Sunday, May 17, 2015

16 May 2015 Garden Progress

I wasn't home last weekend and it didn't rain at all in those two weeks so I was a little worried about the state of things. But most everything was mulched and the sun isn't too severe yet so everything was fine; but the soil was very dry.  Grass cutting had to come first though so I didn't get in the garden until Sunday. It takes six hours to cut my yard.

The two tomatoes more than doubled in size and are dark green so I know they are doing fine.  There is no threat of freezing this week so I removed the plastic covers. I'll leave the water-filled bottles for insurance.  In the back are the peas. They aren't growing as fast as I expected they would but it was pretty dry. I gave all the plants a heavy watering so we'll see what they look like next week.

I was taking some stuff down to my compost bin and saw a pile of what I'm guessing are cantaloupe seedlings. They were growing from discarded seeds from sometime ago when my wife ate some cantaloupe. So I thought, "Why not try to transplant them?".  I'm not confident that they will take or survive the many yard rabbits I have. But it costs nothing to try so I planted six groups of seeds; this is the largest. I don't eat cantaloupe myself but my wife does so if I can grow some this year I'll be a hero. I have grown them before in this garden but it has been many years. They take up a lot of room if they sprawl across the ground. I don't normally have the room to spare but this year's garden will be smaller than normal. I usually trellis cucumbers and melons when I do grow them. Keeping them off the ground makes for better fruit with fewer disease and insect (slugs and snails) problems.

The peppers look great; in fact they are ready to blossom. I am going to pinch off the blossoms though because I want the plants to get bigger before they start to set fruit (yes, peppers are fruit). At my local grocery store Saturday, I bought peppers at $1.25 a piece. That is just crazy.  I normally get 4-5 bell peppers from each plant so at that price they are worth $5-$6.25 each.  I paid $2.50 for four plants so I should come out ahead. 

My youngest son and I went hunting quite a bit this past fall and winter and we only got two rabbits.  There just aren't as many around here as there were when I was his age. I used to get my limit several times a season. But my yard has way more than its fair share of rabbits. If you look closely at the spinach plants you will see the amount of damage a rabbit problem can cause.  So I put cages around these four plants. Spinach grows really fast so I will be able to harvest the outer leaves next weekend. The carrots are also just about ready to be dug out. There should be about 20-25 carrots in there and I've eaten a dozen that I pulled out to thin the rows.

I pulled the glass off the cold frame and watered everything. There is a spinach plant and two rows of radishes growing in there. I want to plant some more stuff but I was short on time. The radishes will be ready to pick next weekend. The reflective sides and mirrored back makes the best use of limited sunlight in the winter and early growing season.

The strawberries had a rough winter. Between the severe weather, rabbits, and deer, I lost something like half my plants. It is very fertile soil so the ones that do grow should be large and flavorful. I will probably replant this bed next year. I usually pull all the spent plants in the fourth year and grow anything other than strawberries for at least two years to reduce any chances of building up diseases in the soil. This will be a nice raised bed for vegetables during that period.

If you looked at my blog when I showed my raspberry patch after thinning, you might find it hard to believe this is the same place. But it is. One advantage of thinning, and I do it every year without fail, is that it opens up the plot to more sunlight. Most raspberries grow on two year-old canes. In other words, the berries grow on last year's canes. Mine grow on new branches that grow off of last year's canes.  If all goes well, this year's crop will be double what I got last year. I'm looking forward to it. We rarely have any left after fresh eating to get any into the freezer.

Today I planted green beans and onion sets. I'm not planting many, just enough to keep us in fresh beans. I still have beans in the freezer from last year and the year before. We will continue to cook them and make space in the freezer.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Start of my 2015 Garden

I will try to better document my garden this year. Last year I had some injuries that prevented me from working in my garden as much as I needed to. In my April 14th blog posting I mentioned that I had carrots and spinach already growing, from seeds I planted in the Fall.  Here is what they look like now:

I moved two of the spinach plants to give them more room to grow and I put down a thin dried grass mulch to keep down the weeds and preserve moisture. I also opened up both sides of the enclosure so the sun would not over heat the plants. They are still protected from light frost but if a very cold night came they could be damaged. I'll watch the weather reports to make sure it doesn't get too cold. I have already eaten over a dozen carrots to thin them out a little bit and I should be able to start picking spinach next week.

The other thing I have growing since the fall are hardwood cuttings. I took cuttings from apple, peach, cherry, blueberry, and poplar branches.  I did this later than what would be ideal. I don't think any of the peach or cherry cuttings are rooting but it looks like a few of the other cuttings are taking root. I won't really know until the end of summer. You should be able to see some cuttings are leafing out. I have the planting box shaded since cuttings can't stand too much direct sun.

I enjoy tomatoes from my garden but can't eat a store-bought tomato; they taste horrible. Normally, I plant my tomatoes in early June, as recommended for my area. Then I get my first tomatoes in late August and into September until the first frost. This year I am planting them six weeks earlier and praying for warm nights so they don't get cold burned.  It is a bit of a gamble to be sure. But I am trying to protect them with water bottles to hold some heat and also a plastic cover to hopefully keep any light frosts from burning them.  Only time will tell if this succeeds. 

I did more or less the same thing with three pepper plants. Last year rabbits ate half my peppers so this year I am starting them under a cage. I have a double pane glass window panel over them. The glass helps warm up the soil and should keep frost away as well. I also mulched them with dried grass since the sunlight will be concentrated.

The past couple years I have planted peas but they never survive the rabbits and deer. So this year I also put them inside a cage (literally a small dog cage that I found put out for trash). I only planted a few since no one except me will eat them. I love fresh, crisp garden peas.  They are already up out of the soil and look good.


The thinned out raspberry patch also looks very good. The harsh winter damaged a lot of canes and the hungry rabbits and deer ate anything sticking out of the snow. So it is a very thin patch this year. That should not be a big problem though. I expect that the extra light that will get through will cause the canes to bear more berries. Last year wasn't a great one for my raspberries but this year should be.

Lastly, I have a visitor in my woodshed. A mourning dove set up her household atop the wood pile. I wanted to do some revisions to the shed this spring but now I will have to put that off until the chicks fledge and find a new place to live.

Once again I will only be home on weekends so I hope I can find the time to maintain my garden. I still have potatoes, onions, green beans, and blueberries from last year though so I guess I am doing okay.

Get out there, grow a garden, and save money on food. You can go back through my blog for lots of gardening tips from the past couple of years.