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And in other plant news….

So I’ve been neglectful in updating the progress of plant growth in the raised beds.  (That’s probably because we’ve kind of been neglecting them, absent the weeding and watering.  They desperately need a dose of organic fertilizer, which we hope to do this weekend.)

                                         The shallots and carrots

                                         Lettuce!  (There’s more than this but this looks the prettiest.)

                                                        Herbs (those are the Home Depot strawberries on the left.)

                                                       Eggplants and peppers
Not robust as the stuff in the main garden.  We’re unsure about the quality of the soil in the beds; we had a loam delivery at the beginning of the spring that we used to fill them.  Where the main garden is located the ground was obscured by invasive species that we cut down and hauled away, but the resulting leaf litter might have given us a more nutrient-friendly soil that what arrived from elsewhere. So, in order to get the plants to catch up, we’ll be putting down organic fertilizer.  It can’t hurt.  At this rate we’ll get a handful of carrots, a few herbs, a few shallots, and maybe, maybe some potatoes.  Maybe.

In the next few weeks I’ll actually be planting the next round of lettuce for fall harvest.  So perhaps soon the bed won’t look so bare!

And They’re Off! Mostly…..

….Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, and a great majority of it was spent out in the gardens, putting in the plants. Here’s what went in this weekend:

Tomatoes (Early Girl, Sungold, Brandywine)
Eggplants (Dusky, Black Beauty)
Peppers (red & green)
Summer squash
Zucchini
Green beans
Peas

This is a shot of the main garden this morning:

Last weekend I planted
Potatoes
Shallots
Carrots (Adelaide)
Lettuce (Romaine)

And so far, nothing’s happening.  If I remember correctly from last year, germination for the carrots and lettuce takes a bit of time, and the potatoes and shallots are, you guessed it, another one of our experiments.

We’re still waiting for some of our seedlings to be big enough to transplant.  Some of them have started to develop their true leaves, but it still might be several weeks before they’re ready to be moved.  Fortunately, most of them will be going in the herb bed and will eventually be covered with a cold frame, prolonging their growing season:

Fennel
Strawberries (Alpine)
Basil
Parsley
Cilantro

My Home Depot strawberries are doing beautifully.  They have already produced some berries that are turning red.  I have a long way to go before I’ll be making jam, however.  I am hoping to keep the chipmunk away from them.  The garden is fenced, but he’ll probably just see that as another challenge.

Tonight we’re going to start the pumpkins and watermelon, and maybe the corn.  Plowing the back-40 field has not been easy – there have been many stops and starts, much to J’s frustration.  It might be another week or two before that field is ready to go.  So we’re going with plan B and starting the seeds indoors.  They germinate quickly, meaning that we aren’t going to lose much time by having to delay our in the ground planting by another week or two.

That photo of the main garden amazes me.  When we first decided to plant that space three years ago, we originally guessed we could get four rows across the narrow part of the garden.  (In some cases we did, but we had to switch down to three rows in many places.)  Now we’re doing just two, with a path up the middle.  I am looking forward to being able to move more easily through the garden this year.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Things are rolling along back at the homestead, with mixed results:

The good – the red peppers, green peppers, and two eggplant types have been transplanted into larger containers and seem to have weathered the change fine.  All 30 of the tomato seeds that were planted (15 early girl, 15 sungold) have sprouted and are growing quickly.  I can almost taste the sungolds, affectionately referred to around our house as “crack tomatoes” due to their addictive taste.  Speaking of tomatoes, I am reading, The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden, by William Alexander.  It’s a very funny book.  I was a little nervous when he started talking about his irrigation system (very simliar to ours) but he’s way beyond where we are.  Maybe.  But maybe I’m just reading about our future.

The bad – J has purchased 2′ lights for our bakers’ rack to aid in seed germination, and UPS seems to be holding them hostage. First we received a notice that we needed to sign for them, then when he attempted to get them to take the delivery off the truck and hold for pickup they didn’t process the request, so the lights spent yesterday riding around in a UPS truck and not coming home with J to be installed.  Mildly irritating.  Also bad – I haven’t even looked for the strawberry seeds in the freezer, and yesterday at a meeting someone commented that they always think of June as strawberry season, since that’s when you can start picking berries.  What?!  Looks like I’m emptying the freezer tonight.

