Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 29, 2009

Sorry for yet another hiatus.  Between work and the entertainment of my inlaws who are in town from California, I have had few moments to play in the garden.  Well, at least until today.

I got left out of the sight seeing and fun stuff with my inlaws today because I was stuck helping over at my folks house.  It didn't take as long as I'd thought, so I got back home in time to see the garden in sun for the first time in eons.  It actually got into the upper 50s, maybe even the lower 60s today.  Oh, and it was 83 under my hoop covers, hehe. 

On the way home from my folks, I ran a few errands.  The first was to Lowes, to pick up the 2x2s to re-build my potato bins.  While there I made an executive decision and broke down and bought the 10 inch pond baskets recommended for the SWCs.  I still think they're way too big for an 18 gallon bin, but seeing Raybo's newest video, I will just make the hole to the wicking basket smaller.  Now the only problem is the loss of a significant amout of space for the water reservoir.  Oh well. I'll save the receipt and keep looking.

While I was there I also bit the bullet and picked up two 31 gallon Rubbermaid Roughneck bins for my cantaloupe SWC.  They were $15 each, but I was tired of searching out the best deals.  I just don't have time.

What does that mean?  That I can have our SWC construction party any day now.  That's a good thing since April 15 is about our last frost date, even if most stuff is held off until May 1.  Stay tuned for that party, it will be a blast!

Also while I was out, I swung by Emery's Nursery in Lynnwood and grabbed 5 square quart pots to finish potting up my teacher's tomatoes.  For mine I'll just take up the space and use my cottage cheese containers.  They worked well for me last year, and if I run out of room under the lights I can just put them in the window sil again.  Hopefully it's late enough in the year for that to work.

Now I know what you're thinking, good weather, time on my hands, I must have built my potato bins.  Alas, no. I didn't have that kind of time.  What I did do was take my seedlings for a walk.  Their first time outside to harven off...

Don't they look good?!  No, not everythign survived, and I still don't have a clue what some of them are (like that big leafy thing, it's either lettuce or stevia). I'm going to regret not tracking what I placed where in the light system.  Stupid me.

Here's a look from another angle.

You can really see the big leaved thing.  Whatever it is, it's taking well to the light system, and I've got two of them.  Maybe I'll plant one in a pot and another in my beds.  If it's lettuce I'll trash the potted one and vica versa for stevia, hehe.

While they were sunning themselves, I planted more carrots.  Then I direct sowed some cauliflower in the same squares where the winter freezes killed my overwintering cauliflower, though I left the front squares open so I can plant broccoli in them. This year the broccoli gets top billing because it's slightly shorter than cauliflower.  I'll plant more of both elsewhere, probably in bed #4, but for now I just wanted to get my cole crops in the ground. 

I also planted some radishes because they should be coming up by now.  Yep, I'm late on my salad makings, though if I wait to plant my seedlings any longer, I'll be able to harvest from my light system, hehe.

Well, it's late and I've got to head to work eary tomorrow so we can go to the zoo with the kids in the afternoon.  I sure hope you had nice weather this weekend and got out in your garden more than I did.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 25, 2009

Man this month has cruised on by.  It's insane when you've got your head down and cranking.  However, I made sure I got home early tonight so I could get some pics of the seedlings if nothing else.  I hope to find some time to get some potato bins built this weekend, but somehow I doubt it.  I should also plant my cole crops and some radishes and peas.  Oh, and I need to harden off the seedlings too.  Everything should have already happened by now, but it hasn't.  Of course the weather hasn't cooperated much either.  This afternoon was about the only sun break we've had in two weeks.  Come on warm spring (like Dorothy said).

I'd like to call this post, the "Case of the Neglected Seedlings" ... dum dum dummmmmmm...

When I went upstairs, armed with nothing but a water bottle, what did I find?  Tomato seedlings no longer 2 inches from the lights, but growing up into them, smashed up against the bulbs.  Grrrr. I hate it when I neglect them.  Oh, and the soil blocks were light brown, bad sign.  So the first thing I did was to raise the lights over the tomato seedlings.  Unfortunately this creates a major slant such that some of my soil blocks have 8 inches to get to the lights.  Can't be helped without major manuvering.

Then I watered like mad.  I even went downstairst to refill my bottle.  The plants needed it, but I must say they're growing fabulously without my help.

You think these need to be potted up? hehe.  Sorry for the blurry pics, it was dark when I took the pics. I think that's the reason. Then again, maybe the lense is dirty.

Lastly, take a look at the soil blocks in back.  I think these are either lettuce or stevia, though it's probably lettuce.

Look at those broad leaves.  Insane!

