After getting a pack of seeds from me at the West End Garden Tour, head to the Chipotle Edible Garden at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Chipotle will be giving away Roma Tomato Plants to people age 16 and under.
Posts Tagged ‘let’s get this party started’
The last two weeks have been insanely busy. My front lawn garden is featured in the West End Garden Tour, which I’m really excited about, but it means that the garden needs to be in show-off mode.
On top of that, I just found out about Sholom Community Garden right in my neighborhood, which, of course, I joined immediately. As I discovered last year, my yard gets about 4 hours of decent sun…not enough to justify oodles of sun-loving plants like tomatoes and peppers and eggplant and okra. As such, this year I reluctantly resigned myself to mainly leafy greens and herbs. Don’t get me wrong, the leafy greens and herbs are excellent, but for me they’re a bit of a consolation prize.
Well, the Shalom Garden has now opened up all sorts of crazy tomato and pepper possibilities, and because they let us start planting on June 1st, I’ve been rushing to prepare the bed and plant so I can gorge myself to my heart’s desire later this summer. The one major hurdle to this is that the soil is dense sand and rock and, in some spots, clay,which is exhausting to work through. A 15 by 15 space of full sun seems absolutely ginormous to me. I think I’ll be able to plant basically everything I could want! And even some stuff I don’t want!!!
In any case, my schedule the last couple weeks has mainly been waking up, rushing a watering can to the Garden before work to water seedlings, going to work, going home, and working in the garden until dusk. Then sleep and do it again. Mind you, I’m not complaining, but I am very excited for the point when the garden isn’t such a helpless baby.
By the way, if anyone out there is interested in getting a plot, fill out the Sholom Community Garden Application here. Plots are still available!
Saint Paul’s average soil temperature last week was a 62 degrees. Last year at this time, Saint Paul’s soil temperature was also 62 degrees. In 2009 it was 72 degrees. In 2008 it was a mere 56 degrees. In 2007 it was 70 degrees. So we seem to be about right.
I think it’s really interesting to see what the farmer’s are doing, because obviously they know a lot more than me about planting. The USDA keeps tabs on national agriculture and has a page on Minnesota’s crop progress and conditions, that is updated weekly. Here is the report for Minnesota Crop Progress as of May 22. Notably, sweet corn, sunflowers, dry beans, and soybeans are just started to be planted, and potatoes, sugar beets, green peas are mostly planted. I’m relieved to find that I’m not so far behind…although I really need to get going on a potato tower.
If you happen to read the report, you’ll see that as much as I grumble and complain, our average temperatures are right on target with the norm, even though last year we were able to plant a lot more quickly.
This weekend was cold and dreary, so no gardening got accomplished. My poor boulevard watermelon passed away, and my Okra seedling did not survive in it’s pop-bottle because of the almost-freezing temperatures.
I did pick up my city-subsidized composter, but was too cold to get it up and running.
Such uneventfulness makes me anxious for things to keep moving forward. As such, in the-heat-of-the-moment (or lack of heat, rather) I bought a 7-foot, flowering dwarf kieffer pear tree. And a navajo blackberry bush. I hope the weather has learned it’s lesson.
I have no idea where I will put these plants, but I know for the pear tree I’ll need to use some of the techniques I am learning from Dave Wilson Nursery via NW Edible Life, because the 12-15′ feet tall and 8-10′ wide full-grown size is just. not. possible.
I started my some of the cold-hardy vegetables on Sunday because it was (finally) nice weather. Until they germinate I’ll have the black plastic sheet over them so they stay moist and warm.
The wildlife in our neighborhood cannot be trusted to do the right thing, so each of my garden beds will need to have some sort of fencing around it. I have yet to go pick some more tiny fencing up, so chicken wire is filling the gaps until I get around to it. One thing that I discovered makes a quick make-shift fence structure around a plant is an upside-down tomato cage that I set chicken wire around:
This is a grape vine that I just planted Sunday in the back yard. I placed the upside-down tomato cage over it, then cut a piece of chicken wire that was in a roll, so it wrapped around the tomato cage naturally.
In the front I used the tomato cage contraption over seeds I planted for raspberry spinach, mascara lettuce, arugula and kale, which are also protected by the plastic sheet mulch.
I also started a couple of experiments, because I have seedlings coming out of various orifices. I cut the bottom off of a couple juice/soda containers, and planted an okra seedling and a watermelon seedling. The bottom piece that I cut off I’m using mini-hot caps to speed up germination of some of the seeds.
If it’s cold I can leave the cap on, and if it’s sunny I can take the cap off to allow heat to escape. If it gets really nice out I’ll take the whole bottle off the plant so it doesn’t get too hot.
I also started to harden an okra plant and a ginormous Cherokee purple tomato plant that is getting too big for its britches…and the grow light.
