Saturday, April 30, 2011

Moving lettuce on

Some of the lettuce have found their way to garden beds. The others seem unwilling to make the walk. Eleven will now live out their days in gallon pots within the greenhouse. I've found that a gallon pot will produce a pretty good growth of lettuce. It won't get as full as it could be outside, but it will be edible much sooner. I expect that we will be eating our first salads of the season next week. I am very much looking forward to it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Raccoons visit, asparagus feels wanted.

Gracie came in last night with sprigs of the hops ensnared by her fur. That's 20' further than she is supposed to go into the back yard. This morning's investigation revealed a not-so dog sized hole where she was trying to squeeze behind the greenhouse, tunneling through the hop. A smattering of other devastation is here and there as the onions and lettuce took it in their respective shorts.

I am pretty sure there was a raccoon or two back there. I've seen them prowling recently. They don't do much harm to the garden, though I noticed that many of the asparagus are now mowed down. It looks like that dinner will have to wait a few more days.

Plants march on, weathering stormy skies and pawing critters. It is a good lesson for me, that I continue to work on. Pristinely laid out grids of lettuce rarely stay so, yet there is enough lettuce. The asparagus, however, is a more limited resource. Please, sir raccoon, leave the rest for us.

On a starting note, a bunch more seeds went in: cucumber, winter squashes and pumpkin. I also moved along another 32 lettuce that have reached a good stage (1/2" height).
I must move a bunch of lettuce into gallon pots so they may live out their lives in the greenhouse. We'll have salad this weekend, almost for sure.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Greenhouse does indeed work

There are gobs of thing to learn about the proper use of a greenhouse, but even the few steps I've made are working out. Everything continues to put on noticeable growth daily, even on sunless days like yesterday. A day of full sun makes everything pop, provided they aren't burned up prior to that. A few flats of squash and cucumber will get their start today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tomato inventory

I thought that I had put in enough tomato seed. But just like last year, I feel that we could do with a lot more, maybe double.

We stand at 98 healthy plants now:
23 Plumb Dandy
13 San Marzano
18 Cherry Buzz
6 Amish Salad
12 Peacevine
3 Striped Roman
16 Black Cherry
7 Orange Oxheart (Heirloom, yellow/orange)

I also have a smattering of plants that suffered, but didn't succumb to the great die-off of soggy roots and damping off. There maybe a dozen in this category, but they are stunted, shocked by their ordeal and will lag behind forever, not producing to their potential. Given that, I may try to find some room for them. Shari wants to dry a bunch of tomatoes this year. It sounds like a great idea and for that we just need quantities of specimens to play with.

We'll take 10 of the Plumb for canning purposes, 3 San Marzano for backup, an Amish because it is my favorite salad tomato, and a couple cherry for miscellaneous eating and drying. That puts us in the 70s someplace with the Shari's mommas group and a plant sale at the Tacoma Nature Center to supply.
I'd be happier with twice the remainder. It is far too late to start any new. We did lose 20-30 starts this year after potting them into their 4" homes. I should have counted the losses better, more evidence for documentation.

Lessons learned are to plan for partial failures and to think about the ultimate audience more completely.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Another beautiful day on tap

Today promises to provide temperatures in the mid 60s. It should be a perfect day to get outside and adjust the garden. Things to do:

  • Breakdown and spread the compost pile
  • Plant out some onions - Talon storage.
  • Plant out green onions - Guardsman
  • Plant out more lettuce
  • Build the enclosure in the front beds for the saucing tomato
  • Start squash / cucumbers
Tentative plan after today

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The first lettuce got moved into a bed this afternoon. These were started in 3/4" blocks, around 3/24, then moved to 2" blocks on 4/2. They healthy and vigorous. Sunny days especially spur them on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Full moon setting, lettuce rising

It is morning, another cold one. The temp reads 34, the radio says 38 at the narrows. Either way, it is cold. The tomatoes and peppers are one freeze away from making me very sad. The heater is on in the greenhouse, again, as it has been most every night in the last week. Yesterday was very nice, there was a noticeable expansion of the tomato canopy.

Inside, the bare seed lettuce experiment continues. Most all lettuce have germinated, there little initial root snaking out of the seed, seeking to embed itself in it's soil. It fascinates me. A few of the initial leaves have opened.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beautiful day!

I don't think this was predicted, but it sure was nice to get a break from our gloomy, dripping skies.

The peas (Snap Peas I suspect) are doing great. I moves the plastic up off the hoops today and onto a string. I'll take it off when they reach it.

The beans are bursting, waking from their somewhat long hibernation. They are not covered, but seem to be doing just fine.

