Finally started prepping summer garden

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Time to face my limitations

I’ve been seeing a therapist lately. This week I said something about how later in the season I will have to accept that I have limits to what I can do. (I have a lot of self-pity when I compare myself to others, believe me.) She said that this week I should “accept my limits” and focus on “quality, not quantity.” It’s hard to know how much quantity you’ll have with growing food and flowers. I tend to start two sixpacks of tomatoes, and I’ve been getting only 4-8 plants germinating. I have 3 of 12 cucumbers, which is actually a more manageable number for someone who has trouble getting around to harvesting. Then some get damping off or other problems. I realized yesterday that I had to stop using the little watering can that I use in my germinating greenhouse. At the base of the end sprayer (what’s that called? a rose? rosette? I forget), there’s some water that drips out in droplets that are much larger than what comes out of the end. So I’m watering one or two cells gently, while the one that I just watered is getting pounded with even more water! It’s been that way pretty much the whole season. Maybe this is why I’ve had such bad germination of zinnias and some of the small-seeded summer crops? Argh! I need to find another source of organic full-size zinnias. So I’m dragging the curly hose over from inside the garden gate, and it barely reaches, and I’m bumping into the greenhouse frame as I pull the hose tighter… It’s not good. I’m generally miserable and feeling like I need help brainstorming and implementing solutions. I guess I could try putting newly seeded trays into the “new” greenhouse, even if they’re on the low shelves, since it’s so much cooler and gets less direct sunlight. I’m just nervous that rodents would get in there and eat them the first night. As it is, I wonder if earwigs have eaten any seeds in the other greenhouse!

I’ve planted most of my broccoli and cabbage in the last 10ish days, and this week I started on the dino kale. The broccoli is getting DESTROYED by flea beetles ūüė¶ I finally pulled my onion seedlings out of the fridge (why didn’t I at least put them in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel when they arrived was it Monday or Tuesday of this week?! busy. And there’s a packet of Petaluma Gold Rush (not technically organic, but I think I’ve looked and not found them organic elsewhere) seeds in a plastic bag inside that box which I’m like, maybe I’ll just leave it there until I’m ready. Petaluma Gold Rush bean info(accessed tonight): “Pole/Dry. Short Rounded seeded horticultural type from Peru. Introduced to San Francisco area about 1840-1841 by Adeline Azevedo Frye. Sold by Azevedo family as snap and dry bean to mining camps. The plants are vigorous, producing vines that grow up to 10 feet tall.” Petaluma is like 10 miles from here (Z and I rented a place there before we moved 3 cities to the north). So I guess that counts as a local heirloom crop. I never dealt with the seeds that I harvested last year. Limitations. Well, really I just need to set a date by or in the 2nd week in November for collecting and processing seeds.

So I started planting onions yesterday along with the Dino Kale. I’ve got about 20 of the kales into the ground, and around 35 of the onions. Last night’s handful of onion seedlings was much bigger than I’d anticipated and made me a half hour later coming in from the garden. Sigh). I also put some of the onions amongst the beleaguered broccoli. Gotta keep planting, but also need to prep more beds. The ground in the next section has a big dip and I’m not sure if I/we can fix it any time soon. We have a pile of soil that, if it is moistened, could be moved to that area if we have time. I’m tempted to switch over to the summer crop area since I need to get my okra and tomatillos into the ground! And I have a few cukes and melons to transplant, too. And the dahlias are really getting rootbound. Wish me luck getting stuff done on Sunday. Z has been so stressed that he’s getting really forgetful. He needs some time to himself, but he always gives in when T says he wants to be with him. So it’s kind of his problem, but really it’s ours as a couple and family.

T was “helping” me transplant for a bit on Thursday (? or Friday?). He’d start to separate the roots a bit, and then he’d keep pulling at them. I’m like, “No. stop. Stop. STOP!” and he finally stopped. ARGH! Then he went into the house…

Haven’t harvested strawberries in around 5 days. No time. PS, calf still sore. Seeing a chiro/physiotherapist a friend recommended on Tuesday.

2nd area where we used silage tarp
2nd area where we used the silage tarp

Omg leg injury

Today I was racing with T and I felt something snap in my calf. It feels like a bad leg cramp with some burning around it. I debated whether or not to go to Urgent Care (iirc that’d be $50 and the Emergency Room would be $100). I decided against it after I discussed it with Z and my friend who had a similar injury (hers was a calf strain and it took forever to feel better). I will try to call my doctor in the morning. I do not have time for any of this.

