Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Squashes and Flowers and Herbs, Oh My!

SO much progress in the garden these days! My elderly neighbor wandered over to the back fence a few days ago as I was thinning my kale and bok choy, and commented, "You're planting things awfully early!" Why, yes I am. I may be jumping the gun a little, but I'm so excited to have a garden that I'm attempting to push our long growing season to the max. So far everything is doing very well, and we're past the last frost date so hopefully that danger is out of the picture. The only things left inside under the lights now are my tomatoes and peppers.
Teenage tomatoes under the lights. 
(click on images to enlarge)

They won't go out into the garden until the soil is good and warm. If the weather really perks up, I might put the biggest tomatoes out in the first couple weeks of May. Peppers are more finicky and will need to wait until it's really warm.

The weather was gorgeous this last weekend, and I spent hours and hours planting, tilling, thinning, and repotting.
Some of my starts graduating to larger homes. 

I planted out all my flower starts into the garden: cosmos, pansies, marigolds, and coreopsis. They are all loving being out in the dirt and growing speedily already! All of my tomatoes and peppers have moved into 1-gallon pots until they are transplanted into the garden. With so many larger pots, I ran out of room under the lights so decided to plant out my winter squash starts. Definitely a little early there, but the "toms and peps" get priority for the lights, in my hierarchy of vegetables.

I planned my garden so that I would interplant squash and corn, in the far western end of the garden bed, next to the compost bin (on the other side of Julie's section of the garden plot). This is my biggest garden success so far: this piece of garden was hard packed clay dirt and gravel in October, and I stacked multiple layers of dead leaves and compost on it for the winter. I tilled it all up on Sunday, and it is now delicious loose black dirt!
Albeit with some gravel mixed in, but I think corn and squash will do well in this soil. I planted my four squash plants into it and they seem very happy- three "Sunshine" and one "Queensland Blue," an heirloom variety. My parents advised me that these might grow better with some extra warmth, so after work yesterday I scrounged around and made four little housings for them, out of old yard debris bags and plastic milk jugs filled with water. The theory here being that the jugs of water will collect heat from sunlight and radiate it into the soil and to the plants, and hopefully the thick paper will help retain some of the warmth around the plants. Clear plastic coverings would be ideal, but I am working with what I have, so this is the best I could come up with. I'll let you know if it works!

Squash progress in action:

On Saturday afternoon I also bought some herb starts and planted them out- spearmint (for iced tea this summer!), golden oregano, lemon thyme, and parsley. I also discovered an italian parsley plant near the back fence that Julie must have planted last year. Also a big clump of chives; if you want to get technical, the first harvest from this year's garden was the chives Matt and I had on our mashed potatoes last night. Delicious!
 Cukes on the windowsill.
View of my growing garden. The little hut over the cabbages is made
from a secondhand mesh shower curtain.

My good friend Sarah came over on Sunday afternoon and we planted nasturtiums, chard ("Bright Lights"), cilantro, feverfew, sweet peas, and lettuce ("Flashy Trout Back"). The wrought metal from my old screen door has been repurposed into a trellis for the vining nasturtiums, and on Saturday afternoon Matt put together a beautiful trellis from scrap cedar and set it up against the wall under my bedroom window.
This is where I will plant scarlet runner beans from my mom's garden. They grow ridiculously tall and are lovely plants with bright red flowers and huge bean pods. Plus, they emphasize a feeling of home for me.

 With my red geraniums in their hanging pots, it's really starting to look like summer out back!

1 comment:

Naturalearthfarm said...

Chives, yes,are my favorite first harvest too! I also have enjoyed planting scarlet runners in the past - such pretty orange flowers.
I am excited to have visited your blog - thank you for stopping by mine.
Warm wishes, Tonya