Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week 1 Progress Report

I went out to shoo a squirrel off the beds Wednesday morning, and the radishes had already sprouted! Less than 72 hours after planting, which is the fastest I've ever seen anything sprout!

When I checked today, the lettuces are up, both types of radishes are coming along nicely, and the arugulas are peeking out of the soil under the hay. No carrots yet, and my chives aren't looking too hot. One of those jerk squirrels dug up the middle of my melon mound sometime since Thursday morning. Thankfully, it has been raining so the roots didn't dry out before I found the damage and covered everything back up.

Week 1 - Radishes are here!

What a difference a week makes! Not only have the radishes sprouted like mad, but all the little transplants (beets, chard, lettuces) have straightened up and started to establish themselves. Last week, even the light mulching of hay was bending the transplant leaves over the side. I honestly wasn't sure if they were going to make it, but this week they are looking great! I'm still a little worried about the Lacinato kale that I planted, it's looking a bit leggy and hasn't started to fill out at all yet. I know I'm pretty late getting a cold-loving crop like kale started so late in the year, but we have a neverending need for greens due to our pet bunnies. So even if it doesn't produce too well, we can chop it down and feed it to them when it gets hotter.

Last year, we subscribed to a CSA, and the lady that runs it is at the Cowtown Farmer's Market every week with flowers and plants. This week, she had A TON of heirloom tomato, pepper, cucumber, and squash plants, in addition to her usual variety of herbs and flowers. She had a couple of buckets of ranunculus (which are my #1 favorite flower), but I managed to resist them and got a couple of tomato plants instead. I had been wanting a drying tomato and a black tomato, and luckily, she had both! I got a Principe Borghese (for drying) and a Black Sea Man. I was also going to get a cucumber plant, but since some cucumbers can hybridize with melons and make weird fruits, I figured I'd do some research on what kind of cucumber won't screw up my Charentais melons. I'm so looking forward to those!

It's still rainy today, and there isn't too much to do in the garden. I got my poor leftover sweet pepper planted this week, and my dahlias. I will have to go buy some containers for my new tomato prizes, but the plants are quite small, so I have some time.

Today, I'm going to:
- make our yogurt for this week (1 quart, whole milk, Liberte plain yogurt for the starter)
- make strawberry freezer jam and apricot compote
- roast some cherry tomatoes that are a bit past salad-quality and tuck them away in the fridge for tossing with a pasta later this week
- bake a loaf of bread
- and put together a spring celebration dinner

At the market yesterday, I picked up a big bunch of radishes, a bunch of jumbo asparagus, a tub of fresh goat cheese, and a block of goat's milk butter. I think tonight's dinner will be radish greens soup, roasted asparagus, home-baked wheat baguette with butter and cheese, and yogurt for dessert with apricot compote or strawberry jam.

We already had eggs for breakfast, poached and served over creamed Ruby chard. Otherwise, we would have this very nice looking open-faced sandwich for supper. Maybe we can eat eggs twice in one day...

Yard eggs

Or maybe I'll save the asparagus for tomorrow's supper and stretch out the spring a little bit longer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Planting complete!

Everything is planted! Well, almost. One pepper got left out because I couldn't find the right place, and I'll probably get one or two more tomatoes if I find varieties that I'm missing (one for drying, a black tomato). I spent about a week rearranging post-it notes on a 4x4 grid that I made up, and then ended up diverging quite a bit from my carefully laid plan once I saw how all the plants were fitting together, and noticing where I could squeeze in just a few more plants!

I'm hoping that the pecan tree doesn't shade the east bed too terribly much once it finishes leafing out. I knew that it wouldn't get quite as much sun as the west bed, but I think the pecan may have grown more than I expected since I was laying out where to put the beds late last summer.

Week 0 - Just planted

So, here we are. Week Zero. It was partly sunny when I planted everything, and I was worried about the sun drying out the tender transplants and cooking all seedlings before they could get established. I looked for an inexpensive shade cloth before I planted today, but couldn't find what I wanted. I decided a light layer of hay would provide some shade to the transplants until their roots could get established and would help keep moisture in the soil for sprouting the seeds.

I'm going to need shade cloth by early summer anyway. Hopefully I can keep my lettuces from bolting and extend the season for radishes by a few weeks.

After I finished all the planting, I sat down with my iPod Touch and seed packets, counted out all the estimated harvest dates, and set them all as appointments in my calendar! So nerdy, but so incredibly satisfying. Radishes will be up first, on May 11.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Garden is Born!

After years of being limited to container gardens due to the need for portability and lack of space, I will have my first official garden this year!

Husbeast helped me build two 4 x 4 beds, each 12 inches high. One is currently filled with dirt and settling in, and the second is ready to be filled. This week, I will be moving one or two wheelbarrow-fuls of dirt at a time around to the backyard and hope to be ready to plant both beds by next weekend.

Even though I am glad to have expanded out to the "official garden," I'm still planting in containers. This weekend, I rearranged my herb planters, adding mint and a tiny creeping thyme. I also planted a few new containers, one with Salmon Geranium, Chartreuse Sweet Potato vine, Sweet Alyssum for next to the front door and the first of several big containers to hold the plants that wouldn't fit in the garden proper. One container has Bright Lights Swiss Chard and Black Velvet Nasturtiums, the second has one Homestead tomato plant and some marigold seeds I saved from last year.

I'm glad I started my seeds early, it's made up for some of the time that I've been delayed in building and filling the big beds.

For (my) future reference, here's the (probably too ambitious) list of plants I thought I'd grow this year:


  • Brandywine
  • Stupice
  • Mexico Midget
  • Jellybean Grape
  • Snow White Cherry
  • White Beauty
  • Homestead

Zucchini – Black Beauty*
Cantaloupe – Charentais*


  • Buran Sweet Red
  • Ancho Gigantea*


  • Sweet Nantes*
  • Burpee Little Finger*


  • French Breakfast*
  • Watermelon*


  • Bull's Blood*
  • Burpee Golden*


  • Nasturtium - Black Velvet* & Milkmaid
  • Chives*
  • Marigolds* (mutts from saved seeds, they will be a surprise!)
  • Italian Parsley*
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Thyme - Doonan Valley, Creeping Mother, Silver Lemon
  • Oregano - Golden


  • Arugula* - Sylvetta & Roquette
  • Mixed Lettuces* - Amish Deer Tongue, Australian Yellowleaf, Bronze Arrowhead, Forellenschuss, Lollo Rossa, Pablo, Red Velvet, & Reine des Glaces
  • Swiss Chard - Rhubarb* & Bright Lights
  • Kale - Lacinato*

(* from seed)

I'm still working out where everything would go, but my seedlings are getting leggy, so they'll need to get a permanent home very soon or else!