Sunday, May 29, 2011

The summer garden is in!

Woke up this morning anxious to get the tomatoes and peppers in the ground, as they are growing more rootbound by the day. Gathered up materials, went to the garden and broadcast Steve Solomon's all-purpose fertilizer at about 70-80% Steve Solomon's recommended amount, about a quarter inch of compost, raked and chopped it in, and planted:

9 tomatoes - 2 Yellow Pear, 2 Red Siberian, 1 Sungold, 1 unknown but healthy, 1 unkown and left outside in a pot since April but REALLY robust and healthy looking, and a couple other cherries...?

11 peppers - 2 Anaheim, 4 Jalapeno, 2 Hot Thai Chili, 2 Sweet Jimmy Nardelo's

Mixed a quarter cup of fertilizer into the bottom of the hole in which each tomato was planted and half as much for the peppers, and sunk a portion of each plant's stem below soil level. Elana helped at first, harvested a bunch of greens including 3 heads of lettuce, and went home. Then Wojtek woke up, came out, and helped plant as Davi made us mochas and cappuccinos. The soil was warm and it was a joy to work it with bare hands. The garden is lush and incredible. Little tiny Broccoli heads have appeared down in the middle of the luscious, leafy plants. There are still no flowers on the peas, though the vines are getting toward 3 feet at least. Strange.

Been researching building heavy-duty tomato cages and trellises for gourds and such. Talked with my dad about it a bit--a certifiable expert--then came across this great article in Mother Earth News recommended the exact same method as dad but with detailed instructions. A 150' roll of 5' wide concrete reinforcing 6" mesh costs $98 at Lowes and would make 14 tomato cages and 3 ten foot trellis with 30+ feet to spare.

Time in the garden this morning: 1.5 hours

Friday, May 27, 2011


Tomatoes are spending too much time in their pots. The ones in 2" pots in particular are wrapped up tight and have been, I think, for a while. I'm not sure how the ones in the 4" pots are doing yet, but I think maybe ot so good. The one's I potted in with compost into the bigger 6" pots should be fine, but that's only a handful. It's been hard staying on top of all these little plants.

Made my first soil blocks with Eliot Coleman's mix last weekend. Too much sand, I think. Heavy, and don't stay together well. Put the little lettuces in them nonetheless and stuck them outside under cover of the awning. I think the rain would destroy them, but the temp's just fine.

The spring greens harvest coming out of the garden is epic. Neither I nor Mike nor Wojtek and Davi should have to buy lettuce or salad greens for the next couple weeks. It's a race now to eat it all before it bolts or gets bitter.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Walt's Organic Fertilizer run

On May 6, picked up:

20 lb. cottonseed meal $31.80
10 lb. colloidal (soft rock) phosphate $10.20
4 lb. kelp (meal?) $14.00
4 lb. blood meal $8
4 lb. greensand $7
1 oz. water soluble kelp (use at 1 tsp/quart)

oh, and 2 packets of squash seed $6

Subtotal: $83.10
Tax: $7.89
TOTAL: $90.99

She also gave me the rundown on Ag vs. Dolomite lime. Dolomite has a higher magnesium content, which apparently can cause soil problems; apply once ever 4 years only. Both come in powder and pelleted forms.

In-planting and harvesting

Poked around the garden today with Wotjek. Planted rows of radishes between the existing lettuce rows, figuring they'll come up as the old lettuce comes out and the new lettuce goes in. Will they have enough light between the rows to come up? We'll see, I've been harvesting the outer leaves of the lettuce and mustard, which clears some space.

Planted little lettuce sprouts (literally tiny little sprouts) at the heads of the lettuce rows where we've been harvesting radishes. Will up-pot the rest of the lettuce sprouts into 2" soil blocks and keep them so when the rest of the lettuce comes out of the ground they'll be ready to pop right in.

Planted 4 chard plants, one randomly, one in the inside space around the rabe.

Planted 4 bok choy plants around the strawberries.

Harvested the first two lettuce heads--new red fire. Took every other one out so we can see how big the rest get. The green deer tongue is small but bunchy; I tried a leaf and it's real bitter. Over the top already? I wonder how big they're supposed to get.

No flowers on the pea vines yet.

Mixed up a container of Eliot Coleman's 3-part fertilizer (greensand, colloidal phosphate, blood meal) and a tub of blocking mix. Wet some of it in a separate tub to soak to use for 2" soil blocks tomorrow.

