Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Zucchini + Radishes = Love; Plus More Outdoor Plantings!

Although it was REALLY hot and humid today and ever threatening to pour, I still was able to get some work done in the garden.  I worked until I felt the first drops of rain, and was lucky enough to get in before the downpour and thunder!  I had hoped I could do some planting in the pots on the porch today, but I guess that will have to wait.  Everything I did today was out in the garden.

I started with some more weeding with a focus on the beet rows and the area where I wanted to put the peanut plants.  I also harvested a bunch of radishes from the beet rows, to give the beets more room.  (At left you can see the radishes.)  I have found, especially with root plants, that once you harvest them, you need to get them in a cool setting as soon as possible.  If you don't they will start to go limp on you.  I sprayed the radishes with the hose to remove excess dirt, brought them inside, cut off the stems, and put them in the fridge.  Because of that, they are nice and firm still.  Now I just have to trim the excess root and they will be ready to eat!  I will probably give them another washing as well, just to be safe!

After I got the radishes taken care of, I moved on to planting the pumpkin, water- melon, and peanut seedlings.  The picture on the right is pumpkins.  There are two Sweet Sugar Pie plants, and one Batwing pumpkin.  The Batwing is ornamental, so I figure I am safe with just one vine.  We will see if I am correct!
Next we have the water- melon.  I had four seedings, but as you can see, I only planted three.  I will keep the fourth for a little longer in case one of the three I put in the ground doesn't make it.  That happened last year, and I was very glad I had some back ups!  I have some back up pumpkin seedlings as well, so I am good to go.  There is nothing worse than putting a lot of time and effort into your seedlings just to have them die after being transplanted!  And in some cases, there is no discernible reason as to why one or more of the seedlings fail.  That is why it is helpful to have extras!

My final project for today was to get the peanut plants in the ground.  Once again I had three plants, but I only planted two.  The main reason this time was lack of space, but it still provides me with a back up especially since I have never planted peanuts.  I had to clear the entire space shown above of a prosperous weed forest.  I then made two mounds and planted the peanut plants in them.  The mounds are mainly for added drainage, and are optional.  I figured since the directions say you can put them in mounds, it seemed like the best option.  Anything to aid their growth!  What is not pictured is the hay mulch I ended up putting around the peanut hills.  The rain started as I was just finishing that step up, and I wasn't about to expose my camera to the elements!  You will have to use your imagination. :-)

In other news, the cabbage baby seeds I planted directly in the ground came up!  The photo shows two different ones.  They sort of look like butterflies at the moment.  Very exciting!  Three of the zucchini seeds I planted on the 20th are up as well.
I expect them to get insanely large like they did last year.  I will be planting some radishes in the zucchini mounds (something else I didn't get too today because of the weather), and letting them go to seed.  Last year I unintentionally allowed two radish plants to make flowers and eventually seeds.  This occurred next to one of my zucchini plants, and it turns out that is a good thing!
My compainion gardening book, "Carrots Love Tomatoes" by Louise Riotte, states that planting a few radishes in your zucchini mounds and allowing them to go to seed, aids the growth of your zucchini.  Something the book doesn't mention, is that it also gives you an insane amount of radish seed!  Last year I allowed the seed pods to dry out a bit before pulling up the whole plant and bringing it inside to dry completely.  Now I have tons of radish seeds, and have already put some to use.  It is also kind of fun to watch the seeding process of radishes, so that is an added bonus!

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, so I will have to get back out there and see what else I can get done.  And, as always, I will definitely be taking more pictures!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Activities of May 20th and 24th

May 20th:
I didn't get a chance to post after I worked in the garden on the twentieth, so I will fill you in now!  The mounds for the pumpkins and watermelon are all set up and ready to have the seedlings planted in them.  I also made two zucchini mounds and planted seeds.  Because of the sorry state of the baby cabbage plants, I decided to try planting seeds directly in the ground.  Two of the three cabbage seedlings I had put in the ground are still there, and I am thinking they might actually continue to grow.  The third one bit the dust, and all but one seedling out on the porch has died.  I think I may have put them out a bit too soon and they just were not strong enough to make it.  At least I know what not to do now!

May 24th:
I have yet to get the watermelon and pumpkin seedlings in the ground, but they are still doing really well out on the porch.  It may have something to do with the insanely hot and humid weather we have been getting recently.  As I stated earlier, Wisconsin weather is a bit unpredictable, and this month has seen everything from freezing temps at night, to a high of 91 degrees Fahrenheit!  It is 11:30pm right now and it is still 80 and humid out there.  I wouldn't be surprised if the plants are wondering what is going on.  First we dropped to below average temps for May and now we are up to above average temps!  I tell you the weather just can't make up it's mind!

