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In The Garden: March 2012

>26 March 2012
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I’m so excited to be noticing little signs of life from my plants again! The trees are blossoming, the berry bushes are budding, and my seedlings are beginning to emerge from their tiny encasings. All of my perennials are coming back beautifully!

The stuff I’ve planted in the garden… however… well, I’m afraid I’m a bit off to a rough start. On top of the mistakes I’ve already made, we’ve had some major hail this past week from which I’m hoping my tomato plants and tender broccoli seedlings will recover. Watching as nature takes its toll on my hard work makes me have so much appreciation for the homesteaders of yesteryear. I just can’t imagine the devastation they must have felt to have all of their crops… food they depended upon for survival… destroyed in one day. I’m grateful we probably won’t depend on this garden this year. But I’m still going to try to make it the best I can.

Here’s how it’s looking so far. Franky, I’m a little embarrassed to show it to the world looking like this. What a mess! And still very soggy from all of the rain. Just trying to keep it real for ya though. It’s the potential that keeps my chin up, dontcha know!!

I’ve been very busy getting everything going from seed. So far, here’s what I’ve planted this year:

  • broccoli
  • onions (red and white)
  • turnips
  • parsnips
  • sugar snap peas
  • purple podded peas
  • 3 lettuces and a swiss chard
  • rhubarb
  • cabbage
  • garlic
  • kale
  • meadowsweet
  • more artichokes

And in the greenhouse are several seedlings getting ready for the garden also:

  • several different tomato varieties
  • asparagus
  • sweet bell peppers
  • eggplant
  • marjoram
  • St. John’s Wart
  • chives
  • thyme (english)
  • rosemary
  • dill
  • yarrow
  • shepherd’s purse
  • chamomile
  • echinacea
  • wooly lambs ear
  • summer savory
  • burdock
  • oregano (greek)
  • oregano (italian)
  • terragon
  • fennel
  • flax
  • comfrey
  • marshmallow
  • sage
  • cayenne peppers
  • mexican chile peppers
  • salsa peppers
  • lavender
  • italian parsley
  • cilantro
  • celery

Plus, the wonderful perennials that we’ve put in a little at a time over the past couple of years:

  • 2 elderberry bushes
  • 2 peach trees
  • 2 apple trees
  • 2 fig trees
  • 1 (surviving) blueberry bush
  • 12 raspberry bushes
  • 3 scuppernong vines
  • globe artichokes
  • catnip
  • peppermint
  • lemon balm (lemon mint)
  • and four new grape vines I need to get into the ground still (2 green, 2 concord)

Everything is pretty much *just* coming in, but here’s a look around so far…

This is the first year I’ve planted peas. I chose sugar snap peas, ’cause you don’t have to shell them (which, I hear, is a whole lot of work for very little reward). I put in two different varieties of peas: sugar snap peas and purple podded peas, which I’m really excited about (thanks to a sweet friend for sharing the seeds!).

Dirty Wilson (the king roo) got out and scratched up the bed, so I’ve got a few bare spots I need to fill back in. But other than that, looking good! I’ve planted them underneath an old metal swingset frame, to use as a trellis. I still need to attach a wire for these vines to grow up. Looks like I need to get that done asap!

My broccoli. Here’s where I made my first mistake for the year. I thought I’d be all smart and order some row covers to protect my broccoli from those dumb white moths that came along and created all those green worms that infested my brassicas last year. Everybody swears by floating row covers.

Here’s where I blew it though. After spending several weeks babying two dozen gorgeous broccoli seedlings, then hardening them off for a week, the day finally came to plant them in their final home. It was a beautiful, sunny day when they were put in their rightful places in the raised beds. I even made sure to mulch well around each little plant with old chicken coop bedding (aged manure mixed with straw, great for broccoli).

I wanted to make sure they were well protected, so I unwrapped that brand new row cover, and lovingly pulled it over my tender seedlings. I used bricks to hold the sides down all around the raised beds, then I went inside satisfied with a job well done.

Anyone with any gardening experience can probably figure out what happened next.

Yeah. Take note, all you beginners out there…

DO NOT cover your seedlings in the middle of a hot, sunny day.

