February 21, 2012

Plannin' It Out

written by Yvonne

It's finally time to hit the dirt!  Just a little more planning so that things will go smoothly once I start planting seeds.  Since I've committed to succession planting, I got all the dates written down so I won't get confused. I double checked the dates on the packets (along with the last frost date) so I wouldn't be tempted to put things out too early.

Once I have are few dozen newspaper pots with small, green things growing in them, I'm going to forget what got started when.  I thought marking the pots with #1 or #2 might be a good idea (the numbers indicating whether it was the first or second planting of that item).  And since the pots are paper, it also seems like a good way to mark what seed is in each.  If this works, it will be much more efficient than having little sticks stuck in each pot, or what we did previously which was to mark the container the pots were in. I was pretty happy with myself for thinking to write on the pots BEFORE I filled them with dirt. The newspaper will get dark once it's wet so we'll see if I can still read it.

The soil is a combination of potting dirt, peat moss, and our very own worm castings.

I'M HAPPY!  Finally newspaper pots are getting filled with dirt and seeds!  Seems like this has been on my 'got to do this weekend' list for three weeks now! The seeds planted this round are onions (bunching and white), radishes, and buttercrunch lettuce.

I mixed up a batch of Jerry Baker's Seed Starter Tonic to encourage the seeds to grow strong and fruitful.  The tonic is a mixture of tea, ammonia, dish soap, and whiskey.  (Tom didn't think it was fair that the garden got to start drinking before we did.)

After watering the seeds I sprayed the tonic on the tops of each seed. Then I zipped up the mini-greenhouse to keep the seeds warm.  At some point we're going to get a thermometer to stick in the greenhouse to see how much warmer it is than outside.

Seeds that were sown directly into box #4 were sugar peas, cowpeas, and two kinds of carrots.  We both giggling every time I said "peas and carrots".  Guess we thought it was funny 'cause that's what you hear mom's tell their kids, "Eat your peas and carrots."  (Maybe you had to be there.)

While I was getting the Spring vegetable garden off to a good start, Tom finished trimming trees in the yard. Several weeks ago he trimmed the two biggest crepe myrtles; one of which was growing up into the electrical wires, and the other was overpowering our driveway.  This weekend he trimmed back the next two largest crepe myrtles and the apple tree (shown here).  Can you see him?  Of course Olive was outside helping us both with all of our outdoor tasks. She's even  harder to find, but she's in this picture too.

Don't forget - If you're looking for updates on the bees, go to TsBeesHoney.com.  While you're there, fill out the Contact T's Bees page and you'll be notified when honey is ready for purchase.

February 14, 2012

Update on winter growings

written by Yvonne

Winter is FINALLY upon us here in Charlotte and boy, was it wintery-cold this weekend! It made for good indoor activities like fires and cooking soup. Motivation to do anything outside was nonexistent.  So getting our seeds started will have to wait yet another weekend.

Here is how things look in TYs winter garden...

I'm super impressed that dill is growing.  Thanks to our mini greenhouse, we started these seeds in fall, transplanted it, and because of the hoop houses it not only survived, it's growing!

Same with the thyme.

(Sorry that a few of these photos are blown out a bit). The garlic is doing fantastic...

as is the arugula. I pulled out one plant because they are getting a little crowded and so we would have some to eat for a few days.

I harvested about a dozen of the larger spinach leaves and tossed them with the arugula to make several hearty salads.

I also harvested collards and threw them in a soup for lunches this week. I have a new collards recipe to try this coming weekend that promises to be quite tasty.

TONS of cabbages coming along.  The heads are just starting to form.  This is a good illustration of why we are going to succession plant.  All of these cabbages are going to be ready to eat at the same time.... that's a LOT of coleslaw, my friends!

The harvested bounty for the week.

If you're looking for updates on the bees, go to TsBeesHoney.com.  While you're there, fill out the Contact T's Bees page and you'll be notified when honey is ready for purchase.

February 7, 2012

More prep work

written by Yvonne

Using last year's notes and the NC Agriculture Extension Service's Vegetable Gardener's Guide, I planned out a rough planting timeline for everything we want to grow in the 2012 TY Veggie Patch.  Tom determined the last frost date of the year to be April 2 so we'll use that as a guide when determining a safe date to put plants in the beds. In 2011 we learned some valuable things that we'll apply to this year, including:
  1. Sow direct. If one of our reference books or the packet of seeds reads "sow direct", we will do so. We will not start those items in pots no matter how anxious we are to get them started. This seems to be the case for most of the root vegetables but a few other things as well.
  2. Use tonics. We really slacked off using Jerry Baker's tonics last year.  We're going to be more diligent in applying them this year.  We sprayed on a few Green Up tonics but that was it. One I came across this weekend is a Soil Starter tonic. He says to use it two weeks prior to planting to get the soil ready to receive transplants and seeds.  I'm definitely applying that one this year.
  3. Succession plant. We've read about it.  It makes sense. Sounds like a great idea.  Never actually done it.  For me, it has finally sunk in how to do it and why.  Let's say we decide that four butter crunch lettuce plants are sufficient for the season.  Instead of starting all four plants at the same time, we will start two plants now and two weeks later, start the other two.  This way instead of having all four plants come "online" at the same time, two will be ready and by the time we're done eating on that, the others will be up.  We're doing this with EVERYTHING we plant. By doing so, hopefully the bounty will be spaced out over a longer period of time and we won't be inundated with 116 cucumbers in a three week period. The part that will take some brain powers is making sure to leave enough space in each bed for the plants yet to come.

During the Super Bowl, I cut strips of newspaper and we set to making a bag full of pots to start our seeds this coming weekend.