Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Looks kinda springlike, off to a slow start, trees

Now that the storms have passed through this area is getting some nice sunny weather.  The rains in the last 2 weeks  have brought the pond up about 4 feet and it is now up to the overflow pipe.  The water is still too turbid to see any fish – later they will hang around by the deck waiting to be fed.  I took some pictures this morning.  There wasn’t any wildlife about, except for 2 flocks of snow geese overhead which I could hear but not see.  I took a shot of the red oak tree just outside the back door – it’s about 40 inches in diameter – a big old tree.   Just to the right of the tree and across the pond is another red oak that’s 5 feet in diameter, although there is no sense of scale from the picture.  Last summer it lost 2 branches, each about 2 feet across, in a storm.  I cut them up for firewood.  The tree on the right is a shagbark hickory.  Hickories are unique to the Americas, they went extinct in Europe during the glacial advances and retreats of the Pleistocene era.  .  

This is a pic of the garden facing south.  The line of trees does not shade the garden until about mid-October, then everything stops growing.
The brassica seeds started on the 19th germinated in 3-4 days with the heat mat speeding things up - they are just starting to show true leaves.   Only bok choi and kohlrabi were started  for this round since there is limited space in the greenhouse bed.  The next set, to be started on March 6, will include broccoli and cabbage.  It will probably go into the brassica bed unless there is some room in the greenhouse bed.  The lettuce seeds, which are Burpee’s mixtures from ‘09, show very little germination to this point. I may have to buy new seeds.
I’m not sure about onions.  Last year I started Copra indoors in mid-March and planted them as multis, with 2-3 plants in each cell.  The tops fell over in July and they were ready to harvest in August, which seems really early for a 105 day onion.  The onions were small but nice, rock hard onions with great flavor that kept well.   Initially I decided to start onions later thinking they would mature later, when cooler conditions will help them store longer.  But then I read that onions should have as much greenery as possible by summer solstice, so maybe the problem was that they did not get a sufficiently  EARLY start for a long day onion.  And other gardeners were starting onions in February.  So I went ahead and seeded 5  9-cell  pots with 2 seeds each.  That should produce about 40 setouts of Copra.   This time I’ll thin them to one plant per cell, as I think the Copras do better when planted singly.   In a week or two I’m going to start some Red Long of Tropea onions, and since those are long and thin they should do okay planted in groups of 2-3.  

I keep looking at these other blogs of really serious gardeners.  They have racks of seed flats with banks of lights, full of seedlings practically busting out of their pots.  I just don’t garden on that kind of scale.  At any rate, I’ve found that two seed flats and a 4 foot shoplight are adequate to raise all the starts I need to set out, although at some point in April both flats will be full.  One reason I can do this is I don’t start any tomato or pepper plants, which require large pots.  There is a terrific farmers market in Bloomington and also a very good greenhouse (May’s).  In the spring a lot of the vendors at the farmer’s market offer all kinds of heirloom tomato and pepper seedlings.  May’s also has a nice selection, most of them hybrids.  I can try new varieties every year without buying seeds that will likely go to waste.  Cheers.

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