March 20, 2012
I’ve opened up another section of the garden, about increasing it 30%. This section is going to be planted entirely into wheat straw. Yes! Straw Bale Gardening!! I picked up 27 bales of straw at $2.00 a bale from a local farmer. That really beats buying enough dirt to cover the same area! I’ve scrounged enough chicken poo from the coop to cover 4 bales, which should put them well on the way to decomposition. Actually, by the time the first of June arrives, they should be well on the way to decomposition. According to one website, if you put them out 10 days ahead of planting into them, you need either chicken poo or aluminum sulfate to urge the process. But I’m a good 2 months early, so they should be ready to go by the first of June, which is our last frost day. I’ll need to line up a soaker hose on each bale to make sure they stay plenty damp. I’ll keep you posted on progress!
As for getting ready for spring, aside from the 100 broccoli starts, more Chinese greens are growing, green peppers, celery, 4 varieties of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, endive and parsley. I started sugar peas last December and put them out a week ago. The vines were all about a foot long. They survived one freezing night and seem to be climbing right up the nylon grid.
As for the rest of the garden, I’m going to pick up some “almost compost” from a farm nearby in the morning. I’ll cover the rest of the raised beds with that which should prepare the beds for June, too. In the mean time, I need to repair the fences to keep the chickens out and reinstall all of the watering systems.
March 22, 2012
I picked up about two yards of “almost compost” from a local farmer yesterday! It is really steaming horse poo mixed with straw. I thought I’d be able to put it fairly deep in my raised beds, but it seems I need to let it process a bit longer. I’ll wait until fall and spread it over my raised beds in preparation for next year.
The master gardener at the Marion County OSU Extension Service also noted that you don’t want to disturb the soil deeper than, really, just a scratch to plant seeds. It destroys the structure of the soil, killing many beneficial microbes. The advice: layer your compost on top in the early fall, after your harvest, grow a crop of buckwheat which will die with the first frost. What’s left of that will protect your bed. In the spring, remove the buckwheat remains and get ready to plant!
March 24, 2012
We become aware today that harvesting over wintered parsnips, in the bright sun, can cause some pretty severe blistering to your hands. This site has more details: http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/
April 4, 2012
I had a pretty productive weekend. I repotted from flats into quart pots 5 kinds of cabbage. They should be harvestable from mid June through the winter. I potted about 20 plants of each type. I also potted from flats Brussels sprouts and Carnation seedlings. I also put into a raised bed 20 or so broccoli plants that I’d germinated last December. They vary from 3 inches to 10 inches high, but they’re all really floppy. I put some agri-cloth over them, as well as over the newly sown carrots. The carrots also vary from 70 day to 220 days maturity.
It seems that I’d read somewhere that you shouldn’t germinate the spring crops so early as it may diminish the productivity of the plant. I guess I’ll see. On the other hand, I’d read that you can actually sow some seeds the previous fall with them coming up when the weather warms enough. I germinated these seeds inside but once germinated they grew in my cold greenhouse. We never received a real cold snap this year so everything did fairly well in there! I should have germinated the greens during August or early September, though.
I have one actual raised bed in the greenhouse in which I planted sweet potatoes last year. In the fall, after the sweet potato harvest, I planted some onions and carrots. It seems that they’re finally starting to grow. I’m thinking that had I sown the seed earlier, I might have had some actual winter or early spring carrots and onions. I’ll try this again next fall sowing earlier and try to increase the heat into the greenhouse by routing the dryer exhaust into it.
The bales of straw are slowly decomposing. I threw some new dropped chicken poo on a couple of bales; on a few others, new collected steaming “almost compost” horse droppings and yet on a few others, aluminum sulfate or sulfite and yes, on another, constant annointings of whey left over from making yogurt!
April 9, 2012
I finished moving all of the broccoli from the greenhouse into the one raised bed. The first ones I transplanted a week or so ago are standing up now. That’s a good sign! I noticed a snail in the bed and it looked like some insects were munching on the leaves, I sprayed the plants down with Organicide, a fish based insecticide, then surrounded the bed with the pelleted snail bait.
I transplanted from a flat 10 cauliflower seedlings and a bunch of flowers into pots. I also transplanted 20 turnip seedlings into the carrot bed…along the edge. We’ll see how they do. I’ve been keeping the entire bed fairly damp, since it quit raining a couple of days ago.
I spent some time cleaning out the greenhouse today. I’m going to put a layer of cedar hog fuel over the gravel floor. It should hold down any insects. I’m planning to use the hog fuel to surround the greenhouse and as a mulch this year.
April 21, 2012
Since my last update, we’ve planted a new olive tree in the middle of the backyard. We’re looking forward to getting some olives off of it.
All of the transplanted broccoli looks good. The carrots are starting to germinate! In the greenhouse, all cabbages, tomato and squash seedlings are growing quickly. I’m looking forward to getting those into the ground. I guess I shouldn’t be too anxious for June 1st! I have yet to set up the watering system. My plan is to use soaker hoses on the straw bales and in the raised tomato bed. The rest will be small sprayers. – More updates later!