Sunday, March 25, 2012

Busy Weekend

Flowers everywhere this week.
The garlic is ready for that first shot of fertilizer - the key to large bulbs, so I am told.
The fruit trees are really near flowering - too early for comfort.
Today's salad came from these hoop house plants
Our French tarragon is so good in salads and of course in eggs. Make sure you get real tarragon and not the Russian variety from seed that does not taste good.
This is the best of the several clumps of sorrel we have - good rich flavor.
Pellitized onions were planted today - should make transplanting easier.
Two seeds per cell - so much easier than the old way - of multi seeds per inch in a tray.
Storage onions from last year are used as sets for this year.
Shallots saved from last year planted for this years corp - I sure hope they work.

Parsley seed ready for the hot water treatment before seeding into flats.

Most of this weeks activity was in the last two days. Saturday I was part of the Garden Expectations Conference in Kimberly WI sponsored by the Outagamie County Master Gardeners and the UW Extension. There was a great crowd of enthusiastic gardeners and I got to talk about vegetable gardening - what fun. I also was part of the panel of "experts" that answered questions at the end of the conference. I got a "best tomato question" and really did not answer it - like how can you? But I guess in thinking maybe "Sugary" would be a great inclusion to any tomato patch and then" County Taste" might also be a good selection - but best tomato - I am still looking for that too.
Warm weather continues and so I got some onions and shallots planted in the garden. Both were left overs from last year that kept quite nicely in the garage during winter and looked ready to go into the ground today. One row of shallots and one row of yellow onions - variety's from last year.
I also planted seedlings. I planted red stemmed dandelions along with pellitized onions seed from Johnny's that are pictured above. I also planted curly leaf and Italian leaf parsley. I did the hot water treatment to the seed. I heated water in the microwave and poured it over the seed before I sowed the seed into flats. Last year this hastened germination so I am trying it again to see if I have the process correct.
I harvested both arugula and spinach from the garden for salads today and also have a tray of sprouted sunflower seeds, so some of them ended up in the salad today.
Cool weather is predicted for tonight and as you can see the fruit trees are really far along for this time of year - sure hope we don't get hard frost on them. However, living as close to the bay of Green Bay as we do, the bay warms quickly and then helps moderate the weather for us, so maybe frost will not bother us.
Happy Gardening

Monday, March 19, 2012

82.6 Degrees!!!

Even this early daffodil is blooming with my February Golds.
February Golds usually bloom first, and then the rest of my daffodils...but not his spring.
Cedar log for Mason bees.

The hoop house spinach crop.
Three seedling rows of radish and mixed greens sprouted in a week.

This March is really something. The thermometer on the garden shed measured 82.6 degrees at about 1 o'clock - really not March weather. I have seen bumblebees and today a white cabbage butterfly so bugs are out too.
I finished pruning the apple trees today and the tree in the garden has really swollen buds - sure hope we don't get any hard cold weather yet. Our real frost free date is in May. I have nice spinach in the hoop house and seedling radishes and greens are up. I have been leaving the door open with this warm weather - spinach hates hot weather and will bolt because of it.
I made a mason bee nest out of a piece of cedar log and will make another one for the other trees too. I drilled holes in the log and hung it in the tree and I hope it attracts some pollinators. Honey bees were almost totally absent last season and with all my crocus and daffodils blooming I have seen few bees - only that one bumble bee last week and none since.
Lettuce seedlings are up in the greenhouse and I moved the tray out to the hoop house for cooler growing. The some of the seedlings will end up in the hoop house anyways. Spinach, sorrel, chives and tarragon are all on the menu this week.
Happy Gardening

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March Means Heat in the Greenhouse

Today these crocus are covered with 8 inches of new snow - Ah! March
The annual plastic cover for the inside of the greenhouse.
The pine lath strips make good anchors for both sides and roof application of plastic sheets.
Completed space.
This is my heat mat for starting seeds. Soon it will be in use.
Job done and the heat was also turned on today.
Cold Frame season extenders are great garden tools.
Google up -" cold frame manual " to get the plans for two frames from one sheet of plywood.

March is the traditional start for the greenhouse. The space costs too much to heat all winter as we had done in the distant past when orchids populated the space. But we soon determined that it cost as much to heat our home as the greenhouse and so I have been turning on the heater in March to start plants and move plants that have wintered under lights in the basement out into better spring light. Tomorrow all the amaryllis will get the move along with the geraniums that are in the basement. The black fig, that is just barely hanging on, will also get to move and hopefully will be happier.

Even for the short time the heater is running I still spend a day insulating the space with a double wall of three mil plastic sheeting. I have lath strips in place along the aluminum frame of the greenhouse so I can staple the plastic to them. For sure I am going to have to replace all of them next fall because they are so full of staples. When the plastic comes down in June I just pull it off the lath but the staples stay - so, to say the least the lath is really full of 1/4 inch staples.

Until the vent needs to start opening to cool the greenhouse I have insulation on that roof area too, but that is a bubble plastic that is covered with foil to help insulate the very top of the greenhouse. All this, I think/hope, helps with the energy use. Likewise only heating the space for a month is practical. April nights are seldom as cold as March and with the insulation the greenhouse stays a pretty constant 55 degrees.

This past Thursday, I had an excellent time at Qualheim's True Value Hardware in Shawano. I was there to talk about vegetable gardening to a nice group in interested gardeners ( 77 strong). I was the eighth speaker in the 2012 series of talks sponsored by Qualheim's. The week before someone spoke on Mushrooms and the list of other topics was varied and interesting. I sure would have liked to have heard the mushroom one. We talked about general vegetable gardening and I gave them the way to easily find the cold frame plans that I wrote for the Wisconsin Got Dirt program. I'll remind everyone again - just Google the term - cold frame manual - and in the results the first one is my plan.
Happy Gardening