Saturday, April 18, 2015

Planting Bunching Onions

I couldn't believe how beautiful it was this morning. So of course I was out planting again. Up this time was the bunching onions.

I tend to grow these not in blocks but just in flat takeout containers. They don't need a huge depth of soil. And they are just fine with their roots being disturbed. So they don't really need to be treated all that well. I do try to tease out their roots without breaking, but I'm not always successful. I planted them in a row with a space of about 1-2 inches. I planted them about two inches deeper than the grew in the container. This will give them a long white root part, but still they will have lots of green.

You would think that one little row is not all that slow to do, but I put the rest of the bed together too. This bed is getting a patchwork of plants. Beans will take the end foot. So I built a trellis for them. Chard will have one half of the bed so I put together the row cover for that. I made an extra wide one so it could be tall, but it turns out the normal width would have been fine - just barely. I cut off the excess and only left 4" of the part I sewed on. I'll have to remember that for next year. As you can see the onions get a strip down the other side from the chard. And the rows on either side will get lettuce. I'll be rotating this lettuce bed throughout the year. I'll start new plants every three weeks, so the plants will have nine weeks to grow before they have to get taken out for the next set. Or at least that is the plan. I have a tendency to miss my sowing dates. This year I'm putting them on my calendar to try not to miss them.

With that bed planted up there are only two beds left that haven't been touched at all. You can see the bed with the silver tarp in it, just past the white row cover on the ground. Well that had my bamboo in it over the winter. I finally got that opened up and taken off today. That bed won't be sown until mid May. It will have the earliest of the corn plantings.

And just when I had my last hardened off plants in the ground, the next set came out to get some sun. The chard is on the right and I have some perennials on the left. I probably won't keep the chard out here long. The weather is changing and getting cooler and wetter. So I'll let them harden off one more day then probably plant them right before a good patch of rain. Soil blocks don't need to be hardened off as much as other methods. Their roots aren't disturbed at all. And I use a fan in the growing room, so the wind shouldn't bother them. It is just the sun they have to get used to. And we won't get much sun on Monday and Tuesday. So I'm thinking they should be fine.

I will wait on the perennials though. We are going to be getting mulch on Thursday. I don't want the tiny seedlings buried by the mulch. I think it will be safer to plant after the fact.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Today was a dank day. I went out to put in the broccoli plants. And got chased in by the rain. It started a few drops here and there as I was aerating the soil. I put more than broccoli in my broccoli patch. I plant two rows of broccoli that are two feet apart. I've found that three rows are just too close for them to produce well. But that is a lot of extra space especially when they are small. So I put a row of turnips along the outside. One row on each side. Luckily I did this first. The rain held off just long enough. I wouldn't want to get my seed packet wet.

View from my window

As I put in the first broccoli plants the rain started. I stayed out getting wet until they were all in. But I wasn't going to get wet for the row cover. Nor was I going to get my camera wet, so I took a photo of it from indoors. Not a great photo as you can only see some of the 10 plants that went in.

Tall white row covers blocking my view

When the rain let up I put the cover on quickly. Sadly the row covers will block my fence for quite some time and the broccoli row cover stays up all year. The fence will be planted in zinnias which are quite pretty, but only the bees will see them most of the time. Which is too bad as I really enjoy their colorful display.

The garden is really shaping up. The first seeds are up and growing. Above are either the radishes or the turnips. I forgot which ones I put in which rows. Not that it matters. I'll find out when their roots start to pop up. The first of the spinach is up too. The patch by the path. The other patches have colder soil as they get less sun, so they will take a bit longer. No sign of the carrots yet, but then they always take a while. The only transplants ready to be planted are those bunching onions I talked about earlier. I'll do them tomorrow when the weather clears up. It should be a really pretty day tomorrow. But the bulk of the spring garden is in. Which means it is time to turn to other kinds of spring work. Like cleaning up the rest of the yard. I ordered mulch which will be delivered in a week. That will need to be spread. The compost needs to be turned. I think next week I'll be building upper body strength.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Busy Busy Day

This morning I figured I'd get the onions planted. This involves two beds. The first was the storage onion bed. Really it was a bed and a third as the garlic doesn't take a whole bed, so I put the rest of that one in onions. I prepped the bed and planted out the shallots that I had. I made the rows 6" apart but I figured that I would test the in row spacing. Four of the rows got a 6" spacing and three of the rows got a 4" spacing. The rest of the onions hadn't shown up yet. I ordered them from Dixondale* and they said they were shipped earlier in the week.