The Ugly – the Back Forty garden, designated for the 5 types of pumpkins, watermelons & 300 stalks of corn?  None of the patch that was mowed on Christmas Eve is on our property.  Not one inch.  And the area that is our property has invasive species, needs work, and might have limited sun exposure.  Great!

I will post a photo of the cocktail I had when I found out our property line isn’t where we thought it is, along with the recipe, in another post.

Spring is coming…

On April Fools’ Day we had a snowstorm that amounted to a whole lot of nothing around our parts and melted away by late Saturday, allowing us to get out and do some work in the yard.  Well, I worked on the yard, J worked on our (new to us) John Deere trailer in the yard.  Last night he was talking about a harrow he saw on Craig’s List or some other list serve that looked intriguing and all I could think was, “If the Con Com doesn’t allow us to build a new shed I am going to sob in the middle of their meeting.”  We really just need a place to store the stuff where it won’t be exposed to the elements, requiring more repair and rust removal.  I really don’t have a problem with any of the John Deere stuff, as is evidenced by my recent purchase of fruit snacks for my 30-something husband:

“Wired” magazine’s April 2011 edition had an article recently about cobranding and labelled these snacks as an “Awesomely Awful Frankenbrand.”  The snippet makes fun of the idea of grape-flavored gummy pigs.  For the record, I have yet to see any grape-flavored pigs in those packets.  But I only eat the orange ones anyway.  You can read the whole article on their website (it’s short.)

In other news, the eggplants and peppers are due for transplantation to larger containers this week (photos coming soon), we planted the tomatoes on Saturday (Sungold and Early Girl), and the strawberry seeds have gone missing in the freezer.  I don’t relish emptying the entire freezer out to find them, but today marks 5 weeks, so tonight’s post-meeting/post-dinner project is freezer organization/strawberry seed retrieval.  My life is so full.

And They’re Off……

The currently planted seeds germinated sometime between Friday and Saturday night, with most of them now up.  Our only problem seems to be the Slim Jim eggplants – germination rate appears to be 6 out of 18, one of them a double (we put 2 seeds in each cell then pull the less-robust plant as they get bigger.)  J is vaguely irritated with Pine Tree Seeds, our seed-supplier of choice – last year we had a problem with the red pepper plants where the first batch never germinated, the second batch only gave us five plants, and we only grew two peppers all season and they both rotted before picking.  This might be the year they get a note about the seed problem.  I hope it’s not a repeat of last year’s pepper debacle.  I picked the new type of eggplants (we are also growning another type, but these are leftover seeds from last year) because it’s got a fast growth rate and I was looking to have an early harvest of eggplants (Slim Jims) before the later summer eggplants.  Thereby guaranteeing I will be completely sick of eggplant by late August.

In other news, this morning we were invaded by birds.  This is secondhand information, mind you, because I leave the house so early I never see or hear any of our feathered friends because they are not yet awake.  Apparently they caused quite a ruckus:

This reminds me, I should start thinking about a scarecrow for the back 40, so the little buggers don’t eat all the seeds we put in.

Do not get them wet….do not feed them after midnight….

So there has been a misunderstanding back at the farm.  J thought I called the tractor rusty, not the rototiller.  He agrees that the rototiller is rusty.  In fact, both of them are, one just a little less so.

What?

Just before my last post J found another identical rototiller on Craig’s List, this one in better shape than the original.

This one has all the parts, belts, dodads and thingamajigs that make it run.  In other words, the purchasing of parts to actually make the thing work is probably not necessary, unlike the original:

So the new plan is to cannibalize the original one for parts and use the new one.  Apparently these rototillers are no longer produced, making it extremely difficult to get parts (except for things like belts.)  Or so I’m told.  All I know is, my garage is beginning to look vaguely like a used John Deere parts department.

In case you’re wondering why the new one looks so much larger than the old one, apparently Rusty has already had parts removed and stored.  It does look pretty sad sitting next to the newer, better kept model, doesn’t it?

In other news, the eggplant and pepper seeds were planted this weekend (3/13), and are currently under the light in the basement, 16 hours a day.

It is a bit like watching paint dry until they actually sprout.