Playing in the dirt.

Posts tagged ‘Year 2’

Zoom! Like a Rocket

Okay, yes, it’s a terrible pun.  Of the seeds I planted a week ago, the arugula was the first to sprout, with several little green faces showing up by yesterday morning.  It got close to freezing last night, but never quite got there, which is good, because I did not cover the bed.  I wasn’t feeling particularly well yesterday, and decided that if it was only going to take a week to sprout, I’d just replant them if they got nipped.  It did rain off and on all night, so I did not have to haul water this morning, so I won’t know how it went last night until I get off work this afternoon.

The cucurbits were planted indoors on Friday, and this morning brought two moldy zucchini peats, two moldy watermelon peats, three cantaloupe sprouts, and the suggestion of sprouts in all the other peats.  I’m planning to plant one squash bed in seedlings and one in seeds for each of the cucurbits, then compare the results between the two at the end of the season, to see if I need to bother with starting them early in future years.  Cucurbits don’t like to have their roots disturbed, so tend to make poor transplants, but our growing season is so short, and our nights so cool, that careful transplanting might be the only way to get fruit for most varieties.

It’ll be an experiment!

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We Are Go!

It’s official, there are seeds in the ground.  Repeat, there are seeds in the ground.

Yesterday, I pulled all the staples holding down the chicken wire, watered the soil, then raked in two bags of compost to make up for what I took out in produce last year and what settling there was over the winter.  Then I ran out of steam.

Tonight, I re-strung my square foot markers, and planted one square each of:

  • Onions for greens and sets for next year
  • Shallots for the same reason, though some of these might actually get large enough to eat
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Kale
  • Radicchio
  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Carrots (Paris Market)
  • Carrots (Dragon)
  • Daikon radishes
  • Radishes (Early Scarlet Globe)
  • Radishes (French Breakfast)
  • Spinach
  • Lolla Rossa lettuce
  • Bunte Forellenschluss lettuce
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Red Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Mizuna
  • Kohlrabi

All of those should be okay even if we get another freeze, and some are supposed to be planted before the last frost, anyway.  We’re technically a month away from our average last frost, but the forecast for the next week at least is 70s during the day, and above 40 at night (Fahrenheit, for my non-USian readers).  I have plastic milk jugs to cut down for cloches, and I can throw sheets over the bed cover if the weather turns on us again, so I’m pretty confident.  This is a little earlier than last year’s first planting, which happened on May 27.  I’ll be planting additional squares of most of these after I get the new beds built.

Ch-Ch-Changes

It’s time to tackle Grow Write Guild Writing Prompt #3, which is the first in what promises to be a very interesting series of posts documenting changes our garden spaces from the beginning of the season through the summer.

My garden is dry and brown right now, in part because three days ago, it was under a layer of airy, dirty snow.  We’re also back under a winter storm warning, so it might well be back under a layer of snow by this time tomorrow.  So, while my seedlings enjoy their continued respite from our harsh climate, my garden looks like this:

A raised garden bed with an A-frame cover next to it.

Last year’s bed and cover.

I set the cover on the ground for the winter, deciding that it would be less damaged by contact with the soil than it would be by being continually blown off the bed and into the fence.  (Wyoming is where the wind lives. It just visits other places.)  I wasn’t sure it was going to survive the winter, either way, so I’m pleased to report that it seems perfectly sound and able to withstand a second season.  I pulled chicken wire across the bed and stapled it down to keep the feral cats from using my garden as a litter box all winter, also with success.  The twine strung every almost-foot is broken in several places, but I expected to need to restring my spacing markers anyway.  I’ll pull the staples for that when I remove the chicken wire, and cut it into suitable lengths to leave for birds to use as nesting material.  The robins have started to arrive, but they’re squabbling about whose bright idea it was to return before it was done snowing.

This year, I’m expanding out a bit to the north, where there are few stands of the tough bunched oats to fight through:

Dry prairie with a fence and some assorted junk.

