Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Garden 12 May 2013

In just a week, or two, there has been some good progress in my garden. It is still far too cold at night to transplant warm season plants like peppersand tomatoes. But I have onions, potatoes, peas, radishes, spinach, and lettuce growing. I also just planted green beans but they won't sprout for 7 - 10 days since the ground is still cool.

I thought I would use tomato cages for my peas this year. I planted peas around the bottom of the cage and they will climb the cage. This will give them a sturdy trellis to climb and plenty of air circulation and access to sunlight. My intent then is to plant peppers and/or tomatoes in the cage after the peas are harvested. That will take advantage of the nitrogen the peas (as legumes) fixed at the roots and deposited in the soil. WheneverI harvest legumes I always cut the plant off at the ground and leave all the roots in the soil to maximize the nitrogen available.

As you can see the onions came up very well. There should be about 25 plants started here. A couple were pulled out by birds but I pushed them back in the soil and they seem to have re-started. I had wanted to mulch the rows but didn't get around to it this weekend. My mom died last week and we buried her on Wednesday. So I have been tied up with family activities.

Protecting the seeds from birds
Green Bean Planting Bed
I have used this technique for planting seeds for many years and it has always been successful. I prepare the seed bed and then scratch out the rows with a stick or trowel. I set the seeds in the dug row and space them slighty more apart then the seed package instructs because the rows will be half the distance apart than the package calls for. Then, instead of pushing the soil back over the seeds, I fill the row trench with compost. This does several things for me. First, it clearly marks the rows. Second, it gives the plants a soft, loose soil to sprout through. Third, it is dark so it warms up faster by absorbing more sunlight, which is converted to heat. Fourth, it will absorb water faster and hold more moisture for longer beause of the high organic content (100% organic material). Lastly, it will feed the young plants with a slow release natural fertilizer.

I have problems with birds pulling out the sprouted seeds and other night-time critters digging up my seeds and young plants. I salvaged about 60 of these one-foot square wire panels from a dumpster and they work great to protect the seeds. Once th plants are a couple inches tall I can pick them up and store them or use them on other areas.

I like raised beds and eventualy want to convert my whole garden space to a series of raised beds. But for now I till the whole garden space and then use pavers to set off small growing spaces. It does waste some space but it has been a very successful method. I like to use pavers as stepping stones. This keeps my shoes clean and prevents compaction of the soil since I am not walking on the dirt.

 I usually clean up my raspberry patch in early March but had too many other chores to get done. So I finally got to it this week. I cut out the previous year's dead canes to prevent disease and clear space for new growth. Most raspberries fruit on one year old canes and then the cane dies off. If you don't clean the dead canes out the patch gets choked with dead canes and the new canes are crowded out. The dead canes make up about 33% of the plant material in a patch. Once the dead canes are cut out I run them through the chipper/shredder and toss the ground up material on my compost pile. Then I fork in new mulch (mulched yard material picked up with my yard vacuum) to feed and protect the patches' soil.

I did not take any pictures of what is growing in my cold frame this week. I have a good crop of radishes, which I will start picking next weekend, a couple spinach plants, but only one lettuce plant is started. I reseeded onions, radishes, and lettuce.

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