it's label. GRRRR

So I'm trying not to get nervous, but Toasty's peas have sprouted days ago and mine still haven't poked their little stems out yet.  I know I should have dug them up and replanted with seeds I soaked overnight.  I just know it.  Well, my co-worker says she always direct sows her peas dry as a bone, and hers always come up.  Again, patience is a virtue. 

Finally, GardenGirl said she is "watching" my progress on my Build-As-You-Grow bins to see what happens when I harvest.  That's why she didn't take the plunge despite my pleas in multiple places for her to take the plunge.  I told her that is why I moved the bins from my original design location of inside my gravel garden area to the dirt covered area near my fence.  I plan (and recommend) to use a tarp when I remove a board. Lay it down around the bin and any dirt that comes out can be put back with a garden trowel or saved for the next covering.  And if any dirt does escape the tarp, then no harm no foul.  I really think GardenGirl is waiting to see if I get a similar harvest to her raised bed and hay route.  Per SF I'll cream her... game on!  hehe just kidding.  When I've got a million people interested in my garden like hers, then I can talk.

Well, I'm excited right now.  Which is good because my wife's got me labeling baby stuff for a Mom's baby-garage sale this Friday.  Busy evening.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

March 18, 2008

Today's weather was quite a bit nicer than in previous days.  So when I got home after work, I took my eldest out to visit our garden.  The problem is, not only has nothing sprouted, one of my two cauliflower seedling's leaves are turning yellow.  Not knowing what to do, I watered it some more.  Mel's Mix seems to dry out very fast.  Maybe I'm watering too much.  I'm so new to this I can't be sure.  I'm definitely giving the seeds and seedlings more than a cup of water a week as the SFG recommends.

So what did I do with the yellowing seedling?  I took the next strongest seedling from my 9 oz cups and planted it right next to the other one.  Survival of the fittist.  If that fails, I'll plant a seed next to that one, but that SF will be planted with cauliflower!

While I was out there, I found two of my onion starts that I never even transferred from the straight vermiculite that were actually growing with no nutrients or even water.  I figured if they could do that in vermiculite, maybe they deserved a chance to grow in dirt.  So I planted them in a third onion square (two have seeds already).  I'm not expecting much from them, but if they grow, great!

Today at work I chatted with a fellow gardener and we came up with a potential multitasker to detract coons from our gardens.  I had already planned on making PVC hoop covers to extend my growing season with 3-mil plastic over it.  So while we were talking about it, it came to us that if we put chicken wire over the hoop cover it may keep out raccoons also.  AB would be proud of my multitasker! May have to give it a try?

Tonight on the internet I found some great sites for blueberries that I put on (thanks SouthSounder!).  I also found a potato post where I previously talked about my Build-As-You-Grow bins (not "mine" but you get the point).  Well it seems quite a few people saw my page devoted to them and were interested enough to build some themselves.  That's awesome!  Now they better work or there's a whole bunch of people that will be unhappy with me.  It does say I'm new at this on the font page, right? Check! Whew!

Monday, March 17, 2008

March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Today everyone's Irish, even those who woke up late and forgot to wear green.

Still nothing growing, but I watered under my "plank" and it appears the spinach seedlings have made a bit of a turnaround, looking better today than yesterday.

Anyway, nothing too much to talk about my garden, I was too busy to call Territorial, but I bet they're too busy with Spring approaching to get everything out in a timely fashion.  I don't think I'll buy an "organic" potato from the store and use that.  I don't trust that it won't have diseases that seed potatoes are guaranteed not to have.

Frankly, I was going to skip posting tonight since it's more of the same, checking blogs and forums, maybe researching something, but I found out I'm infamous! MUAHAHAHAHA!

Seriously, it seems more than just my friends at and GardenWeb look at my blahg.  Someone actually received a newsletter (hopefully a gardening one) that mentioned both Judy's and my blogs.  Whoever reported on us, please comment to let me know who it was.  I'm flattered. 

