Thursday, April 30, 2009

2009 Seeds/Plants

A list of things I have planted so far this season:
  • Peas: Dark Seeded Early Perfection
  • Spinach: Avon Hybrid
  • Lettuce: Black Seeded Simpson, Baby Red Mix, "Little Gem" Romaine
  • Onions: Texas Sweet (from sets), Evergreen Bunching
  • Cilantro (seedlings still - not outside yet)
  • Eggplant: Black Beauty (also have Ichiban - not in the ground yet)
  • Potatoes: Kennebec, Red Pontiac, unknown "red seed potato"
Of the lettuces, the Baby Red Mix (from Burpee) seems to be the farthest along, and all were planted at the same time.  The peas did not germinate well at all, I'm not sure if it's the variety or just peas in general, as I did read several things about how to encourage peas to germinate this spring, and I tried none of the methods.  Go figure. 

I'll be planting cilantro throughout the year, as it bolts (goes to seed) so quickly and there's really no way to prevent it.  I plant a few seeds every few weeks through about August so that I have some all summer long.

Last night I planted the first of the 3 eggplant plants I bought yesterday at Jungle Jims (they were only $.99 a plant - half the price of Home Depot and a quarter of the price of Varnau's), at the flower bed right by the mailbox (photo below - it's the little plant on the left side of the mailbox closest to the street).  I often plant vegetables among my flowers, and I think eggplants have quite interesting leaves, and the thick stems and spines on eggplants mean that it would be difficult for someone to walk by and pick one like they might a tomato.  I think it will add some nice interest to the front bed.  I'm really excited to plant the Ichiban eggplant this year, which is a Japanese variety that makes a longer, skinnier eggplant.  That will go in the actual garden in a week or so.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Potato Update

The potatoes have sprouted! Yay! I was so excited yesterday when I looked in the potato basket and saw little leaves poking out. It looks like the potato experiment is working. Both baskets have sprouts, though not every piece of potato we planted has sprouted yet. One basket has one piece that has sprouted and the leaves are developing quite nicely. The other basket has two pieces that have sprouted, but they are both just breaking the surface. I am ridiculously excited that the potatoes are growing, as it's a first. I was just talking to one of the other moms at Kate's preschool about it when I dropped her off today, and told her that yes we are actually growing potatoes in a laundry basket! Also the already started potatoes I put in the patio pot have grown a lot as well - it's amazing how much bigger they are just 10 days after planting them in the big pot. I almost wish fall would hurry up and arrive so I could harvest some homegrown potatoes. Almost.

Our lettuce is growing quite well - it's about time to do some thinning and have some yummy salad of "baby greens" with the plants I pull. We have spinach, green leaf, romaine and red leaf - I wrote all the exact cultivars down but I don't have them handy. The cauliflower has also grown significantly in the past week and half or so, and the green onions have sprouted. I have 6 measly pea plants (I planted about 20-25 seeds and only 6 germinated), but I had heard that peas don't always germinate well.

I am hoping after the warmth of the past week it will be approaching time to plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans, etc, in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Pathetic Blueberry

So I'm sitting on my patio while the girls play in the sandbox, and I need to share about my pathetic blueberry bush.  I have a blueberry bush that my mom ordered for me about 3 years ago as a very small plant from some catalog - Burpee, maybe, I'm not entirely sure.  At the time we didn't really have a good space worked up to put it in, so I planted it in a large pot - one that came with a fairly substantial tree we planted that year.  Three years later, the blueberry is still in the same pot, but it is rather pathetic and I can't quite figure out why.  The pot is plenty large for it - I haven't taken it out of the pot to check it's roots, but it's still a fairly small plant and I can't imagine it being root-bound in the pot it's in.  Every year I give it a couple inches of compost on the top of it, but I don't fertilize it with much else.  Before I converted to solely organic gardening last year, I'd give it a weak dose of synthetic fertilizer every so often.

We finally have the small (3'x3') raised bed built for it, and as soon as it dries out enough to work the ground up I'm going to be digging in compost, mulch & peat moss in the spot it will go.  However, I'm a wondering if this thing is ever going to really take off and produce fruit.  This year I gave it a hearty 2-3 inches of compost in the top of the pot, and some hollytone since blueberries are acid loving.  At this point we'll wait and see.  Kate absolutely loves blueberries, so it would be really nice if this bush would actually grow and produce fruit!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Great Potato Experiment

So we're trying an experiment this year.  We're attempting to grow potatoes in a cheap laundry basket.  Mom's garden club was at Natorp's on Wednesday, and the guy who spoke talked about growing potatoes in a tub or basket and said a laundry basket was great with kids because they grow out the sides.  So I bought 2 cheap laundry baskets from the dollar store, and 2 seed potatoes from The Feed Barn this morning (love The Feed Barn, Gravel Knoll Farms and the WC Farmer's Market, gotta get that in here), for a total investment of $2.84, including taxes.

We cut up the potatoes into 3-4 pieces (they were pretty large potatoes) with 2-3 eyes each.  Then we put about 2" of old potting soil mixed w/ compost in the bottom of the basket, put in the pieces of potato & covered them with more soil/compost, watered and are waiting to see.  As they grow, we will gradually cover with more soil/compost until the basket is full, like "hilling" potatoes.  I also have 1 potato plant I bought already started from Varnau's on West Chester Rd (also love that place, so I thought I'd put it in as well), which I also planted
in a large patio pot.  So this is our "potato experiment".  If I had thought of it before we planted the potatoes, I'd have drilled a hole in the center of each laundry basket, as there is about 1-2" of the bottom where the sides come up where water could puddle and it's kind of close to where we put the potato pieces in.

I had read that you shouldn't use fresh compost on root vegetables as excess nitrogen triggers leaf production vs. root production, but the guy at Natorp's specifically said compost so we're seeing what happens.  I'm fairly content to experiment when the cost is $2.84 (our old potting soil & compost were free from our compost bin and the patio pot I put the potatoes in).

I'll post pics as the experiment comes along.
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