And don’t laugh at me.

I basically fried them in one short afternoon. By the next day, all but two had pretty much shriveled up and blown away. Dead.

Oops.

So, I went to plan B and planted seeds in place of the deceased. Except now there are so many little weeds coming up through the soil, my broccoli has some major competing to do. I’m wondering if the weeds are from the straw I put down as a mulch. Maybe it was hay instead (which has seeds in it)? Either way, I’ve got some work to do.

I planted turnips for the first time this year as well (thanks, to another friend for sharing seeds!). Again, having weed issues here.

Onions. I absolutely can’t stand transplanting onion seedlings. I’m ashamed to say, I ended up tossing about 3/4 of the seedlings I’d started into the compost bin out of sheer frustration. My problem is that they are so tiny and flimsy, and really difficult to handle. I think that if I start more seeds in the Fall, and let them grow through the winter in a cold frame, they should be a good size for transplanting next Spring (about pencil width).

The ones I did manage to get planted seem to be doing well though, so that’s great! I also direct sowed more seeds, which are also just coming up. If they do well, then that’ll definitely be the way to go! I may even direct sow them in Fall, and protect them through the winter under a row cover, and skip transplanting all together. Something to experiment with.

And yes, the weeds are a recurring theme here. These are no doubt from the new compost we purchased to top off our beds. *hanging head* Sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches, lol.

First time planting parsnips, too. So excited to see them popping up!

Unless that’s a weed.

Anyone out there know what parsnip seedlings look like??

 

The garlic I planted from store-bought heads over the Fall are looking really good! Sure wish I could see how it’s going beneath the soil!

 

I’m very happy to see my cabbage seedlings finally showing their green! I planted a row of these little guys. Last year I planted them in a raised bed, and they were way crowded. Maybe this’ll work out better.

 

Here are some of my tomato seedlings, after being pummeled by major hail the other day. I think they’re doing well, considering! These are Amish Paste tomatoes, which don’t grow like a bush that you stake up, but they vine and sprawl. This year I’ve put up a trellis for these plants to climb. I just used some wire fencing stretched out across a few posts. I’m hoping it’ll work out well. Still need to mulch this row. Maybe I should have positioned the trellis a bit closer to the plants?

I have quite a few more Amish Paste seedlings growing in the greenhouse, too. I’m hoping to have lots of tomatoes to play with this year!

I decided to plant my lettuces and chard in containers this time. Last year, it got so hot that all of my lettuce bolted and got bitter before we could even enjoy it. My plan is to move these pots into part shade when it starts to get really hot during the day. I can’t wait to have crisp, fresh lettuce!!

All of my herbs are germinating in individual pots as well. Last year I planted my herbs in beds, and then couldn’t tell the difference between the weeds and the seedlings! I thought I’d be better off putting them in designated planters this time around. But then I ran out of potting mix, so like a genius I filled most of those pots with compost… which is now sprouting weeds!! Ugh. One of these days I’ll get it right, lol!

So, that’s pretty much the garden tour for now! It’ll be fun to watch how everything grows over the next few months.

How’s your garden coming along? I know it’s still too cold in many areas of the country to be planting anything yet, but how are you preparing for Spring?

 

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22 Comments »

  • My Suburban Homestead said:

    For the cabbage moths, I highly recommend using Bt. Bt can be tricky to use thought, because it beads up and falls of the leaves. You have to use about a teaspoon of dishsoap to soften the water. Works like a charm!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Thank you for that advice, My Suburban Homestead!! I’ll have to order some Bt :)

  • Cris said:

    I love seeing how other gardeners are doing. Your garden it’s making me antsy to plant more in mine :-)

    I am trying black plastic here to limit my weeds and to help keep the soil warm for some of my plants. So far I have only planted my strawberries and asparagus, then dug up and potted my lemon balm and walking onions for transplanting into my herb garden this weekend. I have tons of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower to transplant if I get the chance this weekend. I also have peppers, eggplant and tomatoes sprouted inside my house that won’t be planted till May, praying for my greenhouse to be done this fall.

