Categories
Garden

Spring is Here

Greenhouse with first trays from the farm.

I planted the packets of Garlic Chive seeds near the front steps. I don’t know if they will grow, but I cleaned the space and thought it might work. If they do grow they will be used in the kitchen.

Garlic Chives, Ferry-Morse, 120 days.
Allium tuberosum, Burpee Seeds, 80-90 days.

I’m satisfied the portable greenhouse will meet my needs. There are some things to which I must adapt, such as internal temperature regulation and changing moisture levels. From working at the farm for eight years I’m familiar with those issues and don’t expect to have many failures. A strong wind could budge it from the buckets of sand that hold it down. For now, it’s holding its own.

The nursery emailed my two new apple trees are scheduled to arrive on Friday. I submitted a ticket for the One Call folks to mark the utilities. I was here when each utility line was laid so I already know where they are and have planned my planting accordingly.

A burn pile is started on the plot where I’ll plant kale. The kale seedlings are back from the farm and they will be ready to plant after a couple weeks in my greenhouse. Last year I planted 21 plants. This year it will be a smaller number divisible by three varieties, maybe 15 or 18. Unused seedlings will be save for extra, given to neighbors and the leaves cut for a traditional post-planting kale salad.

Cut seed potatoes rest in a tray in the garage. Oral history says let them season to the air for at least four days before planting. I have Kennebec and some variety of red potato. They are planned for the containers this year. I have to remember to give them plenty of water as last time the tubers were in dry soil when I dug them — smaller than expected.

There will be two production plots in the garden. By that I mean a variety of crops will go in them. The big crops are kale, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, cucumbers and broccoli. Each of them will have significant space of their own. Everything else must be in rows of as many plants needed for the kitchen.

The tomato space will be smaller by a third this year. Enough grew last year to keep us in canned tomatoes for another year. I don’t need as many so they will mostly be for eating fresh.

With warmer ambient temperatures I’m spending a little time outside each day. I’m beginning to have a vision of what the garden might be.

Categories
Garden Home Life

Planting During Green Up

Storm Brewing

Green up is all around and it’s time to get tomatoes and peppers planted.

Sunday, in a long session, I planted tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and eggplant — hopefully enough seedlings for our garden with leftovers to share with neighbors. I planted from seed:

Bell peppers:
Pepper Quadrato D Asti Rosso, Ferry-Morse, 95-110 days.
Garden Leader Monster Bell, Ferry-Morse, 75 days.

Hot Peppers
El Eden (Guajillo), Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 65 days green, 85 days red.
Baron (Ancho), Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 65 days green, 85 days red.
Red Rocket, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 55 days green, 75 days red.
Pastilla Bajo, Ferry-Morse, 80-90 days.
Serrano Chili, Ferry-Morse, 73 days.
Bangkok, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 75 days green, 95 days red.
Long Thin Cayenne, Ferry-Morse, 72 days.
Jalapeno Mild, Ferry-Morse, 72 days.

Slicers and Plums
German Pink, Seed Savers Exchange, 85 days.
Martha Washington, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 78 days.
Black Krim, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 80 days.
Amish Paste, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 85 days.
Speckled Roman, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 85 days.
Granadero, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 75 days.
Brandywine, Seed Savers Exchange, 80 days.
Abe Lincoln, Ferry-Morse, 70-77 days.
Big Rainbow, Ferry-Morse, 80-102 days.
Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Ferry-Morse, 80-95 days.
Box Car Willie, Ferry-Morse, 80 days.
Pruden’s Purple, Ferry-Morse, 67-85 days.
Big Red, Ferry-Morse, 85 days.
Mortgage Lifter, Ferry-Morse, 83-90 days.

Cherries
Jelly Bean, Ferry-Morse, 70 days.
White Cherry, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 59 days.
Red Pearl, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 58 days.
Matt’s Wild Cherry, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 60 days.
Jasper, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 60 days.
Citrine, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 60 days.
Taxi, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 64 days.

Eggplant
Galine, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 65 days.
Early Long Purple, Ferry-Morse, 75 days.
Black Beauty, Ferry-Morse, 85 days.

Tomatillo
Tomatillo Purple, Ferry-Morse, 75/85 days.

We had a wind storm last weekend and it shook the portable greenhouse so much the two trays on the top shelves fell to the ground. I was able to salvage much of what fell down. The three varieties of leeks will be difficult to distinguish when I plant them, because they went all over the place. Note to self: bring the trays inside during windstorms.

