Strawberries from the Garden

Strawberries from the Garden

Mar 30, 2011

Getting ready for the "Pea" Snow!

No, I'm not crazy! I'm just a little tired of being cold and I'm longing for visions of garden peas climbing upwards toward the sun! My father-inlaw and I have a running joke about the onion snow, and the broccoli snow, and the pea snow. . . Basically, each spring we are ready to get out into the garden and plant our peas. Each spring, we seem to have a series of 'snows' that impede our progress. So, we've resorted to naming them and convincing ourselves that they in some way actually help our garden.

The forecast says we can have 'possible flurries' right on through Saturday. What comes after the pea snow?

Mar 25, 2011

Snap Back!

It's true, planting this time of year is always a gamble. But it's a gamble I'm willing to make! We got a hard frost last night and I'm sure now all of my peas can be called 'frosty'! Time will tell if I need to replant. I always plant successive plantings anyway, so I should be fine. It's just sad to look out and see frozen ground and not so happy strawberry plants in the morning. Luckily, by afternoon, even though it's only about 45 degrees, the strawberries have snapped back and they look pretty good.

One year, I will get the timing just right on my peas. I guess I'd rather gamble and plant early, just in case! Regardless, in the next couple of weeks we should have peas starting to come up! I can't seem to find enough nice days to start hardening off my plants so I can set them out in the garden. At this rate, I may be harvesting bok choy in my kitchen!

Mar 22, 2011

It's Planting Time!

This weekend the weather was in the upper 50's so I put on a jacket and proceeded to prepare some of my beds and started planting! Thank goodness for my husband helping me! My left hand is slowing me down. I have what the doctor thinks is a scaphoid fracture in my left hand. Never fear, I split a glove, covered the hand and taped it closed so I could work the soil and plant with my right hand and not get my left hand dirty. Quite a sight I'm sure!

I planted two types of peas; the Early Frosty Pea and the Early Alaska Pea. Both varieties take about 55-60 days to mature so I plant them everywhere. By the time they're done, I'll be able to plant my warm-natured veggies such as tomatoes and eggplant in their place.

I also planted spinach, ruby queen beets, hollow crown parsnips, purple top white globe turnips, scarlet nantes carrots, shallots, and yellow onions.

Let the gardening begin! There's no turning back now!

Mar 17, 2011

When I think of St. Patrick's Day- I think of Peas!

So today is St. Patrick's Day and the weather is amazing! As soon as I got home I went out to the garden and started uncovering my raised beds. They have been nestled in fall leaves all winter and it is time to see what the dirt looks like. I love how great the soil is after being covered in leaves all winter! So, I uncovered the dirt, worked some of the more decomposed leaves into my soil with my garden fork and now I'll let the beds set for a day or two. I'll add some dirt, hummus, and compost and then let the pea planting begin. What a wonderful day! I can't wait to get started. As soon as I plant peas, there's no turning back. It's garden time!

Mar 15, 2011

The Tomatoes Are Coming!

I find the first sign of tomatoes to be very exciting! I planted all of my tomatoes on March 5th and all but two varieties have sprouted. My grape and coldset tomatoes are taking a little longer. I was excited to experiment with the Black Krim tomato this year, but when I planted my seeds I realized I somehow forgot to order them. So, on Sunday I picked up some at Valley View Farms in Cockeysville. They only had a pole variety. My tomatoes are always over 6 ft. anyway, having 'pole' as a descriptor only makes me laugh! This should be interesting! 

Mar 13, 2011

Keeping Seedlings Happy and Healthy

Some of the seeds that are started inside are started a good 6-8 weeks before they can go outside. The initial nutrients in your seed starting mix is starting to be depleted and needs feeding at about 4 weeks. Depending on how crazy my schedule is at the time, I usually fertilize my seedlings at 4-5 weeks.

My favorite fertilizer to use at all stages of growth is Neptune's Harvest Organic Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer. I use about 1 capful per gallon of water. When I water my seedlings, I carefully water each plant, careful not to get any on the plants. It doesn't seem to be a problem if you get a little on the leaves, I just prefer not to get any on the leaves. Normally I water from the bottom, but the fish emulsion and seaweed can stink and I prefer to avoid it. The odor seems to fade pretty quickly when watering each individual plant.

I also do my best to 'simulate rain' and spritz my seedlings with a spray bottle of plain water periodically. The goal is to keep the soil from drying out because the seedlings are very fragile. You do have to be careful not to water too much or you'll start to see signs of mold, not exactly what you want!

I try to make sure that I do not fertilize right before I set my seedlings out in the garden. I find it is better to wait until they have been transplanted and then fertilize to give them a little boost while they are establishing their roots in the garden.

Mar 8, 2011

Seed Starting Progress in Early March

This is such a crazy time for seed starting indoors. You're crossing your fingers as you watch your cole crop seedlings, hoping they'll start to get some girth to their stems and that their leaves will really start to look big enough to support anything worth harvesting. Meanwhile, one day the weather seems to be a balmy 50 and the next it seems to be hovering around 35 degrees. You can't imagine ever being able to set these fragile little seedlings out in the garden. But everyone knows a gardener, while realistic, is always full of hope.

I don't know if it is the gardener in me, the artist in me, or both. I love watching the stages of growth as the seedlings become plants, ready for the garden. With Nikon camera ready, I start taking shots of the seedlings! I love the play of light and shadow on their leaves and the occasional water drop on a seedling. So, I have a few close-ups of my seedlings to share. I hope you find them as interesting as I do!

Seed Starting for 3-5-2011

So I finally took the leap and started my seeds for my tomato neighborhood. (Seeds for peppers, herbs, and beneficial flowers such as marigolds were started on Sunday, February 20th.) I decided to just start my favorites this year and I will probably try a few new varieties this weekend.

The favorites that I started were as follows;
Coldset, yellow pear, Cherokee purple, San Marzano, and the  Riesentraube Grape.
The coldset is great because it can be harvested in about 55-60 days and it makes a nice, medium size, meaty tomato. This is a great tomato for canning whole. The Cherokee purple is great sliced and I found I like to dice it and cook it with basil and garlic and can it for making a quick pasta sauce. The San Marzano is a very good tomato for making salsa, tomato sauce, and canning.

In terms of eggplant, I planted the long purple variety and I am still looking for the Ichabon variety. I like the smaller eggplants. Oh, I almost forgot. I also started seeds for the Mexican Two Color Fiesta Tomatillos. These are great for salsa and for making a tomatillo and garlic sauce that can be frozen and used in chicken dishes.

Mar 2, 2011

Kitchen Gardens: Your Own Potager: Organic Gardening

Kitchen Gardens: Your Own Potager: Organic Gardening

This is a great article for anyone interested in having a kitchen garden! There's nothing like stepping out your back door and finding you're just a few feet away from fresh veggies and herbs! Love it!