Early Spring Veggies That You Can Plant from Seed Today!

There’s lots of potential for the garden season to start much earlier than Memorial Day!

Everyone is used to planting vegetables in late May, but you can direct sow many seeds right now if you’d like to!

You only have a dollar or two to loose, and so much to gain! All it takes is a packet of seeds, some well nourished soil (add organic compost), sunlight and water.

It isn’t too early for lettuce, and with the warm weather forecast for New England over the next few weeks, I believe that we’re going to see a nice early lettuce harvest this year.IMG_8936

 

Peas are another early favorite.  They can be sown directly in an area where a fence or trellis is ready to support them as they grow.

IMG_5760Here’s the peas a few years ago just starting their climb.

Radishes will germinate now, and they grow so quickly. You could be eating home grown radishes in just three weeks if you plunk a short row of seeds into some well nourished soil!
IMG_2694As I looked at this photo from a few years ago I noticed the rocks… I’m always removing rocks.. but small rocks are okay, as long as you add lots of compost. It’s really all about the compost.

 

Kale and Swiss Chard are also very hardy. When we say that a plant is “hardy”, we usually mean that it will withstand cold well.

IMG_9478

This is swiss chard from last summer. Some of it actually wintered over a little bit (photos of that are  here ). I added more seed over the weekend to fluff it up and fill in the spaces between plants.

Spinach is another good early spring choice. It loves cool weather and will bolt as soon as it gets hot, so plant it now!

Here’s a quick list of spring vegetables that you can plant outside from seed right now:

-Lettuce

-Peas

-Radishes

-Kale

-Swiss Chard

-Spinach

-Scallions

Most of these will be ready by Memorial Day, or the 4th of July!

Our weather changes so quickly at this time of year, but don’t be afraid, give it a go!

Have you planted anything yet?

Leave me your questions, concerns, successes, anything that’s on your mind…

Happy Planting! Happy Spring!

Love, Michele

 

 

 

About those Onion Seedlings…. and… Spring is Springing!

Here’s my first tiny little dose of spring for you…

It’s really going to happen!

I believe that this particular crocus is always the first one every year. It’s in the exact same spot of my front yard, next to the walkway.

I don’t remember seeing it in February before but it’s out there this morning, as beautiful as can be.

IMG_1037

And then there are the onions…

IMG_1023I planted them on Saturday and left them covered up and in the dark. I think they should have had light for half the time.

IMG_1024Yesterday was a very busy day and I didn’t have a chance to check them. It was a nice treat to look under the wrap this morning to see that they were well on their way!

IMG_1027The only problem is this hairy looking mold.

I don’t know…

I’ve never seen this before and I’m wondering if it’s going to be a problem going forward.

Anyone have experience with this?

There’s getting to be a bit of a time crunch so I’m reluctant to start over but that may be best.

Weigh in if you have any suggestions!

About the onions:

–I planted them in damp seed starting mix

–about three or four seeds to a cell, 1/4 inch deep or so

–covered them with saran wrap (because I couldn’t find the plastic cover that goes with the cells)

–and put them on a heating pad to keep the soil at 70 degrees. I’m leaving them on the heat until most have germinated.

It’s as simple as that.

I planted four varieties… sweet Spanish, candy, southport red globe and Alisa Craig exhibition. The Alisa Craig were kind of a cheat because I used leftover seed. Generally onion seeds are only considered to be viable for a year, but I had some space so I thought I’d plant one row of cell spaces and see what happens.

I did look around at different planting methods. There were plenty of suggestions such as spreading the seeds randomly or in rows in an open container then moving them to cells or pots, direct sowing, and not worrying about drainage  (really)?  I had good results last year so I decided to let history repeat itself. I’ll try to keep you posted on  how things are going.

Further along on the spring is springing subject:

IMG_1030Swiss chard that wintered over, I kid you not!

I was very sure that the -10 temp of a few weeks ago pretty much eliminated anything that might be borderline. Swiss chard is amazingly hardy!

IMG_1033Because it’s 58 degrees outside today I moved this plexiglass over this little bed to warm the soil and create an area to start some lettuce soon. I covered that open edge with some boards, then my camera died so you can’t see it finished…

We have nothing to loose other than a $1.49 package of seed..

IMG_1029The snowdrops are popping… not sure about the cause of the blurriness of this shot, it may  be related to the mud in the yard and the indoor shoes that I was wearing…

IMG_1035And the daffodils are coming up too. February is kind of early for daffodils but if we stay in this weather pattern they should be okay.

How’s your garden growing?

I hope that spring is springing early for you too!

Lots of love,

Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden- April 1, 2015

Yes, I am very brazenly beginning my “what’s happening” posts today, April 1, because I know that things are happening in the garden already, in spite of the foot of snow that still covers it.

IMG_8468 Here’s the garden today.