Categories
Garden Local Food

Onion Experiments

Onions planted in soil blocks.

Growing large storage onions has been challenging. I yearn to grow large onions and use them throughout the year.

Spring onions? No problem. Larger red, yellow or white, the kind we most use in the kitchen, have eluded me.

I’m determined this year will be different. Toward that end I’ve launched some experiments to see how I can do better.

Friday, Feb. 7, I planted Talon Yellow and Red Burgundy onions at home from seed. After six weeks the yellow germinated, the red did not. After chatting on line with another grower, they pointed out fresh onion seed is important. The Talon Yellow seeds were this year’s crop from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Red Burgundy were end of season discards at the home, farm and auto supply store. Lesson learned: get fresh onion seeds.

That same day I split my Matador shallot seeds with the farm. They are growing their half in the same environment as the rest of their onions, I started mine in a tray at home. Mine don’t look that healthy although they germinated. If the targeted planting time is mid-April, there is time for them to grow and hopefully survive transplant. I’m looking forward to comparing results.

I bought red, yellow and white onions starts from the home, farm and auto supply store. These are the same variety I bought every year since working there. I divided them roughly in half and planted some in soil blocks to give them a head start, and reserved the rest to plant in the ground as soon as it is tillable.

This year I ordered some onion plants from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. They are to be shipped in a couple of weeks and then direct planted in the soil. The varieties are Ailsa Craig, Patterson and Redwing. While more expensive than seed at about 30 cents for each plant, I’m hoping to find something that works in trying it. I would much rather grow everything from seed yet I want other options as back up.

Finally, this morning, I planted six 3 x 3 containers with White Lisbon Bunching Onions from Ferry-Morse (60-110 days). I mixed both pelleted and non-pelleted seeds and broadcast them in the pots. If they germinate and grow, I’ll transplant the entire pots as groups of spring onions. It is a month behind where they should have been started, so we’ll see what happens.

The last part of my experiment is twofold. I am researching types of soil nutrients which support onion growth. My normal process is to hand till composted chicken manure into the soil before planting. If the several garden books in my library suggest another approach, I may try it as long as it is not a commercial, chemical fertilizer. This year I bought a small tiller which will break up the soil more thoroughly than handwork.

I am also planning a disciplined approach to watering and weeding the crop once it is in the ground. Because of our climate, I plan to mulch the crop to retain moisture in the soil. Weeding and regular watering has proven to be challenging, partly because weeding gets away from me and partly because my approach to watering is sparing. With a framework of “experimentation” perhaps I can do better.

I know growing storage onions is possible as I get them from the farms each year. With effort, maybe I can grow my own.

Categories
Garden

Seeding During the Pandemic

Kale and Broccoli Seedlings at Two Weeks.

Most of the usual seeders were absent from the greenhouse as I made blocks for 3,840 seedlings. Those who did work tried to stay at least six feet away from each other, although it was hard given the confined space.

“You may be the vector,” I said to one.

“No, you are the vector,” they replied.

It was in fun, but a serious note rang heavy in the atmosphere. None of us wants to die from the coronavirus.

I worked mostly alone as the farmers tended sheep in the barn. There are now 45 lambs and they are not ready to be outside all the time. Before she left I reviewed my planting plan with the farmer, made adjustments, and planted the following for my garden:

Early White Vienna Kohlrabi, Ferry-Morse, 55 days.
Swiss Chard, Mixed Colors, Ferry-Morse, 30-60 days.
Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard, Ferry-Morse, 60 days.
Florida Broad Leaf Mustard, Ferry-Morse, 48 days.
Southern Giant Curled Mustard India, Ferry-Morse, 56 days.
Bibb Lettuce, Ferry-Morse, 57 days.
Buttercrunch Lettuce, Ferry-Morse, 65-70 days.
Parris Island Cos Lettuce, Ferry-Morse, 68 days.

I noticed the kale and broccoli planted March 1 germinated with a high rate. Some of the seeds planted last week have already sprouted, although it will take celery a couple weeks.

19,920 seedling blocks made during the first five weeks. The crew will begin transplanting to the high tunnel maybe this week.

Categories
Garden

Refilling the Seed Gaps

Onions Drying

One batch of onion seeds germinated poorly so I seeded the failed blocks with Cilantro, Parsley and Dill.

