Saturday, February 28, 2009

Garden Record-Spring 09

My Garden Record-I'll update this post with a record of my garden activites (and probably some $ amounts) for the spring.

Every pea planted outside has germinated and is starting to peak above ground

Outside spinich is sprouting like crazy
Peppers have finally germinated 70% and look good
Purchased 2.8 cu ft Potting mix at Target

Ordered from Gardener's Supply: Self-Watering Planter (40), 2 Fabric Potato Bins (20), 2 Hanging Tomato/Herb Planters (40), Soil mixing Tub ( 16), White Fabric for Shade and Row Covers (10), 20qts Compost (14), White Button Mushroom Kit (30)

3/11-Coolish moist and overcast am, warm breezy afternoon
Sown Outside in planters
2 rows Daikon Radish, Forono Beet
3 rows Early Market Carrot
seeded .75 sq ft each of 5 different frost hardy lettuces, mustard greens

3/9-Sunny, warm, light breeze
1 pea and 1 spinach sprout noticed in outside planter
98% germination-Purple Tomatoes, Bunching Oinions, thyme, greek oregano, basil, chives
80% germiniation-steak sandwich tomatoes, yellow onions, sage
70% germination-cilantro, cumin, leeks
0% germination-all peppers-must try again next week

3/6-Sunny, slightly cool
Started Sugar Snap Peas (8)and Long Standing Bloomsdale broadcast (1.5 sq ft)outside

Added light to seed starting shelf
Oredered more seeds from Bountiful Gardens (25.65);see Starting the Seeds Post for full list

3/2-Snow Day
Started 3 cells of each: Leeks, Bunching Oinion, Purple Russian Tomato, Steak Sandwich Tomato, Mini Red Bell Pepper, Yellow Stuffing Bell Pepper, Yellow Star Hot Pepper (Freebie from Baker Creek), Carnival Mix Sweet Pepper; 6 cells of Yellow Onion

Started 2 of each: Basil, Greek Oregano, Chives, Cumin, Cilantro, Sage, Thyme seeds
Filled and hung out bird feeder

Set up seed starting flats, received 2 containers
Bought potting soil, hose, PVC pipe and supplies for strawberry retrofit, bird feeder and bird seed ($10/$17/$2/$11) from Home Depot
Started 1 Mediterranean Oregano and Strawberry seeds

Bought potting soil, seed starting trays, seed starting light, plant markers, misc stuff ($60) From Home Depot

Removed junk and X-mas tree needles from porch
Bought potting soil, fertilizer mix, shelf unit for seed starting from Target

Ordered Seeds from Baker Creek Heritage Seeds and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange ($44/$72.56); see Starting the Seeds Post for full list
Ordered 6 Self-Watering Containers, 3 S-W converters, 20Q soil mix, 3" pot transplant set from Gardeners Supply ($166/$40/$30/$20)

Starting the Seeds

After explaining to my dd why mom was buying a huge shelf and moving her easel and the junk in the corner so that could be assembled, why mom was buying soil, and why we were cleaning the porch and setting up pots and planters in the freezing cold of February it was inevitable that she would want to plant seeds right now! Of course my seeds weren't here yet, I didn't have anything set up and the thought of mixing soil on a freezing blustery week vs. mixing it in my living room just to make her happy meant that we had lots of "talks" about patients and planning and the speed of the postal service. I finally made a trip to home depot to pick up more soil, a few seed packets, a few flats and plant markers and I spread out one of our waterproof mats and let K make multiple trips to the bathroom to fill her water canister so that she could water the soil pellets and watch them expand. This made her happy but it still wasn't enough.I only placed my seed orders last week and it was my own fault for introducing something before I was ready to have her involved in it but to a certain extent it was unavoidable as her curiosity would have led her to insist on answers only shortly after everything began to be set up.

Early this morning as she was about to start her whining to go somewhere and spend money on something to do we bundled up and headed outside with our garden gloves on to add soil to the 2 new self-watering planters and get them ready for the peas, leeks, spinach and kale. Next, inspired by this video from , we emptied the existing soil from my terra cotta strawberry jar, drilled drain holes in 3 12" lengths of capped 1/2" PVC pipe and placed them back in the jar with the capped end down to encourage better water distribution so that this year I don't kill the herbs in the middle rows from lack of water. It felt good to get our gloves dirty

Later this morning the first half of my seeds arrived in the mail and as we walked to the mail room to go pick them up K's excitement grew. She couldn't wait to plant. First we pulled out the waterproof mat again and then I pulled down the smallest seed tray. She helped me open up the tops of the now fully expanded and moist soil disks and fluff up the top layer then she picked the seeds out of my hand and placed them in the designated spots. She did this so well, even the tiny thyme seeds. Lastly I placed the labels and moved the flat up to the dark shelf above her reach. Next we prepared the cheap strawberry all-in-one kit by filling the container with its baggie of soil and sprinkling the very few seeds that it came with. This went on the windowsill in front of the shelf. Now my herbs and strawberries are started and as soon as the rest of my seeds come I'll start the majority of my veggies indoors and a few of the cold hardy will go right into the planters. Were expecting snow showers over the next few days so it will probably be mid-week before anything more gets done.

