Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Still Paused

The Fig tree is glad to be in the greenhouse.
Part of this weeks seeding on the heating mat for 75 degree bottom heat.
Onion flats with three to four rows of seed the short way in the flat.
You can see them starting to sprout already.
Getting ready to hot water treat the parsley planting.

These pellitized lettuce seed make planting much easier and thinning really easy.
And they're off...

The 17 plus inches of snow is still here and not going any place real quick. It will take a real warm spell and some rain to get rid of this much snow. My cedar trees took a real hit on the west side of my house. They really bent over and even though I got out and knocked snow off, branches broke and a decision on which ones will stay and which ones will go will have to be made. The trees are almost 30 years old and this storm has probably forced me to make a decision about re-working that side of the yard. Opening up the area and getting some extra space close to the garden might not be a bad thing. But the bottom line is - first the snow must GO.
The birds at the feeders have increased noticeably and much more frequently. I have been feeding sunflower, cracked corn, Niger thistle, suet cakes, safflower and this week I put out grape jelly and some dried meal worms. Hope it helps some make it. The Goldfinch males are starting to change color and the male House Finches already have spring color. The number of Grackles is just huge and they are so noisy.
The snow made it tough to get to the hoop house so I only got one row of spinach planted on Saturday but I did a lot of planting in the greenhouse. Onions were the first. I will review this year the onion planting method as I like to seed onions and them plant them out in the garden. I make multiple rows (3 or 4 depending of the size) in the seed flat and then sow them thick, as I will be separating them at planting time. They are already showing signs of sprouting. I did shallots the same way - in mini rows thickly. I did find sme shallots in the store the other day and bought two bags as they looked ready to grow. I will plant them as soon as I can out in the main garden and maybe some in the hoop house.
I also started parsley today and Thursday. I put the seed in 12 packs with 3 -5 seeds per cell and then hot water treated the planted seed. I have hot water treated the contents of the seed packet before but then you have to wait to plants as the seed clumps together when wet - so I got my water really hot and treated the planted seed.
I also planted marigolds ( they are already up) two flats of lettuce. All the lettuce seed is pelted so it was easy to seed one or two seeds per cell. I planted all of the special Simply Salad Mix pellets. They were much larger than the lettuce pellets and easy to seed only one in a cell. I also planted one large wallpaper tray with a lettuce/radish mix for micro greens and plan to do another with arugula as soon as I can get that cold frame set up - the one I took back in to paint - lucky me as all the cold frames are snow buried again. I also planted some Stevia. The seed is very small so I put it all in a small 3 inch pot and will transplant any seedlings that grow. I made geranium cuttings and potted some spider plant off-shoots to replace the plants that I will use in an outdoor planting this summer.
Not too bad a effort this week after a major spring storm.
Happy Gardening

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring On Pause

Looks like the garden will be invisible for a few more days....
Wait now the apples trees have snow under them again!
My measurements are too early as the real total is another 5 inches more -

Winter has returned to the tune of 17inches of snow... that puts a real pause on spring.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moonlight Singers

Without pruning your apple tree will bear heavy fruit in alternate years.
These are some of the grafts on the tree - this one is maybe on its third year.
This graft is older and as you see it took on the bottom instead of on the top like the other.
I got my scions from Tony Dembski at Maple Valley Orchard and Nursery, Gillett, Wi.
Water sprouts need to be take off.
All of these were taken back to a downward facing bud.
Wow, all these water sprouts need to go.

These are fruiting buds - large buds and on spurs.
This is a stem or leaf bud - thin and terminal on this stem.
The trees pruned and ready for this seasons growth.
The newest cold frame for transplants.
Lettuce that wintered over in this garden cold frame

Early this morning, around 2 a.m., I was up sorting seeds and heard the Whistling Swans (Tundra) calling as they flew through the moonlight on this first official day of spring. Each year I enjoy hearing the flocks of Whistling Swans call as they fly north. In the daylight the white V's are tiny specks high in the sky, but last night as they few through the moonlight dragging spring north with them only their voices announced their presence. Something got me up so as not to miss them as they flew.
This week the apples were pruned. The pictures show the long water sprouts that I was cutting off. These will not produce fruit and need to be cut off. In my pruning I try to get as many fruiting spurs to develop as possible so some of the one year old wood was pruned to encourage down ward buds that might produce flower buds for next season. The fruiting wood for next season will grow this spring and the flowers that I have were produced last season. Fruit buds are larger and in most cases are on a spur. Occasionally some trees produce tip buds but most of my grafts don't. Note the pictures for the difference between fruit buds and stem or leaf buds. I tied some branches downward with soft 45 degree angles to try to encourage fruiting buds to grow. I made loose knots so I could check them during the growing season so as not to gird the branch. Sometimes the same thing can be done with weights. Once, I used clay flower pots to pull branches down.
The cold frame is one I want to use only for transplants so I set it up and then got a big hint that it would look so much better painted. So before today's rain I brought it back into the garage to wait for a warm painting day. The old shower curtain in the frame will be the plastic lid for this one - I like the idea that the plastic is not clear but opaque. That will help with tender plants that come out of the greenhouse to be hardened off outside.
I have started to fill the rain barrels by the greenhouse. The first one filled with today's rain and so now I should set the other four up to fill. Last summer we did not need them but since they are close to the cold frame and the EarthBoxes I use that water for those plants - nice to have it close.
Most of the last snow went with today's rain so I was glad I got the pruning done. Too wet in the cold frames to plant and cleaning my basement work space to get back to lamworking meant that the seeding I thought I might get done - didn't. Certainly the packets are in good order due to last nights sorting.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Signs Just Keep Arriving