Do you see the progress? I believe that that’s oregano that I never deadheaded last fall. Last week it was still buried! And right below the surface everything is just waiting for that last bit of snow to melt!

IMG_8469The pond is thawing, ever so slowly, no ducks yet but they’ll be here soon…

Has anyone noticed that I’ve been changing my header pics as the pond changes? I love to mark time and changes with photos.

IMG_8470 And, the black pussy willow is blooming!IMG_8476 I’m attached to  this plant for so many reasons.

It was a Mother’s Day gift the first year that we lived here and it’s one of the very first signs of spring that I see each year. And it’s just so lush and pretty..

IMG_8481It looks like the forsythia still needs some time. This plant is behind a pine tree and next to a fence. It might be further along if it got more sun. My friend Blaire sent me a photo of forsythia blooming downtown a few days ago. Maybe it’s a few degrees warmer down there in the city.IMG_8486 Heading inside, the onions are up! I got an almost 100% germination rate with these seeds from Pinetree. I’ve read that I should trim back the taller seedlings to let the energy go to bulb formation. I’m hoping to get to that today.IMG_8491We have peppers too.
IMG_8493 Heading out to the front yard, a few of the bulbs that I planted last year are fighting their way through despite the fact that most of the ground is still frozen. I remember thinking that we’d have these blooming for Easter this year. Maybe not…IMG_8495And here’s two of the three crocus flowers that we’re enjoying so far.

The first morning that these appeared the whole family was out on the front sidewalk jumping for joy.

The little things are the best!

How’s your garden growing? I’ll bet that most of you have more going on than we do in Salem Massachusetts. That’s okay, we’ll catch up!

Love, Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden, and With Me –September 14, 2014

 

 

I’ll start with the garden.

That’s a good lead in to the “and with me” part. To be honest I don’t know what’s happening with me. Maybe some of you can help with that. The garden is okay in a kind of mediocre way. I’m accepting of my limitations and abilities but I have to admit that I expected more from the garden this year. Maybe it was the relatively dry weather, or my organizational skills, or all of the fun vacations.

When your a gardener you have to spend time in the garden!
DSC04737 That said we still have kale. Is it me or is this photo a bit out of focus? Sometimes I can’t tell.DSC04740 The tomatoes were actually pretty good. A little wilt but not too much and it came very late in the season. I think I want to grow more romas again next year, or maybe a variety called opalka that my friend Betsey shared with me yesterday. Their larger than roma and make a sweet, meaty sauce… I brought some home from a visit with Betsey yesterday and popped just one of them into a little pot of fresh sauce that I made for dinner from some of my tomatoes that needed to be eaten. I think there was a very big difference!DSC04742 I planted quite a bit of cauliflower but it looks like the bunnies, or maybe even deer enjoyed the flowers for us.DSC04744The marketmore cucs are done and I have to say that this variety was a success. We enjoyed lots of pickles and salads and cucumbery things… DSC04738Here’s some later planted swiss chard that just isn’t taking off…DSC04743A few candycane zinnias came up near the chicken coop door. Their cute and happy but not too prolific. DSC04745 I have one, yes one, watermelon still growing. I’m fertilizing it weekly as my neighbor suggested and hoping it makes it through the next few weeks. It’s about the size of a large honeydew melon right now.DSC04747 We had a few cantaloupes almost grow into edible fruit. This one is imploded and slightly rotted. It will be food for another project that I have going so it’s not a total loss.DSC04748 One pumpkin, yes one. This is the year of one, two or three of anything that I worked on over time.DSC04749 Of course the horseradish is happy. I don’t like horseradish but several of our friends and family members do so it will be fun to harvest it in a few weeks.DSC04750 The new little herb garden got off to a decent start. Next year we’ll hit the ground running in this area of the garden.DSC04751 I’ve got pots of potatoes growing. They haven’t flowered and have lots of foliage so I’m kind of unsure about where we’re going here. Generally they flower and then die back and you can dig out the potatoes. So I’m waiting to see what happens. I dug around a little bit the other day and I really think there are some good sized tubers in there.DSC04753 Parsley and basils need to be frozen in ice cube trays for the winter. DSC04754 The onions kind of worked out! Remember when I was inspired by Betsey and Ed and planted them back in the spring? No need to buy onions around here this winter!DSC04755Oh, and then there’s this little project. Guess what’s in the box? Here’s a hint:  It thrives on the cantaloupe.

Okay… about me.

I’m tired and busy and tired and worn out. I want to do right by my family so I took a major blogging break. I don’t think I’ve ever gone so long in between posts. It really has me wondering about what motivates me and what’s that best use of my time. Should I keep blogging? I like to blog because I love connecting with  people all over the world. I like to think that I might encourage or entertain someone somewhere. I definitely feel accountable about what I say here so it keeps me on a good path in the gardening sense and beyond.

