Friday, March 18, 2011

Tripling the size of my garden

This will be the fourth year for my vegetable garden.  Every year I learn something new about what works and what doesn't.  I'm getting a better feel for what vegetables it's worth my while to plant and which ones aren't.  For example, even though everyone in the house likes peas, it takes up more space than it's worth to me to plant more than one or two meals worth.

One of my goals with this garden has been to grow and preserve my own tomatoes.  It's been slow work trying to figure out how many plants I need to get the harvest I want.  It didn't help that the first year I had tomatoes in the garden was the year of the Awful Tomato Blight, making it difficult to separate my mistakes from other problems.  Last year I came to the conclusion that I just needed a bigger garden.  Yesterday we had a rare combination of warm weather, and my son having a half-day while my daughter did not, so I had extra help rearranging the garden fence!  The new fence arrangement will give me about three times the garden space!

 The bottom right corner with all the dead leaves is the old garden space.  You can see the fence near the house - this is all now new garden space!  I'm going to spend most of this afternoon measuring out and removing sod from the new plots.

One of my beds has morphed into a perennial herb plot.  I cleared last years leaves away, and look what I found!
I didn't harvest any of these last year because the plants weren't that well-established.  It looks like at the very least I'll be able to start using my oregano soon!

Monday, March 14, 2011

I have green growing things!

OK they're very tiny green growing things - but that's fine!  I finally got my broccoli started last week!  Thanks to Erin at garden now - think later! who sent me a ton of seeds, I will have three types of broccoli this year!  I now have Waltham and Purple Sprouting, in addition to the Calabrese Green Sprouting I already had.

I'm trying my soil-blocker again.  The seedlings I planted in soil blocks last year didn't do so well.  They sprouted and stayed green, but didn't ever grow to a useful size.  My best guess is that I compacted the blocks too firmly in my efforts to get them to hold together.  I think the perlite I used in the soil-blocker-mix was a little too coarse (it was the only grade they had!), and also in my attempt to downscale the "recipe" (I did not need 40 bushels of mix!) I may not have added enough dirt.  This year I added another bag of potting soil to my soil-blocker mix.

Because I only have one light, and I can only fit two trays under it, last year I was doing my germination in a third tray with a heat mat, but no lights.  I started compacting the soil blocks more when the ones with sprouted seeds started to fall apart when I tried to move them to the lighted trays.  This year I decided to skip the third tray (for now) and put the heat mat/tray directly under the lights.  Now I don't have to move sprouted blocks when their neighbors are still "cooking."  When it comes time to move them into larger containers, we'll see how well they handle being moved!

This Thursday we're supposed to get into the 60's!  There's no rain forecast right now, so that's when I'm going to attempt to rearrange my garden fence to give me a couple of new beds.  Wish me luck!
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