Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cloche Micro Climate

It may be a cold spring, but in the cloche, it's another world. The borage is blooming. It will be a long time before we see blooming borage in the world outside the cloche. Chard, Borage, Chives, Lettuce & Parsley inside the cloche, above.
Cloched chives, soon to be blooming. These treats are especially appreciated this year, as spring is off to such a cold start, and so is my garden activities.

Yesterday, I did transplant the fennel seedlings in the garden and planted some pea seeds to add to the seedlings started in doors and transplanted some weeks ago. The broccoli seedlings in the garden are ok, but some have become slug food (especially the ones I planted in the cloche).

I do need to plant beets and carrot seeds... but today we also had to fit in a nice walk and geocaching since the weather was right!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

It's opening day...

...of sunflower season!

My tomato seedlings are not growing much indoors (not enough light) nor in the garage (too cold), carrots are not planted, beets still to be seeded, fennel seedlings are past due for planting, slugs keep finding the broccoli. It doesn't matter now. There will be sunflowers!The first volunteer sunflower seedlings to appear are the red sunflowers. I can tell by the red stalks and tinted edges on the leaves. Like red/purple peas and lettuce, they don't seem to mind the cool weather. I think that is a baby borage above the sunflower.

And once the first one appears, the others quickly sprout too. Is it the soil or air temps? Is it the amount of daylight? Now I need to determine what sprouting sunflowers signal, and which other plants will be content living in the garden at this time.

Click on the "Sunflowers" label, below, to have a summertime refresher.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Okra Town

I've been in New Orleans for a meeting part of this week. Didn't fit in many photos, but did fit in some good food and drink. And OKRA, as found in some very tasty gumbo. And some spicy green beans, too. I think I'll try growing okra under the cloche. Otherwise, it will never be a happy plant in our coolish climate. Just like this transplant is no longer happy when the heat and the humidity both get close to 80. Fortunately, that wasn't until the last day and I wasn't outside for long.

Funny the trip would end on such a hot note, since I had driven to the Seattle airport as it was snowing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Indoor Garden Pests

As noted earlier, the Pacific Tree Frog nightly singing contest seems to be having some affect on Maria's behavior. She found my little Ilidi tomato seedlings sitting in the kitchen after they sprouted and were removed from the "oven."
This one had the leaves nipped off and the other in the same pot was pulled out. Fortunately, another pot was not touched. So I added seeds and stuck this pot back in the "oven," while the survivor went out to the Maria-less garage under the light.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bloom Day April

The late March snow on the buds for these flowers in this post left some of the blossoms a little rough around the edges, but they bloomed anyway. I'm really glad that the star magnolia shrub, above, was still up for blooming.The cherry tree photo is after today's rain, hail, lightening & thunder afternoon spree. No blue sky behind the flowers today.
It has been a cold spring and things are behind. At least half of the flowers I posted about last year are not blooming yet. Something to look forward to!

Visit Carol's Bloom Day post here, and the post comments to see all of the other bloom day posters.

It does sound like we have 3 or 4 Pacific Tree Frogs singing out around the little patio pond. In the past, we've only heard one or two voices. It seems to be getting on Maria's (the cat) nerves. She stares out the window at the pond, and does funny little running spurts around the house after they've been singing for a number of hours.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

That's more like it...

The nice weather Saturday FINALLY coaxed open the blossoms on the cherry trees around the patio.
It is difficult to capture in a photo, but there is a magic feeling being underneath them. I like the pink against the blue sky and green pine tree. They look a little weathered from the snow and hail at the end of March (when they've already been blooming in earlier years). I suspect I should enjoy the show while I have it, as may not last too long this year.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Garden Hat

I've not been a good hat or glove wearer, but that may be changing. Last year, I found some wonderful gloves that I can wear to do just about anything. I now have several pair stashed around. Really does cut down on the blisters and banged up hands. In this post, here, they are in the basket; however, I do have them on most of the time.

And due to the sunny weather today, I tried out my new garden hat. It was a find on our spring excursion to some local garden shops. I've known I should find a hat to keep the sun off my ears and neck. Never before have I found one I thought I'd actually wear.

This one has a little elastic inside that helps it fit, and a brim that isn't too floppy or too stiff. No promises yet, but we'll see how it goes this summer.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Scratch & Sniff

Last Sunday, between rain showers, we took a walk along the Soos Creek Trail. These fragrant blossoms caught my attention along the trail. I'm not sure what it is, but it was very fragrant. At our furthest point, the rain returned and we had a wet walk home.
When we returned from the walk and were taking off all of our wet things, this was the garden view from the garage.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Now in the Oven...

