Strawberries from the Garden

Strawberries from the Garden

Feb 18, 2013

Companion Planting Vegetables for Increased Crop Yield | Eartheasy Blog

Companion Planting Vegetables for Increased Crop Yield | Eartheasy Blog

Great post to check out!

Planning the Layout for the 2013 Garden

Today, I was able to sit down and plan how I would rotate the beds in my garden. My garden is set up in "Neighborhoods" so to speak and within each neighborhood there are plants that benefit one another. Think back to stories of the Native Americans planting the "Three Sisters", corn, beans, and squash, and you have the right idea. This is also known as companion gardening. For the most comprehensive book I have found on this type of gardening, check out "Great Garden Companions; A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden" by Sally Jean Cunningham.

In order to keep track of my rotations and plantings each year, I keep a garden notebook with all of my notes and observations. At this point in my planning, I have the following planned; 3 Tomato Neighborhoods, 3 Bean/ Squash Neighborhoods, 2 Roots/Greens Neighborhoods, 2 Blueberry Neighborhoods, 1 Strawberry Neighborhood, 2 Cabbage Neighborhoods, 1 Asparagus Bed, 1 long fence line of red raspberries, a 3ft row of Blackberries, and 1 Herb bed. The far right corner of the garden is anchored with a corner perennial bed to help attract beneficial insects. Flowers and herbs are interplanted throughout the garden for that same purpose. Not only does this approach cut down on harmful insects, it makes for an attractive garden.

Feb 10, 2013

Seedlings as of February 10, 2013

Today, I started thinning my seedlings and transplanting the ones that were large enough to move. I find it is a very tedious process as you carefully separate some of the seedlings from one another. But this is a process that is absolutely necessary.

For optimum growth and development the seedlings cannot be fighting for space and nutrients. Did I accidentally damage a few, yes, but nothing to be upset about. Some people just cut off the seedlings to thin so they do not disturb the roots. I prefer to carefully work the seedlings and roots from the soil and transplant as many as possible. I loose a few, but not many.

 The tomatoes and peppers are actually doing really well right now. Who knows how large these plants will be when it's time to harden them off for the garden!

I am disappointed with my broccoli and cauliflower seedlings. They appear to have gotten too warm and dry. I will need to start seed for them again.

From time to time you will have seeds that don't do well and need to be resown, but it's not very often. I usually start my seeds so early, there's still time to plant again.

I will also need to start some of my other seeds soon as well. Everything is moving in the right direction!

Feb 9, 2013

Check out a great site for gardening advice

Varieties You Select
A great site to check out for all of your gardening basics is a site put together by the University of Maryland's College of Agriculture & Natural Resources. The site is called Grow It! Eat It! Here is the link:
Grow It! Eat It!

Their current post discusses the many benefits of starting your own seeds indoors and even gives you easy directions to follow to make your own PVC light stand that can be used.

Also on the site, you may find the Vegetable Planting Calendar useful. I have included a link here;
Vegetable Planting Calendar for Central Maryland

I hope to work on transplanting seedlings tomorrow, I'll post my progress then.

Control Over Growing Conditions
It takes some extra time, planning, and an investment in the beginning, but ultimately, I can't imagine not starting all of my plants from seed anymore. It's so wonderful selecting all of your favorite varieties and then nurturing them from seed to table. Plus, it means I can dig in the dirt a little in February!
More Varieties Available in Seeds

Feb 3, 2013

Garden Plants are Starting to Emerge

 Today, when I checked my seedlings, I saw that some of them are actually starting to develop the second leaves. (The leaf shapes we are more familiar with when looking at plants.) When seedlings first emerge, they all look pretty similar. It's not until they begin to set the second leaf that they begin to look like something distinct.

There are some differences even in the first sets. Plants such as peppers, eggplant, and tomato, often have more long, narrow leaves.

Plants such as broccoli, cabbage, and herbs such as basil (pictured on the left) all begin with a leaf that is more round and short.

Most of the seeds were started in cell inserts and they will be transplanted into peat pots when they start to set the second leaf. This is a tedious process, but if done carefully, you can plant almost all of the seedlings.

I usually have enough plants for me and enough of each variety to share. I always plant more than I think I will need in case something happens along the way. Sometimes they make it all the way to the hardening off process and then I lose them. But usually, I have a pretty good success rate.

Based on how the seedlings are coming along, I will be able to begin transplanting in a few days, a week at the most.

Feb 1, 2013

Creating Garden Tags

I think I've found another way for my artistic side to become a functional part of my garden. I have experimented with all kinds of markers from wood and plastic, to aluminum and copper. The artist in me is not content unless my garden has wonderful form and beauty as well as function. So, today I decided to experiment with making ceramic markers.

I roll the clay across a stamp pattern I sometimes use in my jewelry designs, cut out an oval shape, and then use a small square cutter to cut a hole for hanging. Before the clay becomes too dry, I carefully create a smooth area across the middle of the disc that can be used for writing the names of the garden seeds/plants.

Once the clay discs are completely dry, I use pan underglazes to create a watercolor effect in green and then I use a dark glaze color to write the names. I'm not sure if these ceramic markers will be what I've been looking for, but I'm going to give them a try in this year's garden and see how they work. I'll keep you posted on my progress.