Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March Updates

It seems I have garden projects scattered all over the place right now! I have a few seedlings under lights in the basement. I'm pre-sprouting the seeds in the egg cartons on the cable box then moving them to the lights as they come up. Here are a few of the baby tomatoes I have down there. I have tomatoes, a couple peppers, herbs and a few ornamentals for companion planting. I found a pretty helpful website on companion planting not too long ago. Some of them I knew but many were new to me. Check it out at http://www.homeandgardensite.com/companion_planting.htm . I actually have seeds for a number of plants on the list so I'm going to work them in around the garden this summer.

Here's a look in the garden today. The peas I pre-sprouted and moved out are doing pretty well. They're about 3-6" tall now. Of the sprouted seeds I moved out, most of the seeds I started on the paper towels didn't make it. I might try this method one more time but only if the upper layers of the bed are more like soil than mulch. I think they just dried out. The seeds I started in the organic starting mix are doing better. When I started putting these out, I planted them into a layer of more finished compost I added to the mulch layer so they'd have a little more to grow in.

Here's a rather messy view of the garden area today. The bed in the foreground with the plastic is where I'm starting the cool season plants. It's covered because it is still very early in the season here. Out last frost date isn't until about May 15. More than anything, I'm playing with these seeds and learning a few lessons along the way. Eventually I'll find the right combination of methods or the proper planting time will come along. Either way, eventually, something will grow...

Along the fence are the 3 new beds. These are filled with the horse manure compost from the straw bale bin, the contents of the temporary beds, the last of the pile of aspen leaves that wouldn't shred last fall, coffee grounds, a bit of compost and a handful of worms. I topped these off with pads of straw (that I soaked in water first). I'm thinking the straw pads will help keep the beds from drying. I'm really wanting these to break down and settle so I can top them off before planting. The straw does seem to be working. I also have them covered with some old landscape fabric to also keep them from drying out and to keep the straw from blowing away. I saw on the news last week that so far this YEAR we have had about 1/4 inch of moisture. Yep, it's dry! I also added a little more to 3 other beds (I stole some material from the raspberry area - where the path will be) and topped them off with straw as well.

In between the beds (adding nicely to the look of the garden I must say...) are the bags of shredded leaves I'm saving to use as mulch. Next year I need a nicer looking storage (or hiding) spot for those. I had them tucked away a little nicer until I moved the lilacs out and the new beds in.

In the left corner are the stacks of large (I think 35 gal maybe?) nursery pots I'm going to use for potatoes. In front of the bins is the kiddie pool that I used to park the strawberry plants I was given in October. Their bed wasn't built yet, so I thought they'd be ok in the pool. I stabbed some drainage holes in the pool and filled it with some of the (fairly fresh at the time) horse manure and hay mixture I had cooking in the raspberry bed. The plants looked ok in the fall. I let them grow until freezing weather came and I mulched them with straw and circled the pool (which was in the corner by the fence) with the bags of leaves as insulation. I didn't want it to thaw too early. I pulled out the pool this last week and uncovered the little guys. I should have done it sooner. The survival rate does not look good. Most of the crowns were rotting and very few show signs of life. I think they have recently rotted because the roots are black but still attached. If they had rotted in the fall, I doubt I'd see the roots. I pulled out all that I could find and moved them to small trays filled with the starting soil and put them on the front porch until I can see how many survived. I didn't dump the pool in case I missed some that might be alive. It's really quite a bummer. Now I think I'll need to order some. This is a little bit of the life left in that whole pool full of strawberries. (sigh...)
But spring is coming, the hyacinths are appearing... Daffodils and tulips are coming up as well.

And I had a moment of excitement this weekend. I was giving my wintersowing containers a drink and I noticed I have a few sprouts!! Not many yet, but I was happy to see that it just might work! I found a couple sprouts of Rocky Mountain Penstemon, Dianthus knappii, and Liatris. Here are the Liatris sprouts...

I actually sowed 22 more containers this weekend. I'm trying lettuce & spinach that way too.

These are the lilac bushes we moved (remember those fun-to-dig holes a while back?). I have one more to move but the straw bale poo pile is still in the way. I had it all planned out, but when we moved the bigger bush a piece split off so we planted it where the other one (from the front yard) is supposed to go. I really wouldn't mind the lilac in the front yard but it's planted in a spot where I don't think it will work well when it grows big. It's at the corner of the front walk. When it grows, it will encroach on the walk and block the view of the front door. I think they're going to survive the transplanting. We were concerned about the larger one but it has the biggest buds of them all. We dug up a saucer-shaped area around the plants to break up and aerate the soil for the roots. We put a layer of the composted manure around the plants, then mulched that with a layer of hay topped with some wood mulch. They actually stayed moist for two weeks this way. They may have gone longer but we watered them for good measure. I want them to have enough moisture to re-grow the roots they lost in the move.

And finally, some things don't really change... This seems to be how a game of fetch always ends... if only Wilson would play fetch... he prefers to play keep-away with the occasional game of "chicken" mixed in. I actually got smacked in the kneecap with his hard head the other day. Ouch. :-)


Kris said...

Wow, Amy. So much progress on so many fronts. Sorry about your strawberries, but congrats on your WS sprouts! I got some first WS sprouts too this past week and am elated! As for the 'untidiness' - my spring garden right now looks like a circus camp - tents and screens and containers and lots of strings and stakes. LOL It's the only way we can pull off those gorgeous displays in July, no? Hope you get some rain soon!

Annie's Granny said...

My condolences on the strawberry plants. I'm really surprised they died under the layer of straw. Hopefully they are just dormant and will soon reward you with new growth.

I'm with you on the leaf bags. I have my neighbors save them for me, and just toss them over the fence. I finally dragged them all behind the garden shed, just to get them out of sight. I'm waiting for a load of horse manure before I begin the shredding.

Kris said...

Amy, just watching the horrible snowstorm you are having today (Thursday). Hope all is well and everyone is safe. I'm sure you'll appreciate the moisture. Take care.