During our on again, off again rainy Sunday, I was able to plant some more tomato seeds and put them in the "oven" to sprout. These are Ilidi tomatoes, and the best kind: shared by another gardener! Thanks for sharing, Matron! I can see we'll be doing some fine garden grazing this year. These are the type that don't always make it into the house.

The "oven" is under my kitchen sink. There is a heat vent that runs underneath and it warms up this space. It keeps the temperature a little closer to what germinating tomatoes prefer. But, seedlings don't like to sit in the dark, so I must check it every day.

Sure enough, today, I had 2 wee seedlings poking up in one pot. So exciting!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Seed Rocks

Apparently, I didn't harvest all of the rocks from last year's new garden beds. Over the winter, they multiplied!
These all came out of the small sections I prepared on Saturday for peas and beans. They've now been added to the rocks harvested in prior years. One day, they'll be part of a landscape project.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Assorted Cloches in Action

A closer look at the pea sprouts yesterday revealed some nice roots out the bottom of the pot... an immediate call to action! As the forecasted rain hadn't started yet, I headed out to the garden to finalize the location for peas this year. In spite of the rain last week, the soil wasn't too wet for digging so I prepared the space for tall peas, short peas and climbing beans (all needing decisions about where to place the trellises, etc.)

The tips of the pea sprouts have been pinched back as recommended by Matron and they are sitting under the far window cloche. I hope to get them in the ground, but still under the cloche later today. Will add some radishes too.

Then I checked in on the broccoli, lettuce and chard in the winter sown/milk containers sitting under the larger cloche. I had already planted some of the seedlings in the ground under this large cloche, but had more seedlings than space.

I've learned the broccoli will grow quite large. I now tend to stash it around the garden, mixed in with other plants that can work around its eventual large size. So, all of the seedlings found homes in various places. The slugs will get some of them, but many will make it.

Next to two of the cloched broccoli, and under the front window cloche in the photo above, I planted two more broccoli with lettuce and chard mixed in. These lettuce & chard plants will be harvested as the broccoli needs the space. (The A frame part of the window cloches do have hinges holding them together, if you haven't seen them before.)

So, now that I've started planting things, I really must come up with a plan for the rest of the garden space!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Peas - Growing Notes

You can see I resisted my usual urge to go unlabeled. If it was only one type of peas I had planted, I would have not labeled. Instead, I planted two types, which I suspected I couldn't tell apart until harvest, so I labeled them Snap Peas and Snow Peas. Photo above is from today, below is from last week.

This is the second post collecting my notes on a specific vegetable. Fennel was the first one.

DH & I grow snap and snow peas because we like to stroll through the garden and eat them. Some do make it into a salad and we'll also eat them steamed. After a blanching, I'll freeze some for winter. We have never grown the shelling kind, though.

What are your favorite peas? When you do start them, and inside or outside? When?

Variety I'm growing:
(1) Sugar Snap Peas - 6 foot vines. I've used up the Cascadia Snap seeds I've grown in the past so I'm trying these. Territorial Seed Company. I picked them up from Thunder Mountain Farm on this Spring Excursion. Snaps are a favorite garden grazing menu choice.

(2) Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Peas - 30 inch vines. Territorial Seed, left over from past years.

Seeding & Germination:
Soil temp. for germination: 40-75 F.
2008 & 2007 sown inside mid March in small but deeper pots to give the roots room. April & May, planted some directly outside to fill in gaps in the pea fence.
2006 sown outside mid March.

I had read that in our area, peas could be planted outside on Presidents' Day in Feb. Last year, I tried planting them outside early. While some sprouted, them just seemed stressed (cold & damp soil, I think) and they were not the first to produce. Plus something started eating them! See this photo. So, last year, I also started some inside and they seemed to do the best.
I do inoculate pea seeds as often recommended. I dampen the seeds and coat them in this inoculant powder that contains a rhizobial bacteria. It is supposed to help peas use and fix/share nitrogen in the soil.

Planted out:
2008 - soon, 4/5-moved outside to a cloche, and pinched back per Matron's suggestion
2007-transplanted seedlings by mid April

I have used fencing in the past. This year I'll need something taller if those Snaps actually grow 6 feet. Here is a photo with the 4 foot trellising I use. I didn't have much luck with the fall planting in the photo, though. I'll try again in a less shaded spot.

2007 - blossoms around May 20th, harvested first Snow peas in early June; vines finished up by late July. See this post on hidden peas.
2006 - blossoms in early June. See this photo.

Saving seeds:
? These say they are open pollinated varieties (not hybrids). Does this mean they can be dried and saved? Do you save pea seeds successfully & from what variety?

Memoriable Pea Moments:
I often see lady bugs on the peas, but this furry guy fascinated me. He showed up in August when the pea vines were ready to come down. So determined to get a good night's rest, so I left them in place that day. I didn't see him again after this.