Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Garden update and my contest win

A page from my gardening notes
I'm not meticulous about keeping gardening notes, but I do try to get the main things done. My early attempts are always better, perhaps because I'm so desperate to get my hands dirty. Now that the dirt is a daily thing and I'm running around like a crazy woman with seedling trays in my arms, I have less time for note-taking.

Pole beans
Still, I take the important notes. So many seeds were planted, or how many feet of garden were planted, and most of the time I remember to write down when I first saw their little heads peeping through the soil. This past week has been busy, with many seeds going into flats, and many seedlings going from flats to cups, and many cups going out to the garden. The few delicate things already in the garden have to be covered each night to keep them from being touched by frost, but I don't mind. I've managed to lose a few tomato plants, either to wilt or the cold, I'm not sure which. It's so sad to see them shrivel up in the ground... but better there than in a cup.

The next thing to go into the garden will be our beans. I'm very excited about these because we do love fresh beans. I have three types of pole beans that will go in the garden this coming weekend (my Mother's Day present to myself!): Kentucky Wonder, Rattlesnake, and Scarlet Runner beans. They don't like the frost, but can go into the ground a little before the last frost date because it takes a while for them to germinate. The frost doesn't bother them until their little green heads poke through the dirt.

The beans are getting planted in tires, and will grow up on to tee pees made of branches (check out the pics about 2/3 of the way down this post for an idea of what ours will look like). We have nine tires, which will mean three tires worth of each of the three beans, though it might more practically mean that there's one tire of Scarlet Runner (which I only have a few of) and four each of the others. Regardless, there's going to be a LOT of beans in our future!

French Breakfast and Cherry Belle
In one of our big tire beds, I planted the carrots and beets. I mix my carrot seeds with radishes, for a variety of reasons. First, carrot seeds are incredibly tiny, and I am terrible at trying to get them in a straight row. Mixing them with the larger radish seeds makes it easier to spread them evenly. Second, radishes grow much faster than carrots, and having them interspersed throughout actually marks your rows for you (meaning you can weed earlier) and the grown radishes leave comfortable spaces for the carrots which will soon plump up. I also just love radishes, and so I used two different types: French Breakfast and Cherry Belle. Both have short maturity times (only 23 days!), and they both develop into lovely plump orbs.

The French Breakfast breed are heirlooms, and are slightly elongated with a white tip and red throughout the rest. They have a slightly peppery flavor, and are spicier the earlier you pick them. If you like a mellow radish, let these sit a day or two longer than your instincts call for. The Cherry Belles are delicious and mild, and are bright red balls. They're the organic cousins to the ones you pick up in the grocery store, but are packed with flavor that even Whole Foods and Trader Joe's can't compete with.

Danvers 126 carrots
For carrots, I like Danvers for both flavor and look. I chose organic Danvers 126 this year, partly because I have great soil that's loose and deep, and partly because they're both organic and hearty. Many carrots will develop crooked or split roots if they encounter something in the soil as they grow. While Danvers does that for larger things like stones, when it comes to smaller, hard clumps of dirt, or tiny sticks or stones, the growing Danvers will often just push it out of the way. This results in uniform, beautiful carrots. They also have incredibly pretty green tops, which I happen to like.

Butternut squash, growing tall
I've planted some squash in cups and large cells, and they're doing incredibly well. Their leaves are dark green, slightly speckled, and reaching for the sky! Most of my squash (both butternut and acorn) is already developing true leaves. I'm rather excited about that! My watermelon and pumpkins have yet to poke through, but they take a long time to germinate so I'm not giving up hope yet.

Out in the garden, all my greens have come up and are looking miniature but healthy. The collards are especially vigorous, which was unexpected. The transplanted broccoli and kale are thriving, though we did lose a couple of each to a late frost (or something... they wilted and died). Still, I had back-ups in the greenhouse, and put them out to fill up the holes, and they're all doing wonderful.

Hot peppers, growing big
This week we're putting in two more raised beds, finishing up the filling of the bean tires, and prepping the site for our new flower and ornamental edibles garden. The flower garden is turning out to be extra special because I managed to win a contest for an amazing water fountain from Red, White & Grew and Serenity Health! So not only will we have a hand-made stone wall, we'll also have the gorgeous blue ceramic solar powered water fountain. I can't wait to be finished enough to take pictures and post them for everyone to see!

What state is your garden in? Are you still waiting for snow to stop, or are you half way through your growing season? 

Shared at the Backyard Farming Connection Hop #31!

Check back often for information on canning, preserving, general homesteading and more. If you have questions or comments, please write to me below. I love to answer questions! You can follow the blog via Network Blogs and Google Friend Connect (see the left hand column for the button). If you purchase items I have linked through Amazon or the ads on my site, I receive an affiliate portion of the sale. If you find the items are useful, please purchase from my site! 
 
You may also be interested in:

It doesn't have to be expensive
Making maple syrup
Peas - an early, cool weather crop
Spring in New Hampshire
Busy days, longer days