I almost did go to Urgent Care around 4:45pm or so, but first I had to water the summer crop seeds that I started yesterday ;). And monitor the water that was running in the garden. I walked around 5/6 of the garden, which was not a good idea. That said, walking feels a lot better on grass than on gravel or in the house. Walking while pushing a grocery cart also feels better. I also added drip tape to the bed space that I prepared this morning. Had to get water on there! I hand water a lot before I transplant in order to get the compost to start to mix into the soil and coalesce into something that can hold the plant up. I have dozens of plants to get into the ground. My friend thinks I might have trouble being on my knees. We have an upright(ish) transplanter (bought from Johnny’s) but I may have broken it a couple of years ago because I just can’t figure out how to operate that thing. :/ #clumsy Our soil is too hard to be able to get plants in using that thing, anyway.

I donated some plants to a fundraiser for T’s preschool. It was hard to figure out what to give- kale, of course, maybe some broccoli, a few zinnias… they already had marigolds, which stinks since I have soooooo many. I should start some more and sell most of the ones I have. That reminds me, I really need to pot things up. We have the money and I should really pay someone to help me catch up for a few weeks. Especially for the strawberries. So much food is going to waste because I never got the beds cleaned up from winter, our mower has blown grass into the bed, etc. ūüė¶ I need to get after those slugs. The below photo is from our 2018 planting. I weeded around the plants the other day, but I really need to hoe there but it’s just too windy by the time I get outside. Gotta try to wash some dishes, stretch, and get to bed.

Strawberry leaf that is much larger than the others near it
huge strawberry leaf!

Grow’s List of Best Gardening Podcasts of 2018

I was excited to click on the link to this list of Best Gardening Podcasts of 2018. I heard about it from Slow Flowers, whose podcast is on the list (although I – and Debra herself – would categorize it as an American Flower Industry (growing, designing, selling) podcast. I don’t listen to any of the others from the list. I prefer to listen to things that are more on the farming side, like the Farmer to Farmer podcast¬†and¬†Farm Small, Farm Smart. I recently found another flower farming podcast called Team Flower (does that link work for you?). I also really like Earth Eats (out of my in-laws’ town – Bloomington!). And I am subscribed to a whole lot of other food/food industry/sustainable agriculture/food nonprofit shows such as Delicious Revolution and Living on Earth. I’ve recently added a bunch in that last list of categories that I haven’t listened to very much.

And yes, I’d love to do a sustainable agriculture podcast. I have ideas of guests and questions to ask. Not just the “softball” questions.

What podcasts do you listen to?

 

Potting up!

Seedlings awaiting potting up
Seedlings awaiting potting up. I think these were broccoli, cabbage, and um thumbelina zinnias

Today I potted up more broccoli (did some fridayish), all of the dino kale, the rest of the dahlias, and some thumbelina zinnias!

I really got into a groove after a while, I felt, but I still only did 3 trays of 3.5 inch pots and 1 tray of 2.5 inch pots. Things are always inefficient, especially when it’s hard to find level ground to set up my folding table on, and when I realize pretty quickly that I can’t work comfortably while sitting at this table- I couldn’t find a height in the middle that suited me.

I regret not having used a respirator and goggles. I feel like little bits of mica or vermiculite or something are all up in my respiratory system, eyes, and skin. The potting mix –¬†Kellogg Raised Bed and Potting Mix¬†(first time using it, from a huge bag!) – was very dry after it having been stored on a table in the yard for a week or two. I used that to fill most of the pots and then I added¬†Black Gold¬†from an open bag to help for right around the plants. They had been started in the Black Gold. Some more recent seedlings were started with¬†Kellogg’s Patio Plus.¬†I think the KPP holds moisture better in the heat.

So many more things to pot up. And I need to start more summer crops! I saw a black eyed Susan coming up this weekend. I seeded those things on like April 11th. They sure are taking a long time to come up!

Z got me a 30″ high shelving unit to extend my tray storage space in the greenhouse. I have room for 2 more trays on the original shelves. Adding this unit gets me space for three more). I need to find some used shelves!

RIP to my cousin G, who died of cancer on the 5th.

“Catch up” time

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view of new greenhouse as of 5/3/18. There’s room on the shelves for about 4 more trays.