    My biggest trouble so far is something (I am assuming pack rat) is munching holes into my water lines, we use drip lines and normally just lay them on top of our rows but this year we are trying to bury it an inch or two under the dirt to see if that helps deter them.

  • Jen said:

    I’m in Minnesota and I have most of my seedlings started. It has been unusally warm here so in the next week or so I plan to get my potatoes and cold weather seedlings out to the garden. I have always heard potatoes are supposed to be planted by Good Friday, pretty close this year! Everything here is turning green and the trees are budding. So nice to see after the brown winter we had. Last year we had record snow fall amounts and most farmers were way late getting crops in the fields. This year we had next to no snow and planting will likely be earlier than normal due to the frost being out and the very warm temps. Oh how I love spring!!

  • Tina said:

    Awesome! I thought your garden looked great and off to a great start and I’m amazed how you deal with some of the setbacks!! Like I said before- very inspiring! I’m trying to start my first (tiny!! compared to yours!!) garden, and nearly got discouraged by a few of my self grown seedlings having the one or other problem and dying. So I know it is frustrating (and mine is really just on a tiny scale compared to yours..)! I hope your affected plants will recover from the hail, and that soon you have the sprawling garden you envision right now. There’s nothing better than when it finally fully comes to live, I imagine! I agree with with admiring the pioneer women (pioneer folks in general)- it must have been so hard dealing with all the setbacks! -And then being REALLY depending on it for their livelihood!… I can’t even imagine. Also, lots of people I know think it is just “a little gardening” -but (as rewarding I find gardening!)- it is hard physical labor!! At least it can be, depending what and how much you plant. And to put so much time and effort and sweat in it and then having a setback-…I find this so frustrating! I probably would have stopped by now. So props to you for keep trying and improving and never giving up! I hope all this labor of yours is rewarded- and no matter what plants might not make it- that you have an awesome and fruitful garden coming in the next few months! Keep us posted! Love reading about the progress and your experiements in general! :) Believe it or not, but between all my gardening books, your page is the most inspiring readings of what you can accomplish and see efforts come to life, and I love that!! So, good luck! Can’t wait how everything will turn out!! Best, Tina

  • Meg said:

    Everything looks great! I also wonder how the homesteaders did it back in the day. So much work can be destroyed in one day.
    The amount of vegetables you have planted for this year is unreal! Great job!!!

  • Quinn said:

    Parsnips will look like carrot leaves only not quite so lacy, so I’d say that looks like a weed to me. They can take a while to germinate though, so I’m sure they’ll be along soon enough :) We just pulled the rest of our 2011 parsnips from the garden last weekend. We just kept waiting for a freeze to sweeten them up, but it never happened this year.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Tina! It’s such a blessing to know that I might be helping somebody with what I write :)

  • Rebecca Haughn said:

    Three things jumped at me, the transplanting thing I always do on a cloudy day, during rain is ideal in fact. Herbs though competing with weeds will outgrow them eventually and you could have had plenty of herbs with redoing it. Herbs are tough plants. Your compost if done correctly will not have weed seeds, it will be brown gold. The right combination will allow it to heat to the correct temp to bake out the bad stuff and make it pure goodness the plants love. Anyway, thanks for sharing, you are in a good position to have lots of home grown goodies. I will keep reading and hoping good things for you.

  • Debbie@ouroldhomestead.blogspot.com said:

    Everything looks wonderful! I am so jealous as we cannot plant yet here in Minnesota. You should have a bountiful harvest this year. Will be watching to see how the garden develops this year.

  • Janise said:

    Our garden is pretty much all in. We live in gulf coast Texas (zone 9) so we’ve been planting for a couple months now. We’re growing:

    Cucumbers – which budded out week before last and now have little baby cucumbers in the works

    Pole Beans – which have been taking a beating from the wind and look a little mangled

    Broccoli – which really is a fall crop here, not spring, so I don’t have high expectations for them this season

    Celery – not very common in this area, but I’ve just been cutting the bottoms off of my store-bought celery stalks and planting them for fun.