Because of the steamy temperatures, the weed forest that was starting to take hold in the uncovered portions of my garden has grown significantly.  Thus I braved the heat to get some weeding done.  I have found that the weed roots come out the best when the soil is wet, so I did the weeding after watering my plants.  There is still a lot to do, but I have at least made a significant dent, and the black plastic is saving me a LOT of work.  It was a very wise investment and I plan on continuing my use in the years ahead. 

Another indicator that the weather has been a boon to growth is three bean plants that came up and are already a few inches tall!  The fact that they came up and the other bean seeds I planted at the same time have not yet, may mean I have some re-planting to do.  Regardless I was pretty excited to see that there was one plant up, let alone three!  And it was practically an over-night occurrence too, so that was a surprise.  Their appearance at least lets me know that the seeds are not duds and that it is safe to plant more.  All the other plants out there, the lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, beets, and even some leeks (Yay!), are growing rather rapidly.  I am putting a link to more photos from the 20th and today, and you will be able to see a comparison of the lettuce bin from today and the 17th.  The amount of growth is pretty significant, and I can't wait to start picking some for dinner!  

As I mentioned above, the leeks look better.  I have hope that they will persevere.  Still crossing my fingers though, as they are VERY slender and still rather fragile. On the other end of the spectrum I harvested some radishes today!  The ones I picked were getting a bit large and starting to interfere with their neighbors.  More will be harvested in the next few days.  The final thing I did before heading in today was plant some sunflower plants along our tall yard fence in the back.  They are not the kind you get edible seed from, but they will still grow to around six feet tall and will add some beauty!  I planted some last year, and I really enjoyed them.  And besides, I think I have enough produce as it is!  Sometimes it is just nice to have something for viewing.  And so I leave you with just that, something for viewing!  Enjoy!

 ^-------Click Me!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leeks and Peanuts!

Today I decided I would put the leeks in the ground in hopes that their appearance and condition will improve.  They will definitely get plenty of sunlight, and benefit from the nutrients in the soil.  Now I just have to remember not to step on them!

While I was out in the garden, I examined my carrots.  It appears that something went awry, because there is only a small section that is actually in a straight row.  And the strangest part of all is that it is the last section I planted!  In the rest of the 'row' there are some carrots where they are supposed to be, and then there are carrots at varying distances to either side of the row.  I have no idea how that happened, unless wind or water moved the seeds.  Very odd indeed!  I will have to be very careful when I plant more to ensure they are where they need to be.

I dragged Tom to the store today to pick up more dirt.  Mainly I just needed him there to lift the bags, so you can imagine his excitement.  We got two big bags of garden soil and one big bag of the new Miracle Gro moisture control potting mix from Scotts.  I like the idea that you can 'over-water' and it won't kill your plant.  It will also be nice if we go out of town, because it holds in the excess water releasing it when it is needed.  That is the theory anyway.  We will see how it goes.  I needed the garden soil to make the planting hills for the watermelon and pumpkins.  I moved the seedlings onto the porch today to get them used to the outside.  They are doing really well, so I think I should be able to get them in the ground before the week is over.  I will also use some of the soil for the zucchini.  They like hills as well.

And no garden would be complete without peanuts, right?!  Am I right!?  Ok, maybe that is not something most people would say, however while celebrating Mother's Day with my mom this year, we stopped by a greenhouse I had never been to before.  To my surprise they had peanut plants!  Now I should probably mention that I am not a nut lover.  I rarely eat nuts, and when I do, they have to be in something.  I have occasionally eaten peanuts when I was really hungry and there was nothing else around, but it is not something I ever crave.

So why all the excitement over the peanut plants?  Well when I was in Kindergarden, we had a class project that involved bringing in seeds to plant.  I brought in roasted peanuts.  No, roasted peanuts do not turn into peanut plants as they have been, well, roasted.  But had they not been cooked, they would have grown into a plant!  And if the afternoon class had not destroyed my class's plant project, we all would have discovered that cooked peanuts don't grow.  So you can see why I had to get a peanut plant.  And ever since Mother's Day, I have been debating where the heck I am going to put the darn thing!  I am happy to report I have decided on a location.  Since I already have spinach in my lettuce bin, and it is doing rather well, I will be putting the peanut plants (at least two; there are three in the pot I purchased) in the garden where I was originally going to plant more spinach.  By the end of the summer I should have 60 to 120 Spanish peanuts if all goes well!  And then I will give them to someone who will eat them.  :-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pole Beans, Sunlight, and More!

