Monday, March 26, 2012

Gardening in the Dark - Updated with Photos

This is probably a first for me. No pictures, not tonight anyway. Photos added 3/27. I did garden most of the day as well as in the dark tonight. I was hoping my dwarf Tophat blueberry bush would arrive today, and was sort of waiting on it to finish up my work, and it won't come until tomorrow now, so that meant I left a bunch of stuff out and just a bit more work that needed finished. I could have waited until tomorrow, but I got started on finishing up my newspaper pots and just went ahead and filled them by my back porch light.

Things accomplished today:

  • Potting up of 81 tomato/pepper plants in newspaper pots
  • Run to Walmart/Dollar Tree for more seeds, potting soil, fertilizer, and hanging baskets (I couldn't pass up a few packets of $0.20 seeds at Walmart... and I think I was short on pepper seeds anyway...
  • Mixed potting soil with fertilizer
  • Filled and planted summer squash and zucchini in my Dollar tree buckets from last year 
  • Made remaining 25 newspaper pots
  • Potted up remaining 24 tomato plants and 1 lone basil plant in the dark on the patio

I've been dreading the potting up stage. Partly because I do so many at a time, but also because, once again, I was late in making my newspaper pots so all of that had to be done at once.  My hubby helped out tons with the newspaper pot making last night, which was a welcomed first.

I know it's early to get those zucchini and summer squash started, but they worked so well in the buckets last year, and it's been so consistently warm. I noticed a few volunteer watermelon plants growing in the compost pile the other day, and found a squash of some sort (probably zucchini) that already has its first true leaves back in the turtle pen. I figured if they grew in nature on their own I could risk a few seeds now. The pots are portable too, so that means a trip to the garage or even the dining room if we get a temperature drop. I just about wrote "late" temp drop, but Spring has come so early, that I feel thrown off, it wouldn't be "late" it'd be normal.
Squash volunteer in turtle pen

Spinach seedling (excited with how much growth I have so far, spinach is not one I've had much success with)

Lolla Rossa lettuce seedling

Valerie lettuce seedling

Broccoli and lettuce

Snap peas, radishes, and the non-existent carrots

I feel like my tomatoes and peppers are "behind" because they are so small in this potting up stage (they do have a phosphorus deficiency at the moment, but that will clear up with the fertilizer and fresh soil...). Realistically they are way ahead, they are completely hardened off, seeing as how they have spent MAYBE two days inside at the very beginning. IT'S STILL MARCH. I have to keep telling myself that. 

Solomon on the compost pile
The turtles think Spring is in the air. There shouldn't be any shortage of fertile eggs (at least next year..), I'll just leave it at that. I'm wondering if there will be early egg laying... May 18th is the earliest Eleanor has ever laid. We'll see... 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gardening in the Rain

My strawberry replacement plants came yesterday (All but three or four plants died from the heat and lack of water last year...) So that meant I had no choice but to do some gardening work.

I planted 25 strawberry plants, transplanted broccoli and lettuce starts, planted red onions, and did some weeding. All of this is the rain.

I'm definitely seeing green out there now! The warm weather has been lovely, but I'm definitely afraid of a late frost/freeze. It was only in the 60s today, so that rain that has now taken residence in all of my clothes has chilled me to the bone. At least I got out there with the camera!

In turtle news, all turtles have now emerged. Nadine was the slowest, and I saw her out there this morning for the first time. (she was the one who gave us fertile eggs last year, so I was rather worried about how long it has taken her to come out!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Confession helps

So I guess just confessing that I had no motivation was enough to give me some motivation. A high temperature of 83 today didn't hurt either.

Today, Hubby helped me get the compost moved back to its normal area, and loosen/fertilize the soil. I have a nice sunburn on my back to prove it...

I also planted some additional shelling peas, carrots, radishes, spinach, and assorted lettuce varieties.  I did this part all with the help of this post from Annie's Kitchen Garden.  I had never made seed mats before, and truly only did it for the carrots that I was planting for the first time, and ended up doing all of it with this method. It was rather windy, and it was incredibly quick and easy to do the spacing sitting at the kitchen table, and do the back bending work without seeds or seed packets in hand. Definitely a process that I'll be reusing!

The camera battery was dead when I went to go take an "after" picture of the garden, but truly, it's just a brown soil patch with a trellis at the end, and it'll still be that for a few more days.

I didn't have a true "plan" this year, no diagram to go off of or anything. I held pretty close to my spacing and planting from last year, with slight alterations, just so that I'll shift my peppers and tomatoes a bit. With as small of a space as I have, true crop "rotation" just isn't feasible.  Last year's plan worked well, so I'm glad I put all of the effort into it a year ago.

I'm looking forward to seeing some green in the next week!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I can't get going...

I just can't get myself going this season. I have gotten some garden work done, but not much. The "non-winter" we have been having this year has not kept me inside, especially since I've continued to run all winter. That inside time is what makes me long for outside time.

I've got broccoli planted. Twice actually. The first batch that I planted died. It took too long for me to get the shelves and lights upstairs, and they literally died.  The new stuff is happy, with second leaves, and is ready to be potted up. They've even been fertilized (I know, right?!). I'll need potting soil to pot them up though, and I haven't made so much as ONE newspaper pot yet, so where they're going, I don't know yet.

I've got all of my peppers and tomatoes planted. I took it down a notch this season. I doubled what I wanted for myself, just to be safe, and plan to give extras to my mom and my neighbor ladies, but otherwise this "nursery" did not take orders this year. That still means I have 40 some peppers and 60 some tomatoes that I will need tending.

We're still getting a steady supply of lettuce from my Aerogarden. Tender lettuce knocks the socks off of any store bought lettuce we get, so it is a nice treat.  I know not to plant any more "red" lettuce in it though, it starts out trying to be red, but then goes green and stays that way. I'm not sure if there is a nutrient deficiency from the liquid components that we use, but it's not something that concerns me enough to try to fix it.

Yesterday, it was 72 and beautiful (though very windy) and I got the first "Spring" glimpse of Eleanor! She was "out" before I stuck my phone in her face to send this picture to the hubby. She is never shy once she's out and about for a while, I very rarely see her shell close this much.  We've never let our turtles come out of hibernation naturally because I always want the compost that they are hibernating in. This year we moved the finished compost to the garden, and have done all of our composting on a pile in the garden, so we're going to let them do their own thing this year. Eleanor is from Pennsylvania, so we know she's used to a bit colder weather. I'm anxious to see when the others will emerge.
The only gardening I've done was to stir the compost in the garden, and move some of the finished compost we'd piled in so I could build a new trellis and plant my snow peas.  I haven't used a pitchfork or those muscles in months apparently, because I was SORE after even that little amount of work!  At least something is in the ground, even with my lack of planning. I have really good luck with peas in the location I've used in the past, and I know they SHOULD be rotated, but something keeps them doing really well there, so I'm not changing that up this year, but I did have to rebuild the trellis.

I'm a part of a group getting ready to start a community garden in my area, so some of that planning took place yesterday.  Night shift has really taken the life out of me I guess, but I'm hoping some motivation blows my way soon!

I'm glad to catch up on blog reading when I get the chance... Happy Gardening to all!