Oh, the places we’ll go!

The dirt pile in the background was pulled off the front “yard” of the other home on the property, after having been soaked in herbicide so the owner could put in a rock garden.  While the herbicide indicated that it should break down into a harmless form in short order, I don’t plan to trust that dirt pile until I see it covered in weeds other than the ubiquitous and invasive Salsola iberica, or Russian thistle, an ironic symbol of the Old American West better known to many people as “tumbleweed.”  The stuff will grow in the absolute worst conditions, in soil still toxic to most other plants.  I usually pull them up in the hopes of keeping their numbers down to a dull roar, but since they’ll help rehabilitate that soil, I’ll leave what grows there alone.

Some assorted trash has blown in over the winter and will need gathered up and disposed of as appropriate, and that ancient CRT monitor marks the resting place of a beloved house cat, for the entirely pragmatic reason of keeping the foxes out of it.

Don’t let the stark brown fool you, though.  The grass is starting to green up around the base, where the dead blades from last year offer a little protection from the unrelenting wind and freezing temperatures.  Since I took the photos, I have scraped off the top layer from the areas for two new beds, leveled out a “bump” across one of them, removed the monitor (it’s been a couple of years, so there’s no remaining risk) and filled the depression in with the excess I scraped off the two new areas.

There’s still a lot of work ahead, but the first bits are done, so there’s that much less still to do.

Next Up!

Fortunately, I don’t expect perfection in my garden, because unfortunately, three of my eight Anaheim starter peats and a whopping seven of my eight Pasilla Bajio starter peats went moldy and had to be discarded.  In better news, two of the Anaheims are starting to poke up, though I hesitate to call them sprouts until I see some cotyledons.

(Weirdly, last year’s efforts included cucumbers, one of which sprouted cotyledons, which hung about for quite a long time just barely above the soil.  When I decided they were never going to become a cucumber plant and pulled them up, there was no evidence of there ever having been roots of any kind!)

Today, in addition to planting four more Pasillas, I started four kinds of tomato, eggplant, two kinds of basil, and some lemon mint.

I succumbed to “just one more” and bought two packets of marigold seeds (Brocade Mix and Petite Mix) and a packet of Yellow Canary Creeper nasturtium from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, who kindly sent me another free packet of Red Romaine lettuce.  I’ll be finding someone to give that to, since they already sent me one with my first order of the season.

The only other news for now is that none of the indoor salad has sprouted yet, which is not terribly surprising considering that I did not cover the planters to help warm things up, and I’ve marked out my new beds for the year with little stone cairns, so I can start clearing ground, now that we’re having some occasional warm days.  Hopefully my next post will include a picture of some tiny pepper sprouts!

Patience, Shmatience

One of the trials of gardening at 7200 feet is the short growing season.  We’ve had a couple of shirt-sleeves days, but our last frost date isn’t until June sometime.  I, however, have had entirely enough store-bought produce.  So along with starting my Anaheim and Pasilla Bajio pepper seeds today, I filled a couple of long planters with mushroom compost left over from last year and planted some assorted lettuces and lettuce-like things, and some chives.

Three Jiffy starter boxes and two long, pale green planters filled with mushroom compost join some empty water bottles on a table.

The bottles are to cut down for small pots to put the onions in when they need more space than their tiny   starter peats.

I planted iceberg, red romaine, Lollo Rossa, Bunte Forellenschluss, arugula, spinach, mizuna, lovage, and chives.  The peppers are in the covered Jiffy starter box.  I started the peppers on a Friday, so there would be two days before I see them again, which will hopefully make it feel like less time until the excitement of sprouts.

The onion sprouts are just visible in the front starter box on the left side.  They have had a small haircut to keep them from falling over, so I’ve already had my first harvest this season–I put the trimmings on my tuna sandwich for lunch that day!  I am hoping they didn’t get so tall due to insufficient light…the table is directly under a skylight, but the angle of the sun puts the most direct light about two feet on the other side of that cubical wall to the right for now.  (By midsummer, it will be shining directly onto that table, and I will be considering wearing my sunglasses at my desk.)  I guess I’ll have my answer when I see if my pepper plants get all leggy on me or not.

