Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Worlds Most Expensive Vegetables - Part 3

Where to put the green beans? Where to put the sweet potatoes? Is planting cauliflower worth it? Decisions, decisions...

This past weekend I had hoped to put in the carrots, beets, cabbage and cauliflower but there was an event where my daughters could get free prom dresses (not that they are of prom age) and so most of my Saturday was spent outside with my three youngest. Watching. Yeah, I was watching the little ones, making sure none died, but mostly I was watching shadows on the ground, wondering. Is there enough sun on the spot where I intend to put the sweet taters? It's likely to get shade in the morning but will have at least eight hours of full sunlight. Or would it be better to put them where they'll have sun in the morning but shade in the evening? Am I over thinking this? Probably.

So while not much was done in the garden this past weekend, this past week was eventful. For instance I sank two exterior 2X4s into the dirt to serve as support for the jute twine trellis that will support the sugar snap and regular peas (visible in the back, right in front of the burn barrel). My two elder daughters (they probably like the label now but will hate it later) did the planting. Since I live on old farm land the dirt in the side yard is surprisingly rich so all I did was dig up a shovel depth and mix in some peat moss and, I think, a single bag of top soil along an eight foot length. I've not had much luck with peas in the past but then again, I was growing them in a window box with only a two foot trellis. Here's to hoping! In the foreground you can see the three ten foot sections I've dug to accept the sweet potato slips when they arrive in May. Well, two and a half. I must have been taking a break when I took the photo. I've not done anything yet to amend or warm the soil but I plan to put in those pocket hand warmers every six inches. Just kidding!

Here you see the beginning, and the ending, of the Hoffman Sugarbush. There was a branch in the way of the tire swing so I lopped it off with my trusty shears and then realized that the swingee was getting doused in sap. Up went a bucket on the ubiquitous jute twine! We collected about two cups over the next twenty-four hours and even though it was slightly sweet we decided against boiling it down to syrup as I don't know if the tree is even a maple, let alone a sugar maple.

The wee ones had the excitement of seeing the onions starting to sprout, even though they don't like onions. It's probably a good thing I didn't get any seeds in the ground this weekend because it snowed last night. Not a ton but enough that it is sticking, though I expect it to melt away soon. So now these onion sprouts are under a tarp, no doubt playing hide and seek.

And in final news, I'm continually surprised in my attempts to start things from seed. In the past it's been hit or miss, with the emphasis on miss. I get 'em started and grown okay but then they rot off at the soil. "Okay, I can figure this out," I decided and rolled up my sleeves and started researching. It turns out my cheapness was the problem so this year instead of reusing soil I purchased those little peat discs. I planted a variety of items a few weeks back in a store-bought lidded seed starting tray, making notes of what was where on a chart that I promptly misplaced, put the tray on a heating pad and covered the whole she-bang with an overturned plastic storage tote and waited. Some things sprouted within days so I moved these out from under the lidded tray but still under the tote, adding a light to give their chlorophyll a workout. Based on my past failures, I wasn't really expecting to be able to plant these so after two weeks I took the ones that sprouted and moved them to a plastic laundry basket which went right into the bedroom closet with yet another light on it. These have been watered and lighted and generally babied.

The unlidded tray with the failed peat plugs stayed in the dark basement, unwatered, unheated and neglected. I wasn't surprised at how many failed to ignite because, since I wasn't expecting much, I used some very old (2007) heritage tomato and pepper seeds, along with brand new celery and cabbage. However this past weekend I took a look and was shocked to see that a number of seeds have sprouted in the dark. At least one is an ancient pepper and the final tomato has sprouted as well, meaning every single seven year old tomato seed has taken root! Plus there are two mystery ones with itty bitty seeds. I'll have to find the chart to see what these are. But in the meantime, these are going straight up to the laundry basket to see if I can kill them.

No money spent this past week but I expect that to change soon. I think I'll shake things up and instead of making the first raised bed half lettuces and half carrots, with the hillbilly divider, I think I'll make that entire bed into lettuces and put the carrots in a second, yet to be constructed, bed. Which means that I'll need to buy twenty cubic feet of very loose soil.

Lesson Learned This Week: Never count an old seed out. They may surprise you with their resilience!

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