I think when I harden off the soil blocks, I'll just take the entire tray outside.  Everything in there is probably past time to be planted out, well except for the cukes, but they should be hardy enough to withstand some warm days. It's just too cold to germinate them.  And they wouldn't be spending the night outside.  If I'm home for a few hours this weekend during the day, and it's not raining cats and dogs, I'll put these out.

I sure hope you all are having more fun with your gardens than I am.  Though just some seedling time was a bit of relief from the stress.  It's working just how it's supposed to!

Enjoy your garden (vicariously for me)!

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23, 2009

ARGH!  I'm a failed gardener.  I have gotten nothing done in almost a week.  It's insane. Not that I don't want to be gardening.  I need it badly.  It just hasn't fit into my schedule.  One day soon you will see a post where I just went for it and stopped what I was supposed to be doing and ran screaming out into the garden to harden off my lettuce or something.  I really need to do that soon before I start havesting from my soil blocks. hehe

Sorry, nothing to post this evening.  Though I guess I can say that while at the auction Saturday, I grabbed the catering trays that held the hot water to keep the food warm.  They're five inch deep aluminum pans.  I figure they'll do well under my lights to hold my taller seeldings.  The cool part is since they're aluminum, they'll reflect the light back up to the plants.  And I've got tons of them.  I think it's pretty cool.  My wife just think's I'm crazy. Hehe

I'd take a picture of them, but it's late, I've been entertaining all day and I've got to hit the sack.  Again, sorry for slacking.  I really WANT to have interesting garden stories to tell.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March 21, 2009

Boy, time flies when you're having fun, or when you're slammed busy.  Sorry that I haven't posted in a while.  I now I should have mentioned I was taking a hiatus, but to be honest, I didn't know I was.  Time just slipped away from me and I didn't have much to talk about anyway.  So I appologize for that, and making my last post all about non-gardening crap.

Actually, I really shouldn't be posting right now because I haven't really been gardening much lately either.  Between company coming into town and the house being a pig sty and the preschool auction, we've been insanely busy.  Thankfully the auction's over, but there's still the house to clean.  With two kids, it's always an uphill battle.

That said, I do have some garden-related stuff to talk about.  Well, mostly to show you.  First off, look at how my soil blocks are doing under the lights...

Those tall things near the fan, those are my cukes.  Here's a close-up.

Can you see the light green on the leaves?  I'm not worried about it apparently it only matters if it's the first true leaves. 

The funny thing is, that some of my blocks I still can't tell what they are, but these, it's obvious.  Look at my little Red Sails lettuce sprouting. Hehe, if I don't get these into the ground soon, I'll be harvesting indoor lettuce, hehe.

Lastly, here are my tomato seedlings.  The ones next to the water bottle are mine that I started about two weeks before the ones for our teacher.  All are doing well, but just like my good buddy EG, some varieties are clearly doing better than others.  Funny that one of the scrawnier ones is a very early producer.

Mine I really need to pot up, but I don't really have room for the bigger pots.  What a conundrum, as Alan Greenspan used to say.

Any thoughts for my space issues?  Maybe start hardening off some of the soil blocks?  Maybe remove the big tomatoes from the lights and let them hang out in the south facing window?  They're about the size when I got them from Territorial last year and had them in that window.

Anyway, I'm utterly exhausted from a very long day running around for the auction.  Hope you had a great day in the garden!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18, 2009

Ah, technology is not my friend today!  I've now sent two emails to Photobucket to get them to reset my bandwidth usage.  There is no way I exceeded it three days into the month when I can prove my traffic is basically back to normal.  Grrrr.  Sure I could switch services, but uploading over 1,000 pics and relinking them to each post would be a nightmare.  However, if they don't fix this problem, I may start from here out with a new service to diversify my bandwidth.  So, sorry to say it looks like I'll be pictureless for a few more days. Grrrr.

Secondly, yesterday was the change over on our cable, so we lost most of the kids channels.  So tonight I tried to set up the new cable boxes.  Joy oh joy.  After an hour on the phone with the Comcast folks, the boxes worked, but I couldn't figure out how to get TiVo to work with them.  I tried figuring it out myself, but by the time I broke down to call TiVo for help, it was after 9.  Drat. 

As you can see, give me a trowel and a watering can, that's more my speed. hehe.  And to think a decade ago I was the office techie.

Anyway, that's what I did when I got home, so hope you enjoyed this morning's post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 18, 2009

First off, I must say, I like all the comments I got.  NEXT time I will do a better job labeling, both by not being so cheap with the labels (one on each tray), and maybe even use the great stick-pin idea, but for now, I love the mystery concept.  Most of what I don't know is lettuce and who cares where that goes.  However, the one problem. I think I got 2 or 3 of my 4 stevia starts to germinate.  If so, they look surprisingly like lettuce seedlings at this point.  My stevia however, will be potted rather than put in my beds, so that would be bad to be wrong.  Here's to hoping before I plant out that they distinguish themselves. hehe.  Thanks for all the comments!

