Monday, March 22, 2010

Busy weekend

It was a beautiful weather weekend and a busy garden weekend. I...

  1. Planted a 25 foot row of potatoes. These were seed potatoes purchased from Lowes. I planted two varieties: yukon gold and red norland. This is double the quantity of potatoes I planted last year. Last year I did a 13 foot row of red norlands which yielded a 33 pound harvest. This planting is in the northern most raised bed of the sun garden. Our planned move date is 6/10, so if the potatoes follow last year's pattern, we will only enjoy a few stolen potatoes from this planting. The new owners will get the bounty. This row was heavily composted in the fall and was treated with Urea and Sulphur last week. This row grew peas last fall and potatoes last spring.
  2. Planted 1/2 of a 20 foot row of beets, carrots, green onions, radishes in Sun garden raised bed #2. This row was also treated with Urea and Sulphur last week. This row grew corn and broccoli last summer. 1/2 of it was sown with white clover cover crop in the fall.
  3. Planted more peas. The peas that were sown in November sprouted a couple weeks ago, but it is clear that there was serious seed loss to this planting. Maybe only one in five seeds sprouted. So I filled in empty spots in this sun garden row #3 with new pea seeds. There are two varieties planted in this row - green arrow (pod peas) and snow peas. This soil was not treated. I also planted more snow peas in the tepee garden.
  4. Planted yellow onions from 1 pound of sets. These are in the final sun garden row #4. They complete the row that was sown last fall with leeks. Soil treated with compost in the fall, urea and sulpher last week.
  5. Planted 6 romaine and 6 buttercrunch lettuce seedlings in the cold frame. It is clear that our impending move has made me abandon one of last season's garden goals: not purchase any nursery stock. Indoor seed starting isn't the most attractive thing for prospective home buyers to see, so that goal got tossed for the greater good. Hopefully these seedlings will allow us some late March and early April salads while we wait for the coldframe lettuce patch to mature.
  6. Planted two small rows of Kale and 12 red cabbage seedlings in the chimney garden. The cabbage I interplanted with a ton of spinach seedlings.
  7. I also turned and chopped the compost hoping to fire it up. Parts of the pile were plenty hot - other parts were cold and soggy. I am guessing it will be ready for spreading in a couple weeks.
The strange thing about all this work is that we will not likely enjoy more than 10 pounds of what I planted today. I am essentially gardening this year for three reasons - First - I refuse to turn this beautiful soil back to grass. Second - It looks pretty. Third - I have this hope that the new owner will enjoy both the harvest and the garden. But more than any of those reasons, I continue to garden this season because I absolutely love it. I have reached the point where gardening is one of my favorite things. The journey is the reward.

Great news - I just finished my morning garden walk and noticed three asparagus spears sticking up. We also noticed the garlic popping up yesterday when we removed the winter covering of straw.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

soil analyses, coldframes and seedlings

This winter I scooped up two cups of our garden soil and sent it away to Penn State for some testing. They sent it back with some surprising data. Our PH is 7.5. While most PA gardeners are adding lime to their plots, I have been instructed to add sulfur to mine. They also recommended adding Urea for a nitrogen boost. I wonder whether the limestone house is responsible for our higher PH. If you look very closely at our walls you can sometimes even spot little seashells buried in the stone.

Anyway today I did as instructed and added the recommended quantity of both sulphur and Urea. I also built our coldframe in order to use it as a spring seed starter for cold tolerant plants. I planted a mix of lettuce (broadcast), radishes, green onions, onions, brussel sprouts, beets, spinach and carrots. All of this is covered with metal chicken wire and plastic for a cheap and easy cold frame.

In one of my main sun garden plots, I planted my broccoli seedlings. They are about 6 inches tall and have been transplanted and hardened off. I hope they make it. A mid-march planting date may have been too aggressive, but I am hoping for an early harvest before we move.

Finally, I stirred the compost. It is a very cold soggy mix right now. Hoping that this stirring will fire it up.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Peas are up

March 11th and the peas just started poking through the soil in the sun garden. They were planted November 24th of last year and have spent the winter covered under over two feet of snow. In fact there is still some snow on the ground in other parts of the yard. Looking back to last year's journal this is an 8 day improvement over the first pea sprouts from last year.

I also harvested about 3 pounds of carrots. I wasn't sure how these would look after being buried in snow all winter long, but they look pretty good.

This is going to be a strange garden year as we are moving to California in mid June. We will harvest very little of what we plant this year. Our bounty will be enjoyed by the lucky new owners of this house. I still intend to plant it up full, but I don't think I'll be quite as interested in the process this year. The journal this year will likely take the form of a reference source for the new owners to know just where and when stuff was planted.