To my delight the sun came out today and STAYED!  Yay!  They predict at least three more days of sun before the possibility of more rain.  It was a bit windy today as well, which helped aid the drying process.  I am happy to report I will finally be able to get out and do some more work in the garden!

That being said, I am a little distraught over the current state of my leeks and cabbage babies.  They were supposed to be in the ground May 1st, but due to my out of town trip and the crazy weather, I have not had a chance to get them all in.  They are outside in their peat pots, but they don't look so good.  I am not sure if it is a lack of nutrients, or space, or what.  I did manage to get three cabbage baby plants in the ground out in the garden, but they look about the same as their peat pot brethren.  If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

This brings us to the pole beans!  I was able to plant green beans on one of the icky weather days.  They have not come up yet, but I suspect they have been waiting for some sunlight.  We will see if they start coming up in the next few days, and if not, I will plant more.  I also planted some purple Alyssum flowers in the flower box behind our mailbox, and they have sprouted!  They did great last year, and it was nice to have some pretty flowers to view, especially if all we got in the mail was junk.  I put down some wildflower seed today in our backyard as well.  Will update you when that starts sprouting.

Next on my agenda is to get the watermelon, pumpkins, zucchini, and tomatoes in the ground.  All of them are in seedling form except the zucchini.  I may hold off on planting the tomatoes until they are a bit bigger, but the watermelon and pumpkins are itching to get their vines going.  Not surprisingly, they grow rather fast.  I have some updated photos, but I decided to share them as a link this time.  There were just a bit too many!  Feel free to check them out!

  ^---- Click Me For Pictures!

Wisconsin Weather

Dear Wisconsin Weather,

Oh how I wish you would make up your mind.  So far this month you have given us few warm sunny days, nights of frost and FREEZE advisories, extremely high winds, and more rain in a row then seems necessary.  This makes it very difficult to get anything significant done outside!  For when it wasn't raining, it was cloudy, keeping the ground wet and muddy.  And when it was clear out during the day, the temperatures dived to freezing or just above at night.  Not exactly something I want my seedlings to have to deal with.  And so I have been sitting here waiting; waiting for the ground to dry enough to plant in moist soil, not mud.  Waiting for it to be warm enough that I don't have to dress in winter clothes to keep from shivering when outside.  Waiting for the delayed April showers to end, so I can finally have some May flowers!

So if you could, Wisconsin Weather, please provide some sun and warmth.  It would be much appreciated!

Your Resident,

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Outdoor Sprouts!

I was extremely excited when I returned home from being out of town to see that the strawberry plants already have flowers (photo at left)!  I am hoping that there are enough pollinators out there right now to help turn the flowers into fruits.  I also checked on my other outdoor plantings and am happy to report they have come up as well!  Here are some photos of my first outdoor sprouts of the year.

My faithful row markers!  Heart shaped leaves of the radish plant.

Beets!  I will have to pull up one of the seedlings when they get a little taller.  You can also see the twine I used to help keep my rows straight.


I have never planted carrots before, so I am not sure what their first leaves look like.  I am assuming this is it.  We shall see!

Collection from the lettuce bin.  Includes Spinach, and three types of lettuce.  The lettuce basically looks the same at this point in time.

More plantings! Final Indoor

I am finally caught up with my indoor plantings.  All the seeds I plant from now on will be outdoor plantings!  Yesterday I planted (indoors) Mini Soloist Chinese Cabbage, two small types of pumpkin (Batwing and Sweet Sugar Pie), an 'ice-box' watermelon called Sugar Baby, and some Dill.  All of the above can be planted directly in the ground without starting them indoors, but I wanted to give them a head start.  The dill in particular has no "indoor" instructions, and the only reason I have started it indoors is so I can place the plants more accurately.

Last year I started everything, except the root plants, indoors.  That is fine, however some plants do not transplant well, and it is best to stick with the instructions of in-ground planting.  Because the planting season in Wisconsin is shorter than other locations, I like to start the watermelon and pumpkins, which need hot weather and soil to grow, indoors.  It ensures that you can actually harvest ripe watermelons and pumpkins before the fall frost!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Seedling Photos

Due to an unexpected trip out of town, I am a little behind schedule with my indoor and outdoor plantings.  I don't arrive back home until late tomorrow evening, so things will continue to be on hold until Monday.  In the meantime I am posting some photos of my seedlings as they appeared on April 27th.  Enjoy!

Cabbage Babies

Habaneros growing their second set of leaves!

Leeks!  Getting ready to be put in the ground.


A hot pepper plant unfurling.

Gaillardia flowers

My plant habitats.  Short greenhouse and tall greenhouse.

Vents on the tall greenhouse to allow fresh air in and lessen the amount of humidity inside.