Ha! There is no catching up! I’ve been starting seeds, mostly when the¬†Gardening by the Moon¬†calendar recommends, and today I did some potting up (potting-on for you Brits and um Canadians?) of most of my dahlias (started from seed) and some red cabbages and broccoli. I am torn between using 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch pots. The plants are small, but their roots do fill the sixpacks. This means that the 3.5 inche(r)s are better. I think I got a whole case of them! I do have small-seeded things that I started in 128 and 200ish cell trays last week that I need to pot up, so I guess I should save the rest of the 2.5 inch ones for those (and order a case). I have a lot of kales to pot up, too :/. Almost everything looks stunted (I could just start new dino kale, broccoli and cabbage, I guess, but I’m a bit concerned about space.) I think I will get some short metal shelving units for the wooden greenhouse. I am a bit concerned about getting mice in there, which is why I use the old plastic greenhouse for most germination.

I was hoping to have seedlings for a benefit auction/sale that benefits my kid’s preschool later this month, but my tomatoes haven’t even emerged! I could probably have some nice tomatillos and thumbelina zinnias, and even orange marigolds… I guess it’d be worth potting up a few for that… Despite what the lunar calendar/astrology says, I’m going to need to reseed tomatoes (plus now I have more varieties of seeds!), California Giants zinnias, the bell peppers I was unable to locate last time I started seeds, etc. The nights have been in the 40’s and even the low 50’s a few times. Anything that’s above 39 is good by me (strawberry fruit gets very unhappy below 41 or so). On the subject of strawberries: OMG what am I going to do? I’ve had whole days go by on which I didn’t work on them. I’m trying to get the old debris and fruit mummies cleared out so there’s less habitat for pests. Speaking of pests, from time to time I read that Shasta daisies host pests, but in my project for the IPM class I took at the junior college, I learned that they help repel Lygus bugs. I find a few of those bugs each year, and it would be nice to have one less source of catfacing on my berries (and weird marks on peas). It’s a mess under those daisies – dead leaves and buried strawberry plants lol. I had no idea that those plants would be so big – why did I plant so many so close together? The berries that I¬† planted this spring have to be constantly monitored so I can pull the flowers off to promote growth of the plant. I hoed the bed today- we had lots of pigweed, lambsquarters, bindweed, and purslane. I need to hoe that grass that’s to the right of the bed that I planted last year (see green grass below). I guess it really liked all that compost that I put down last summer (and this winter?).

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view of the garden from the edge near the center of the southeast strawberry bed. Z mowed the yellow areas with the tractor this week.

Oh, on to the subject of space – we put a silage tarp on an area where I could put 3 or 4 beds of greens (well, the left-most one actually had a mustard cover crop and flea beetles, so that could be a bad idea). The rightmost bed had greens in winter 2015-16, and I am wondering if it’s too soon. I could probably put some kind of flowers there… I need space for kale, hopefully collards, and chard (gotta pot those ones up asap), as well as for the shorter-season crops like the pak choy that T and I started, cabbage, and broccoli.

As you can see from my writing, I am having a lot of trouble organizing my thoughts. Planning where crops will go is mostly beyond my capability these days. I need to go see an ADD doctor (I was treated for it in the past).

Waiting for the ground to dry out

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I haven’t been spending enough time in the garden lately. I’m getting a bit burnt-out on spending most of my garden time watering seedlings (I have 13 trays started so far). I’ve been using the old plastic greenhouse for germination, and then moving the trays (5 so far) to the new-to-us greenhouse. I think a lot of the plants are stunted due to not enough light (or it could be the cold lol although these are mostly greens). According to weather underground, it got down to 35 or 36 degrees¬† outside last night!

I got a big order of seedling trays this week. I’m interested in experimenting more with the ones that have 100+ holes. I’ve been using the 6-packs that fill up a tray with only 48 cells, and I will run out of greenhouse space at that rate. At that point I would get some short shelving units to put under the shelves- probably nbd (or stepping stones for rats to get to the top, we’ll see).

I keep meaning to start some summer crops for the fundraiser for my kid’s preschool that is in a month. I am not sure what to start that the school isn’t already growing. Some herbs? A tray of summer crops? I got some 2.5″ pots so maybe people can get individual plants. I have no sense of how big the plants will be.

I have mowed the northeast section 4 or 5 times, always intending to put the silage tarp I’ve bought down to kill the grass (wonder if it would kill the flea beetles in my mustard cover crop?). Maybe I’ll fill in the deep holes in that area and get the tarp out tomorrow (Friday).

Flower question: please talk to me about growing dahlias from seed and at what size I should pot them up…