Sunday, May 29, 2011

Troubles in Garden Land

This columbine is over three feet tall and full of flowers.
The start of lilac time.
Alliums are nice colorful ball of flowers.
Unhappy tomatoes.
Its a wait and see what develops on this one.
I don't think I will have any of these grafts take.
The following are all the peletized seeds that make transplanting so easy.

The cold frame is full of transplants waiting for garden space.
The new fig is looking good.
My maple bonsai is really nice this year - check out the tea cup hosta in the pot.

Wet, this spring is so wet. It is raining again as I make this entry and by next week we are supposed to continue to get more. My heavy soil just will not dry out. Boy Howdy, this is the year we should have a crop of winter rye planted to help the soil dry out. I am planning to put in the tomato stakes tomorrow but will not be able to till yet unless I want bricks. To add to this complaint my tomato seedlings don't look happy (see picture) I think I maybe burned them with too much fertilizer or they got sunburned themselves because I sure don't want a fungus among us. But just to play it safe they got a dose of a fungicide today - if you have to treat your plants remember all fungicides are expensive - $20 for my bottle. With all the rain I could have a disease so time will tell. Plus, the grafted plants are just not making it. I have read that without a mist chamber grafting is tough - well that's an understatement - its way more than tough. I am down to three plants out of eight and they don't seem happy. I have some more root stock planted and will need to plant some scions and try that again. These grafts are almost two weeks old and should be able to be in the light but that's not happening. Try, try again and see what has to be changed to make grafting happen.
I planted my root stock for cucurbit grafting but germination was poor so I re-planted in hopes of getting another chance. I have the clips and would like to have some watermelons on real strong roots systems but my watermelons damped off and my root stock did not germinate too well - one out of four cells. That too we will just keep experimenting with and see what happens.
Otherwise the plants in the cold frame are itching to get into the ground. I am ready to plant the front bed with parsley and marigolds but have a rabbit in the area so bring on the Cayenne pepper to ward him off. I planted my tower but instead of flowers I used spider plants so hopefully it will look like a green and white tree. I used them because they are more drought tolerant than flowers.
The apples are in full bloom but with rain we may not get good pollination this season. I have yet to see any honey bees on any of the apple trees and I have a 25ft snowdrift crab blooming in the front of the house - that too has NO BEES! But my neighbors are all on commercial spray programs - ugh.
The new fig tree is growing nicely and may soon need a bigger pot. The old fig tree has made some nice growth this spring and now we await the formation of figs.
I unpacked the two new Earth Boxes and got my soil mixed but have not filled them yet. All the peppers are going into these containers this year.
The flowers in the yard are blooming nicely and a little warm weather would be more than appreciated.
Happy Gardening.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Warm Days, Big Rain, and a Change

Male catkins of Bur Oak - some things are just fun to take pictures of...
Grafting tomatoes - Red Peach root stock and a variety of scions
Finding single edge razor blades is a trick.
I cut both plants together to make sure the angle is the same to graft them together. To remember which is the scion I cut the seed leaves off and not on the rootstock.
I have two sizes of these sleeves and I learned that you keep them on until the plant grows out of them.
Now the tray of grafts goes into a humid, warm, dark environment for a week.
Apple flowers on Friday will be blooming today and waiting for bees.

The garden had almost dried out when we had a cloud burst today and water ran through the garden and will put off tilling for some time. As I dug around yesterday I noticed that closer to the house the soil was still too wet to till so I decided to paint the garden shed instead. I got two sides done before the weather man warned of thunderstorms and hail - a greenhouse nightmare. So I put my paints away and covered the greenhouse with a tarp and as luck would have it scared the hail away. I will leave the tarp up all night as the storms seem to still be in the forecasts and I can pull the tarp off in the morning.
I spent most of Friday transplanting tomatoes. I put them into four packs and thus had some plants left over, so I tried grafting again. Last post showed the grafted tomatoes that I shipped in and today's post has some pictures of the plants I grafted. I had plenty of Red Peach rootstock so I took scions from whatever I had extra and got eight grafted plants. I once again almost lost them because my heat mat got TOO warm overnight but all seems to be going well now. I will keep them in the dark until Tuesday and then slowly bring them into the light.
I also started melons and cucumbers along with the special seeds I purchased to try grafting these plants too. I may have some problems as I have a return trip to AZ scheduled in a little less than three weeks and this might not be enough time to get the grafts done - Oh well it's all experimentation fun.
I had to make other arrangements for my baby chickens as I have a new family commitment that will be taking me back and forth to AZ and we all decided that the chickens would be too difficult to manage this year. Getting the shed painted and a coop built were some additional problems. Happily I found homes for them all. Joe took two on Friday and Beth and Todd took Kevin and her sisters today. I am so happy for everyone as I am sure that these birds have great new homes and will be welcome additions to both these Urban Chicken families. Good luck guys and all we ask is for a couple of eggs sometime in the fall.
I included pictures of my favorite oak flowers this week as I find these so very interesting and take pictures of them every spring. Plus the apples are blooming and here's hoping we have some bees out there doing their work.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Still A Cool Spring

