Category Archives: Seed Starting

Seed Starting

Last year, I noticed that my seed starting trays – an ABS system from Gardener’s Supply Co – were getting a little Continue reading

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Salsa and All Things Tomato

Last summer was the first in three that I had any success with growing tomatoes – so much so that I DID win (at least, I am claiming victory) Continue reading

Seed Catalogs

IMG00190-20100808-2051                                                                  Time to start seed shopping – I finished going through and tossing old seeds. I think it is save to get rid any packed for sowing prior to 2010. Just saying… Continue reading

Tomato Sacrifices

I’ve been meaning to write about this for about 10 days, but soccer and football and ‘back to school’ took over.

As you know, I always get a late start to my garden because of wet springs – typical here; too large a yard and a need Continue reading

Aside

With water already boiling on the stove, I picked the first four ears of our much anticipated Silver Queen Corn. It’s officially the only kind we grow due to not wanting to risk cross-pollination. To assure good pollination, you need … Continue reading

Weeds

Didn’t make it out to the garden this evening due to thunderstorms late afternoon and a work appointment at 6pm. Thought I would get there but didn’t eat until 8:40 so daylight ran out.

I’ve sworn to myself that I would keep ahead of the weeding this year. It is usually the hopelessness of ever catching up with them that leads to my letting the garden fail. So, I worked hard to get most of my beds mulched with grass clippings with the exception of the melons/squashes and pumpkins – which I should be able to do tomorrow evening after the boys cut the lawn. Now that the corn is up, I can finish mulching around the seedlings and not just between the rows, as it is now covered. That leaves the areas where I planted seeds directly that I am still waiting on:  sunflowers, herb triangles, and the cutting flowers bed.

It is the flower bed that I am most concerned about and where I have been spending my time. Wanting a totally loose, cottagy feeling, I made a flower ‘mesclun’ blend of two cosmos, cleome, bells of Ireland, cornflowers and a zinnia that did little for me a couple of years ago but I still had the packet of leftover seeds, so I tossed them in. Really wished I had ordered some nicotiana to add to the mix.  I then scattered the whole lot over the 4′ x 10′ bed.

(If this works as I hope, I will plan better for next year – more varieties and more of seeds of each… See, the invasive gene again seeping into my planning –  I can’t help myself!)

Of course, the watering needed to germinate the new seeds worked its magic on the dormant weed seeds first. Not knowing what all the good seedlings would look like (cosmos and bells of Ireland are fairly distinctive if you have grown them before), I set out to pull only known weeds – there are three that I see every year but I really don’t know what they are. I don’t typically spend a lot of time learning what they are unless really provoked, like with wintercress – long story.

After tonight’s rain and a day of no weeding, I will really need to be committed tomorrow evening!

As to the sunflowers and herbs, I have resolved to do the following if things head south:

  • Purchase a few herbs from final sales and then mulch if no seeds come up
  • Solarize the sunflowers bed if nothing germinates (details to follow, if I have to go that route).

What A Difference A Week Makes

I didn’t want to admit it, but before I had that moment of clarity that explained my reluctance to face Big Garden, I didn’t think I would ever see it like this again.

Big Garden 0607014I probably should have taken a ‘before’ to fully explain the difference. Maybe I should interview my new neighbors who moved in last fall when it was at its worst and see IF they ever thought it would look this tidy?!

 

Surely not, if even I lacked faith!

Last weekend, I was still battling with the clean up after tilling and reforming the beds and the paths plus the weeds. After Saturday, everything is in but the marigold seedlings.

What you see in the foreground are the chives bordering the left side – the marigolds go in between. The first dirt beds are arugula on the right and heat wave mesclun on the left with okra to their left followed by the asparagus bed that has ended for the season. Behind them are  the tomatoes and just beyond on the right are the new blackberries with the triangular herbs surrounding the chives/alium diamond. (Still need to convince MacGuyver to make that tutuer I found on Pinterest to replace the defunct bird path.)

Back of BG 060714This behind the scene shot shows the backside of Big Garden where the sprawling crops grow. Stage right is the pumpkin patch; its’ 10′ x 12′ bed (I am adjusting measurements as I realize I have under-estimated in some cases) probably isn’t really big enough for the 5 varieties I have sown, but we will make it work. We typically get a nice number of pumpkins – not enough to sell, but more that we would ever buy and we have a fun Halloween display.

To the left is where the corn – always Silver Queen – was sown last night. We had a three-man team working this and it was the most pleasant experience to date. Usually, it is back-breaking! Significant Other (he is only really interested in the Better Boys and the Silver Queens) put in sticks at each end at 2′ intervals and then laid a tape measure between so that Thing Two could use the dibber to make holes every 6 inches. ‘SO’/MacGuyver  dropped a seed and then I, suddenly and unceremoniously  referred to as ‘Dirt Woman’ (really, no reference to my Kindle book list, I swear!) plopped loose dirt over each hole. We got 232 seeds sown in no time.

And just to the left of that bed are the squashes and melons:  acorn and spaghetti squash, zucchini, and cantaloupe and a yellow watermelon.

