Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tis the season...almost!

The day I've waited so long for is finally here (on tuesday!). Our average last frost date! At the end of every summer I'm always bummed thinking it's going to be an eternity before we have tomatoes and basil and cucumbers and summer squash, but here it is already, Spring! Greg and I watched a cooking show today while eating lunch, the host was slicing the worlds most delicious looking tomato. Greg commented on how good it looked and I said something about how I'm so ready for tomato season again. Here it comes. I'm ridiculously excited. Which is strange because I moved all of our summer seedlings outside quite awhile ago. But anyway, time for the real gardening to begin.

I have somewhat of a conundrum in that I need to start preparing the grow heap for the cucurbits but the plot it has been assigned to is the plot with the peas...which just started flowering. Lovely.

It seems like this time of year is filled with nothing but weeding, which I love so I shouldn't complain. The rains we just received have really helped the weeding process. My past week was spent out in the garden, weeding, and planting nasturtiums. I've also started pruning the lemon tree, who knows the last time it was's taking forever. After I'm done pruning and spraying the lemon tree with a soapy water/baking soda solution I'm going to plant nasturtiums underneath it.

In pruning the lemon tree I have discovered a whole new area of our yard. What fun! The back corner behind the lemon tree goes mostly untouched, Greg has been back there but I sure haven't. It struck me today how absolutely perfect it would be for a shady lettuce and Greens garden. There's a giant ugly oleander in the middle of everything, that must go.

A friend of mine has offered to give me a worm composter that she inherited from her house's previous owner. I almost peed my pants with excitement when I heard the news. I haven't picked it up from her yet (maybe because I haven't stopped weeding) but I have been reading up on vermicomposting and all of it's glory. Once I get the bin set up I plan on buying worms from the worm lady at the lakeside farmer's market.

I went to the nursery a few days ago to look at their strawberries and judge whether the strawberries in my yard got verticulum from my soil or if they brought it with them from the grower. Well they absolutely brought it with them, which really pisses me off. Anyway as I was leaving the guy behind the counter gave me a free gardening magazine, which was really random. In the magazine there was an article about pepper plants and how they are actually perennials, and not annuals as most people think. I've decided to grow all of my peppers in pots this year and take them inside in the winter to test this new perennial pepper knowledge. I've ordered giant marconi peppers from burpee. They sound wonderful.

I also ordered carolina cross #183 watermelon seeds, against my better judgement. What I'm going to do with a triple digit pounder watermelon I don't know. Perhaps a watermelon eating party.

That's all for now. Hope everyone is as excited as I am about spring! Hooray!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Catch Up

Wow, what a slacker I have been lately. Not in real life, but definitely on the blog. Sorry about that folks. Nothing like a best friend to tell you it's time for an update, thanks Nikol:). You can all thank her for this post. Since it's been so rainy, some days monsoon caliber rainy, I've had little motivation or need to go out in the garden. The rain watered everything for me! Now that it seems to be letting up I should really get out there. The veg rows need weeding and the compost really needs to be turned.
During the torrential downpour Greg and I -but mostly me because Greg was sick- set up a simple rain catch system. And I DO mean simple, essentially buckets and garbage cans placed at strategic points outside. We were able to catch a lot of water off of the roof, several garbage cans worth. I plan on using this to water the garden when everything starts drying out.
My seedlings are growing by leaps and bounds. It's clear they are as ready for spring as I am. Most of them need to be repotted and are quite leggy. The tomatoes especially. I hope the evenings warm up soon because I don't have enough counter space to house everything once they're moved to bigger pots and I don't have enough cloches for all of them to go outside. I've been using some empty baby food jars as make-shift cloches for a few of the smaller sunberry bushes. They work quite nicely.
I'm becoming fairly certain that the strawberries are riddled with verticullum wilt. Why?! Why must I be plagued with these horrible, irradicable, soil diseases? And of course the plot I have slated for berries is the one with verticullum wilt. Verticullum attacks most berries.
In trying to replan the garden to allow for a different berry plot and sufficient space for all of the cucurbits I've decided to make one giant grow heap out of all the compost and some soil from Alpine Rock and Block. It'll be on the left side of the yard, where the cucurits were going to go anyway, but instead of several small hills I've decided to grow all of the cucurbits in one big, long grow heap. The plan is to plant the bushing varieties (zucchini and such) along the top, and the trailing types around the edges. I'm very excited about this and I've been building up the compost in anticipation. I think the best part may be that at the end of the season I'll be able to just flatten out the grow heap and have lovely rich soil ready for winter plantings.
Those of you who have read previous postings may remember me saying that seed catalogs are going to be the death of me. That remains true. These days I'm in love with the hardy kiwi, specifically the red variety, but honestly I love them all. The hardy kiwi is a vine that has beautiful red and green foliage, it produces small, completely edible kiwi fruits that can be eaten like grapes. The skin isn't brown and furry like the traditional kiwi. One vine is said to produce over 100 pounds of fruit in it's first year! I've got my eye on this one for next year.
I can't believe spring is almost here! I get so discouraged at the end of summer because I know I'll have to wait months until I can really garden again. This year winter went by very fast. Maybe because I really got into winter gardening. Either way, hooray spring is almost upon us!!! And speaking of winter plantings, we had a lovely salad from the garden with our dinner tonight. We had the parents over, it was wonderful! I expected the lettuce this year to be covered in nibbles from bugs, but it hasn't been, it's been pristine and lovely. The mustard is all hole-y though, maybe there's something to that. Maybe the mustard distracts the critters from the lettuce.

That's all for now. Ta ta!