It got down to 40 degrees last night. After day 1, the transplanted watermelon is looking pretty weak but the okra seems to be doing well. When I got up for work this morning I thought the tomato was dead, but when I got home it had sprung back up and just as chipper as ever. The container okra is doing fine.
This is the spot I want to get ready right away. It’s where I’m planning on putting my root veggies like beets, turnips, carrots, radishes, and kohlrabi, which I will be starting this weekend. First I laid down 4-5 layers of newspaper to line the edge of the bed. As you can see in the picture, it was pretty windy yesterday, so I used some gorgeous paperweights to keep things under control.
For the soil I used compost from a Saint Paul Compost Pile, peat, vermiculite, and sand. The guy at Eco-Garden Supply recommended vermiculite over perlite, which he said blows around haphazardly when it’s windy. He also recommended that I apply some lime to the mix, since peat and compost tend to be acidic. I did add some lime, but will be testing the pH before I add any more to make sure it’s a hospitable place for my root veggies.
Then I laid down wood mulch over the newpaper, so we have a beautifully mulched lawn instead of a beautifully newpapered lawn. I’m trying to imagine the whole front yard like this, and I’m not sure what I think about it yet.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the front of the house faces the south, which makes the front lawn a better location for a vegetable garden than the back lawn. What I don’t have on the drawing are my TWO garden nemeses (nemesi?), and the reasons why I will never be a tree-hugg’in hippie. To the immediate west of my front yard is nemesis #1: my neighbor’s huge black oak tree (sorry, Adrienne…but would you mind getting rid of that thing?) :
Don’t get me wrong, it’s huge and old and beautiful and whatnot (blah, blah, blah…), but it casts a huge shadow over my front lawn in the evening. I’m not exactly sure how much of the day it is causing me problems, so I’m planning to keep track over the next couple days.
To the immediate south of the right side of the lawn is a ginkgo baloboa tree in the boulevard between the sidewalk and the street:
Nemesis #2 is pretty thin, so even when it has leaves it doesn’t create quite the annoyance of Arch Nemesis #1.
For the first half of the day, shown in the above photo, we get beautiful, direct sunlight. In the evening…not so much. So I guess this means that my taller plants, such as the corn, okra and tomatoes should be 1) towards the house (which is the northern side of the front yard) and 2) on the west side of the lawn. This way early in the day they will still get good direct sunlight, and later in the day they won’t shadow the plants because of the Big Jerk Oak Tree.
EdibleLandDesign posted this article on the Top 10 Rookie Gardening Mistakes. I may-or-may-not be guilty of at least half of those from my garden last year. I am trying really hard to avoid mistake 2 and 8 by making sure that these trees will not prevent my plants from flourishing. This might mean that the Okra I started from seed a month ago might not be a good plant to include in my vegetable garden, which would definitely hurt my fee-fees. This article does include a link to some vegetables that do well with some shade, though. Also, mistake Number 3 was a big problem last year, and I will definitely avoid it this year by planning the locations of the vegetables and sticking to it. When I’m actually planting it’s so easy to sneak the plants just a little bit closer together…until they end up on top of each other…so it might be a challenge for me.
I spent the first half of yesterday digging up one side of the front lawn with my friend (who will likely own my soul after this growing season – Thanks Mandy!). It was a challenge, especially since we were using a crate as a wheelbarrow (I need to stop being so cheap). Below is the rough sketch of my garden plan, which developed as we were digging because it was a lot easier for me to see what things looked like for real and change things on the drawing. The box on the bottom right is my raised garden bed. I’m still deciding on the left side of the walkway:
This is how the right side of my lawn looks, now!
As I mentioned in this post, I really like and relate to Fritz Haeg’s Baltimore, Maryland edible front yard design. One aspect of it that I would love to apply to the left side of my plan is the seating area on the right side of his plan. I don’t think I have quite enough space, though.
You might be able to see my note in the drawing (top middle of the drawing), the front of the house faces the south, which makes the front lawn a better location for a vegetable garden than the back lawn. In addition to the back lawn being even smaller than the front, the house casts a shadow the back yard for part of the day. So I haven’t decided exactly what plants are going where, but I’ll be putting the taller plants towards the north side of the front lawn, such as okra and tomatoes.
I really like this idea for seed starting in toilet paper rolls.
Above is what my seed starting set-up looked like in Mid-March. I have a heat mat below the seed bed and a heat regulator that keeps the soil temperature at around 80 degrees. This isn’t equipment I normally would purchase (because I’m a bit of a cheap skate, I mean, a’hem…frugal), but a friend gave them to me when they got new equipment.
This heat regulator is the one I have, which I like a lot. I’m not sure what kind of heat mat that is, but it does the trick. I’ve noticed on Amazon that you can get them for as little as $20. I germinated some of my cilantro seeds with the heat mat, and some of them without, and it made about a 8-day difference, probably because the house runs a bit chilly.