Monday, March 26, 2012

March 25, 2012

There have already been several busy gardening weekends this year, but this weekend gave us a short break between Spring and Summer planting.  We're just waiting for our plants to grow up. The Spring garden of spinach, lettuce, peas, and raddishes is just a few weeks away from harvest.  Meanwhile, the Summer garden, which is normally indoors under lights this time of year, has really enjoyed its early start outside under the warmth of sunshine and gentle mist of rain.  Tomato seedlings are setting out their first true leaves and could be transplanted any time now.  After nearly a month without frost, there seems to be little danger of another killing freeze, but it won't hurt the plants to wait until April. 

Red clover flower.
We transplanted broccoli out to the garden last weekend, and it has taken off, filling up the milk jug covers with noticeable vigor.  Larger transplants (the kind that often come from garden centers) tend to be root-bound and take a week or two after transplanting to begin new growth.  Experience shows smaller plants are best for transplanting without shock.

50 strawberry plants beginning growth.
It's time to plow under our green manure cover crop of red clover in anticipation of sweet corn planting next month.  But the weekend tended to be rainy, so we're waiting for a dry day this week.  We are harvesting swiss chard and beet greens from the garden along with some random carrots that got left after adding our winter crop to stew.

Perennial culinary herbs are at their best now - parsley, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, chives, and thyme.  The 50 strawberry plants that we set out last week have already sprouted and are loving this weather.  Finally, tulips that we planted around the mail box last October are making a show.

Mailbox tulips planted last October.

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19, 2012

Swiss Chard planted last September gives us
greens while we wait for spinach.
Spring has come and is on the way out before the calendar says it arrived at all.  Everything is happening a week ahead of last year, and last year was two weeks ahead of normal schedule.  Peach and cherry trees are finished blooming, and apple trees are budding out.  There was no time to waste during our 80-degree weekend since everything seems to be on an accelerated schedule.    It left us feeling truly breathless. 

Broccoli under milk jug covers.
Tomatoes, dill, and basil are sprouting indoors while this list of chores were accomplished:
1.  Planted 50 ft. of sprouted pea seeds.
2.  Planted 50 strawberry plants.
3.  Transplanted 8 broccoli plants into the garden.
4.  Transplanted bell peppers to larger cups.
5.  Pulled all brussels sprouts plants; cleaned, blanched, and froze 6 quarts.
Brussels sprouts on several stems.

We've managed to tune the lawnmower since the lawn needed an early cut, and the tiller is next.  Red clover is reaching skyward about an inch a day, and it's just about the height it was last year when we tilled it under.  Last year we used "red" clover (named red because that's the color of its blossoms, but we don't let it go to seed) as a green manure or cover crop because it fixes nitrogen in the soil.  After incorporating it into terrible subdivision soil, we had the best corn crop we've ever seen!
Peach blossoms on the way out one week ahead of last year.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012

The first peach blossom.
March is here, and it's beginning to look like it.  Mounds of green clover up to 10 inches high are covering our future corn patch.  Grass is turning green again, thanks to abundant Spring rains, and trees are in bloom everywhere.  After wheelbarrowing mulch to the far ends of the property during a church work day, we came home to plant:

Onion and carrot plantings
next to garlic
6 ft. of raddishes
18 ft. of 'Salad Bowl' lettuce
6 ft. of 'Romain' lettuce
25 ft. carrots
25 ft. yellow onions

Bush cherries two years old.

We also re-planted spinach seed where there are bare spots and mowed part of the lawn.  A second batch of peas is rolled up in moist paper towels on top of the refrigerator to sprout and be planted before St. Patrick's Day.  This is a busy weekend for the garden, since it's also time to sow seeds of tomatoes and dill indoors.  Broccoli will be transplanted out into the garden by next weekend, so it's time to start hardening off our seedlings by acclimating them to sunlight and wind after being pampered under fluorescent lights on a heat mat indoors.

Bees are loving our bush cherries, and the first peach blossoms have opened.  We finished a very busy day by watering our blueberries with an acid-loving fertilizer and by misting all the newly-planted seed.  Thanks to all this work on a sunny day, we can humbly show off our red necks!

The vegetable garden in March showing garlic left; clover center;
and peas, spinach, lettuce, and brussels sprouts right.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, 2012

Cherry flowers.
Do the trees know something we don't?  Or are they just rashly blooming by the end of February to die in the next freeze?  Early stone fruit trees (plum and cherry of the genus Prunus) are breaking out into bloom all around our area, as well as the useless Bradford Pear, and peach trees aren't far behind.  Temperatures in the mid-to-upper 70's on the first of March felt wonderful, and the landscape is visibly waking up from dormancy.

Maple flowers.
So what happens if March comes in like a lamb?  Will it go out like a lion?  This folklore saying has its origin in people who (before the Weather Channel) needed foreknowledge of the weather for planting, and who believed everything in nature was created with the principle of balance.  From my observation, this saying is about 50/50 accurate, just like the groundhog who on February 2nd predicted six more weeks of winter.  Oops!  It's going to be a tough call on March with its already rapid changes from balmy to severe weather.

The Almanac doesn't seem to call for any late freezes this Spring - but it's sometimes vague in its forecast and hard to interpret on purpose.  So outdoor planting will go on, with carrots, onions, lettuces, and even some early snow peas by this coming weekend.  Once again we are starting the peas indoors wrapped up in a damp paper towel on top of the refrigerator until they germinate, inoculating them with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, then carefully setting sprouted seeds in prepared soil outside.  We've moved the pea fence to their new growing location, next to the spinach.
Seedlings under grow lights.

We've also started parsley seed indoors on the heating mat and will be planting other herbs soon, along with tomatoes and other warm-weather crops in a couple weeks.

About Me

My photo
Dedicated to the responsible production and preservation of healthy home-grown food to the glory of God. Isaiah 55:10 The rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. Organic, or not? We try to raise vegetables organically, using compost and manure. The addition of chickens to our hobby farm means plenty of organic nitrogen to compost! This site gives credible reference to planting information contained in the Farmer's Almanac (