More importantly, I really hope new gardeners come here to find out what to do, and what not to do.  I promise again that I'll make tons of mistakes, fix most of them, and STILL get a garden that neighbors will ooh and ahh over when all's said and done!

So let me know you're out there.  Let me know what you like, don't like and want to hear about. 

And thanks for reading, hope you are getting something out of it!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

March 16, 2008

Today was my wife's birthday, and when I got home from Vegas, she asked if I was planning on gardening all weekend.  I got the hint so today was all about her.  Smoothies in the morning, a bath for her and nap later, watching the kids and taking her out to dinner. 

I did get out for five minutes to see that nothing has sprouted yet.  The spinach seedlings are about half-mast on the loops spreading, but they are kinda looking scraggly so I'm not sure they're loving their new home.  Maybe it's too much water.  Not sure.  Time will tell.

I'm kind of surprised that the radishes aren't up yet. If they really do go from seed to table in 25 days, we're over a fourth of the way down and nothing.  Odd.  I guess I'm just impatient.

Next weekend will be the next planting of my cool weather crops to succession plant (hopefully I'll see some progress on the first plantings), as well as hopefully my potatoes if Territorial ever gets around to shipping my order.  Maybe I'll be a pest and call tomorrow.

After seeing a post from Flatlander on about a garlic farmer in Wisconsin, and hearing a bit about his garlic garden, it made me think.  I love garlic, and my wife likes it too.  We normally just use powder or pre-minced in our cooking, but I'd love to use cloves if I had them around.  My brother's growing 100 bulbs or so in one of his two 4x8 beds.  I hope to get a few bulbs from him when he harvests in June. 

The problem I see with garlic is you plant it in Fall and don't harvest it until the next summer.  Much as I'd love to use my corn bed to plant garlic as a winter crop, I don't want to give up a whole bed for half the prime growing season.  I know my brother's worried about it because he's got two 4x8 beds and a 4x4 bed, and that's it.  His other bed currently is growing a cover crop of various grasses and beans that will get tilled under and compost to replace the nutrients after a decade of planting.

When I was commenting on the garlic post, it got me thinking. The former owners of our house had used the "back 40" to grow potatoes in the area in front of the blackberry bramble.  If I get out there this fall to hack down a third of the bramble (still need to chat with my neighbor), I just may clean up that area and maybe do some raised beds without the boards and plant garlic.  The nice thing about garlic is that you plant it in fall and don't worry about it until spring.  I don't go back there much, so it would be perfect.  Just a thought for the future.

Have a good week, and let's hope my garden starts growing!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

March 15, 2008

The ides of March!  Maybe that's why after getting back late last night and checking on the garden this morning, nothing had sprouted.  I can now say that broccoli and cauliflower sprout so fast only in 70 degree temperatures.  They should be up by now, especially the radishes that should almost be done by now, hehe.

I'm not worried, just impatient.  Mother Nature took good care of my plants while I was away. Apparently it rained just about every day, keeping the ground moist. 

Still no potato seeds from Territorial.  I may have to get them locally next year.  Live and learn.  They were so fast with the seed packets.  After seeing GardenGirlTV's latest video on growing potatoes, I am really excited about trying out my Build-As-You-Grow bins.  I've even seen some folks talking about them.  I sure hope they work as well as the Times article suggested they would.  I have a feeling people would blame me if they were a dismal failure.  hehe

Speaking of GGTV, I saw she actually signed up as a member at  She's already something of a legend over there thanks to her amazing videos and all-out intensive garden in an urban setting.  Very cool.  Now if I could only convince her to build UP with her beds where the potatoes are.  She could REALLY grow a big crop then!  Not that I expect her to take advice from a newbie gardener trying out something for the first time.

