Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gardening: Spring planting

Started the spring garden today.  (Actually several weeks ago but just now getting around to posting. . .) Around here many garden crops have two short seasons per year, one in the spring and a second in the fall, because you’re fighting against the frosts on either end and a blistering summer in between. So we start seeds in mid-January so they can go into the ground in early March and have time to produce a crop before the summer heats shuts the plants down.

I’ve been sneaking up on this garden thing for several years and this year I’ve started some tomato, broccoli and spinach seeds.

Yes, I could just buy tomato plants from the local garden centers but they’re usually some variant of varieties bred for commercial production which means tough skins for shipping protection, usually are determinates where everything ripens all at the same time and breeding for flavor is not as important as production; besides, been there, done that, haven’t been terribly impressed. Which is why I cracked open a few catalogs in November and picked out three different heirloom varieties to try out.  One is Flordade, a red determinate, which means it stops growing when fruit sets and then all the fruit ripens at around the same time, but it was bred specifically for our kind of climate and is red, which is a requirement of my other half. The other two, Yellow Pear and Cherokee Purple are indeterminate which means they keep growing until the heat gets them and fruits ripen in succession rather than all at once. So, we’ll see how this goes.

Broccoli and spinach are consumed in great quantities around here so they seemed like a couple of no-brainer choices to add to the mix. Of course there’s lots of other plants I would like to be able to brag about growing, but  I’m making an effort here to start out with something manageable with the intention of expanding in a controlled manner as I get this thing figured out. (Fat chance! That figuring it out part, but I have to give it a try anyway.)

Since one seedling looks like another to me, especially different varieties of the same thing, plant markers were imperative, except I didn't have any. I looked around the barn for an alternative and the only thing I could come up with was some scrap pieces of PVC lattice I've been keeping around for who knows what. I  cut some rather crude strips out of this and marked them up. Now, as long as I don't pull the markers out of the planters I should be able to keep track of what's what.

Now that I have seedlings on the way I guess I better get started on the mobile greenhouse I’ve been planning on building  on top of a utility trailer we don’t use anymore.  We have all sorts of creatures around here, from the very tiny to deer and feral hog sized, whose main purpose in life seems to be consuming anything they can get their little teeth on, so a protected garden is a must and what better way to get started than with a mobile garden we can move around the property according to the seasons? (Truth is, past experience indicates I’m going to put the garden in the wrong place my first couple tries and having wheels under it will make the correction process significantly easier.)

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