Have any of you fellow bloggers gone through this? It’s kind of writer’s block, but almost more like a writer’s resistance. I know what I want to say. I have a long list of posts to write but I wonder about the value of it. Does it matter? Should I just garden for myself and call it a day? No one who I know personally has said a word about my absence. Maybe I shouldn’t expect that, but maybe I should use my energy for other things.

That was a pretty stream of conscious paragraph or two. Thank you, I feel better,

Pioneer Woman used to say “tap, tap… is anyone out there?” She doesn’t need to do that anymore but I guess I could…

Tap, tap… hello?

Leave me a comment or send me an e-mail. I’d entertain any constructive feedback you have to share.

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele

Sort of a Stream of Conscious Garden Post

There is so much going on in my head… happy things, sad things, things I just can’t understand and things that are perfect. Often times if I sit down and blog it all settles down and feels better. It’s amazing how cathartic blogging can be. I probably won’t even write about what I’m really wrestling with, but sharing my garden thoughts helps me put something in a place. I guess it gives me some control over at least a little part of it. Stream of conscious can be scary, can’t it? Okay, out to the garden….

Thank you all for your comments that helped us to identify Cindy’s  Purple Shiso (Perilla frutescens nankinensis). I’ve never seen it growing here and it seems that my southern blogging friends were the most familiar with it, although my new friend Kathy at Witchcitygarden.com chimed right in too so it might grow around here. One of the very best aspects of gardening is learning new things, so thank you all for your help with that!

Let’s see, what else? I harvested lots of onions over the weekend. IMG_6933

IMG_6935 Their curing and will be cleaned up and stored for the winter. I think we have enough to last until next spring as long as I don’t make huge vats of onion soup.

I also made five quarts of refrigerator pickles with our cucumbers and dill. If you have fresh cucumbers around you should really try these. Their quick and easy and no canning is required!

We spent quite a bit of time weeding and pruning. Michael did lots of edging so our beds look fresh and ready for the second half of the gardening season. I’m hoping to plant some more lettuce and Asian greens after I add fresh compost to the onion beds. The kids were busy playing in the neighborhood and hanging out with friends while we worked. Sometimes it all comes together.

We even did the Ice Bucket Challenge last night, right here in the garden! I tried to share the video, and to post it on The Salem Garden facebook page but something quirky was going on with facebook, google, gmail and wordpress. So, unless I magically figure it out you’ll just have to believe me. Michael and I dumped the ice water right over our heads in the middle of the zucchini and tomatoes! It was great, and of course we’ll make our donation to the ALS association.

I have another non-stop week ahead. We’re preparing for another family vacation, celebrating a twelfth birthday, welcoming a beautiful new baby to our extended family and praying for friends from church who lost their beloved granddaughter to cancer on Saturday. I have to remind myself to breathe. Hopefully I”ll pull more weeds and write another post.

Wishing you peaceful time in your gardens.

Love, Michele

Square Foot Onions, and a Hint of Rhubarb

Recently these beautiful onions that my friend Betsey has stored in her basement inspired me to get serious about planting my own.

WP_000521Please pardon the quality of this photo which I took with my very unsophisticated non I-phone. I just wanted you to get the idea. Aren’t they amazing? This was in January no less!

I bought a bag of onion sets and after doing some research I decided to maximize my space and plant them using the square foot method.

I haven’t intentionally square foot gardened before but I thought that onions might be a good crop to try with. The concept behind square foot gardening is to grow as much as is feasible in one square foot of space using optimum soil and raised beds. It takes some planning to be sure that plants have enough space for root development and air circulation.  The rule of thumb seems to be that large plants need one square, while smaller plants can be planted more densely. The recommended square foot spacing for red onions is nine per square foot, so nine it is!

IMG_5215I started with my package of onion sets and my tape measure.

IMG_5214Next I loosened the soil (which had been thoroughly turned over this past weekend and well composted last fall) and using my tape measure, I very unscientifically, and quickly, and without painstaking accuracy, because that’s how I do things, divided the end two feet of my bed into eight one foot squares. I used my trowel to make lines in the soil.

IMG_5220Then I placed each bulb in to the soil, three inches apart in a grid so the bulb was just below the soil with the top pointing up. The top of the bulb is the pointy part that you see here, while the bottom where the roots develop, is flatter and usually has a slightly rough texture.

IMG_5219Some are sprouted already. I think that’s fine.

IMG_5223Here’s my finished grid. My research tells me to make sure that they don’t dry out too much but that they’ll resume growing again if they do. I’ll keep you posted!

IMG_5225In other news; the rhubarb is peeking through! I wish I liked it more. I’ll cook and bake it for Michael and I love to give it away. It looks so pretty in the garden when it gets big. Rhubarb has so much going for it, I think it’s just the tartness or texture that I personally struggle with.

Anyway, grab a bag of onion sets at your local garden center and plant them in your well fertilized eight square feet of space and let me know how it goes!

Enjoy everything!

Michele