Well, I knew this day was coming.  I've known for a long while, but still it is saddening in no small way...  Today marks the end of a 146 year old local paper.  It was almost as old as the city itself, but it was one of the worst run businesses out there.  I grew up with it, it was the paper of choice in my household in a two-paper town.  I will truly miss several of the columnists that I have come to admire, especially in the business, the editorial, and the sports sections.  However, it is a travisty that the better garden paper died while the pittiful one survived!  See for yourself.  Which is better, the P-I, or the Times?  Now you see why I am so saddened...  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, you will be missed!

Speaking of the garden section, they printed the last Edibles column.  Hopefully not, I sent a message to the Times asking them to pick up all the garden columnists now that they're out of work.  But anyway, they published it today rather than Thursday when it normally comes out.  Good thing too, since there won't be a Thursday paper.  Even better, I learned something from it.  Seems I may be in for a bit of a problem with my tomato crop this year.  I didn't realize that not ALL tomato varieties self pollinate.  Only certain ones do.  And my guess is that heirloom varieties like I'm growing won't.  That means I will need to be visited by pollinators.  That is a major problem in my garden.  There is nothing on that side of the house to attract bees.  Sure I've got the bee triangle over on the other side of the yard with my blueberries, but nothing for my veggie garden.  And nothing I plant will grow fast enough to attract them in time for the early varities of tomatoes I'm growing. Any idea if the varieties I'm growing (Bloody Butcher, Yellow Pear, Ildi, Black Cherry, San Marzano and Sunset Red Horizon) will take to my shaking them to pollinate?  I know my Early Girls and Momoarato did last year.  Let's say I'm a bit concerned. hehe

On a separate note, tonight at the preschool parent meeting, I had the opportunity to trade out some of those sprouted yukon gold potatoes that I couldn't eat for some 1 quart pots to pot up the tomatoes.  Really it wasn't a trade, since our teacher will get back the pots with the tomato seedlings I'm growing for her, but I have plenty of seed potatoes to plant if I find room in my garden for them.  Better if someone uses them!

Lastly, it seems the remaining soil blocks and the yellow pear tomato seeds are being stubborn.  Nothing more is showing any signs of sprouting.  Odd.  I'll give it til the weekend and replant.

Well, enjoy your garden!

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 17, 2009

Well Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Not only do I hope you're wearing green, but you're garden is turning green (at least your seedlings).  What's more, I hope not only are you considering eating potatoes, that you're considering planting some. 

Speaking of green, some of my cukes aren't.  The leaves on a few of my cucumber seedlings are turning yellow at the tips.  Normally I would think that is too much water, but I have really let the soil blocks dry out before I rewatered.  Normally, with the fan going, I will bottom water every 3 days.  Of course I've never grown this type of cucumber (it's a Wautoma pickling variety).  Any thoughts?

As it sits, my seedlings are not going to work as perfectly as I'd have hoped.  It's my fault.  You can't label soil blocks like you can potted plants.  The lable just doesn't stick to the dirt, hehe.  So despite my best efforts to label the soil block rows, when they went up to the light system, the placement was more towards height then type.  I know what you're doing right now, stop shaking your head.  And it's not funny.  I guess relying on my memory to remember what is parked where wasn't such a good idea.  Oops.  It's the green onion/spinach episode all over again! hehe

Well, I just had to write a short post in honor of St. Patrick's Day before work.  Take care and enjoy your garden!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15, 2008

Beware the Ides of March... For Caesar, it was a lot worse than for me, but look what happened shortly after I woke up this morning...

We actually got an inch from the largest flakes I've seen in ages.  However, it turned to rain before I went out to help my folks and most of it had melted.  Thank goodness I left the window on.

The weather was icky, so nothing got done this weekend.  No peas got planted, no hardening off, no potato bins got rebuilt.  One thing's for sure, our last frost date this year is NOT March 15, hehe.

Anyway, I promised that the next time I saw my brother I would snap some shots of his light system.  So while we were waiting for my wife's birthday dinner to be ready, we snuck over to his house and snapped some pics.

This shot was taken after I had him raise the light to accomodate rapid growth of his broccoli seedlings and his watermelon.  Both look exactly the same at this point and were being crowded by the lights.  Both lights got raised in the end.  Nothing else has germinated yet, which is fine since nothing's ready to go out.

And here's a close-up.