The Tomato, peppers and lettuce are growing well now. The tomato are well past their die off. I think we lost about 20. Trying to save a few, I repotted them in new, less soggy, soil, up to the first true leaves. This seemed to work for many of them, though they are noticeably lagging and a little sickly.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Basil, tomatillos, lettuce

Basil - 12
Tomatillo - 8
Italienscher - 12
Valmaine - 8
Flashy Trout's Back - 8
Grandpa's - 12

I am going to be strong this time. I will not cover these seeds. They are supposed to germinate and be just fine. This is what Eliot Coleman tells me. I started our first batch of lettuce in these, transplanted them to 2" blocks. Those are progressing very nicely. All will be fine.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Old and too new to see

Shari has about gone through the remainder of the collards. There are Toscana kale in front, looking very good and putting on a good deal of new growth. Behind are new rows of various kale and collards. They are beginning to emerge.

On a more satisfying and unsurprising note, the broccoli that I left in the greenhouse have died, those that I moved out into a bed are alive (good color but not growing in this weather), and the collards that I started in the house are doing great. In addition to that, the flat of brassica that I started in the house are starting to emerge. I expect them to also do great.

Mulching the blueberry

Luke wanted to make use if some of the Fir shavings that we have. The blueberry in back is the recipient.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kale, Collards, Corn

We planted the first of the new front beds. Shari loves the collards and kale, so that's what went in. It may be the last of them until the fall, unless she asks for more. I suppose it really just is a quality question. Will summertime collards be worth it?

Also, the corn (3 rows, 30' total) went in under plastic in the parking patch. The plastic is too thin, 2mil at least next time. It needs more securing, also. I fear that the block of corn isn't big enough for good germination. Last year there were four rows and full ears.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Yet Another Flat Of Broccoli. This one will be inside the house. I abandoned a flat of broccoli in favor of this. That flat didn't germinate at all, which sounds wrong. I can't believe that they were all failures, but for some reason I talked myself into it. I suspect that I did something else to delay germination. Those were on a heat mat.

Inside vs. Out

There isn't much of a competition between starting inside vs. starting/growing on in the greenhouse. The tomatoes in the greenhouse, that didn't die off, are putting on new growth. This single San Marzano in the house is hitting it's stride and has put on a lot of growth.

March of the Eggplants

Eggplant, Millionaire, are emerging. It may be a bit late, but they are the least tollerant of The tomato clan. I'm back to Millionaire. It produced very well two years ago.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Peppers happy to be moved on

The peppers were reportedly heard cheering for having left the hell of the seedling tray. We'll see what they are saying tomorrow after they realize that they left some of their roots behind. Unlike their tomato cousins, a muddy bog wasn't created in their pots after transplanting.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Garden Plot, April 4Garden

April ~1, 2011

Main garden plot, as of a few days ago. The greenhouse has tomato, onion, sunflower and brassica starts currently. There are peas in the parking patch (2 rows of 10', one Alderman, one Super Sugar Snap). There is nothing in the new front yard boxes. The strawberries are definitely showing new growth, must weed that bed this weekend.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Will the broccoli survive this year?

Luke and I planted out some of the brassica blocks the other day. It is an experiment. They don't have any true leaves, but if I weren't to do anything different from last year, they'd all die anyhow. Last year, I couldn't get any broccoli to starts to survive in the greenhouse. I look for answers, but I haven't found a resource that calls out anything special when it comes to broccoli. My theory now is that the wide swings of heat are just not what they want. They like the cool and that's what we are giving them by planting them out, especially in this perpetual drizzle and gloom of a northwest Spring of ours. There are some left within the greenhouse and there are a batch of Collards in the house. All of them are still stuck at the pre-true leaf stage. Their cotyledons, the leaves that from from the embryo, are big and healthy looking. I stare at them daily, looking for signs of new growth. I expect them to die, but also expect that one of these variants will live.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Complete Organic Fertilizer

Luke and I mixed up this year's batch of fertilizer. We always do it in the garage, supplies from Gardensphere, recipe via Steve Solomon.

Not as good as it looks

The tomatoes are not freezing, not being pelted by the wind, but they are damping-off. During the potting up, I watered them in heavily, some more so than usual perhaps as they were in some immediate shock. Following then have been nothing but dreary days, no sun. Together this has combined to form a nice breeding medium for the fungus and what-not that damps things off. Some flats are better than others. I think this corresponds to the quantities of water applied. Today we pulled a few out, finding overly saturated soil. Darn it. They were looking very good and I've had nothing but good fortune related to bringing tomatoes into the world.

Lettuce into 2" blocks

I used the 3/4" block inserts to make a few flats of blocks to hold the lettuce we started in the 3/4" soil blocks. They fit, but I'm not sure it us worth the effort to use the 3/4" blocks. Nearly everything germinates and grows, why not just make a 2" block to begin with. In any event, the lettuce starts look hood and I expect them to flourish in the greenhouse. Unlike the brassica, lettuce seem very tolerant of the heat swings the greenhouse presents.

Asparagus up!

Just when I thought the asparagus may have met some demise, it is starting to emerge. I spotted the first couple spears this afternoon. They look very nice, what I would expect for their third year of life.