I put up a row cover over the bed and a half. If you remember I made a special row cover for these so they could be higher. The short row cover that was just a foot high, wasn't even close to being high enough for the onions. I wanted a two foot high cover. I had some old irrigation pipe. It isn't strong enough to be a support for a thick row cover that breaks the wind, but I thought it would be fine for the netting row cover I had. Last winter when I cleaned out the basement I cut them into 8' lengths. Today I pushed them into the soil as far as I could and the row cover was just perfect. (Photos to come later in the post.)

I had to go in to take a phone call. When I was inside I saw the delivery man drop off a big box. It wasn't my onions. It was my perennials for the new front garden. They were from Bluestone*.

I liked their modular system for packaging plants. All the plants were in biodegradable pots which is a huge selling point for me. As you can guess I immediately unpacked them all. And even though the pots were biodegradable (it looks like coir) I ripped most of them off as I don't like such things to wick away moisture. But at least I can compost them instead of having to recycle plastic.

I got out my plan that I made last year. And my measuring tape. I put them in their appropriate spots. Though my plan wasn't perfect. My neighbors behind me (the really nice ones that let me cut down the maple sapling that was growing on their side of the fence, but near the property line that was right on the southern most part of the garden) gave me a gift certificate to Mahoneys (a really nice close gardening center). I went there earlier in the week to buy a support for my sage plant in the circle garden. It only cost 10 bucks. I was going to buy some seeds for next year. But I should never ever walk into a store that sells plants.

I bought a hen and chicks plant and a short sedum. The edge near the driveway and the brick path has the worst soil (lower right). I figure these ought to grow reasonably well there. The plan said some Gallardia would go there, but I think I'll use it as a little river of color though there instead of a large patch.

I only bought three plants for my green path with stepping stones. It might take a little while to get it to spread through the whole thing, but I really think it will be more of a problem to keep a spreading plant out of the rest of the garden than to make sure it fills in.

This perennial garden is only partly planted up. I have other plants growing under lights. Some perennial (two kinds of rudbeckia) and some annual (calendula and zinnia). I also need two more perennials that I don't have. One is a Siberian iris (Cape Cod Boys) which I never got around to ordering. And Moonbeam coreopsis which I totally forgot to get seed for, so I'm just going to walk down to our local garden center and see if they sell it. If not it will be off to Mahoneys again. Though I might end up transplanting some coreopsis from the backyard. It doesn't seen really happy there. It might be more happy in the front.

After a quick lunch which made a good rest break, another package showed up on my doorstep - the onion plants. The red onions were a really nice size. The Copras weren't too bad. But the Walla Wallas were really small. I hope they grow well enough. It looks like they don't count plants. They just give you the same sized bunch. It can have small or larger plants in them. And all of the bundles had way more than they said would be in them.

I filled up that bed that I prepped in the morning. As always Copra - my main storage onion - got the best spot which means farther away from the fence. The other two spit sides of the bed. I had quite a handful of seedling left over. So I put them in the asparagus bed. Most of the asparagus died last year. I'm going to take half of the bed and plant four Brussels sprouts. But they don't need the edge space yet. So I put two rows down the middle and a row on each side of the bed. I put them about 1-2" apart. I'll eat them as green onions in June and maybe into July.

It was a really tiring day. If you have noticed I usually split my work up if possible so I don't do a lot in one day. Especially when I have a full week of gorgeous weather like this week. I want to be out everyday so no need to kill myself on one day. But when plants show up on my doorstep I try hard to get them in right away. I'll wait on the second onion bed that I had planned to do this morning. That is the lettuce, chard, and bunching onion bed. But the bunching onions can wait. Now I just have one more thing to finish today. I have to go out and sweep the front walk as I made a mess of it when I was planting.

*And I haven't received anything from these companies. I'm just a gardener who buys stuff. All opinions are my own. Yadda yadda yadda. If I ever do get anything useful from somewhere I'd let you know. But companies tend to like to offer me things I don't want or can't use so I always turn them down.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Planting the Brassicas

Not all the brassicas got planted out. I still have the broccoli to go, but those go by the fence and the ends of the beds still have some ice. It is amazing the temperature difference between the soil near the walkway and the soil near the fence.

First to get planted were the kohlrabi (15) and the Michihili cabbage (6 which are really a bit too close together). The weird structure is my pea trellis. There isn't much soil depth the first foot of the beds because of the foundation for the brick path, so I have to connect things together to make those stable.

Lastly the cabbages (4 Point One, 3 Golden Acre, 3 Early Jersey) and kale (16 Red Russian). Once they were in I had to get their row covers up fast. I did the planting early in the morning because the wind was predicted to pick up by the afternoon. Well it started getting stronger as I was out there. Usually I wouldn't plant before a really windy day, but the row covers these get are very substantial and block the wind pretty well.