Well, time to play with the kids and unpack my bag from the trip.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March 11, 2008

Whew, that took forever!  With Spring in the air, tons new folks have become active on  It took me almost two hours to get through all the posts!  That's incredible! I didn't even get a chance to check out GardenWeb.

It's almost bed time and I still need to pack.  I'm heading out of town for the rest of the week.  That means my garden will be at the mercy of Mother Nature while I'm away.  I doubt my wife would even go out to see if anything sprouted.  Thankfully it's expected to rain Thursday and Friday.  It's rained today, but I'll run out and hit it with the hose before work tomorrow.

Since I won't be home to water under my carrot plank, I removed it this evening.  I think water is more important than protection.  I expect big things when I get back!  I'll take pictures if there's anything to show Saturday.

Keep up the gardening and keep posting. I hope to be burried in posts when I get back!

Monday, March 10, 2008

March 10, 2008

Well, mother nature smiled upon my garden since I planted yesterday.  We've had more rain in the last 24 hours than the last week.  She must have known it was planting season.

Anyway, if you read my last post, you know I spaced on the spacing of my spinach (I love illiteration).  Well, today I did 10 minutes of gardening when I got off work.  It was raining but true Seattleites won't let rain bother them.  I couldn't very well move spinach seeds, but I could easlily manipulate the decaying peat pots.  So I broke them all up and left 4 in the original area and moved six to a corner section of the spinach row that I knew I hadn't planted anything yet.  See how pretty they look now that I have good spacing? If too many seeds germinate I can always thin them out or transplant them to other squares.


Anyhow, after pinging Toasty about my pea problems (I only soaked them for an hour instead of overnight when they would have sprouted).  She figures I did no harm but not much good either.  So I didn't help my peas along much.  Hopefully the drounding I gave them yesterday (and today), along with Mother Nature's help, they will keep up with Toasty's germination rate.  If they're more than a week later than hers, she suggests I replant.  Apparently she planted some in late April once and still got a decent crop.  Boy am I glad I have a Seattle contact as a sounding board.  As great as Judy and the rest of the folks are at, Toasty's got experience in my town growing what I'm growing.  That's invaluable. 

Finally, I found more worms that have bitten the dust.  I'm not sure if Flatlander can advise me but I sure hope he can. He's the closest thing I know to the Worm Guy.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

March 9, 2008

Well, today was productive, despite losing an hour.  I slept in (even if you don't consider the time change), I made a smoothie, checked the boards (busy time) and made lunch.

After lunch, my 4 year old and I went out and started planting in the garden.  I planted 2 SF of carrots; 4 of cauliflower including 2 seedlings that I felt had a decent chance of surviving; 3 SF of lettuce (one of each variety); 1 SF of spinach; 4 SF of peas (three varieties); 4 SF of broccoli including the only sprout that looked decent; 2 SF of onions; and 1.5 SF of radishes.  I'll plant more in 2 weeks or so to succession plant, but this was a great start! 

Unfortunately I spaced the spinach wrong.  I was in a hurry and distracted by my kids when I drew out on my garden plan how many to plant.  For some reason I did 16/SF for spinach, so I planted 8 of my sprouts on top and 8 seeds on the bottom.  Now I don't know what to do since the correct spacing is 9/SF.  Grrr!  Thank goodness for daylight savings so if I get home at a decent hour tomorrow I can go out and move around the peat pots.  I won't move the seeds so I hope the whole SF isn't a total loss.

Not so say the verdict is in, but I actually transplanted three of my original seedlings.  Two cauliflower and one broccoli.  All the rest (over a dozen) were totally toast.  Look at how cute they look!

Finally, after reading that carrots need a plastic cage over them, I rememberd reading a thread about carrots where 'old-timers' used to use planks over their carrot seeds to speed germination.  Sooo, I grabbed one of my 1 foot strips of plywood and threw it over top of the carrot row.  I didn't do the same for the peas, but I may since the book wants a cover over them too.