Here is what I have ordered.
From Baker Creek Heritage Seeds:

  • Painted Lady Runner Beans (out of stock)
  • Blue Podded Peas (out of stock)
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • State Half Runner Beans
  • Red Mini Bell Peppers
  • Sweet Yellow Stuffing Peppers (mini)
  • Lemon Cucumber
  • Yellow of Parma Onions
  • Bleu of Solais Leeks
  • Dwarf Siberian Kale
  • Puple Russian Tomato
  • Kabloona Calendulas
  • Sensation Mix Cosmos
  • Mexican Mint Marigolds (out of stock)
  • Dearf Jewel Mix Nasturtiums
  • Lilliput Mix Zennias

From Southern Exposure Seed Exchange:

  • Sweet Genovese Basil
  • Chives
  • Long Standing Cilantro/Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Greek Oregano
  • Summer Thyme
  • Sage
  • Jacob's Cattle (Trout) Bush Bean
  • Small Garden Sampler Garlic Mix-For delivery in the fall
  • Spring Mescalin Mix of 6 different lettuce/greens/spinach
  • Summer Mescalin Mix of 5 different lettuce/greens

From Bountiful Gardens:

  • Anasazi Bush Beans
  • Good Mother Stalllard Beans
  • Scarlet Emperor Bean
  • Forono Beet
  • Early Market Carrott
  • Rainbow Mix Chard
  • Tokinashi All Seasons Diakon Radish
  • Orange Jelly Turnips
  • Austrian Field Peas (for drying and green mulch)

Came with the Burpee Seed Starter Kit (haven't decided if I will grow these):

  • Carnival Hybrid Mix Sweet Pepper
  • Genovese Basil
  • Blue Lake 47 Bush Bean
  • Mediterranean Oregano
  • Steak Sandwich Hybrid Tomato
  • Fordhook Zucchini
  • Straight Eight Cucumber
  • Touchon Carrots

Came free with my Cooks Garden supply order:

  • Sweet Salad Mix Mesclun

And a stray Ferry Morse packet of Evergreen Bunching Onion picked up at Home Depot

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Back with a plan

So I have faded out for a while and now I'm back with a plan...a garden plan, that is. My reasons are complex so let me explain.

As the sunlight starts to creep in my window a little earlier I have started to get that urge to connect with the earth again. I grew up playing in a huge shared garden and had fruit trees intermingled in the redwood forest of my back yard. I grew tomatoes on my college apartment balcony in salvaged 5 gallon buckets atop old plastic milk crates. I even took responsibility for the lonely rose outside my office in the harsh, dry Baghdad summer; watering it with the leftover drops from our water bottles and nourishing it with our coffee grounds. For the past 2 years since moving to the DC metro area I have relied on our weekly share pickup trips to our CSA farm and the frequent u-pick bonuses to fulfill my longing to cultivate and harvest. And harvest we have. I have picked more green beans than I knew what to do with and all the strawberries I could carry; K has had the joy of picking and eating a fresh peach from atop my shoulders and digging with her bare hands in the northern Virginia dirt to fill her pail with potatoes and a few rocks. So its not that I am ever far removed from the earth and her bounty. But maybe I want to be even closer.

I live in an apartment and work full time (currently with a long commute too) and while I dedicate my Saturdays to good food and the farm life, sadly at some point I have to come home to earth that is not mine and a concrete patio. I have no yard to tend, no grass to mow, no big sunny windows for house plants and a 3 year old who might "re-pot" any indoor plants for the fun of it at the first chance she could get. So its not that I have space for a garden just calling my name, begging me to dig and plant. But maybe that's what challenges me.

I suppose you could say that with a half share of produce each week to use up for the majority of the spring and summer months and only one person to consume it (what K eats, when she eats hardly counts as another consumer except when we have berries) that we have access to plenty of fresh, local food. We also have a great year round farmers market where we can supplement any foods that don't come in our share. So its not that we are lacking access to fresh food. But even with the great choices our CSA grows and the many vendors at the market I still find that I can't get certain things that I want even when they are in season.

THIS is probably the biggest reason behind my garden plan. I want to put by some dried beans, savor a lemon cuke, have fresh herbs at my fingertips, relive my childhood though the favorite flowers of my memories and show my daughter the joy of sprouting a seed that turns into a plant whose fruit ends up on our plate or in a vase.

My patio does get good light, being almost South East facing and last year with the addition of a self-watering container I was able to keep some herbs from our share going until the first frost and in the case one over zealous chive almost until Christmas. So with renewed energy I have measured the patio, surveyed the light, plotted the space, researched container sizes, cut out little squares and rearranged everything until I got it all to fit, ordered the self watering containers, drooled over seed catalogues and finally placed my order. I set up a sturdy plastic utility shelf in front of the sunniest window where I plan to start my seeds and picked up some potting soil this week and now K and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our seeds. More to follow.