The two back edges that are not the corn bed will be bordered with REALLY tall sunflowers – 12-18 feet. When and where did I purchase those seeds? Insane!

What you can’t see if the left half of the front beds. More to come…

Planting Big Garden – What’s Left

It’s been an eventful week including storms that prevented sowing the seeds after the tomato and pepper plants were successfully planted last weekend.

Two days ago, I did sow Arugula and a Heat Wave blend of lettuces. After watering the soil, I scattered the seeds and then dusted with a fine layer of loose dirt and watered again. I was hoping the damp soil would ‘glue’ them in place and the loose dirt was recommended on the packages.

Still, with the heavy rains yesterday, I am concerned that the little seeds are now in the pathways instead of their newly minted raised beds.  Will be watching.

And, yes, I know lettuces are better as a cool crop, but you already know my sad song about not getting to plant earlier. I am trying to promise myself to plant a late crop and should really go order the seeds now to force myself to really do it. Note to self…

Tonight I planted what I hope will become 7 okra plants and that I can keep the deer away. When left alone, okra grows really well in my zone 6 garden but I find I need several plants to have enough 3″ pods to really use for one meal. They tend to grow quickly and if they get much longer than that, they get tough and stringy, and dry. Which, if you are familiar with their usual goey-ness, is probably surprising. My kids love them since I introduced them as ‘stars’ when they were little.

Let me assure you that if you let little kids help grow them, they won’t have any preconceived notions of what is good or bad. I could get you to eat Brussels’ sprouts too, if I started when you were two.

And while I do agree that asparagus from the store may be more inclined to a mature palate, if you grow your own and pick them while pencil thin, they are so sweet they don’t even need to be cooked. In fact, they are a nice addition to a tossed salad.

Random musings aside, this is what goes in tomorrow night:

  1. 10′ x 10′ bed of Silver Queen corn – the ONLY kind we ever grow
  2. 10′ x 10′ bed of 4-6 varieties of pumpkin including  a variety that produced nearly competition sized pumpkins
  3. 10′ v 10′ bed of watermelon, cantaloupe, and zucchini

After that, I have two 4′ x 9′ beds, one to hold cutting flowers such as cornflower, bells of Ireland, cosmos, cleome,  larkspur, and another of various sunflowers.

Finally, I have to do the triangular herb beds:  one has a borage volunteer already in place. The others will likely get basil, dill, cilantro and any plants I get cheap.

I still have to figure out the addition of blackberries but that is for another story.

Finally, I have about 40 marigolds to go in in between the chives borders – anything to beat back the deer and the nematodes…

 

Making Raised Beds

My significant other doesn’t help with Big Garden much but he can be counted on to do the tilling and today, he got up and went to his father’s to borrow their tiller. By the time I got up after sleeping in (he forgot to bring me my coffee – to my bed – something I trained him to do years ago), the beds were all tilled but the dead weeds in the pathways still need much work.

Since I was functioning without caffeine, I didn’t immediately notice that one of my Better Boy tomatoes had disappeared and found itself planted in a white 5 gallon bucked inside the pool fence! Can I call it or what?! This is what being with someone for 25 years does…

Now it was up to me to pull all the loosened dirt into the squares, rectangles, triangles, and diamonds that make up the layout of the garden.

Tilling 053114

I am realizing from this picture that I need to pull compost gold out and add to the beds as the piles of dirt are dwindling. (Since I wasn’t there for the tilling, I didn’t get to direct how deep and wide to go, but compost is always a good addition!)

While I work on that, Donny says he will weed whip the dried up weeds into non-existence in the pathways.

Hopefully, we will get the tomatoes and peppers in tomorrow as well as cut back the rest of the chives – working on that theory that their smell will deter deer. I did spray the borders with Liquid Fence and found a shaker can of Deer Away to try too.

I got an email from Burpee that my seeds shipped Friday, so it will be evenings this week when I get the corn in.

Still and all, we are a little ahead of most years. If I get everything planted, next weekend is all about tearing apart that perennial border.

Big Garden: Relearning Old Lessons

So, I’ve admitted to being a garden slacker. I’m intending to mend my ways but I got another reminder of why the old ways don’t work.

In the good old days, when gardening was new and I was learning, I poured over every catalog that came my way. It took me a while to get over being ready to order every “garden kit” that showed beautiful cartoon-like drawings of what my garden could look like.

In fact, I almost fell for a few before I kept reading and learning and soon, thankfully, realized that the plants shown would never bloom at the same time and so, therefore, my garden would never look like the proposed selection.

That was a particularly hard lesson to learn. But, I got past it and while it meant I needed to learn a lot more about colors, heights, and blooming times not to mention, sun requirements, I was learning.

Until I got frustrated and shut down. I realize that now.

SO, going forward, I will NOT just pick up a plant that looks interesting. I will actually PLAN what goes into a Perennial Border, just as I have always done with the Vegetable Section.

But, here is the lesson from today: I wanted to order some seeds for direct sowing and waited too long – most were out of stock.

Lack of inspiration led to procrastination and now disappointment.