Time: 3 hrs

Friday, May 20, 2011

Soil Blocks

Elliot Coleman's soil block mix (follow the steps in the order given):
30 parts brown peat
1/8 part lime
20 parts coarse sand or perlite
3/4 part base fertilizer - equal parts colloidal (soft rock) phosphate, greensand, and blood meal
10 parts soil
20 parts compost
The lime is combined with the peat because most acid. Then sand or perlite added. Then the base fertilizer mixed in...all to distribute uniformly as possible. Add soil and compost and mix a final time.

...Mini-block recipe (no blood meal; peat & compost finely strained thru 1/4" inch mesh):
16 parts brown peat
1/4 part colloidal phosphate
1/4 part greensand (leave out if unavailable; do not substitute dried seaweed product)
4 parts compost (well-decomposed)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy tomatoes & peppers

And it looks like they'll be able to start spending nights out at the end of the week.

Harvested a ton of Mizuna and purple mustard again yesterday, as well as bundle of Broccoli rabe. Also picked some of the outer leaves off the Romaine lettuceheads, which should be mature in a week or two if they're not already. That little patch of mesclun mix is incredibly abundant, though the patch I first cut isn't quite harvestable again yet. The slugs have started to appear, little ones making little holes and hiding in the greens. Also harvested three plump little radishes. They're going fast. Note to self: plant more radishes, and stagger the plantings. The staggering part is definitely true for all the greens, too.

The lettuce seeds in the mini-cubes are starting to come up. None of the others are yet.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring harvest, more seeds

Popped out 80 little mini-blocks today to start 10 new red fire lettuces, 10 jericho romaine lettuces, 10 purslane, 10 corn salad, and 40 sweet basil. Used Miracle Gro MC mix again, and sprinkled coco coir on top of the seeds. Uppoted a handful of the larger tomatoes in 2 quart pots (?) to make sure they don't get rootbound before planting, since the weather's looking like planting won't take place for at least another week if not two. Also uppotted one of the Luffas and one of the squash. I've been leaving the transplants out all day and some of the night on the warmer nights, but bringing them in when it gets cold at night.

The garden looks lush. The mesclun mix has been very harvestable for a week, and comes back almost as quick as you can cut it. I think our little 2x4 plot will keep the four of us in greens for a while. The first harvest was almost all mizuna, which is getting tall a lot quick than everything else. Cutting a couple inches above the ground has given the leaf lettuces and bok choys a chance to get started. We also have four lush mizuna plants, so there's not much diversity to the harvest yet. The big purple mustards need to be harvested more than they are. The succulent little radishes are getting plucked out of the ground before they're really getting a chance to mature, but they are good! The lettuces and spinach will be ready in a week or two, I think.

We're getting regular harvests off the four rabe plants, and the broccoli's healthy but not even starting to flower yet. The peas aren't flowering yet either, but they're climbing. The carrots and beets are healthy little dudes, but small. The kale is starting to get growing, I've thinned to one plant per cluster now, and we have six planted in two rows across the four foot bed. Finally, the two cilantros and the dill haven't grown much but they've sturdied up and greened up and I think they're about to get going.

Very, very satisfying. Sunny, gorgeous morning, shirtless on the deck. Homework be damned.

Time: ~1.5 hrs

To Do:
- Rake the piled, dead clover back over the bed. Don't dig in because the decay process might bind up nitrogen, which the tomatoes are going to want when they go in the ground.

Monday, May 2, 2011

May 1 Garden Update

Fertilized everything with liquid fish emulsion yesterday and spread compost around the strawberries. The raab is harvestable, though I don't want to harvest too much lest I stunt its growth into the season--just picking the buds before the flowers open. The radishes will be ready in a week or two. The carrots and beets have had their first round of thinning, just to keep them from "bumping." The mesclun mix can be harvested with scissors in the next week or two as well, especially I think if we get more sun. The soil looks wonderful.

Yesterday when the sun was shining I chopped up the rest of the clover on the summer bed, leaving it on top to dry as best as possible. We had pulled and piled a bunch of it already, so I raked all that aside into a pile, and in a couple weeks will rake it back over the bed and dig it into the soil.

The starts are big and lush--at least all those that were started in potting soil as opposed to seed starter mix. They spent their first day on teh deck yesterday, some in sun and most under the shade of the picnic table.