Saturday, May 4, 2013

May Gardening

This weekend Carson and I are home alone.  The weather here is stellar and we've taken advantage of getting a lot done in the garden.

May 4th Garden view
As you can see, this garden is hard at work already with the aid of some season extension.

In the foreground is a bed that we overwintered.  This weekend we will work on harvesting the bulk of the carrots and will probably remove the Parsley looking to bolt soon.  We'll leave the lettuce in the middle row and mulch around in order to prep this bed for tomatoes.  The funky flowering plant on right is Mache.  I'm going to try and leave one in place to see if it will set seed.

Here is a closer look at the far bed, the greens are coming along nicely.

As I was saying, Carson and I are home alone so he is working with me in the garden today, sort of doing his own thing though.

I can't believe how big he is and how careful he really tries to be in the garden, walking a little slower, asking before he eats something that he doesn't recognize.  It got me wondering how this happens and I came across this photo.

This is Carson at 8 months old, almost exactly 3 years ago.  Pretty much from the time he could sit up, he has spent time in the garden absorbing sights, smells, and sounds.  I'm sure I've been yammering on to him about what I'm doing the whole time.

So, getting back to the May garden, this is what I'm harvesting.

Swiss Chard, Red leaf lettuce, Oak Leaf lettuce, Frisee.

Sweet and crunchy overwintered carrots.

Perhaps the carrot swiping child is the other harvest.  I suppose the seeds we sow often surprise us.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Hardening off Seedlings

It time to harden off seedlings here in the Mountain West.  I don't know about you, but I find this to be the most stressful part of the seed to seedling to garden process.  I use 2 different techniques to acomplish this.  For tomatoes I am a big fan of walls of water and find that I can transplant into my garden beds at least 2 weeks sooner with the WOW.  This translates to tomatoes in July, which for my family marks a big milestone in the garden.  For my other seedlings I follow the process below:
1.  Watch the weather and when day temps are >60F I start to gradually introduce my plants to the garden.  I set them out in progressively longer inrervals over the course of 1-2 weeks until the can spend the whole day (and hopefully overnight) outside.
2.  During this time, I cut back on water just a little.  This usually translates to every other day watering but I break that rule if the seedling leaves look wilted.
3.  Once nighttime temps are >50F and the above steps have been acomplished, I plant a "test" plant for each variety and watch for 1-2 days.  If still alive and looking good I go ahead and transplant my remaining seedlings.
The cheat to this, at least if you live in Salt Lake City like I do, is that if you harden off in time for Mother's Day you can usually get away with your seedlings being planted on that ot the following weekend.  
Can't wait to get these beautiful seedlings into the ground!

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.