Thursday, April 28, 2011


I know, you're second guessing the whole garden thing right now.  The weather is not cooperating, you don't have time, you have a little yard.  I hear you.  Here are some teasers, let's motivate.
Soft neck garlic, Siskyou Purple and Chilean Silver varieties
Mixed green salad  
Are you hungry yet?  I am.  Thinking about toasted french bread rubbed with olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes, maybe with some basil on top.  Dreaming about a strawberry, spinach, red onion salad. 
So here's the deal.  Gardening is a lot of work up front with huge rewards once things get going.  We grow these beauties and more on our 0.18 acre city lot.  You can do it too.
Now, I'm getting back out there.  You should too.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Direct Seeding

I'm going to wax poetic a little bit about this method of starting plants before I get to the details of direct seeding one of my favorite things on the planet - carrots.
I feel like this is one of the most hassle free things I ever do in my garden.  For plants like greens, root crops, even melons and cucumbers I've had better luck with seeding outside than with transplanting.  Additionally, this cuts out a lot of seedling maintenance that is required for other things like tomatoes and most herbs.
I direct seeded some beets, radishes, and turnips just 3 weeks ago and look at them now.
 The disclaimer is that I've got these protected with row cover which I make sure is closed up pretty tight if the temp is going to go below 40 degrees F.  We're still having a lot of these nights.

These went in today.  Yes, I am shamelessly promoting these seed companies.  They produce really nice, organic seeds so I like to give them my hard earned money.  You should too.

I feel like a lot of people that I talk with are intimidated by growing carrots.  I once felt this way also, but after trial and error here's my system:

Furrow, seeds, measuring device, potting soil mixed with horticultural sand, 2X4 scrap
This raised bed had 2 inches of compost added about 1 month ago and has been really gently turned then allowed to sit.  I use an old scrap of 2X4 to create my "shallow furrow" by pressing the corner of the plank into my soil to make about a 1/2" deep V.  Most carrots' packaging say to space rows by 12" but in these raised beds I've found that 6" works fine and then I can just lay a soaker hose down between the rows and water both at once.  Its really hard to get carrot seeds spaced perfectly because they are so tiny, but aim for 1/2 to 1" between.  You'll need to thin to 1-2" between later but its no big deal because you get baby carrots in the thinning process.
Last, I cover my seeds with a very light sprinkle of potting soil mixed with sand.  Go thin here because carrots need light to germinate.  Then tamp down lightly, water, and you're good to go.
Easy, right?  Lastly, make a note somewhere of when you started these because inevitably you are going to have a moment in 2 weeks where you say to yourself, "this didn't work" even worse, you might go ahead and turn the bed up and plant something else.  Carrots take anywhere from 10-21 days to germinate depending on your climate and the seeds, so have patience.
I guarantee its worth the wait, homegrown carrots are so tasty.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Planting update mid April

Last weekend was perfect, warm and slightly overcast.  I think that we spent more time outside than in.  Perfect.  In the garden, I've got my broccoli, cauliflower, onion, and leek seedlings in their beds.  Don't worry, I've got row cover fabric over all of these.  I know better than to trust the weather here.  I'm sure it will snow at least once more.
We've decided to do some Xeriscaping in a portion of our backyard.  This weekend we set down what seems like a tarmac of weed fabric.  Later this week, we'll get a load of wood chips and eventually we'll get some plants in and maybe a path with some pavers.
All this work took some serious man power.
Good thing I had help.  Next post, veg photos, I promise.  I can't get over how big this sprout is though.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Since I'm stuck inside I thought I would give you some beauty close ups.
Principe Borghesi Tomato
Dill and Onions
Keep thinking Spring!

Under the Weather

Guilty as charged.  Last week I was out in short sleeves soaking in the warm spring air. I should have expected a big heavy snow storm especially since I was taking some days off from work to do some gardening.
Last night the overnight low was 29 degrees.  Luckily there wasn't anything in the barrels yet.
The row cover hoop house seems to have treated the hops, spinach, and strawberry transplants OK.
And as for the bed of root veg I planted last week...
Luckily no sprouts yet,so no harm done

My peach tree has been here since me moved in 5 years ago and appears to have taken the snowstorm in stride.
So all in all everything in our plant kingdom seems to have held up OK.  I think that it is mostly the humans who felt a little injured by the storm.

Winter, finally (and seriously)

I planned to start this blog last spring as my garden flew into action, but then got into the actual work of gardening and abandoned the task. However, today its winter, really winter. I'm wearing long underwear and sitting under a blanket and I'm still cold.
Today is the shortest day of the year so from here on in it gets better. I look forward to longer days, that's for sure. But I'll also tuck in and enjoy winter's freeze and snow, it does mean skiing after all. Maybe more importantly is the snow pack - without snow there isn't water for the West.
The end of the year and the solstice are a good time to think back on the last 365. I have no reason to complain and feel really lucky about the last year and really hopeful about the year to come.