Friday, June 18, 2010

Almost Summer!

Now that it's almost summer, it's about time I get some progressive shots of my garden up for you! Of course I started taking these back in April, when I planted my seedlings, so we'll just start from the beginning.

This is the workbench in the basement where I have grow lights and heat mats set up, so I can easily start seeds:

Here is the giant pile of seeds from which I have to choose. You can see I'm an excellent organizer... I have organized the pepper, eggplant, and tomato seeds, but the rest are a free-for-all (literally; many are expired Johnny's packets; not up to our quality standards for sales, but fine for employees to grab before they end up in the compost bin):

Here are the seedlings about a week old:

Tiny pepper plants take a long time to get going. I usually plant them a couple of weeks before tomatoes, but this year I wasn't with it:

You can see my labeling system - very high-tech; I use large popsicle sticks and a Sharpie. I put them in at an angle so that the tray cover would fit on a little better, and moisture would be conserved. I've trimmed the sticks in the past but this year didn't bother, and it worked out fine.

The next two photos were taken on May 6th, so the seedlings are a bit over 3 weeks old. The tomatoes are growing very well:

But the peppers are still just a bit smaller; again, this is why I start them earlier, usually:

On 5/31/10 we planted the seedlings outside (after hardening them off in a cooler corner of the yard for about a week). Peppers are in the background and look quite healthy, and the tomatoes are very vigorous:

I set up the potato cans again this year. I'm planting the potatoes in Johnny's 512 Mix, and I did cut them up. I planted Russian Banana and French Fingerlings this year; fewer per can, in one-eye-per-piece chunks. They were planted on April 24th:

And doing quite well by May 31st:

This year we added a fruit garden on the side - it is 4 feet wide, by about 40 feet long. My husband dug up and transplanted all the grass from the area, put in edging, and tilled in compost. He is tilling the garden in this April 24th shot - something I normally do, but this year we're expecting a baby, so he took over the heavy work. You might notice odd looking white piles in the garden - that's ash from the woodstove - we just till it in in the spring. You'll also notice the tangle of IrriGator in the distance, next to the a-frame trellises - I just picked it up and put it in a box last fall.

We relaid the IrriGator - actually, it was a lot faster to just unwrap and lay it out than it is to take it apart and put it back together. Howerver, one drawback of this is that crops don't get rotated.

And the usual mulch - plastic and paper this year. I thought it would be interesting to try the SRM Red Mulch, made of plastic, and see how the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants fare. I also wanted to test another biodegradable product, so I used our Planters Paper Mulch. We set the mulch out in late April, but didn't get a chance to plant until May 31st. Unfortunately, the wind blew quite a bit and tore up the staples from the edges of the paper.

I had a good idea to fix this - make wide staples from cardboard - I cut squares out and pushed the staples through, and it seems to be holding somewhat better. Traditionally, people bury the edges of the mulch in soil, but I don't want to do any weeding at all. Things are looking good - we build a new tomato trellis from aluminum electrical conduit and zip ties (to replace the old bamboo and zip tie model) and put it in place, and got the seedlings planted. We really lucked out, too, because it rained on and off for about a week after we got the seedlings in - nothing like mild weather to increase a garden's success rate.

And the fruit garden is planted, as well. From front to back, we have a cranberry, three blueberry bushes (with strawberry planters next to them), and 14 raspberry canes (black, yellow, and red). Can't wait until this garden comes to fruition!

I hope your gardening endeavors are going well! I will keep you posted about the new things I'm trying. If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear them!

-Daria, the webmaster

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