I love how my seedling trays fit 32 of these Jiffy peat pots perfectly (which he filled with my Mel's Mix, hehe). I'm sure that's the point, but it was very cool to see.  Oh, and don't you just love the oak shelves for the shelving unit?  Only the best scraps in my father's garage, hehe.

Well, I hope you'll join me as the weather slowly turns and I get more and more active in the garden.

Have a great week and I hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13, 2009

Well, it's definitely Friday the 13th!  Hehe, sorry folks, but it appears my 15 minutes of fame crashed the servers at Photobucket where I house all my pics.  I've got over 1,000 pics there, but am less than 15% full on capacity.  The problem is that the thousands of folks that clicked over from the Times article viewed my pics hundreds of thousands of times (not sure how that math works, but that's what the FAQ on Photobucket says). 

I can't figure for sure when my month is up for the bandwidth reset, but if my signup date is any indication, it's tomorrow.  I figure why spend money to upgrade to unlimited bandwidth for two days worth of suffering.  Yeah, I'm cheap, just ask my wife Seadolphyn, hehe, who posted here for the first time ever to say she only bought green onions once, hehe.

So, for now, you'll have to take my word for the fact that my germination tray is getting sparcer and sparcer of soil blocks.  They're all upstairs under the lights.  I'm still kicking myself over not labeling better. I'm pretty sure the unlabled plants are lettuce, probably salad bowl.  Again it doesn't matter, I'll just plant them and see what comes up.  Worst case I have mesclun.  What does matter is that they're growing fine.

*Fast Forward* a few hours.  The rest of my post is lost and I think I crashed the server with too much bandwidth.  Wonderful!  Unintended consequences.  Oops.  Sorry Judy!


Partly Cloudy

50° F | 36° F


49° F | 36° F

Rain Showers

47° F | 34° F

Chance of Rain

50° F | 36° F

Rain Showers

50° F | 36° F
Partly CloudyRain
90% chance of precipitation
Rain Showers
80% chance of precipitation
Chance of Rain
50% chance of precipitation
Rain Showers
60% chance of precipitation

Well, as you can see, the weekend's pretty shot for working out in the yard.  It's a busy one full of birthday celebrations for my wonderful wife anyway, but if I catch a 10% break tomorrow morning. I will try to get out and be productive.  However, what I also see in the forecast above, is that for the next week or so we won't get a freeze.  Maybe I can start to harden off my lettuce so I can plant it soon under cover. 

I sure miss salads.  With the economy such as it is, I have stopped eating out for lunch.  That means no more salads.  I know, last summer I was so sick of salads it was unreal.  Now I'm craving them again.  Funny isn't it?  What are you craving in your garden?

Have a great weekend and enjoy your garden!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12, 2009

Short post tonight, I got home late and had an icky day, so gardening was a must.  It's still freezing outside here so I didn't venture out and haven't even watered in a week because I don't want to freeze the dirt and seeds...  I'm hoping it warms up this weekend to allow me to water, or let Mother Nature.  I do know it's supposed to rain.

As you may have noticed yesterday, several seedlings have sprouted in the kitchen, so they needed to go upstairs.  When I went up there, I figured out that I needed to play musical plants again.  For instance, my six tomato seedlings are growing like gangbusters now.

And more importantly, my soil block tray is filling up quickly.

So as you can probably tell, I moved the lights around as well as the seedlings.  I needed the tomato light to help with the soil block tray so I angled it down, necessitating changing the tomato seedlings from shortest to tallest instead of random.   This is better now because the light is closer to all the tomato plants now.  That's good because a few of the tomatoes are not necessarily leggy, but being blown over by the big fan (even on low).  For now I've used whatever I can find to prop them up, but I may get some more Mel's mix and fill the cups.  That's a good weekend project.

Notice the lack of stickers on the rows of soil blocks?  That's because I forgot to lable some of the rows in the kitchen.  Oops.  I think it's lettuce, so I can plant them and have a mesculn mix, hehe.

Anyway, here's the setup today. 

I'm definitely running out of space.  I may need to turn the trays sideways and only use the parts under the lights.  Not sure if that'll give more space, but once all the blocks germinate in the kitchen, my light system is going to be very crowded.

Well, that's it for me.  No real to-do list for me for this weekend because it's really busy on the home front (and renovation front).  I hope the weather cooperates and I find time, I will get out to the garden, though I doubt shopping for wicking baskets is going to happen.  Though I would love to make it to a nursery to see if I can't get quart pots or whatever to pot up my tomatoes.  The containers I've got for them are a bit wide.  Again, space issues.

Anyway, enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009

The big cucumber experiment!