Teaspoon’s Garden 2: Electric Boogaloo

Hello, world!

I’m starting the second year of my garden.  (I’ll get some more photos of last year’s harvests posted eventually.)  The plans for this year include adding more space in a 4×16 foot bed and some assorted “hills” for some plants that will need more room to spread out.  This year, I’m ordering all heirloom varieties, so I can try to save seed from the plants that do the best in my climate.  Some plants are biennials, so I’ll need to over-winter some and see if they survive to produce seed in their second year.  I ordered my first round of seeds on March 2, so I could get some plants started indoors, and I ordered the rest of my seeds on March 14, after making some final decisions. This year, I’m trying the Jiffy “greenhouses” with the peat pellets, and if they do well, I’ll make my own starter pots next year with more sustainable coir.

From Seed Savers Exchange, I ordered:

  • Blacktail Mountain Watermelon (developed in northern Idaho, where the overnight temperatures are similar to our cool nights)
  • Cheyenne Bush Pumpkin (developed in SE Wyoming)
  • Italian Heirloom Tomato (a red slicing tomato)
  • Opalka Tomato (a red paste tomato)
  • Mexico Midget Tomato (red cherry tomato)
  • Beam’s Yellow Pear Tomato (cherry-sized)
  • Zebrune Shallot
  • Blue Jade Corn (a dwarf sweet corn – I ordered two packets, since this only comes with 25 seeds per packet)
  • Dragon Carrot (bright red skin, I couldn’t resist)
  • Paris Market Carrot (a really thick carrot that I’m thinking will be an excellent roaster)
  • Bountiful Snap Bean (long straight green beans)
  • Sultan’s Golden Crescent Bean (a rare yellow curved bean)
  • Titan Sunflowers (these have a short growing season but grow to enormous size, up to two feet across in ideal climate)
  • Lemon Mint (to feed the bees)
  • Triple Curled Parsley
  • Prize Choy (a dwarf bok choy)
  • Bunte Forellenschluss (a butterhead version of the Forellenschluss I selected last year by virtue of it having freckles)

From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, I ordered:

  • Dwarf Siberian Kale
  • Yellow of Parma Onion
  • Charentais Melon (a true cantaloupe)
  • Anaheim Chile Pepper
  • Pasilla Bajio Chile Pepper
  • Miyashage Daikon (a Japanese radish that Mr. Teaspoon requested)
  • Henderson’s Bush Lima Bean
  • Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
  • Black Beauty Zucchini
  • Lolla Rossa Lettuce (red leaf)
  • Genovese Basil (traditional Italian basil)
  • Lime Basil (basil with a citrus note)
  • Common Chives
  • Bouquet Dill
  • Dwarf Jewel Mix Nasturtiums (smaller than the aggressively vining varieties, these edible flowers will also feed bees)
  • Half Long Guernsey Parnsip (my true long shot for the season, as parsnips usually require a long season)
  • Early Scarlet Globe Radish
  • French Breakfast Radish
  • Arugula (or “rocket” for my British pals, a mildly bitter green that is excellent in salads when young and can be used like spinach in cooking when older)
  • Mizuna (a Japanese green similar to mustard greens)
  • Cilantro
  • Lovage (somewhat like celery, if it just grew leaves instead of long stalks, used similarly)
  • Early White Vienna Kohlrabi (a cabbage relative grown for its bulbous stem)
  • Rossa di Treviso Radicchio (also by Mr. Teaspoon’s specific request)
  • Purple Top White Globe Turnips (they did so well last year)
  • Iceberg Lettuce (for crunch in the salads)

I planted my onion seeds indoors on March 12, and today, I had sprouts!

Onion sprouts in peat pellet starter medium.

These eager onions sprouted in only three and a half days.