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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

Radish ready to pick!

Radish ready to pick!

It’s pretty simple, actually. They’ll pop up out of the ground! We pulled four out so far, with more coming soon.

Even though radishes are spring crops, we plan to plant some more by the cucumbers because they help deter certain bugs, including the cucumber beetle which has hurt our plants every year.

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We’re now in mid-April and all our early spring crops are looking good! I’m kind of amazed at how much we have planted so far.

There are peas (sugar snap and snow), spinach, radishes, carrots, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and onions all doing really well, along with the garlic planted in the fall and chives that come back every year. Most of those are repeats from previous years, except the onions.

We decided to grow onions on a whim this year, even though they’re cheap to buy at the grocery store. After successfully growing garlic last season and learning how much better the homegrown variety was, we suspect onions will be the same. I found a bag of onion sets (they look like tiny, slender onions) that had red, yellow and white onions so we’re trying each variety. There are also a few squares we’ll use for onion seeds to have another later harvest (and for green onions).

We have tons of broccoli this year because the cell packs I bought had nine plants each instead of six, and I decided to try two different varieties. Some are planted in the garden beds and others in containers; same idea with the Brussels sprouts, which we can move around to find the ideal conditions/area for them to grow.

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As I mentioned before, the spring weather has not been very “spring like.” It’s been colder than normal, and there have been nights of freezing temperatures and snow flurries. Not exactly ideal conditions for starting our spring crops, which I’ve always been told should be in the ground around the Ides of March.

Because of the wild weather swings, we tried to outsmart Mother Nature and pre-sprout our pea plants. I knew they wouldn’t germinate in the soil when it was that cold outside. And it worked wonderfully!

IMG_9307The basics are pretty easy: take the pea seeds (really just shriveled up peas) and place them in a damp paper towel. If you have two different kinds, I’d suggest labeling them. We just used permanent marker to write on the paper towels before soaking them.

Once the seeds are in place, place them in a covered container (we used a small pyrex bowl, but you could also use a plastic bag) and place them in a warm place. For us, that was the top of the refrigerator. Check on them after a couple of days and dampen the paper towels, if needed. Ours took about three or four days for all the peas to sprout. Once they’re sprouted, plant as soon as possible in the garden.

IMG_9595Ours are up and doing great, even though the day I planted them (March 23), it was spitting snow. But it seems winter has finally released its tenuous grasp on Cincinnati and the weather these past few days has been quite lovely!

Now our only challenge will be trying to figure out how to trellis the peas as they grow because I didn’t think that far ahead when I planted them in the garden.

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Since we put everything in the ground, there’s not much to report and most of it seems to be doing well. I think the rain and warm, but not too hot, temperatures helped the plants along.

The broccoli has big healthy leaves, and a couple of plants are starting to form heads. The peas have sprouted and are starting to grow tendrils, and the row of radishes did so well it really needs to be thinned. Our lettuce is forming nice little leaves, and even the spinach has stopped looking like grass and grown its “true leaves.”

I keep waiting for the garlic to sprout its scapes, but so far it hasn’t happened yet. The four elephant garlic that survived are huge! They come all the way up to my hip, and I can’t imagine how big these bulbs will be, but we’re excited to find out!

We’re also discovering some mystery plants, and I’ll share those pictures later. If they are what I think then we’re going to be stocked on seedlings this year!

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Our garlic, left, growing strong in front of the peas, and our newly planted broccoli, with garlic behind it.

Our garlic, left, growing strong in front of the peas, and our newly planted broccoli, with garlic behind it.

It was much later than we planned, but we finally have our spring plants in the ground. The weather was so radical in its swings – warm, sunny days followed by freezing temperatures, a bit of snow and days of heavy rain – I was afraid if we planted any earlier nothing would survive.

So right now we have broccoli, spinach, lettuce, radishes and snow/sugar snap peas in the ground.

All seem to be doing well, even though it’s only been about week. And now that we’re “veteran broccoli growers,” we know what to keep an eye on as far as leaf/bug issues.

The squirrels have been digging a bit, probably trying to find the last of the acorn stash, and even turned up a few pea seeds. But, the good news is they were sprouting, so we’ll at least have a few plants! We’ll have to find some method to keep them out until everything germinates and is coming up, maybe some netting will help.

We also have some kale seeds started in small cell packs to transplant when they get bigger. The garlic is also looking great, and we can’t wait until we’re able to harvest it.

 

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GardenPlanning

This is pretty much what my last Saturday looked like. I spent hours reading about the needs of each plant, looking up companion plants and plotting our garden.

In addition to more planning, we’re also following the square-foot garden method. Not exactly, but we plan on spacing the vegetable plants a little closer than we have in the past.

Part of the problem is we have limited areas that get enough “full sun” for some of the vegetables to thrive, which makes full crop rotations more difficult. You can find a copy of our planting plan here, but I’ll explain some of the methodology below.

  • Bed 1 – Cucumbers will go up a trellis at the back with radishes planted in front to help deter the cucumber beetle. We’ll also plant 6-7 pepper plants here with space for spinach at the front.
  • Bed 2 – Peas are going in the ground soon, and when they’re done we’ll plant green beans. Using the “three sisters” plan from Native Americans, we’re also planting squash/zucchini here. We don’t grow corn, so ours is actually the “two sisters”
  • Bed 3 – Tomatoes with basil interspersed throughout. This is a smaller bed, so we’ll also plant some grape tomatoes in containers.
  • Bed 4 – Our other “nightshade” family bed. A couple more pepper plants with at least three eggplants. Also mixing in herbs like parsley, chives and thyme, which are supposed to be good companion plants.
  • Bed 5 – “Cole” crops, which don’t require as much sun like Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Also adding a row of sage and oregano to help deter cabbage butterflies, which devastated our plants last year.
  • Bed 6 – Spinach & lettuces. This bed gets morning sun but is otherwise shaded by the maple tree in our backyard. Also planting some herbs here that supposedly deter slugs (chives) and cabbage moths (dill).

We’re still relatively new at this, so any advice on our plan would be welcome!

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