Friday, March 17, 2017

Brrrrrr

We had the coldest three nights of the winter this week. Twenties at night and cold blowing wind during the days. Out came the Agribon (spun fabric for agricultural use), down went the hoop tunnels made of fencing, and cover we did, again. I just peeked in to check on the Red Sails lettuce seedlings not yet possessing true leaves, and there they are, all neatly lined up in a row. I am truly amazed that tiny seedlings handle the cold better than mature plants.
Inventory of the unprotected winter vegetables revealed they did fine. What a relief! Azaleas already blooming are fried by the cold but the unopened buds may be OK.  Daffodil flowers are unfazed and  there are more pushing up. Turns out we didn't completely lose out on Spring after all.
Swiss Chard. After the cold. Must have antifreeze in them.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gifts

Gill feather rutabagas (heirloom)


Son Jonathan gifted the seeds for the gillfeather rutabagas to us for Christmas 2015. What a nice surprise! The greens are as good as the roots. These were planted in a raised bed September 20th. I remember thinking I should plant things I wanted to do well in raised beds because of the rains of October 2015 when all our brassicas died from rot. Who knew it would be North Carolina, not South Carolina, that would be the recipient of so much rain this time? For the record, we measured 15 inches of rain October 8, 2016 here on Chestnut Street. I recorded in my nature journal, "At times the rain blows sideways and the trees look like they would twirl around if not rooted in the ground...I will be glad when it is over."  Six months later it is astonishing that these plants, small seedlings then, survived the pounding rains of Hurricane Matthew. Surely I paid them no mind in the weeks that followed...they are, gifts.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Small Is Good

We are getting one last, I hope, cold snap this weekend. I will cover the lettuce. Green beans imprudently, defiantly, planted 2-21-17 were covered a few days ago. Tonight's the big night with the low predicted to be 30 degrees. However, the ground is warm, very. We live in town surrounded by big heat sinks aka parking lots, streets and big buildings. Here's to Lady Luck!
Spinach on the other hand can take the cold! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Community Gardening

We participate in a sweet little community garden in St Pauls, NC. Our winter that isn't a winter had us out seeding turnips, beets, rutabagas, carrots and radishes. Six days later, all are up except carrots.  Tiny seed leaves are just above the ground. We protected one bed of our three 4'x12'  beds with Agribon for a few days because we had some cold nights and didn't want the broccoli plants to get hurt. Our only difficulty there is that we have to transport water until the threat of frost passes. It is a pain in the main but so far our experiement worked. I'll try to post more about our participation there. Stay tuned, folks!                                                          

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Potatoes

Ours has been a warm winter with a few very cold days. The ground is warm. The ground is dry. So in went the chitted potatoes on Valentine's Day. We planted Pontiac Red, Yukon Gold and a generic white varieties. Nothing fancy but awfully good when newly dug. Looking forward weather reports show  unseasonably warm days ahead. Perfect weather for potatoes to begin putting down roots and sending up shoots. When the new shoots are six inches high we'll start piling on wheat straw to keep the ground cool, potatoes like that. They also like to be spaced 12 to 15 inches apart 3 to 5 inches deep. Do it. Resist the urge to plant closely. They will make more tubers.

You may be wondering, 'What is chitting?" It is pictured below. A month or so before you plant seed potatoes bought, not a the grocery store, put them in an egg container in a room with bright sunlight and they will begin to sprout. The sprouting is said to give the potatoes a head start. Is is true? I don't know but I do it. Read up on this.

Some people cut and divide seed potatoes leaving three "eyes" on each piece for planting. The pieces are left to air dry and dry out the cut. I do not  because if we get lots of rain it increases the changes of rot. It's a personal preference thing. Also, all my seed potatoes are small this year. Not enough eyes on each to make it worth it.

As always, I hope for a nice yield. Happy gardening, y'all!
Chitted potatoes planted on Valentine's Day 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

Warm days to cold

     We had a weeklong spell of warm days so I  planted more mesclun lettuce and peas. The first row of "Alaska" shelling peas have germinated! Yay! I planted another row of "Alaska" and a row of "Wando" yesterday because more is more and can always be shared. The timing was perfect. We had rain last night and more is predicted for the coming days. I did not grow up eating these peas, Scott did, but I sure do love them. A poem:
PEAS

Raw they are,
 Sweet candy.
Cooked they are, 
 Sweet candy.
After a long winter,
 Eating bitter greens.
Peas, 
They are,
 Just dandy.
     A compost update: There are fire ants in my compost. I reached in to reposition some of the dry leaves on top of kitchen waste and had three almost simultaneous impressions.
A. Gosh, it's warm in there.
 B. Why would my compost make my hand tingle?
 C. Fire ants!
Getting rid of them is so much trouble. Diatomaceous earth and Neem oil applied several times, paired with some really cold nights to come that should do it. I hope.
   
Did I mention the carrots? This year I think I planted enough. 
     In other news, I picked side shoots off broccoli this week and it is time to harvest kale again. Row covers work for both. Swiss chard seed planted 1/24 germinated by 1/27 and are about to push out true leaves. I'll separate and plant individually then. Altogether it has been a great winter to garden.
     Oh! One last delight to pass on. I gave rutabagas a second chance. I pulled a few and am now a great fan of them. Sweet, nutty and a nice crunch raw, I forgive them for making me gag when I was a child. The cook, not they, are to blame.
The End.
Peas out!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spinach

One of the hardest things to get right is spinach germination in my down South garden. My planting guide does not recommend planting spinach in January. Breaking the rules however  I went outside with my packet of spinach seeds, found a sunny spot, and sprinkled away. Date of sprinkling 1/15/17. Date of seed leaf appearance 1/23/17. What?! It worked. They are now doubled covered with Agribon19 until it warms up a bit. Incubating.
Spinach, left, on March 1, 2017. They all germinated! Now what?