Our last frost day is somewhere around Memorial Day, so not being a risky gardener, I tend to wait until now to plant most of my veggies, or at least those that like warmer weather. I had been hardening off a few seedlings (tomatoes and peppers) but honestly don’t think they’ll do well. They grew 2 true leaves and then stopped growing. They didn’t look sickly, and the sprouts seemed healthy, they just never got bigger or grew more leaves. So, I’m not really sure how they’ll do in the garden. But I planted them anyway. Only time will tell.
One experiment I did try this year, and I will repeat it again next year – since it was partly successful – was to plant some seeds directly outside, at the same time I started the indoor seedlings, when it was still cold and snowing. (I know, that could have been two weeks ago when we got snow, hail, and sun, all in one day!).
I planted a few seeds in the garden soil and then covered them with clear plastic hinged salad/lettuce containers. I had cut the bottom of the containers off, using a sharp razor blade, and left the hinged lid on. I put the container over the seeds, lid shut, and then piled a few leaves and mulch around the container to keep them warm. I did this with 2 salad containers and tomato seeds. I also used milk jugs in the same way, but over pepper seeds. Then as we drew closer to the last frost date, I opened the hinged lids a bit, and removed the caps from the milk jugs.
So how did it work? Both, (BOTH!) of the tomato bins sprouted seedlings that looked better than the ones I had started inside. None of the pepper plants in the milk jugs sprouted, but the indoor seeds did sprout, so the seeds were viable. Next year, I’ll save more salad containers and try it with tomatoes and peppers – since we can’t know yet if it was the jugs or the seeds/peppers that didn’t promote sprouting.
I have two hypothesis, and I’ll know more next year. One is that the milk jugs are too opaque and not enough actual sunlight made it to the seeds. Secondly, I get occasional rogue tomato plants in my compost bin, but not peppers… so the ground just might not get warm enough, early enough, around here to start peppers in this manner. But if it does work for the peppers next year, woot! woot! I might not start seedlings indoors ever again!
The hostas took over the side garden, where the privets used to be, much to the amazement of the The Goat (if you want to read about his conquering of our privets, here’s that post). I’d love to dig out more of the hostas and trade the space for a veggie and herb bed. That might be an ongoing task. I think cole crops, peas, and greens, would do great there, and it might be fun to try some winter gardening in the well protected strip between buildings. Technically, it’s on the “wrong” side (North) for winter sunlight, but both buildings are light colored, so I wonder about the reflective properties, and the residual warmth of the homes creating a conducive winter garden climate.
As it is, I’ve got radishes and brussel sprouts in there now. The radishes are doing fairly well there, and I just started the brussel sprouts. If you recall, the Jasmanian Devil loved sprouts – so my plan this year was to keep them outside of the fence and away from her! While she isn’t around to eat them this year, it’s still a good experiment and if they do well, I’ll try a few other things later in the year, and as mentioned, I might see what I can get to grow through the winter.
The other radishes in the garden in the middle of the yard are doing ok, however, some already went to seed. I’m sure it has everything to do with the unseasonable 85 degree weather we’ve been having, because unlike the radishes in the shade, this garden is in a sunnier location. I’m debating saving some of these seeds, because quite frankly, they bolted. But if I eat all of the plants that didn’t bolt… I won’t get seeds from plants that can withstand our goofy Spring weather. Hmm.
Over the weekend I also checked on the carrots (they look good so far), planted the seedlings in the garden, and tucked a few in the perennial beds too. I even planted a few squash seeds by the fence, tossed about a few marigold seeds, and discovered one rogue squash! I can’t wait to see what it is! It could be anything from an ornamental gourd to a blue pumpkin!
All in all, it was a good lazy weekend. I know I should be more scientific, or at least methodical, about our garden. I didn’t join a CSA this year in the hopes that I would spend more time and energy in our little plot. That hasn’t worked out quite as well as I had hoped. It’s been a rough year, and I’m not moving quite as fast as last year. But, so far, we’ve had rhubarb, asparagus, lettuce, and a few radishes. The peas are in flower, so there’s hope for them yet, the lettuce looks to be in good shape for more harvests, the garlic is still green and tall, the sweet potatoes are leafing out, and seeds have been planted for sprouts, pumpkins, and cucumbers, and the seedlings are in the ground.
Now we wait. Well, we weed and wait.