Monday, May 25, 2015

Transplant complete!

I have been working so hard on the garden the last several weekends (and some weeknights) that I haven't had time to blog. I have several things to update, including transplanting of most vegetables and flowers, potting up my tomatoes and corn, and my tomato cloche. I also made a delightful discovery.

The last two weekends, I built my tomato cloche, completely by myself. I am very pleased with how it turned out. I don't get as much sun as I'd like for my garden, so my tomatoes need all the help they can get. I have always covered them to hold in warmth and prevent blight (rain splashing up from the soil and getting things that cause blight onto the plants). In the past, I have had a wood and PVC frame that I covered with plastic. Try as I might, it just never looked very nice, and the garden is what I see outside my kitchen window. The plastic just kind of ruined the view.

I was determined to build something that was 1) more sturdy, 2) nicer looking, 3) walk-in height, and 4) easily disassembled and reassembled. The roof panels were the costliest part of the project, which prevented me from making one for my peppers, too. Overall, I like how it looks and I think it will serve the tomatoes well. I still have to put the white backing on. After brainstorming with gardening friend, Nicole, she suggested I repurpose white shower curtains. The white backing will reflect light back onto the tomatoes. The shower curtains come tomorrow. I am hoping I can pull them tight and have a clean look.

I painted the wood on the cloche white to match the picket fence around the garden for a clean, bright look.
My husband grabbed one of the verticals and shook the structure. He was satisfied that it was solid and would withstand the summer winds. I can walk inside the cloche and will be able to access the plants easily. I still have the front row to plant, and then I also bought three white hanging baskets to plant the cherry tomatoes in and hang from the front. I intend to take the structure down in the fall and store it away, and then reassemble it on the bed in front of the one it is currently installed on.

I have transplanted nearly everything I started in my greenhouse. The only things left in the greenhouse are melons, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, delphiniums, pansies/violas, coleus, and petunias. I hung my hanging shade baskets on the back of the house and planted cosmos and nasturtiums in their pots. I potted up the corn and tomatoes. I always thought that the roots got too crowded and then the pot was too small. That's part of it, but what it's really about is the nutrients being used up, so the plant's growth is stunted. Kind of a duh! moment, but I just read the purple-leaved tomatoes are phosphorus deprived. All mind were purple. I repotted them, and the purple is nearly gone. I readily transplanted the corn, too. In a few weeks, I'll plant everything outside.

Earlier transplants like the cabbage, beets, and lettuce are thriving, while the direct-sown onions and potatoes are experiencing a growth spurt.
I grew shade flowers and transplanted them on the north side of the deck along with some phlox I dug up from an overgrown bed on the southeast slope of our lawn.
As for the delightful discovery, I ordered some seeds from a rare seed website and they sent me some free seeds. I didn't know what they were (black vernisage). I thought I'd plant them and see what I get, assuming they were flowers like the other seeds I had ordered. Turns out they are tomatoes! They grew taller faster than the ones I tried so hard to grow under the special light. So it goes.

We had our first garden salad last night, enjoying buttercrunch, and green and red leafed lettuces along with some volunteer mustard and chives.
I hope to update in the next few days with my finished cloche. Until then, happy gardening!


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Catching Up

Since my last post, I have been busy! We have had great weather much of April, especially the last two weekends. I've transplanted sunflowers, nasturtiums, lettuce, spinach, beets, leeks, kale, chard, cabbage, broccoli, peas, cilantro, and celery into the raised beds in my garden.

Kale and shallots have a shady spot beneath the kiwi. 
Cabbage, beets, and carrots grow on the left, while onions, leeks, lettuce, spinach, and radishes flourish on the right.
Peas begin their climb up the trellis while celery and broccoli take hopeful root at the end of the bed.
I have also planted corn (twice), delphiniums, collards, and more sunflowers.

My collard greens are growing fast.
The beans are thriving, from bush to runner to pole varieties.
The corn has popped up, while just beyond, the watermelon seeds I saved from a local mini melon sprouted behind the pumpkins.
Meanwhile, we had a busy weekend with an excavator we rented, which we used to place rocks onto a pond liner for a water feature on our patio, as well as place our pizza oven. The latter was a bit scary but after careful thought and much prep work, we finally have the oven in place.

The pizza oven is ready for curing fires. Just behind is the waterfall we placed rocks for as well.
A close up of the water feature shows the rocks the water will cascade over.
You can see the excavator from this vantage,
Additionally, I bought eight strawberry plants and put them in my new flower/vegetable combo beds.

This patio bed contains potatoes, nasturtiums, strawberries, gladiola, and columbine.
The bed has tulips, strawberries, spinach, and allum.
My tomatoes are woefully disappointing, (only six inches tall), so I bought four plants today. They are my usual from Soil Sisters out of Monroe. I also bought two pepper plants (not much to choose from) as they are only an inch high in my greenhouse. I will stop at the Carnation Farmer's Market on Tuesday to see if Soil Sisters will be selling their plants there as they have in years past. 

These are my pitifully short tomato plants.
The ones I bought from Soil Sisters are 12-24 inches tall.
The oxalis is the pride of my greenhouse. 
My basil is looking good, too!
I planted cilantro with the pepper plants. I only have two so far.
Next weekend I will be planting beans and getting the tomato and pepper cloches ready. We will be building a frame that is six feet high in back and eight in front. The roof will be clear plastic rigid roofing, and then there will be either a piece of mylar coated insulation as a back wall to reflect light, or we will use some wafer board that came as part of the pizza oven secure packaging and paint it white.

I have lots of figs coming already. They are looking great!

Each branch is loaded with little figs, around five on each. I expect over 100 figs.
All for now.

NG Gardener