A great dwarf iris
These plants from Territorial Seeds were well packed for shipping.
Looks close to my grafts from last season
The chicks have more than doubled in size!

I have been gone to AZ for some time helping my invalid parents so my lovely wife has been working hard to keep things growing in the greenhouse and cold frames. This spring is causing us to still heat the greenhouse for seedlings. Usually we have cut the heat long before May in the past. Well not this year.
The grafted tomatoes came from Territorial Seeds and they don't look a lot different than the ones I did last season. They need repotting and some warm sun to take off; and that goes for our own seedling tomatoes and peppers. I am thinkiing that I should pull off one of the plastic layers in the greenhouse and see if more light will perk things up.
The chicks came May 2nd! and I left for AZ on the 3rd! They are now out of the basement and in the greenhouse in a big plastic tub and hopefully this week they will be out of that and into a dog crate and moved to the garden shed which is destined to be their permanent home. The city ordinance was successfully rewritten and now all I have to get is the $5 license. They really grew while I was gone and have started to give us clues to their possible names.
Now that I am back home to my family, greenhouse, and garden things might slowly get growing if the weather would decide to cooperate.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Grubbing Out Stumps and Asparagus Class

They are my" favorite" spring flower.
Dig that trench 10in deep, 10in wide and plant the crowns 18in apart for the best results.
Having a good time at the Asparagus Festival - people, plants, and food always a good mix.
The cedar stumps removed and the holes filled with runoff from the rain.
Cutting the trunks too short was a big mistake - leverage is a good tool.
But cutting the roots and using a pry-bar worked.
My son, Andrew, helped me with the stump cleanup - we may have to use his truck too.
Because I don't think the leaf and brush guys will take them and we will have to take them to the leaf dump.

The weather cooperated and with my saws-all in hand, and help from my son and wife, I was able to cut the stumps out and get them to the street. I will call the city to see if they will take them or if I have to remove them to the yard waste site, but the space is clear and now I can get onto the next job. This spot will probably lay fallow for a year while I plan what will go here but I am thinking seriously about grapes and an apricot tree.

Before the chicken coop is built in the garden shed I need to clean it and repaint it. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I will be able to get that done this week.

I got another tray of lettuce planted in the hoop house this week. Most of the zinnias are seeded and they are amazing germinators - most are up in three of four days. The Four-O'clock are really slow to germinate even with good bottom heat. I was also happy with the germination of the Stevia seeds as I got six plants from the seed packet and for as small as the see was I was happy with the germination. The tomato and pepper seedlings are real poky and we need some good sunny weather to move them along. I have not started any cubits because I want to read up on the ones I want to try to graft and the month of May and early June are packed with activities some which will take me away from the greenhouse and its care so I will have to plant accordingly.

The Negronne fig , which was dormant last week, has sprouted and the Chicago Fig outside is really happy - green and growing 6 to 8 inches so far this season. I have even seen several figs that are already swelling and growing.

I planted shallots bulbs today on the back of the hoop house as the ground there was ready and easy to work. I had found two nice one pound bags at Trader Joe's several months ago and decided to use them and see what I got. Hopefully they will sprout and multiply. The onions in the cold frame would like to go into the garden but the soil is still very wet and as it rained last night not tilling is in the immediate future. Moving some sorrel and getting rid of some sod close to the area where the cedar trees were taken out is something I might be able to do this week but no planting in the main garden is remotely possible -

Saturday I had a good time helping people who bought asparagus plants from the Gardeners' Club of Green Bay. I was the answer guy for planting questions and with plants, ruler and aquarium I explained the trench method for planting this crop. We talked about fertilizer and that gave me reason to invited people to the Urban Chicken workshop and expound on the value of chicken manure as fertilizer and compost. Everyone was eager to go home and plant asparagus. I think most everyone understood the need to let the plants grow undisturbed till 2013 before the first harvest.
Happy Gardening