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Archive for the ‘Time to Plant!’ Category

The agricultural community world-wide is buzzing with talk of a rare Gardening Husband sighting. This reclusive beast, who has been known to go immediately and indefinitely into hiding after any mention or even remote inference of the phrase “yard work”, has been spotted recently in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States.  One of our lucky man-watchers was even fortunate enough to catch this nearly unheard of scene on film!  Assisted only by his side-kick, Giant White Dog, Gardening Husband–by his own initiative–bravely battled the desolate land of Last Year’s Shriveled Vegetable Plants, fighting and hacking his way down to bare soil.

To catch sight of this rare appearance, keep your eyes peeled for our brave warrior, usually seen wearing a skull cap and heavy duty gardening gloves, plus a uniform usually consisting of jeans and a sweater.  He can often be seen throwing a red rubber Kong toy or dingy tennis ball to Giant White Dog in between, as well as during, bouts with dead vegetation.

Soldier on, fearless Gardening Husband!  Your deeds of good and bravery are those to which gardeners around the planet aspire.

douginthegarden

My Hero!

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  dearmothernature
yaysnow

More to come soon…

Happy snow day!

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Peas

Pea Plants ~ about a month old

Are We There Yet?

I know.  I said planting day wouldn’t be until at least the weekend after Mother’s Day.  I said that.  I did.  However.  This unusually warm spring has got me thinking that it might be OK to bump planting day up a bit.  This weekend looks like it might be a little on the cool side, but next week looks exactly right for planting.  If you aren’t ready, no worries!  You will still be on schedule if you wait a couple of weeks.  However, if you are itching to get your hands dirty (like I am), I don’t want you waiting on me to do it.

There are still a few plants that should probably wait.  Summer squash hates to be cold, and besides, we planted all of those cool-season greens in our squash bed, so let’s hold off on those.  Cucumbers and corn are other plants that like really warm weather—let’s wait to put those guys into the ground until later in the month.  Check the back of your seed packets—if they indicate that you should wait until 1 to 2 weeks after the average last frost, wait a week or two before planting them.  I know, we haven’t had a frost for a couple of weeks, so technically it probably already is 1 to 2 weeks after the last frost.  However, May nights can (and are supposed to) still get down into the low 40s, and some plants just don’t like the cold, even if there isn’t a freeze. (more…)

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Tomato Seedlings

Next destination: the garden!

You have babied your indoor seedlings for almost two months.  You have watered, turned, and maybe even talked to them.  They are still tiny little guys—far too small and immature to face the harsh reality of The World.  Or are they?  Those little guys might look feeble and fragile, but they are ready to take the next step in life:  Hardening Off.

It might sound just a bit naughty, but the process of hardening off is simply gradually introducing seedlings to the outdoors.  If they are thrust at once into unpredictable and varied outdoor conditions after being grown in a controlled indoor climate, young seedlings can easily go into shock and die.  You’ve spent a lot of time growing your babies from seed—don’t blow it now!

Hardening off should be done over a one to two week period of time.  Below is a timeline for one week—if you start the process this Saturday, you will be ready to plant next Saturday.  If you have more time to harden your plants off, even better.  Just adjust the timeline accordingly, letting your seedlings spend more and more time outside each day.

Day 1:  Start hardening your seedlings off on a day where you will have temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, with little or no wind.  Put your seedlings in a shaded, well protected place for 4-6 hours, then bring them back in before it gets dark.

Day 2:  Same as day one, but leave them out 6-8 hours, or even a little longer.

Day 3:  Put them out in the shade in the morning, and bring them in when the sun goes down.

Day 4:  Start in the sun (preferably in the spot where you will plant them) during the cooler part of the morning, then move them into shade during the hottest part of the day.  Move them back out into the sun as it cools off in the evening.

Day 5:  Start them in the sun.  If the temperature gets up above 80, move them into the shade.  If not, let them get sun!  Bring them in when the sun goes down or if the temperature goes below 50.

Day 6:  Leave them out in the sun all day, and bring them inside right before you go to bed.

Day 7:  First thing in the morning, take them out to the spot where you will be planting them, and leave them for 24 hours.

Day 8:  Plant!

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Let’s celebrate Earth Day by greenifying our garden and getting some seeds in the ground!

Pea Sprouts

Pea sprouts from seeds planted two weeks ago. Yum. Peas.