When my folks get back from Wyoming, I'm going to have to enlist his help to get water to there. Right now I've got my front hose wrapped around the garage to the garden area, and even with an extra long hose it doesn't quite make it.  It does better than the back yard hose, but still not great.  I'm still toying with the idea of putting three 55 gallon rain barrels in the area where my tool shed was going to go (in the picture above it's where the screens, rake and fertilizer bag are located).  Using the SFG method, I really don't need that many tools and my shed's only 40 feet away. Something to think about.

Lastly, when I was playing with the kids in the yard after gardening, I found paw prints in the compost around my apple tree.  Time to check out the coyote urine solution.  Best to get them away early in the season before the plants grow.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

March 8, 2008

Today wasn't the sunny dry day that I'd hoped it would be. It was in the low 40s and sprinkling.  I still went out, I just wore a coat.  First I went and got galvinized staples and twine to lay out my grids.  The angles present a bit of a challenge to get 1sf squares, but I'll manage. I only managed to get the staples in and measured out before my family got home, but maybe my wife can help with the stringing to avoid backtracking so much. hehe

Boy does Mel's Mix dry out quick.  I don't want to figure out a soaker system, that would be complicated and expensive.  But that may be what I need to do.  So much for plants needing a cup of water a week.  Bah.

Tomorrow I'll go out and plant some plants with my son, rain or shine. I've put together a list of what I'm planting, when to plant it and what the spacing is.  Here it goes...

5 weeks b4lsf:
Broccoli – 1 /sf
Peas - 8 /sf (pre)
Spinach - 9 /sf
4 weeks b4lsf:
Lettuce – 4 /sf
Onion – 16 /sf
Cauliflower - 1/sf

3 weeks b4lsf:
Carrots - 16 /sf
Radish - 12 /sf

Beans - 9 /sf (b) 8/sf (p) (pre)
Corn - 8' rows 4' spacing (pre)

1 week alsf:
Cucumber - 2 /sf (pre)

I'll be planting up through 2 weeks before last spring frost (which for me is April 1 historically).  Of course I don't have potatoes yet, so I'll just have to let my bins sit empty until I get some (hurry up Territorial, hehe).

Well, with Daylight Savings losing me an hour of sleep today, I'd better hit the sack!  Fun day tomorrow, I'm so excited!

Friday, March 7, 2008

March 7, 2008

OMG, this week was hellish.  I was so braindead and exhausted at work, snapping at everyone, so I came home "early" after only 9 1/2 hours of work. 

I thought working in the garden would calm me down so I got changed right away and went out in the rain to rake under my coffee grounds.  I did it and found a dead worm.  GRRR, I left it there to compost. It's odd though, I think the Mel's Mix soaks up so much water that even after a fair amount of rain, the mix 4 inches down was dry as a bone today.  That concerns me because I don't know how much to water.  I guess I'll have to rely on the incredible drainage capablities of Mel's Mix and water the heck out of things.

Well, my seedlings are looking a little bad. I'll plant a few of them hoping they grow, but I'll also start my succession planting of the following veggies tomorrow:

Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce and carrots.  I think I could plant radishes, but there's just something wrong to harvest radishes in 25 days only to have to buy lettuce to make a salad with them. 

Hehe. Maybe I'll plant some Sunday when my son gets back from Mema's house.

So, now I think I'm all ready. I don't think I have to soak any seeds ahead of time.  This will be yet another learning experience.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

March 6, 2008

What a day, what a day!  Today I found out that my uncle passed away last night.  I was named for him so he was my favorite uncle despite me having much more in common with my other uncle.  He will be missed.

I must say I'm really impressed with the Winter Sowing forum on gardenweb.  They are just as friendly and helpful as I've found and the Fruit and Orchard forum at gardenweb.  They are MUCH more friendly sounding than the Growing Under Lights forum.  Anyway, Alberta suggested a while ago that I go there after reading about my woes with my seedlings.  Though I didn't do winter sowing this year, I will definitely look to Andreab and Verna (both Washington WSers) for assistance. 

