Friday, March 16, 2012

Quick tour

The weather has been like May or June this week.  A few days the high temp was low 80 degrees and the low temp about 55 degrees.  In the next 6 weeks a lot of the beds will be planted.  I want to give my readers a quick tour of where a small vegetable garden in the midwest is at this time of year.

We’ll start off with the seedlings indoors.  Right now there’s some cabbage family (brassicas) that will be ready to set out in about a week.  There’s another set that has just germinated.  I seed brassicas on a 12 day cycle so I get a continuous supply of them, and I like to use deep 3" pots.  They seem to transplant better when their root system is more developed in a deep pot.  There’s 8 cells of lettuce in there.  The lettuce is more of a backup since it was also direct sown and seems to be coming up fine.  There’s also 18 cells of leeks which are just starting to germinate.  I started a tray of onion seedlings (72 cells) in February and set the tray in the greenhouse bed about a week ago.  I'll transplant them into their bed in about a week.
There’s only one bed with plants right now – what I call the greens or greenhouse bed.  It has lettuce and spinach that were seeded last fall.  The greenhouse – a plastic contraption like a pup tent – was set on the bed over the winter.  With the mild winter the lettuce overwintered in good shape, not always the case.  The spinach (Space) had lost viability by last Fall and only 2 healthy plants came up.  That's a shame because I loves me some spinach.  There’s also more spinach that are just coming up from seed in this bed.  For some reason I have never had success with seeding spinach indoors.  I want to transplant the onions into their bed sometime next week.
The first set of brassicas – 2 pac choi (the purple one is almost invisible), a Kolibri kohlrabi, and a Major broccoli were also set in this bed and are growing well. There’s also some radish plants on the right side that I seeded indoors on a whim, just to get some real early radish.  Brassicas really take off once they are set into a bed. 

Today I removed the greenhouse and put a cage over the bed to keep out the birds and furry animals.  Usually I remove the greenhouse at the end of March but unusually warm weather made it necessary to remove it now, it was getting to hot inside the greenhouse even with all the flaps open and I don't want the spinach to bolt.
Here’s the compost bin with a “hot” compost pile going – hot enough that I can’t stick my hand into the compost very deep.  That’s good, I want as much compost ready for the beds in a few weeks as possible and I want the heat to kill weed seeds and bugs.  That’s a years worth of compost in there.  Most of it is shredded oak leaves, about a cubic yard when they were added.   There’s also the entrails from about 15 catfish, the head, entrails and feathers from 8 chickens, food scraps, garden waste,  coffee grounds.  Sounds nasty, but the carbon/nitrogen ratio should be about right (leaves are 50:1 so more nitrogen is needed, which the fish should provide).  It’s truly amazing the extent that the volume is reduced as the pile works. 
And the fish showed up a few weeks ago.  I started feeding them this week

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