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Productive weekend!

  • Tuesday, March 24, 2009
  • OK- here I am 4.5 month pregnant and I have a TON of garden chores to do...... So all I can say is this baby is getting a workout! This weekend I was successful at:
    • realizing how much work I really have this season
    • planted a Fuji, and enterprise apple, nectarine and pear tree
    • planted 9 heritage rasberries in the old 'grape' area
    • pulled down all deer fencing
    • planted peas
    • started cleaning up paths and re-mulching

    So I am exhausted, the daffodils are up and I am EXCITED for this season!

    Finishing my seed order....some interesting items

  • Sunday, March 8, 2009
  • As I have said in the past, Pinetree Seeds Catalog ( has some very interesting options. Here are some that caught my eye.
    1. Cutting Celery- hardy annual can be used inplace of celery adn is easier to grow.the fine green leaves and thin hollow stems are especially good to flavor soups and stews.
    2. Tyfon-Holland Greens- If you'd like to feed an army from an area the size of a coffee table, this may be the vegetable for you. This brassica is a cross between Chinese Cabbage and Turnips. The greens mature very rapidly to the size of a couple of feet. They can be cut early and often throughout the entire growing season. Unlike other brassica greens, Tyfon contains no mustard oil so the flavor is very mild.
    3. Rose Orach- HEIRLOOM Orach has been cultivated for 3000 years. It is also know as butter leaves or mountain spinach and is in fact an excellent spinach substitute. The striking plants will eventually grow to 5' in height but you can begin harvesting the leaves when the plant is very young. Indeed the most tender leaves are available before the height exceeds 18". The fully mature plant is very ornamental and can be used in dried arrangements. Orach is primarily used in salads but can also be used cooked as you would spinach.
    4. Merveille de Qautre Saisons- HEIRLOOM This lettuce is truly marvelous. It was the only lettuce in our trials that remained good tasting during an exceptionally dry and hot summer years ago, and continues to impress us each year we grow it. A bibb type, the leaves are wavy and light green with an overlay of red. Forms a loose 12" head with meaty texture and fine flavor.
    5. Pai Tsai-Fun Jen- A very early and tasty semi-spreading green that tolerates both heat and cold well. About a month after planting you begin to harvest the light green leaves. When fully mature, you can chop up the snow white stems for stir fries.

    Garden Checklist- MARCH

  • So March is the time to turn 'a little bit' of that dreaming into reality....

    • Starting seeds inside: I can't go into all the specifics of how to grow inside....but here are some tips- pre-moisten your soil, press seeds into survace of mix to make good contact, remember seeds don't need light to germinate, only moisture and warmth, keep flats watered, add fertilizer to water once a weeks, avoid drafts and extreme temperatures.
    • Store your seeds and bulbs properly: Keep bunched onions plants in the refridgerator until ready to plant; store onion sets in cool, dark, and dry place; keep seed packets away from an over heated place until planting time.
    • Think about plant protection: For tender plants in chilly weather....use of hot caps, floating row covers, or water filled shields.
    • Got Asparagus? Well now is the time is to cut and shred old stalks, do a thorough weeding, stir up soil with a rake before new shoots appear, and work in fertilizer for upcoming crop.
    • If you are adventurous: You can try planting peas and onions in a raised bed (provide warmer temperatures and drier area when raised) It is a gamble, but peas are tough and can tolerate a cool wet spring start. Even later in march go for spinach and lettuce....isn't the risk worth it?

    So all this is leading up to Apirl which is a busy month of preparing soil, adding organic fertilizer, creating your beds, tilling, and use of cold frames....

    Garden Checklist- FEBRUARY

  • OK- I have decided to summarize what should be happening in your gardening planning each month. I know I am abit late for February - but the tips still apply! March coming soon....
    • Start planning what you want to grow, and be realistic. First off plan your garden so it matches what you want to put into it. If you plan too big, and can't invest enough time, it will become an unsightly mess and you will get frustrated. If this is your first time, start small, but do it well, and you will build your confidenc. Once you have sketched our your beds and what you want to grow- make sure to figure out what you need to buy as seeds, and what you should buy as young plants. Note this is personal as you can grow all from seed yourself, but some need to be grown inside first (sometimes it is worth the extra money to have a nice nursery do this work for you) My rough list, things to be sown by seed: peas, beans, radish, lettuce, greens, carrots, beets, turnips, collards, kale, rutabagas, corn, vine crops, onion sets, okra, dill. Items I buy as plants: tomatoes, onions, leeks, peppers, parsley, chives, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, and cauliflower.
    • Finish placing your seed orders: Places I love to shop from are (great variety for the home gardener, interesting types, lots of container vegetables too) (a local source of seeds, got some interesting walking egyptian onions last year...anything local is good to me!) (has a few varieties I haven't found elsewhere.....golden chard!) and (just a good overall selection and excellent customer service! If your seeds don't sprout, they will send you new ones!)
    • Think about your soil.... Remember whatever improvements you make to your soil, you will receive back tenfold......So be good to your soil :) This includes testing your soil to see what nutrients you lack in (check you local extension service), and adding LOTS of organic matter. It is best to add it before the winter so it has time to break down, but anytime is good. So start adding your compost, any leaves, aged manure, grass clippings etc. If you are placing them fresh, consider learning more about the Lasagna method ( of building a raised bed. Once you know what your soil lacks- be smart about what organic fertilizers you need like greensand, bonemeal etc (not based on what you are growing will help you decide what you need) Also, when in doubt, check the pH! That will at least give you a headstart on what needs changing. You should strive for a pH of 6.5.
    • Check what time is your 'last frost date' for your area. For me in Northern Virginia, Mother's day is the 'typical safe date'.
    • Sowing seeds inside: If you choose to start plants inside, make sure you have the right materials like a grow light, good seed starting soil, seed starting containers (either soil blocks or recycled containers), and you get the timing right. I once started cucumbers MUCH to early and they got long and lanky and I had to ultimately compost them, sad!
    • Do some outdoor cleanup: As the weather permits, start cutting back dead growth on your herbs and such and get a head start on your plants!
    • Be creative! Think about what and how you want to grow things. There are so many creative ways to grow vegetables. You may want to use raise beds, straw bale gardening (, vertical gardening, container gardening, or apply some edible landscaping principles. Just think about your space, the time you can invest and getting them started, and let your imagination go free!

    So as you see February is about dreaming, planning, and getting ready for the warmer months ahead. As February comes to a close, I have:

    • List of items I need to do outside
    • Placed most of my seed orders
    • have sketched in my garden notebook where my beds are and what I want to grow in them
    • put out ads on Craig's List for mulching hay
    • Inventoried my garden and fixes I need to make (like my deer fencing needs complete rework)
    • Working on my 2009 garden objective.

    OK- let's move onto March!