Andreab suggested now wasn't too late to start this year, but I replied that since we're now officially within 4 weeks from LSF here in Seattle, I'm planting in my garden this weekend!  Yay!  I can't wait.  The weather even looks to want to cooperate.  The rain keeps getting pushed out to the end of the 5 day forecast.

Ooh, speaking of rain, we had a shower today on the commute home and the sun was going down.  You know what that means. RAINBOW!  Well, I think for the first time ever I saw the whole rainbow.  I tried to take a picture of it but it wouldn't all fit in my camera frame.  So I took two pictures.   I raced home to try to get a picture with the rainbow framing my garden to post here, but in a span of 5 minutes the sun went down to a point where the rainbow was gone.  Grrr.

If you haven't been checking out Judy's blog, she's gone insane... You gotta see her distribution of 40, yes 40! tomato plants.  I'm hoping for two in my yard and she's keeping 20 plus for herself!  She's going to grow 200 pounds of tomatoes.  More power to her I say.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March 5, 2008

Happy birthday to me.... hehe.  Ok, NOW I'm really 36 and as of a month ago my son's now 4.  So I jumped the gun on the intro.  He's super smart and I'm getting old.  Hehe.

So it appears that the blooms or whatever on my blueberries should stay for at least a little while.  Then I must decide whether or not to remove them to force the plant to grow stronger rather than produce fruit this year.  Since that was always my plan, I will likely do that.

Well, yesterday morning I put out my sprouting spinach plants to rest on the board between my raised beds to get natural sun and start hardening off immediately so I could plant them this weekend.  Then what happens?  We get a heavy frost last night.  Didn't get down to freezing or anything, just frost.  They're in little peat egg carton like pots planted with Mel's Mix, so hopefully the little seedlings (a centimeter or two tall) were protected enough.  The broccoli and cauliflower seedlings actually appear to be doing a bit better now.  Who knows. 

This weekend I'll plant them.  Too bad I won't have supplemented with worm castings like Judy will have.  She found them for under $4 per 10 pound bag at Wally World.  We checked ours in the Seattle area and they just gave my wife a funny look.  No dice here for worm castings. hehe.

Actually I just checked the 5-day forecast and alas, nice weather until the weekend then rain.  Maybe I'll plant in the rain.  I won't melt after all.  Besides, the 4th and 5th day of a 5 day forecast in Seattle is pure guesswork.  Here's hoping for the best.

Monday, March 3, 2008

March 3, 2008

Quick post for tonight as I've been up late researching Raccoon solutions.  My mom's friend that warned me against doing corn with raccoons around (we've got a family that uses my yard as a highway).  If it were attractive, I'd put razor wire around the fence where my garden is, hehe.  Boy am I worried.  They walk right by my blueberry bed and potato bins.  Gotta figure it out.

Speaking of blueberries.  I took a couple of new pics of my bushes and the dead-looking one is looking cool now.  See...

Notice the little wite nodules all over the canes?  I wonder if those are the flower buds that I need to remove to promote root growth rather than berry production.  Also note all the tulip volunteers that we missed (as did the squirrels apparently)!  I hope they don't take away from the nutrients for the blueberries.  Tulips are my wife's thing, the blueberries are mine.  Can't you tell?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

March 2, 2008

Busy day, exhausting day, good day!

Today was the day I was going to follow the advice of a blog reader that suggested I mulch around my fruit trees.  I only did the new apple and plum tree because my father thinks the pear isn't long for this world.  So this morning, I started the day with this...

And working several hours with my favorite pick axe, a shovel, landscape fabric and three of those four bags of compost...


I got this...

I'm not sure if leaving a bit of landscape fabric against the trunk of the trees, but I am under the impression that it's bad to let the compost mulch touch the trunk.  If I had decent topsoil I'd put it around the base.  I may still steal some from my cleaned up rose garden (thanks to my wonderful aunt!).