Tina reminded me that I wanted to mention this.  Mel, and pretty much everyone else, says not to plant cucumbers inside. Instead you direct sow them.  However, for some reason, my brother had "plant cukes" in his gardening planner on February 21.  When I asked him why so early, he said he was going to plant them inside.  I thought, ok, I just bought a new pack of seeds, so I had tons of seeds.  Why not try it. 

I figured since they were planted in soil blocks made of essentially the same stuff as are in my beds, I could plant them as soon anything went wrong.  I really would really like to hold out til later in the month when a possible early Last Spring Frost date for our area could be.  So that means they have to hold out for another few weeks.  Thus the experiment. 

Besides, if this doesn't work, I can always replant in soil blocks a week before my LSF and then plant out two weeks later, or about the time they sprout.  That's what Mel suggests.  /shrug.

Oh, and Tina, don't feel like you're being noesy, I would always like to hear questions about what I'm doing.  Right or wrong, I will at least provide my logic and reasons so folks can pick them apart. 

Another thing I noticed when I was taking a picture of my emerging cucumbers, was this spider-web-like substance between a few of the soil blocks that were crammed together to save space.

This isn't the first time I've seen this.  It may be some fungus that was in the compost.  I don't think it really is a spider web.  Any ideas?  I hope it's not harmful to the plants.  I just planted with it last time.

Well, that's it for now.  If you're joining us after reading the article in the Times, thank you for coming back.  Spring is nearly upon us and things will heat up quickly around my garden.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 10, 2009

Well, I re-read the Snomomish County MG program site. Seems the soonest I could take the classes is 2010. Seems like so far away. Ah well, I can wait. I will continue helping people in my own special way until then, and long after.

Good news, six of my cukes have germinated. Hehe. Now I have to figure out if I plant them out immediately or let them grow a bit under lights first. Of course, with the weather we're having (low of 18 tonight), it's far from time to plant warm weather crops. So for now, they go upstairs into 50-65 degree temps. Not a bad gig if you can get it I guess, hehe.

Well, my brother's light system is up, finally. He stole my last two S hooks and borrowed my last seed tray. I hope that means he's planting soon. His own words were that he's behind schedule. Of course, I'd offered to plant something under my lights, as well as, offered to let him use my soil block maker. I can't wait to get a look at the setup. Maybe I'll snap a pic or two. At least he'll be using my Mel's Mix that he snagged the other week to grow his seedlings. If you recall, he's always said ot would be good for starting seeds, hehe.

Exciting times with the Times article still generating massive traffic.  1,850 hits yesterday and 2,100 today.  Wow, amazing!  Thanks all, I sure hope you stick around and watch me try to make fewer mistakes yet get the same or better results as last year. 

Thankfully, I've made a few new gardening buddies out of all this.  Comments and emails a flyin' I've had the opportunity to help out a few people.  It just makes my day when I can do that.  In fact it makes my week!  I even updated my Potato Bin page with some info on where to find all the popular varieties of potatoes and whether or not they're mid-late season to be able to be used in towers.  Thanks Bob for that suggestion.

Well, stay warm wherever you are, and let's hope the weather gets better this weekend so I can do some serious planting!

Enjoy your garden!

Monday, March 9, 2009

March 9, 2009

Well, I want to thank the Seattle Times for including me in their article concerning an astonishing and wonderful trend both locally and nationally.  Everyone knows the economy is the worst we've seen since I was a young boy.  Thankfully I was young enough that I don't remember any of the sacrifices my family made for us kids.  We never needed anything.  We may not have always got what we wanted, but what child should? 

What I also remember from that time, is that my mother had a vegetable garden out back.  We had a tiny yard, a postage stamp really.  But tucked up against the deck, just off the kitchen, she had planted a kitchen garden.  Two 4x8 raised beds where she grew onions, tomatoes and cucumbers, to name a few staples.  I also remember tomato and onion salads in summer.  Little did I know it was because the lettuce probably bolted on her. 

I remember that time.  And I plan on passing it along to another generation.  We, like all of you, are cutting back, sacrificing for the long term.  Thankfully I'm still employed, and we can still make ends meet, but if that changes, I plan on being prepared.  Last year I grew a fair amount of vegetables.  We didn't eat anywhere near what we produced.  This year, I don't intend on there being that option.  Every SF of my garden will be planted in succession, and what we don't eat, we will preserve, or pass along to friends and family.  I've learned what not to do.  This season will be full of what TO DO.