    Potatoes – Have several plants in both our raised beds and a planter, excited to see them produce

    Zucchini – Looking a little anemic, not sure why

    Tomatoes – three varieties, they aren’t thriving as much as I’d like but then again I am pretty impatient

    Bell Peppers – still indoor seedlings, got them started late, they should have been in the ground by now

    Okra – planting from seed this weekend

    Lettuces – probably also not a wise planting choice this season, it’s going to be to hot and they’ll get bitter real quick

    Watermelon – planting from seed this weekend

    Green Onions – planted in a container and their growth is pretty stunted

    Chives – same as green onions

    Cilantro – sprouted and looking happy

    Parsley – same as cilantro

    Onions – recovering nicely from when our new dog thought their planter was the perfect size dog bed for her and crushed them all by laying on them.

    Carrots – thriving in a planter

    Beets – Also laid on by dog, not recovering quite as well

    Dill – going to seed from last season

    Strawberries – producing fruit slowly but surely

    Spring is in full force here (highs in the lower 80s all week) and we are having fun watching things grow and sprout at our little suburban homestead.

  • kim said:

    I am wondering where you got the dirt to fill your raised beds, last year we were unable to fill ours due to the high cost of soils. What we could afford ended up being the worst clay soil you can imagine! Now we are using that to fill in the chicken pens where the girls dug holes around the fencing, more work, and still no good soil for the raised beds!

  • Libby@Everything's Coming Up Green said:

    Oh, your garden looks great, and it’s only March! I’m only planning on planting a few pots this year. We have a baby due in a few weeks and are planning a move to another state this summer. I will have to live vicariously through you this year!

  • Amy @ Homestead Revival said:

    Kendra, I think all our gardens look wet and a bit haggard right now! I know mine does – especially with me digging trenches throughout it for retaining walls! But I LOVE the bones of your garden – you know, structure! Your new chicken coop at the end gives the garden that added touch of beauty that will make for an incredible view when summer arrives. And I must say, you plant list is impressive!! Wow! May you enjoy the fruits of your labor this summer and fall!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Kim,

    Well, we made a little investment in some “compost” delivered from a local landscaping place by the dumptruck load. We got 2 loads at $100 each. Otherwise, we’d be planting in hard red clay.

  • Kelli said:

    We have plenty of lemon balm coming back this year. What do some of you use the lemon balm for? I love the smell but not sure what to do with it…

    Kelli

  • Julie said:

    This makes me happy every year. Last Saturday March 24, I planted 100 broccoli seed and this morning March 27th, they All sprouted. The secret is to soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm weak tea. Just plain ol tea. Then plant in moistened soil and cover with a trash bag. Everyday open the bag a second to let in fresh air and cover again. After all or most seeds are up, just remove the bag. This works with All seeds. Tomatoes will be up in 4 days. This works every time. Every seed is a miracle waiting to happen. Blessings all!!!!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    That’s amazing, Julie! So… when you say plain tea, are you talking about like black tea? I wanna try that!

  • Kara said:

    Kendra – Thank you for sharing the pictures! I love seeing your posts – I drool over the work you and your husband have done, and love seeing the stages. Look how far you’ve come from last year!

    I have some seeds bought, but haven’t started yet – I’m in Canada, so we’re a later start than you. Reading your blog helps me get motivated to try.

  • April said:

    Very impressive!!! This year so far we have….
    Lavender planter in a container on the porch.
    I started the seedlings for our tomatoes, jalapeños
    And green peppers. It’s been so hot and so I left them
    On the porch and our neighbor accidentally tripped
    Over them when chasing her toddler. They went
    Everywhere so I had to restart them. Ugh.
    Still have to plant cilantro and lettuce. My kids and
    I love this time of year.

  • Julie said:

    Hello Kendra, in answer to your question, yes, plain black tea. I used a Luzianne tea bag. Just let it steep for a couple minutes. While that’s cooling I divide up my different seeds in little containers ( anything clean will do) then pour a little room temp tea over the seeds. Just enough to cover and let sit overnight. I use tweezers to lift the seeds out and plant. I really enjoy your site and your chicken coop is adorable. I love the window box idea.
    Blessings!!!

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Thank you, Julie. What a fantastic tip :) Makes me wanna do an experiment with some of my seeds to see which germinate the quickest, presoaked vs not presoaked :) I love stuff like this!

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