The row covers I put up are the tall white ones. You can barely see the one in the back as it blends into the white fence. They look horribly ugly, but they are pretty strong and tall. They protect the brassicas pretty well and still give them plenty of space to expand upward.

The most exciting news is that the first seeds are finally up in the garden. I'll take pics tomorrow as they are barely up and not really unfurled yet. These are the radishes and turnips that were planted on April 7th. They took just over a week to germinate. Next up ought to be the spinach. I don't even check the carrots until the spinach is up. Spinach is always faster.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Planting Celery and Brassicas

This morning was warm but rained a bit. After the rain stopped I decided it was nice enough to plant some more seedlings. The parsley, celery, and celeriac were a bit overgrown as it was. The bed at the end was partly frozen still, but the section I needed for these was thawed. Yesterday the soil on the far end of the bed by the brick path even got to 60F (15C) yesterday when it was sunny. That last foot by the fence though still doesn't see anything but very early morning sun, so that ice takes a while to melt out. But I'm not putting any transplants there. I'm going to let the fennel pop up on its own from seed heads that I tossed there last fall.

I had two extra celery plants left over and put them right next to the other ones. That area is supposed to get peas in a week or two, but I don't mind losing some space to more celery.

Next up was to decide which of the brassica flats to go in today.

I decided on the baby Asian greens. They were more tangled and I didn't need them to get worse with time. Also since they produce so quickly keeping them longer in the blocks tends to make them bolt more easily. They are the first of the brassicas to produce and I want them to get going quickly. With the weather so nice and warm it will really jump start them.

When I put the window box plants in this bed I didn't measure. It made it a pain as doing a grid lets me get the plants in without crowding better. Those window box plants didn't fit my grid well. So there is a bit of unused space in there. Maybe I should have just crammed them in tighter.

I still have 24 more little plants growing upstairs under lights. In a couple weeks they will need to go in. I'm hoping the window box plants will be at least partially harvested by then as I don't have anywhere near that space for 24 more plants. But worse comes to worse I can shove them in or just toss them. I might just pick some at the baby stage to free up room. They are already baby Asian greens as it is - small plants naturally. There isn't much to them if you don't let them size up. But I'll cross that bridge in a couple of weeks.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get to the other flat of brassicas and the alliums. I'm not great at taking care of the poor plants that need to be watered at least once a day and sometimes twice on really sunny warm days. Sometimes I let them wilt too much. They are always happier planted.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Harvest Monday, 13 April 2015

Whoohoo! The first harvest of the year. Though it wasn't from an in ground plant. It came from my window boxes just before I planted them in the ground.


It really wasn't much of a harvest at 2 ounces, but it was something. I could have made a single salad, but instead I used to to garnish quite a handful of meals.


I'm not sure if I'll get a harvest this coming week. The plants probably need to get their roots spread out since they are newly planted. But the weather is very nice so I might be proven wrong.

I'm still eating from my stores too. They are starting to get low, but not gone yet.

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to show off, add your name and link to Mr Linky below.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Planting Peas

Today I got out to plant my peas. Usually I do them as a double row along the long back of the bed. But I don't need as many peas as I can't eat them. I'm just going to eat the pea shoots. So I'm planting them in two separate patches along the short end of the bed. The first patch was three short rows. I'm not sure if doing three rows 6" apart is a mistake or not. I won't know until they grow if I can get in to pick them well enough.

I put some nitrogen fixing microbes in with them as I do every year - well every year that I remember. But also this year I wanted to try out some mycorrhizal fungi. But to test I only put it on the northwest side of the bed. If the north side grows a lot better I'll have to keep doing it.

I did the same test with some lettuce. Today I planted the two bottom rows and the bottom most one (again the northwest side so I wouldn't forget) has the mychorrhizae on their roots. The other one doesn't. I have a feeling that right now the soil is too cold for the fungi to really grow, but it will be warming up in no time.

The last thing to get planted was the Asian greens. The pretty celery and parsley on the right side of the flat sadly must wait a bit longer for the ground to thaw out more. Hopefully it will be soon. But the Asian greens joined the earlier planted ones in the bed. The endomycorrhiza does not grow on any of the brassica family, so I couldn't expand my experiment.

I've got some more Asian greens and other brassicas hardening off on my back steps. So the next round is soon to join this round. Usually plantings don't come this quickly together, but the seedlings needed to stay indoors longer than normal. I tend to like brassica seedlings to grow no more than 2.5 to 3 weeks before being hardened off. But Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate with me.