Today was a good day for the blaug.  Being linked to the second most read story of the day in the Times has it's advantages.  Close to 2,000 people showed up today, and my Build-As-You-Grow Potato Bin page jumped from 4,000 hits to over 6,000.  Presto, hehe.  I hope everyone that saw it got some inspiration to grow something this year.  Who cares if it's potatoes or if they use the system I got from Greg Lutovsky and the Seattle Times.  What's important is that we save a boat load of money by growing our own produce, and telling the industrial farming complex that we refuse to eat GMO food. 

Oh, and if half of those folks come back tomorrow, that would be good too.  I'd love to get some more readers out of those folks.  This year is going to be exciting.  I hope you'll join me as I continue Sinfonian's Garden Adventure!

Enjoy your garden!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 8, 2009

Well, I must say I'm very disappointing about not being able to dontate a share of my garden.  I really thought I had enough space to grow enough of what I was already growing to feed 2 families.  This is especially the case because we have never been able to eat all of our produce from our garden last year.  We always had plenty left over.  But bowing to people who's opinions I respect, I will pass on it this year.  Shame that I can't bring a few hundred dollars to the school, and share the bounty with some of our friends.  Thanks all for your words of encouragement and helpful advice.  It appears I did let my enthusiasm get the better of me.  The decision was finalized when my brother agreed that it was too much to handle while we were working on my folks house today.

However, before I went over to help out, I took the opportunity to check out my seedlings and move them around a bit.  The goal was to utilize the angled lights to be roughly 2 inches above the seedlings, so I moved them around from shortest to tallest.  It was pretty fun.

It was actually a nice day out today, so when I got home, I went out to the garden and watered the spinach and weeded.  A few weeds had grown up since I was last out there. Simple to deal with when they were tiny though.  Then I decided it was time to plant some carrots.  I plan on planting a ton of carrots for my kids, and for me.  Last year I hardly got any because I didn't plant enough.  This year I'm planting my standard Mokums and some Purple Haze for color.  The kids think it's cool.

So I dumped a bunch of compost from my bin into the triangular corner of my uncovered bed #4 to make up for some settling.  After working it in a bit with my trowel, I removed about a half inch of dirt from the area.  Then I sprinkled as evenly as possible a bunch of carrot seeds.  Finally I put the dirt back over the seeds and watered it in. 

I used this method rather than the poke a hole and drop a seed in for several reasons.  For one, carrot seeds are so small that they only get burried 1/4 inch or so and I normally poke too deep a hole for them.  Secondly, my son wasn't around to help (it was a PJ day for him).  Thirdly, I don't have a grid here so it would have been difficult to get 16/SF.  This wasn't the best way for sure, but it worked to get some carrots in the ground.  I will plant several more sections like this around the garden, but do it right where I have a grid. 

I wasn't sure when to plant my green onions.  Now, sitting in front of my computer, I looked it up and found I'm late for indoor planting and probably bit early for direct sowing.  That got me thinking, are they perennial enough that I should just leave these alone?

Hehe, yeah, these are HUGE.  They've grown into every nook and cranny in a 4+ foot tall hoop cover.  Mostly I'm curious to know if these are still good.  My wife keeps buying them from the store when we've got a ton out in the garden.

Well, I sure hope you had a productive weekend and that productivity includes something for your garden.  Spring is nearly upon us and now is the time to get ready for it.

Enjoy your garden!


Thanks to a comment from Shannon, I finally checked the weather forecast for the next few days.  The snow that's still not quite melted should have been an indication of things to come, but the nice weather today was misleading.  Sure enough, lows in the 20s for the next few days.  I'm thinking if I hadn't watered the carrot seeds, they should be fine under some Mel's Mix and fresh compost, but I watered a few hours before dusk, so that's not very good.  Thankfully I have stuff ready to go at a moment's notice.

For occasions just like this, I grabbed the first window I could reach and threw it over the bed.  A little tinkering later, and presto, a make-shift cold frame. 

I know, it won't hold heat in well, but it should keep frost off the bed and provide some heat insulation with the sunshine, assuming we get any over the next fews days.  This is the best I can do on short notice.  This bed isn't set up for hoop covers.  That will be rectified this spring. 

Thanks Shannon!  You may have saved my son's carrots.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 7, 2009

Well, I didn't get out today.  I had hoped to play some tennis with my niece, but it appears that she is practicing almost every day.  If that's true, and she gets some decent coaching, she doesn't really need my help.  Shucks, I was kinda looking forward to getting some hitting in regularly.  My only trip out in years actually was really good.  Not quite like riding a bike, but close.