I've only got four roses left, but the one in the center is by far the biggest and it's awesome that it's in centerpiece (even though I'm partial to the deep red ones in the far left of the picture over the centerpiece pink ones).  By the way, the green foliage in the front of the bed is a mature Irises that my aunt cuts paths between patches.  Every year they grow back together. Good thing they transplant well.  She's repopulated the bulbs she removed from the paths to the side of my house. They're perfect there.

I also separated the bunches of earthworms that I had put in the raised beds in clumps yesterday. Apparently they didn't spread out on their own. They didn't even leave the shredded newspaper medium they were packaged in.  So I dug them up and moved them individually all over the beds.  Hopefully they'll survive.  Some of them weren't moving all that fast.  They've got a wonderful new home. 15.5 inches of great soil material.  But then I think, they've got 2 inches of amazing material, so why do they need to move down?  I'm afraid to fertilize with my 5-10-10 veggie mix thinking it will burn the worms.  Hopefully if they don't like it they'll move down below the top 6 inches where I plan to work in the fertilizer with a claw fork prior to planting.

Speaking of planting. I ran out of time to plant seeds or seedlings today.  That's ok since I think Chris Smith actually said that planting should be Mid-March, not the beginning of March.

Other things I accomplished today included getting a new (to me) upright freezer to replace my small apartment fridge in the garage. My brother was getting rid of it so I took it.  We have enough space between two refridgerators and a chest freezer, but with all the fruits and veggies I hope to grow this year, I expect to freeze up some. Now I have a place to put them in an organized way. We put the small fridge on Craigslist, first for $30, but then for free since I just want it out of here.  I got only one call, to use it as a keg fridge, but it was too small. 

I also went on a 3.5 mile power walk after catching my breath.  I started out strong but peetered out in the end.  Finally we went to Red Robin to celebrate my pre-birthday.  Don't you hate mid-week birthdays.  Go and Grow!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March 1, 2008 Part two...

I got tired of updating my ever lengthening post today, so when I decided it was time to finally research the Triple Crown Blackberry that everyone raves about, I wanted to share what I learned. 


First off, it's a prolific producing, large sweet fruit, thornless blackberry variety that grows 12-15 feet tall and 6 feet wide, so it needs a trellis.  In other words, the Triple Crown and Himalayan are diametrically opposed.

I couldn't find it with Territorial, so I'm skeptical that it will work in my climate.  I did find a link to GardenWeb's California gardening section, but their 8b is NOTHING like our 8b, hehe. 

Then I got to thinking, if I could grow it here, where could I put a 12-foot trellis.  The only place is in the garden area because I've got two stories there.  Unfortunately that's where my beds are and I already am planning on trellises there.  THEN I thought, well, maybe I could put them betweenthe beds...  I seriously doubt it would work, but I could easily nessle a 1x1 or 1x2 box in the path ways between the beds and run a trellis up to just under the upstairs bedroom window.  Hehe, heck if I made the trellis strong enough, the kids could use it in case of an emergency. The vines are thornless after all.  Just kidding. 

I just read that at least with the Apache variety, you shouldn't plant near tomatoes, which is right where I'd be planting them.  The Triple Crown didn't say anything but again, I'm concerned.

I know, I shouldn't think about more projects but I am really loving this gardening.  Funny that I still don't care much for flowers (though I am excited about my marigolds that Judy's sending me, since they help tomatoes). 

This isn't a near-term thing, I'm just doing research to see if there's a better way to get my blackberry jelly.  Oh, by the way, apparently my mom had more so I have another jar of both plum and blackberry. Yum!

March 1, 2008

Well, I didn't post on Leap Day because my wife had a thing last night so she dropped the kids off at my folks house.  After work I went there instead of home and spent the evening with the family.  By the time I got home it was close to midnight and after the week I've had and fighting this cold, I fell into bed.  So I'll have to wait another 4 years to post on Leap Day.  Ah well.

