Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

Weeding my life away

May 12, 2013

IMG_2976After a very dry April, we’ve been getting a bit of rain here at Henbogle.  The rain gauge shows about 2 inches over the past sever days, which was just what we needed to green things up in a hurry.

Of course, the weeds also relished the rain, but the nicely moistened soil made it a lot easier to remove some of the worst offenders in the garden, the dandelions.  While they make a lovely contrast with the tulips, the dandelions and other weeds really overtook the blueberry bed last summer while we were IMG_2979away.

The dandies also made themselves at home in the veggie garden, along with a lot of other weeds..  At least the dandelions and chickweed are delicacies in the eyes of the hens, but it was time for the weeds to go.  Dan used a garden fork to loosen up the soil around the dandelions, and pulled them out one by one.  With taproots of 10+ inches, it was a big job.  I raked the thick layer of chickweed out and gave it (and a lot of dandelions) to the hens, then went back and pulled a lot of chickweed and other weeds IMG_2981out by hand.  Look at the contrast between the weeded bed on the left, covered with plastic mulch, the center bed, with most of the chickweed gone, and the bed to the right of Dan, still awaiting the weed patrol.  We piled what weeds we didn’t give to the hens on plastic tarps to haul off to the town mulch pile.  I’m not convinced our compost pile will get hot enough to kill all the seeds in that mess, so off it goes.

We tried not to work the soil too much, as it is a bit wet, but it is the perfect time to weed.  After weeding, I sprinkled some Plant Tone fertilizer over the bed and lightly raked it smooth, then spread the plastic.  I purchased some garden staples from Fedco to pin the plastic down tightly, as the creeping charlie like to crawl into the garden under the mulch.  Just as we finished spreading the plastic, the rain began again, so we picked up the tools up and headed inside for our big clean-up.  We have more to do but in 2 hours of grunt labor, we made a lot of progress.

May showers bring May flowers

May 10, 2013

IMG_2962We finally had some rain yesterday, showers mostly, but enough that the leaves popped overnight.  Our IMG_2965rain gauge shows nearly 3/4 of an inch, but we had some locally heavy showers late in the day.  Dan quickly sprinkled about some grass seed in some bare areas, and mulched with straw from the hendome.  I hope we get enough showers over the next few days so we can skip the sprinkler.

He also got the hummingbird feeders out so I made some sugar syrup, filled and hung them.  I hope we see some hummies soon.  A few more photos of the flower beds follow — the veggie garden is too weedy to pose for photos after the rain!IMG_2970

Truer words…

May 9, 2013

were never spoken. Or written.



May 7, 2013

IMG_2950I have managed to harvest a few radishes through the weeds in the hoophouse.  These weigh about 1 1/2 oz.  Oooh boy.

Peas and shallots

May 6, 2013

IMG_2952First:  Our snap peas are up! We have 2 short rows, one of Cascadia, one of Sugar Sprint.  These were planted April 22.  I’ll start another row this weekend.  The wood is in the pathway to suppress weeds and minimize compaction in this area.

Sunday, Dan planted my French Gray Shallots.  They should have been planted in the fall, but we didn’t get it IMG_2956done, so I have nothing to lose by trying this spring in hopes of a crop or at the very least, another seed crop for the fall.  These shallots are so tasty, I hate to lose them.  Once the shallots sprout, I’ll mulch well with compost or grass clippings.  To prepare the soil, we weeded well and I raked in some Plant Tone fertilizer.  It is pretty dry here so I watered them well and will give them another good watering again later this week unless we get some rain.

I hope to get some garlic in next weekend.

The quackgrass is pretty bad in the hoophouse, but I’m hoping I’ll get some greens harvested before it get too out of hand.  I’m planning on covering this with black plastic and growing melon and cucumber in there, with a soaker hose for irrigation.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to try something more drastic, like IMG_2954solarization.

Let’s just say we have plenty to keep us busy this summer.

Too many tomatoes

April 28, 2013

IMG_2926It was a gorgeous day in Maine today.  We started the day with a bike ride to a local restaurant to have breakfast with friends.  It was a little cool, but the ride was fun, although unfortunately it was uphill on the way home –or maybe that was a good thing?

Once home, I got to work transplanting tomato seedlings.  I decided to use some old tomato seeds rather than order new, so I planted several seeds in each pot in case of poor germination.  Germination was good, and I just hate thinning them, so I decided to transplant them all into individual pots and give them away or trade them.  I now have 41 tomatoes after giving 4 away earlier in the day.  I did the same with my peppers, although fortunately I don’t have as many peppers.

I planted 9 varieties of tomato, a mix of slicing and paste tomatoes, and one cherry tomato, my old standby Sungold.  I also purchased some Jet Star tomatoes after hearing rave reviews from one of the Extension staffers.

Martha Washington (slicer)
Rose (slicer)
Cherokee Purple (slicer)
Jet Star (slicer)
Orange Banana (paste)
Pompeii (paste)
Sungold (cherry)
German Johnson (slicer)
Pineapple (heirloom slicer)
Speckled Roman (paste)

For peppers I planted Ancho (Tiburon), Anaheim (Joe E. Parker), Sweet Italian Frying (Carmen), and Early Jalapeno.

