Friday, April 29, 2011

another greenhouse lesson

I've learned that seeds don't sprout so well in my greenhouse this time of year. I should have known. None of my morning glories, cukes, zucchini, melons, basil or parsley sprouted in the greenhouse on their own, so a few days ago I brought them back inside and put them under my grow lights, swapping places with all the annuals that I've already sprouted. Now everything's fine, though only two of 10 morning glories have sprouted. I'll have to start another batch.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kale in

I brought my kale starts out of the basement (under grow lights) and planted it all in my deck planter -- about two dozen plants. I'm also going to take most of my basement plants and put them into my greenhouse. I'm guessing we'll have no hard frosts this season, and the greenhouse will protect them from any light frosts. I'm just hoping I can remember to vent and water them regularly.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

first harvest

My daughter Sage and I harvested our first crop already this Spring, though it felt like cheating. I planted some lettuce and pansies in the ground the other day (purchased at Skillins rather than growing them myself), and we nibbled on some the other day. Sage loved being able to eat the flowers. I also found some arugula that over-wintered underneath a cold frame in my back yard. Most of it was still tender and green, so we both ate some. Eliot Coleman is right: you can have a four-season harvest in Maine.

I'm already planning for my Fall bulb planting. I have such dreams of splendor over the winter, only to find what emerges to be less than half of what was in my imagination.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sowing Seeds in the Raised Bed

I finally got a moment to sow some seeds in my raised bed this afternoon. The sugar snap peas went in, as did two rows each of spinach, carrots, and a mesclun mix, plus four rows of kale (a big hit in this house).

Now I know the attractions of timed venting systems on greenhouses. Trying to remember to (or getting a chance to) get out there and open up the roof vent in the morning and close it in the evening is a challenge.

A couple of pix of the garden in its current state: crocuses and chiondoxa.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Greenhouse seed starting; nitrogen pollution

Today I finally started using my greenhouse for what it was intended (other than as a writing studio): I started some seeds in flats and them left them in my greenhouse to see how they do. I'll have to make sure I ventilate it each morning, and close it at night, because unventilated it gets up to 100 degrees in there on warm sunny days, but still goes down to frost temps at night. I've started my warm-weather crops to take advantage of the heat in there: cantaloupe, zucchini, cukes (a variety called Poona Kheera, which is new to me), basil (regular and Thai), and parsley.

I still have to put my peas in the ground! I'm almost too late, but it's time to start sowing my raised bed, now that I can fully work the soil. (I tried early last week, but it was still frozen a few inches down.)

Why I only use organic fertilizers (like compost, or seaweed extract): I heard today on the BBC's Farming Today that nitrogen pollution is costing every person in Europe up to 650 pounds a year to clean up -- due to over-use of chemical nitrogen by farmers and gardeners. That doesn't count the cost of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere, which is a leading cause of global warming. (Yes, I listen to Farming Today! It's a good show.) Organic fertilizers break down more slowly, meaning less is unused by the plants and subsequently released into the groundwater or atmosphere.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pruning the roses

I spend about a half-hour each afternoon waiting for my daughter's school bus, which fortunately stops right in front of my house, so I get to do a little bit of gardening every afternoon, weather permitting. Yesterday I was able to cut back the laterals (side shoots) on my two climbing roses, which I'm training to run along my picket fence. You get more blooms when you let the vines run horizontally as well, and last year was the first year of their full bloom, so I'm looking forward to a good year.

Now I've got a bucket full of thorny canes to try to stuff into my compost bin.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My first iris

We're at least a week behind last year's schedule in terms of Spring blooms -- which is fine by me, as last year we had record warmth. The bees are now out and enjoying the crocuses, and my first iris reticulata (miniature ones that I planted last fall) just opened today.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Goodbye Crocuses, Hello Snow

April is coming in like a lion, with a significant snowstorm currently covering up my garden. Knowing that the storm was coming, I took some photos of my garden yesterday, so that I could enjoy the crocuses while they were out.

I always love the first emergence of my bulbs and perennials: so much promise, so little work to do at this point.