We have two tasks this week:
1. Plant outdoor seeds.
2. Transplant indoor seedlings for larger plants to larger containers.

This week we are ready to plant these seeds outdoors:

Arugula
Beets
Carrots
Leeks
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Watercress

If you are doing successive planting, you can also plant some more of these:
Lettuce
Radishes

Radish Sprouts

Radish sprouts from seeds planted two weeks ago. (Despite my “no thinning” policy, I am going to have to thin these a bit–they should be at least an inch apart.)

We are done planting indoor seeds, but keep babying the ones you have planted until we are ready to get the seedlings in the ground.  If you have any seedlings that look like the are outgrowing their containers, this is a good time to transplant them to larger pots.  Larger plants, like tomatoes and peppers, are good candidates for repotting.  The more room they have to grow, the better developed their root systems will be.  The better developed the root system, the healthier the plant.  Smaller plants, like onions and lettuce, will be fine where they are for another couple  of weeks until we put them into the garden–their root systems don’t grow as large.  Think about it this way–if a plant will be large above the ground, its root system will be large below the ground.  These are the guys that can use a little more room to grow.

Transplanting is pretty easy.  Look for a container maybe twice as wide as the one your seedling is in now.  Fill it about half full with potting mix–it’s not as important to use mix specially made for seeds here (if you have some left over, though, you might as well use it up), but do use a good, moisture-retaining potting mix.  Then pop your seedling out of its current container and into the new one.  Fill the rest of the way up with potting mix.  Water.  The hard part is finding the room for the bigger containers in your already-plant-filled kitchen.

If you are transplanting tomato seedlings, it’s a bit different–tomatoes like to be buried deep in the soil, because they will develop roots all along the part  of the stem that is buried.  For tomatoes, start with an empty container.  Put the seedling in the container, and bury all but the very top set of leaves in the soil.

Happy gardening!

repottingafter

After

repottingbefore

Before

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Bean SproutLook what I found poking out of the soil this week!  If your garden still looks like a big pile of lifeless, brown, wet soil, don’t fret!  There is plenty of activity going on beneath the soil–patience, grasshopper.  My guess is this guy is actually a bean that got left unnoticed from last year’s garden, and sprouted all on his own.  (He will have to be moved to join his other bean friends later.  I will wait until the seeds I planted in the area sprout, so I know where they are and don’t disturb them when I dig this guy up.)

We are just about done with indoor seeds, so if you are running out of room on your windowsills, fear not!  Here is what we have left to plant inside:

Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage **
Melons **
Okra
Tomatillo

** If you want to try cabbage or melons from seed, start them in peat pots (or peat pods)–these guys are both tough to transplant, and the peat pots make it easier on the seedling later.

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We are about six weeks away from our last frost!  My guess is that with as warm as this year has been, we aren’t actually going to have too many more frosts, but this is Colorado.  You never can tell.  We are proceeding under the assumption that our last frost will be around or just after Mother’s Day, which is Sunday, May 13.  If you can, clear your calendar the weekend of May 19/20–that will be our biggest planting weekend!

Forsythia

Everywhere you go right now, there are beacons of spring: forsythias.  Forsythias are the shrubs in full screaming-bright-yellow bloom right now.  The rest of the summer they will be green, and fairly inconspicuous, but this time of year they are all calling, “Boo-YA!  Spring is here!!”  Forsythias bloom when the ground temperature reaches about 55 degrees–that’s just about the temperature the ground needs to be to plant a bunch of cool season vegetables.

This weekend, we will be planting seeds both inside and out.  Although we might still have a couple of frosts to come, the forsythia tells us that soil temperatures are high enough to get seeds germinating.   So let’s get ’em in the ground!

Here are the seeds we’re planting this weekend:

Indoors:
Cauliflower
Lettuce
Radicchio
Watercress
(please be sure to see Lesson #4 below, if you haven’t already)

Outdoors:
Bok Choy (this is a new one for me this year–will let you know how it goes!)
Broccoli & Broccoli Raab
Greens – Mustard & Collard
Kohlrabi (weird looking, but so delish!)
Peas **before planting peas, soak the seeds in water overnight**
Radishes
Spinach
(please be sure to see Lesson #5 below, if you haven’t already)

Additional Resources:

Lesson #4:  Planting the Seed

Lesson #5:  Down & Dirty ~ Direct Sowing Seeds

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