Cilantro, Ferry-Morse, 28 days.
Parsley, Ferry-Morse, 70-90 days.
Dill, Ferry-Morse, 70 days.

This is my first attempt to grow onions at home and there’s a lot to learn. Once the seeds germinated, I moved them upstairs into sunlight. They grew long and spindly, laying down over each other in the tray. Carefully, I trimmed the tops to about two inches and they sprung up. The expectation is they will start to right themselves and grow more vertically.  The backup plan is to buy and beg some onion starts in case these don’t mature. For the time being I’m not giving up on them.

Categories
Garden

Celery – In!

Spring Plants from Indiana

It was another busy day at the farm for seeding session #4.

I planted one tray of

Conquistador Celery, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 80 days.

and one tray with

Georgia Southern Collard, Ferry-Morse, 75 days.
Pak Choy Toy Choy, Ferry-Morse, 30 days.
Teton Hybrid Spinach, Ferry-Morse, 45 days.
Cilantro, Ferry-Morse, 28 days.

Space is beginning to fill with trays.

I delivered a box of flower seeds for the farm’s coming garden class at a local food pantry.

We talked, a lot, about everything. We were chatty.

I enjoy my time with eight people talking and seeding trays of soil mix. I don’t say a lot, just do my work and bask in the sounds of another day on the farm.

The lamb count is now 40 and there are five new goats.

Categories
Garden Local Food

Belgian Lettuce 2020

Belgian lettuce patch with arugula

Today I planted Belgian lettuce. There is nothing particularly “Belgian” about the seeds. According to my maternal grandmother it is called Belgian lettuce because it is planted March 2. It’s the tradition and that’s that.

I planted arugula as well because when everything is mixed together in a salad it will taste great. I planted:

Lettuce

Mesclun Mix of Seven Varieties, Ferry-Morse, 40-80 days.

Arugula

Arugula/Roquette Heirloom Variety, Ferry-Morse, 40 days.
Rocket Salad Coltivata Da Orto, Ferry-Morse, 60 days.

The ground was still frozen about an inch below the surface, so no other planting today. This morning’s activities signal the beginning of the garden.

Categories
Garden

Kale Planting 2020

Kale March 1, 2020

Kale is a money crop in my garden. By that I mean I learned how to grow it and have had success most years since. I distribute a lot of free kale to friends and neighbors. Today was the day to plant it along with broccoli. The varieties are:

Kale

Redbor, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 55 days.
Winterbor, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 60 days.
Red Russian, Ferry-Morse, 50 days.

Broccoli

Imperial, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 71 days.
Calabrese, Ferry-Morse, 70-90 days.

Something was weird about the Calabrese seeds from Ferry-Morse. It appeared broccoli seeds were mixed with another kind, rendering the packet pretty useless for predictability. I planted some of each as the main broccoli crop will be Imperial anyway. We’ll see what happens.

Sundays in the greenhouse have become a day to which I look forward. The goats are due to drop kids any day, and of course we are well into lambing season. Our crew of five or six people works well together. I enjoy the conversation with twenty-somethings, although some of them will soon turn thirty.

I’m not sure the onions planted previously will make it. Some of them are tall and spindly. Others haven’t come up. The soil is damp so we’ll see how they come out. At this point if they fail I can get starts elsewhere.

My small, portable greenhouse arrived this week. Instead of keeping flats of seedlings on a short stack of pallets near the garage door and moving them inside at night, I’ll keep them here. I’m not sure how exactly it works, but look forward to learning.

The weather has made this year’s start better than 2019. Let’s hope it continues.

Categories
Garden Local Food

Leeks

Starting Leeks

I planted leeks in soil blocks at home today. They were,

King Richard, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 75 days. One row of ten.

Megaton, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 90 days. Three rows of ten.

American Flag, Ferry-Morse, 150 days. One row of ten.

This is a further experiment in starting plants at home. In the past I hadn’t paid attention to different leek growing times but American Flag is double that of King Richard. I double seeded King Richard and American Flag because they are from previous seasons. If both seeds sprout in each cell I’ll thin them.

Categories
Garden Local Food

Garden 2020

Friday I planted the first seeds in trays at home. They were,

Onions

Talon, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 104 days.
Red Burgundy, Ferry-Morse, 100 days.

Shallots

Matador, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 105 days.

I’m experimenting with shallots this year. My friend Simone grew them so I know they can be grown in Iowa. I’m also planting them both at the farm and at home using different techniques.

It is now gardening season.