So my dad and I talked about the blackberries, the wood and the potato bins.  He thinks the blackberry pruning is a good idea (of course he does, he doesn't have to do it).  However he didn't think just putting my "dirt" on top of the weed infested ground for the potato bins was a good idea.  I used up all of my landscape fabric doing my garden area, so I've been reluctant to buy a new roll for just over 4 SF.  Then my dad suggested we use it over the concrete patio when we build a deck over it.  It will help keep anything from growing under there and also drain well.  So now I've got a reason to buy a new roll.  Looks like a trip to Costco is in order since they've got their garden pallets out now.

So here's what my garden to-do list looks like for this weekend:

-Direct sow broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, peas and spinach.

-Buy fertilizer (5-10-10) for the peas and spinach at least.

-Buy mulch for around the trees.

-Mulch the trees.

That's about it for this weekend, but I've got a ton of other errands and taxes to work on. 

Today's going to be a good day for the running around because the weather's crappy.  Yesterday I went out at lunch without a coat on.  By the time to go home, it was rainy, windy and grey. It's been icky ever since.  Tomorrow's supposed to be better weather for working outside.  We'll see.

Well, the rain has been just as predicted, showers.  Not worth working in but worth waiting out.  My day has been pretty full since I wrote that list.

I had planned on taking my eldest out to run some errands, including several for the garden, but my aunt and dad showed up.  Of course my son wanted to play in the yard with my aunt so my dad and I went on the errands. 

First we went to Costco and got gas and landscape fabric.  They had 4' x 220' for $21.  Can't pass that up and we can use it for under the deck we're building this spring in addition to the potato bins. 

Then we went to the local nursery (the $28 vermiculite one).  They're still the best thing around for gardening information and stuff.  We spoke to a knowlegable person there and he directed me away from Miracle Gro fertilizers because of the salt content that depletes the soil of nutrients to a more natural product.  So I not only got my 5-10-10 All Purpose Vegetable fertilizer, but I got the one for Azalelas and Rhodies (read bluberries) as well. 


While I was there I got mulch for around my apple and plum trees.  Of course, my gardener aunt was right, they recommended compost for mulch around the tree, just not touching the trunk.  So I got 4 bags or Cedar Grove compost for nearly the price of a cubic yard in bulk (if I needed that much or wanted to bag it myself). 

We also asked about worms there, but they only had composting worms like Flatlander has, and agreed that they would not be good for putting in my beds.  So from Sky Nursery we went to Joe's (formerly GI Joe's) sporting good store on a mission to set some bait free.  We got 8 dozen worms, nightcrawlers to be precise, and dumped them in my beds, two dozen each.

Then we started unloading the bags of compost.  Boy are they heavy.  So I got my trusty wheelbarrrow out to move them to where the tree is.  Unfortuantely over the last two weeks, the wheel went flat.  Odd.  So up to the gas station to fill it.  Sure I could have carried them by hand faster, but I also want to move all the left over Mel's Mix to the area between the two potato bins since that's where they're going eventually.  While we were filling the tire, the rain started so we came back, put the tire back on the wheelbarrow and my folks called it a day.  I made lunch for the family and am posting while I eat it.  

If the weather cooperates, I'll put landscape fabric under the potato bins to keep weeds from growing up into my fertile soil, mulch around the trees (putting landscaping fabric under them too rather than newspaper (since I've got it).  If the weather doesn't turn nice, I'll end up doing taxes... come on sunshine! 

The weather held to just be overcast.  Was a bit chilly after 5 as the sun was going down, but I got the landscape fabric under both bins and put the Mel's Mix I removed back on top. Let's see the weeds get through that, hehe.  It got too dark so I cleaned up and came back in to finish up today's entry.  Hope you like it.  I sure had fun making it!