So instead, I played with the kids and worked on another round of seedlings.  After thinking about what DoubleD said yesterday, I realized that I can grow enough for two families in my 150 SF.  You see, I didn't actually plant every square foot last year.  I kept several for succession plantings that I didn't need.  In addition, I have 44 more SF of space in my big bed #4 that was corn last year.  So I'm going to give it a go.  Frankly unless one family gets it (they're vegetarians), I really don't expect them to harvest nearly enough for us to sacrifice.  However, I will look into the terms of CSAs that charge $600 before I set a suggested value (I'm thinking priceless myself, hehe).

Anyway, I mentioned that I worked on planting more seeds.  I couldn't do it before it started snowing (yes, snowing!), so I went out in my slippers to get Mel's Mix from the bag.  This was early on.

And that just happens to be the extra 44 SF.  I can't wait to plant it.  Hmm, I think I have to enlist my wife to string a grid out of jute twine here, and restring the other beds.  The downside and upside of jute twine is that it decomposes fast, hehe.

Well, I had a ton of seeds I wanted to plant, so I made up a ton of soil blocks.  Then I proceeded to plant new lettuce, broccoli and replant cauliflower.  I want to plant two SF of each lettuce variety instead of just one now that I have two families to feed.  Unfortunately I ran out of space in my seedling trays with all the cukes in there already germinating.  I did replant the three tomatoes that didn't germinate, hope they will catch up soon.

Note that I used John's idea of filling the divots with vermiculite rather than dirt.  Much easier to keep moist and sprout through (sorry its blurry, not sure what happened).  Anyway, here's a better shot on top of the ice tea maker in the kitchen (the only spot that fits the huge seed trays).

Lastly, I made too many soil blocks.  Actually I should have planted more salad bowl lettuce (only one sprouted, so I filled it's spot here with another one). I won't have enough to fill two SF at this rate.  Maybe I'll direct seed some.  Anyway, I had extra soil blocks.

So I took Granny's idea and froze the extas.  Then I'll keep them in the freezer for a few weeks until I need more soil blocks.  Once they're thawed, they should plant up nicely.  Good idea!

I didn't get out to water the spinach (if it's sprouted) yet, or check to see if any of my overwintered lettuce seedlings have grown.  Hopefully the snow will go away by tomorrow and I'll have a moment to check on the garden.  Busy times.

Enjoy your garden!

Friday, March 6, 2009

March 6, 2009

Hey all, I took a break yesterday for my birthday.  I changed the About Me to update my age and that of my kids.  That means another year has come and gone, and I'm no longer a new gardener.  I still have a ton to learn, but I've found that I know enough to pass the veggie test for the Master Gardener certification.  Hehe, funny what a year of research can do to teach you what you can learn from a 2 hour course.  hehe. 

I'm strongly leaning towards taking the courses this summer.  Not because I feel I need a piece of paper, or want to learn about flowers particularly, but as you may have figured out, I love to help people.  And that's what Master Gardeners do, help people get the most out of their gardens.  That's what I do. So for that reason, it's not looking like a bad idea after all.

This weekend I've got to get some gardening done.  Mostly I have to plant more broccoli.  One of my two soil blocks of broccoli that I started a few weeks ago has died.  No clue why, the other one has two in it, and I can't quite figure out how to transplant one of them into the other soil block.  Don't think it's possible, but when I thin it I will try to transplant it.  Regardless, I should start more broccoli.  I want to do some succession planting.  And considering all the germination time and indoor growth, this weekend is a good time to start more.

Another reason for starting more seeds this weekend is that I made a decision.  Our preschool is having it's second annual auction.  Last year I had considered auctioning off a "share" of my garden, CSA style.  CSA's, in case you're not aware, stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  Essentially they are private co-op farms that sell shares of their harvest to people.  They're normally organic farms.  So why not mine?  It's organic, and without doing corn, I can definitely plant enough to share.

Doing some quick research into CSAs in the local Seattle area, I found some shocking information.  Seems full season subscriptions to CSAs run $600!!! Wow. /cough 

Actually, the more I think about it, what does a family spend on produce in a year?  Yeah, $600 sounds about right.  Maybe even a good deal.  So, what do you think a "share" of my garden is worth?  Of course, I don't grow all vegetables and don't have nearly the amount of produce that a farm has.  However, I need to figure out what the suggested value of my share would be.  $400? $500?  Not sure.  What I do know is that last year had better not be a fluke, hehe.  I hope to have as good or better production.  If so, there will be plenty to share.

It's pretty exciting.  I had been thinking about this since last year, and when I mentioned it to my wife this  year, she mentioned it to some parents at school.  Apparently they are all interested in bidding on it.  If we can get a few hundred for it, that would be very cool.

More to come on this, for sure, but one thing is for sure, I need to start more vegetables.  My succession plantings need to be bigger.  So more broccoli and cauliflower. 

