Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Annual Garden Panic, Perennially

As usual for May, we are out in the garden trying to do ten things at once. I did get organized before the mad rush started, by doing something I've been meaning to do for the last 4 years. I printed out our bed-plans and put them in a binder in plastic page covers. Now we can wander around going, "Oh yeah! These sprouts must be that vegetable!" instead of having to run into the house, look it up on the computer, and say, "Which bed was that again?" I also found some old zippered pencil cases that look like they will be useful for taking out the seed packets to be planted.

Gets a bit complicated in spots... peppers in particular will be a lot easier to figure out. I hope.

Speaking of peppers, there they are. Currently residing in pots that get hauled in and out every day. We are very relieved when this stage is over, because it is awfully time consuming, and they have to be checked for water constantly. They dry out very fast in their little pots. They seem to be growing very slowly this year, for some reason. Tomatoes are doing well though.

Spinach is on its last legs. We left it under the hoop-houses too long and it got too hot, I think. Also the deer is continuing to get in occasionally and they got munched last night. We found a hole in the mesh covering one of our gates, so we think that's where he's getting in. Hopefully once it's patched these nocturnal visits will cease.

Still digging just a few more beds. These were plowed up last year and kept covered with plastic to keep the weeds down. Ultimately we expect to plant them with perennials like raspberries and strawberries, but this year it will be vegetables grown for seed saving purposes and watermelons. We are growing an excessive number of melons this year. The goal is to figure out which ones are the best for us. And also to eat a lot of melon.

Things are moving along. We have the first two trellises up over the peas. We've been using row covers this spring for the first time and we will definitely be using more of them. We got excellent, excellent pea germination with them. Partly because of extra warmth, but I suspect mostly because it prevented birds from snacking on the sprouted peas. Once the peas are big enough to trellis, we move the row covers to the next bed that needs one.

There is a little tear in one of the row covers, where the deer stepped on it. Only the one though, because apparently he really disliked the sensation and is now avoiding them. Bonus!

Mr. Ferdzy installs the pea trellis in the wet beds, which are properly wet this year, at least so far. It's been a much better year for moisture than last year, but we are getting to the point where some rain would be a good thing.

The garlic planted last fall is looking good. The onion seedlings planted next to them are also looking good, although you will need a magnifying glass to see them. I'm very excited about our onions and shallots this year. We have some interesting varieties and crosses.

This is an experiment we are working on. We planted these potatoes late last August, then seeded spinach over them, and installed a hoop-house. We had poor spinach germination because it was still hotter and drier than it should have been, but never-the-less it looks like the experiment will be a success. We pulled the spinach at the time we wanted to pull the spinach, and the potatoes are just coming up. This should give them a jump start on the other potatoes, which have only just been planted. The variety is Envol; very early, and it should give us potatoes by mid-summer. We'll see, but it's looking very hopeful.

Mr. Ferdzy examines one of our dedicated seed-beds. We have a couple of small beds well away from the main garden where we plant things to collect seed from. Right now the bed contains Hungarian Nantes-type carrots, and Mako onions, also a Hungarian variety. We planted about 75 Mako onions last year. About 65 survived the winter and I pulled about 15 of the weakest specimens leaving 50 to go to seed. In the spots thus opened I have transplanted some rutabagas that survived the winter in the open. There is also some Bright Lights Swiss chard that survived the winter in the open. Pretty good; the winter wasn't super hard (though no-where near as mild as the year before) but there was a lot of fluctuating temperatures in March that definitely thinned the herd. We hope these will give us some good resilient seed.

Here's another thing we are excited about: Haskap. Lonicera caerulea, also known as Honeyberry, or Sweet Honeysuckle. It really is a honeysuckle, which amazes me. It's in flower right now! Even though we left it heeled into the ground in pots all last year and just transplanted it last week! It's supposed to have berries as early or even earlier than strawberries! They say they taste delicious, and we're really hoping to have some to try this year. It seems to like our lousy, semi-acidic soil (too acidic for vegetables; not acidic enough for blueberries.) So lots to be excited about with these.

Our final big excitement this spring is the wild leeks (ramps) we transplanted last spring. We were not very optimistic about these. A week after we moved them, last summer's brutal drought started. We persisted in watering them  until they went dormant but we did not expect them to make it. However, about 80% of the patches we planted are there, some of them looking very nice indeed. It will be a good few years before we expect to be able to pick any, but they are there and it is happening.

Speaking of happening, time to get back to work...


spencer said...

Love the printed organized garden bed map. It is definatly the way to go, although I always find i change stuff on it every year.

Ferdzy said...

Hey, Spencer! Long time no see! Yes, we change ours each year too. Actually, I'll probably reprint most pages at least once this year, as we pull out early things and replant with other things - we have been doing more and more succession planting. Cuz, you know, our garden is to small. Oi.

JennaMF said...

Hi Ferdzy,
I am still mulling over how to improve our gardens this year and wonder what your thoughts are about row covers, specifically for brassicas. I used agribon two years in a row and while in 2014 it did wonders by protecting them from insects, last summer I didn't really get any cabbages as may they got overheated. So what are your thoughts on covering cabbages: agribon row covers or insect netting (mesh)? Thanks in advance!

Ferdzy said...

Aaaahhhh... people recommend them. I always mean to put some out on our brassicas but usually they are already sitting on the carrots (row covers, not people); also disorganization rules. I'd be surprised if your cabbages got overheated from row covers. I mean, if you're sure, then yes. But it surprises me.

In short, I'm still pretty haphazard about the row covers myself and don't have a lot of insight. Sorry!

Although I will say that if you are going to use them, you really do need to CHECK UNDER THEM on a really regular basis, which is one of the ways we tend to fall down.