I also started some more lettuce, and some zinnias and bachelor buttons.  For the smaller plants I’ve been using un-coated paper Dixie cups, which I find very convenient, but I may give my soil blocker another try this spring with more flowers.  Labeling is always a problem for me with the soil blocker, but it won’t matter so much with flowers.

It was a gorgeous day to be outside in Maine.  The worst of the busy spring semester is behind me now, so with luck I’ll be able to enjoy the spring a bit more now, and in 7 weeks I’ll be off finishing up at work for the summer, whoo hoo!

Sunning the starts

April 25, 2013

IMG_2924Earlier this spring, we found this new deck table at a used furniture store.  Our large wooden table rotted after 10 years of use, so the timing was perfect.  One of the nice features of the wire mesh is the protection it provides for sunning my seedlings.

With the forecast calling for partial sunshine and mild temps, I lugged the seedlings outside this morning to start the hardening off process.  Sliding them under this mesh table reduces the sun IMG_2925exposure quite a bit, so between the partial sunshine and the mesh they had a nice introduction to the sun.  Tomorrow the forecast is calling for sunny skies, so again I will lug the seedlings out for a day under the table.  By Saturday they should be ready to move to the table top for the day.

The larger seedlings on the right are Romanesco Cauliflower from a gardening pal.  We had arranged to swap Romanesco Cauliflower for Cheddar Cauliflower.  I thought he meant seeds, but he meant seedlings.  Oops.  Fortunately,at only 58 days, the Cheddar Cauliflower makes a great fall crop.

With a low of 35°F forecast for tonight, I’ve pulled the plants inside for the night, but it looks like they enjoyed their day in the sun.  I wish I could have joined them.

Peas, please!

April 22, 2013

IMG_2915The past week was school vacation week in Maine.  It was an eventful week, with the horror of the Boston Marathon bombing eased by visits with friends and a bit of gardening.  On Tuesday I IMG_2917drove to Western Massachusetts for a quick visit with my friend Holly and to see my friend Susanna and meet her new baby. That was a terrific antidote to Monday.

This weekend was a good weekend for a bit of gardening.  On Friday I sowed a few more seeds (lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, tatsoi).  We had a little rain overnight, but it stopped early Saturday morning.  At the farmer’s market I could not resist some beautiful seedlings of lettuce, bok choi, and kale, so when we got home I planted those in the hoophouse.  After than, we puttered around the yard, weeding, raking and pruning and taking the yard waste to the town mulch pile.

Sunday we made a trip to Longfellow’s Greenhouses, where I had a gift certificate.  We enjoyed the tropical air of the greenhouses, the pansies blooming furiously, and all the pretty gardening toys.  I picked up some broccoli and cauliflower seedlings, and some Jet Star tomato seedlings, which I had heard rave reviews of from the Vegetable Specialist on the Cooperative Extension staff.  That should round out my tomato selection for the summer.  We brought home some pansies to brighten our front step, and a pretty but wildly expensive purple hose.  It is IMG_2911kink-resistant and has a lifetime warranty so we are going to give it a try in hopes we’ll enjoy a lifetime of use — it is made by Dramm which has some other pretty durable gardening and watering tools, so I am hopeful.

IMG_2919Once home, we hit the garden.  I planted some cauliflower in the hoophouse, and then prepared the former garlic bed for the remaining broccoli and cauliflower plants.  It needed a lot of weeding first, the quackgrass had invaded last summer, and also yielded some green garlic from an overlooked clove last year, mmm, which became part of dinner.  Dan helped me reinforce the sides with some scrap lumber, as it was in need of some help.  Once weeded I added some compost (from the black garbage can) and Plant Tone fertilizer and planted the remaining cauliflower and the IMG_2918broccoli, then covered with floating row cover.

While I was busy doing this, Dan prepared another bed for shallots and garlic.  I didn’t get them planted in the fall, but will plant it as soon as I can.  I want to keep my own seed stock in production, and figure at the very least I’ll have seed stock and maybe even some darn good eating, too.  The French Gray Shallots are amazing.  I recently made a Thai soup, Khao Soi, and garnished the soup with some crispy fried shallots.  Wow, the shallots made the soup.  Gotta keep them in production!

It was a good day.



April 17, 2013

IMG_2901  Tomato and Pepper seeds have sprouted!  I planted them on Sunday April 7.  IMG_2902

The tomatoes all germinated within a week with the exception of one pot of Orange Bananas but the seed was old so I’m not shocked.


Most of the peppers had sprouted as of this morning.

Hoophouse seedlings

April 13, 2013

IMG_2896Two weeks from sowing, and despite snow, sleet and freezing rain yesterday, I have seedlings in the hoophouse.  On March 29 I sowed a mix of cold-hardy greens and some carrots and radishes.  Of those, the Spinach, Arugula, Mache, Radishes, Broccoli, and Tatsoi have all germinated.

I know I run the risk of the broccoli buttoning up if it gets stressed, but I’m hoping it will be cool enough this early to avoid the heat stress that can bring that on — we’ll see!

Last weekend, Dan set up the seed starting area in the laundry room, and I got my peppers and tomatoes sowed.  Spring is here, snow, sleet and freezing rain be damned!