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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Spring planting is well under way

We've had fresh strawberries for close to two weeks now. This unseasonably warm spring has everything coming in early.  Lettuce has been ready for a couple of weeks, and I'll harvest my first spinach later this afternoon.

Today I had to clean out my two earth boxes and get them set up with fresh dolomite, organic fertilizer and a bit of  fresh potting soil. I didn't bother to add all new soil, so this will be a little bit of an experiment this year when I'm cutting down a lot of garden work due to my hip being in such bad shape and my husbands illness. After dinner I'll transplant my serrano chiles and golden bell peppers in them and tomorrow I'll got some tomatoes for them as well.

I planted a few planters with flowers (have to have some flowers!); but won't be planting as many as other years. Fortunately most of my planters have perennials in them so they won't look to bare this year.

Tomorrow I'll get to our local co-op which is having a sale on organic veggie starts and pick up my tomato seedlings. They always have some old timey ones like Brandywine, which is my favorite tasting tomato. I'm cutting down a bit on tomato plants this year and will only get one grape, one cherry, a few San Marzanos for pizzas and fresh sauce for pasta during the summer, one Brandywine for those great tomato sandwiches, and maybe one earlier hybrid beefsteak for an earlier big tomato.

My potatoes have to be holed up again. They're already a foot high and the fava beans which I planted a bit late are quite tall already as well. The garden is definitely enjoying this global warming. If it's this hot in April and May, I wonder what summer will bring. I may finally get in our pool this summer. It's been three years since we moved here and I've yet to set foot in it; but it was looking pretty inviting this afternoon!

Since Jim isn't a big fan, and I don't make it very often, I'll skip planting eggplant. The same goes for  broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. I can get those as needed from our many local, organic gardeners who sell as several farmers markets here in the valley.  Instead I think I'll plant some cantaloupes, one Heirloom Italian zucchini that I love for the big flowers as well as the soft skinned fruit. One zucchini will take up 4 squares in my square foot gardening raised beds  I'll plant the usual pole and bush beans, herbs, and a couple of cucumbers. My arugula is already in flower, so I'll be pulling some of that out soon and replacing it with the tomatoes.

I didn't get to plant carrots or beets early enough, but I did plant a few early snow peas which will be sharing my tall, square bean pole. We always have more beans than we can eat in a week and I wind up have to freeze some, so this year one quarter of it has enough snow peas for me to use in salad or stir fries for the two of us.  This is my third season with square foot gardening in two large beds and two earth boxes and I'm amazed at how much food that little bit of space provides.

I have two artichoke plant that survived last winter  because of the heavy mulch I put on them and each already has a small artichoke ready to harvest. But that's the problem - lots of little artichokes. I grew them years ago in California and got very large fruits; but this variety gives a lot of fruit. Next year I may just start my own indoors; but it will definitely be a different variety known for large fruits!

Another thing I want to plant this year  is two, not too tall blueberry plants. I had about 3 or 4 well established. huge ones at our old house and I miss them. I don't even know if they have any shorter varieties but I'll soon find out! I'm off to the Grange co-op tomorrow afternoon and hopefully will be bringing some home as well as a couple of large planters for them, as well as tomato and melon plants and probably, other goodies as well. I do so love springtime planting!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring fever and spring planting

Well, with spring officially a week away, I'm planning on what I can find the time and energy to do in the garden this week. In another day or two the temperatures will be climbing up to the high 70's and even 80's and I still have to finish spring clean up and and do other garden chores - like weeding, feeding and planting.

Winter was milder this year, thank God, and my 2 well mulched artichoke plants and jasmine vines made it through just fine, even though we had many nights in the teens. The winter before I lost them as well as some perennials when temperatures plummeted to well below zero in this 7b-8 zone.

Last month  I planted fava beans, spinach, kale, shallots, peas, arugula, lettuce, sorrel, potatoes, parsley, cilantro, leeks and some new, large, June bearing strawberries. I've been too busy to keep up my garden calendar, so I may have also planted some onions and garlic. I'll have to get out there later today or tomorrow and looks at  what's up in the raised beds and get it all fed, which I should have done at planting time. But, cold weather came in and it may have been good that I didn't fertilize which would have only quickly brought on new, tender growth.

I never got around to planting carrots and beets, and it may be too late to plant the beets because of our hot, dry, summers.

Next month I'll plant the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, pole and bush beans, cucumbers, melons, zucchini, and basil; but it won't be my own seedlings. Last year my office/meditation rooms doubled as a greenhouse with several grow light set up; but I think I'm done with that since we have local growers who do a great job of it and have a huge selection of heirloom, organic veggies and veggie seedlings. Even one of our local garden centers is now selling organic veggies starts and I expect more will soon follow. The one exception I may make is to start my calendula indoors since I want to dry them and use them in soaps and maybe creams in the fall.
 One grower will sell you a single plug of a veggie start, so you can pick a variety of  the same veggie  and flowers;  and for us with smaller gardens or smaller needs it's a great service.I'm not into canning any more. The closest I come to that is freezing pesto, some beans, hot pepper and tomato sauce when the tomatoes are in full force. Everything else is used soon after after harvest.