A comment on my cauliflower.  I pre-sprouted it in the coffee filters a month ago, then planted the sprouted seeds in soil blocks.  Those blocks have not sprouted cauliflower at all.  It's really odd.  I will not be pre-sprouting them again.  Like Granny said, it's not terribly faster and I'll just do the direct sowing into soil blocks that can be transplanted as-is into the garden.

I'll aso be planting carrots, radishes, peas and checking my spinach.

Lastly, I'll share a great shot of my tomatoes.  The first sowings that I did for myself are doing very well.  I will have to replant the three that didn't germinate for our teacher, but hopefully they won't be too far behind the rest.

I snapped this in the morning when I went to check on them.  I also upped the hours of light from 12 to 15.  I read somewhere that 12-16 hours is good for plants.  They seem to be responding.  This is fun, can't you tell? hehe.

Enjoy your garden!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 4, 2009

I just realized that I'm so wrapped up in this light system and starting my own seeds, that I've possibly forgotten some of the rest of my veggies that may be direct seeded about this time.  Peas are a notable example.  Mel says 5 weeks before the LSF.  For me, that could mean now, or a few weeks from now depending on when my LSF is this year.  Seems my LSF could be as early as mid March, two weeks away, or as late as May 1. If it's May 1, then I hold off until the last week of March.  My brother is betting on mid March.  Personally, I think I'll watch my buddy's DoubleD's blog carefully to see when she plants her peas.  She's the expert and I'm just a barely-not-so-novice gardener. 

Of course, I'm not so sure what else I should be starting.  Maybe carrots, radishes and green onions will go in this weekend.  That's about what I recall from last year when I was shocked how long it took for radishes to grow. 

Anyway, not much is happening in the garden right now.  I figured out I need to water the soil blocks upstairs more than I water the tomatoes in the cups.  Speaking of tomatoes, the cups I planted for our teacher didn't all germinate.  Three of the tomatoes are still on the fridge and I am not expecting much.  I may replant them.  But the ones upstairs are doing very well.  This morning I had to raise the light because the closed tomato leaves were brushing up against the bulbs.

The San Marzano's are the ones that were squished up against the light, all folded like that.  Funny that even the true leaves are folding up at night and unfurling during the day.  Pretty cool.

Well, that's all I've got.  Hope you're getting into your garden and getting dirty.  Nothing like it, I promise.

Monday, March 2, 2009

March 2, 2009

Well, today was a great day.  First off, after sitting in "line" for co-op kindergarden open registration all day, we were number 3 on the list of 3 openings.  YAY!  That means Logan is accepted into a top-rated elementary school, and little Owen will be guaranteed a slot too as a sibling.  Think I'm crazy for giving up my entire Sunday, sitting and chatting with a friend for 9 hours straight?  For 10 years of schooling guaranteed to be the best the public school district can offer with a 5:1 student/adult ratio, I don't think so.  Not at all.  So safe to say we were doing cartwheels today when it was official!  A year of stressing is over.  Whew!

So, now that you know what I did Sunday, you know that I didn't get all of my to-do list done.  My spending the day at the school was prompted by an email saying what we thought was 6 slots was only 3.  However, before I left, I scrambled and made 16 more soil blocks. They only took about 10 minutes to make, including going outside to get the Mel's Mix from my storage bags.

So what did I plant in them?  Well, I had a garden calendar entry last week saying I should plant cucumbers inside.  I hadn't done it yet, so I planted 10 pickling cukes and 2 slicers.  The last four blocks got stevia seeds.  I only want one plant, but I read that they're really hard to germinate, so I planted a half dozen seeds in four blocks to see which one sprouts, and if more than one sprouts, which one grows the best.

Of course, it was after I got to the school that I got a post from DoubleD that said I shouldn't start my cukes so soon because at best I would have stunted plants.  EEK.  I guess I won't try to speed germination of these plants.  If I can make them take 2 weeks to germinate, then I could be ok planting them under a hoop cover.  We hope.  That reminds me, I should let my brother know not to plant his yet.

Anyway, the other good thing that happened today was that the reporter from the Seattle Times called to interview me for the article.  We only spoke for about 5 minutes, but he got enough info to write his article.  Of course, the article's not about me, but the spike in seed sales, as well as about a local seed farmer who designed the potato bin system I use.  I am just the local example of someone who uses his bin.  The reporter found me on a search engine.  Glad my blog pages shows up on search engines.  I've been told it is a decent how to page for potato bins.  That's what I tried to accomplish anyway.

Well, both of us are tired, so it's time to hit the sack.  Long weekend and the work week's not going to be a walk in the park.  Maybe I can get home early enough to spend some time depressurizing in the garden.  I hope you can too.