Monday, March 17, 2014

Time to plant melons and squash

It is a great day to plant your melons and squash and of course any other vegetable you wish to get into the ground and produce earlier.  I am trying to maximize space in my tiny greenhouse by planting two seeds in each cell.  These will be separated and repotted when they have their first leaves on.  The cucumbers I planted weeks ago are now 5 inches high and are now growing rapidly in the newspaper pots they were transferred to.  


The dollar store had seed packets available @3 for $1.  These were the essential ones most people would purchase .  The ones pictured above were finds from the local big box hardware store.  Even Martha Stewart has a nice selection of organic seeds!!! These are great finds for the beginner gardener as these give you a limited but good variety of seeds to sow in a small bed.  Once you have grown the produce from seeds, you can always save the seeds they produce for next year.  Gathering seeds will be just as important as finding the right seeds to plant this year.  Seeds this year have cost us approximately $100.  To purchase the same amount of plants these will produce or to purchase the produce would cost hundreds of dollars more.  A mellon vine can produce a dozen or so in a season and at $3 per mellon, you are almost half way to the cost of your seed.  Determine what you want to grow and how you will store your produce.  Keep the packages for the information and what the veggie looks like.  For tiny seeds such as celery, carrot and beets, seed tape is a great choice.  You can easily plant these tiny seeds by simply unrolling the tape containing the seeds placed at the exact distance for growing.  This reduces the amount of thinning necessary for plants to get the space they need to grow.  

With experience, you will be able to recognize the leaves of plants as they begin to mature.  If you have way too many plants or seed you wish to share.... this would be a great opportunity to meet your neighbors or swap plants with other gardners.  I know my young mother of two Sarah is too busy to plant right now but with me helping her in her garden each year, she can have a very productive and healthy way to feed her girls.

In the months ahead, I will show you just how to store and preserve your harvest!!  It is best to shop for seeds now as we enter into the growing season to get the best selection.  

Using the seed packet to note which seeds are which will eventually get soggy.  My daughter came up with a way to keep track of seeds, especially in flats where many different varieties are planted.  I liked her ingenuity so here it is...  The writing is facing inwards and they are clipped where the seeds are planted.  This way, we can still use them to dry our clothes on the line in the summer when they are not needed in the greenhouse.  I did purchase a roll of clear plastic with adhesive on one side to waterproof the seed packet for outside in the spring.



With each trip to the grocery store, I select fresh produce that can easily be rooted to produce another plant.  Those green onions with the roots still intact can be cut about 1/4 inch above the roots and placed in a cup of water overnight.  You can then place these into seeding cells.  For each cell that did not produce a plant from seeds, I simply pushed my index finger into the middle of a vacant cell, placed the roots in and pushed the soil back in place around it.  Boston red leaf lettuce (pictured above shows new leaves forming) does not have roots but amazingly, just like the celery, I just cut off then ends about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom and placed in water.  Small roots will form after you notice the greenery beginning to sprout leaves up through the middle.  I then potted these in paper pots as well.  These will mature faster than it will from seeds.  Just about all veggies including the tops of carrots and beets will produce a new veggie.  Potatoes in our cupboard are kept in the dark and allowed to grow eyes.  These eyes will eventually produce vines that will grow our potatoes.  Once the ground is ready, I will place these potatoes on the bottom of a potatoe box to produce over 100 pounds of them.

The asperagus is now a bunch of ferns growing every which way.  I had hoped our spring would have arrived this month with the warming to the earth so necessary for planting these early producers.  Only these will not produce for another few years yet to come.  The far corner of our garden that has an abundance of daisies will be greatly thinned to accomodate for these new inhabitants.  I look forward to harvesting these beauties in 2016.

The marigolds are growing quickly now that the roots are filling up the tiny cells they were seeded in.  This week, I will be planting more Marigolds in paper pots now that I have run out of seeding cells.

The design we agreed on is shown below.  The 'clown face' at the top is a sitting deck with room for two to have coffee in the morning sun.  The dark area on either side is our existing garden where there are small bushes and some plantings.  The dark triangles in the flower shape are the above ground planting beds that will have a small climbing fence at the outside edge.  The paths in between (lighter colour) allow us to move around and cultivate our plants from all sides.  The openings will eventually have raspberries and other low lying fruit bearing bushes planted.  This will keep nocturnal visitors from freely entering the garden patch.  The raspberry canes will be donated by our neighbor and planted once the boxes are completed.  The stone front steps at the top of the picture and to the right have the wall of the garage to one side.  This is the wall that will incorporate our vertical herb garden.   All other areas are grass and places to plant some of our perennials from the back garden in order to dress up our vegetable garden.  A small sign will be placed at the end of the driveway (black) offering a link to our blog so that our neighbors can see how our garden grows.

We welcome you to share your experiences as an urban gardener and your hints and tips to make a garden as productive as possible.  This coming week:

PLANTING CHART:  We will have a chart compiled to let you know what plants work well together and what plants do not.  Encouraging plants to grow and planting flowers like the marigolds discourage cat visitors while encouraging bees to come and pollinate the flowers that both vegetable and fruit plants produce.  Bees and other pollinating insects are beneficial to our gardens.  Some plants discourage non-beneficial insects to stay away.  

PREVENTING ANIMAL INTRUSION: The raspberry canes I mentioned earlier... some of them will be placed across the beds where new seedings are growing to discourage cats and squirrels from digging into the newly seeded earth.  Rose canes also work well from the heritage roses.  Some soil additives can also help deter squirrels.

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