But will the new fence keep the bunnies away from these?
The fig out of the pot and needing some root pruning
I pulled and cut off maybe a 25% of the root ball.
New soil, some time release fertilizer and a top dressing of worm casting - bring on the figs.

This past Saturday I spent talking about vegetable gardening at the Seeds Of Hope Plant Event at Fox Valley Technical College. There was a great responsive crowd to listen to presentations on Roses, Herbs in Cooking, Plant Propagation, Landscape Structures and Vegetable Gardening. This is an annual scholarship fund raiser for the college and my second year of participation. I had enthusiastic gardeners for both sessions and lots of interest and great questions. I brought along some pellitized lettuce seed to show the gardeners and a knock down cold frame to spark some interest in building a season extender even this spring. I put a planting board in the silent auction and was happy with the amount it raised for the scholarship fund.

During the day I found out about a great little plant store in Appleton, WI called Arics Indoor Garden Supply at 1104 W. Wisconsin Ave. This is a neat garden supply store especially for Hydroponics but also for other growing supplies. I got some worm castings, vermiculite for top dressing my seeding this spring, a new grafting try and lid, and was amazed at the huge selection of organic soil mixes. I don't know about shipping but if you are in the area stop by - Aric's web site is - - open seven days a week.

The signs of spring are arriving daily. I saw a groundhog today - luckily far away from my
garden but still a reminder of last summer's intruder. Robin count is two so far but I am sure more are here and I did see a Purple Grackle at the feeder this afternoon so they are also back - the yard noise will radically increase after the near silence of winter.

I got the fig tree root pruned this week and opened the auto-vent system on the green house because it has already gotten TOO HOT in there. Even with double layers of plastic the heat builds up almost instantiously on a bright sunny morning so the vent should solve that problem.
The list of "to do" will grow daily and top of the list is pruning the fruit trees and doing the taxes - OK now which one will be more fun? Duh.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Figgy and Other Sure Signs of SPRING!

The greenhouse is insulated, populated, and running for the 2011 season
The fig tree was in the basement crawl space till yesterday -
Something told the tree spring was close...
Species crocus in the grass have been blooming for at least two weeks!
The return of the Red Wing Blackbird will mean the finches will soon turn yellow.

I was gone last weekend to visit my folks in Flagstaff, AZ. Just in case you don't know Flagg - I arrived 5 hours before a six inch snowstorm. However, I did have some time to walk and enjoy the mountain sun and I even saw a Robin, but back to Wisconsin spring signs.
The fig tree came out of the basement yesterday. As the pictures tell, the tree had already decided it was time to awake even in a dark crawlspace. I think the little fig on one branch is determination on the part of this plant to grow and make figs for us.
Crocus are blooming in the yard in the three foot distance from the house. This is usually the first spot to have flowers and then as the grass on this south facing slope warms more crocus hear the call of spring. These lawn plantings do OK as they seem to have enough time to bloom grow and set new bulbs for next season. Farther out in the grass the daffodils are still covered with snow.
There was also my first Red Wing Blackbird at my feeder this afternoon. If I look back it might be a bit early for them in my yard but with the feeders freshly filled I guess he was hungry and will be back unless determined to go farther north.
The green house is newly insulated with a double layer of 4ml plastic that I got done today. The heater is running and all the plants under the lights in the basement are out there even the fig tree. It will be a cool run for a couple of weeks until I can get some seeds going and then when I plant tomatoes we will warm the space up a few more degrees. Right now 50 degrees will be the night temp and the day temp will be what ever the sun can warm up the space to. Today while putting up the plastic the space was hot but it sure felt good.
Susan and I attended a series of garden lectures Saturday sponsored by the NEW Master Gardeners. The whole day was informative, and we always enjoy the information that Phil Pellitteri, UW Entomologist presents. He spoke on native pollinators, something I am most interested in this season, and suggested that planting, cilantro, mustards, and arugula, and even letting the weeds flower are good for these insects. I am going to make sure that we have as many of these as possible in the garden this year - and the weeds should be the easiest part.
Happy Gardening

Next weekend I will be part of the SEEDS OF HOPE Garden Talk Event at Fox Valley Technical College - you can Google the site or call for info. If you can, come and participate, the day will be full of great information. and the funds raised go to assist students in need.