Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Early summer update

Wow! Time flies when you're having fun, eh?

Before I went away for two weeks in May, I planted out the chile plants we ordered from Cross Country Nurseries, around May 10th or so. I thought it was a bit early, but C. remembered that last year we planted at about the same time and had great success. I think it was colder this year (we had nights in the low 40s where I was in Michigan!), but the plants are still alive and kicking. It's been quite hot the past few days, so I am hoping that they will really kick in the coming weeks. Here are the varieties we're growing this year:

Salmon, Szechwan, Jalapeno Early, Fire, Takatsume, Punjab Small Hot, Mirasol, Carmine, Lester Williams Red, Tasmanian, Chocolate Habanero, and Harold's St. Barts. I've also got seedlings that I grew myself, both on the windowsill and through winter sowing, using seeds that we saved from the previous year: White and Red Habanero, Island Hellfire, and a couple others whose names escape me at the moment. Those plants are going to have to go in pots as I've run out of room in the big garden plot I made last fall! (Laying down cardboard and shredded leaves in the fall to create a new a plot is a really easy, fool-proof approach!) I'm going out of town for the weekend, so I'll take care of those when I get back next week.

I had some success with my winter sowing, even though I had such a late start. I didn't get things planted until February and March! Here's what I ended up with this year, and what I planted in the ground yesterday, all tomatoes.

Black Cherry, Cherokee Purple, Accordion, Bonny Best, Fuzzy Peach, Coyote, Black Krim, Yellow Pear, Black Seaman, and... a mystery volunteer from last year.

In addition to all this, I planted in marigolds, and there are sunflowers, walking onions from my mom's place, strawberries (we just ate some this morning – YUM!), three varieties of garlic, two varieties of peas, Mexican cucumber. These were all winter sown. I also bought from a local nursery some Brussels sprouts plants and chives, as well as a couple hot cherry pepper plants (not that we needed them, really). I'll also be adding in some pansies to the main garden plot, and after doing some reading about companion planting would like to add some nasturtium and zinnia.

All in all, this has been a fun and successful planting. Now, the waiting – will things grow? Will they flourish?

One thing I am doing differently this year is using mulch – I know, duh. I've used grass clippings so far and they seem to be working well, but I also splurged and got some cedar mulch with a gift certificate I got on my last birthday. I have yet to put it down as I want to get everything in the garden first so I don't have to mess with it too much, but I am excited to see how it will look and whether it will make everything grow that much better. I'll definitely have to water less, and hopefully it will help with pests like slugs, too. Hey – I read today that kelp, seaweed, makes for great slug repellent mulch. Go figure! I wonder if the kind I can grab from Lake Ontario would fit the bill.

I will be getting some photos up next week. I'm pretty proud of my efforts this year!

Monday, March 28, 2011

More Winter Sowing

I finally got around to sowing the last batch of seeds I ordered, as well as some of those from last year's Seed Savers order that we never did anything with. Those plastic salad and strawberry containers sure come in handy!

Anyway, here's what went out today.

Green Arrow Pea
Dwarf Gray Sugar Pea
Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber
Moon and Stars Watermelon

Yellow Pear Tomato
Orange-Fleshed Purple Smudge Tomato
Great White Beefsteak Tomato
Black Seaman Tomato
(was going to do the Goldman's Italian American tomato, too, but the seed packet was empty!)

Peaches and Cream Sweet Corn
Chocolate Morning Glory
Dwarf Blue Alpine Columbine

Phew! I hope it all takes! Or maybe not... that's a lot of stuff... ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring! Well...

The weather has been decidedly spring-like these past few days. I was even surprised and pleased to see that all the garlic that I planted in the fall has sprouted as of yesterday — they weren't there a couple days ago.

Then, I woke up this morning. Much to my surprise, what do I see out the window?

Several inches of snow.


I know that it's March and I live in Niagara Falls, NY, and that it has been known to snow well into April, but goshdarnit!

In happier news, I got more heirloom tomato seeds in the mail that I am excited to try:

Orange-fleshed Purple Smudge
Yellow Pear
Goldman's Italian American

Plus, I am going to try corn this year! Peaches and Cream. Hoping to get all these into winter sowing containers by this weekend.

Spring, spring, where art thou?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

And almost a year later...


I can't believe I just stopped garden blogging just as the season was starting last year. What a bummer. I guess it just amounted to being very, very busy throughout the summer (basically holding down two full-time jobs plus a bunch of other stuff on top of the gardening duties) and just didn't carve out time for writing about the greenery.

Well, I can tell you that we had a pretty successful season last year overall. The winter sown plants performed beautifully once I got them into the ground, which was late, believe you me — I think it wasn't until July that I actually planted most of them, poor babies. Most of what worked really well were the tomatoes, cherry varieties in particular. Among our favorites were Sungold (the plant purchased from a local grower), Coyote, Sugar Lump, and Black Cherry (all of which were winter sown). We had a bunch of chiles from Cross Country online, plus I tried out a couple sunflowers which were a lot of fun. I am planting more of those this year and excited about it!

In the fall, I ordered three varieties of garlic and planted those in October or November... Chesnok Red, Transylvanian, and Simonetti from We Grow Garlic. We planted some (six cloves each), but ate most and let me tell you, each of those varieties are delicious and just something over and above what you get at the grocery store. Our favorite was the Chesnok Red and next year I'm hoping to try more varieties, too. Crossing fingers that they will be showing up in the garden soon... well, OK, sometime in July, I guess... but that's soon, right? ;)

This past week, I finally got around to doing my winter sowing. I was worried that it was too late, but read in a forum somewhere that generally, it's never too late to try it. Especially considering how unpredictable the spring season is in my area, I figured what the heck. Here's what I've got so far:

Cherokee Purple
Bonny Best
Black Cherry
Sugar Lump
Super Sioux
Black Krim
Fuzzy Peach

Other Delectables
Teddybear sunflower
Sweet basil
Edisto Cantaloupe

And I am hoping to plant a few more seeds in the coming days, too.

Last fall I also managed to expand our growing area by laying down layers of cardboard and shredded leaves in preparation for easy spring prep! I have a few small compost piles going, too.

Finally, the best news of all is that at the end of last summer, I quit my day job as an in-house graphic designer at a small book publisher in order to pursue teaching at the college level and having more time to build my career as an exhibiting artist! This means that my schedule is very flexible and much more free — I will have plenty of time to spend in the garden, more than ever before. Not to mention more time to document what I'm doing in the garden as well!

See you again soon!